War of all against all
The 'War of all against all' will be caused by egotism, evil and mutual strife. Egotism is the fundamental power in the soul, and this line of evolution will descend ever deeper. When it arrives at the bottom everyone will rage against everyone else and the fifth race will find its destruction in conflict between selfish, egoistic powers.
In the seventh cultural age, mankind will make discoveries about the physical forces of nature, to take hold of 'great and mighty forces' that will in the end 'turn the whole earth-globe into a kind of [self-functioning] live electric mass'.
The war of all against all will be a war of classes of souls who no longer understand one another, a war much worse than war of the present-day with weapons and difficult for present-day consciousness to understand.
A small group of men will develop selflessness and the power of Budhi or Life-Spirit through the force of thought, in order to carry over Budhi into the new civilisation. In a way 'that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved'.
For humanity this catastrophy will mean the transition to the next great Sixth epoch, which will take place on a new continent and very different earthly conditions, see also Earthquakes and emergence continent sixth epoch.
- the foundation of discord is the human 'I' that gives Man his independence and his inner freedom, it is a sharp two-edged sword that leads on the one hand to the highest and on the other hand to the lowest (1908-06-25-GA104)
- besides the above positioning of the war of all against all at the end of the current fifth epoch, Rudolf Steiner also uses the term for a much more short term projection at the end of the 20th century (1921-08-06-GA206)
- the term 'Bellum omnium contra omnes', Latin meaning 'the war of all against all', is used by Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) in his books De Cive (1642) and Leviathan (1651).
Lecture coverage and references
We are going forward to an age when, as I indicated recently, men will understand what the atom is, in reality. It will be realised, and by the public mind too, that the atom is nothing but coagulated electricity. The thought itself is composed of the same substance. Before the end of the fifth epoch of culture, science will have reached the stage where man will be able to penetrate into the atom itself. When the similarity of substance between the thought and the atom is once comprehended, the way to get hold of the forces contained in the atom will soon be discovered and then nothing will be inaccessible to certain methods of working. A man standing here, let us say, will be able by pressing a button concealed in his pocket, to explode some object at a great distance, say in Hamburg. Just as by setting up a wave-movement here and causing it to take a particular form at some other place, wireless telegraphy is possible, so what I have just indicated will be within man's power when the occult truth that thought and atom consist of the same substance is put into practical application.
It is impossible to conceive what might happen in such circumstances if mankind has not, by then, reached selflessness. The attainment of selflessness alone will enable humanity to be kept from the brink of destruction.
The downfall of our present epoch will be caused by lack of morality.
The Lemurian epoch was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water; our epoch and its civilisation will be destroyed by the War of All against All, by evil. Human beings will destroy each other in mutual strife. And the terrible thing — more desperately tragic than other catastrophes — will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves.
A tiny handful of men will make good and thus insure their survival in the sixth epoch of civilisation. This tiny handful will have attained selflessness.
The others will develop every imaginable skill and subtlety in the manipulation and use of the physical forces of nature, but without the essential degree of selflessness.
In the seventh epoch of civilisation, this War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form.
Great and mighty forces will be let loose by the discoveries, turning the whole earth-globe into a kind of [self-functioning] live electric mass.
In a way that cannot be discussed, the tiny handful will be protected and preserved.
and a second translation
It is impossible to conceive what might happen in such circumstances if mankind has not by then reached selflessness. Only through the attainment of selflessness will it be possible to preserve mankind from the brink of destruction. The downfall of post-Atlantean culture will be caused by the lack of morality. The Lemurian race was destroyed by fire, the Atlantean by water; ours will be destroyed by the War of All against All, [by?] evil, through the struggle of men with one another. Humanity will destroy itself in mutual strife. And the despairing thing — more desperately tragic than other catastrophes — will be that the blame will lie with human beings themselves.
A tiny handful of men will save themselves and pass over into the sixth epoch. This tiny handful will have developed complete selflessness. The others will make use of every [imaginable] skill and subtlety in the penetration and conquest of the physical forces of Nature, but without attaining the essential degree of selflessness . They will start the War of All against All, and that will be the cause of the destruction of our civilisation.
In the seventh post-Atlantean cultural epoch, to be precise, this War of All against All will break out, in the most terrible way. Great and mighty forces will ensue from discoveries that will turn the entire globe into a kind of self-functioning electrical apparatus. The tiny handful will be protected in a way that cannot be discussed.
Mighty flames of fire destroyed ancient Lemuria, and mighty floods ancient Atlantis. Our civilisation will also perish, through the war of all against all. This is what we must face. Our fifth root-race will perish, because egoism will reach its highest pitch. But at the same time, a small group of men will develop the power of Budhi, of the Life-Spirit, through the force of thought, in order to carry over Budhi into the new civilisation. Everything that is productive in the striving human being will grow stronger and stronger, until his personality reaches the summit of freedom. At present, every individual must discover in himself a kind of guiding spirit in the soul's inner depths: — This is Budhi, the power of the Life spirit. Were we to approach the future by taking up the cultural impulses as in earlier epochs, we should face the disintegration of humanity.
What do we see now at the present time?
Everyone wants to be his own master: Egoism, selfishness have been pushed to the extreme. A time will come when no other authority will be recognised except one which men recognise freely, whose power is based upon free confidence.
- The Mysteries which were founded upon the power of the spirit, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE SPIRIT;
- the Mysteries of the future, which will have trust as their foundation, are called the MYSTERIES OF THE FATHER.
These will mark the end of our civilisation. The new impulse of the power of confidence must come, otherwise we approach human disintegration, a universal cult of the I and of egoism.
- In the times of the Mysteries of the Spirit, which were founded upon the rightful power, authority and might of the Spirit, there were certain wise men who possessed wisdom, and only the soul who passed through difficult probations could be initiated by them.
- In future, we approach the Mysteries of the Father, and we must strive more and more that each single human being should attain wisdom.
Will this counter-act egoism and the threatening disintegration? Yes! For only when we reach the highest wisdom, in which there are no differences, no personal opinion and no personal standpoint, but ONE VIEW only, will men agree. If they were to remain as they are at present, following their different standpoints, they would become more and more disunited. The highest wisdom always produces a unanimous view among all men. Real wisdom is ONE, and it unites men again, whilst leaving them as free as possible, without any coercive authority. Just as the members of the great White Brotherhood are always in harmony with one another and with humanity, so all men will one day be one, through this wisdom. Only this wisdom can establish the true idea of brotherhood. Spiritual science therefore has only one task: to bring this idea to men, by developing now the Spirit-Self and later on the Life-Spirit. The great goal of the spiritual-scientific movement is to make it possible for man to attain freedom and true wisdom; its mission is to let this truth and wisdom flow into men.
The modern movement of spiritual science began with the most elementary teachings. Many important things have been revealed in the years which have passed since the founding of this movement, and much that is even more important will be revealed. The work of the spiritual-scientific movement, is therefore to allow a gradual flowing out of wisdom of the great White Brotherhood that had its origin in Atlantis. Such work has always been prepared for through long periods of time. The whole activity of the great founders of religions was a preparation for the ONE great event, for the appearance of Christ-Jesus.
At that time there will be human beings who are Christ filled, who have been sealed; in the ages of future spirituality the opening up, the breaking of the seals of human souls will take place. That the five wise virgins have oil burning in their lamps, that the bridegroom finds illuminated souls, signifies that a portion of humanity will have revealed to it the mystery that is still today closed to humankind. The book with the seven seals will be deciphered for a portion of humankind. The writer of the Apocalypse, John, wants through signs to point to this time, wants to proclaim prophetically this age. In one sentence we read: “And a great sign appeared in heaven ...” (Rev. 12:1) That means we are dealing in the Apocalypse with signs representing the great phases of the evolution of humanity. We must then decipher these signs. We remember that our present fifth root race was preceded by the Atlantean race, which was destroyed by a flood. What will destroy the fifth race? The fifth race has a special task: the development of egotism. This egotism will, at the same time, create what causes the downfall of the fifth root race. A small part of humankind will live toward the sixth main race; a larger part will not yet have found the light within. Because egotism is the fundamental power in the soul, the war of all against all will rage within this larger part of humanity. As the Lemurian race found its end through the power of fire, the Atlantean through water, so will the fifth race find its destruction in conflict between selfish, egoistic powers in the war of all against all. This line of evolution will descend deeper and deeper; when it arrives at the bottom everyone will rage against everyone else. A small part of humankind will escape this, just as a small part escaped during the destruction of the Atlantean race. It is up to every individual to find a connection to the spiritual life in order to be one of those to go over into the sixth root race. Mighty revolutions stand before humankind; they are described in the Apocalypse
The Lemurian epoch came to an end through great fire catastrophes; the Atlantean through mighty catastrophes of ice and water; our epoch will come to an end through other forces, through a mighty increase of egoism in human nature, and, on account of this, through the war of all against all.
Only those who turn to a spiritual life will survive the catastrophe, which, in this case, means the war of all against all, just as only a small group of people escaped from the catastrophes of Lemuria and Atlantis. The war of all against all will be still more terrible for those involved in it than were those of fire and water, however terrible we may picture them to have been. Those who are now turning towards a spiritual life should feel it their duty to do all that is possible to rescue the good seed of our age and carry it over into the sixth age, which will follow the present one. This age is made up of great subdivisions; the ancient Indian, the Persian, the Egyptian, the Greco-Latin, and the present one, which will be followed by the sixth and the seventh right on to the time of the war of all against all.
1908-06-25-GA104 quote A
We have said repeatedly that our epoch will end, when the seventh age has passed away, by the War of All against All, but this war must really be pictured quite differently from the way we have been accustomed to think of war. We must bear in mind the foundation, the real cause of this war. This foundation or cause is the increase of egoism, of self-seeking and selfishness on the part of Man. And we have now progressed so far in our considerations that we have seen what a sharp two-edged sword this 'I' of man is. He who does not fully realize that this I is a two-edged sword will scarcely be able to grasp the entire meaning of the evolution of humanity and the world. On the one hand this I is the cause that Man hardens within himself, and that he desires to draw into the service of his I his inner capacities and all the other objects at his disposal. This I is the cause of Man’s directing all his wishes to the satisfaction of this I as such. Its striving to draw to itself as its own possession a part of the Earth which belongs to all, to drive away all the other I's from its realm, to fight them, to be at war with them, is one side of the I.
But on the other hand we must not forget that the I is at the same time that which gives man his independence and his inner freedom, which in the truest sense of the word elevates him. His dignity is founded in this I, it is the basis of the divine in Man.
.. Thus the I will be the pledge for the highest goal of Man. But at the same time, if it does not discover love, if it hardens within itself, it is the tempter that plunges him into the abyss.
For it is that which separates men from one another which brings them to the great War of All against All, not only to the war of nation against nation (for the conception of a nation will then no longer have the significance it possesses to-day) but to the war of each single person against every other person in every branch of life; to the war of class against class, of caste against caste and sex against sex.
Thus in every field of life the I will become the apple of discord; and hence we may say that it can lead on the one hand to the highest and on the other hand to the lowest. For this reason it is a sharp two-edged sword.
The war of all against all will be an expression of the egotism that is always growing stronger, the egotism conjured forth by humanity today as the I is and will always become, stronger and stronger. That will be the end of the last Postatlantean culture. This catastrophe will also have its mission, its usefulness in the ascent of the entire human race. However, the great war of all against all will be something much worse than war of the present-day with weapons. It will be a war of souls, of souls who no longer understand one another, a war of the classes. This future catastrophe is difficult for present-day consciousness to understand.
The Atlanteans were magicians. As we today use the powers asleep in coal, so the Atlantean used the forces in plant seeds. The forces in the seeds served them in their technology, in their industry.
There is a mysterious connection between these forces. As long as the Atlanteans used the seed forces properly, they were in harmony with the working of the forces of the air and water. However, from the middle of the Atlantean age onward, the Atlantean magicians increasingly approached their moral fall; and in the mysteries of the black occult schools these magical forces were misused in a terrible way. They were placed in the service of the most horrible egotism. In this way the powers of air and water were increasingly excited which finally had to result in the mighty Atlantean water catastrophe. Today, those who know the secret of the use of these forces know full well that the use of such forces in our time means that powers of black magic are at work. Magic must never be made to serve when selfish purposes are involved. Hence, the employment of seed forces is not permitted today even to serve white magic.
On the other hand, in Lemurian times the seed forces of the animals were used. But everywhere that the growth forces of animals are misused, horrendous forces of fire, the vulcanic element, are awakened.
Today these things are not so obvious. Today the feeling for one's self, the overwhelming egohood of people has brought about the drying up, the desolation of those regions of the earth that have developed this egotism to the greatest extent. It is absolutely true that this war of all against all is being prepared on the surface of the earth because a connection exists between the egotistical withering of the soul's forces and the paralyzation of the earth's productive powers. The Nordic myth of the Twilight of the Gods also tells us this.
We must understand the difference between the evolution of souls and the evolution of bodies. From epoch to epoch human souls find themselves again and again in different bodies. These souls will one day see the strife that will reign among the human souls who will be born in the last Postatlantean age. This experience will be a lesson for them and will help to free them from egotism. Then they will be able to grow into an era where they will have the fruits of selfhood but without its disadvantages.
An age will come with clairvoyant conditions similar to those prevailing in the Atlantean epoch, but with this difference: human beings will have a free consciousness of self. We will then have learned, in these seven cultures of the Postatlantean age, what can be achieved in the physical world. This self-perception or consciousness of self can only awaken in a physical body; but the human being must again subjugate the physical body. After the war of all against all, we will have achieved a stage of evolution where we live in a bodily nature in such a way that we are no longer slaves of our physical bodies.
The impulse for this development comes from the Christ principle. Christ even falls right in the middle between the age of the Atlantean catastrophe and the war of all against all. On the one hand we can thank the descent into matter for our consciousness of self within our physical bodily nature. On the other hand, we thank the Christ event for our ability to ascend with the achievements of the physical world. We thank the Christ principle for our ability to ascend to universal brotherly love, to the universal love of humanity, since we will again unite in groups with love for one another.
If we look back to the time of the original group souls of Atlantis and then into the future we see these four group souls appearing again. The lamb will stand in the middle as a sign for the love that will unite people who will then be living in a bodily nature that is less dense.
But this state must be prepared today through the setting aside of a small group that will carry brotherly love into the future. Therefore, a stream has arisen in our time that will lead to brotherly love through real spiritual knowledge. Humankind will not attain brotherly love through preaching but rather through knowledge. Preachers who constantly speak of love achieve nothing. But if people are given wisdom, knowledge of evolution, in such a way that it becomes life in the soul, then humanity will arrive at love. The soul can attain this when it is warmed by wisdom. Then it can radiate love.
For this reason the masters of wisdom and harmony of feelings have formed this stream for the raying forth of love into humanity and for the influx of wisdom into humanity. Humankind, rushing toward the war of all against all, will then find the fruit of the theosophical movement in an understanding of peace — while all around it, the nature of humankind will have everywhere led into strife those who have not heard the call of the master of wisdom and harmony of feelings on the basis of the Christ impulse in the fourth age.
A seer such as the writer of the apocalypse can already see the future evolution of humanity in the astral world. What will enter into evolution after the war of all against all is already being prepared. Those human beings called to carry evolution into the future, beyond the war of all against all, are already being prepared through the wisdom taught in Theosophy. In far-reaching ways, the spiritual stream of wisdom will become increasingly effective.
Let us look at the human being after the war of all against all. We can think of him or her as someone with radiant, good features and a noble benevolent expression. This will become the fate of those who have taken in spiritual impulses at the right time. All moral, intellectual, and spiritual forces will, in the future, confront us visibly in the external features of a human being. What is taken in today will be sealed into souls. After the seventh cultural age, after the war of all against all, they will be unsealed.
as related to worldview or world conception, see also extract on: Worldview#1921-08-06-GA206
When this lecture is read in full, it connects to:
- Contemporary worldview war
- Fall and redemption - original sin and grace#Topic 1 - What is going on in the world today.3F
.. as human beings, we may be soundly materialistic within our life of thoughts. This is possible, for the nineteenth century has proved it. The nineteenth century has also proved the justification of materialism; for it has led to a positive knowledge of the material world, which is an image of the spiritual world. We may be materialists with our head ... but in that case we do not control our dreaming life of feeling, nor our sleeping life of the will. These become spiritually inclined, particularly the life of the will.
It is interesting to observe, from a spiritual-scientific standpoint, what takes place in that case.
What lives in a corporeal form within the sentient part of man? Rhythm: the circulation of the blood, the breathing rhythm, and so forth. What lives within the volitive part of man? The metabolic processes.
Let us study, to begin with, these metabolic processes. While the head is skillfully engaged in elaborating material things and material phenomena into a materialistic science, the metabolic part of man, which takes hold of the complete human structure, works out the very opposite world-picture; it elaborates a thoroughly spiritualistic world-picture, which the materialists, in particular, bear within them unconsciously. But within the metabolic part of man, this influences the instincts and the passions. There it produces the very opposite of what it would produce if it were to claim the whole human being. When it permeates the instincts, ahrimanic powers get hold of it, and then it is not active in a divine-spiritual sense, but it is active in an ahrimanic-spiritual sense. It then leads the instincts to the highest degree of egoism. It develops the instincts in such a way that the human being then merely makes claims and demands; he is not led to social instincts, to social feelings, and so forth. Particularly the individual side becomes an egoistic element of the instincts.
This has been formed, if I may use this expression, below the surface of the materialistic civilisation; this has appeared in the world-historical events, and this is now evident. What has developed below the surface, as a germ, what has arisen in the depths of man's volitive part, where spirituality has seized the instincts, this now appears in the world-historical events. If the development were to continue in this consistent way, we would reach, at the end of the twentieth century, the war of all against all; particularly in that sphere of the evolution of the Earth in which the so-called civilisation has unfolded. We may already see what has thus developed, we may see it raying out from the East and asserting itself over a great part of the Earth. This is an inner connection. We should be able to see it. In an outward symptomatic form, it reflects itself in what I have already explained, in what others have also remarked.
In other words: If we allow things to take their course, in the manner in which they have taken their course under the influence of the world-conception which has arisen in the nineteenth century and in the form in which we can understand it, if we allow things to take this course, we shall face the war of all against all, at the end of the twentieth century.
No matter what beautiful speeches may be held, no matter how much science may progress, we would inevitably have to face this war of all against all. We would see the gradual development of a type of humanity devoid of every kind of social instinct, but which would talk all the more of social questions.
Originally human beings had spirit without intellect; then the spirit gradually fell away and the intellect increased. Now, by means of the intellect, we have to regain the spirit. Culture is obliged to take this course.
If it does not do so — well, gentlemen, people are always saying that the World War was unlike anything ever experienced before, and it is indeed a fact that men have never before so viciously torn one another to pieces. But if men refuse to take the course of returning to the spirit and bringing their intellect with them, then still greater wars will come upon us, wars that will become more and more savage.
Men will really destroy one another as the two rats did that, shut up together in a cage, gnawed at each other till there was nothing left of them but two tails. That is putting it rather brutally, but in fact mankind is on the way to total extermination. It is very important to know this.
 - About humanity turning the whole earth into 'a self functioning live electric mass or apparatus'
Regarding the statement in 1904-12-23-GA093 above
In the seventh epoch of civilisation, this War of All against All will break out in the most terrible form. Great and mighty forces will be let loose by the discoveries, turning the whole earth-globe into a kind of [self-functioning] live electric mass.
and a second translation
In the seventh post-Atlantean cultural epoch, to be precise, this War of All against All will break out, in the most terrible way. Great and mighty forces will ensue from discoveries that will turn the entire globe into a kind of self-functioning electrical apparatus.
.. it can be noted that Rudolf Steiner does go into this image in various other lectures, example of which below (when covering the 'Mothers', see more on Three mothers, and the forces such as electricity as an impulse remaining of Old Moon).
Now you can imagine that all these premontions of mighty connections did not arise before Faust merely as theories, but he felt himself obliged to seek out — to enter right into these impulses. Knowledge of this force was first of all given to those being initiated into the Greek Mysteries, this force together with the two other Mothers. The Greeks held all that was connected with electricity in secret in the Mysteries. And herein is where lies the decadence of the future of the Earth — of which I have already spoken from another point of view — that these forces will be made public. One of these forces has already become so during the fifth post-Atlantean age: electricity. The others will be known about in the decadence of the sixth and seventh ages.