My life among the anthroposophists, part III

My Life Among the Anthroposophists

by Grégoire Perra

 

 
Back to Life
 
 

There is much I could say about my life between the time of my resignation and the publication of my article on the UNADFI website [112], but I will be brief. I certainly continued thinking about Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf schools. This gave rise to the lecture I delivered in April, 2010, at the Anthroposophical Society headquarters, which became a long article: « The Anthroposophic Way, Animalizing the Life of Thought« .

 

 

 

 

 

The day of my lecture on « the bestiality of thought, » basis of my article 

« The Anthroposophic Way, Animalizing the Life of Thought« . At the moment I ended.

 

 

 

But do not think that my life was reduced to ruminating over such matters. On the contrary, I exeprienced a veritable explosion of happiness, liberation, and the lifting of cares. I’d quit! I was free. I discovered the real world and normal people. I had never really known these before. I learned to dance to rock music. I went out. I flew. I traveled. I became happy in my profession. I discovered sports. Not everything was easy, but everything was new. I wanted these blessed times to last. But when the representative of UNADFI contacted me and asked if I gave permission for the publication of my article, I knew that it was necessary. The organization needed to speak about these “schools.” And it was my responsibility to open the discussion. Of course, I realized what was waiting for me. I knew very well that the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools couldn’t ignore something so threatening to them, and they would use all their means to attack me, including legal action. « Expect a front assault! » the UNADFI representative said, looking me in the eye. But there come moments when you must risk your happiness to do what is right, and such a moment now came for me after so many years.

 

 

My Trial with the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools of France

 

 

The publication of my article occurred July. 2011. [113] Early in September, 2011, a teacher from the Waldorf school I had attended, who also had been involved in my training at the Steiner-Waldorf institute, got in touch with me to say that his colleagues would meet to prepare a reply titled « Grégoire Perra’s Article: The Federation’s Viewpoint”. That evening, he called me again to give me a detailed account. He expressed complete amazement that Marie-Céline Gaillard, president of the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools and headmistress of the school in Verrières-le-Buisson, had taken up my defense (in his words) during the meeting with the teachers, claiming that much of what I had written was true. Still, he said, the Federation would probably feel obliged to charge that my writing was defamatory, hoping to undo the effects I might have produced on public opinion. He said that during the meeting, it was said that the strategy previously adopted by the Federation was to create a cover-up. Now they would publicly characterize my writing as a “tirade.”  However, at the meeting, Marie-Céline Gaillard said that internally it should not be referred to as a tirade but as an essay, because it was a work that reflected my thoughts, and the schools should take seriously what I had written in order to improve their modes of operation. (Bear in mind that, although these reamrks were relayed by a person of good faith, I cannot myself attest to what was said.) According to this teacher, her remarks aroused indignation among the hard core Steiner-Waldorf faculty who were present at the meeting. I later saw an internal letter from the Federation to teachers at the Steiner-Waldorf schools then in operation, signed by the Secretary General of the Federation, Henri Dahan, affirming the position taken by Marie-Céline Gaillard in front of her colleagues. He clearly said that the writing of Grégoire Perra raised important questions, that I was not the first to raise them, and the schools should try to benefit from the results of my act.

 
The Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools filed a defamation suit against me, due to my article, on October 6, 2011, just two days before the end of the three-month limitation period. [114] Their complaint was dismissed on May 24, 2013, after a trial that took place on April 5, 2013, at the 12th Criminal Court of Paris. They did not appeal the verdict. My acquittal was officially delivered at the 17th Criminal Court of Paris on June 4, 2013. Here is an excerpt, summarizing the evolution of my point of view. I reproduce it because only rarely do we find, in an official document, the exact description of a person’s mode of life and the development of his individual thinking:
Extract from the Judgment of the 17th Criminal Court of Paris on May 24, 2013:
On good faith:
Grégoire PERRA has shown that after his resignation (from the school Perceval Chatou) he continued to work with the Anthroposophic community and submiited on January 28, 2008 to Danièla HUCHER, Council member of the Federation of STEINER-WALDORF Schools and member of the Executive Committee of the Anthroposophical Society, « a small report on the issue of teacher training in WALDORF schools in France, » in which he described in particular the « formation of a closed, deeply pathogenic system » within the faculty and offered various solutions.
 
Grégoire PERRA then presented another report, on January 29, 2008, to Antoine DODRIMONT and Bodo von PLATO [115], written at their request, entitled « Draft Reflections on General Anthroposophical Training, » in which he made a number of proposals to improve Anthroposophic training. He finally submitted, on December 15, 2008, a third report to Anthroposophic authorities, entitled « Letter on Anthroposophic Training in France », in which he described « defects » existing « throughout the Anthroposophic community » in order to « make improvements, » which illustrates the fact that he had formed a reasoned critique at the time this work was produced. Then, in 2009, he published an article entitled « From Idealism to Anthroposophy » [116] in the magazine « News of the Anthroposophical Society in France, » dated July-August, 2009, in which he described himself as having reached a breaking point in his own reflections on Anthroposophical doctrines, arguing that these doctrines now threatened his own free will.
 
Although in June, 2009, he resigned from the Anthroposophical Society, thereafter he gave a conference presentation entitled « The Anthroposophic Way, Animalizing the Life of Thought« , the text of which was made ​​available to members of the Anthroposophical Society in France, specifically through the « News of the Anthroposophical Society », in June, 2010, even though the presentation discussed the idea that STEINER school children are indoctrinated in Anthroposophy.
 
It follows from the above that, far from reflecting a « bitter hatred, » the written work of Grégoire PERRA published on the UNADFI website is the result of philosophical reflection about Anthroposophy itself and its modes of transmission, including within STEINER-WALDORF schools. 
 
Therefore, it is also vain for the plaintiff to argue that UNADFI is driven by personal animosity because UNADFI reproduced, without reservation, the work of Grégoire PERRA, since no animosity has been shown on his part.
 
In addition, not only did UNADFI grant the request made by the plaintiff for the right to respond, but no personal animosity against the plaintiff has been established on the part of Catherine PICARD and Marie DRILHON [117], who fulfilled the proper social objective of UNADFI by focusing public attention in order to promote a democratic debate, which must be open to criticism, questioning, and reflection.
 
Finally, the « serious investigation » has not been effectively challenged by the plaintiff, since the offending material, taken out of context, is in fact the testimony of a person who is qualified to give an opinion on the functioning of STEINER-WALDORF schools. Grégoire PERRA was first a student in two STEINER-WALDORF schools, then a teacher in such schools, and a member of the Anthroposophical Society in France. Then he worked not only for the Federation of STEINER-WALDORF schools but for the Anthroposophical Society, endeavoring to reform Anthroposophic training generally and also within STEINER-WALDORF schools in particular. We should also observe that it was legitimate for the President of UNADFI — a specialist in the fight against cults — to give voice to Grégoire PERRA through her association; and in taking the evidence presented by Grégoire PERRA, Marie Drilhon was not required to check its veracity. [118]
 
A defense of good faith having been well demonstrated, this lawsuit is therefore decided for the defendants.
 
Civil action:
 
The association THE FEDERATION OF STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS IN FRANCE, admissible as a civil party, must be unsuccessful of all its application due to this pronunciation of acquittal.
 
FOR THESE REASONS:
 
The Court publicly, in the first instance in the alleged matter concerning Grégoire PERRA, Marie [DRILHON], Catherine [PICARD], the defendants, and THE FEDERATION OF STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS IN FRANCE associated as per civil code (article 424 of the code of criminal procedure),
 
Returns for Grégoire PERRA, Marie [DRILHON], Catherine [PICARD] as defendants.
 
Having received the association THE FEDERATION OF STEINER-WALDORF SCHOOLS IN FRANCE in its civil constitution,
 
Its allegations are hereby dismissed as a result of this pronunciation of acquittal.
 
 
 
The Trial of April 5, 2013
The trial on April 5 was an event full of emotions and reversals. But primarily it exposed the cult-like nature of Anthroposophy and Waldorf schools, through the confusion and bad faith reflected in almost every statement made by the prosecution witnesses. Immediately after the trial, I transcribed my recollection of the discussions that took place in the court, and the arguments made by the various lawyers. Here are some significant excerpts, accompanied by my heated reactions [119]:
◊◊◊
It is about 2 p.m. After explaining the different stages of my career in the Anthroposophic community and Steiner-Waldorf schools, and the process that led me to write my article, I am asked a relevant question:
Second counsel: Mr. Perra, how did you feel when you learned that the Federation was suing you for your article?
Me: I received this is information on September 1, 2011. Indeed, yesterday, a friend who was a teacher at Waldorf School Canopies-le-Buisson phoned me saying: « You know what, Grégoire, you’re on the agenda for the first faculty meeting of the year: ‘Grégoire Perra’s Article: The Federation’s Viewpoint.' » I asked him to call me again to tell me what was said what, which he did: « Grégoire, it was simply amazing. The president of the Federation defended your articles to all the teachers! She said that you were right on many points, and we should question our practices and our relationship to anthroposophy, because we’re not at all clear on this issue, especially when we talk to parents. This has angered the hardline Anthroposophic teacher you know well, you know the one who always dresses so strangely. She was almost apoplectic! The president even said that we should not call your written a polemic, because it was an honest reflection of your views. But she also said we would take you to court and that everything must be done to stifle the article’s distribution. She said that now we must adopt the opposite strategy to what we had adopted in 2000, when we tried to keep quiet about this issue so as not to inform the parents. »
I thanked him and recommended that he not mention his relationship with me, otherwise they could hurt him. A few days later, I received in my mailbox an anonymous envelope containing a letter from the secretary general of the Federation, addressed to all Waldorf teachers in France, where I could read their intention to sue me, but also: « Grégoire Perra raises important questions, he is not the first to do this, so I suggest that we take the time to work without creating a drama, once we have absorbed the public consequences of his act. » What a contrast with the letter sent by the president of the Federation to UNADFI, which reached the same day, calling my writing a « tirade! » I felt then real concern for the friend who was my teacher at a Waldorf school and helped train me at the Institute, who supported me in difficult times in 2007 [120], sending me a warm greeting card in 2008 signed by his hand, including a kind message along with one from the director of the Institute. How can Anthroposophists be so internally divided as to defend my testimony among themselves but to take me to public trial at the same time?
 

The President of the Tribunal: Mr. Perra, you said that Anthroposophy included a number of beliefs that it was almost impossible for an Anthroposophic Waldorf teacher to question. Me: Yes, it is indeed an esoteric, mystical, and gnostic doctrine that encompasses a large number of beliefs that Anthroposophist cling to as a profession of faith. Before this court, the Federation will strive to present Anthroposophy as a philosophy, which it is not when one experiences the beliefs that constitute it. The President: What are these beliefs? Me: There are many. But among the main ones are belief in reincarnation, the fact that Christ is descended from the Sun, gnomes are real, and Adam, the ancestor of all living creartures, was a jellyfish that floated in albumin when the Earth was still in the liquid state.The President: [He shows an expression of amazement] ? Me: And also that the Earth is reincarnated. It has already been reincarnated four times. As for the Buddha, he reincarnated on Mars. [121] The President: ????? But what is the connection to Waldorf pedagogy? Me: Steiner claimed to have discovered a method to become clairvoyant. He could see the gods and communicate with them. So his pedagogy is a revelation that he received from the gods. The President: ???????????

 
(Great discomfort runs through the Anthroposophists in the room. I should say here that the question the President asked focused on the beliefs of Anthroposophists, not a definition of Anthroposophy itself. I acknowledge that Rudolf Steiner’s thinking was more subtle than this catalog of beliefs dealing with material reality suggests. Had I not myself written a significant number of articles exploring the subtleties of Steiner’s thought? However, Anthroposophists themselves generally live with Anthroposophy as a religion and not as a process of thinking, as my whole career in the Anthroposophic community demonstrates. Rudolf Steiner tended to introduce and develop Anthroposophy in a metaphorical fashion through imagery rather and concepts [122], giving rise to a new mythology and magical-religious thought, which is something I have long criticized, especially in my article « The Anthroposophic Way, Animalizing the Life of Thought ». So my answer to the President was perfectly honest and well-grounded. Do not forget that a trial is not that a debate of ideas. You have neither the time nor the opportunity to enter into philosophical subtleties. The counsel for the Federation had, with full knowledge, used the podium to create a show rather than a symposium, making a travesty of facts, conflating issues deplorably, and resorting to shameful shortcuts.)
 
◊◊◊
 
 
It is about 6 p.m. My former Anthroposophic companion is now at the witness stand, testifying against me. [123] I cannot look at her, but I hear her voice saying « I swear » in a chipper tone that sounds as if this were a game, as if no part of her being were really involved in this oath. Listening to her statements, which are guided by questions from the civil party, I cannot help but feel sorry for her: The confusion produced by each of her remarks seems to prevail in her mind. I should hate her for the potential consequences of what she is doing, mixing memories of our life together with pure fabrications. Doesn’t she know this is a criminal trial and the penalty for the accused can be severe? Is she willing to go to extremes to defend at all costs her old school, the « teaching » she received, and her Anthroposophic family environment? But I think her mind is in such a state that it can no longer separate truth from falsehood, or disassociate what she really experienced from what she has speculated, or what she has been encouraged to say. She seems to have completely forgotten all the harsh criticisms she herself expressed about her school and the Anthroposophic community! Yet a few years ago, she made such criticisms often! Everything incriminating she ever told me about what went on between teachers and students in her school seems to have been erased from her memory! But being promoted to head teacher in a Waldorf nursery school when she was just 24 years old has placed certain requirements on her.
 
Still, the act is done, she has made her decision, and it is clear that she will long remain a prisoner of the Anthroposophic community, although she had once felt an ardent desire to escape. Errors and lies that we commit consciously, even for reasons that we consider valid at the time, make us slaves of wrongdoing. It is possible to darken our spirits and bind ourselves to our mistakes by taking actions that we send out into the world and no longer have the ability or the courage to take back.
 
The President of the Tribunal: Miss X, what have you found defamatory in Grégoire Perra’s article?
 
Miss X: Everything is a tissue of lies and vile falsehoods about Waldorf schools!
 
The President: Yes, but what precise passages did you find defamatory?
 
Miss X: I do not know, I did not read it, I have just flown in…
 
The President of the Tribunal: Miss X, as a former Waldorf student, how critical are you of the school?
Miss X: Since I left school, I really have distanced myself from it all!
The President: And what do you do now?
Miss X: Uh, I did my training at the Chatou institute of Waldorf education and I now work in a Waldorf nursery school…
 

Her confusion becomes increasingly pronounced when it is my lawyer’s turn to ask her some questions:

My lawyer: Miss X, you were the partner of Grégoire Perra. Why do you think he wrote his article about Steiner-Waldorf schools?
Miss X: In my opinion this is revenge due to the fact that he was forced to leave the school in Perceval. At first he wanted to attack that school, and it expanded to all Waldorf schools, and then to the Federation of these schools, and then to all of Anthroposophy!
My lawyer: Yes, that is what the Federation alleges. But we were not present for your private conversations with Mr. Perra about this! Now, when you were together, do you remember that Grégoire Perra worked with people like Mr. Dodrimont, president of the Anthroposophical Society, and Mrs. Hucher, director of the Federation?
Miss X: Yes, I remember that he had worked with them to write reports. It took him a long time.
My lawyer: And does it not seem strange to you that Grégoire Perra collaborated intensively with people and institutions that you claim he hated at the time?
Miss X: Uh……………………. [Extended silence of about 30 seconds.] Yes, but he is quite wicked, indeed it was he who strongly encouraged me to take training at the institute!
My lawyer: And that, also, does it not seem inconsistent with what you’re saying?
Miss X: Uh…….
After she is finished testifying, she sits in the audience next to Jacques Dallé, of the Federation, [124] who puts his arm around her shoulders, fatherly and comforting. It’s like a bad piece of boulevard theater. Her parents proudly raised her in the pure spirit of Anthroposophy. Is this the price?
◊◊◊
Produced as if by a conjuror, Mrs. Y. testifies with the evident mission of proving that Steiner-Waldorf schools contribute to modern society by preparing students to enter the most prestigious institutions:
Mrs. Y: I am a teacher in a Waldorf school in the south of France, where we have developed an original and deeply innovative apprenticeship program. We are at the heart of modernity! We work in partnership with over 200 leading companies, including CNRS! [125] This is proof that our Waldorf students fit into society perfectly!
My lawyer: But, realistically, what they do your students learn about business in a six-month program taken at the age of 15?
Mrs. Y: Well… They do internships in garages or bakeries….
◊◊◊
In a procedure that moves haltingly and a bit awkwardly, Henri Dahan, CEO of the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf schools, comes to speak. With what intention? Perhaps we cannot know, for he is defensive and answers as briefly as possible. His testimony is short. At the end, he returns to the audience, evidently satisfied and relieved, telling Jacques Dallé, « After all, it was easy. They basically asked me just one question… » But what a question! And, more to the point, what an answer! Without realizing it, Henri Dahan dropped under oath a true media bomb:
My lawyer: Henri Dahan, you are Secretary General of the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools. Are you an Anthroposophist?
Henri Dahan: I am not a member of the Anthroposophical Society.
My lawyer: That was not my question! You can vote for a political party without necessarily being a party member.
Henri Dahan: Well, yes, I am an Anthroposophist…
My lawyer: What is the role of Anthroposophy in Waldorf schools?
Henri Dahan: It is the source of inspiration for all our teaching. Without Anthroposophy, there would be no Waldorf education!
My lawyer: That’s funny, that is exactly what Grégoire Perra said in his article, and for that you have taken him to trial!
 
 
◊◊◊
 
 
Intermission
An Anthroposophist with an emaciated form, his face sharp as a knife, has tried several times to glare at me, but his shots keep falling into the void. He rages and reloads immediately. At times, he stops to draw more strength from his absolute moral certainty, as if filling up at a gas station. I discuss the situation with a cult specialist [126], who says to me, « It is a peculiarity of the members of such movements to direct expressive and aggressive looks at to those they perceive as enemies. Don’t exchange glances with them, it’s useless. »

◊◊◊

It is now the turn of the principal of the school where I taught a few years ago to take the witness stand. The Federation has staked everything on trying to prove that my article was written out of deep animosity caused by the circumstances of my departure from that school. She does not look comfortable. Counsel for the Federation begins by asking her to discuss the case of the professor of physics and chemistry, whom I mentioned in my article, who dated a student in everyone’s full view. She answers that she does not know about it. On hearing this, I’m almost ready to give her the benefit of the doubt, since she was usually the last person to know anything about what was happening in the organization she headed. But I know that she is well aware that the college of teachers [127] was informed about the affair. Today, however, she takes care not to inform the court that the direction of a Waldorf school is in the hands of this committee. The individual who officially holds the title of principal is a straw man erected to mislead outsiders. She commits lies of omission:
Counsel for the plaintiff: Madame X, the article by Grégoire Perra mentions a teacher of physics and chemistry who had a liason with one of his students. Did you know that?
Mrs X: I read about that after the teacher in question had left the school. If I had known at the time, no doubt he would have been out the door!
My lawyer: However, according to the testimony of two former students, on the record, the whole school knew.
Mrs X: Well, I did not know!
My lawyer: You do not seem to know much about what is happening in your school, headmistress! It’s a little too easy to say today, five years later, that you were not aware! Yet the evidence does not merely refer to this teacher, but it also describes the teacher inviting students to « come and sleep here and enjoy the swimming pool! »
My lawyer: In the name « Steiner-Waldorf » education, we find the name of Rudolf Steiner. One may imagine that there is a link between Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf education, since they are derived from the same person. Is this not so? But do you inform parents that Anthroposophy is behind this education? Do you tell them, for example, during visiting days? [128]
Mrs X. No, it is for the parents to learn.
My lawyer: But where can they learn this? On the website of the Federation? I went there and I saw no mention of Anthroposophy or Rudolf Steiner!
Mrs X: Well, they are adults, they just need to look harder!
Seeing her today, I’m amazed at how little she has changed. Usually, within a few years, deep inner transformations do their work in human beings. But the principal seems to have kept exactly the same personality, the same attitudes, the same view (disappointing) of life. But, then, all of the Anthroposophists who have flocked to the courtroom today seem like that. They have not changed. Life seems not to have touched them. Anthroposophy has rendered them impervious to life changes.
My lawyer: Madame X, since are you are the principal of a Waldorf school, could you tell me if in your students are taught Anthroposophy in their philosophy studies, since you say that Anthroposophy is a philosophy like the others? [129]
Mrs X: That I do not know, I cannot answer you. I have not learned by heart what to say here. (Truly, she said this!)
My lawyer: Madame X, can you describe your position in the Waldorf school?
Mrs X: (Very proud) Yes, I am a teacher in sixth, third, and fourth grades, and director of the middle and upper schools.
My lawyer: You mean that you teach three different levels of students, and in addition to this you are director of the middle and upper schools? [130]
Mrs X: Uh, yes, but it’s a small organization, you know…
My lawyer: How many students?
Mrs X: (Proud again) 300! We are the largest Waldorf school in France!
 
 
◊◊◊
 
 
Intermission
 
At the beginning of the trial, Marie-Céline Gaillard, president of the Federation, came to sit in the first row, a notebook on her knees, gravely taking notes, her air proud and confident. As the hours passed, she gradually quit writing, closing her notebook with resignation, while her head gradually sank between her shoulders. She seemed to anticipate disaster. Others strut around, exchange confident smiles, discuss their performances, apparently unaware of the impression they have created and the compromising nature of what they have said. Throughout her life, Ms. Galliard had received many honors and risen to positions of responsibility. She knows now that she will also have to bear the consequences.
 
 
◊◊◊
 
 
 
 
 
 
Counsel for the plaintiff (emphatically): The article by Grégoire Perra is a tirade, a rant, a vindictive fabrication that presents everything in Waldorf education as bad, corrupt, and vile! It is written without nuance, fed by an unprecedented animosity!
 
My lawyer: Really? Yet in this « tirade » Grégoire Perra wrote « Many students enjoy being enrolled in these schools. And many teachers flourish there — still — in their teaching practices. I would be lying if I did not recognize this… » A little further on: « [S]ome of these educational innovations actually promote free thinking among the students. I think this is due in particular to the methods of teaching literacy and numeracy, and the approach to science through experience and not pure theory. » Or again: « For my part, I know that much of my analysis comes from some relevant educational elements that I enjoyed in the Waldorf School where I did my schooling…. » Or again: « it is important to note that all of the practices that I have described do not lead to a massive indoctrination of students immersed in this education. Few of them will become, as was my case, a member of the Anthroposophical Society…. « 
Don’t you think these are surprising comments, coming from someone who allegedly sees only absolute evil in this form of education?
◊◊◊
The argument of the civil party [i.e., the « victim »] is presented in two stages. First, the indictment is affirmed by a young lawyer who recently joined Olivier Baratelli, the lead lawyer representing the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools. The poor woman seems to sweat blood. She delivers a steady stream of varied assertions meant to discredit our case, or rather to try to distract the judges from following matters too closely:
• Concerning the testimony of former students of the Chatou Perceval school, confirming what Mr. Perra said about cheating during inspections and reports of problems between teachers and students?
« These are just rumors! »
• The affidavits submitted by Roger Rawlings, Dan Dugan, Yves Casgrain, and Pete Karaiskos, confirming the significance of Mr. Perra’s account? [131]
« We can give no value to writings that crossed the Atlantic! »
• Steiner was a racist?
« Like everyone else in his time, of course! »
• Steiner was a medium and a guru?
« Yes, but the teachers of these schools have distanced themselves from him! »
(If a leader of the Federation publicly took such a position, history would record how long he would retain his post!)
• The letter from Antoine Dodrimont, president of  the Anthroposopic Society in France, dated 2008, to the college of teachers at the Perceval school, demanding an end to the rumors spread by them against Mr. Perra after his departure from the school?
« This does not show any interference by the Anthroposophical Society in the affairs of Waldorf schools, since the Perceval school did not comply with this request! »
• Etc.
At the end of her argument, the lawyer catches her breath and checks her notes to be sure she has not overlooked any of the instructions the Federation gave  during the long preparation for battle, prior to the delivery of our dossier one day ago. [132] She probably was caught off guard. Her firm had postponed sending us their entire file until the last minute — an effort to create surprise, which must have seemed like a good idea, a clever strategy to destabilize the opponent. Except that we had known for months exactly what issues (largely immaterial) they would hit us with. (The Anthroposophic community is so talkative!) Also, we were prepared with the decisive weapon of truth. Therefore, when the Federation and the law firm received parts of our response just before trial, they could no longer revise their strategy. The young lawyer knows this, but all she can do now is survey the damage.
Her boss, Mr. Baratelli, comes immediately to congratulate her, showing the court that this newcomer presented a great argument and he is very satisfied with her. This evidently braces the president of the Federation, who seems half-annoyed, half-amused by this display combining pretense and sophisticated skill. Then it is her turn to speak. She begins by explaining her personal troubles, telling that her child had suffered a broken arm and she should have left, but she managed to stay. Then she launches into diatribes and invectives as if to give the Federation its money’s worth — she knows the trial is lost, but she wants to assure her followers that she tried everything.
◊◊◊
The debate is now closed. Counsel for the plaintiffs has completed his argument. I feel deep shame for them, for the strategy of insults and personal demonization they used to try to condemn me. So this is what they are. This is what they are capable of. How after this will they be able to look themselves calmly in a mirror, or fail to see what is reflected there? And how can they now avoid being compared with those whom they least want to be compared with, since they use the same tactics? As for the lawyers who have implemented these tactics, they know they have nothing to fear, because legal immunity gives them the right to say anything, to mouth totally unjustified insults and indignities during a trial without being held unaccountable to the law. Their courage and the gravity of their words are proportional to the risk they take, which is to say none. Normally, it would now be the turn of my lawyer to speak. In trials for alleged defamation, it is extremely rare for the Advocate General to take the floor. [133] He may be considered the chief prosecutor of the Republic. He represents the French State. This day, he delivers a bombshell: He rises to speak on behalf of French Justice.
 
 
Statement of the Advocate General:
 
 
The accusation in this case is based on a reading of the article by Grégoire Perra that isolates certain words or passages out of context. We cannot do this! The Court must base its judgment on a thorough reading of the text in dispute.
 
When Jacques Guyard was tried in 2000 [134], his accusations against Anthroposophy and Waldorf Schools were far more serious than those made by Mr. Perra today. They were presented as the findings of an investigation, while the statements of Mr. Perra in his article are clearly identifiable as his personal opinions expressing a point of view that is necessarily subjective. They do not contain any trace of personal animosity. The article was signed, the author did not try to hide. The prosecution contends that UNADFI should also publish positive testimonials about these schools if satisfied former students come forward to express them: But this is a denial of the fundamental right of any journal to express an opinion! In addition, the publication of a rightful reply, which the Federation had the opportunity to seek, was not denied.
 
No doubt the Steiner-Waldorf schools, in having their complaint dismissed, can start to learn about the right to express contrary opinions!
◊◊◊
It is 8 p.m. The rays of the sun beaming through the windows of the 17th Criminal Court of Paris illuminate the woodwork of this solemn place, at the center of the prestigious Palace of Justice in Paris, in the heart of the capital city of freedom. With a powerful voice like the roar of a lion, [defense attorney] Marc François begins his argument: 
 
Ladies and Gentlemen, 
 
Today we had a scoop! Waldorf education is linked to Anthroposophy!! You can hunt through all the glowing articles about these schools on the website of the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools, and you will never find this information! And today it was Henri Dahan, general secretary of the Federation, who told us! I quote: 
 
« Anthroposophy is the source of inspiration for all our teaching. »
 
Incredible! But why do you never say this? Why do you not write it? Are you ashamed to say publicly that your education is based on the doctrine that Christ fell from the Sun? [135] All we ask is the right to publish such information. Because if a pupil’s parents consider enrolling their children in this kind of school, where can they find the information that this form of education is linked to a mystic who can only be described as a fantasist? [136] On the Federation’s website? No! In one of the many laudatory articles printed almost every week in Provence, always from the pen of the same journalist? [137] No more. But now, there’s an article by Grégoire Perra. It does not say Waldorf is terrible, do not go. It offers an opinion that does not originate from the Federation. After that, parents are free to choose! That’s the democratic debate! That is the right to information and conflicting opinion! If the issue of education is ruled off limits for public debate, then all we have left to talk about is the rain and the weather. On this, at least, we’ll all agree!
 
The Federation criticized UNADFI for not doing any serious investigation prior to the publication of this article. But what more serious investigation could we have than the fact that the Anthroposophical Society in France, in the issue of its News for June-July 2010, made available to its members Grégoire Perra’d article titled « The Anthroposophic Way, Animalizing the Life of Thought«  in which the author develops exactly the same ideas about Steiner-Waldorf schools that he would include in his article published on the UNADFI website?! In fact, speaking about serious investigation, it was the plaintiffs themselves who printed and publicly validated Grégoire Perra! How can they then blame UNADFI for publishing statements that have been previously appeared in the official organ of the Anhroposophical Socierty? The Federation did not, at the time, charge the Anthroposophical Society with defamation, as far as I know? So why does the Federation now make such a charge against Mr. Perra for what appears on the UNADFI website?
 
I confess that I itch to condemn the Federation for abuse of the legal process. But let’s play fair. You will reject their charges in this case, and we will rest there.
 
 
 
 
 
 
◊◊◊
 
 
 
The trial is over. I am pleased, first of all, with the attitude we chose to adopt. Attorney Francis, the brilliant criminal lawyer who defended UNADFI and me, did not at any time use insults or invective, or slander, or sophistry. He was respectful to each witness, never brusque, not trying to trap them, allowing them to choose their own words (sometimes rather verbose), adopting a calm and courteous tone, etc. The opposite of the other party! Aggression, insults, and contempt were accompanied by long statements that lacked question marks, so that the presiding judge had to intervene to explain the legal difference between an argument and a question. In addition, the use of innuendo, distortions of fact, and attempts to implant sly innuendos were the tactics of the Federation’s attorney. In common language, it would be called blowing smoke. At times, carried away by his passion, he even stood as close as possible to the defendants to yell in their ears. Did he think we were deaf? Did he confuse the witness stand with the pillory of the Middle Ages? Don’t lawyers agree to act with dignity when they take the oath of their profession? Probably these tactics would be very effective in front of a jury, but they proved completely ineffective with professionals. [138] Thus, we have gained in dignity and truth, while the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools has lost in disgrace. But was this not to be expected when they selected such a representative?
Aside from comic situations, I am seized with amazement and wonder. Do they not realize that every time they open their mouths or step into the light, their internal contradictions and infighting explode in their faces and become obvious to everyone? It would be better for them to stay in the shadows! It would have been better for them not to begin this essentially immoral lawsuit! Do they weigh the consequences of their actions? Do they imagine what may lie ahead? How could they be so misguided? How could they be so blindly confident? Are they aware that the image they have created for themselves is much worse than anything my article denounced? Did they realize the effect they had that day on the audience?
Now some of them will have to continue their way of life carrying the lies that they were led to mouth as witnesses, or that they convinced themselves were justified in service to these schools. This will be a heavy weight to carry! Do they not take seriously the notion of karma, which is at the heart of their belief system? [139]
 
 
 
◊◊◊
 
 
 
 
Maître François, mon avocat.
 
—————
Escape from Anthroposophy
Let me now try to describe — and this is not an easy task — the psychic consequences Anthroposophy has had for me. And what allowed me to escape. The phenomenon of sectarian indoctrination always involves the loss of one’s true personality and its replacement by another. Therefore this is a difficult issue, requiring me to look deep inside myself, to consider who I was and who I have become. What was it in my past that caused me to want to be myself, causing me to struggle, resist, and suffer? And what was that other personality, which was not my true self, that Anthroposophy and Waldorf education imposed on me?
To start, I needed to reconnect with myself. Or I should say create a connection, because having lived in the Anthroposophic community since the age of nine, my ability to know myself had never developed in a normal way and was very unsettled. The process started with simple things like learning to recognize my exhaustion. Then my aversions, and my aspirations. Finally my doubts and my own thoughts. Doing this very kind of thing sometimes seemed almost impossible, since Anthroposophy conditions the mind to spontaneously close itself to such considerations. Then, too, it was important not to consult a therapist from the Anthroposophic community, who would strive to take everything that might emerge and direct it into false paths or byways rather than allow you to question the Anthroposophic community itself.
But we should pause to ask ourselves what it means to « be yourself, » or what may be the true personality that sectarian indoctrination takes from us. This question, approached in a general and abstract way, has sophisticated philosophical or metaphysical aspects. But for someone who was a victim of sectarian manipulation, it is also quite plain, an almost palpable reality of his existence. To enable the reader to understand this, I must address what I want to call a great truth of life, both immensely complex and profoundly simple, without which it is not possible to understand the influence that a sectarian movement like Anthroposophy can exert on a human being. I approached this matter through philosophy, through my study of the true nature of our individuality. But philosophy itself does not actually say much about it. Or not enough. I also found that religion sheds some light on it, even if what it says about it is often warped or misguided. Anthroposophy undeniably knows something about it, but what it does with this knowledge is deplorable. As for me, the matter became disconcertingly clear during a seemingly innocuous conversation with a neighbor who had recently had her first child. While we talked about her daughter who had just turned three years old, I reminded her of a conversation we had had before she became pregnant, when her desire for a child was only a dream. She had told me about her love of gardening, explaining the profound joy she found in helping things that want to grow. When I reminded her of what she had said, she looked at me and told me that while she had received a lot of joy from caring for her daughter in the past three years, something even stronger had filled her heart, and that was knowing that her daughter was evidently a good person, a good individual. She saw multiple signs in the child’s behavior. She was talking about something much deeper than the morality she had taught her daughter. Indeed, we, human beings are born carrying within us our true self. Parents caring for their children can try to give them a good education. But the true being of their child — they cannot create it, they only to meet it. Sometimes a mother’s vision may see this true self clearly. Sometimes her vision may be somewhat blurred. But it is the child itself who must gradually discover it. To seize it. The young person and then the adult. The individual must make his own choices, through his own initiatives and actions. He must be guided by his own clear thoughts. Above all, by his own moral sense. We may ignore or overlook the man or woman that we really are. Or we can learn to know and embody our true selves. Sometimes we enjoy the benefit of having parents who possess a sensitivity to our true being. Educators and teachers, too. But sometimes not.

There are also in every human being buried psychic tendencies, similar to animal instincts, that bear on the fundamental nature of the individual. Sometimes these tendencies are so powerful in some people — such as those who become leaders of sects through lust for power instead of ideological conviction — that they determine these people’s overall behavior and their relationships with others. This explains, I think, why some people I met during my career in the Anthroposophic community seemed drawn to any signs of true originality in other human beings, the way sharks are attracted to the smell of blood. They themselves were cold and insensitive. Their minds were swimming in water where there is no light. But these personalities within the Anthroposophic movement constantly sought to meet and seduce people whom they were able to identify as strong individuals having specific qualities, such as liveliness and creativity. They were attracted not as we all are to people whom we admire, but rather as if they wanted to « eat » or « off » these attractive individuals. (For more on this sensitive issue, read the section titled « Le caractère méphistophélique de l’anthroposophie » in my article “Éléments explicatifs de l’enfermement mental provoqué par l’anthroposophie”.) [140] I think cults always have founders or leaders who exhibit psychic tendencies of this sort. However, I should add that I met very few Anthroposophists who seemed completely dominated by these terrible psychic tendencies. Most quite sincerely believed in the doctrines of Rudolf Steiner, and they were only gradually boxed in and misled by the type of leader I’m describing. My purpose here is not to criticize individuals but to characterize a movement. The presence within a movement, in key positions, of some leaders who are driven by the pervese psychic impulses I have tried to describe, speaks volumes about the nature of that movement, or what it has become, and its capacity for harm. Because, ultimately, all of the community that is in those leaders’ hands may become dominated and structured by such impulses. So, without necessarily being conscious of it, the community may embrace the goal of taking the heart out of anyone who is drawn into its circles. Therefore, in my view, the Anthroposophic community unconsciously works to ensure that its converts become accustomed to having no lives of their own, and having impoverished relationships with the world, and having the darkened kinds of thinking that prevail in the movement. The result is to twist that most delicate and difficult relationship, the one we have with our true self. How does this process occur?

Although we are born with our true self, other features also accompany us, with which we may have a quarrel. Some are transmitted by heredity, others through the behavior or misbehavior of our parents or other loved ones. We will wrestle with these defects. What can save us from their influence is to humbly receive the lessons that life is able to teach us, to give us. Because life is much greater and much richer than we are! (A simple truth that is very difficult to assimilate.) We can become lost and weakened if we do not make this effort to get in contact with reality. A good education provides such contact — the demands, the rigor, and also the pleasure reality can bring us. Poor education gives us the illusion that we are sufficient in ourselves and that there is no need to leave the little world in which we grew up. Poor education seduces us, makes us fall in love with ourselves, with our own self-image or an image of ourselves that has been crafted for us, making us dependent on our surroundings and companions.

 

For my part — since I need to be candid — I had to contend with the dark part of my nature that I had inherited from my father. But when I was a Waldorf student and later an Anthroposophist, such parts of my personality became so predominant as to prevent me from being my truer self. To put it simply, I know I was hard to bear. At certain times of my life, I displayed great pride. I was too deaf to others. I had not been taught to be interested. I became defensive when I was placed in situations that should have made me question myself. I had only contempt or condescension for the culture of my time. Irritable characteristics dominated my behavior. They made me lose friends or acquaintances who had been important in my life’s journey. They also put me in dangerous situations. Sometimes I was aware, but I just could not do much. [141] Today, I know what helped me out was mainly simple things. For example, engaging in activities that required taking reality into account and developing perseverance: climbing, exercising, various sports, dance, yoga, etc. I started climbing in the forest of Fontainebleau in 2002, with a group of non-Anthroposophic friends. Then from 2007, after my departure from the Waldorf school, I finally had the time and openness to enjoy various activities such as yoga [142], stretching, or dancing to rock-‘n-roll. At first, I felt some guilt about these activities, not daring to tell my Anthroposophic acquaintances. Doing yoga regularly instead of eurythmy [143] was, to my mind, equivalent to attending the worship services of another religion. This was heresy! Similarly, when some Anthroposophists learned that I danced to rock music, they asked me why I did not prefer « bio-dance » [144], which is much more consistent with their view of what dancing should be and would keep me in the circle of spiritualists who do not reject Anthroposophy. But I persisted in my new ways, which allowed me to meet normal people. I cannot express how grateful I am to my new, competent teachers and friends! Did they realize that what they were giving me went far beyond the scope of simple pleasures? These people did not seek to become my gurus or my spiritual leaders, unlike anyone I had encountered in the circles of Anthroposophy, but just human beings like me who had something to share. Someone who did not grow up in the environment where I spent my childhood would consider enrolling in a sport or a dance association a completely commonplace event. For me, it was a huge step. And beyond that, the very existence of such possibilities was a revelation, because coming out of a Streiner-Waldorf school, I had been cut off from what our society has to offer. Making the effort to join in these activities was therefore, for me, a way to reconnect with the gifts that life makes available. I only needed the humility to see this possibility.

 
But on the contrary, my whole career in Anthroposophy occurred under the sign of pride. A deep, violent pride. Because everything is always too easy in Anthroposophy! Being born into the real world among real people is difficult and demanding, but emerging from the thigh of Jupiter requires almost no effort. [145]  Waldorf schooling almost never demanded anything of me. There was no stimulation of my latent faculties, my personality, my will to grow, etc. The teachers let me sleep. This encouraged in me an inflated self-image, accompanied by delusions about the world, so that I had no handle on reality. Then, once I became an Anthroposophist, it was my own intuition, my own feelings, that taught me to overvalue myself. This taught me to listen only to myself. Anthroposophy, as a doctrine, played a profoundly negative role. It presumes to be the savior of everything outside itself. But when it takes an interest in something, it is always destroys it. It cannot comprehend anything that is different from itself! However, this excessive self-estimation always leads, eventually, to a desire for affirmation in the form of those ancient psychic props: power, sex, and money. The appetite for all three is present in the Anthroposophic community and among its leaders. Most people I knew in the movement were driven to indulge in one of the three, to affirm the image of themselves that they wanted to maintain. [146] Or sometimes they indulged all three at once. One can too readily become a person who has the need to exist only in and through power. Or to become an individual who has a vital need to exert his libido on the beings who surround him. Or to become a person who enjoys extracting money from others and accumulating it for oneself. Or become a person exercising all three appetites in combination, reinforcing and building on each other, within a dependent group that one dominates. I knew all three temptations. I met them in various forms and in various people within the Anthroposophic community. And also in myself. Only by coming to terms with them am I able to testify today. And this gives me the duty to testify.
In Conclusion
In telling the story of my life, I have tried to inform civil society and its representative bodies concerning certain important points:
• The mental confinement imposed on students in Waldorf schools can cause, in my estimation, deep psychological harm, and it undermines the students’ dignity, their inner freedom, even if the students do not necessarily realize this because of the subtle indoctrination they have undergone;
• Parents who put their children in these schools have the right to know the true nature of Waldorf education, which is initially hidden from those who are not Anthroposophists, or it is not disclosed in a sufficiently clear and explicit manner;
• Steiner-Waldorf schools should not be enabled to exist, in my opinion, and to maintain their form of « education » as established by Rudolf Steiner, by relying on transgressions of the law and willful failure to properly inform the supervisory authorities.
I claim the right to express this, my point of view concerning these schools, based on careful thought, documentation, and personal experience that allows me to understand and bear witness from the inside. I do not claim to possess absolute truth, but I have honestly tried to attain the truth, and I have exercised my legitimate right to share the results of this investigative approach, given the life that was mine in Anthroposophy.
 
—————

 

 

 

 

 

 

ENDNOTES

 

[112] UNADFI is the Union Nationales des Associations de Defenses des Families et de l’Individu Victimes des Sectes {The National Union of Associations for the Defense of Families and Individual Victims of Sects}. See http://www.unadfi.org/.

 
[113] This is « L’endoctrinement des élèves à l’ Anthroposophie dans les écoles Steiner-Waldorf » {« The Anthroposophical Indoctrination of Students in Steiner-Waldorf Schools}, which Perra originally published on the UNADFI website. For a pdf copy, in French, seehttp://www.unadfi.org/IMG/pdf/Anthroposophie_temoignage.pdf. For an English translation, see « He Went to Waldorf« .
 
[114] The Federation sued Perra and his publisher, UNADFI. In the following judgment, the « plaintiff » and/or « civil party » (i.e., the alleged victim) is the Federation; the « defendants » are Perra, UNADFI, and two officers of UNADFI.
 
[115] Antoine Dodrimont is president of the Anthroposophical Society in France. Bodo von Plato is a ranking Anthroposophist who has served on the Executive Council of the General Anthroposophical Society.
 
 
[117] Catherine Picard is the president of UNADFI. Marie Drilhon is an UNADFI local chapter head.
 
[118] This paragraph, in the original French, was effectively a single sentence. I have broken it into several sentences, to conform to standard English usage.
 
[119] As Perra indicates, the tone of his reflections, in what follows, is somewhat caustic and bitter. Perhaps we can excuse this, considering the trauma to which he had been subjected. He appears to be presenting a faithful account, including the emotional toll that the trial exacted.
 
[120] In 2007, Perra resigned his position as a Waldorf teacher. Other important events in his life also occurred during that year. See Part 2 of his memoir.
 

[121] For Steiner’s teachings on such matters, see « Reincarnation« , « Sun God, « Gnomes« , « Mars« , « Say What?« , etc. According to Anthroposophic belief, proto-humans — who were not yet distinct from some other forms of life — first became jellyfish-like during Old Moon, the evolutionary period before the solar system assumed its present form. « The watery condition first arose on the Moon, and all that lived on this Moon was but a condensation of Water. Jelly fish and slimy creatures such as are still to be seen today give us a notion of these water beings. Only physical bodies of this kind were capable of taking up an astral body. » — Rudolf Steiner, OCCULT SIGNS AND SYMBOLS (Anthroposophic Press, 1972), lecture 2, GA 101. When Old Moon reincarnated as Present Earth, the first human form — the « Adam » — remained a sort of jellyfish: « Man…tumbled headlong down on to the earth. In the first stage of his earth existence he was a plant-animal formation, resembling the jellyfish. The organ that later became the head fastened itself to the bottom of the world ocean, which at that time covered the entire earth, while his extremities reached out towards the sun. » — Anthroposphist Gennady Bondarev, ANTHROPOSOPHIE AUF DER KREUZUNG DER OKKULT-POLITISCHEN BEWEGUNGEN DER GEGENWART, chapter 19. At least on occasion, Steiner taught that « Adam » was not an individual but a proto-human consciousness that manifested in many evolving forms. “By ‘Adam’ we have to understand not a single human being, but an ego-consciousness that embraced several generations … If you look back as far as to Adam, you see the ego-consciousness flow through generations for hundreds and thousands of years.” — Rudolf Steiner, THE GOSPEL OF ST. JOHN (Basle) (London Reference Library, 1942), lecture 8, GA 100. For other, not wholly consistent Anthroposophical teachings about Adam, Eve, and the events depicted in the first books of the Bible, see « Genesis » and « Old Testament« . For a glimpse of Old Moon, see « Old Moon, Etc. » (In Anthroposophical cosmology, Old Moon was the third major phase of solar evolution, following Old Saturn and Old Sun: See « Old Saturn » and « Old Sun« .)

 
[122] Although he is now treated as an enemy by Steiner-Waldorf schools, Perra remains more sympathetic to Anthroposophy than may be entirely justified. Rudolf Steiner did not offer his mystical visions as mere metaphors. Rather, he presented these visions as true representations of spiritual reality, truths that he attained through the use of « exact » (i.e., accurate, reliable) clairvoyance. [See « Exactly« .]
 
Basic to Anthroposophy’s anti-intellectualism is the proposition that truth comes through the formation of mental images rather than through abstract or critical reasoning. Steiner taught that imagination, inspiration, and intuition — which produce images or « imaginations » — are stages of clairvoyance, which itself is an image-producing faculty. The emphasis Waldorf schools place on imagination derives from the Anthroposophical belief in clairvoyance. [For more on such matters, see, e.g., « Thinking Cap« , « Steiner’s ‘Science« , and « The Waldorf Teacher’s Consciousness« .] Perra’s brief summary of striking Anthroposophical beliefs is truthful. [For longer summaries, see « Steiner’s Blunders » and « Steiner Static« .]


[123] Perra and this young woman — the child of two committed Anthroposophists — were a couple for three years; they lived together for two years. See Part 2 of this memoir.

[124] Jacque Dallé is a cultural delegate (délégué culturel) of the Federation of Steiner-Waldorf Schools.

[125] CNRS is Le Centre national de la recherche scientifique {The National Center for Scientific Research}. See http://www.cnrs.fr/.

[126] UNADFI, which was on trial along with Perra, works to expose and disarm cults.

[127] This is the central committee that exercises primary authority in a Waldorf school.

[128] Following the example given by Rudolf Steiner [see « Visits« ], Waldorf schools are generally hesitant to allow visitors within their walls. Generally, visits may be confined to special visitation days and open houses that are used for recruitment of new students. The normal daily operations of the schools are usually not on display during such events.

[129] Anthroposophists usually deny that their belief system is a religion; they refer to it as a science or a philosophy. Likewise, Waldorf schools usually deny that they teach Anthroposophy to their students. Both of these denials are — to varying degrees — false. [See, e.g., « Is Anthroposophy a Religion?« , « Sneaking It In« , « Secrets« , and « Schools as Churches« .] Steiner himself made such denials, but he also, occasionally, admitted the truth. Thus, for instance, he said « The older students often mentioned that we emphasize that the Waldorf School is not to be an anthroposophical school. That is one of the questions we need to handle very seriously. You need to make the children aware that they are receiving the objective truth, and if this occasionally appears anthroposophical, it is not anthroposophy that is at fault. Things are that way because anthroposophy has something to say about objective truth. It is the material that causes what is said to be anthroposophical. We certainly may not go to the other extreme, where people say that anthroposophy may not be brought into the school. Anthroposophy will be in the school when it is objectively justified, that is, when it is called for by the material itself.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 494-495. Because Anthroposophists believe that Anthroposophy holds the objective truth about virtually all subjects, bringing Anthroposophy into the classroom will almost always be « justified. »

 
[130] Waldorf teachers often have responsibility for teaching multiple subjects at multiple grade levels. No one is truly qualified to do this; the Waldorf system ensures that at least some subjects will be taught badly. An inspector sent to the first Waldorf school reported that only geniuses could do what Waldorf teachers are routinely expected to do. « The school inspector said that with normal teaching methods, average people can be teachers, but with our methods, we need geniuses. I do not think that is necessarily true, but there is something to it.” — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), pp. 443-444.
 
[131] These are statements submitted to the court before the trial. Roger Rawlings (ahem) is a former Waldorf student and the manager of the website Waldorf Watch. Dan Dugan is a former Waldorf parent and the secretary of People for Legal and Nonsectarian Schools; he moderates discussions at the Waldorf Critics list. Yves Casgrain is the former director of the Info-Sectes website in Canada, and the author of a forthcoming book on Waldorf schools. Pete Karaiskos is a former Waldorf parent who manages the wesbites Waldorf Awareness and The Waldorf Review.
[132] In a common game of legal maneuvering, lawyers on each side tried to withhold pretrial material from the other side for as long as possible.
[133] In the French legal system, the Advocate General is, in effect, the chief prosecutor — he is comparable to the Attorney General in the United States. The Advocate General oversees efforts to convict the guilty, but his higher duty is to protect the sanctity of French justice.
[134] Jacques Guyard, who headed a parliamentary commission investigating cults, was fined for calling Anthroposophy a cult during a television broadcast. [See, e.g., http://www.waldorf.net/material/000323LeMonde.pdf.]
[135] In Anthroposophical doctrine, Christ is the Sun God — the same god worshipped in various religions under such names as Ra and Baldr. [See « Sun God« .]
[136] The reference, of course, is to Rudolf Steiner. [See « What a Guy« .]
[137] Media coverage of Waldorf schools is often laudatory but shallow. Few journalists look below the attractive surface presented by schools that are full of art, crafts, and playtime. Here, the attorney refers to a stream of pro-Waldorf reports written by a single journalist. [For discussions of such questions, and multiple examples of media reporting on Waldorf schools, see the Waldorf Watch Annex. For the transcript of a BBC report that was generally accurate about Waldorf education, see the archive entry for November, 2012.]
[138] Cases of alleged defamation are heard and decided by judges; there are no juries.
[139] According to Anthroposophical doctrine, drawing heavily from Eastern religions, we create our own destinies or karmas. Our actions in one life create the conditions that we must work through in our next life. Lies and misdeeds create spiritual damage at the time they are committed, and they must be expiated in the future. [See « Karma« , « Reincarnation« , and « Sin« .]
[140] Waldorf schools claim to prepare students to be free adults. This claim is consistent with the value that Anthroposophy theoretically attaches to human freedom. Yet here Perra reports that Anthroposophical leaders often cannot abide freedom of thought or independence of spirit among their followers. They expect their followers to be obedient and unquestioning. Certainly this was true of Rudolf Steiner. He issued amazing pronouncement after amazing pronouncement — his teachings are so outlandish that the rational mind can hardly credit any of them. Yet Steiner expected his followers to accept all of his pronouncements without demur.  As we have noted, he claimed that his teachings derived from his use of « exact clairvoyance. » In practice, this meant that he presented his teachings as essentially indisputable. As Perra argues, the reality is that to be a good Anthroposophist or a good Waldorf student, you must not question too much. You should avoid what a leading Waldorf educator has called « the blight of critical thinking » — John Fentress Gardner, THE EXPERIENCE OF KNOWLEDGE (Waldorf Press, 1975), p. 127. Or, as Steiner said, you should not raise your hand. « [T]each the children respect. The children should not raise their hands so much. » — Rudolf Steiner, FACULTY MEETINGS WITH RUDOLF STEINER (Anthroposophic Press, 1998), p. 65. Or, as a novice Waldorf teacher was told by a veteran, you shouldn’t read too many books, except those by a certain special author. The novice reports: « For many of the [Waldorf] teachers, the only science or history they knew were what they learned in their Waldorf teacher training courses. Then came the statement that clarified all their misinformation for me. I was told, ‘Steiner had exceptional powers, he saw the future, he knew the truth. If you truly need to learn, you need to study and follow Steiner. Steiner is all anyone ever needs to know.’” — A former Waldorf teacher quoting a devout Waldorf teacher; see « Ex-Teacher 5« . [To explore the reality of the Anthroposophical approach to freedom, see « Freedom« .]
 

[141] This rings a bell. In my own memoir [see “I Went to Waldorf”], I describe the fragile, self-isolating arrogance I developed as a Waldorf student. Here is part of what I wrote:

 

I was vain, moralistic, priggish, innocent, shy, racially bigoted, and (confusingly, for a head-honcho student) utterly lacking in self-confidence. I was judgmental yet uncertain. I had no patience with science and its shallow half-truths. I prized imagination over intellect, sensibility over sense. I was right about everything, always — don’t even ask. (Please, don’t ask.) I had only superficial knowledge of the US economy and the major political issues in the wide world — and I didn’t care. Everything that I saw outside the school seemed to be beneath me. I was directionless. I had no career ambitions, no academic focus, no marketable skills. I had precious few social skills. I longed for a beauteous, buxom Aryan mate. (Few real girls approximated my fantasy. Marilyn, where are you? I never dated much.) I half-yearned for easeful death, or better yet a crusade, or salvation. I dreamed of writing a book titled GOD that would reconcile all the world’s religions. I dreamed of becoming President of the United States. I dreamed of performing — I wasn’t sure what — something — a titanic, stupendous something. But I had no intention of lifting a finger. I was on hold, waiting…

 

Some parents tell me this description fits their own Waldorf-educated children. The underlying phenomenon is that Anthroposophists — like members of other cults that claim to possess ultimate secrets — develop an immense belief in their own superiority. They think (mistakenly) that they know more about virtually everything than anyone else. If you spend much time around Waldorf schools, you will probably meet faculty members who embody this self-congratulating attitude. Such teachers tend to inculcate their unfounded arrogance in at least some of their students, especially their favorites whom they hope to groom as future Anthroposophical bigwigs.

 

[142] Ironically, Rudolf Steiner listed yoga as one of the three paths to occult initiation. However, he said that the path of yoga is not appropriate for modern humans. [See « Yoga« .]

 

[143] Eurythmy is a form of spiritualized movement practiced by Anthroposophists and usually required of all students in a Waldorf school. [See « Eurythmy« ].

 

[144] Bio-dancing is a life-affirming, « therapeutic » form of dance that originated in Chile. Some Anthroposophists consider it nearly acceptable, even though Rudolf Steiner did not invent it. « Bio-Dance, meaning to dance with life, is a fusion of music, movement and emotion. Each class consists of guided exercises set to music, carefully chosen to be the most stimulating and healing. The facilitator will demonstrate exercises to comminicate the essence of an exercise and it’s objective. Each person then finds their own unique way into that experience … Bio-Dance is the English translation for the system of Biodanza. Biodanza is a world wide [sic] certified system of Human Integration and Growth and was developed in the mid 70’s by Rolando Torro from Chile. » [See « Bio-Dance« .]

 

[145] In Greco-Roman mythology, Zeus (Jupiter) saved one of his children — sired with a human lover — by concealing it in his thigh until the child was ready for independent life.

 

[146] There is a paradox here, of course — one that is found in many movements, not just in Anthroposophy. The self-image desired by individuals who consider themselves righteous or wise or enlightened rarely includes, at least initially, the rewards of wealth or sex or worldly power. Yet consider how many individuals who have offered to lead others have come crashing down in scandals involving, precisely, money or sex or the abuse of worldly power. Religious leaders have not always been exempt; indeed, some forms of theology argue that the blessings of wealth or other great earthly rewards are signs of God’s favor, and thus seeking these rewards may be praiseworthy. Anthroposophical leaders would surely reject the charge that they wish to see themselves in the terms Perra uses here. Yet defectors emerging from within even the best-intentioned movements often tell of corruption at the center. In this context, we should not be shocked by what Perra reveals here.

 

 

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Un commentaire pour My life among the anthroposophists, part III

  1. gperra dit :

    A reblogué ceci sur Blog de Grégoire Perra.

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