Peter Staudenmaier

Radical Politics in a Reactionary Time

by long-time ISE faculty member, Peter Staudenmaier, who also teaches at Marquette University in Milwaukee.

New book: Between Occultism and Nazism

From long-time ISE faculty member, Peter Staudenmeier, now a professor at Marquette University:

Between Occultism and Nazism:
Anthroposophy and the Politics of Race in the Fascist Era

The relationship between Nazism and occultism has been an object of fascination and speculation for decades. Peter Staudenmaier’s Between Occultism and Nazism provides a detailed historical examination centered on the anthroposophist movement founded by Rudolf Steiner. Its surprising findings reveal a remarkable level of Nazi support for Waldorf schools, biodynamic farming, and other anthroposophist initiatives, even as Nazi officials attempted to suppress occult tendencies. The book also includes an analysis of [...]

Peter Staudenmaier: What is Capitalism?

From long-time ISE faculty member, Peter Staudenmeier, written for the Lexicon pamphlet series sponsored by the Institute for Anarchist Studies. This was originally posted in March 2014 and revised in August 2015:
In ancient myths of paradise, people lived in boundless plenty without work or want. The fruits of the earth were freely available to all and no labor was necessary. If life under capitalism is a far cry from paradise, it is nonetheless beholden to its own myths of work, prosperity, and progress. Understanding what the world was like before the rise of capitalism, and [...]

Anthroposophy and Ecofascism

In June, 1910, Rudolf Steiner, the founder of anthroposophy, began a speaking tour of Norway with a lecture to a large and attentive audience in Oslo.  The lecture series was titled “The Mission of National Souls in Relation to Nordic-Germanic Mythology.”  In the Oslo lectures Steiner presented his theory of “folk souls” or “national souls” (Volksseelen in German, Steiner’s native tongue) and paid particular attention to the mysterious wonders of the “Nordic spirit.”  The “national souls” of Northern and Central Europe belonged, Steiner explained, to the “Germanic-Nordic” peoples, the world’s most spiritually advanced ethnic group, which [...]

Anthroposophy and its Defenders

(co-written with Peter Zegers)

Reply to Peter Normann Waage, “Humanism and Polemical Populism”

“Anthroposophy and Ecofascism” has sparked a debate within Scandinavian humanist circles, with some authors like Peter Normann Waage lining up to defend anthroposophy as a harmless variant of humanism. 1 While we are encouraged by this long overdue debate, we are troubled by the degree of historical naiveté it has revealed. Waage’s perspective seems to represent a view that is fairly widespread among educated and well-intentioned people. We hope that we can contribute to a more accurate view of the political implications of anthroposophy by [...]

The Janus Face of Anthroposophy

(co-written with Peter Zegers)

Reply to Peter Normann Waage, New Myths About Rudolf Steiner

“The Steiner I know,” writes Peter Normann Waage, was the nicest guy you ever met. 1 He couldn’t possibly have said and done all those nasty things Staudenmaier and Zegers say he did. It’s just not like him. Why, look at all the other nice things he said! Look at all the wonderful work his followers do! Look at all the nice friends he had!

As frivolous as Waage’s arguments are, they point to a serious issue: the Janus face of anthroposophy. Steiner’s writings are [...]

The Art of Avoiding History

Reply to Göran Fant, “The Art of Turning White into Black”

Göran Fant says that he is unable to recognize the portrait of anthroposophy that I painted in my article “Anthroposophy and Ecofascism.” (1) I am not surprised that he found my portrait hard to swallow, since Fant is convinced that anthroposophy is by definition anti-racist and opposed to nationalist and right-wing politics. I cannot argue with Fant’s personal beliefs, but they are unfortunately incompatible with anthroposophy’s actual historical record. In the course of the several debates that have ensued since my article was first published, I [...]

Rudolf Steiner’s threefold commonwealth and alternative economic thought

The economic and political doctrines of German occultist Rudolf Steiner (1861-1925), the founder of Anthroposophy, are often referred to as ‘social threefolding’ or ‘the threefold commonwealth’. Many of Steiner’s admirers view his social teachings as a promising part of an alternative economic vision, one that can lead us away from both the ravages of untrammeled capitalism and the travesty of state-commanded Stalinist economies such as the former Soviet Union. What enthusiasts of social threefolding often do not realize is that Steiner’s economic and political doctrines developed in a specific historical context and carried a very different [...]

Mythologizing Kosovo: A Reply to Peter Hudis

[The following three articles – “Mythologizing Kosovo,” “Selective Indignation: Achilles Heel of the Left,” and “Viewing the Balkans from a Distance” – were written in 2000 and 2001 as part of an exchange with Marxist-Humanist author Peter Hudis. The exchange was supposed to appear in a collection of left debates on Kosovo edited by my friend Danny Postel, but the book project never reached publication. As far as I can determine, Hudis has not published his half of the exchange. In 2009, the tenth anniversary of the US and NATO bombing of Kosovo and Serbia, I [...]

Selective Indignation: Achilles Heel of the Left

Reply to Peter Hudis
Peter Hudis is no longer sure where he stands. At first he demanded that leftists everywhere actively support the Kosovo Liberation Army, the foremost expression of contemporary pan-Albanian nationalism. Now he tells us that “nowhere in my essay did I express support for “Albanian nationalism” or indeed for any kind of nationalism.” This retreat from his earlier stance is understandable, since subsequent events have rendered that stance increasingly embarrassing. While Hudis sorts out his thoughts on the matter, I will try to review the context of our debate.
When I wrote my [...]