I don’t want this discussion — on race doctrines and reincarnation as a potential way to ‘justify’ or exhonerate hierarchal beliefs about human races — and these important contributions to be lost in a thread on an unrelated topic, so I’m moving a couple of comments to this post; please do feel free to continue discussing this topic here!
Jefferson may have been a worse racist than Steiner, but Jefferson did not enshrine his racism in his life’s work but Steiner did. That’s the crucial difference. You see, racism is not incidental to anthroposophy; it is fundamental to anthroposophy. But it’s actually good for us, just like bitter medicine.
How so? Two major reasons.
 the flip side of racism in anthroposophy is reincarnation.
 racism is a necessary — but of course by no means sufficient — condition for us to transcend said racism and gain our individual freedom.
Starting with , Steiner’s racial doctrine is especially cruel for those people who do NOT accept reincarnation. So why are you surprised at the hatred and vitriol directed at Steiner and anthroposophy from all the critics here, most of whom reject reincarnation? Don’t you realize that without reincarnation, anthroposophy slips down to the default value of Nazi race doctrine? […]
Having said that, though, the acceptance of reincarnation does not make Steiner any less racist; rather it shifts the racism into the more benign but patronizing realm of anthroposophists carrying their version of the “white man’s burden.” With reincarnation, then, a black person in this life is not doomed to his or her blackness. Rather he or she can pull up by the spiritual bootstraps, as it were, and earn many karma points to cash in with a Caucasian body in the next incarnation. And it might be added that a white person in this life might become so morally bankrupt, that he or she could conversely reincarnate into a “lower race” as a punishment. See, at least that attitude is color-blind, don’t you think?
So, in short, by Steiner’s own logic, Steiner himself — and his anthroposophy — are BOTH racist AND not racist — simultaneously!
Reincarnation does nothing to mitigate against the racist doctrines in anthroposophy. The idea that reincarnation provides some sort of theoretical loophole is clever but it’s wishful thinking. Neither in theory nor in practice does a belief in reincarnation somehow mean that a doctrine of higher and lower races isn’t racist.
The word for a doctrine that’s “racist AND antiracist” is racist. A person might hold contradictory beliefs, or different beliefs at different times in their life. A theory or doctrine can’t do that. A theory that posits higher and lower races is racist; other parts of the theory don’t nullify the racist parts. Other facets of the doctrine might render it contradictory, or incoherent, but they cannot succeed in also making it “antiracist.”
And later continued:
[The reincarnation loophole] doesn’t work, even theoretically. It’s a complete misunderstanding about what makes a theory racist or not. The statements *about various races* are what make Steiner’s doctrine racist.
I understand the reasoning behind the claim that reincarnation provides a “loophole.” But it’s mistaken reasoning. The idea is that if a person reincarnates, we are not to judge them on the basis of what race they may have been in a particular lifetime, since it may change in later lifetimes. But racism is not about judgements or stereotypes or beliefs about individuals. It’s about beliefs *about races*. What we think about an individual is just what we think about an individual. What we think about their race reflects our racial doctrines (if we hold such a doctrine). Many racists believe that their positive assessments *about individuals* make them not racist. They like a particular black person, for instance, or they have a positive assessment of that black person, so they think they can’t be racist. Believing the person may reincarnate in another race later (or may have incarnated in another race previously) works in an analogous fashion. It’s like the person gets points for the possibility they will reincarnate in a better race. Darker skin counts against you, the possibility of lighter skin later (or previously) counts in your favor. Such a scoring system is racist. Its premise is racist. How high or low a particular person scores in such a system is not what makes it racist.
It doesn’t matter what you believe about an individual’s past or future lives. What you believe about their *race* – in any lifetime – is what makes your belief racist or not.
In my opinion, the belief in reincarnation works exactly the opposite of the way Tom thinks it works. The belief not only doesn’t save the doctrine from being racist, it gives it away as racist. It amounts to saying, to dark-skinned people, “I won’t hold your dark skin against you, ‘cus you might have lighter skin next time” (or, even more radically, or so the adherents to this view apparently think), “I won’t hold your dark skin against you, because I MYSELF may have once had dark skin, or may some day in the future have dark skin!”
This merely gives away the beliefs the person holds about dark skin.