The following was presented as the basis for a roundtable discussion at the 2017 Annual General Meeting of the Anthroposophical Society in America in Phoenix, Arizona.
"It was interesting and inspiring to learn that the AGM Planning Committee has “been working through the lecture series” Inner Aspects of the Social Question (GA 193). Rudolf Steiner gave this series of three lectures to a group of Anthroposophists during the same time that he was giving public lectures actively promoting the Threefold Social Order during early 1919 in the aftermath of World War I in an attempt to influence the peace treaty and the future of Germany and Europe. (Note: this effort was unsuccessful and the Treaty of Versailles was an outcome.)
Rudolf Steiner championed the cause of Social Three-folding, with its roots in spiritual science, at a time when a devastating war had just been completed, bolshevism was on the rise, revolution was occurring in Russia, and the future of Germany was most uncertain. He seemed to believe that there was an imperative for members of the Anthroposophical Society to act together to address this situation. Does that condition prevail today? What would Social Three-folding applied today look like?
Given the current unstable political situation in the United States, and the uncertainties in the World, it would seem that this is an appropriate time to revisit the subject of Social ThreeFolding. We are now, again in 2017, at a time when the basic tenets of capitalism are being questioned in the US and abroad. In the UK, the Observer on 10.01.17 ran a special article, “Is Capitalism at a Crossroads?”, which documents some of the current issues. The remarkable campaigns of Bernie Sanders, a declared socialist, in the United States and Jeremy Corbin in the UK, are examples of the challenges to the current social/economic systems. There are several people in the English speaking world who have addressed the subject of Steiner’s economics and social solutions descriptively, notably Steven Usher, in the US, and Christopher Houghton Budd (as "Associative Economics") in the UK..... Nicanor Perlas has spoken of an association of Non Governmental Organizations. (added: Michael Spence, After Capitalism and Gary Lamb, Associative Economics) However, to my knowledge, there has not been an active effort to apply Social ThreeFolding in the field of public/social affairs either as a diagnostic tool or a policy approach. The present ASA/A2017 interest is an indication of this concern within the Anthroposophical Society in America."
3FSO Today Proposal reviewed by the Collegium of the Social Sciences Section, School for Spiritual Science, Anthroposophical Society in the United States
This is a proposal for the Social Sciences Section of the School of Spiritual Science in America to" sponsor" or to “initiate" a project dealing with the role and function of the ThreeFold Social Order Today (3FSOToday). It has been 100 years since Rudolf Steiner initiated and actively led an effort in Central Europe to bring about the necessary changes in society directed toward separating the “spheres” of cultural, economic, and civic/legal aspects of society. This is of obvious contemporary relevance, which Rudolf Steiner indicated there would be another opportunity to address in 100 years.
This is a complex situation, especially as it applies to exoteric aspects of our modern day social life. It has been studied and written about extensively by those in the field of Anthroposophy. However, it has not had much attention of a practical nature or application by those in the social science professions. The objective of this effort is to bring about activities directed toward realization of the objectives of social threefolding as enunciated by Rudolf Steiner.
This project will involve four spheres of activity:
1. Social Sciences Section of the School for Spiritual Science would provide the necessary support and oversight based on appropriate functions of the section. This would be of an esoteric and spiritual dimension as well as monitoring of the project.
2. Anthroposophical Society in America (ASA) would provide a place for information about this project to be made available to members of ASA and for the exchange of relevant ideas. This could take place on the newly revised Anthroposophy,org website and would be directed toward members of the Society.
3. A “public” or general audience would participate through an independent website with its own domain name, e.g., 3FSO Today, and person(s) to maintain it. This would include a “chat” group or “blogging” for broad exchange of views. It would largely be devoid of anthroposophical terminology. It would function more or less as an on-line “think tank."
4. Trans- or cross-sectional activities with other bodies or organizations of civic or non-governmental nature which are activist/action oriented, political, idealogical, in nature and directed toward positive social policy change in line with what RS advocated in his introduction of the ThreeFold Social Order and related socioeconomic topics.
This is an initiative to create an online approach which might result in local communities establishing study groups or salons on social issues viewed from an Anthroposophical perspective and social three-folding leading to appropriate forms of action. There might be the opportunity for cross pollination or collaboration with other groups; for example, Transition US and its initiative "Sacred Activism and Self-Care as Catalysts for Positive Change”.
Another approach might be to use social three folding as a kind of lens through which current situations and events might be viewed/analyzed. We could identify cases of positive and negative movement toward/away from RS principles of 3-folding. Reflect what Steiner says and seek spiritual guidance in this regard.
The following are EXAMPLES of issues and/or activities that might be addressed through threefolding: