Theater of Cruelty

With the imperfect guideline 

Humanity first and foremost Insights into the Camphill villages in Norway
Forfatter: Christian Egge
Forlag: Kagge Forlag
People with special needs are the prerequisite for creating good communities, the founder of the Camphill movement believed.


Under 2. World War I found a number of people, including Jews fleeing Nazi persecution, each other in joint social and spiritual endeavors. All of them had their roots in Central European culture and spirituality and were inspired by Rudolf Steiner. They found each other in Scotland and they sprouted what became the Camphill movement.

Among the personalities who met in a joint development work was Karl König. Against the dominant tendency of the time to remove the "unclean", the weak and the imperfect from the earth, he put the imperfect human at the center. For "in dealing with and with people with special needs, he sees the very precondition for creating a human society". Based on this intention, he would save the soul of man – and Europe. A work such as that of Karl König ended on his death in 1966, but which has since inspired many fiery souls around the world.

In celebration of the 50 year for the establishment of the village Vidaråsen in the municipality of Andebu in the Pentecost 2016, it was a wish to mark this event with the publication of a book. The thesis came to the philosopher Christian Egge, as with Human first and foremost delivers a current picture of the Camphill movement in Norway.

Good effect. Together with Israeli Kibbitzer, The Shakers, Arnish, t Oaks and the Hutterians with their housing communities, house cooperatives and ecovillages, the Camphill movement is part of the series of «intentional communities». The close human contact is something quite basic here. Thus, Karl König's own children were to be brought up together with the disabled. "Create a home for these children and let them live with us." A demanding life for the employees, an "exercise in awe, modesty, creativity and in the will to transform ourselves". What started with the establishment of homes for disabled children was extended to other groups of fellow citizens who required special care. Thus, later young people with a criminal past and drug addicts entered into it. It turned out that being in a care environment with disabled children had a good effect on these. The students were divided into age groups, in a combination home / boarding school and school and on the basis of the stone schools' pedagogical principles. In recent decades, the work has been expanded to include our old citizens and the initiatives are no longer limited to taking place in villages, but several initiatives are now also taking place in urban environments.

Against the tendency of the time to remove the "unclean", the weak and imperfect from the earth, Karl König put the imperfect human at the center.

Communities. Christian Egge has on more than 500 richly illustrated pages in a wide range of interviews and focusing on selected themes from life in the Camphill movement in Norway, managed to give an insight into an alternative life practice, whose intention it is to provide inspiration for a fundamental other community practice.

Health education was the first motive that drove the movement. The realization of the idea of ​​a life in a community was the second and then followed organic farming as the third. Thus Karl König wrote in the mid-50s: “One of our most important tasks will be caring for the earth. Gardens and farms are today destroyed and the benefits of machine operation and fertilizer. All over the earth […] the earth is a being that suffers and cries for help and healing. It is to be hoped that the Camphill movement will find the right helpers to provide assistance in this area. "

By bringing a health pedagogy together with a methodology for developing local communities and a circuit farm, the Camphill movement thus contributes to an answer to the systemic crisis the world community faces. It is probably well known to many that Rudolf Steiner with his agricultural course in Breslau in 1924 provided guidelines for biodynamic farming, which today can be seen as the beginning of organic farming that has emerged in response to industrial farming methods.

Art and knowledge. Today, it is possible to receive education in both health pedagogy and social therapy according to the thoughts behind the Camphill movement. Often this happens within the framework of the established education system. It is also possible, as a villager, to educate themselves, as building communities in these contexts has a methodology. As the principles of the Steiner School Pedagogy are included in the work, not least when it concerns children and young people, great emphasis is placed on the practical practical subjects of wood, weaving, felting, bicycle repair, house painting and all kinds of crafts and agriculture, cooking and dairy.

Artistic enterprise has always been central to the Camphill movement: music, painting, eurythmy, language formation, horseback riding. For all employees of the Camphill movement, the "eternal seminar" with adult education in the broad sense (history, biographies, art history, mythology) is also included.

With more than 300 pages of interviews from the Camphill Movement in Norway, the book provides an insight into the universe the movement represents, economically, socially, culturally and not least spiritually. In addition to marking the 50th anniversary of the Camphill Movement in Norway, the book is very much an invitation to investigate more closely what Rudolf Steiner and the anthroposophy he founded stands for and what it can contribute in response to the world's problems face today.

Needs counterbalance. Dr. Ha Vinh Tho (Head of the Gross National Happiness Center in Bhutan) contributes to the book with an account of the considerations of establishing a Camphill community in Vietnam. "What universal human needs and basic spiritual aspirations / longings do Camphill's structures and forms serve? And how can we best meet the same needs and longings in the Vietnamese context, without trying to convert people to another religion or spirituality? ”

Social anthropologist Thomas Hylland Eriksen distances himself from "the individualistic consumer life based on economic growth, high energy consumption and heavy marketing of products and services no one had heard of a couple of generations ago". Opposite this, the author states: "We […] need a wide range of sustainable societies that represent some of the same core values ​​as Camphill as a counterweight, as an alternative and as guides out of the corner we have painted ourselves into."

Christian Egge, after his many visits around the corner of the Camphill movement, concludes that the human image here rests on spiritual ground. And that it's not about doing the good especially for the disabled; it's about all of us.

Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Niels Johan Juhl-Nielsen
Juhl-Nielsen resides in Copenhagen.

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