Statement by Peter Selg

Statement by Peter Selg

18 March 2023 Peter Selg 327 views

In the newsletter 'What is still going on in our Society' No. 61 of 15 March 2023, Ilona Metz and a further six signatories address Peter Selg in an open letter against his presentation at the Extraordinary General Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society on 15 January 2023. Among other things, they complain about the "transformation of the Goetheanum into a congress centre". They also criticise the Medical Section's statement on the Corona pandemic, and the communication and courses of action of the Goetheanum leadership. There is "Jesuitism" in the leadership". Peter Selg comments on the criticisms here.


Dear Ms Metz,

Regarding your comments on my - what you call - "speech" at the General Assembly (it was a spontaneous vote and not a "speech", which I still stand by on all points): I did indeed contradict the assertion that the Goetheanum leadership had taken the decision "to cooperate with international organisations (such as the WHO) to protect anthroposophy". I repeat: there is no such resolution of the Goetheanum leadership. And it is precisely no small matter when you now write: "Whether a resolution or non-resolution of the Goetheanum leadership ..." because it makes a categorical difference - and was stated as an assertion in the Great Hall, which is why I spoke up. It has also already been communicated that the textual evidence of the invitation to the Members' Forum that serves as proof, which you quote again, does not come from Mr Soldner but from Mr Heertsch. And that there is nothing in this alleged document about a "resolution of the Goetheanum leadership".

I have in no way tried to "wipe away" anything, as you write. Regarding the approach of the Medical Section to "One Health", there is a differentiated statement, also from the Executive Council of the Anthroposophical Society, which was made available before the meeting. Your assertion that "all members of the AG" have had the "karma" of a connection with the "human oppressing aims" of the WHO imposed on them by the Goetheanum, I cannot understand in any way - and find such a handling of the "karma" concept highly questionable and very negligent, likewise such a position and hypostasis of the "Goetheanum". And this even though I followed the WHO policy in the Corona period very critically, and in parts already before. Nevertheless, from my point of view, nothing justifies your assertion regarding membership and WHO. I find the spreading of this assertion more than dangerous. How can you?

In this context, you then cite a whole series of examples of what you see as the fatal course of the Goetheanum in recent decades (you speak of "de-anthroposophisation measures"), including the transformation of the house into "a kind of congress centre". It is not known to me how often you yourself are at the Goetheanum and what you actually get to see of the mostly very impressive conferences of the Professional Sections and the General Section, let alone of the other areas of Section activity. Do you know what happens at these gatherings of people from all countries here, between the people working together and in the spiritual contributions? Are these "congresses"?

I am very much of the opinion that the Sections at the Goetheanum and all of us should and must have done much more to do justice to the Corona crisis in all its - sometimes very abysmal - aspects. The people at the Goetheanum have made an attempt, to the best of their abilities and according to their capabilities. But to imply here that there was a deliberate attempt to cause people a difficult fate in complicity with the WHO etc., I find truly "monstrous" - in your own words.

I have spoken out against, and will continue to do so, a group of members positioning themselves as a representative membership body without actually being representative. Having been an international advocate for anthroposophy for more than 20 years, I know many members and national societies - I suspect far more than you do.

You go on to write that the Goetheanum leadership obviously expects members to relinquish independent thinking, that there is a "Jesuitism" of the leadership that works for "dark reasons", that the Executive Council has never really responded to enquiries in recent decades and that everything has been "pushed through" that leading personalities have thought up.

I do not find these characterisations in any way accurate, find them grossly lacking in reality and humanly degrading. Having studied a great deal, critically, of Goetheanum and social history for 100 years, I am the last person who would say that everything, or even most of it, went well.

But I must also tell you that I am extremely happy that the Goetheanum, the Society and the School still exist after 100 years and that very essential work is being done here, in the Goetheanum building, in the Sections locally and in the wider world, despite or in the midst of many difficulties and in a more than complicated world situation. So many positive forces are engaged in this, at the Goetheanum and internationally. And much will depend on whether we all succeed in developing the Society and the School into an important working body in the years and decades to come. I also know the people who make up the present Executive Board - I cannot see what justifies you in laying everything on these people that has not gone well in the past decades and arguing with such catchwords as in your "open letter". Do you yourself believe in the reality of your words and take responsibility for them?

That I would have spoken "less like a functionary" in the past, as you write, may be judged by others than me. My lectures are easily listenable on the homepage of the General Anthroposophical Section and that of the Ita Wegman Institute, free of charge, I have nothing to "cover up" here either.

I am aware that Rudolf Steiner did speak of "functionaries", I have studied him and his work a little. But never with this connotation, which now seems to have become common in your circles. He also spoke of "Jews", but differently than they did in Germany after 1933, although the word remained identical. This is just for clarification.

There was no question at all of even more "representatives" now deciding over the "heads" of the members, in the sense of the "unrestrained will to impose" that you apostrophised, but the question was whether the body of national representatives, which has existed for decades, should be included in the Society's statutes. It was and is certainly not about "interference" in the "karma" of the members and in the "karma of Anthroposophia". In my contribution I reminded you once again how important the World Society was to Rudolf Steiner and will continue to do so - and how much the Goetheanum should become an organ of this World Society in R. Steiner's sense.

Your assertion that the members in the "periphery" have no idea of what problematic things are happening in the "centre" strikes me as a hegemonic-authoritarian cliché. What is the "periphery"? Do you know it? Are you interested in the national societies worldwide? For the section activities worldwide? What do you know about the level of knowledge of the members? What do you know about the importance of the Goetheanum for people worldwide? What kind of image are you projecting?

I said in my vote that the low participation of members of international National Societies in the AGM mentioned in the meeting - apart from the prohibitive travel distances - has in my opinion, very much to do with the level of the meetings, with the topics of many motions, with the " motions on points of order" which anyone can raise at any time, with all the aggressiveness which you once again impressively demonstrate in your letter. Have you ever spoken - as I have many times over many years - with members from other countries about how you experience this AGM atmosphere?

I also stand by the fact that I have said that in my opinion, one cannot influence companies and institutions from the membership of the Anthroposophical Society in this way and lead them back to anthroposophy, as I experienced. One can regret very many developments that have taken place in the last 100 years and already occurred during R. Steiner's lifetime - with regard to the autonomisation of foundations that emerged from the AG but moved further and further away from it (see Rudolf Steiner's entire critique 1923); but it will not be possible - at the level of the Society and the School of Spiritual Science - to become positively effective in this problem area if the basic conditions for cooperation are not in place, if the Society and the School of Spiritual Science are not perceived as counterparts with standards. And it is also not promising if the entire Weleda efforts of people from the Goetheanum and the Medical Section have for many years been globally disqualified and defamed in this way within the Anthroposophical Society, as often happens and is repeated by you. The people who are actively involved with this from the Goetheanum side are doing so with the best of intentions with regard to anthroposophy and the future of remedies. By placing everything in a complex of what seems to be "de-anthroposophisation" pursued and intended by the Goetheanum, you blur all existing problems, level them and create a circumscribed image of the enemy. This process is well known from 20th century social and mass psychology, likewise from the history of the Anthroposophical Society in the 1930s.

I have not presented the "view of the Goetheanum leadership", nor have I "covered up" or "obfuscated" anything. Nor am I of the opinion that the Goetheanum leadership is not "concerned with the truth", nor am I of the opinion that the membership is being "kept in ignorance" by me or anyone else, nor that developments hostile to anthroposophy are being "initiated" and "masked" by the Goetheanum, which "dispose" of the members' "future karma". It is also by no means the case that the Goetheanum leadership "sees itself as the successor of Rudolf Steiner". To my knowledge, this claim has not been and is not made by anyone - who could?

You ask about the Swiss National Society. It was our endeavour in this - and still is - to form an effective working community and to successively live up to the responsibilities associated with the founding and objectives of the Society and its university, to do everything we can to ensure that spiritual impulses in the Society and university can become effective for civilisation. It was (and is) our endeavour in Switzerland to bring the Anthroposophical Society back into a closer relationship with the fields of work, i.e. to lead the institutions into a new exchange with society - and to strengthen the work of the university in them, i.e. to bring the spiritual impulses to bear again in the fields of life, in co-responsibility of the Anthroposophical Society. In my opinion, this is also the central challenge facing the Goetheanum, the World Society and the School of Spiritual Science as a whole. We in the Swiss National Society have never seen the problem of the "old authorities" and the "coming of age of individuals in the spiritual" that you write about as our current problem and have never experienced it in this way as the Executive Council in our encounters with members. I have also never found it described in this way by R. Steiner as a central challenge. In my opinion, you are thus shifting the real challenges that the Society and the School are actually facing (see above) and that R. Steiner expected us to work on.

I do not want to say or write much more to you because I find your accusations and allegations so exaggerated and so far removed from reality, defaming people and imputing motives to them that are not their own, that it leaves one speechless. Why is this force of suspicion and aggression, seemingly in the name of humanistic objectives, but so inhumane in form and procedure? An "open" "letter" addressed to me with such a flood of allegations and insinuations put into the world and spreading inside and outside the Anthroposophical Society - it is and remains incomprehensible to me.

I think it is very important that something like the Corona problem and its dynamics is worked through in all its difficulty, that the WHO, the World Economic Forum and other protagonists of international events are discussed intensively, and that the complex problems and challenges are seen. Also that the issues connected with Weleda, as far as the Anthroposophical Society is concerned, are moved on in an informed way - in civil society and in groups of people who have specific competence in this (of course, far beyond the Goetheanum). But it is something quite different to cast the Goetheanum or the Goetheanum leadership or individual members of their staff in such a destructive light and to impose the accumulated experiences, judgements and prejudices of decades on the people who are trying to work there today under conditions that are not easy and to create and spread a grandiose image of the enemy that does not correspond to reality and does not help in any way. Who will take responsibility if the Goetheanum, or rather the Anthroposophical Society that supports it, is so weakened or stopped by a process of internal erosion that the whole Goetheanum work comes to a standstill - at a time when it is needed more urgently than ever before?

Finally, a few personal words because you addressed me as "dear Peter Selg" in your letter accompanying the mailing. Three years ago, I accepted the invitation of the Goetheanum leadership to bring the work of the Ita Wegman Institute for Basic Anthroposophical Research more strongly into rebuilding the General Anthroposophical Section. I think that a very good development began here - I have no idea whether you have perceived the same or are even interested in it. The beginning of my collaboration at the Goetheanum fell at the beginning of the Corona dynamic, and it was an extremely difficult situation for the School and all the Sections. And it was like everywhere else, in and outside anthroposophical circles, that there were very different points of view and proposals for action. I am of the opinion that the Goetheanum community as a whole managed to get through this time reasonably well, it did not disintegrate, despite divergent points of view, and it worked intensively on common goals for the future. It was and is a completely open, communicative atmosphere of mutual respect and appreciation. I find it amazing and admirable what has been achieved despite the so difficult situation in the sections from 2020 until today, also within the house itself. Of course, many issues are very difficult to tackle, but there is a mood of constructive will for the future from the centre of anthroposophy - and connected with so many people in so many countries to whom the Goetheanum means so much. These are such important years in which we stand, and it really takes all our combined strength to bring the Michaelic impulse into civilisation in the face of innumerable resistances. The people at the Goetheanum are as aware of this as they are in many other places of anthroposophy. And it would be necessary to invest the forces that one still has in this work for the future - and not in rejecting internal accusations, which I consider damaging to society and anthroposophy in this form.

You speak a lot about the fate of other people and claim that the Goetheanum leadership intervenes in this. Allow me to say to you as a doctor: It seems to me, also from a therapeutic point of view, much more important to ask oneself, instead of making such claims, where one is intentionally harming other people and sensitive social contexts oneself - with such an "open letter" and also otherwise.

I would like to announce already that I will not continue this form of communication and will only reply once to such an "open letter".

Yours sincerely,
Peter Selg