by Jeff Miller of Artisan Family of Wines (Seven Artisans, Sly Dog Cellars, Red Côte Rosé)
I don’t believe in hiding the ball-I’m not and never have been a fan of Biodynamics. It’s always struck me as the worst the wine world has to offer: myth and passion where deliberation and empirical science are what are called for.
I’d also had little use for Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Biodynamics. I must admit that, having looked in the matter a little more thoroughly in researching this post, I’ve come to qualify my feelings towards him a bit.
So who was Rudolf Steiner? Born in Germany in 1861, Biodynamics was a small part of his works. It would be easy enough to dismiss him as some kind of nut, which, truth be told, he certainly was.
You could add racist as well, as he seemed to believe that Germans were the crème de la crème of humankind. A few select quotes:
“Jewry as such has outlived itself for a long time. It does not have the right to exist in the modern life of nations. That it has survived, nevertheless, is a mistake by world history, of which the consequences were bound to come.” [Toos Jeurissen, trans de Tollenaere]
“We are within the great Root Race of humanity, which has peopled the earth, since the land on which we now live rose up out of the inundations of the ocean. Ever since the Atlantean Race began slowly to disappear, the great Aryan Race has been the dominant one on earth.
His spiritual beliefs were complex, but, again, on the fringe. Here’s one quote:
Thus preparation for the Messiah of the Fourth Subrace is made in concealment, removed from Judaism, in Galilee. Judaism had never had a strong footing in Galilee, had never really penetrated there.
The racial character of the Galileans was very mixed. (See note 3.) He (the Messiah) must have nothing of the Galilean element in him. He must come from a hidden source. Hence the Apocryphal writings allege that he was a “mothers child.” (See note 4.) This was Jesus of Nazareth, the Galilean. He was a Chela of the third degree of Initiation. It was now a matter of making him into the highest Initiate for all that was to be fulfilled on the physical plane. This was achieved through the whole personality being taken possession of by another Being, the Christ, who represents the whole Fifth Root Race. The whole Fifth Root Race emerged in the Fourth Subrace. This is represented symbolically by the descent of the Dove. Only the most sublime imagery could be used to express the truths which apply here.”
Many more thoughts of this ilk can be found at http://rsquotes.blogspot.com/. They, in total, give the impression that he was a pretty unusual character.
That all said, there is a lot to like in Steiner. He was relatively benign in his views, even those that are most objectionable. If he his views were racist (which they were), they weren’t particularly malevolent. He seems to have had a brotherly love for all of mankind, his inferior as well as his superior races. He detested Hitler (the feeling was mutual), and declared he could never live in a Germany ruled by him (he died before he had a chance to make good on his promise).
Of course, we’re less concerned here with Steiner’s views on these subjects than with his views on agriculture. But I think it’s important t to realize that Steiner’s main source for his views was Steiner. And I think a pretty good case can be made that someone whose views were so eccentric in other regards should be treated with some skepticism when he starts to pontificate on agricultural issues as well.
I’ll turn to those views on agriculture in my next post.