CHASE – the Obituary
CHASE – Challenging Anthroposophy & Steiner Education had a short life beginning in September 2007 and ending in the winter of 2008. CHASE launched because in the UK and Ireland there was very little in the way of information about Steiner and Anthroposophy available on the internet other than that given out by Steiner’s followers and supporters. The situation in the UK a year later is quite different. Critical opinion of Steiner belief pops up in all sorts of UK focused forums, there’s another critical website, blogs are beginning to appear. It can sometimes be hard to keep up with Steiner-related discussions these days rather than hard to find any at all! CHASE always had two basic aims – raising awareness and having the Anthroposophy movement clarify its position regarding Steiner’s incontestable racism. It’s hard to say how successful CHASE has been in raising awareness of Steiner belief but maybe some numbers might help. Over 2800 people have visited the CHASE website and the CHASE blog has received 4000 visitors. Individual approaches to CHASE via email have been somewhat fewer but fruitful nevertheless. Most emails came from Steiner followers objecting to our take on Steiner belief, particularly Steiner’s racism. Virtually all of such correspondence was answered and resulted in some highly enjoyable and mutually beneficial exchanges of opinion. A tiny number of such emails were ignored because they were so inarticulate as to be able to formulate an answer. Another sizeable portion of the emails to CHASE came from individuals seeking solace or help. These were mostly from people having negative experiences as a result of their involvement with an Anthroposophical application of one sort or another. Often confused, bewildered, shocked or even just downright angry, all of these people have managed to find some sort of balance again and if CHASE served any useful purpose at all, it certainly helped a few people in distress. With its mix of information, opinion and articles, the CHASE website content itself also empowered people by allowing their voices and opinions to be heard and shared. A slow but steady stream of emails reached CHASE coming from individuals expressing their appreciation of the published website materials. Regarding Steiner racism and the Anthroposophy movement, CHASE was mentioned in a news story published by News Network Anthroposophy (NNA) dated December 2007. The story covered allegations of Steiner racism and carried a statement issued by the German Anthroposophical Society refuting those allegations. The NNA, a news conduit for the global Anthroposophy movement, said: The words used by Rudolf Steiner in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century were “of course time-bound” and in today’s context could “in some instances create the impression of racism-related forms of expression,” the statement added. But “a serious examination of the content as well as the context shows the opposite intention,” the Anthroposophical Society stated. And in an endpiece to the story NNA went on to mention: Similar – if low profile – attacks on Steiner and anthroposophy are also being launched in Britain. The CHASE website (www.chaseuk.info) states as one of its aims “to clarify the Anthroposophy movement’s position with regard to the incontestable racist content of Steiner texts.” So, success of a sort in realising that CHASE aim? Unfortunately, the statement from the German Anthroposophical Society does little to clarify the situation re Steiner’s racism. CHASE can claim a few modest achievements. For example, an NHS hospital removed info materials relating to Anthroposophical medicine from its website when it was pointed out that Anthroposophical medicine is unscientific, unproven and therefore unsound. We also recovered some ‘disappeared’ official reports of enquiries into UK based Anthroposophical charities. The findings of these previously published and publicly available reports ranged from simple maladministration and malpractice through to blatant and possibly criminal financial malpractice. CHASE was also pleased to publish original research into the UK Anthroposophy movement. The research mapped the scale and cohesiveness of the Anthroposophy movement in the UK in terms of numbers and kinds of Anthroposophical organisations, their finances and locations, their money and shared human resources. The result was, as far as we know, the first ever structural ‘map’ of the organisational components of the UK Anthroposophy movement and how they link together. Why has CHASE ceased to be? A combination of things really. Sad to say, death depleted our numbers. CHASE also lost members due to the emigration of several key people and we didn’t recruit replacements. Not that we were ever overwhelmed by offers of support or encouragement! The ability of the remaining activists to commit the time, money and effort necessary in maintaining our website, blog, background activities and research became too much for a small group to cope with. Meanwhile, new websites and blogs critical of Steiner belief were bringing fresh energies, people, ideas and commitment to the scene. It felt as if we had done what we could and it was time to either wind down CHASE to a more manageable operation or to collectively move on. After consulting with our friends and former CHASE activists now living and working in countries around the world we decided to formally end CHASE and move on. The CHASE website hosting agreement has been cancelled and the website should disappear toward the end of February. The blog content will be deleted at end of March. All correspondence held by CHASE will be destroyed at end of February 2009, nothing of a confidential nature will remain. Our pledge of confidentiality remains in perpetuity – so, any information we have been privy to will remain confidential. Forever. FARE THEE WELL AND GOODBYE!!!!!