This is particularly true of Steiner's predictions concerning sexuality. Steiner predicted that Western society's refusal to channel its energy into the development of spirit and consciousness would play out perniciously in the realm of human sexuality by perverting and distorting sexual instincts. Steiner then goes on to add that the ruling scientific worldview of the future would regard these distorted instincts as desirable, progressive, and virtuous.
Below are some extracts from Steiner's lecture that Bruce Charlton included in one of his posts on the subject. I have left Charlton's bold intact. If you have not read these excerpts, I urge you to do so now. If you have read these excerpts before, I urge you to read them again.
My comments on the subject continue following these excerpted passages.
Certain instinctive knowledge will arise in human nature connected with the mystery of birth and conception, with sexual life as a whole; and this threatens to become baleful if the danger of which I have spoken takes effect.
The effect in the evolution of humanity would be that certain instincts connected with the sexual life would arise in a pernicious form instead of wholesomely, in clear waking consciousness.
These sexual instincts would not be mere aberrations, but would pass over into and configure the social life, would above all prevent men from unfolding brotherhood in any form whatever on the earth, and would rather induce them to rebel against it. This would be a matter of instinct.
So the crucial point lies ahead when either the path to the right can be taken — but that demands wakefulness — or the path to the left, which permits of sleep. But in that case instincts come on the scene — instincts of a fearful kind.
And what do you suppose the scientific experts will say when such instincts come into evidence? They will say that it is a natural and inevitable development in the evolution of humanity. But light cannot be shed on such matters by natural science, for whether men become angels or devils would be equally capable of explanation by scientific reasoning. Science will say the same in both cases: the later is the outcome of the earlier ...
Natural science will be totally blind to the event of which I have told you, for if men become half devils through their sexual instincts, science will as a matter of course regard this as a natural necessity. Scientifically, then, the matter is simply not capable of explanation, for whatever happens, everything can be explained by science.
Man would pride himself upon the growth of his instinctive knowledge of certain processes and substances and would experience such satisfaction in obeying certain aberrations of the sexual impulses that he would regard them as evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness!
In a certain respect, ugliness would be beauty and beauty, ugliness.
Yet, nothing of this would be perceived because it would all be regarded as natural necessity. But it would actually denote an aberration from the path which, in the nature of humanity itself, is prescribed for man's essential being.
After I read these excerpts, and the lecture from which they were taken, I reflected upon the unfolding of Steiner's prophecy within the framework of my own life (I will be 48 years old this summer). I feel apprehensive about sharing the following, not out of fear of repercussions, but rather out of fear that my observations may not do the subject justice. In any case, I feel impelled to outline the following if for no other reason than to "think through" Steiner's predictions against the backdrop of my own life.
As I traced the prevailing societal sexual attitudes marking my own life, I realized my own attitudes toward sexual morality tended to mirror the ruling sexual morality of the day, and that I only started turning away from mainstream sexual morality in the past ten-to-fifteen years. In other words, the societal attitudes I remember and describe below (I am painting with a very broad brush here) pretty much mirrored my own until I reached my mid-thirties, which is roughly around 2005 or so.
In any event, here are my (sloppy) observations concerning Steiner's prophecy within the general timeline of my own life:
Up until the age of fourteen or fifteen (1971 - 1985), sexual attitudes in Canada (where I grew up) were fairly conventional and conservative, this even against the backdrop of the 1960s sexual revolution. I obviously had a fairly limited awareness of sexual attitudes when I was a still a young child, but as I recall, sexual mores and morality were still grounded in what I would classify as a Christian or, at the very least, a traditional framework. This did not mean that everyone around me was a practicing Christian or traditionalist, but rather that even non-practicing Christians more or less subscribed to a Christian or traditional morality regarding sex.
I would tag this period with the following phrase: "I cannot openly tolerate your sexual deviancy, but I will turn a blind eye to it if you keep it hidden and to yourself." This period was marked by the following attributes, as I remember them:
- Pornography existed, but was practically inaccessible. Hardcore pornography was extremely inaccessible, even for adults.
- Marriage and family were viewed as positives. Divorce was nothing of which to be proud.
- Same sex relationships were frowned upon/openly mocked. Open displays of homosexuality were practically non-existent.
- Television programs omitted/deleted nudity and sexual scenes from movies.
- Politicians and public figures maintained, at the very least, a veneer of sexual conformity and normality.
- Sexual deviancy might have been tolerated, but certainly not openly.
- Masturbation was not discussed openly and considered shameful.
A tremendous shift in sexual attitudes took places in my late teens/early twenties (the years from 1985 to 1992). This is where I first began to detect the open balefulness Steiner mentions in his lecture. The prevailing societal attitude during this phase of my life was, "I don't condone it, but I am willing to tolerate/accept it as long as you keep it to yourself and don't push it on me."
- More than half of the adult couples I knew while I was growing up divorced (including my own parents). Divorce became normalized, acceptable, nothing to be ashamed of.
- Pornography became freely available, but was sold mostly in age-restricted shops.
- Homosexual themes, including gay rights, began appearing in the media. Gay Pride Day parades were openly advertised/covered by the media.
- Television content became more indecent. Music videos were incredibly popular and many were explicitly sexual in nature.
- Casual sex became more openly acceptable/desirable. Prudishness was considered uncool or the sign of psychological issues. Hedonism/materialism was again openly worshiped in the mainstream.
- At the same time, the AIDS epidemic caused a bipolar attitude toward sex. Everyone desired/wanted casual sex, but many were too scared to engage in it.
- Preachers and critics who admonished homosexuality and claimed AIDS had been sent to decimate the homosexual community were roundly humiliated and punished via the media. Though I did not agree with the meanness of the criticism, I did see a connection between the disease and promiscuity. Criticism of homosexuality in any way, shape, or form was slowly outlawed. This was my first meaningful encounter with political correctness.
- Marriage and divorce began to be mocked on the media via insipid television programs and films.
- Open tolerance of sexual deviancy was encouraged and considered broadminded, with the caveat that sexual deviancy be kept private and know its place, so to speak.
- An increasing number of politicians and public figures began to show support for alternative lifestyles and unconventional sexual attitudes.
- Masturbation was accepted as something natural/desirable/understandable.
Through my early-twenties to about my early thirties (1993-2005), I noticed a extraordinary loosening of the sexual attitudes I had known/grown up with when I was a child. The societal sexual attitudes during this phase of my life spanned the "I'm not gay; not that there is anything wrong with that" line made famous by the television sitcom, Seinfeld, to what I would coin as "They have a right to do that! If you don't believe that right exists, there's something wrong with you", which was extended to cover many other formerly unconventional sexual practices:
- Pornography was now readily and freely available round-the-clock via the internet. Risque browsing habits were often openly discussed.
- Homosexuality and same-sex marriage were floated as being as virtuous and proper as conventional, heterosexual marriages. People were encouraged to openly support same-sex marriage and homosexual rights under the mantra of human rights.
- Less than half of my (heterosexual) friends married. Most who did not marry in their twenties and thirties remain unmarried today. Half of the ones who did marry have since divorced.
- Hook-up culture and casual sex was considered superior to conventional monogamy within marriage (with the exception of same sex marriages).
- Taboo sexual practices went mainstream. No practices or fetishes (with the exception of perhaps pedophilia) were off limits/scorned.
- Criticism of sexual deviancy was immediately met with charges of bigotry and carried immediate sanctions and consequences (job loss, character assassination. The word suffix -phobic became ubiquitous.
- Alternative sexual lifestyles started to be promoted in the media. Sexual tastes and preferences were placed under the diversity banner of progressivism.
- Academia launched a full out offensive on conventional sexual attitudes, which are still officially regarded as restrictive/oppressive.
- Marriage rates and birth rates for Western countries continued to plummet. All Western societies hit sub-replacement levels of fertility.
- Sexual perversion was officially sanctioned, endorsed, and promoted in education curricula.
- Public figures and politicians openly advocated for and supported many forms of sexual deviancy demanding absolute legal, financial, societal, and moral acceptance of these practices/lifestyles.
From my mid-thirties until now, I would say the complete inversion of sexual morality has been achieved, and all with startling acceleration and velocity. What had once been considered perverse is now considered virtuous and what had been considered virtuous is now mocked as perverse. Enlightened Western governments and societies have openly and arrogantly adopted the mantra Steiner mentions in his prophetic lecture, and actively and openly promulgate the agenda through their media and bureaucratic apparatuses.
Concerning sexual deviance and perversions, practically all Western governments truly do regard them as "evidence of a particularly high development of superhumanity, of freedom from convention, of broad-mindedness" to the point that they not only demand total acceptance and adherence to these new sexual codes, but also require citizens to actively and publicly endorse, promote, and embrace sexual deviancy. Failure to do so carries immediate social, financial, legal, and political consequences. Disagreement with even a trivial facet of the current sexual paradigm immediately renders one a social pariah. In most lines of employment, especially high status ones, people who refuse to promote the program are not in turn never considered or hired (let alone promoted).
Not only have Steiner's predictions concerning the degeneration of human sexuality come true, but his warning concerning the formation of an inverted moral imperative has also manifested. Despite any argument to the contrary, this situation will not improve, but will, in my opinion, continue to degenerate until the entire Western system collapses under the calamitous misstep it took at the beginning of the twentieth century. This will likely strike some as an overtly pessimistic and hyperbolic claim, but the complete inversion of sexual morality and the active endorsing, promoting, and embracing of sexual perversion did portend the end of many earlier Western societies including the Greek city states and the Roman Empire.
Thus, at the societal level, I do not believe there is much we can do or can be done to reverse Steiner's fulfilled prophecy. Whatever can be done must be done at the level of the individual, from the depths of the True Self.
Refusing to endorse, promote, and embrace sexual perversion as a moral imperative has obvious consequences. The decision to choose or reject this degenerate moral imperative is up to us as individuals.
Accepting sexual deviancy and perversion as a good will likely allow you to make your way in the world. On the other hand, rejecting sexual deviancy and perversion as a good, even purely at the level of thinking, will likely place innumerable material obstacles in your path.
Nevertheless, if you are willing to have material obstacles placed in your path, you may create a set of circumstances in which certain spiritual obstacles are removed from your path, and you just might have a chance to take those steps toward spiritual development Western societies so tragically rejected over a century ago.
In the end, it's up to each one of us to decide which is more important.