Today (1922), it is clear, we can only look with horror at the social organization that is trying to establish itself in Eastern Europe. Yet in considering what is going on there today, we cannot help remembering what happened some eight hundred years ago, in China. Here, quite suddenly, men sought and very largely realized a political system that aimed at ordering all the affairs of man, even those of an economic nature, in every detail on behalf of the state. At this period in China, there were government authorities that fixed prices from week to week, authorities that laid down how the land was to be cultivated here, there and everywhere, authorities that provided country people with the seed for the year. At this period in China, an attempt was made to impose a high rate of tax on people who were particularly rich, so that gradually their fortunes passed to the general public.
Remembering all this, we may say: the social configuration sought in Europe in our time by certain circles was largely realized eight hundred years ago, over a period of three decades, until the Socialist government concerned was overthrown and its supporters expelled from China. For thirty years, a system persisted whose features, if we described them without mentioning China, might very well be taken to refer to present-day Russia.
Source: Rudolf Steiner – GA 83 – The Tension Between East and West – Vienna, 8th June 1922
Translated by B. A. Rowley – With a Foreword by Owen Barfield
Previously posted on 24 March 2015