The social impulses of Rudolf Steiner and the development of the Section for Social Sciences

Karl Unger
Emil Molt
Rudolf Steiner
Emil Leinhas
Roman Boos

A chronological survey


Publication of the fundamental sociological law in the Magazin für Literatur (GA 31). “In the early stages of cultural evolution, mankind tends towards the formation of social units; initially the interests of individuals are sacrificed to the interests of those groupings; the further course of development leads to the emancipation of the individual from the interests of the groupings and to the unrestricted development of the needs and capacities of the individual..”


Publication of the fundamental social law in the theosophical magazine “Lucifer-Gnosis” with the title “Theosophy and the Social Question” (GA 34) “The well being of a total community of human beings working together becomes greater the less the individual demands the products of his achievements for himself, that is, the more of these products he passes on to his fellow workers and the more his own needs are not satisfied out of his own achievements, but out of the achievements of others.”


Conversations take place between Rudolf Steiner and Richard von Kühmann (Ministry of Foreign Affairs) and Prince Max von Baden (later, in 1918 briefly Imperial Chancellor).

Otto von Lerchenfeld and Ludwig von Polzer-Hoditz meet Rudolf Steiner in the summer of 1917 to discuss the peace process and perspectives for the post-war world. (Two memorandums are published. GA 24)

In March 1918 following the Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, Rudolf Steiner began to lecture publically on Threefolding.

Emil Molt, Carl Unger, Hans Kühn and Roman Boos wished to start a popular movement together with Rudolf Steiner. In November, various Committees are founded: In Germany Emil Molt, Carl Unger and Wilhelm von Blume (attorney in constitutional law), in Austria Walter Johannes Stein, Ludwig von Polzer-Hoditz, Cousellor Stefan von Licht, and in Switzerland, Roman Boos, Albert Steffen.


In February Rudolf Steiner held lectures in Switzerland (GA 328), on the basis of which the book “Kernpunkte der Sozialen Frage” (“The Threefold Social Order”) (GA 23) was written.

On 5 March the article of Rudolf Steiner „Aufruf an das Deutsche Volk und die Kulturwelt“ (Appeal to the German People and to Civilization) appears in a number of daily newspapers and also as a flyer (GA 23/24 and GA 328 ff).

In April the book „Die Kernpunkte der sozialen Frage“ (GA 23) is appears in print, which sold 30,000 copies in the following months. Besides this, speeches are given to the employees of Daimler and Bosch. (GA 330 and GA 331).

On 22 April the „Bund für Dreigliederung“ (Association for Threefolding) is founded in Stuttgart with Hans Kühn, and later Walter Kühne and Ernst Uehli as directors. On the Management Council were Emil Molt, Carl Unger, Wilhelm von Blume, Emil Leinhas, Theodor Binder, Max Benzinger und Rudolf Steiner (Chairman).

From July onwards, the weekly publication „Dreigliederung des sozialen Organismus“ “Threefolding the Social Organism” is published by the Association with Ernst Uehli as editor. The Swiss founding of the Association for Threefolding takes place and the Newsletter “Soziale Zukunft” (“Social Future”) appears in Switzerland edited by Roman Boos. (During the extended illness of Roman Boos Willy Storrer took over its direction). In the Netherlands Johanna Maria Tak van Portvliet stood for the movement on Threefolding, in England George Adams-Kaufmann. Others involved were: Hans Büchenbacher, Erhard Bartsch, Richard Eriksen, Pieter de Haan, Herbert Hahn, Karl Heyer, Johannes Hohlenberg, Karl Ingero, Bruno Krüger, Hans Erhard Lauer, Joseph van Leer, Einar Lunde, Alfred Meebold, Martin Münch, Felix Peipers, Ehrenfried Pfeiffer, Carlo Septimus Picht, Alexander Strakosch, Günther Wachsmuth, Kurt Walther.

On 19 August Rudolf Steiner placed the emphasis of the movement for Threefolding on the free spiritual life with the founding of the Waldorf School in Stuttgart, and he holds the lectures for teachers.


On 17 March, the company „Der kommende Tag AG“ (The Coming Day”) is founded in Stuttgart for the furthering of economic and spiritual values. In its Board of Directors are Konradin Hausser, Hans Kühn, Wilhelm Trommsdorff, Eugen Benkendörffer, Emil Leinhas und Wolfgang Wachsmuth, Aufsichtsrat: Rudolf Steiner, Emil Molt, Emil Leinhas, Carl Unger, Jose del Monte, and later also Rudolf Zoeppritz. Connected institutions are: Klinisch-Therapeutisches Institut (Ita Wegman Clinic) and the pharmaceutical production company in Stuttgart, the Waldorf School, the publishing company of the “Kommende Tag”, the institute for biological research of Lily Kolisko and some agricultural companies directed by Carl von Keyserlingk and Immanuel Voegele). Through the inflation of 1922/23 financial difficulties begin to arise and in 1925 the company was liquidated.

On 16 June the company Futurum AG was founded, despite reservations by Rudolf Steiner, by Roman Boos and Emil Molt. On its board of directors were: Rudolf Steiner, Roman Boos, Ernst Gimmi, Ernest Etienne, Johann Hirter, Paul de Kalbermatten, Christian Krebs, Frederik Tharaldsen. Directors: Arnold Ith, Ernst Schaller, Adolf Padrutt. The pharmaceuticals company, Ita Wegman Clinic (then known as klinisch-therapeutisches Institut) in Arlesheim, the Publishing Company at the Goetheanum together with the Goetheanum weekly newssheet were incorporated with it. There were other promising companies that were bought up.

In November 1920 Moritz Bartsch started on the so-called Silesian Question from the point of view of Threefolding. This leads to the Upper Silesien Action in the beginning of 1921.


Founding of the newspaper “Die Drei”, a monthly newssheet for Anthroposophy and Threefolding with editors Ernst Uehli, Egen Kolisko (founder), Kurt Piper, Erich Schwebsch, Herbert Witzenmann, Fritz Götte, Hans Erhand Lauer.

At the request of Storrer, Rudolf Steiner held an introductory course in Public Speaking for speakers on Threefolding. (GA 339)


The financial situation of the Futurum AG declines rapidly. After some changes in personnel, Ita Wegman withdraws the Arlesheim pharmaceutic manufacturers (Later Weleda AG) from the organization. In 1924 the Futurum AG is dissolved.

In July the Association for Threefolding („Bund für Dreigliederung“) is transformed into the “Association for a Free Spiritual Life” („Bund für freies Geistesleben“). Its newssheet is now renamed to “Anthroposophy: Weekly for a Free Spiritual Life” („Anthroposophie. Wochenschrift für freies Geistesleben“) (1922-1935 with editorial board: Ernst Uehli, Jürgen von Grone, Kurt Piper, Emil Leinhas, Hans Erhard Lauer, Hans Büchenbacher, Carlo Septimus Picht).


In May of this year, Rudolf Steiner withdraws from the governing board of the company “Der Kommende Tag”. The successful enterprises like the Waldorf School, the Weleda and the Institute for Biological Research are withdrawn and the company is dissolved at the beginning of 1925.

Founding and Development of the Section for the Social Sciences

1962 – 1965

Günther Wachsmuth asks Kurt Franz David, General Secretary of the Austrian Anthroposophical Society, to build up a Section for Social Sciences at the Goetheanum in Dornach.

1965 – 1970

Herbert Witzenmann, in the Executive Committee at the Goetheanum since 1963, takes over the Section until such time as differences of opinion regarding the Administrators of the Estate of Rudolf Steiner (Nachlassverwaltung) after the death of Albert Steffen, caused him to begin his own seminar work outside of the Goetheanum.

1970 – 1975

The Executive Committee of the Anthroposophical Society (Rudolf Grosse, Friedrich Hiebel, Margarete Kirchner-Bockholt, Werner Berger und Hagen Biesantz) Takes over the leadership of the Section

1975 – 2000

With Manfred Schmidt-Brabant, new life came into the Section. The grandiose vision of fully establishing the School of Spiritual Science at the Goetheanum as a research and cultural centre was gradually realized together with the colleagues Jörgen Smit and Hagen Biesantz.

Within the Social Section a number of themes were addressed such as the penal code, family culture, associative economics and so on. The annual Section Meeting became a fixed gathering point. Coworkers from the recently established anthroposophical banks, managers of various companies, lawyers, organization development consultants, researchers in Threefolding and so on were all represented there. There was great openness for new initiatives and so the various working groups were founded around these themes, which have gone on until the present.

In his preview for the year 1998 – 99 he wrote: “It is the task of the Section to research the conditions and patterns through which Society, (the whole social organism) in both it Micro and Macro-social context, can bring about conditions of life commensurate with the dignity of the human being. Then, having gained knowledge of these conditions, to develop and exercise skills that enable us to work in an appropriate manner in the social sphere. In order to achieve this, we cannot simply look at outer facts and social processes. The primal task of the School, the “Research on the plane of the Spirit” demands for the area of social life too that we take into account the realities that lie behind the external world. Such spiritual research, however, can in every case originate only in individual projects or working areas.

Today there is an abundance of such projects – so many that a comprehensive overview has become impossible. They have a considerable effect on a local level and have spread all over the world.

Since November 2000

Paul Mackay, Executive at the Goetheanum, takes over the leadership of the Section for Social Sciences

References amongst others from: Anthroposophie im 20. Jahrhundert, Ein Kulturimpuls in biografischen Portraits, Hrsg. Bodo von Plato, Verlag am Goetheanum, Dornach