Steinerian Economics

A Compendium


Edited by Gary Lamb and Sarah Hearn

Adonis Press 2014
324 pages, paperback, $8.00$30.00
ISBN: 978-0-932776-47-1
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Description

Steinerian Economics, compiled and edited by Gary Lamb and Sarah Hearn, is a comprehensive collection of Rudolf Steiner’s statements on economics, drawn from over 40 sources selected from his large body of works currently available in English. It is an indispensable resource for all those who are seeking new perspectives on economics and money.  Here, you can experience new ways of understanding social life. 

Perhaps one of Steiner’s most important contributions toward cultural renewal is his method for thinking about social life within the context of human evolution.  In relation to current modes of thinking, his work is bold, holistic, human-centered, and inwardly creative.  Scientific thinking about evolution gives so much attention to the outer physical human form that it misses the most important current evolutionary process, the inner process for the development of the independent ego in the individual and the unique-in-nature development of the self-governing human social organism.

One central insight to be found in Steiner’s social science is that human society as a whole consists of three interpenetrating yet distinct realms, or systems – spiritual-cultural, political-rights, and economic – each with its own inherent function and guiding ideal.  Many people recognize the critical need to understand this today, and by understanding their different tasks, we can create a healthy degree of independence between these complex, interpenetrating realms. Even though mainstream social science has yet to give these three realms full recognition, symptoms of the excessive interference of one realm upon another are being recognized as problematic.  By way of example, the increasingly insistent call for “Money out of Politics” recognizes the problematic effect that monetary-economic influences from the Economics Realm have upon a Political Realm of Rights. This realm of Rights must be kept independent from any inappropriate influence rooted in Economic interests if it is to avoid corruption of its task, that of establishing an equality of rights.  Mainstream social and economic thinking about these social issues has not yet achieved a comprehensive science that recognizes these three realms, to understand the role of each, their differences and trappings.  Steiner effectively establishes here the beginnings of a new method for economic science, and the recognition of these three interdependent realms in social life is only one of many new social ideas to come from Steiner’s extensive research.

Within the context of today’s economic upheavals, many people are passionately seeking for a new economy.  Some realize that we need new ideas, a new way of forming our social life, if there is to be hope for a healthy future.  This need is not just for ourselves or our personal nation, but for all people, and for the many generations to come.  Steiner offers a great deal of insight through his phenomenological approach to economics. What emerges from this research is often referred to as Associative Economics, as it portrays an economy that is collaborative, interdependent, and is inspired by the real needs of human beings – with ever broadening consideration for the whole of our related world.

While there is an abundance of recognition for the seriousness of the problems surrounding us, what is lacking is a scientific basis to understand the problems at their depths and to offer an alternative way of thinking to what is prevalent everywhere today.  Current economic thinking does not meet today’s  fundamental problems at their source, rather, it habitually functions within the already abstract thinking upon which its main premises are based, and therefore fails to take into account any aspects of phenomena that don’t conform to its preconceived conclusions.  To meet problems at their source requires a disciplined phenomena-centered scientific method, one that overcomes the limitations of abstract thinking, the mental habits where essential context can easily be lost.

Thinking built directly from the phenomena themselves is also what leads to ideas that can become accessible to everyone, and can provide a human way of describing and understanding economics and social life.  Coming to new ideas and developing them further is a work for many people to do.  When many individuals participate in their own self-education, the vital ideas they develop can become a cultural endowment and shape our lives into the future.  The ideas that were used to form current economic, political and cultural thinking today have exhausted themselves, and this is clearly demonstrated by the instability of social life the world over.  Economic science needs to cultivate new methods for understanding social phenomena, for out of new methods, we acquire new perceptions; and new perceptions are the truest source of new ideas.

We hope those who are seeking new ideas about social life and an understanding for economics can find many insights and inspirations in this book, which is the fruit of many years of dedicated work by the editors who made this comprehensive overview of Rudolf Steiner’s contributions to economic science possible.  We’ve included the Table of Contents from the book to give you some sense of the outline and the form the book takes.

Contents

Rudolf Steiner: Social Reformer and Economist.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xi

Foreword. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xiii

Editors’ Introduction. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xix

   Whom is this Economics Compendium for . . . and not for?. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xix

   The Path We Traveled.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xx

   Ways to Use This Compendium.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxi

   The Compendium as a Thought Organism.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxii

   Clarification of Some Important Terms .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxii

   Repetition of Some of the Quotations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxii

   Editing of Quotations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii

   Acknowledgements. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . xxiii

1. Social and Antisocial Forces

in the Human Being and Social Life.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

The Need for Inner and Outer Change. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Rising Individualism and Antisocial Forces.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4

The Interplay of Sleeping and Waking in Human Encounter. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5

Taking Greater Interest in Others: The Foundation of Social Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8

Creating Social Forces by Consciously Fostering Interest in Others.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 9

Interest in Others and Economic Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16

From Personal Opinion to Collective Wisdom.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

2. The Fundamental Social Law.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23

Egoism and Self Interest in Social Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25

Egoism and Altruism.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29

Spiritual Worldview. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

Community Spirit and Spiritual Mission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36

The Influence of an Independent Cultural Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37

Rights Life and the Will to Work.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 38

Labor as a Rights or Equity Issue Rather Than an Economic One. . . . . . . . . . . . . 40

Fostering Altruism by Overcoming Labor as a Commodity. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 43

Ways to Overcome Paid Labor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 48


3. The Threefold Social Organism. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Healthy Social Life is Threefold. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 57

National and International Relations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 61

Transgressing Boundaries as a Main Cause of Social Problems. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 64

Cultural Freedom Begins with Educational Freedom. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 70

The Economy and the Political State.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 73

Implementing Social Threefolding.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 76

The Relation of the Physiological and Social Organisms .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 80

True Social Renewal Requires a Change in Thinking. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 87

4. Economic Science.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 89

The Evolution of Economic Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 93

From World Trade to World Economy. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 97

Constant Fluctuations within the World Economy.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 102

Picture-Thinking. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 105

Economics and the Color Spectrum.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 108

Viewing the Economic Process from the Inside.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109

Elements of a New Method for Economic Science. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 111

5. Economic Associations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 117

Characteristic Features and Dynamics.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 118

Evolution of the Role of the Individual and the Need for Associations Today. . 120

Informed, Transparent, and Freely-Formed Agreements.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 124

Economic Judgments Via Living Associations . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 126

Insight, Collective Consciousness, and Group-Born Intelligence.. . . . . . . . . . . . . 127

Balancing Egoism and Love in Economic Life.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 129

Answering the Need for Constant Price Corrections. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 131

From Profit Motive to Satisfaction of Human Needs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 135

A New Relation of Management and Investors to Workers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 138

Associations in Relation to Gift Money and Cultural Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 140

Implementing Economic Associations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 141

6. Economic Values. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 145

The Economic Process as Context for Economic Value .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 146

Origin of Economic Values: Labor Transforming Nature.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

Diagram 1: Value Creation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 147

Value Creation through the Human Spirit, or Intelligence

Transforming Labor. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 149

Fluctuating Character of Economic Values. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 151

Consumer Needs and Value Creation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 152

Socially Correct Value . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 153

Consumption, Elimination of Value, and Value-Creating Tension.. . . . . . . . . . . . 154

Values and Spiritual-Cultural Work.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 157

Machines and Cultural Productivity .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 166

7. Capital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 169

Capital Creation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 170

The Social Necessity and Benefit of Free Access to Capital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 171

Capital and Property Rights. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 173

Administration and Transference of Capital.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 176

Profit Motive and Capital Increase. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 188

Land and Capital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

Diagram 2: Economic Cycle: Nature, Labor, Capital. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 191

Surplus Capital . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 196

Redefining Ground-Rent and Calculating Subsistence Income. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 200

Land Rent as Capital and the Support of Cultural Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 202

8. Credit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 203

Motivation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 204

Capability.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 208

Mutuality and the Service of Lending.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 210

Personal and Real Credit. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 213

The Role of Associations in the Giving and Receiving of Credit.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 216

The Coming Day (Der Kommende Tag) Experiment. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 217

9. Money.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 221

Money as a Measure of Economic Value.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 222

The Illusory Nature of Money as a Commodity.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 223

Money as Power .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 224

Money as Rights and Cultural Capacities Realized. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 226

Money as Spirit Realized. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 227

Money as Bookkeeping and Medium of Exchange .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 230

A New Basis for Determining the Value of Money (Currency).. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 231

The Relation of Money to Value of Cultural and Political-Legal Work. . . . . . . . 233

Impersonal Nature of Modern Banking and Finance. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 235

Taxation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 239

Aging Money.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 241

Purchase, Loan, and Gift Money.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 253

Diagram 3: Money Cycle: Payment, Loan, Gift .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 257

Issuing Currency.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 262

Inflation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 265

Money as a Means to Exercise Social Responsibility. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 266

10. Price Formation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 269

Price in the Context of Perpetual Circulation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 270

True Price. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 274

Falsification of Prices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 280

Price Fluctuation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283

Associations and Price Regulation.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 284

Fundamentals of Pricing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 287

11. The Interplay of Spiritual-Cultural and Economic Life. . . . . . . 289

Constructive Forces of Spiritual-Cultural Life.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 290

Capacities and Capital .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 292

Financial Support of Cultural Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 294

Freedom and Funding in Education. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 295

Value of Spiritual Work for the Economy as a Whole. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300

Resources.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305

A Selection of Publishers of Rudolf Steiner’s

Social and Economic Writings and Lectures in English. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 305

Basic Texts by Rudolf Steiner on the Threefold Social Organism,

Associative Economics, and the Fundamental Social Law.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306

Texts by Other Authors. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 306

Businesses, Organizations, & Initiatives

Directly Inspired by Rudolf Steiner’s Social & Economic Ideas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 308

Organizations and Initiatives Working

to Some Degree in Harmony with Rudolf Steiner’s Ideas. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 313

Bibliography. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 322