Short notes about anthroposophy and contemporary journalism

This is a short note about contemporary journalism and anthroposophy.

Yesterday, Dutch television aired a program in the series Hokjesman about anthroposophy in the Netherlands created by VPRO.

In this documentary, the Director of the Goetheanum, the head of the Anthroposophical society, Paul MacKay is allowed to dodge the very simple question: “Who is Paul MacKay?”

His answer: “I am a man in the process of becoming” [Ik ben een mens in wording].

Paul MacKay, head of Triodos bank.

The journalist, doesn’t confront him with the evasiveness of his question, worse: he doesn’t do any research to provide the viewer with some real information that is just for grabs out there on wikipedia (of all places).

Paul MacKay descends from the Scottish MacKay Clan, which has members in both the British and the Dutch nobility. Aeneas MacKay (1666-1697) married  the Dutch Margaretha Pulcher (1671-1761) and his decendant Aeneas MacKay (1806-1876) was raised to the title of Baron in 1812-13. As the head of the Scottish branch died in 1875, succession came to the Dutch branch of the family in the persona of Donald James MacKay (1839-1921). Donald MacKay however, moved to England, became a British citizen an ended up with a colonial carreer and a comfy seat in the House of Lords.

Paul’s father can only be Theodore Philip MacKay (1911-2001), who married Zsófia Friderika Emme Ráthonyi Reusz (1910-1999), originally from Budapest, in the Dutch mekka of anthroposophy, Zeist. The Dutch wikipedia also mentions this marriage was blessed with one son and three daughters. Constantijn Willem Ferdinand MacKay (1870-1955), Pauls grandfather(?), and Theodoor Philip MacKay (1840-1922), his great-grandfather, were both politicians for the ARP (Anti-Revolutionary Party) , a conservative, reformist party that merged in the the current Dutch christian-democratic CDA in 1980.

According to his own CV, he started co-founded the anthroposophical bank Triodos in 1977 and left in 1997 when the bank had €350 million in the till. – that was 16 years ago. In 2011, Triodos reported €6.8 billion in their annual report (p.11). Little is known about the direct relationship between the bank van the anthroposophical movement, but it is clear that the bank help to fund the movement ever-expensive ecological building extravaganza.

Around 2000, he moved on to the board of directors at the Goetheanum in Dornach and has been, for some time now, head of the of board of the directors of Weleda AG. Weleda, founded by Rudolf Steiner and the Dutch Ita Wegman, in 1920 as Futurum AG, is a pharmaceutical celexa 10mg company which after Steiner’s death in 1925 went through a series of mergers in order to take on the name Weleda in 1928. As recent as  March 2012, Paul MacKay was (re-?)elected as head of the board of directors.

Even after leaving TRIODOS, he still frequently lectured on financial issues, as was the case in 2006, when he presented a lecture on ‘Money and Human Values’ [Geld und Menschenwürde]. The abstract reads:

Contemporary life is much influenced by the power of money: he who has money, has the final say. However, money created by man and we are free to assign it a ruling or a serving role in our society. What form should finance take so that it can be based on human values? This matter will be pursued in the current lecture.

Please remember that this is coming from a guy who is disgustingly rich by birth and who’s telling us that money isn’t important and that you decide for yourself what role money will play.

Sounds almost like Jesus..

And if you think it doesn’t, you should consult the actual text of the lecture, which opens as follows:

I would like to start out with a few words from the gospel according to John. Christ says: “You will recognize the truth and the truth shall set you free” (John 8). In other words: the truth will set you free.

I thought we were going to talk economics… A page later I read:

Human values cannot exist without a profound, Christian freedom that lies at thee basis of this.

That is the point at which, again, I stop reading. Do I judge too fast? Shouldn’t I give him a fair chance? I feel already cheated by this liar writing up an abstract which doesn’t mention religion and then give me nothing but that on the first two pages.

This is how a sect disguised as a bank could work, using a technique common to sects. But the idea is very counter-intuitive: disguising a sect (a movement intent on taking your money)?

You get some interested people together promising them a new way of banking, beneficial to everyone involved. When you explain the system, you tell the people only bullshit, e.g. that you’ve found a secret economic system in apocryphal scriptures. People who keep on believing no matter how much nonsense you tell them, they are the most devoted customers ever. Customers with a cause!