Book 5 of Peter Selg's comprehensive 7-volume biography of Rudolf Steiner
"Any dependence of the spiritual life on the economic life and on the public life must cease. The spiritual life must stand on its own ground. Then it will be able to give to the economic life and to the public life what neither of them can give to the spiritual life. This is immensely important! We can become fully human only when we work on the basis of an independent spiritual life."
-Rudolf Steiner (Polarities in the Evolution of Mankind)
Following the widespread destruction of World War I, in 1918 Europe was faced with political, economic, and social chaos, especially in Germany. In volume 5 of his seven-volume biography of Rudolf Steiner and his work, Peter Selg focuses on the three years following the "Great War" and Steiner's efforts to help restructure society in a way that the recurrence of such a terrible calamity would be prevented in the future. He saw the root sociopolitical and spiritual causes of the devastation and sought to change the flawed worldviews and impulses that led to the hubris behind the World War.
Rudolf Steiner thus began to concentrate on various means to renew and invigorate society, both through immediate measures-especially in his plan for a "threefold social order"-and through the new form of pedagogy that came to fruition with the Waldorf education movement. Steiner saw that a renewed form of education was necessary to the development of peaceful and healthy social conditions in the future. This education was intended to help children grow into responsible, free, and imaginative adults.
This was a time of intense work for Rudolf Steiner, including a full schedule of travel and lectures, reaching out to political leaders, training teachers for the new schools, and working with theologians and ministers toward religious renewal.
This volume is a translation from German of the first chapter of Rudolf Steiner. 1861 - 1925: Lebens- und Werkgeschichte, Band 2: 1914 - 1922 (Ita Wegman Institut, 2012).