Grégoire Perra is a former Steiner student, Steiner teacher and Anthroposophist. He was featured on Steinermentary two years ago when he exposed the French Anthroposophical Society in a series of articles (such as this one), including a testimonial published by UNADFI. He was sued for speaking out and was vindicated.

His latest article explores why an Anthroposophical institution, particularly a Steiner-Waldorf school, would feel the need to lie and deceive, and is well worth a read. The original is in French but our English translation is below.

(Grégoire is known to edit his articles post publication; this translation is accurate as of the 30th of November 2014)


Masks, Misrepresentations and Manipulations

Within Steiner-Waldorf Schools and Anthroposophy

The two "Star Wars" trilogies placed a powerful metaphor in front of our civilisation: that of the mask. In fact all the soldiers of “The Empire” wear the same mask. What's behind the mask? Just Clones. In other words, those identical masks aren't there to hide the individualities of the wearers but to disguise what's similar about them. Moreover, through the Darth Vader character, this science-fiction film presents the story of a man who can only live within the confines of a mask. He has been wearing it since he lost himself. Once the mask is removed, this character is condemned to die, as it also serves as his life support system.

Examining it more closely, it becomes obvious that this metaphor for our modern times will also allow us to understand a sectarian system such as Anthroposophy, as well as one of its manifestations: Steiner-Waldorf schools. Indeed, these institutions are always masked. But this mask's function isn't designed to conceal any originality or singularity! That's because there is no one behind that mask that Anthroposophists or Steiner-Waldorf teachers offer instead of showing their true faces. There are only the misrepresentations and contradictions which stand in for "being". The masks of Anthroposophists or those of Anthroposophical institutions are only hiding "clones", artificial beings born out of deceit and lies. If we were to remove the masks, the clones would perish, just like Steiner-Waldorf schools would perish if their true nature was revealed to the general public. This article seeks to question the extensive use of this mask and its implications which lie at the heart of Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf pedagogy.

Why wear a mask rather than expose your face?

The philosopher Emmanuel Levinas said: "there can be no possible ethical relation between human beings, without the bare face of the other." To come forward with your face uncovered, that's the ethical requirement. Conversely, coming forward with a covered face, a masked face, necessarily implies deceit, manipulation and immorality.

So why does Anthroposophy always present itself masked? In fact, an Anthroposophist will never even say that he is an Anthroposophist. When approaching others, when speaking of himself, or even when he speaks about Anthroposophy, he will learn to avoid using this word, in order to employ words that the people he speaks to can hear more easily. Steiner said it pretty clearly to Steiner-Waldorf teachers: "make sure no one hears the word Anthroposophy coming out of your mouth!"

Behind the masks presented by Anthroposophy, through its various branches, there are always lies, deceit, seduction, immorality, concealments of legally reprehensible behaviour, etc. And that is true in all Anthroposophical institutions I have encountered. And I have pretty much experienced them all over the course of my life: Weleda, Camphill, Biodynamic, the Steiner-Waldorf schools, the Anthroposophical society, etc. In the end (although it wasn't immediately discernible), there was always this type of behaviour. This goes hand in hand with what has been described about other sectarian movements: a psychological hold, sexual deviance, manipulations, ways to extract money, etc. It goes just as far in this case, but in a sufficiently careful way so as to remain undetected, neither on first contact, nor even after having spent a long time among those Anthroposophical impulses. You really would have had to be at the heart of the system to learn enough to state what I am now stating.

Anthroposophy's three great internal contradictions

A mask enables the wearer to present themselves to other people as someone different to who they actually are. It's also a way to conceal the contradictions that we're made up of. Anthroposophy is made up of contradictions. But this is where it's extremely subtle! While being subject to internal contradictions is excusable, dealing with them in a dishonest fashion isn't. Yves Casgrain, who has studied Steiner-Waldorf schools and Anthroposophy in Canada, once told me: "come on, Anthroposophy isn't like other cults. You can't say this! After all, Steiner, was a true believer!" Yves Casgrain is profoundly religious. As far as I can understand it, for him, the fact that Steiner was sincere in his beliefs excuses him a little bit. This is what allowed Casgrain to publicly state that he didn't believe Steiner-Waldorf schools were a cult, something which those schools haven't failed to take advantage of. I have a great deal of respect for Yves Casgrain's work, but I don't believe that the fact that Rudolf Steiner was a sincere believer can excuse him, even a little. Why not?

We are all, to a greater or lesser extent, made up of contradictions. That's human nature. But we discover our moral path in the way that we try to deal with those contradictions, whether honestly or not. This applies to people as well as civilisations. Rudolf Steiner was basically full of contradictions, mostly the contradictions of his own time. But he dealt with them dishonesty. And this is where the problem lies: by dealing with them dishonestly, choosing to inflict them on others instead of facing up to them, by strategically organising lies, destined to extend far beyond his own existence, by overcoming others' vigilance, by deliberately duping the authorities and by teaching his disciples to do the same, the founder of Anthroposophy and Steiner-Waldorf schools displayed a sectarian mindset, just like any other guru in any other cult. In this context, his are inexcusable!

Rudolf Steiner's first contradiction is found between reason and belief, or science and religion. Rudolf Steiner was no doubt sincere when he stated that he wanted to be a scientist. Yet at the same time, he was a man with an archaic religious mindset. It was visibly hard for him to combine the two. This would've demanded that he evolve, that he opened himself to new ideas, to change who he was in a fundamental way as well as his own behaviour, etc. Our own society is still attempting to deal with this difficult transformation, to manage this contradiction between a nostalgia for a religious world and the advancements of modern science, in order to give birth to a new world. Once society has finally dealt with such contradictions, cults will probably no longer have the fertile ground they enjoy today. 

But Rudolf Steiner didn't handle this contradiction in an honest way. He handled it dishonestly. Indeed, he gave birth to a "science of the spirit", a so-called spiritual science. When I was an anthroposophist, I looked for its foundations. I sincerely wanted to understand what it was about. This was my big mistake! When one is an anthroposophist, after a while, one doesn't want to understand any longer, one doesn't seek to understand, one cannot understand anything at all. Because in fact, there is nothing there to understand. It takes at least 20 years of daily reading of Steiner's works and a lot of self-introspection, to understand that there is nothing there to understand. 

Otherwise, one can fool oneself by saying "this looks interesting!" But they are merely words. In reality it's just word games. And they are hollow words. There is nothing behind them. Anthroposophy suggests that you will become clairvoyant, that you will become an "initiate", if you practise the exercises outlined by Rudolf Steiner in his book, "The Initiation". I have practised them. I've known people who practised them for 30, 40, 50, 60 years, etc. None of them have become clairvoyant! And it's not because there was a lack of people who tried out these exercises. I've heard directors of the School of Spiritual Science admit between themselves that clairvoyance doesn't exist. Steiner also knew that these exercises wouldn't yield any results. He dealt with it extremely well by saying: "you aren't to wait for results from practising these exercises. If you await them, it's that you're impatient. If you're impatient, it's that you don't deserve to gain those results." You can't argue with that!

Rudolf Steiner's second great contradiction lies between his desire to be recognised by the State, by institutions and by the community, and his desire to only do what he wanted to do, without being accountable to anyone. Steiner told his disciples: "you must always ask the community for subsidies". This is what the Steiner-Waldorf schools do. They dare to ask for money and to be recognised. They're successful at it, since there are contracts involved.. But when the community asks them to account for the money that they've been given, they conceal their true practice. The main French Steiner schools (Chatou, Verrières, Strasbourg, etc), are indeed under contract and they wouldn't be able to survive without the money the State gives them. This is classic Steiner: "that the State subsidises us is normal, but we have no need to justify ourselves to the State or to the community, this is pedagogical freedom, etc." Whereby they do what they like. And what they like is sometimes deeply concerning.

Finally, there's an enormous contradiction "chez" Rudolf Steiner and within his doctrine and within himself, between the ideal of the emancipation of the individual (Steiner relied on Nietzsche, on Nietzsche's "value of the self", which is very strong), and nostalgia for the Middle Ages where the individual didn't have a place as a free and autonomous person. His nostalgia was based on the fact that in the Middle Ages, an individual's power was diluted within the community, where they were above all a member of it, losing their free will under the teachings of the church. That can be clearly seen in the way he organised the structure of the institutions which he created.

Internal contradictions leading to lying and manipulation

Lies, contradictions, and the lies used to mask contradictions, inevitably lead to manipulative practices. Because you cannot sustain a lie without relying on manipulation! Without it, the lie would crumble in an instant. Manipulation is present everywhere, in everything that is based on Anthroposophy. I exposed this particularly with respect to Steiner-Waldorf schools. I would like to cite a few examples here, some of which aren't necessarily part of my 44-page testimony published by UNADFI. I will give concrete examples, which will show how the habit of manipulation imbues the behaviour of a Steiner-Waldorf teacher:

- Steiner-Waldorf schools, especially those under government contract, say: "we are regularly inspected, we totally comply with the standards expected by society." Except that I remember full well, as a student, that when inspectors came to visit and the teacher who taught us didn't have any diplomas, we were told: "children, today you will pretend. We are bringing in a new teacher. You'll act as if this is your regular teacher! He's going to teach a class that you won't understand. It's because there's a mean inspector who wants to close our school. Play along please, and pretend." And we did it! As a former Steiner-Waldorf teacher, I did the same thing. I asked these kinds of things from my own students. I remember how proud we were, once the inspection was over, when we were gathered all together, all of us teachers, that evening, and we were discussing the visit that just took place! We said: "it's unbelievable, the inspector was completely fooled! We did well this time! It was a close call though... All it would've taken was for him to turn his head this way to see that we were in the process of removing all the compromising material... and we were done for! It was tense!" I admit that this is exactly how it happened.

- When there are meetings of a Steiner-Waldorf school's "College of Direction", one must take notes, it's a necessity. If one doesn't take notes, one won't know what took place at the previous meeting. Yes but, what is told is sometimes so compromising that if it were ever written down and it ended up in the wrong hands, the school would close down. So what is one to do? Quite simply, one keeps two books: an internal book where one writes down everything, and another one. This internal book, whoever writes the notes down takes it with them at the end of the meeting. He'll hide it at the bottom of his car's trunk which he will keep locked, take it away with him, and bring it back at the next meeting. In the other book, reserved for the inspectors if they ask for it, the titles of subjects discussed at the meeting are noted. Only the titles.

- I remember meetings of the "Pedagogical College", where all the school's teachers were assembled. There's a College President, and by his side, a person tasked with taking notes. The "Pedagogical College" is different from the "College of Direction" which I was talking about above, where we always bring up serious and compromising matters... During the "Pedagogical College" this happens less frequently. This is why there is no need to keep two books. One must be vigilant and when anything compromising is said, there is an assistant sufficiently intelligent to say: "don't write that down!" I remember this man next to the note-taker, who, during the whole meeting would say: "don't write that down...don't write that down... don't write that down, etc!"

- If you go to a large French Steiner-Waldorf school (I don't want to name the school) and you're the parent of a student, you may perhaps try to see the planning, the timetable, which is displayed on the receptionist's window. If you're a parent and you have children at the school, you will notice: "but this doesn't correspond to my child's classes! What's written here is odd!" Thankfully there's always a Steiner-Waldorf teacher who'll respond: "Ah! no, no, this timetable is for the inspectors; the real timetable is in the reception by the photocopying machine. Don't refer to this one!"

- Same for the numbering of the rooms. In a Steiner-Waldorf school it's very rare for the rooms to be numbered. There's a reason for this: when the inspectors come, should they ever arrive unannounced (which is usually impossible since they must give 48 hours advanced notice, but it has happened in the last decade), the school's secretary's mission is to delay the inspectors, to make them wait, while he rings the teachers in the classrooms saying: "the inspectors are here, you know what to do!"

I give these examples to enable the reader to understand how deeply lying and manipulation penetrate everything within these schools as well as in all branches of Anthroposophy: for example, I remember a friend, an anthroposophical doctor, who altered his prescriptions after the fact when he had problems with the Bar Council.

What holds the Anthroposophical lie together

What is extremely serious, is that none of this caused anyone the slightest concern. Not even the hint of one! A thief, when he steals (which can be his profession), knows that he's stealing. When I was an anthroposophist or a Steiner-Waldorf teacher, I remember very well that none of us saw this as a problem. That's what was so dangerous: we stopped seeing the illegality of what we were doing. Thankfully, there were a handful of teachers, who had important positions at the national level who were somewhat aware, and regularly kept us on our guard. They were able to remain conscious of the dangers due to the fact that they went out, visited public establishments, spoke to heads of normal establishments, etc... They knew and said: "Oh la la! We can't reveal this! Yes, we do it, but under no circumstances are you to reveal this to anyone on the outside!" There were therefore some vigilant guardians who knew how to maintain the mask. But otherwise, most weren't aware of the problematic, if not illegal, aspects of their practices.

A Steiner-Waldorf school - and all the branches of Anthroposophy - are but "Potemkin villages" (this was the name of Russia's Catherine II's Minister who, when she wanted to see her country, would show her dummy villages along the way, so that she could marvel. These were always the same villages, with the same performers). We are therefore in the presence of a well established mask, of a discussion that we can offer at any time. Steiner-Waldorf schools therefore rest on an organised, efficient hoax, established for over 90 years, on a habit of manipulation and misrepresentation which is not only structural, but which also becomes part of the constitution of its people. We lie, we cheat, we steal, and even worse, without seeing the problem with this type of behaviour.

Why such a masquerade? What justifies it, deep within the people who perpetrate such a hoax? How can one live and look oneself in the mirror after having committed such acts, and then commit them again?

According to my understanding, the explanation is that in the eyes of an anthroposophical lteacher, a Steiner-Waldorf school isn't actually a Steiner-Waldorf school at all! It is the place for incarnating the spiritual forces who will save humanity! To such a teacher, this institution is a place where Spirits (Angels, Archangels and superior entities) incarnate within a community. So, if you close down a Steiner-Waldorf school, you shut off the possibility for these superior beings to incarnate on Earth and to progressively save humanity. The "mean inspectors" who come and risk closing a Steiner-Waldorf school, for an Anthroposophical teacher, also risk threatening the whole future of humanity! So if they get misled, that's too bad for them! The end justifies the means...

Cult or religion?

What differentiates a cult from a religion? This is a question that I have had to ask myself a number of times. In what way is Anthroposophy a cult rather than a religion? There are religious elements within Anthroposophy, in the respectable sense of the word. In what way though is it different from a religion?

The difference rests on the fact that it wears a mask. Anthroposophy always wears a mask when it deals with those outside the movement. It even does so for those within it. The mask changes depending on who is in front of it, that is all. The mask, is a mask of seduction, a mask of deceit, a mask of control. It is the mask of a cult!

Translated by Steve Paris and Angel Garden.

You are free to link to this page but please credit us and link to this site when publishing extracts elsewhere.

The photos on this page were taken from Grégoire Perra’s original article.

1861-2011 : 150 years of Rudolf Steiner

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