Aspects of Human Evolution
17 July 1917, Berlin
Let us now consider the implication of certain concepts we have obtained in our recent studies. Today, in the lecture to follow, I shall speak mainly about the nature of truth and the nature of the good. These issues we have been concerned with recently. But let us first look at something that belongs to those interconnections we spoke about last time and which to modern history must seem very strange. We saw in the previous lecture that it is possible to gain definite concepts as to how a present life on earth is connected with the preceding life on earth as well as with the one that will follow. I described that the I insofar as we are aware of it in the will acts across from our previous life on earth, and that insofar as we form a thought picture of the I this thought, with all it contains, is so delicately woven that it acts across to the next earth life. I compared it with the way in which the seed in this year's plant becomes the life in the plant of next year. We must regard as seed for our next life on earth every web of thought at the center of which is the I. So you see, when we enter our life on earth we do so with conditions determined by our previous life; but also, of course, with what comes as a result of the last life having been worked on between death and new birth. This can be said to be one group of concepts we have gained.
Let us now make a great leap to another group of concepts we also obtained recently, concerned with the course of man's lives on earth. Those considerations culminated in the insight we gained into the secret of mankind's present age. I described how man, after the Atlantean catastrophe, entered upon the ancient Indian epoch, at the beginning of which mankind's age was 56. What this signifies was also described. It means that at that time the individual human being continued to be capable of natural development right up to the age of 56 in a way possible now only in childhood. Up to that age man's soul and spirit went through a development parallel to that of his physical body. This now happens only in childhood when the development of soul and spirit is bound up with the growth and development of the body. This interdependence ceases when we reach the age that was indicated. The soul and spirit then become more independent and man's inner development no longer continues of itself.
The most important aspect of this is that we do not go through the middle of life, when the body begins to decline at the age of 35, still dependent on the body. Consequently we are not conscious of the Rubicon which we cross at that time. We do not experience what was experienced in the first post-Atlantean epoch, namely, the body's decline, its becoming sclerotic and calcified and the spirit becoming free of the body. At that time this took place in the course of natural development, without effort on man's part. As we know, during that epoch the age of mankind receded from 56 to 55, 54 and so on, so that at the end of the epoch his natural development continued only up to the age of 49. In the following, the ancient Persian epoch, mankind's age receded from 49 to 42. During the third, the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch, it receded from the age of 42 to that of 35, in the Graeco-Latin epoch from the .age of 35 to 28. This means that the Greeks and Romans remained capable of natural development up to that period in life which is bounded by the ages 28 and 35. I then placed before you the stupendous mystery that, as mankind's age had receded to 33, Christ Jesus, aged 33, united Himself with mankind. That moment the Mystery of Golgotha took place. This revelation is so wondrous that one is at a loss to find words to express the awe felt by the soul able fully to experience this fact so steeped in mystery.
The age of mankind continues to recede. As you know, since the fifteenth century we have been living in the fifth post-Atlantean epoch. When it began, the age of mankind was 28 and by now has dropped to 27. This means that up to that age our soul and spirit are still in some way dependent upon our bodily-physical nature. After that age our natural development ceases; we can make no further progress merely through what our environment provides. If we are to progress, we must have an inner incentive to do so, and today that can only come from spiritual knowledge, as I have often explained. The impulse must arise from our feeling for what is spiritual in the world, from our knowledge of the spiritual aspect of things. In the last resort that can only arise through the Christ impulse. It is simply a fact that modern man, concerned only with what nature and society can provide him with, i.e., what the world can make of him, will remain a 27-year-old even if he lives to be a hundred. If he is to progress in his inner life, he must himself engender the impulse to do so; nothing more arises through the body's participation in his development. Thus through natural development modern man becomes 27 years old, and that is what is so characteristic of today's culture. Our culture, our civilization cannot be understood, especially in relation to earlier ones, unless this fact, verified by spiritual science, is kept firmly in mind.
This is something that is closely connected with the first group of spiritual facts of which we reminded ourselves today. As you will realize from the last lecture, we go through a certain evolution during the time between death and new birth; what is particularly at work then are the will impulses from the previous incarnation. What is accomplished between death and new birth we bring with us; it becomes experience in this life. However, the strange fact is that in the human being of today the reciprocal action between the astral body and the I that is soul and spirit on the one hand and the ether body on the other comes to a halt at the age of 27. We are so conditioned during life between death and new birth that we prepare and organize our new ether body in such a way that when it comes to live in the physical body, the I and astral body can still be active in it. At the beginning of the Graeco-Latin epoch, about 747 B.C., this vivifying effect of astral body on the ether body came to a halt when the person reached the age of 35, at the time of the Mystery of Golgotha, at the age of 33. It now stops at the age of 27. This means that today, according to the evolution he has gone through before birth or conception, a person can through what nature itself provides and what he gains from society keep his ether body mobile up to the age of 27, so mobile that the astral body, with which the ether body is in reciprocal activity, can imbue it with fresh concepts and ideas, vivifying it enough to engender new feelings and perceptions. Our mental pictures of the world, our ideals can be enriched up to the age of 27 simply through the experiences that come to us. After that age it does no longer happen of itself; progress will only come about through our own inner impulses.
Many soul conditions, many inner dissatisfactions in life suffered by modern man are due to the comparatively early cessation of the reciprocal effect between astral and ether body, and consequently also the physical body. There is, especially in early life, a lively reciprocal activity in the lower region between the soul, i.e., the astral body, and the ether body. Then it ceases, and unless we quicken our conceptual life in the way described in the previous lecture, we can absorb only shadowy concepts. These concepts must not attain their full reality or they would constantly lame us. They would be like a plant seed that insisted upon growing into a complete plant straight away. Our concepts and mental pictures must remain seeds until the next incarnation. If upbringing and self-discipline did not modify this tendency, we would in fact always want more than life of itself could give us. Many people do suffer from this “wanting more than life can give.” Life can provide us only with concepts that will mature in our next incarnation. They must consequently remain shadowy in this one unless through inner impulses of the kind described in the last lecture, we enrich and stimulate our mental pictures, in fact our whole inner life. If we could recognize that we are nurturing the seed for our next incarnation, i.e., see life in a much wider perspective, we would attain much greater inner contentment. This is directly connected with what Pascal and later Lessing expressed and what has often since been emphasized, the fact that in seeking truth, we are in a certain sense satisfied. 1 Blaise Pascal, 1623–1662. Penseés, in many English editions. From the German edition of Ewald Wasmuth, Heidelberg, 1954, pp. 240-241: “We not only know God and ourselves through Jesus Christ; but life and death we know only through him as well. Without Jesus Christ we would not understand our life, our death, God, or ourselves.” A passage which Pascal before him discussed at great length, Lessing expressed in a simpler, paradigmatic form, saying: “If God held truth in one hand and the striving after truth in the other, I would choose striving after truth.” 2 Gotthold Ephraim Lessing, 1729–1781. The verbatim quote is: “If God held in his right hand all truth; and, in his left, the ever active drive for truth, even with the condition that I would eternally and always err, and said: ‘Choose!,’ I would fall humbly on his left and say, ‘Father, give! The pure truth is for you alone!,’ ” Eine Duplik (1778), in G.E. Lessings Sämtliche Schriften, Leipzig, 1897. These words contain a great deal. They imply that while incarnated in a human body we will always have the feeling that we do not attain complete truth. Truth lives in concepts, in mental pictures and these are interwoven with the I; while in a human body, we can have only the truth which is seed for a next incarnation. It must not be fixed but live and move in our striving. Before incarnation our ether body is so constituted that it contains the truth. However, incarnating causes truth as a whole to be reduced to a copy, a picture of truth, and it is this picture which is seed for the following incarnation.
Inner contentment we attain only when we can feel ourselves as a member of humanity as a whole. In practice it is not attained unless we develop the kind of living concepts of which we spoke last time. These concepts are not derived from the surface of life's events; they must be sought in the connections between them. No human being today will achieve inner contentment unless he takes a vivid interest in the world around him, but an interest directed towards the spirit and the spiritual connections in the environment. Those who merely want to brood within themselves will find in life only what makes us into the kind of 27-year-olds that correspond to the evolution we went through between the previous death and the birth of the incarnation we are in.
Man has to discover out of his own initiative his bonds with the environment. This is why in our age man encounters obstacles to freedom. He must kindle in himself interest for those spiritual aspects of life that cannot be discovered merely through sense observations; they must be sought in wider, more hidden connections, in ways I explained in the previous lecture. Much in what has just been said can help explain, not only our stand towards truth in our time, but also towards the good — the ethically and morally good. In the next lecture we shall go into more detail. Today we shall concern ourselves more with something that follows from these facts and can explain much that will help us understand our present time.
The spiritual scientist must deal with the facts he discovers differently from the way the natural scientist deals with his. From our considerations over the years you will realize that the spiritual scientist arrives at his discoveries through the faculties of imagination, inspiration and intuition. This means he is engaged in cognition that goes beyond the confines of the immediate sensory world into that realm of the spiritual world which reaches beyond what is perceived through physical senses. This realm is at the same time the spiritual background from which everything sense perceptible is governed. The science of the spirit gains its observations such as the fact that humanity becomes younger and younger from the spiritual realm accessible to the human faculty of knowledge. The age of the human being is receding the way I explained from that of 56 to the age of 27 in our present time, and 27 is the age where we remain unless we take our own progress in hand. These facts can be discovered only through spiritual science. They cannot be found through ordinary ethnology or anthropology, nor of course, through ordinary historical research into the course of events since the Atlantean catastrophe with the methods of natural science. All these things can be derived only from the spiritual world. You will understand that the spiritual investigator with his spiritual knowledge will have a somewhat different attitude to events than the natural scientist, and not only to external events and processes but to history and social procedures. How does the natural scientist set about his research? He has before him the objects and phenomena to be investigated, and he formulates his concepts and mental pictures accordingly. The concept, the mental picture, is the second; the law that governs what is investigated is what he discovers. Thus he goes from facts to the laws by which they are governed; the sense perception comes between the two. The facts are the first, then the mental pictures are added, then the law discovered and so on.
In regard to the spiritual world itself the spiritual researcher sets about his investigation in a similar way; here the investigation is not really different. It is in regard to the physical aspect that differences arise. The spiritual facts are directly understood as one takes hold of them. If one wants to discover what significance they have for the physical world, then the corresponding physical facts must be sought out afterwards. The spiritual aspect is given first; afterwards one seeks out the physical facts or conditions which it explains. By means of the spirit one explains what in life must be spiritually explained. Many find it extremely difficult to understand that in spiritual research the law comes first, and the law; i.e., the spiritual aspect, then points to the physical phenomenon to which it applies. The physical phenomenon supplies confirmation, as it were, of the law. Spiritual investigators used to express this difference somewhat formally, saying that natural-scientific investigation has to proceed inductively — from fact to concept, whereas spiritual-scientific investigation must proceed deductively — from concept to fact. In this light, let us look at an example which is of significance today.
Spiritual research reveals that man in general develops in our time, through what nature and society provide, up to the age of 27. Therefore, the typical modern person who keeps aloof from spiritual knowledge will progress in his development up to his 27th year. If he is a person of significance, someone with many interests and is full of energy, then his faculties will be well developed by the time he reaches the age of 27. This means he will have brought to maturity everything one can develop simply through the fact of having physically become 27 years old. His powers of thinking will have developed and so too, the impulse to be active in one or another sphere. His will power will have grown in strength simply because his muscles have grown stronger, and similar things apply to the nervous system, and so on. If he is responsive to what he can absorb from the human environment, he will, by the time he is 27 years old, have developed a sum of ideas and ideals; he will be concerned about social reform and so on. All this will live and develop in him up to his 27th year, so that by that time he will, one might say, be crammed full. Then it stops; it ceases to develop further, and from then on what he brings to bear on life is the insight and outlook he has attained by the age of 27. He may live to be a hundred years old, and if he is a significant person he will bring about significant things, but whatever he does will be based on the ideas and impulses of a 27-year-old. Thus he is a true representative of the time in which we live; one could say he is a product of our time. But if he has no interest in the spiritual aspect of life, and does not develop impulses of the kind that enable, not only the body but the soul to mature beyond the 27th year, then he refuses to participate in mankind's further evolution. As he does not kindle spiritual impulses in himself, he cannot bring them to bear on his environment. He is incapable of bringing into our time anything that contains seeds for mankind's further progress. All that he does bring is characteristic of the time. If he is a man of stature — and one can, of course, be such and still remain 27 years old — then he will provide our time with what is in complete agreement with a certain aspect of it, but it will provide no seed for the future.
How are we to picture to ourselves such a typical person of our time? What exactly would he be like? What we must now do is to bring our mental picture of such a person down into physical reality. We must look for a physical counterpart. We must, as it were, visualize where such a person could be encountered in social life. It would have to be in the midst of modern life. So in what circumstances would one find him? First of all, the 27th year of his life would be conspicuous, but conspicuous in the sense that from his 27th year onwards his position in society would enable him to carry out precisely the ideas and impulses of a 27-year-old. At the same time what he lacked, i.e., his inability to progress inwardly beyond that age would not be too noticeable. In other words, he must have the opportunity to remain the age of 27 in a fruitful manner. Had he reached the age of 27 and found no possibility to do anything significant with his impulses and ideas, then he would have grown older with something dead within him. If then at the age of say 31 he found himself in some public position, he would meanwhile have carried what had become lifeless and dissolute within him into that later age; he would be no true representative of our time. However, it is possible in present-day circumstances to visualize that in a democratic country, under so-called normal conditions, such a person would, at the age of 27 be voted into parliament. There he would have the perfect opportunity to influence social affairs; it would also be a certain peak in his career. For if someone of some significance enters parliament at the age of 27 that would mean an occupation for life. He is, as it were, stuck; he cannot change course. However, he is in a position to put into action, from his 27th year onwards, all he has developed within himself. Should he later be called from parliament to become a minister of state, then that would be a change of less significance than the one that brought him into parliament. As minister of state he can put into practice what, as a 27-year-old he brought into parliament. So we can say that a typical person of our age with political and social interests would be someone who at the age of 27 is voted into parliament, giving him the possibility to carry out in practice the ideas and impulses corresponding to his age.
Yet there are still other demands such a person must fulfill to be a true representative of our time. There are things in modern society that work against a human being's natural development. What develops naturally soon goes awry when the person is subjected to modern educational methods; the more so if he goes through some branch of university training that pushes him in a one-sided direction. What we are looking for is someone who represents the age, someone in whom what nature has bestowed develops as far as possible, up to the age of 27, unimpaired by modern training of the young. In other words, he must fulfill the requirement I laid down on the basis of spiritual science — you could say deduced from spiritual science — someone who at the age of 27 stands in the modern world with all that nature provides, fully developed, unimpaired by modern training, and who refuses to absorb any knowledge that provides seeds for the future. If such a person could be found in the modern world, his life would clarify many things. We would see in him demonstrated in practice what it means that mankind is in general 27 years old, that people anywhere who come to a standstill in their development at the age of 27, in a crude way weaken the seed of the future.
Does a human being exist somewhere who had all the required qualities at the right age to make him a typical representative of our age? He does indeed; all the qualifications I deduced from spiritual considerations fit Lloyd George completely. 3 David Lloyd George, 1863–1945, British statesman. Prime minister, 1916–1922. Look at the life of Lloyd George, not just from the external aspect but, as it were, from above, from the spiritual aspect, and you will find that everything fits. He was born in 1863, was orphaned early in life — you will be acquainted with these details — he was brought up by his uncle who was a cobbler and also a preacher in Wales. He was of Celtic stock and, especially when young, of a lively and alert disposition. His uncle, the preacher, was always there as an example, and he aspired to become a preacher himself. That was not possible because the sect to which his uncle belonged was not permitted to have salaried priests; everyone had to pursue a trade and preach without remuneration. Therefore, not even these conventions had any inhibiting effect. Already in youth he was an ardent lover of independence. The poverty was such that often there was no money for shoes, so he ran about barefoot, in fact experienced all degrees of destitution. He grew up without attending school regularly, so received no proper education, but simply accepted what life brought him. In the same irregular fashion he embarked on a career as a lawyer, not through official training but by getting employment at sixteen in a lawyer's office, and through keen observation and sound judgment he became a solicitor at the age of 27. Thus his attainments were achieved not through academic training but through what he could gain from life in the present. Life had also kindled in him a strong opposition to the many privileges birth and position bestow. It was with a certain fury that he had removed his cap in greeting to the local squire with whom he was obliged to meet several times a day.
Then what happens? In the year 1890 when Lloyd George, born 1863, is 27 years old, he becomes, through the death of a member of parliament, the candidate opposing the man to whom he hated raising his cap in daily greeting. He had been put forward as a candidate because of the attention caused by a series of urgent speeches he had made, inflaming the hearts and minds of his listeners, exhorting the liberation of Wales from English dominion. Celtic nationality, he said, was to be infused with new life, and in particular the Church should be freed of the organizing influence of the State. He drew so much attention that as a result he won a seat in parliament by a slight majority. This was in 1890. Lloyd George was just 27 years old and a member of parliament! Immediate life experiences had taught him what was needed in his time, and these experiences he brought with him into parliament. For two months this 27-year-old member carefully watched everything that was happening and said not a word. For two months, sitting with a hand behind his ear, with eyes that tended to converge but now and then could flash, he saw and heard everything that went on, whereupon he began the career of a much feared speaker in parliament. People like Churchill and Chamberlain who formerly had looked upon their opponent with a certain indifference, with a certain English impassiveness, became enraged when opposed by Lloyd George. 4 Sir Winston Churchill, 1874–1965, British statesman, prime minister 1940–1945, 1951–1955. Arthur Neville Chamberlain, 1869–1940, British statesman, prime minister 1937–1940. After all, he was untutored, unacademic, but he also displayed penetrating logic and biting sarcasm when refuting an opponent, no matter how highly revered. He was close to Gladstone, but even he had to endure much from the sarcasm, the cutting remarks, and logical arguments Lloyd George was always ready to conduct. 5 William Ewart Gladstone, 1809–1898, British statesman, prime minister four times between 1868 and 1894. Here we see the extraordinary versatility of someone taught by life itself. People not taught in this way tend to be one-sided, limited in things they can manage. Lloyd George was well informed about every subject and spoke in a way that enraged even the most distinguished members, rousing them from their habitual impassiveness.
It is indeed interesting to observe this great man as a representative of our time, to observe how he unites the characteristics of the 27-year-old with the strength of Celtic traits and makes the most of this combination. His caustic speeches against the Boer war, this wholly disgraceful affair, as he called it, are among his most outstanding. He constantly harangued parliament in even more vivid terms about what he called this vile, mean action of the war in South Africa. With Celtic fearlessness he continued to speak in public though he was once hit on the head with a cudgel so hard that he fell senseless to the ground. Another time he had to borrow a policeman's uniform and be smuggled through a side door because one dreaded the speech he was going to make. There had been no one like him in British political life, and he remained a severe critic well into the 20th century; naturally under a reactionary government a critic only. However, when the Campbell-Bannerman liberal government came to power early in the 20th century, everyone said how good it was to have a liberal government, but what was to be done about Lloyd George? 6 Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, 1836–1908, British statesman, prime minister, 1905–1908. Well, in a democratic country what does one do in such a case? One hauls the person in question into the cabinet and gives him a portfolio he is sure to know nothing about. That was exactly what Campbell-Bannerman did with Lloyd George. He, who never had any opportunity to concern himself with trade, was given the Department of Trade, which he took over in 1905. He was a self-made man, molded by life, not by academic training. And what was the outcome? He became the most outstanding Minister of Trade Britain had ever had.
After a comparatively short time, spent studying his new task and which involved travels to Hamburg, Antwerp and Spain in order to study trade relations, he set about introducing a law concerning patents which was a blessing for the country. The bills he introduced and passed for reorganizing the Port of London were met with general approval, an issue over which many former Ministers of Trade had come to grief. The way he managed to settle a particularly critical railway dispute was universally applauded. In short, he proved to be a quite exceptionally efficient minister of trade. When the change of government came from Campbell-Bannerman to that of Asquith and Grey, Lloyd George naturally had to be kept in the cabinet. 7 Sir Edward Grey, 1862–1933, British statesman. British foreign Minister, 1905–1914. Herbert Henry Asquith, 1852–1928, British statesman. By then it was the general opinion that Lloyd George could do anything. He was so truly a representative of his time that he was given the most important office, that of Chancellor of the Exchequer. With all his characteristics of a 27-year-old, with all his emotions stemming from his Celtic origin, Lloyd George became Chancellor of the Exchequer. He had of course retained all the emotions that used to well up in him when as a barefoot boy he had to greet the local squire. He did, however, score over that same squire in his bid for a seat in parliament. He also retained his strong feelings against everything to do with special privileges and the like. He remained as he had been at the age of 27.
Before Lloyd George's time as Chancellor there had been in England a magic cure for financial problems; it was called tariffs. Inland revenue is really a form of tariff, worked out so that the privileged pay as little possible, ensuring that poverty is widespread. As Lloyd George presented his first budget, the abuse hurled at him and his impossible budget must have created a precedent. The British press was, in fact, hurling at him the kind of abuse they at present are reserving for the Germans. Everything in his budget to do with raising taxes in areas that affected the more privileged came in for heavy criticism.
In parliament he faced vehement opposition, but he sat, as always, completely calm and unperturbed, hand behind the ear, eyes that sparkled and lips ready to curl in sarcasm. This was a man in complete accord with the age. Chancellors before him had produced budgets which had been given this or that name, but the budget he presented was so unique to him that in Britain it was known simply as the Lloyd George budget. With no education other than that of life itself, he represented to perfection the time of which he was himself a product. Everything that could be learned about taxation and how it worked in America, France, and Germany he had investigated and endeavored to evaluate. Here again he did not gain his knowledge from books but from practical life, from the way the issue was dealt with at that particular time.
What he achieved is really most interesting and quite remarkable. His complete confidence is again demonstrated when one year, as he came to present his annual balance sheet, it was found that there was a deficit. Deficits had previously always been dealt with by simply absorbing them; i.e., making an entry for the amount. However, Lloyd George said: “Well, there is a deficit, but we shall leave it and not enter it because through the measures I have taken various branches of trade and industry will be so profitable that the extra revenue will cover the deficit in time” — which shows his confidence in life, a confidence that stemmed from his accord with life. Most importantly, unlike others he dod not lose that confidence when things went wrong. And in regard to this matter things did go very wrong. The deficit remained, but the prosperity he had so confidently promised did not materialize. Yet he remained calm, being so completely adjusted to life. And what happened? Three of his greatest adversaries died, all exceedingly wealthy men. They had strongly opposed him because of his tax laws which had earned him the title “robber of the upper classes,” one of the many insults hurled at him. Well, three of his most powerful enemies died — and you may call it a coincidence, but the death duty he had already introduced was so high that the revenue from their estates made up the deficit.
In a remarkable way the tide gradually turned, and Lloyd George began to be praised. He lived according to his inner conscience and the way he was prompted by the environment, and nothing could be in more complete accord than the man who had remained aged 27 and mankind aged 27. However, the time came for his 1909 budget. By then he was of course considerably older, yet had remained aged 27 in the real sense. As he introduced new measures in every sphere in which he had influence, all aiming at fighting poverty and other social ills of the worst kind existing in Britain, it was not surprising that he met with much enmity. But, if one is in such accord with what lives in mankind and has the strength to experience it, the strength will also be found to cope. He sometimes had to listen for ten hours or more to speeches and continually had to intervene and often was opposed by the strongest members of parliament, some glaring at him through monocles while reviling him. Lloyd George remained calm, answering objections for ten hours if he had to, always with wit and ironic remarks that found their target. Thus he managed to introduce laws of immense benefit, such as care of the elderly, laws aiming at improving the population's health, such as effectively combatting drunkenness and the like. One could say that as representative of the time he fought everyone who did not represent his time.
In order to understand fully this whole issue, we must add to it another basic aspect of mankind's evolution. We must bear in mind that in the first, the ancient Indian epoch, man developed the ether body, in the ancient Persian epoch the sentient body. Then in the Egyptian-Chaldean epoch he developed the sentient soul, in the Graeco-Latin epoch the intellectual soul, and in our epoch the consciousness soul. However, in the present epoch no other people anywhere are in the position of the British, for they are especially constituted for the consciousness soul. We know that the Italian and Spanish peoples develop the sentient soul, the French the intellectual soul, the English people the consciousness soul, the Central Europeans the I, while the Russian people are preparing for the Spirit Self. The English people are therefore representative of the materialism of the epoch, because materialism is bound up with the development of the consciousness soul. Thus Lloyd George is also intimately connected with the consciousness soul; he is, as it were, predestined to be in every way the representative of our time. It is of immense significance that he, the typical 27-year-old, should emerge with the 27-year-old English people. That is why in everything he said he represented the English folk. But he also spoke as a representative of man-kind's present evolutionary stage, as one who has no inclination to further that evolution, but rather with bull-like tenacity wants to press on with what this evolution presently has to offer. Thus the English folk soul is coming to expression in a human being representing the age.
Lloyd George has been active in the British social system ever since 1890, when he was 27 years old, and has left his mark on every aspect of it. And it comes as no surprise that in the years leading up to the war he was heard saying that the British people were not to let themselves be confused by warmongers who continually tried to convince them that the Germans meant to invade England. There was to be no war and not a penny would be spent on arms. So again, this eminent representative of the British people expressed exactly what the British people felt. It also expresses the idealism of a 27-year-old. Whatever else was taking place at the time was more reminiscent of the other ideas as they had been in different ages. But Lloyd George expressed the un-warlike sentiment of the present age, particularly characteristic of the British people. He said there were three stages — which must be avoided at all cost—to sure ruin: to budget for war, to arm for war, and the war itself. This man, the eminent representative of our time, during the period of liberalism in Britain had imprinted it on all spheres of life. All that could be done in Britain in this respect he had done. He also dreamed of a world court of arbitration, which is a typical abstract ideal of a 27-year-old.
Everything I have explained so far about Lloyd George is connected with the fact that he possesses in an unspoiled way the qualities of the 27-year-old. This makes him the ideal representative of the English folk, and in fact, of everything from which the British people benefit and through which they in turn can benefit the world. But what Lloyd George cannot do is progress beyond the age of 27; he remains that age throughout his life in the sense I have explained. Consequently when something occurs under the influence of a different human age group with which he has no affinity, he is immediately thrown off balance. Someone who accepts only what nature and life of itself provide can have no understanding of something which issues from quite a different aspect of mankind's evolution. When one is able to look behind the scenes of world history it is an indisputable fact, though one that is little recognized, that what is represented by Lloyd George is what on the surface the British people want. And what they want is no war. This comes to expression perfectly in the sentiment which says that the three stages to certain ruin are to budget for war, arm for war and war itself. Though the war was not prevented, and thus permitted to occur by Britain, the real truth is that it was brought about by occult powers who manipulate those who govern as if they were marionettes.
One could point to the exact moment when these occult powers intervened, the moment they caught in their net those who were rulers or rather appeared to be. The occult powers who caused the war from Britain were behind well-known statesmen, and their impulses are most certainly not those of 27-year-olds. Rather they stem from ancient traditions and from a thorough knowledge of the forces inherent in the peoples of Europe. They have knowledge of where and when various peoples, or individuals, various leaders may be weak or strong. Their knowledge is exact and far-reaching, and has for centuries not only flowed through hidden channels but has been kept so secret that those in possession of it could drag others unawares into their net. Individuals like Asquith and also Grey were in reality mere puppets who themselves believed, right up to early August 1914, that at least for Britain there would be no war. They were sure they would do everything to prevent war, when suddenly they found themselves manipulated by occult powers, powers which originated from personalities quite other than those named. Over against these powers Lloyd George, having remained 27 years old, also became a mere puppet. This was because their influence originated from quite a different human life period than his; they could be so effective because of their ability to place ancient traditions in the service of British egoism. The influence of these powers swept like a wave over Britain engulfing also Lloyd George who, though a great man, is through and through a product of our time. Behind the impulses which from Britain laid the foundations for war existed an exact knowledge of the peoples of Europe and their political intentions. Those who know what took place in Britain also know that the content of what today is expressed in war slogans existed as an idea, as a plan, already in the 1880s and 90s, a plan that had to become reality.
Those with occult insight into Britain's political future and the future of the peoples of Europe were saying that the dominance of the Russian empire will be destroyed to enable the Russian people to exist. The Russian revolution in March 1917 was planned already at the end of the 1880s, and so were the channels through which events were guided and manipulated. This was something known only to that small circle whose secret activities sprang from impulses that were of considerably older origin than those of Lloyd George. The events that took place on the Balkans were all planned by human beings of whom it could be said that they were the “dark figures behind the scenes.” That these things happen, is destiny. When from Britain something intervened in the world situation which could not have arisen from the essentially British character represented by Lloyd George, the powers behind the scenes saw to it that he became Minister of Munitions! As long as he had been himself, Lloyd George's deepest convictions had been that the way to certain ruin was to budget for war, arm for war and war itself. Now that he is a puppet he becomes Minister of Munitions! All he retained of his own was his efficiency. He became a very able Minister of Munitions. The man who from deepest inner conviction had spoken against arms brought about that Britain became as well armed as all the other nations.
Here we see coming together the one who, having remained at age 27, so eminently represents mankind, and the dark powers behind the scenes, powers capable of overturning even the deepest convictions because all that lives in the physical world is governed by the spiritual realm; therefore it can be guided by a spirit which acts in accordance with the egoism of a certain group of people. Seldom perhaps have convictions been so completely reversed by the powers behind the scenes as those of Lloyd George have been. The reason lies in the fact that his convictions were so completely rooted in what had been prepared for this particular time as the essential “age 27 quality.” As long as the “age 27 quality” of this single human individuality was effective within mankind also aged 27, there was complete accord. However, just because that harmony was rooted solely in the present, the discord became all the greater when that other influence, based on ancient knowledge, asserted itself.
This extremely interesting interaction does certainly explain a great deal about present-day events; it can also help us to base our judgments on the facts of human evolution, rather than on sympathy or antipathy. The seriousness of certain things can be understood only when they are seen against the background of mankind's evolution as a whole. This also leads to a recognition of how essential it is to be aware of what goes on behind the surface of world history. As long as mankind's age had not receded below that of 28, up to the fifteenth century, evolution could go on without the individual acquainting himself with the guiding spiritual impulses behind historical events. Today it is necessary that we learn to know the influences at work beneath the surface. Such insight is essential especially in Central Europe. If one is to guard against the adversary, one must know the full extent of his might. The only way we can attain insight into mankind's evolution today is to acquaint ourselves, through spiritual knowledge, with the laws that govern that evolution. We understand our time even in regard to the individual human being only when we do so out of the spirit.
How does such an enigmatic figure as Lloyd George come to be just in the key position at this time? The answer to this question is important if one is to understand what is taking place. However, even when the individual is a representative of mankind, he can only be understood through the science of the spirit. Everything concerning Lloyd George's future will be of interest, just as everything concerning his past is of interest. Every step taken by him since 1890 has been significant. So, too, is the way he was there in the background at the outbreak of war, reflected, as it were, in the surface of events. Interesting is also the way he has become the pivot around which so many things in the world revolve, including what emerges from Woodrow Wilson, another one aged 27. 8 Woodrow Wilson, 1856–1924, note 3 to Lecture I. Not least of interest is the fact that Lloyd George's inner convictions, despite their strength, were obliterated in the face of spiritual influences and powers of a dubious nature. How will Lloyd George be superseded? What is his future? 9 David Lloyd George, see note 3, fell from power as Prime Minister in 1922 in connection with the Irish Question. He was a minister in various cabinets from 1909–1916, and Prime Minister from December 1916–1922. The liberal party which he led lost its influence thereafter. Lloyd George's role as a prominent politician was also at an end. These questions are also of interest. We must wait and see.