When anti-cultists discovered that the respected scholar was also the president of an organization promoting biodynamic agriculture and an admirer of Rudolf Steiner, all hell broke loose.
by Massimo Introvigne
Rémi Mogenet, earned a PhD in literature at the Université de Savoie and is a well-known specialist of the culture and literature of his French region, Savoie (Savoy). He was also the head of an association promoting biodynamic organic farming and food. All of a sudden, his life became a hell, and his career was in jeopardy. Anti-cultists discovered his “crime,” i.e., his passion for the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, the founder of Anthroposophy, including those on biodynamic agriculture. “Bitter Winter” interviewed Mogenet while he was still trying to make sense of what was happening to him.
How did you discover the ideas of Anthroposophy?
I did not discover Anthroposophy in a communitarian way, as I was not at all born in an Anthroposophical family, or even a spiritualist one: my parents were atheists. But they valued culture, literature, and freedom, and I spontaneously became used to reading, drawing, and writing. One of my favorite writers was J.R.R. Tolkien, and as a student at the Sorbonne, in Paris, I did some work on him for my master’s degree, and discovered one of his favorite philosophers, whom he knew personally: Owen Barfield. He was an Anthroposophist. My research director, François Gallix, encouraged me to read and quote him, so I did. Thus was I taken into the “evil grasp of Anthroposophy,” as “they” would say.
Did you become active in Anthroposophy in subsequent years?
In a way. I used to read after that the works of Rudolf Steiner, and to meet, in Switzerland and Savoy, his disciples. I became a member of a biodynamic organization close to the house at this time I owned. Then, I became its president. As such, and as a writer too, I published several presentations of this organization and of biodynamics, either in Anthroposophical journals or others.
I understand you started having problems when you wrote articles for a broader audience in science fiction magazines…
I had met a man called Alain Pelosato, who owned a journal called Science Fiction Magazine—as I am very fond of speculative imagination in general. I published articles and poems in that journal, and it happened that its director told me he also owned an ecological journal, and that he looked for some contributions. It was called Nature et progrès and I published in it a presentation of my biodynamic organization. It was the last article I published in any of Alain Pelosato’s journals. I think it came from a “Zetetician” (a term identifying in France militant skeptics who try to “debunk” what they see as superstition) of the editorial team, with whom I had had a harsh discussion about the Theosophical sources of Gene Roddenberry in creating Star Trek. I believe he told the director I was a member of a “cult.” Someone told him, anyway, and thus my collaboration with Alain Pelosato ended. As he had approved and published my article about biodynamics, it was quite absurd.
Can you explain to me the more well-publicized incident involving “La Tribune de Genève”?
Some years later, I had a blog in the Geneva newspaper “La Tribune de Genève,” as an “invité” (guest editorialist). I held it for many years, and, in 2020, I published an article about what Anthroposophists thought about pandemics in general, basing themselves on Rudolf Steiner’s lectures. The newspaper put it in its special selection of good blog articles, I shared the link on Twitter, and there my troubles began. I was strongly insulted by anti-cultists, and tried to answer, and to justify myself. But it was impossible: the attacks were getting harder and harder. The leader of anti-Anthroposophy opposition in France was an ex-Anthroposophist called Grégoire Perra. He was very close to UNADFI, an anti-cult organization, but at that time I did not know it. I began to have an interest in him. In order to scare people and make Anthroposophy look “strange,” he published many texts, poems, prayers, and mantras of Rudolf Steiner nobody at that time knew about. And it struck me that it was a strange way to make people discover Steiner’s works, maybe providential. In an article of my blog, I compared Grégoire Perra to a certain Christian poet of the fifth century called Prudence, who had made known pagan beliefs of old Rome in a text where he wanted to denounce them. Grégoire Perra was very upset and wrote to the “Tribune de Genève” asking the director-in-charge to delete my article and to deprive me of my blog. But it did not happen.
It did not stop there…
In fact, it continued, and Grégoire Perra published in his blog an article about me, complaining that I had been congratulated by the French President Emmanuel Macron for a book I had edited: a collection of dialect poetry by my great-great-uncle, which I had presented in a preface, asked and approved by the Savoy Language Institute that supported the publication. Grégoire Perra claimed I had exploited the situation for promoting Anthroposophy, creating doubts about my academic reliability, as I am a literature doctor, specialized in Savoy literature in general. That was quite annoying.
Debates went on, mostly on Twitter, and I continued to quote Rudolf Steiner when I deemed it fit. For instance, I suggested making some mythological stories about our Republic’s symbols, to help the children to believe in Republican values, as Steiner said that children need imaginative and allegorical stories to feel involved in morals and ethics. I was then denounced to my employer by a close friend of Grégoire Perra and the anti-cultists, a union delegate of UNSA-Education. Fortunately, I nonetheless became an “agrégé” (tenured) teacher the following year, thanks to my good work that was acknowledged.
Other anti-cultists and friends of Grégoire Perra complained about my promotion of a book of poetry I had written called “Chants et conjurations” (Songs and Conjurations), as it seemed to them that there was magic in it, even black magic, as in biodynamic. They denounced me on Twitter. Actually, it is mainly a book putting in verses different facets of the marvelous, grounded on mythological imaginations, not necessarily Anthroposophical, in the taste of J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis, his friend. But when it became well known, I was accused of believing in elves, dwarves, angels, and fairies, as if it were a big crime—as if beliefs, in France, were not free. It was connected, of course, with Anthroposophy and lectures of Rudolf Steiner about spirits and elementals.
Even your literary activities were targeted…
As a doctor in French literature, I owned an academic blog, where I talked mainly about Savoy literature, but also about speculative fiction, and, we might say, speculative philosophy, either Christian theology (in particular Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, Joseph de Maistre, and François de Sales), Asian philosophy, or Western esotericism. When anti-cultists complained about that blog to the managers of the digital platform hypotheses.org, my blog was not so often reviewed on the main page and indeed disappeared from it. Anthroposophy and quotes from Rudolf Steiner, or about biodynamic, were the main source of these complaints. They even asked the blog to be closed, but it was not. Nonetheless there was great and constant pressure on me.
How do you feel?
I really consider I am persecuted and harassed as an admirer of Rudolf Steiner’s philosophy. I was called by anti-cultists “an important Anthroposophist,” though I never held any great position in the Anthroposophical Society, nor did I publicly promote it. Actually, I had many other interests. Obviously, anti-cultists hoped to denigrate me and turn the public opinion against me. They tried to “cancel” me as a publicly recognized scholar, and maybe they partly succeeded.