THE FAIRY TALE OF FASCISM
New Stories for a New Millennium
Living storytelling, whether for teachers or parents, is the creation of new, apt, morally sound yet exciting images for our children.
Dead storytelling is practiced by the creatively indolent, who try to breathe life into the corpses of long-dead folk souls by endlessly regurgitating time-worn, moth-eaten tales for their vulnerable audiences.
Not only do these stories disorientate young children, with archaic and often decadent images of time and place, they plant seeds of moral contamination.
Most of these old so-called ‘fairy’ tales have a degenerate ethical fabric, one which is inimical to a world community struggling for moral enlightenment. Take any old story you choose and scrutinize it for its underlying attitudes and actions:
In The Three Little Pigs, we have the universal symbol of gluttony (one of the Seven Deadly Sins!) boiling alive that of lasciviousness, the wolf – a story, or our two, lowest urges. A modern tale must have a redemptive factor; the pigs might have learned compassion, taming the wolf perhaps, to tend the vegetable garden around their 3-bdrm. Brick home.
How do these old stories sit in Australia as we cross the threshold of the 3rd Millennium? Alas, not well. What have the sunny souls of Oz kids got to do with the dark vindictiveness of old Europe? The most popular, and the worst (although some of the best fairy stories, from a strictly structural point of view, having had centuries of honing) are the Grimms Fairy Stories – or, as their compilers called them, ‘the detritus of the German folk soul’!
The underlying moral texture – the one that really counts, that which whispers to the sub-conscious – is reprehensible by any modern standards. The whole edifice of these medieval tales is based on 7 protocols: Anti-Semitism; Nationalism; Sexism; Racism; Paternalism; Authoritarianism (or Despotism to be more accurate); Militarism.
ANTI-SEMITISM – these Aryan-inspired yarns are littered with references to Jews as usurers and swindlers; a typical nauseating example being one little gem called The Jew in the Thorns. Here a disingenuous gentile cons a perfectly innocent Jew out of his money, leaving him struggling in a thorn bush. The gentile is unequivocally portrayed as the hero!
NATIONALISM – this is seen in the constant reference to ‘kingdoms’. These are divisive and isolationist, an insult to the spirit of internationalism that is being fostered by people of goodwill everywhere today. It is the xenophobic nature of kingdoms which creates wars. No doubt the stories told to children in the Balkans had plenty of kingdoms!
SEXISM – is the abiding attitude governing human conduct both within and without the family in most old stories. Kings blandly use their daughters for commerce, just like any of their other possessions, trading the beautiful princess with some passing wayfarer – for material gain! Only sons inherit the kingdom; sisters always play the support roles among the siblings. ‘Good’ wives are servile and obedient. On the basis of sexism alone, children should be protected from these perverting images.
RACISM – is found in any story featuring a foreigner; immediately recognized by weird clothes, language, color, or beliefs. They are invariably villains, unsavory and inferior types; especially black people, who are often cast as slaves, unable even to reach servant status – in some cases subhuman! Orientals are sinister, backstabbing figures, plotting the downfall of the good king and his happy people!
PATERNALISM – is to be expected I suppose in stories from ‘the fatherland’. Fathers, at whatever social level, are the unquestioned leaders of the family, village, or the whole land. Much of the iniquity of family life today is the expectation of the father to lord it over the rest of the household.
Fathers in the old stories dictate every detail in the life of their families, including vocations for their sons (daughters don’t have careers in a paternalistic society); dress for their wives; and husbands for their daughters. The Fuhrer played on this craving for paternal authority with great success – having people fainting in ecstasy at the infamous Nuremburg Rallies!
AUTHORITARIANISM – is perhaps the worst evil nurtured by the old tales; most depictions have the radical spirit coming to grief, the conformist prospering. People are naturally expected to mindlessly follow their leaders into battle; or toil for their ever-growing wealth; or simply submit to their will in whatever is asked – nay, commanded!
MILITARISM – The protagonists in the old stories invariably live in a castle, a fortification – they are on a perpetual war-footing. Apologists might say that children wouldn’t know that – quite so. Not consciously – at any rate; but the ever-alert sub-conscious recognizes it for what it is. Problems are solved by the use of force, or brute strength. As Mao said – ‘Power comes out of the barrel of a gun’ – in these tales, it is. the point of a sword!
It can be seen that the Seven Protocols of the German ‘fairy’ story (in which no fairies appear, these being a peculiarly English phenomenon!) are the same as those of the Third Reich. It is a safe assumption that each and every one of the perpetrators of the blackest page in modern history was weaned on these as a child. The moral message was hammered home again and again of the rightness of anti-Semitism, authoritarianism etc., – translated as they were into Pan-Aryanism. Oh, how this delivered a people into the hands of those whose manifest destiny was to re- live the glory of the old stories – the Himmlers, the Goebbels, the Mengeles …
These monsters – though Himmler was reputed to love dogs and small children! – did not appear on the world stage by accident, they were created; their attitudes and actions carefully tailored as children to lead the world into a new era of brutal feudalism, thus was the legacy of the old, morally corrupt fairy tale – such could it be again if we perpetuate; it in the hearts of our young.
AT THE BOTTOM OF THE GARDEN
Storytelling in Steiner Education
“Once upon a time, it could have happened here, there, or anywhere This is the time-honored beginning of the fantasy, or ‘fairy’ story, or rather a variation of that beloved of young children everywhere. Rudolf Steiner described this introduction as a kind of secret code; one understood by the higher soul-being of the child, subliminally informing them that the fantastic tale about to unfold takes place on a different, more rarified, realm of spiritual consciousness. Informed souls, like Jung, often reveal the hidden psychic agenda of old tales. Steiner of course did more so than most. In this context of story being tantamount to a spiritual journey – a quest even – it forms the beating heart of all Steiner education.
Almost all lesson preparation, in any subject, is woven around the nucleus of the story. An exciting saga of, say, Magic Multiplier, can be the silver rails upon which children can be painlessly introduced to this vexing numerical operation. Our hero Magic Multiplier foils villains and saves damsels (though with modern images if you please!) by his times and times-tables skills. With each new generation of children, new multiplication stories must be created by teachers and parents. This is necessary due to the story needing to reflect theunique soul – spirit realities of their particular children.
There is sadly no metaphysical resonance in the young listener’s soul when describing tales of kings handing over daughters to passing indigents for Midas-like wealth – and no moral resonance for that matter! Indeed, the issue of the fairy tale is the most hotly debated in Steiner education. For decades traditionalists have served up beautifully crafted but morally bankrupt fare of hoary, mostly European, mostly Grimm’s, ‘fairy’ stories. Indeed, there is not a single fairy in the whole Grimm’s opus; the fairy godmother in Cinderella is an English invention. Most comment in this article refers to young children, those over 9 or 10 have different needs. This disinterring of old content is contrary to Steiner’s own imprecations to abandon images of the past.
Rather one should draw from the deep well of one’s own creativity and write a brand-new story for each educational demand. The more you do it, the easier it gets! The following is just one quote from many of Steiner’s passion for original story writing:
“…with regard to children between the ages of 6 to 9, it is absolute poison for their development if the faculty of imagination is not nourished or stimulated by tarry (folk) tales. As long as the teacher does not slide into head-spinning fantasies, he will know how to introduce the surrounding world, with all its animals, plants, and other features, through the medium of the fairy tale.
If only you could become aware of the immense difference between reading and re-telling stories to children and making up your own stories. I should like to ask you to put this to test by reading or freely rendering existing stories. And creating stories out of your own imagination. Even if your effort is far inferior to published stories, yet it will Work more directly upon the child because the process of your creating will communicate itself to him. This is what I mean by ‘living teaching’.” Basie 1920
Some respond to the above by referring to Steiner’s many references to ‘fairy tales’. This he never actually did, the word fairy is of course English; Steiner always wrote and lectured in his native German; where the translation for fairy is ‘fee’, a term he never used in this context. He rather referred lo ‘folk’ (marchen) tales. These are of course ubiquitous in all cultures for all time, surprisingly even ours! So, in terms of forging a new folk-story culture for children in our own age, the task falls lo those teachers and parents committed enough to create original stories for children.
The main role of the story throughout the ages is, as mentioned, one of moral education. A tale where virtue fails lo triumph over vice should be firmly exorcised. However, there are six other vital benefits of storytelling. The well-told, knowledge-inspired story is indeed a 7-fold body-soul-spirit therapy. Principle one is actually physical, listening to a story influences Health, as the children color through the soul-spectrum from red belly-laugh to pink excitement to pale anxiety. (An article of this brevity cannot do justice to these complex ideas; this is a guideline only.) The second benefit is the enhancement of Memory as one often asks the children to later recount the story. Then there is the obvious cultivation of Imagination. This does not occur with films or TV stories due to the images being formed by someone else. With storytelling, the children paint their prismatic mind-scapes all by themselves.
Fourthly, storytelling is the best possible vehicle (including the internet!) to convey worldly facts no, information no, better still, Knowledge. This can range through an illimitable tableau of people, places, and things. Language enhancement, even aspiring to the poetic, is the fifth principle of storytelling (not story reading). All the speech and word arts are employed in the presentation of a fine tale. Six is the aforementioned Morality. So many old tales cannot even pass go in our enlightened age with their expressed or implied sexism, paternalism, anti-Semitism, racism, nationalism – and an unholy host of other ‘isms’ .
Finally, we have Spiritual Knowledge. Bible stories, for instance, provide a peek into the deeper Mysteries of existence, as do most older fairy tales. However, any well-informed fabulist can weave the golden threads of modern spirituality into a tale. As such, why do so many revert to an anachronistic, and oft-corrupted, form of higher knowledge for their children? Our precious young have always needed generous doses of these seven levels of aesthetic tonic, and few generations have been so bereft of them as our own. Oh, they have plenty of stories, but mostly via an e-formal of one kind or another. This is child neglect, if for no other reason – and there are many others! – that it removes the dialogue from storytelling/listening. Unless of course the child talks to itself – or worse still, to the television! It is the “imponderable human bond between teller and told” (Steiner’s words) which give the story its moral power and artistic veracity. Of course, an original tale is no longer original as soon as it’s told; so we must liberate it with another modification of an old tradition. We give it wings with the final words:
“I once saw this, and if they haven’t gone somewhere else, they are living happily ever after.”
Important Earthschooling Notes
Copyright Alan Whitehead & Earthschooling: No Part of this book, post, URL, or book excerpt may be shared with anyone who has not paid for these materials.
Alan speaks in a very symbolic and esoteric manner in some parts of his books. Although they can be read anthroposophically, passages speaking of Atlantis, archangels, gods, etc. do not need to be taken literarily to be meaningful. The more you read, the more you will realize he uses many different religions to express ideas in a symbolic manner and not in a religious manner. His writings are not religious. In some places his writings are meant to refer to religious events in a historical way. In some places he is using religious figures (from Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, Paganism, Ancient Roman and Greek Religions, etc.) in a symbolic manner. However, at no point is he promoting a specific religion or speaking from a religious point of view.
I have kept the writing as close to one-hundred percent original so you will also find that he speaks of Australia often and some spelling or manners of speaking may be cultural. Any words I have changed are presented like this: <word>.
Also keep in mind that these books are written by a Waldorf teacher with decades of experience who also studied with a Steiner student himself, so he speaks to an audience that is dedicating their lives to the Waldorf method without exception.
Because of this, all of his views are not reflected in the Earthschooling curriculum and not all of them may be ones you want to embrace or are able to use. In all of Alan Whitehead’s writings the opinions are his own and may not align with Earthschooling or Waldorf Books. In some cases, we will be updating some of these chapters in the future with additional and/or updated information.
Ultimately, however, as I read through these passages I find I can distill wisdom from even those paragraphs that do not resonate with me.
We invite you to read with an open mind and heart and with eagerness to learn and discuss.
Alan has presented dialogue in his writings in an expressive form, where he tries to capture the accent of the person he was with to give his writing more authenticity and to allow the reader to “be with him” in his experience. In no place in his writings is he using expressive language to make fun of or demean the speaker. So, as a person with a linguistics and anthropology degree I find this enriching and informative to me as the reader. Thus, we have made the decision to leave all expressive writing in its original form.