Tag Archives: Ludwig Klages

Klages and the Biocentric Worldview – Andersen

Ludwig Klages and the Biocentric Worldview

By Joakim Andersen

 

Ludwig Klages (1872–1956) was one of the most interesting thinkers of the twentieth century. He was also one of the most complex. Klages was a philosopher, a psychologist, and a leading graphologist. Together with Alfred Schuler and Karl Wolfskehl, he formed the ‘Cosmic Circle’ in Munich. The Circle consisted of the milieu around the poet Stefan George, but it did not fully adhere to George’s patriarchal worldview.

Klages was a productive and original thinker. Among other things, he was the father of the term ‘id’ which was later to be picked up by Sigmund Freud. Klages also coined the term logocentrist, which today is a term used in certain types of feminist theories. He gave his psychological school the name characterology, and wrote several classics on graphology.

Klages was a man of paradox. In his writings he was an anti-Semite, yet he spent several years editing the works of his Jewish-Hungarian colleague, the natural philosopher Melchior Palagyi, after he had passed away. Klages was not very popular in the Third Reich, but neither did he renounce his theories about Judaism even after the Second World War, either. Recently, Jürgen Habermas stated that there is much of value in Klages, given that he was such an original and interesting thinker. But his unique perspective is now largely forgotten. It is therefore of great value that Arktos Media has published two books consisting of excerpts from his writings, translated by Joseph D. Pryce (Pryce has also written a valuable introduction to both collections). This present review focuses on the first of them, The Biocentric Worldview.

The Biocentric Worldview

‘Wild boar, ibex, fox, pine marten, weasel, duck and otter — all animals with which the legends dear to our memory are intimately intertwined — are shrinking in numbers, where, that is, they have not already become extinct…’ — Klages, 1913

What I appreciate the most in Klages’ thought is his so-called biocentric worldview. Klages claims that the distinction between ‘idealism’ and ‘materialism’ is rather irrelevant. In its place he describes a deeper, less well-known historical conflict. Klages puts Life in the centre, but he also identifies an anti-Life force that gradually infiltrated the world and took it over. Klages uses the German terms Seele and Geist, usually translated as Spirit and Mind. There is an intimate connection between Life and Spirit, but Mind is connected to abstractions, like ‘sin’, ‘will to power’, and similar concepts. Klages illuminates the difference:

‘Just as the philosopher of spirit considers everything that denies spirit to be a “sin”, the philosopher of life regards that which denies life to be an offense… no one speaks of a sin against a tree, but men have certainly spoken in the past — and even today many still speak — of an offense against a tree.’

Among these expressions of anti-Life he mentions moralism, Judaism, and Christianity, as well as capitalism and militarism. Nietzsche’s ‘will to power’ also risks becoming a part of the anti-Life forces and an unhealthy obsession. Klages develops a useful deep ecological perspective, related to and complementing Naess, Abbey, and Linkola. He also describes how ‘progress’ has hurt the world. In the essay ‘Man and Earth’, Klages describes how animals and plants became extinct, but also how folk cultures and authentic human emotions are pushed aside. Klages was an anti-colonialist, and discusses how both species of animals and human cultures are extinguished. In their place everything, is homogenised, and the vampire that is Geist spreads over the world. Thus Klages connects the threat against biological diversity with the threat against cultural.

‘Modern man´s conscious striving for power far surpasses that of any previous epoch… in the service of human needs, the ever-increasing mechanization has brought about the desecration of the natural world.’ — Klages

These essays are also interesting from the perspective of the history and philosophy of science. Klages analyses both psychoanalysis and Socrates, among many other things. He criticises concepts like ‘progress’ and utopianism as being hostile to Life. His perspective places primary value on Spirit and Life, and on the non-conscious and the qualitative. One does well to compare Klages with Guénon’s The Reign of Quantity and the Signs of the Times, along with Heidegger and Alexander Jacob’s De Naturae Natura.

Klages and Romanticism

‘Man should look upon the harvested fruits of the unconscious as an unexpected windfall bestowed by Heaven above.’ — Goethe

Among Klages’ own sources we find Nietzsche and the pre-Socratic philosophers. We also find the German Romantics and Goethe. Among the Romantics, Klages focuses on the now largely forgotten Carl Gustav Carus. He demonstrates that German Romanticism has permanent value.

In one’s own life, Klages is of value in showing that too much Geist leads to a worse and less authentic life. When the process has gone too far, one loses the ability to perceive the beauty of a forest, and instead only sees it as something merely quantifiable: as a bunch of timber. Likewise, the Romantics and Klages are also of use in politics. They show that the tendency towards hyper-politicisation and ideological thinking are among the enemies of Life. Family, nature, emotions, beauty, folk culture — they are all threatened by too much Geist. When Karlheinz Weissmann identifies the living as the leitmotiv of conservatism, or when Heinrich von Leo described his mission as protecting the ‘God-given, real life, in its development following its inner forces’, they are clearly related to Klages. Conservatism, defined as taking care of the living, not only animals and plants but also such ‘organisms’ as cultures, can also be biocentric.

When it comes to the philosophy of science, Carus, Goethe, and Klages are also of great use, given their focus on the whole rather than on the parts of things, on the sub- or non-conscious, and on reality and life above the prevailing focus on the mechanical and quantifiable. Klages quotes Carus: ‘…the key to an understanding of conscious thought resides in the realm of the unconscious.’

The Biocentric Worldview is thus of great value due to its deep ecological qualities as well as Klages’ original conception of history. Klages’ description of the rise and vampire-like spread of Geist has much in common with Nietzsche’s description of how ressentiment and slave morality takes over the world. (However, some aspects of Nietzsche are also dangerously close to the vampire.)

Klages is not a determinist. He does not rule out that Spirit and Life may be defended against Mind. He also reminds us that the goal of a Spirit-oriented science is to understand, rather than to reduce and manipulate. His role models are thus heroes, poets, and gods. The anthology is highly recommended.

 

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Andersen, Joakim. “Ludwig Klages and the Biocentric Worldview.” RightOn, 6 November 2015. < https://www.righton.net/2015/11/06/ludwig-klages-and-the-biocentric-worldview/ >.

 

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Interview with Fenek Solère – Macek (Editor)

Interview with Fenek Solère by Daniel Macek, Editor of the New European Conservative

 

Introductory Note: The following is an original interview with Fenek Solère, an Anglophone representative of what is known as the ‘Identitarian Movement.’ We have conducted this interview via email and it is published here on our website New European Conservative for the first time. In this discussion, Solère provides his own particular interpretation of Identitarianism, its major concepts and thinkers, and related Right-wing movements. Of course, it should be noted that we don’t agree with all of Solère’s statements; this interview is not an expression of the official position of the New European Conservative, but rather of Fenek Solère’s personal studies and views. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the New European Conservative)

***

We are aware that you identify as an ‘Identitarian’ which refers to a Right-Wing movement historically connected with the Nouvelle Droite. It happens that different authors don’t always define this term in the same manner and disagree who exactly falls into this category. How do you define the term Identitarian and which thinkers or political leaders do you think can be included in it?

Identity itself is a complex subject. It is composed of many elements and operates on the individual and group level. Some aspects of individual identity you can choose, like the house where you live or the clothes you wear, which to a certain extent define your taste, project your personality or can be taken as an indication of your material circumstances. Other aspects like ‘genetic markers’ locate individuals within a particular group and are far less transient and require more radical interventions if you desire to alter or overcome them. For example, one’s gender or skin colour are pre-determined. Although weight and hair colour can be modified, your starting point is fixed, has is the shape of your skull, the size of your brain or the structure of your nasal bones and septal cartilage.

So for Identitarians of the Nouvelle Droite (ND), Neue Rechte and Nueva Derecha dispensation Human Bio-Diversity (HBD) is something to celebrate, as well as an essential bio-marker for identity. Thus, true Identitarianism mitigates the fear of the other by embracing the fact that we are different and that each group has distinct general attributes that fit them to the environment from which they originate and are reflected in the cultures they have created. Neue Rechte thinker Pierre Krebs stated: ‘The originality and richness of the human heritages of this world are nourished by their differences and their deviations’.

The ND’s notion of ethnopluralism is therefore set in stark contrast to the egalitarian and universalist view that man is an undifferentiated mass. Identitarians in general sympathizing with Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier’s opinion, ‘that from the socio-historical viewpoint, man as such does not exist, because his membership of humanity is always mediated by a particular cultural belonging’. Identitarians conceive identity to be based on jus sanguinis, a belonging based on primordial, organic and biological factors linked to the soil and national territory, not the liberal left’s post-Second World War civil welfare-state citizenship of jus soli. The former being a pragmatic approach to our inherent and instinctive family, regional, religious, gender or ancestral predilections and prejudices and our perceived in and out groups. The latter being underpinned by supra-national bodies like the UN and EU, which seek to use liberal leftist national governments to erode and destroy European ethnic homogeneity. Whilst at the same time turning identity into a commodity that can be bought and sold. Thus contriving to make the current influx of migrants into a source of profit for cosmopolitan elite, the real 1%, that in turn helps them to perpetuate the modernist market forces that generate their power-base.

Fallacious egalitarian notions which depend on arguments like race is a social construct, need to be challenged whenever and wherever they are encountered. In avoiding so self-evident a truth and denying the right to difference out of some misplaced fear of breaching the new religion of political correctness, we do an immense disservice not only to decades of scientific research but also to thousands of years of evolution.

And just to state for the record, Identitarianism is not National Socialism or Fascism with another face as some academics like Tamir Bar-On in his works Where Have All The Fascists Gone (2007) and Rethinking the French New Right (2013) try to imply, using that familiar technique of guilt by association. A quick perusal of Michael O’Meara’s book New Culture, New Right: Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe (2nd Ed. 2013) is a perfect antidote to such misinformation. Similarly, one could quote from Dr. Tomislav Sunic’s insightful and erudite essay ‘Liberal Double-Talk and Its Lexical and Legal Consequences’ in his book Post-Mortem Report (2010) to disabuse the gullible.

However, it cannot be denied that there is some overlap between Old Right and New Right thinkers, mainly within the spectrum of the Revolutionary Conservative tradition. But it seems to me that today’s Identitarians essentially take their lead from Alain De Benoist, Dominique Venner, Pierre Krebs, Guillaume Faye, Pierre Vial, Alexander Dugin and more recently the new wave of philosopher activists like Markus Willinger and his Generation Identity: A Declaration of War Against the 68’ers (2013).

Personally, I am a firm believer in ethnocultural identity, agreeing with the Italian Pasquale Stanislao Mancini (1817-1888) that ‘Man is born as a member of a family and the nation being the aggregate of families, he is a citizen of the nation to which his father and his family belong’. Or indeed, Mancini’s fellow countryman Giussepe Mazzini (1805-1872) who defined nationality as biological membership of a common community, sharing cultural characteristics such as language, an affinity with a defined territory, and the spiritual will to be part of such an entity. Which for me, once again, perfectly describes the parameters of an individual’s identity. After-all what Briton’s soul is not touched when he dreams of the face of the princess buried with her chariot in Wetwang in East Yorkshire; what Celt is not moved when he sees the Bronze Age Battersea shield or the burial chamber of the ancient Prince in Lavau; what Saxon when he reflects on the majesty of the Sutton Hoo helmet; what Gaul when he ponders the paintings of Lascaux and the Palaeolithic art in the Chauvet Cave; what Slav when he walks by the archaeological remains of cities like Sintashta and Arkaim on the windswept Steppe or stands inside the Lavra complex in Kiev; what German when he realizes that the 7000 year old Neolithic concentric circles at Goseck form an ancient sun observatory far older than Stonehenge; what Swiss when he thinks of La Tene art; what Estonian when he hears the music of Arvo Part; What Italian when he marvels at the fact his Roman ancestors designed and built the aqueduct at the Pont du Gard; what Greek as he stands in the shadows cast by the pillars of the Acropolis in Athens; what Serb’s pulse does not beat faster when he recites Jovan Sterija Popovich’s The Warriors Lament at Kosovo Field; and what Portuguese heart does not burst with pride when he reads the sublime understated poetry of Fernando Pessoa?

The White European ethnos should not be constrained by national boundaries. I agree with Guillaume Faye, ‘To each European his own fatherland, national and regional, chosen on the basis of intimate emotive affinities – And to all Europeans the Great Fatherland, this land of intimately related peoples’. Borders should be permeable to those who are entitled by hereditary and custom to continue the natural osmosis of centuries, to mingle within the related blood lines and wider gene-pool to which they belong. But that vast territory, those reservoirs of blood and precious strands of mitochondrial DNA should always be protected against the mass contamination of out-groups. Which is why, as per Willinger (2013), ‘We Europeans shouldn’t fight one another over petty disagreements’. For there is a very clear and present danger, the enemy are pounding at the Gates of Vienna once more and we should rally to defend the citadel.

 

The term Identitarianism also seems to imply a movement limited to concerns about ‘identity’ (its root word), yet anyone who looks into it can see that Identitarians are typically concerned with far more issues than just the problem of identity. Do you think the name may pose a problem when presenting Identitarian theory to the public?

Our Identity is formed by a common European heritage. It is therefore axiomatic that we concern ourselves with the full range of issues that might give advantage or pose a threat to the continuation of that identity.

If one takes geography as a starting point it is clear that Europe is blessed with high mountains that form defensible natural barriers, riven with deep river valleys that flow into balmy Mediterranean bays and benefits greatly from an indented northern coastline. All these topographical features are key factors in the development and subsistence of small regional communities that could not only survive but also thrive and develop distinct and recognizable cultures of their own.

European identity is a rich matrix of differentiated communes of varying sizes, taking multifarious forms such as city-states, duchies, republics, nations and empires. Each to a greater or lesser extent benefiting from the ready availability of cultivatable land and navigable rivers that in turn provide trade routes to the world beyond.

Based on the Greek roots of Western liberty, defined by Herodotus as ‘a free people’, meaning a people who enjoy national independence and the Roman concept of libertas meaning all citizens treated equally before the law, by the 15th century there were over 500 self-governing entities operating within the land-mass that now falls under the aegis of the European Union.

It would therefore require a mass inversion of human character or a Great Replacement of the population, to borrow Renaud Camus’ terminology, before a psychology formed by centuries of rugged individualism and self-determination could be overturned.

And who would want to change it in the first place? Europe’s history is already a vibrant example of diversity in people, art, language, ideas and even technologies. These features in and of themselves fuelling the economic and political competition between the various inhabitants and nation states comprising the European homeland, leading to what the economic Historian Eric Jones describes has ‘the European miracle’. A dynamism that was sadly lacking in the heavily centralized models of governance adopted by Ming and Manchu China, the Mughal India and the Ottoman Empire.

We are what we have created. And we have created who we are.

One senses such pride in Pericles’ funeral oration of 431 B.C. where he spoke of the freedom, democracy and equality of his native Athens: ‘Thus, choosing to die resisting, rather than to live submitting, they fled only from dishonour’.

Are we so much less than they?

Europe is perhaps the greatest knowledge creating region in the world. We are the descendants of people that with the Emperor Constantine’s move from Rome to Constantinople in 324 A.D, effectively de-coupled Church and State, making it extremely difficult for an Islamic style Theocracy to become established in Europe; divested the King or Emperor of the claim to Godliness and thus placed limitations on temporal authority; developed the concept of individual liberty and communal responsibility; inherited many of the positive features of the Roman Republic, surviving through the Latin literate elite, which nurtured the notions and values of institutions like the senate, a republic, a constitution, a regulated system of jurisprudence and ultimately democracy.

We have created a civil society replete with private enterprise, state welfare, a free church, universities, guilds and freedoms of association beyond the control of the state apparatus. Therefore, we as Identitarians, concern ourselves with issues wider than the theme of identity. Our ideology needs to be all encompassing. But our approach to those issues, be they concerning personal freedom, means and forms of expression, the right to practice a particular religion, employment, economics, culture, art, the environment, foreign policy and defense should be defined through the lens of identity.

It seems to me a simple matter of political expediency to ensure that Identitarianism is presented has the best way to guarantee personal and group self-interest. And people create a culture. An Algerian may live in Paris but that does not make him Renoir’s nephew; a Trinidadian may sleep in a bedsit in Walthamstow but that does not mean he is a descendant of one of Henry V’s brave bowmen at Agincourt; and a Turk may run a kebab stall in Munich but that does not make him Bavarian. Our identity is our culture. Our culture is our identity. And culture and demographics is destiny.

Most identitarians advocate democracy of some sort, but there is some disagreement about what form of democracy should be used as a model (republic, direct democracy, mixed democracy) and whether there should be an aristocratic or elitist element in the government. What political structure do you yourself think Identitarians should aim for?

It is for individual peoples operating on the regional and national level to decide what form of democracy best serves their particular needs and circumstances. This will be greatly influenced by history, geography and socio-economic factors. The ability of a citizen to exercise their right to vote has been hard won and should be defended. It is a privilege that was denied to the majority of our forebears. For example before the 1832 Reform Act in Britain, only 1.8% of the adult population was eligible to vote. The Reform Act itself only increased that to 2.7%. By 1867 the franchise was extended to 6.7% and after 1884 to 12.1%. It was only in 1930 that women became fully enfranchised in the United Kingdom. America was little different, with only white land-owning males allowed to vote in the decades immediately after the American War of Independence and still only 5% able to vote in the years between 1824-1848. It therefore concerns me that with the increasing democratization we see today, little thought has been given to how someone qualifies to vote in the first place and the duties and responsibilities that come with such a right.

There are now for example vast numbers of politically illiterate people living in Europe, originating from continents and countries with either no tradition of democracy, or one rife with corruption, nepotism and Potemkin-style show elections. These people are more often than not accompanied by numerous dependents, who despite living off Western welfare, still do not speak the language of their host countries after generations of co-habitation. These willfully non-assimilating communities also currently qualify to vote in our elections.

And this is exactly why unsavoury individuals like Green Party MEP Daniel Cohn-Bendit openly advocates for more immigrants to enter Germany : ‘We, the Greens have to make sure to get as many immigrants as possible into Germany. If they are in Germany, we must fight for their right to vote, we need to change this Republic’. Sentiments which on reflection give a whole new meaning to French political scientist Alexis de Tocqueville’s thesis, espoused in his seminal text Democracy in America (1835/1840), about how modern democracy could lead to tyranny by the majority.

But what majority?

It is relatively simple to organize support along racial, ethnic or religious lines. And once a particular ethnic group or coalition holds the balance of power, it tends to ensure its own interests take priority. Barak Obama’s second term of office was greatly assisted by garnering 93% of the ‘black vote’ and 71% of the ‘Latino vote’ and 73% of the ‘Asian vote’. I predict we will see similar voting patterns emerging in the French Presidential elections of 2017. In this regard Western liberal democracy is being used both consciously and subconsciously as a Trojan Horse. Michael Doyle in his book Ways of War and Peace (1997) says of Immanuel Kant, the Professor of Logic and Metaphysics at Konigsberg University and author of the Critique of Pure Reason (1781): ‘Kant distrusted unfettered, democratic majoritarianism, and his argument offers no support for a claim that all participatory polities – democracies – should be peaceful, either in general or between fellow democracies. Many participatory polities have been non-liberal. For two thousand years before the modern age, popular rule was widely associated with aggressiveness (by Thucydides) or imperial success (by Machiavelli)… The decisive preference of the median voter might well include ethnic cleansing against other democratic polities’.

Britain, the so-called Mother of Democracy, is a case in point. Recognising the tendency for people to vote for those who share their own ethnicity, are sympathetic to their in-group interest, or sometimes just plainly anti-white, led to the steep rise in both black and Muslim political representation in both the Conservative and Labour Parties over the last two decades. Such cynical attempts to pander to these hordes of new voters in order to win elections will however prove pyrrhic. With such notorious characters as Diane Abbott and Bernie Grant barely able to disguise their racial animus with comments like ‘white people love playing divide and rule, we should not play their game’ in the former case, and celebrating the murderous Broadwater Farm riots of October 1985 in the latter instance, by claiming ‘the police got a bloody good hiding’. And these are not isolated incidents. Grant, who was of Ghanaian extraction passing on the mantle of his black dominated constituency to David Lammy, who up until recently was a potential Labour mayoral candidate for London, whose platform included giving a mass amnesty for all illegal immigrants. Some media pundits are already touting with James Bond like certainty that Chuka Umunna, current Labour Shadow Secretary for Business, Innovation and Skills, will be Britain’s Obama of the 2020’s. And this is perfectly credible following Labour’s inevitable meltdown in the wake of ultra-Left Jeremy Corbyn’s election to the leadership, a replay of the shambolic steerage of the party under Michael Foot from 1980 to 1983.

But these cases, although rightfully shocking, are a lot less insidious than that epitomized by the Muslim community. Such as with Dr. Mohammad Naseem, who holds a senior position in the Islamic Party of Britain funding the Respect Party, that so flagrantly exploited The Anti-War Coalition to advance Muslim interests in Britain. The machinations of such people giving us an insight into our democratic dilemma. For they very clearly mobilized the fast growing Muslim block vote to defeat the Labour incumbent Oona King (herself a black ethnic) in Bow & Bethnal Green in 2005 and then overturned a substantial Labour majority in Bradford West in the 2012 General Election, returning George Galloway, with a 10, 140 majority. A success that was nearly replicated in Birmingham constituencies like Sparkbrook and Small Heath and the East End of London, in West Ham and East Ham. Locations where similar voting blocks are already beginning to distort the UK’s cherished democracy.

It is noticeable that Galloway publicly congratulated the Muslim Public Affairs Committee for his success in Bradford West. But that should not surprise us because the co-founder of Respect is Salma Yaqoob, an associate of Abjul Miah, an activist in the Islamic Forum of Europe, which calls for the imposition of Sharia in Europe. Yaqoob, along with elected fellow councilor for Birmingham Mohammad Ishtiaq, revealed their political sympathies when they remained seated with arms folded, showing utter contempt, during the award of the George Cross medal to L/Cpl Matt Croucher who had so valiantly thrown himself on top of a Taliban hand-grenade in order to protect his comrades. Such acts of support for terrorism inspiring others, resulting in the Respect Party taking 5 further seats on Bradford Council between 2012-2015.

Then there is the widespread investigations of electoral fraud perpetrated by Muslims in Scotland and Birmingham. The corruption of the first directly elected Muslim Mayor of Tower Hamlets, Bangladeshi born Lutfur Rahman and the expense abuses of the first ever Muslim woman elected to the British Parliament, the so-called Baroness Pola Uddin to consider. Given that Labour have now nominated Sadiq Khan for their candidate for London Mayor and the fact that London is fast becoming a majority non-white city, things do not bode well for democracy in the United Kingdom. Especially when the politically slick Khan presents himself as a moderate by criticizing the Labour leader for failing to sing the National anthem at formal state events and insists that he will fight anti-Semitism and support gay marriage as part of his global appeal to the rainbow coalition of minorities, which is set to eclipse the white heterosexual community in the capital within a decade.

So my response to what form of democracy Identitarians should advance is very simple and should be applied to the whole of Europe, North America, Canada, Australia etc. For it seems to me, to turn Alexis de Tocqueville slightly on his head, we are actually ruled by a pernicious minority, rather than majority, who do seek to keep us, as de Tocqueville rightly asserts as perpetual children, overseeing us like a shepherd might a flock of animals. Where de Tocqueville’s prescience is undeniable is in his identification of how the majority can be swayed, stating: ‘The majority has enclosed thought within a formidable fence. A writer is free inside that area, but woe to the man who goes beyond it, not that he stands in fear of an inquisition, but he must face all kinds of unpleasantness in every day persecution. A career in politics is closed to him for he has offended the only power that holds the keys’.

In order to overcome this position and to reclaim the majority position within the existing democratic process radical steps are required:

 

  • The immediate withdrawal of the franchise from all personages who cannot prove descent from citizens of the state where they currently reside prior to 1950, or at least three full generations;
  • Exemption to the above to be granted only in the case of migrant persons of full European heritage who have migrated legally and have themselves been previously resident in nations where there is a tradition of democracy;
  • The above caveat to be suspended in the case of Slavic peoples who have been subject to Communist Dictatorship;
  • The end of the right of prisoners with serious criminal convictions such as terrorists or those who have been sentenced for electoral misdemeanors or abuse of public office from exercising the right to vote;
  • All members of proscribed religio-terrorist organizations to be prevented from participating in the franchise or proselytizing in the public realm;
  • The cessation of all funding for organizations that promulgate multiculturalism, foreign community cohesion, etc. and the initiation of actions to reclaim all monies spent or unspent from the budget holders of such organizations;
  • The suspension from office of all elected officials who do not meet the familial descent criteria identified above;
  • The seizure of all assets obtained by said elected officials and full and thorough investigations conducted of their personal and business interests and their voting records by an independent panel;
  • The removal from the statute books of the legal notion of civil citizenship;
  • The term ethnic citizenship to be enshrined in all codified laws pertaining to the states in question;
  • The repatriation of all criminal, long term unemployed and economically inactive personages who fail to meet the first criteria stated above;
  • The funded repatriation, using international or foreign aid budgets, of all people failing the familial descent criteria, as per above, to their original ethnic homelands. Following the purchase of the ticket, the remainder of the balance per individual or family unit to go to the receiving countries;
  • The above policy to be in force for a period of five years only, after which, there will be no budget allocated either in regard to foreign aid or repatriation, unless in instances of natural disaster, humanitarian assistance or expended in the national or Western interest;
  • A tiered structure of residency to be introduced providing certain privileges based on factors like longetivity of residence, tax contributions and recognition of public service;
  • The deportation of all Asylum Seekers and refugees who fail to meet the UN’s own criteria of the ‘passage to the nearest safe country’;
  • The removal from public office, university chairs and the welfare infrastructure of all officials who have supported by word or deed the political, economic and cultural ethnocide of people of European identity in their own homelands;
  • The return of the death penalty for all serious crimes including treason;
  • The establishment of a Pan-Atlantic Court to preside over tribunals relating to the above.

 

What are your personal religious views, and how do you think religious revival will occur in conjunction with Right-Wing revolutions?

I was born into a High Anglican family but greatly sympathize with Julius Evola’s description of himself as a Catholic Pagan. I think it was the English Philosopher Thomas Hobbes who called Catholicism ‘the ghost of the deceased Roman Empire sitting crowned upon its grave’. I am drawn to the ceremonial, the beauty of the music and the mystery of the liturgy but cannot abide the current trend in Christianity towards the promulgation of pacifism and the worship of the stranger. First and foremost I sense there is a deep and unacknowledged smugness and condescension underlying this faux charity. Secondly, our Christian values are being misused by a fifth column to undermine Western Civilization, in what I think is a war of moral position, to thwart attempts by Europeans to defend their homeland from a tsunami style invasion from the Global South. Ironically, these new arrivals are mostly non-Christians (Muslims) who have come from failing states and societies where Christians are killed for their religious beliefs, their priests and nuns butchered, places of worship desecrated and their church spires burnt to cinders. So I do not think we need a latter day Nostradamus to predict what is coming.

My personal belief system can never incorporate conversion by the sword as per Charlemagne’s massacre at Verden of 4,500 Saxons, or his enforcement in 785 AD of the Capitulatio de partibus Saxoniae which reads: ‘If any one of the race of the Saxons or hereafter any concealed among them shall have wished himself unbaptized, and shall have scorned to come to baptism and shall have wished to remain a pagan, let them be punished by death’. Such stern sentiments captured also in lines from a contemporary poet who wrote the Paderborn Epic: ‘What the contrary mind and perverse soul refuse to do with persuasion/ Let them leap to accomplish when compelled by fear’.

Neither can I easily tolerate the venal sectarian aspects of events like the English Reformation that led to the martyrdom of Catholic men like Thomas More (1478-1535), author of Utopia (1516) and Edmund Campion (1540-1581); or the long list of Protestants whose deaths are recorded in Foxe’s Book of Martyrs (1563), Scholars like William Tynedale, who translated the Bible into English and wrote The Obedience of Christen Men (1528); the St Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in Paris in 1572, which set the tone for the French Wars of Religion between the Calvinist Protestants and their Catholic rivals; and the Thirty Years War in Central Europe which by conservative estimates reduced the civilian population of Germany by up to 40% and allowed Sultan Osman the Second to extend Ottoman influence, which was only stopped by a military confederation of Lithuanian and Polish forces at the battle of Chocim in 1621.

For me, such introspection and divisive religious self-indulgence should never be repeated. Christianity after all has never been as uniform as many think and there were numerous primitive forms prior to the transformation of the church under Emperor Constantine the Great. Many people will be familiar with the Gnostic alternative that competed with Orthodox Christianity. Also, there are the Coptic, Armenian, Greek and Russian Orthodox Churches. Then there are the heretical variations such as Arianism, Donatism, the Albigensians and the Bogomils. One of the earliest translations of the Gospels into the Northern European languages was done by a Goth named Ulfilas, an adherent of Arianism. Then in 835 AD an anonymous poet synthesized the four gospels into an alliterative Beowulf style poem and this is analysed in G. Ronald Murphy’s The Heliand (1992) and The Saxon Saviour: The Germanic Transformation of the Gospel in 9th Century Heliand (1995), where the Gospels are removed from the dry climes of Judea to the dark forests and stormy seas of the European Northlands.

Which leads me to theological and cultural figures like Jakob Wilhelm Hauer (1881-1962), Mathilde Ludendorff (1877-1966) and Sigrid Hunke (1913-1999). The latter, the winner of the Schiller prize for German Cultural Works in the European Spirit and author of From the Decline of the West to the Rise of Europe (1989), herself being influenced by such heretics as Pelagius, Johannes Scotus, and Meister Eckhart, and in her turn influencing ND thinkers like Pierre Krebs and his work Undying Heritage (1981) as well as Alain de Benoist and his On Being a Pagan (1982).

My own brand of faith is heavily influenced by writers like G.K Chesterton, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien. Myth-makers who introduced me to Christian ideals by using stories within landscapes I recognized and with characters whose thoughts and actions resonated with the pagan past that loomed behind the Christian veneer. Churches being built on the sacred groves of the druids; Christian festivals using fertility symbols like fir trees and eggs; and the Green Man, tongue lolling, eyes leering out from the carved oak that furnishes our great cathedrals from Reims to Canterbury.

With regards to the simultaneous resurgence of Right Wing Revolutions and religious revival, I think you have only to look at the ripe tradition of committed Christians who have led or participated in movements we define today as Right-Wing to find the answer. In the Slavic world you have Conservative and Orthodox intellects like Gogol, Dostoevsky, Ivan Ilyin and Solzhenitsyn. From Romania there was Corneliu Z. Codreanu, who was a member of the Brotherhood of the Cross before forming The Legion of the Archangel Michael. Clerical reactionary movements have a history of success in both Slovakia and Croatia. Italy was 99% Catholic when the classic form of Fascism came to power. Franco’s Spain shared a similar religious majority and Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera’s Falange was almost messianic in character.

Then there are French Catholic Counter-Revolutionary and Counter-Enlightenment thinkers like Joseph de Maistre (1753-1821) and Louis Gabriel Ambroise de Bonald (1754-1840). These were rapidly followed by Catholic priest and political theorist Hughes-Felicite Robert de Lamennais (1782-1854); Francois-Rene de Chateaubriand (1768-1848), author of The Genius of Christianity (1802); and Pierre-Simon Ballanche (1776-1847) who developed a theology of progress. Then there was the Action Francais, National Catholicism and integral traditionalism of Charles Maurras (1868-1952); Maurice Barres (1862-1923) author of the Faith of France (1918); General George Ernest Boulanger (1837-1891); George Bernanos (1888-1948), author of Under Satan’s Sun (1926) and The Diary of a Country Priest (1936); Paul Deroulede (1846-1914), Founder of National League of Patriots; and Edward Drumont, Founder of the Nationalist League of Patriots. All wonderfully complemented by the Christian modernist philosopher Maurice Blondel (1861-1949) and Jean Ousset, a political idealist of Catholic sentiment.

And these Christian men do not stand alone. I was touched by the young women of Renouveau Francais in their firm stance against the toxic FEMEN coven outside Notre-Dame de Paris and likewise the humour and talent of the young girl band Les Brigandes with their tongue in cheek but poignant songs such as Cannabisation Nationale, Chevaucher le Dragon and The Great Replacement. Therefore, like the resurgent interest in Orthodoxy following the fall of the Soviet Union, I foresee a central role for religion in fomenting change in a post-liberal World.

 

What are your views on the connection between ecological theory and present Right-Wing Movements such as Identitarians? What steps do you think we should take to deal with environmental problems?

I believe the ideological tenets of the Radical Right are ecology based. In both ethos and action we should regard ourselves as stewards, not materialist defilers of the natural environment. It was Moritz Arndt, a nineteenth century German nationalist who wrote The Care and Conservation of Forests in 1815. His student, Wilhelm Heinrich Riehl, went on to author Field and Forest in 1853, a landmark text in which he declared: ‘We must save the forest, not only so that the ovens do not become cold in winter, but also that the pulse of life of the German people continues to beat joyfully, so that Germany remains German’.

Indeed, I understand it was Ernst Haekel, founder of the German Monist League who first coined the word ecology in 1867. This influencing Walther Darre, an agronomist by profession, who led the National Socialist Blood & Soil programme. Darre himself emerged from the Artaman League, founded by Willibald Hentschel. The word Artaman itself being a hybrid expression meaning agriculture-man and the League being a central pillar of the Nackt-Kultur movement which found expression in the Wandervogel youth groups of the period.

My thinking echoes that of sociologist Ferdinand Tönnies (1855-1936), whose classic work Community and Society (2013 ed.) introduced the concepts of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft into the philosophical and sociological lexicon, and Hans Freyer (1887-1969), who in parallel with Tönnies, debated the notions of people (or Volk to borrow the German term) and the place they inhabit (heimat/home) and their interactions to form an organic entity in and of itself. There is in my opinion a positive co-dependency between the two; A Gemeinschaft (Community) which exists not only the interconnectedness and interdependence between the people themselves but also in the interaction of the community and the natural world. This is intrinsically linked with the Bio-centrism or Lebensphilosophie (Philosophy of Life) of Ludwig Klages. In other words, Gaia nurturing the character and temperament of the people, inspiring what the Germans term the Volksgeist (Folk-Spirit). And this sits alongside and works in harmony with the biological influence that guides the disparate genetic trajectories of the various races that make up mankind as a whole.

And the German Right was not alone in this regard. In St. Petersburg Ivan Parfenevich Borodin’s culture-aesthetic conservationism was heavily influenced by the German Romantics. Also, in England there was a long tradition of concern with population control, epitomized by Thomas Malthus’s An Essay on the Principle of Population (1798). During the first half of the twentieth century there were a myriad of groups like the English Mistery, the English Array, John Hargrave’s Kibbo Kift and H.J. Massingham’s Council for the Church and Countryside that included various intellectuals such as Nietzschean philosopher Anthony Ludovici, Rolf Gardiner, Lord Lymington, historian Arthur Bryant, poet laureate Sir John Betjeman, British Union of Fascists activist and gentleman farmer Bob Saunders and Major-General J.C.F. Fuller. Gardiner himself went on to found the Soil Association and was intimately involved with Montague Fordham’s Rural Reconstruction Movement which focused on organic farming and Kinship in Husbandry. The latter met in Merton College Oxford in 1941.

Then there were the numerous noted writers in this field. Some examples being Henry Williamson, author of the children’s classic Tarka the Otter (1927), Lady Eve Balfour who wrote The Living Soil (1943) and Jorian Jenks, Editor of the Soil Association’s Journal Mother Earth and his own books, Spring Comes Again (2012 ed.), From the Ground Up (1950), The Stuff Man’s Made Of (1959) and The Land and the People (2003 ed.).

So there is a depth and richness to the Right’s engagement with ecological matters that the faddist (and more often than not socialist) orientated Green Parties across Europe wish to obscure. Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier’s book, Eco Fascism: Lessons from the German Experience (2011) traces this lineage in very precise terms. Another perfect example being Patrick Wright’s book The Village that Died for England (1995) about Tyneham in Dorset, which captures the originality and seriousness with which the British Right approached the preservation and conservation of the environment decades before the Greens came to prominence in the United Kingdom.

Indeed, looking to current thinking in this sphere one is inevitably drawn to advocates like Pentti Linkola in Finland and his work Can Life Prevail (2009); John Seymour (1914-2004) a leading figure in the Self-Sufficiency movement; the radical antiquarian John Michell; Edward Abbey, famous for his groundbreaking Desert Solitaire (1968); Carey McWilliams’ Ill Fares the Land: migrants and migratory labour in the United States (1945); David Foreman, the Founder of Earth First and author of Confessions of an Eco-Warrior (1991) who has spoken on numerous anti-immigration platforms; and Richard Hunt, who established Alternative Green, author of To End Poverty, the Starvation of the Periphery by the Core (1998), whose memory has been defamed with the sobriquet eco-fascist.

For in order to smear the philosophy of Deep Ecology it has now become necessary to besmirch the reputations of some of its leading proponents. Green anarchist Murray Bookchin, who wrote Post Scarcity Anarchism (1971) and the Ecology of Freedom (1987) argued that these people are ‘barely disguised racists, survivalists and macho Daniel Boones’. Harvard educated Theodore J. Kaczynski, better known as the Unabomber and his 1995 Manifesto entitled Industrial Society and Its Future, perfectly fitting this narrative.

Regardless of such slanders and the Left’s attempts to hijack some of the Right’s core agenda it is immensely reassuring to see this tradition continue with political parties like Golden Dawn in Greece, dedicating time and resources to green issues and animal welfare. Ultimately, I see identitarian and nationalist militants operating in the tradition of the Wehrbauer, peasant soldiers, defending the land that has fed and nourished our communities for millennia.

 

What is your position on the classic sociological problem of individualism versus communitarianism? Some philosophers see individualism as the fundamental cause of socio-cultural decay. Do you agree with this?

Individualism is to a large extent a fundamental characteristic of Western society. The conundrum of individualism versus communitarianism being so deeply embedded in Western Tradition, that we can trace collectivist themes emerging in Plato’s Republic and a more individualist approach being adopted in the stance of the Greek Sophists.

This divergence grew even wider with the development of a private property owning class in places like England around 1200, so that by the 17th century a yawning chasm existed, allowing political philosophers like Thomas Hobbes to speak openly in terms of the new homo-economicus. Which in due course led to Adam Smith’s laissez-faire economics, personified by his text The Wealth of Nations (1776) and Jeremy Bentham’s Utilitarianism arguing that ‘the free expression of individual wills and interests provide natural harmony and maximal efficiency’. While the origins of Epistomelogical individualism can be traced back to the thinking of British Empiricists like David Hume who wrote A Treatise of Human Nature (1739) and John Locke, who developed his Theory of the Mind, which to an extent formed the modern concept of identity, both rejecting priori truths, instead giving precedence to individual experience in the accumulation of knowledge.

And the British were not alone in such thinking. The French intellectual Rene Descartes, author of Meditation on First Philosophy (1641) and Principles of Philosophy (1644) also endorsed epistemological individualism from a rationalist perspective. This tendency reached a climax with influential thinkers like Kierkergaard, Husserl, Heidegger and Sartre.

Whereas those of the more collectivist orientation include Jean-Jacques Rousseau and his Social Contract (1762), in the early nineteenth century Hegel, who considered the nation-state as the highest embodiment of social morality and of course Karl Marx who, along with Freidrich Engels, himself author of The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State (1884) put forth his own collective treatise in the form of The Communist Manifesto (1848). Since World War Two Germany, France and Holland are examples of countries that have attempted to bridge the divide between the individual and socialist collectivism, paving the way for the welfare state.

Like Hegel, Marx and de Tocqueville I see civil society as an ecosystem that facilitates individuals to use their talents for private entrepreneurship but also to come together in groups to achieve shared objectives.

In both cases sensitive and unambiguous regulation is required to ensure that excesses are constrained. As a critic of unfettered individualism, I do see the value in freedom of association, yet, I tend to agree with de Tocqueville that individualism is best served when ‘self-interest is properly understood’.

Communities function at the optimal level when there are common bonds, in the form of recognizable identity and an acknowledged purpose, in the shape of a culture, to promulgate. Individuals operating within such parameters know that their activities may advance their own agenda but there will be interventions should self-interest begin to harm the public good. The challenge is to define that point and apply it sensitively. If we do not, we will end up with tyranny or worse the atomized and dysfunctional society epitomized by Michel Houellebecq, the dissipated and disgruntled misanthrope who wrote Soumission (2015). As per Fareed Zakaria in his book The Future of Freedom, Illiberal Democracy at Home and Abroad (2003): ‘Supporters of free markets often make the mistake of thinking of capitalism as something that exists in opposition to the state. When it is time to pay taxes, this view can seem self-evident. But the reality is more complex. Although in the twentieth century many states grew so strong as to choke their economies, in a broader historical perspective, only a legitimate, well-functioning state can create the rules and laws that make capitalism work. At the very least, without a government capable of protecting property rights and human rights, press freedoms and business contracts, anti-trust laws and consumer demands, a society gets not the rule of law but the rule of the strong. If one wanted to see what the absence of government produces, one need only look at Africa – it is not a free-market paradise’.

So let us take a moment and consider the question from a psychological perspective. Can we really say collectivists are closely linked individuals who view themselves primarily as parts of a whole, be it a family, a network of workers, a tribe, or a nation? And if so, are such people motivated by the norms and duties imposed by the collective entity they identify with? The reverse being that Individualists are motivated by their own preferences, needs and rights, giving priority to personal rather than group goals?

Are people so easily categorized? Or can their conduct vary according to different stimuli, like threat or opportunity, in turn causing their behavior and attitudes to fluctuate between these polar opposites?

It seems to me that psychology may not be universal. There is potential for culture specific predispositions. And if so, what effect does this have on thought and actions? Does it explain the Muslim residents of the Belgian suburb of Molenbeek beeping their horns in support of the killing of 200 innocent Parisians on Friday 13th 2015? And if collectivism and individualism is viewed through the diffusing prisms of culture and race, does that not reveal itself in the crime rates, family abandonment, levels of self-esteem, feelings of entitlement, and overall behavioral patterns from one group to another?

I would hazard a guess that it does. And if my assumption is correct, it is yet another example where multiculturalist diversity is self-evidently proven not to be a source of strength but in fact a terrible weakness.

 

There are a lot of differing positions among Right Wingers about the philosophy of gender and what the differences between the social roles of men and women should be. What are your thoughts on this matter?

It is true that the Right is a broad church in most matters but it seems to me that our Achilles’ heel is the way our opponents present us as misogynistic. This gender divisive meme has been successfully reinforced with highly selective media coverage, mostly focusing on the shaved heads and swastika tattoos of those understandably angry and disenfranchised white males who cling to what they perceive has a defiant and revolutionary identity. Their views and attitudes treated with contempt and disdain, their social status as losers projected in a way that makes them unattractive to the fairer sex.

And of course this is both deliberate and not without a grain of truth, which is why it is credible and so successful. It is further exploited by television pundits who are very careful about who they select to represent identitarian sentiments in interviews on the street or in the studio. How often have we seen the intellectual mismatch between Right and Left through the distorting camera lens? Well-meaning people, male and female alike, speaking nothing but rational common sense being belittled by some guru orating smugly about the benefits of multiculturalism from the safety of a tree-lined university campus miles from the inner-city?

But this is all changing with the rise of erudite and media savvy women like Marie Le Pen and Marion Marechal Le Pen of the French National Front, Krisztina Morvai and Dora Duro of Hungary’s Jobbik Party, Beata Szydlo of the Polish Law & Justice Party, Kristiina Ojuland, founder of the Estonian People’s Unity Party and Italians like Vittoria Brambilla, Daniela Santanche and Giorgia Meloni of the People’s Freedom Party, La Destra and Fratelli d’Italia (Brothers of Italy) respectively. The glass ceiling has been shattered so to speak and the long history of socially conservative women contributing to traditionalist or nationalist movements which I wrote about in my ‘Matriarchs in the Mannerbund’ article is gaining momentum once again. Just take a look at the young women in Renouveau Francais, the girl band Les Brigandes and the female militants of Generation Identitaire. There is also a sizable demographic of youthful, middle aged and senior ladies amongst the crowds in Katowice, Tallinn and Dresden. Women standing alongside their men protesting against the immigration invasion. And there we have our answer to the mainstream media promulgating the image of pretty blonde German girls holding up banners at Munich Railway Station reading ‘We Welcome Refugees’. A proper analysis of the rape and sexual abuse statistics highlighting the role played by non-Europeans particularly in the UK, France, Sweden and Norway may enlighten some of our ‘sisters’ who cling to the naïve notion of universal brotherhood.

As for myself, I believe in the full engagement of women within all social and professional spheres based on their capability and inclination. I have said many times, I am not threatened by independent and talented women. Rather the opposite, I find them attractive and interesting. Here I am thinking of role models and archetypes with a philosophical inclination, but they could be from any field of human endeavor, people like Perictione, mother of Plato; Myia, the Pythagorean philosopher who lived around 500 BC; Tullia d’Aragon (1510-1556), who wrote Dialogues on the Infinity of Love (1552); Lady Anne Conway, whose thinking influenced Leibniz and who authored Principles of the most Ancient and Modern Philosophy (1690); Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle-upon-Tyne (1623-1673) and her book The Blazing World (1666); Lady Damaris Cudworth Masham (1659-1708) who wrote A Discourse Concerning the Love of God: Occasional Thoughts in Reference to a Vertuous or Christian Life (1696); G.E. Anscombe (1919-2001) a committed advocate for Roman Catholicism who debated C.S. Lewis and introduced the term ‘consequentialism’ into the language of analytic philosophy; Marilyn McCord Adams, American philosopher of the Episcopal Church and philosopher of religion, who published What sort of Human Nature (1999) and Wrestling for Blessing (2005); Patricia Smith Churchland, who specializes in Neuro-philosophy and medical and environmental ethics; and Professor Rae Langton, a Fellow of Newnham College Cambridge, who was recently ranked the fourth most influential woman thinker of modern times.

However, unlike the admirable talents already mentioned I freely admit I resent those who use the scorpion sting of anti-male hate to influence others. This form of politicized feminism is particularly unctuous and I recognize in that strain of thought an agenda to demean motherhood and to undermine those women who wish to be the guardians of the hearth and nurturers of the next generation. Here I am thinking of Feminist theorists like Judith Butler who wrote Gender Trouble (2006); Nancy J. Hirschmann, author of Gender, Class and Freedom in Modern Political Theory (2007); Sandra Harding, who tried to introduce the gender war into science with her work Is There a Feminist Method?; Nancy Tuana, Editor of Feminism and Science (1989); Sara Kiesler’s Gender and Democracy in Computer Mediated Communications; Amy Sheilds Dobson’s Post- Feminist Digital Cultures: Femininity, Social Media and Self-Reconstruction (2015); and Jos/Xe9 Medina, who was responsible for the truly awful The Epistemology of Resistance: Gender and Racial Oppression, Epimestic Injustice and Resistant Imaginations (2012).

Personally, I would certainly favour a natalist approach by European governments to their own indigenous populations and the opposite approach taken to so-called refugees and economic migrants who are currently siphoning off monies to promulgate their own genes, that would be better spent on our own people.

In my opinion, we have for far too long undervalued the role of women in society and seen the family and children has a costly burden when in reality they are our salvation. After all, do we really expect the average Somalian, Syrian or Roma refugee to have sufficient intelligence and diligence to hold down a regular job, generate added value for our society and pay taxes to keep us in our old age? At present the vast majority of such people are welfare dependent or in low wage jobs, suppressing the salary levels across Europe and America and sending what they can home to buy houses in the Balkans or support their families until they can get visas to join their menfolk and then themselves jump on to the European gravy-train.

Are we not better off producing our own children and paying women of European heritage, who so desire, a living wage, to become mothers? So yielding a harvest of high IQ offspring that is far more likely to underpin our future economic growth and have sufficient empathy for their genetic forebears to shoulder the burden their grandparents represent in the twilight of their lives? The traditional family unit may not be ideal for all and relationships blossom and decline but the seed of our future hope must be white and planted deep in the fertile wombs of European women.

 

How do you see the connection between the Traditional School (represented by authors such as Guenon, Evola ,etc.) and Identitarianism? What theory of Tradition do you follow?

I am a great admirer of Rene Guenon (1886-1951) and Julius Evola (1898-1974). Both these traditionalist thinkers have greatly influenced my own views on metapolitics and provide rich repositories of knowledge to nourish the Identitarian ideology which is currently taking shape in Europe and beyond.

Guenon’s The Crisis of the Modern World (1927) is almost his manifesto, or call to arms, for Traditionalists and is only bettered in my humble opinion by his Reign of Quantity and Signs of the Times (1945). What both works offer the reader is an antidote to the vacuous relativism of modernity, something other intellects like Frithjof Schuon, Mircea Eliade, Martin Lings, Titus Burckhardt and Ananda K. Coomaraswamy have recognized in their own works, acknowledging Guenon as the re-founder of Western Esotericism using Eastern ideas. His critique originating from the perspective of ancient wisdom and tradition.

As for Baron Giulio Cesare Andrea Evola, the core of his theories circulate around the fact that mankind is presently living in the Kali Yuga or Dark Age and the underlying tension in his writing is the attempt to find a method to effect a primordial rebirth. I avidly devoured his Revolt Against the Modern World (1934), Men Amongst the Ruins (1953) and his Metaphysics of War (2011, Ed. Arktos), the latter being a collection of essays he wrote during the 1930’s and 1940’s rejecting pacifism and an attempt to re-awaken heroic ideals through the act of war. His argument that the Warrior is someone who is more than a paid mercenary of the current oligarchy and should transcend the political and economic towards a higher spiritual calling certainly appeals to my sense of honour. Within his corpus of writings Evola strives to give examples in the form of Sigismund, King of Hungary and his wife Barbara of Celeje’s Order of the Dragon, a militant Christian force that faced the Ottoman Turks and who counted amongst their ranks such notable characters as Vlad Dracul and members of Elizabeth Bathory’s family.

Evola himself generated many disciples and followers for his Heathen Imperialism (2007, Ed.) and what he called the spiritual element of race rather than pure biological reductionism. Some examples being the Italian Movimento Sociale Italiano (MSI), the Nuclei Armati Rivoluzionari and CasaPound; the Spanish Falange Espanola; the Swiss militant Armand Amaudruz’s Nouvel Ordre; and the French Troisieme Voie (Third Way). Perhaps the clearest statement of intent coming from a spokesman of the Ordine Nuovo when he stated: ‘Our work since 1953 has been to transpose Evola’s teachings into direct political action’.

For readers who favour a more Esoteric approach to their engagement with tradition, Evola’s The Yoga of Power (1992, Ed.) and The Heremetic Tradition (1995, Ed.) offer a separate access point to his thought which is equally satisfying depending upon your personal preferences. Here, his antecedents or sympathisers are the German Psycho-therapist Karlfried Graf Durkheim who taught gestalt psychology at the Bauhaus in Dessau; occultists like the Swedish founder of the Dragon Rouge, Thomas Karlsson and fellow Italian Massimo Scaligero, author of The Logos and the New Mysteries; and Miguel Serrano, to whom Evola once confessed that Metternich, the State Chancellor of the Austrian Empire (1773-1859), was his conservative ideal.

 

You have once mentioned Alexander Dugin as an influence. What do you think the relationship between Identitarianism and Dugin’s theories of Neo-Eurasianism and the Fourth Political Theory is, or what should it be like?

Well, actually I am a Slavophile in the tradition of Gogol, Dostoevsky and Ilyin rather than a Neo-Eurasianist, but I first came across Alexander Dugin while I was living on Naberezhnaya, in a 19th century apartment overlooking the Moika Canal, in St Petersburg. I remember my girlfriend at the time would read excerpts from Elementy and Milyi Angel to me as we sat in the pale White Nights sunlight on a wrought iron balcony just meters away from where Pushkin died in 1837.

She had just finished writing her dissertation on the mystical Yuzhinskii Circle founded by Yuri Mamleyev in the 1960’s, and into which Dugin was inducted around 1980. Through her I was introduced to the thinking of Yevgeny Golovin and socialized with students who had attended Dugin’s classes when he was the Professor of Sociology at the prestigious Lermontov Moscow University department of Sociology and International Relations. Mamleyev himself having gone on to teach at Cornell and the Sorbonne. It was while he was associated with the Yuzhinskii Circle that Dugin’s thought became grounded in traditionalism, translating both Evola’s Pagan Imperialism (1928) and Rene Guenon’s The Crisis of the Modern World (1942) into Russian.

As a consequence it seems to me that Dugin’s brand of neo-Eurasianism, like Identitarianism, is intrinsically linked to the Traditionalist School which has its origins in characters like the Catholic scholar Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499), one of the leaders of the Philosophia Perennis (Perennial Philosophy) and Giovanni Pico della Mirandola (1463-1494), whose short but eventful life was to leave an indelible mark on the history of Europe. At the tender age of 23 Mirandola proposed to defend his 900 Theses on religion, philosophy and magic against all those who wished to debate him. His Oration on the Dignity of Man became the unofficial Manifesto of the Renaissance.

Dugin referencing the debt in his own Manifesto of the Eurasianist Movement: ‘Eurasianism implies a positive re-evaluation of the archaic, the ancient. It fervently refers to the past, to the world of Tradition. The development of cultural process is seen by Eurasism in a new reference to the archaic, to the insertion of ancient cultural motives in the fabric of modern forms. The priority in this area is given back to the national creativity, to the sources of national creativity, to the continuation and revival of traditions’. This certainly resonates with my thinking on European Identitarianism.

Eurasianism also shares with Identitarianism the notion that identity itself is bound up with specific geography and sacred space: ‘In principle, Eurasia and our space, the heartland Russia, remain the staging area of a new anti-bourgeois revolution’. Dugin in unison with the thinkers of the European New Right standing in stark opposition to the nihilism of modernity and what the French philosophers like Alain de Benoist have termed Mondialism.

Therefore Dugin shares the Identitarian concern with the current monopoly of liberalism in all its guises and its imposition of stifling conformity. His attack on the negative aspects of the Atlanticist West and its consumer led values is just as valid as that of Alain Soral, author of Understanding Empire: Global Government Tomorrow or the Revolt of the Nations (2011). Soral’s book takes the starting point of Tradition to bolster the survival of cultures and peoples from Viscount Melville Sound in Canada’s Arctic North to Madagascar in the Indian Ocean and from San Diego in the Pacific West to Jakarta in the East.

In this regard I recognise strains consistent with Identitarianism in the Eurasianist attempt to debate beyond the frameworks of recent history and discard the clichés of failed ideologies in pursuit of a new one. Like Identitarianism, Dugin’s Eurasianism is an attempt to find an antidote to the crisis of postmodernity, trying to shake up the status quo and offer a fresh political model that avoids the lethargy and gridlock that Jean Baudrillard (1929-2007) so deftly describes in his own works, particularly The Illusion of the End (1994).

Likewise, Eurasianism greatly benefits from the activism of the Eurasian Youth Union which had at one point nearly 50 offices across the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), and operates like Generation Identitaire in many respects.

So for me Dugin is in the right camp when it comes to recognizing that integration into Global Society means to lose one’s own identity. In effect we risk becoming identikit humans, a new proletariat in the service of the New World Order.

There are however a number of points where I take specific issue with Dugin. And in that regard I am in interesting company, namely, Dmitri Vasiliev of Pamyat (Memory) and Eduard Limonov of the National Bolshevik Party. The first concern being that he believes ‘Civilizations are cultural and religious communities – not ethnic national ones’ (The Fourth Political Theory, p. 165, Arktos Books, 2012). For me the attributes of an ethnicity and its physical environment are key factors in the gestation of civilization and culture. Also, his proposal for an alliance between the Orthodox and Islamic worlds in opposition to The West seems to me both naïve and misplaced. The two faiths in the first place are inimical to each other and already delineate to a great extent the competition for the same sacred space between racial phenotypes.

It also reflects what some describe has his paranoia about The West’s motives and intentions which, coupled with the overstated Prophet-like ‘end of the world’ Joachimite hermeticism of his expressions, erodes his credibility: ‘The meaning of Russia is that through the Russian people will be realized the last thought of God, the thought of the end of the world… Death is the way to immortality. Love will begin when the world ends. We must long for it, like true Christians…We are uprooting the accursed tree of knowledge. With it will perish the Universe…’ (Dugin quoted in Stephen Shenfield’s Russian Fascism – Traditions, Tendencies, Movements, p. 193, 2000).

And his aggressive response to a question posed by Megan Stack in September 2008 on the ever closer relationship of the West to Ukraine, effectively seeing it ‘as a declaration of war. As a declaration of psychological, geopolitical, economic and open war’, strike me as short-sighted. I much prefer Guillaume Faye’s vision of a Europe extending all the way to Trans-Siberia.

Then there is also the very real danger that Dugin’s ideas can be over-simplified. When he states ‘that ideocratic Russia’, meaning the Slavic World and Eurasia, is irretrievably antagonistic to the plutocratic ‘island’ of the Anglo-Saxon West, he correctly describes, from his perspective, the fundamental clash between mammon and traditionalism. What he fails to appreciate is the rapid resuscitation of the longing for identity in the West and the long term corrosive effects that Mammon, in the form of hydrocarbon wealth, is having on the Orthodox soul and the Central Asian mindset. I lived in Astana for two years, skating with Kazakhs on the frozen Ishim and saw at first hand the Gulag complex in Karaganda, visiting the L.N. Gumliyov University named after the great Eurasianist historian, ethnologist and anthropologist who wrote Ethnogenesis and the Biosphere of the Earth (1978) and Ancient Rus and The Great Steppe (1989). Ask the fair skinned Russians how they are now treated by their Kazakh neighbours, recently filled with a resurgent pride in their Turkic origins, building mosques on an unprecedented scale. Dugin may, might I suggest, just be turning a blind eye to the underlying instincts that drive mankind?

And speaking of Gumilyov, he, like Konstantin Leontyev and Nikolay Danilevsky believed in a Russian-Super-ethnos opposed to Catholic Europe, which in effect lay the groundwork for Dugin’s later Eurasian worldview. Gumilyov’s fame relying largely on the thesis of passionarity which in essence is the theory of the life-cycle of civilization through its initial development, leading to its climatic, inert and convolution phases. Fundamentally, he diagnosed Europe as entering a phase of deep inertia while the passionarity of the Arabic world is high. To passionarity, in my view, one could also add fecundity.

So although there are many synergies between the Identitarian and Eurasian philosophies and there is of course merit in dialogue and pragmatic alliance it is also a plain and self-evident truism that there are fundamental differences that it may be impossible to overcome. Our challenge is to try.

 

The theory of Multipolarism and harmony between autonomous cultures has been identified as an important aspect of New Rightism/Identitarianism. However, there are a few Identitarian authors who deviate from the multipolar line and seek to advocate hostility and conflict with foreign ethnic groups and civilizations, similar to old fashioned nationalists. How do you think this problem should be dealt with?

To return to Dugin for a moment, I have sympathy for his assertion that ‘When there is only one power which decides who is right and who is wrong and who should be punished and who not, we have a form of dictatorship. This is not acceptable. Therefore we should fight against it. If someone deprives us of our freedom, we have to react and we will react’. He continues, ‘The American Empire should be destroyed’, and like him I have no doubt that ‘at one point, it will be!’

But what America is he talking about?

I would hazard a guess that his ire is not directed at farmers in Wisconsin. In fact, I doubt if he is talking about Americans per se but in fact the plastic America of Wall Street and Hollywood, those parasitic elements that have so distorted what Dugin terms the Atlanticist sphere, corporate cosmopolitans like the Brookings Institute for example feeding like vampires under a cloak of hegemonic liberalism. And is that not what politicians and commentators like Paul Wolfowitz and Norman Podhoretz represent? Their star-spangled masks slipping occasionally because they do not represent American interests but that of another select group. Because for them money has no homeland and the liberal democracy they wish to force upon the world is illusory. Dugin actually implies as much, ‘Spiritually, globalization is the creation of a grand parody, the Kingdom of the Anti-Christ. And the US is the centre of its expansion’.

And remember Michael O’ Hanlon, a Senior Fellow at the afore mentioned Brookings Institute, an organisation funded by JP Morgan, Chase & Amp, Goldman Sachs, Google, Facebook, Pepsi and Coca Cola, wrote Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy towards Iran (2009) and more recently Deconstructing Syria: A New Strategy for America’s Most Hopeless War.

And why? Could it be that President Assad was fast developing his 4 Seas Strategy to turn Syria into a trade hub between the Black, Mediterranean, Arabian and Caspian Seas? Could it be that Syria is a sovereign state with a national bank that is not owned by the Rothschilds? And what of Ukraine? Has no one noticed the land grab being perpetrated for the rich black earth west of the Dnieper whilst attention is being focused on Russian aggression in Donetsk? Here again, George Soros plays with his democratic marionettes while bullets fly and cash registers bulge.

So let’s take a closer look at this rivalry between Globalism and Multipolarism. Was the world really divided between the Free West and the Communist East after the death of Stalin? Some argue that both sides were being run by the same people, our globalist masters, and that the collapse of the Soviet Union was the consequence of those same self-serving masters deciding that the eastern experiment had run its course and was no longer worth sustaining. In fact, ironically, the free market of the West served as a better method of destroying pluricultural and organic communities than all the forced collectivisations and centralized bureaucracies in the East. Hence the Ceausescu regime had to fall in Romania, Gorbachev needed to give way to Yeltsin and the German Democratic Republic merge with the Federal Republic so that twenty five years later Angela Merkel could welcome Syrian refugees with open arms into the very heart of Europe. Like Solzhenitsyn said: ‘Nations are the wealth of mankind, its collective personalities; the very least of them wears its own special colours and bears within itself a special facet of divine intention’.

And this essence of distinctiveness is what the Globalists despise. Except when it applies to them. For in their eyes there should only be one form of imperialism – that of the internationalist and mercantilist class. The same class that acts with arrogant impunity, uses its immense wealth and nearly unlimited influence against our racial, national and individual interests, simply because we, the drones they employ, need a paycheck every month to pay our mortgages, clear our credit card bills, purchase petrol at the pump and buy a coffee at Starbucks when we shop at the Mall. A Mall full of shops they own, brimming with merchandise that they tell us we must consume.

What we need is a multi-polar world to re-distribute power, global responsibility and wealth. Multipolarism emphasizes national sovereignty and the differentiation of races and cultures. And this decentralization should extend not just to nations but to regions, local communities and individuals.

It seems to me that Globalism encourages servile dependency, whereas Multipolarism strikes right at the heart of the multiculturalist hegemony. We must first slay the dragon that threatens us all, regardless of where we are from or what prejudices or grievances we may harbor between races, religions and nations. Once the fog of globalism has lifted we will be in a better position to judge the real rather than manufactured opportunities and threats we pose to each other. For the Globalist agenda is fundamentally anti-human. They have thrown up a smokescreen of lies and half-truths to effect a divide and rule strategy. It is for identitarians to see beyond this and guide our communities to a better understanding of the true value of a diverse world, especially when peoples are anchored in their own clearly defined natural environments.

 

Guillaume Faye is a popular reference among Identitarian activists, but some of the theories he has expressed in his later works seem to deviate from typical Identitarian positions (his support for authoritarian government, capitalism, the two-tier economic theory, etc.) How do you feel about the direction of Faye’s thought?

Despite what people may think or say about his recent and more idiosyncratic positions, such as his endorsement of Samuel Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations thesis, a term the American borrowed from Albert Camus (1946) and Bernard Lewis writing in The Atlantic Monthly (1990), but which actually stretches back to the French Colonial Experience of the Belle epoch; and the historical debacle in 1986 with Alain de Benoist, where Faye sided with the Yann-Ber Tillenon, Tristan Mordelle and Goulven Pennaod faction, there can be no question of the significance of Guillaume Faye to the New Right and the broader Identitarian movement. He is however clearly more of an Ethno-nationalist than a Communitarian. And whether we follow P.A. Taguieff’s approach regarding the right to difference which he defined as differentialist racism, using the notion of cultural incompatibility rather than skin colour as the criterion for expulsion, or we stick to the hardline racial origins argument, matters little in the end. What does matter, is the fact that ethnic communitarianism has led to ghettos or rather immigrant strongholds from which whites have been ethnically cleansed and from out of which they launch raids against us. Molenbeek in Belgium is just one example. The situation is replicated in the UK, France, Germany, Holland and Sweden.

In Faye’s books, Archeofuturism (2010), Why We Fight: A Manifesto of the European Resistance (2011), Convergence of Catastrophes (2012) and Sex and Deviance (2014) we have, regardless of their quirks and foibles, essential reading materials for all New Right militants, sponsors and sympathisers. These texts provide an interesting and holistic doctrine, which can act as an ideological synthesis, lifting the Right above its current sectarianism to form a common European front against those Faye identifies as the enemies assailing us and attitudes infecting us. An example being: ‘The present dominant values (xenophilia, cosmopolitanism, narcissism, homophilia, permissiveness, etc.) are actually anti-values of de-virilising weakness, since they deplete a civilization’s vital energies and weakens its defensive or affirmative capacities’.

There is of course a debate to be had whether or not he has identified all the culprits and whether he has exonerated some that deserve special attention? But one cannot dispute his stance on mass immigration and the Islamic antagonism to the Western world. What is however questionable are his criticisms of Alain Soral and Christian Bouchet, who he thinks too sympathetic to Islam, while his own detractors in the National Revolutionary Movement in France accuse him of being too pro-Jewish and a National-Zionist. In response he wrote The New Jewish Question (2007). And I am sure Faye will take the opportunity to further review his thinking in this regard when he takes a closer look at the funding mechanisms for Islamic State, the reasons for the destabilization of Syria and the ISRAAID Foundation’s blatant encouragement of economic migrants to penetrate European borders through Greece, Serbia and Croatia.

Certainly de Benoist, when interviewed in 2000 seemed to indicate that he thought Faye was too extreme. But Faye does attract admirers through his work with the Rivarol Journal and his continued association with the national pagan community via Terre et Peuple. With his PhD from Science Po, his journalistic experience gained from his time with Figaro Magazine, Paris-Match and VSD and his sustained contribution to the Nouvelle Droite throughout the 1970’s and 1980’s he clearly deserves his place in the pantheon of Pro-European thinkers alongside Alain de Benoist, Robert Steuckers, Pierre Vial and Dominique Venner.

Personally, I think he has a lot to say to us in this coming decade of internecine racial conflict. It is highly likely that we will be referring to his books and recognizing the fulfillment of his predictions in much the same way as we look today upon Jean Raspail’s seminal work Camp of the Saints (1973).

 

So far you have written one book, the novel titled The Partisan, which portrays Identitarian revolutionaries in a future scenario rising against the threat of an Islamic state in France. Describe for our audience the structure and nature of The Partisan, and how will this compare to future books you plan to write?

The Partisan is a love story. The love between two people, the love of those two people for the militants they call comrades and the love of those patriots for their Motherland. It is an antidote to the cynicism that is injected into our youth from birth. The self-loathing that is facilitated through the teaching of so-called progressive and post-colonial history. It is a recognition that our streets are filled with violent non-assimilating aliens that hate the fact they are not us. Intemperate Gambians, trickster Nigerians, smiling Cameroonians joining with the clandestine columns of Muslims from North Africa that have been marching towards France ever since Charles De Gaulle betrayed the pied-noirs in Algeria and executed Organisation Armee Secrete (O.A.S.) heroes like Roger Degueldre; A man who had earned the Croix de Guerre for his bravery in Indo-China, fought at Dien Bien Phu, before transferring to the elite 1st Foreign Parachute Regiment and was made a Knight of the Legion d’Honneur. The same man who on the day of his execution at Fort d’Ivry on the 7th July 1962 witnessed three of the officers appointed to lead the firing squad refuse to give the order to fire. With only one of the eleven men actually shooting upon the target. For as Delguerde’s O.A.S. comrade rightfully said of the Algerian conflict: ‘It was a war fought in terms of religion and race. We were attacked because we were European – not French but European’.

Does that sound familiar?

And if so, what about the ominous description given by another O.A.S. leader Jean-Jacques Susini speaking of Algiers after the so called liberation by the F.L.N.: ‘I saw a city die, not in its stones but in its humanity. I was walking along a street one day. I was going to buy some Assimil records in Italian, because I intended to seek exile in Italy. All of a sudden, I recalled a time in the distant past when I was a child and I would walk along the same street with my grandfather. Then the street had been alive, teeming with people, both European and Moslem. Stores were open, and there was a certain feeling of happiness, of intensity of life. However, now I was walking on the same street in July 1962. Stores were closed. The Europeans had left, and the Moslem crowds were very dense, because the F.L.N. had scheduled its independence day celebrations. Suddenly I had the feeling that even if the monuments and buildings hadn’t changed, even if Algiers hadn’t been bombarded, the city was dead somehow in human terms. The population was no longer the same. Thus, there was something which had died. It wasn’t the presence of Moslems which bothered me. What bothered me was that there were only Moslems. There wasn’t one European. And these Moslem crowds were not the same ones that I had been used to seeing when I was a child. In those days the crowds were peaceful and went about their daily errands. These crowds were excited, mobilized. The F.L.N. had brought tens of thousands of them into the city in trucks that day for the independence celebrations. Yes, these were crowds that were excited’.

And this description, which could now so easily be applied to Paris, is the backdrop to my novel The Partisan. Gone are the days when we can turn the other cheek. Ethnic war is on the horizon and the book I have written is a fast paced violent and sexy fiction, which is meant to entertain and stimulate our people to respond to the struggle that is coming. The reader follows Sabine, the central character, through a futuristic French landscape that is being subject to the will of Allah and the slash of the sharia scimitar.

The intention is that the reader identifies with her experiences, recognizes and sympathises with her ideological development, moving ever closer to The New Resistance that is formed to oppose this 21st Century Occupation and the oppression of the descendants of Vercingetorix, Count Roland, Charles Martel, Godfrey of Bouillon, Charles of Anjou, Joan of Arc, Maurice de Saxe, Lafayette, Napoleon and Philip Petain.

My desire is for The Partisan to be in the vanguard of a new generation of Identitarian literature. It is the first of a series of books I have planned that will cover scenarios from Paris to St. Petersburg and Valletta to Vilnius. I am hoping my writing will be one of the many sparks that helps light a blaze across this continent. For as Ernest Hemingway said: ‘Once we have a war there is only one thing to do. It must be won. For defeat brings worse things than any that can happen in war’.

Thank you for the interview.

 

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From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right – Tudor

“From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right” by Lucian Tudor (PDF – 261 KB):

From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right – Tudor

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Tudor, Lucian. “From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right.” In: Lucian Tudor, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy, pp. 136-165. Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015.

Note: This essay has the same title as the book in which it was published and should not be confused with the book itself. It is, however, the most defining and comprehensive essay in Tudor’s book.

 

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Intro to Ludwig Klages – Baer

“The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought” by Lydia Baer (PDF – 4.43 MB):

The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages

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Baer, Lydia. “The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 40, No. 1 (January, 1941), pp. 91-138.

See also: “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages” by Joe Pryce: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/09/30/intro-to-ludwig-klages-pryce/ >.

 

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Intro to Ludwig Klages – Pryce

On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages

by Joe Pryce

 

Without a doubt, “The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul” by Klages is a great work of philosophy. — Walter Benjamin

Out of Phlegethon!
Out of Phlegethon,
Gerhart
Art thou come forth out of Phlegethon?
with Buxtehude and Klages in your satchel… — From Canto LXXV by Ezra Pound

Oliveira said, “Let’s keep on looking for the Yonder, there are plenty of Yonders that keep opening up one after the other. I’d start by saying that this technological reality that men of science and the readers of France-Soir accept today, this world of cortisone, gamma rays, and plutonium, has as little to do with reality as the world of the Roman de la Rose. If I mentioned it a while back to our friend Perico, it was in order to make him take note that his æsthetic criteria and his scale of values are pretty well liquidated and that man, after having expected everything from intelligence and from the spirit, feels that he’s been betrayed, is vaguely aware that his weapons have been turned against him, that culture and civiltà, have misled him into this blind alley where scientific barbarism is nothing but a very understandable reaction. Please excuse my vocabulary.”
“Klages has already said all of that,” said Gregorovius. —
From Chapter 99 of “Hopscotch” by Julio Cortázar

Ludwig Klages is primarily responsible for providing the philosophical foundations for the pan-Romantic conception of man that we now find among many thinkers in different scientific disciplines, for example, Edgar Dacqué, Leo Frobenius, C. G. Jung, Hans Prinzhorn, Theodor Lessing, and, to a certain extent, Oswald Spengler. — From “Man’s Place in Nature” by Max Scheler

In the field of scientific psychology, Klages towers over all of his contemporaries, including even the academic world’s most renowned authorities. — Oswald Spengler

“The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul” by Ludwig Klages ranks with Heidegger’s “Being and Time” and Hartmann’s “The Foundation of Ontology” as one of the three greatest philosophical achievements of the modern epoch. — Erich Rothacker

Klages is a fascinating phenomenon, a scientist of the highest rank, whom I regard as the most important psychologist of our time. — Alfred Kubin

Ludwig Klages is renowned as the brilliant creator of profound systems of expression-research and graphology, and his new book, entitled “Concerning the Cosmogonic Eros,” possesses such depth of psychological insight and so rich and fructifying an atmosphere, that it moved me far more deeply than I have ever been moved by the writings of men like Spengler and Keyserling. In the pages of this book on the “Cosmogonic Eros,” Klages almost seems to have found the very words with which to speak that which has hitherto been considered to be beyond the powers of speech. — Hermann Hesse

When we survey the philosophical critiques of Nietzsche’s thought that have been published thus far, we conclude that the monograph written by Ludwig Klages, “The Psychological Achievements of Nietzsche,” can only be described as the towering achievement. — Karl Löwith

 

Prelude: The Intellectual Environment

DURING THE CLOSING YEARS of the 19th century, the limitations and inadequacies of the superficial positivism that had dominated European thought for so many decades were becoming increasingly apparent to critical observers. The wholesale repudiation of metaphysics that Tyndall, Haeckel and Büchner had proclaimed as a liberation from the superstitions and false doctrines that had misled benighted investigators of earlier times, was now seen as having contributed significantly to the bankruptcy of positivism itself. Ironically, a critical examination of the unacknowledged epistemological assumptions of the positivists clearly revealed that not only had Haeckel and his ilk been unsuccessful in their attempt to free themselves from metaphysical presuppositions, but they had, in effect, merely switched their allegiance from the grand systems of speculative metaphysics that had been constructed in previous eras by the Platonists, medieval scholastics, and post-Kantian idealists whom they abominated, in order to adhere to a ludicrous, ersatz metaphysics of whose existence they were completely unaware.

The alienation of younger thinkers from what they saw as the discredited dogmas of positivism and materialism found expression in the proliferation of a wide range of philosophical schools, whose adherents had little in common other than the will to revolt against outmoded dogma. “Back to Kant!” became the battle-cry of the neo-Kantians at Marburg. “Back to the things themselves!” proclaimed the “phenomenologist” Edmund Husserl; there were “neo-positivists,” “empirio-critical” thinkers, and even the invertebrate American ochlocracy lent its cacaphonous warblings to the philosophical choir when William James proclaimed his soothing doctrine of “Pragmatism,” with which salesmen, journalists, and other uncritical blockheads have stupefied themselves ever since.

A more substantial and significant revolt, however, emerged from another quarter altogether when several independent scholars began to re-examine the speculative metaphysical systems of the “philosophers of nature” who had flourished during the Romantic Period. Although the astonishing creativity of these men of genius had been forgotten whilst positivism and materialism ruled the roost, of course, men like Nietzsche, Burckhardt, and Bachofen had preserved elements of the Romantic heritage and had thereby, as it were, already prepared the soil in which younger men would sow the precious seed of a Romantic Revival. By the turn of the 20th century the blossoms had emerged in the form of the philosophers of the “vitalist” school. In France, Henri Bergson became the leading proponent of philosophical vitalism, and his slogan of élan vital as well as his doctrine of évolution créatrice thrilled audiences in the salons as well as in the university lecture halls. In Hungary, the astonishingly gifted philosopher and physicist, Melchior Palágyi—a thinker of an altogether higher order than the superficial Bergson—conducted profound research into celestial mechanics, which clearly anticipated the theory of relativity; he developed the theory of “virtual” movement; and his critical powers enabled him to craft a definitive and withering refutation of Husserl’s pseudo-phenomenology, and his insights retain their validity even now in spite of the oblivion to which the disciples of Husserl have consigned them.

In the German-speaking world the doctrines of Lebensphilosophie, or “philosophy of life,” achieved academic respectability when Wilhelm Dilthey became their spokesman. Sadly, candor demands that we draw the reader’s attention to the troubling fact that it was Dilthey who inaugurated a disastrous trend that was to be maintained at German universities for the next hundred years by such able obfuscators and logomachs as Heidegger and his spawn, for, to put it as charitably as possible, Dilthey was the first significant German philosopher to achieve wide renown in spite of having nothing significant to say (that is why, perhaps, Dilthey and Heidegger furnish such mountains of grist for the philosophical proles who edit and annotate and comment and publish and—prosper).

Among these “philosophers of life,” there were “amalgamists,” among whom we find Hans Driesch, who sabotaged his own project by indulging in futile attempts to combine the irreconcilable doctrines of Kantian idealism and vitalism in his theory of the “entelechy,” which, although he proclaimed it to be a uniquely vitalistic notion, is always analyzed mechanistically and atomistically in his expositions. The profound speculative metaphysics of Houston Stewart Chamberlain also succumbed to the Kantian infection, for even Chamberlain seems to have been blind to the ineluctable abyss that divides vitalism and Kantianism.

Finally, and most significantly, we encounter the undisputed master-spirit of the “vitalist” school in the German world, the philosopher and polymath Ludwig Klages, whose system of “biocentric” metaphysics displays a speculative profundity and a logical rigor that no other vitalist on the planet could hope to equal.

The Early Years

Ludwig Klages was born on December 10, 1872, in the northern German city of Hannover. He seems to have been a solitary child, but he developed one intense friendship with a class-mate named Theodor Lessing, who would himself go on to achieve fame as the theorist of “Jewish Self-Hatred,” a concept whose origins Lessing would later trace back to passionate discussions that he had had with Klages during their boyhood rambles on the windswept moors and beaches of their Lower Saxon home.

In 1891 he received his “Abitur,” and immediately journeyed to Leipzig to begin his university studies in Chemistry and Physics. In 1893, he moved to Munich, where he would live and work until the Great War forced him into Swiss exile in 1915.

Klages continued his undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Physics during the day, but at night he could usually be found in the cafés of Schwabing, then as now the Bohemian district of Munich. It was in Schwabing that he encountered the poet Stefan George and his “circle.” George immediately recognized the young man’s brilliance, and the poet eagerly solicited contributions from Klages, both in prose and in verse, to his journal, the Blätter für die Kunst.

Klages also encountered Alfred Schuler (1865-1923), the profoundly learned Classicist and authority on ancient Roman history, at this time. Schuler was also loosely associated with the George-circle, although he was already becoming impatient with the rigidly masculine, “patriarchalist” spirit that seemed to rule the poet and his minions. Klages eventually joined forces with Schuler and Karl Wolfskehl, an authority on Germanistics who taught at the University of Munich, to form the Kosmische Runde, or “Cosmic Circle,” and the three young men, who had already come under the influence of the “matriarchalist” anthropology of the late Johann Jakob Bachofen, soon expressed their mounting discontent with George and his “patriarchal” spirit. Finally, in 1904, Klages and Schuler broke with the poet, and the aftermath was of bitterness and recrimination “all compact.” Klages would in later years repudiate his association with George, but he would revere Schuler, both as a man and as a scholar, to the end of his life.

The other crucial experience that Klages had during this last decade of the old century was his overwhelming love affair with Countess Franziska zu Reventlow, the novelist and Bohemian, whose “Notebooks of Mr. Lady” provides what is, perhaps, the most revealing—and comical—rendition of the turbulent events that culminated in the break between the “Cosmic Circle” and the George-Kreis; Wolfskehl, who was himself an eyewitness to the fracas, held that, although Franziska had called the book a novel, it was, in fact, a work of historical fact. Likewise, the diaries of the Countess preserve records of her conversations with Klages (who is referred to as “Hallwig,” the name of the Klages-surrogate in her “Mr. Lady”: she records Klages telling her that “There is no ‘God’; there are many gods!” At times “Hallwig” even frightens her with oracular allusions to “my mystical side, the rotating Swastika” and with his prophecies of inevitable doom). When the Countess terminated the liaison, Klages, who suffered from serious bouts with major depression throughout his long life, experienced such distress that he briefly contemplated suicide. Fate, of course, would hardly have countenanced such a quietus, for, as Spengler said, there are certain destinies that are utterly inconceivable—Nietzsche won’t make a fortune at the gambling tables of Monte Carlo, and Goethe won’t break his back falling out of his coach, he remarks drily.

And, we need hardly add, Klages will not die for love…

On the contrary: he will live for Eros.

Works of Maturity

After the epoch-making experiences of the Schwabing years, the philosopher’s life seems almost to assume a prosaic, even an anticlimactic, quality. The significant events would henceforth occur primarily in the thinker’s inner world and in the publications that communicated the discoveries that he had made therein. There were also continuing commitments on his part to particular institutions and learned societies. In 1903 Klages founded his “Psychodiagnostic Seminars” at the University of Munich, which swiftly became Europe’s main center for biocentric psychology. In 1908, he delivered a series of addresses on the application of “Expression Theory” (Ausdruckskunde) to graphological analysis at one such seminar.

In 1910, in addition to the book on expression-theory, Klages published the first version of his treatise on psychology, entitled Prinzipien der Charakterologie. This treatise was based upon lectures that Klages had delivered during the previous decade, and in its pages he announced his discovery of the “Id,” which has popularly, and hence erroneously, for so long been attributed to Freud. He came in personal contact with several members of rival psychological schools during this period, and he was even invited—in his capacity as Europe’s leading exponent of graphology—to deliver a lecture on the “Psychology of Handwriting” to the Wednesday Night Meeting of the Freudian “Vienna Society” on the 25th of October in 1911.

The philosopher also encountered the novelist Robert Musil, in whose masterpiece, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Klages appears—in caricatured form, of course—as the eerie and portentous prophet Meingast, that “messenger from Zarathustra’s mountain.” The novelist seems to have been most impressed by the philosopher’s speculations in Vom kosmogonischen Eros concerning the ecstatic nature of the “erotic rapture” and the Klagesian “other condition” (andere Zustand). Paradoxically, however, Musil’s novel presents Meingast [Klages] as a manic and domineering worshiper of power, which is quite strange when one considers that Klages consistently portrays the Nietzschean “Will to Power” as nothing but a modality of hysteria perfectly appropriate to our murderous age of militarism and capitalism. Anyone familiar with the withering onslaught against the will and its works which constitutes the section entitled Die Lehre der Wille in Klages’s Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele must, in addition, feel a certain amazement at Meingast’s ravings concerning the necessity for a “determined will”! Another familiar (and depressing) insight into the resistance mounted by even sympathetic writers to the biocentric philosophy can be derived from a perusal of Musil’s Tagebücher, with its dreary and philistine insistence that the Klagesian rapture must at all costs be constrained by Geist, by its pallid praise for a “daylight mysticism,” and so on. Admittedly, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften will remain an astonishing and beautifully-crafted masterpiece of 20th Century belles lettres, in spite of its author’s jejune “philosophical” preachments.

During this same period, Klages rediscovered the late-Romantic philosopher Carl Gustav Carus, author of the pioneering Psyche: Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Seele (“Psyche: Towards a Developmental History of the Soul”) in which the unconscious is moved to center-stage (sadly, the Jung-racket falsely credits their master with this discovery). The very first sentence of this work indicates the primacy attributed by Carus to the unconscious: “The key to the understanding of the conscious life of the soul lies in the realm of the unconscious.” During the Romantic Revival that took place in the Germany of th 1920s, Klages would edit a new, abridged version of Psyche, in which Carus is purged of his logocentric and Christian errors. Klages, however, fully accepts Carus’s definition of the soul as synonymous with life, a formulation that he rates as epochally significant. He finds Carus’s statement to be as profound as the aphorism of Novalis in which he locates the soul at the point of contact between the inner and outer worlds.

In 1913, Klages presented his Zur Theorie und Symptomatologie des Willens to the Vienna Congress of International Societies for Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy. In that same year, Klages delivered an address entitled Mensch und Erde to a gathering of members of the German Youth Movement. This seminal work has recently received its due as the “foundational” document of the “deep ecology” movement when a new edition was published in 1980 in coordination with the establishment of the German “Green” political party.

In his Heidnische Feuerzeichen, which was completed in 1913, although it would not be published in book form until 1944, Klages has some very perceptive remarks on consciousness, which he regards as always effect and never cause. He cautions us to realize that, because our feelings are almost always conscious, we tend to attribute far too much importance to them. Reality is composed of images [Bilder] and not feelings, and the most important idea that Klages ever developed is his conception of the “actuality of the images” [Wirklichkeit der Bilder]. He also savages the insane asceticism of Christianity, arguing that a satisfied sexuality is essential for all genuine cosmic radiance. Christ is to be detested as the herald of the annihilation of earth and the mechanization of man.

The pioneering treatise on “expression theory,” the Ausdruckskunde und Gestaltungskraft, also appeared in 1913. The first part of his treatise on the interpretation of dreams (Vom Traumbewusstsein) appeared in 1914, but war soon erupted in Europe, swiftly interrupting all talk of dreams. Sickened by the militaristic insanity of the “Great War,” Klages moved to neutral Switzerland. In 1920 he made his last move to Kilchberg, near Zurich, Switzerland, where he would spend the rest of his life.

The first substantial excerpt from the treatise that would eventually become his Hauptwerk (Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele) was published as Geist und Seele in a 1916 number of the journal Deutsche Psychologie. He soon turned his attention to the more mundane matter of the contemporary world situation, and in 1918, concerned by the spread of “One World”-humanitarianism and other pernicious forms of “humanism,” Klages published the classic Brief über Ethik, in which he re-emphasized his opposition to all ethical and individualistic attempts to improve the world. The modern world’s increasing miscegenation has hatched out a horde of mongrels, slaves, and criminals. The world is falling under the dominion of the enemies of life, and it matters not a bit whether the ethical fanatic dubs his hobbyhorse Wille, Tat, Logos, Nous, Idee, Gott, the “Supreme Being,” reines Subjekt, or absolutes Ich: these phrases are merely fronts behind which spirit, the eternal adversary of life, conducts her nefarious operations. Only infra-human nature, wherein dwells a principle of hierarchical order in true accord with the laws of life, is able to furnish man with genuine values. The preachers of morality can only murder life with their prohibitive commands so stifling to the soul’s vitality. As Klages’s disciple Hans Prinzhorn cautions us, the vital order “must not be falsified, according to the Judæo-Christian outlook, into a principle of purposefulness, morality, or sentimentality.” The “Letter on Ethics” urges us to avoid all such life-hostile values, and to prize instead those moments when we allow our souls to find warmth in the love which manifests itself as adoration, reverence, and admiration. The soul’s true symbol is the mother with her beloved child, and the soul’s true examples are the lives of poets, heroes, and gods. Klages concludes his sardonic “Letter” by informing the reader, in contemptuous and ironical tones, that if he refuses to respond to these exemplary heroes, he may then find it more congenial to sit himself down and listen, unharmed, to a lecture on ethics!

In 1921, Klages published his Vom Wesen des Bewusstseins, an investigation into the nature of consciousness, in which the ego-concept is shown to be neither a phenomenon of pure spirit nor of pure life, but rather a mere epiphenomenal precipitate of the warfare between life and spirit. In this area, Klages’s presentation invites comparion with the Kantian exposition of “pure subjectivity,” although, as one might expect, Klages assails the subjectivity of the ego as a hollow sham. The drive to maximize the realm of ego, regardless of whether this impulse clothes itself in such august titles as “The Will to Power” (Nietzsche), the “Will to Live” (Schopenhauer), or the naked obsession with the “Ego and its Own” (Stirner), is merely a manifestation of malevolent Geist. Klages also ridicules the superficiality of William James’s famous theory of “stream of consciousness,” which is subjected to a withering critical onslaught. After James’s “stream” is conclusively demolished, Klages demonstrates that Melchior Palágyi’s theory more profoundly analyzes the processes whereby we receive the data of consciousness. Klages endorses Palágyi’s account of consciousness in order to establish the purely illusory status of the “stream” by proving conclusively that man receives the “images” as discrete, rhythmically pulsating “intermittencies.”

We should say a few words about the philosopher whose exposition of the doctrine of consciousness so impressed Klages. Melchior Palágyi [1859-1924] was the Hungarian-Jewish Naturphilosoph who was regarded as something of a mentor by the younger man, ever since 1908, when they first met at a learned conference. Like Klages, Palágyi was completely devoted to the thought-world of German Romantic Naturphilosophie. Klages relied heavily on this thinker’s expert advice, especially with regard to questions involving mechanics and physics, upon which the older man had published outstanding technical treatises. The two men had spent many blissful days together in endless metaphysical dialogue when Palagyi visited Klages at his Swiss home shortly before Palágyi’s death. They were delighted with each other’s company, and reveled even in the cut and thrust of intense exchanges upon matters about which they were in sharp disagreement. Although this great thinker is hardly recalled today even by compilers of “comprehensive” encyclopedias, Palagyi’s definitive and irrefutable demolition of Edmund Husserl’s spurious system of “phenomenology” remains one of the most lethal examples of philosophical adversaria to be found in the literature. Palágyi, who was a Jew, had such a high opinion of his anti-semitic colleague, that when Palágyi died in 1925, one of the provisions of his will stipulated that Ludwig Klages was to be appointed as executor and editor of Palágyi’s posthumous works, a task that Klages undertook scrupulously and reverently, in spite of the fact that the amount of labor that would be required of him before the manuscripts of his deceased colleague could be readied for publication would severely disrupt his own work upon several texts, most especially the final push to complete the three-volume Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele. One gets the impression that Klages felt the task that had been imposed upon him was also one of the highest honors, and Klages’s high regard for Palágyi’s thought can best be appreciated when we realize that among the numerous thinkers and scholars whose works are cited in his collected works, the contemporary philosopher who is cited most frequently, and at the greatest length, is none other than Melchior Palágyi.

Klages published his influential anthropological-historical study, Vom kosmogonischen Eros, in 1922, and in the Selbstbericht which serves as an introduction to this work he details the points of agreement and the points of disagreement between his views and those of Friedrich Nietzsche.

In 1923 Klages published his Vom Wesen des Rhythmus (a revised edition of which would be issued in 1934). Then in 1925, two fervent admirers of Klagesian biocentrism—one was Niels Kampmann who would go on to publish some of Klages’s works in book form—brought out the first issue of a scholarly journal, the brilliant Zeitschrift für Menschenkunde, which would continue to publish regularly until the rigors of war eventually forced the editors to suspend publication in 1943 (eight years after the end of the war, the journal began a new career in 1953.)

A revised and enlarged edition of the treatise on characterology appeared in 1926 with the new title Die Grundlagen der Charakterkunde. Klages also published Die psychologischen Errungenschaften Nietzsches in this same year, a work which, more than a quarter of a century after its initial appearance, the Princeton-based Nietzsche-scholar Walter Kaufmann—surely no friend to Klages!—would nevertheless admire greatly, even feeling compelled to describe Klages’s exegesis of Nietzsche’s psychology as “the best monograph” ever written on its subject.

A collection of brief essays entitled Zur Ausdruckslehre und Charakterkunde, was brought out by Kampmann in 1927; many of them date from the early days of the century and their sheer profundity and variety reinforce our conviction that Klages was a mature thinker even in his twenties.

The first two volumes of his magnum opus, the long-awaited and even-longer pondered, Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, finally appeared in 1929. One year later the Graphologisches Lesebuch appeared, and the third and final volume of Der Geist hit the book-shops in 1932, a year that seems to have been a very busy one indeed for our polymathic philosopher, since he also found time to revamp his slender monograph entitled Goethe als Naturforscher, a short work that can only be compared to the Goethe-books of H. S. Chamberlain and Friedrich Gundolf for breadth of scholarship and insight into the creativity of a great seer and scientist (this study was a revised edition of a lecture that had originally been published in the Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts in 1928).

Hans Prinzhorn, the psychologist, translator of D. H. Lawrence and compiler of the landmark treatise on the artistry of the mentally-disturbed, had long been a friend and admirer of Klages, and in 1932 he organized the celebration for the sixtieth birthday of the philosopher. The tributes composed the various scholars who participated in this event were collected and edited by Prinzhorn for publication in book-form, with the title Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag.

National Socialist Germany, World War II, and their Aftermath

Shortly after the NSDAP seized power at the beginning of 1933, one of Klages’s disciples established the Arbeitskreises für biozentrisches Forschung. At first the German disciples of Klages were tolerated as harmless philosophical eccentrics, but soon the Gestapo began keeping a close eye on members and contributors to the biocentric circle’s house organ Janus. By 1936 the authorities forcibly shut down the journal and from that time until the fall of the regime, the Gestapo would periodically arrest and question those who had been prominent members of the now-defunct “circle.” From 1938 onwards, when Reichsleiter Dr. Alfred Rosenberg delivered a bitter attack on Klages and his school in his inaugural address to the summer semester at the University of Halle, the official party spokesmen explicitly and repeatedly condemned Klages and his friends as enemies of the National Socialist Weltanschauung.

Klages traveled widely during the 1930s, and he especially enjoyed his journeys to Greece and Scandinavia. In 1940 he published Alfred Schuler: Fragmente und Vorträge. Aus dem Nachlass, his edition of Alfred Schuler’s literary remains. The “Introduction” to the anthology is a voluminous critical memoir in which Klages rendered profound tribute to his late mentor. However, in the pages of that introduction, Klages introduced several statements critical of World-Jewry that were to dog his steps for the rest of his life, just as they have compromised his reputation after his death. Unlike so many ci-devant “anti-semites” who prudently saw the philo-semitic light in the aftermath of the war, however, Klages scorned to repudiate anything that he had said on this or any other topic. He even poured petrol on the fires by voicing his conviction that the only significant difference between the species of master-race nonsense that was espoused by the National Socialists and the variety adopted by their Jewish enemies was in the matter of results: Klages blandly proclaims that the Jews, after a two-thousand year long assault on the world for which they felt nothing but hatred, had actually won the definitive victory. There would be no re-match. He sneered at all the kow-towing to Jewry that had already become part of the game in the immediate post-war era, because, he reasoned, even as a tactical ploy such sycophantic behavior has always doomed itself to complete and abject failure.

In December of 1942, the official daily newspaper of the NSDAP, the Völkischer Beobachter, published a vicious and ungracious attack on Klages in the edition that appeared on the philosopher’s 70th birthday. During the war years, Klages began compiling notes for a projected full-dress autobiography that was, sadly, never completed. Still, the notes are fascinating in their own right, and are well worth consulting by the student of his life and thought.

In 1944, Barth of Leipzig published the Rhythmen und Runen, a self-edited anthology of Klages’s prose and verse writings stemming from the turn of the century (unfortunately, however, when Bouvier finally brought out their edition of his “Collected Works,” which began to appear in the mid-1960s, Rhythmen und Runen, along with the Stefan George-monograph and such provocative pieces as the “Introduction” to Schuler’s writings, were omitted from the set, in spite of the fact that the original prospectus issued to subscribers announced that these works would, in fact, be included. The reasons for this behavior are—need we say?—quite obvious).

When the war ended, Klages began to face true financial hardship, for his market, as well as his publishers, had been devastated by the horrific saturation bombing campaign with which the democratic allies had turned Germany into a shattered and burnt-out wasteland. Klages also suffered dreadfully when he learned that his beloved sister, Helene, as well as her daughter Heidi, the philosopher’s niece, had perished in the agony of post-war Germany, that nightmare world wherein genocidal bestiality and sadistic cruelty were dealt out by occupying forces with a liberal hand in order most expeditiously to “re-educate” the survivors of the vanquished Reich. Although Klages had sought permission from the occupying authorities to visit his sister as she lay dying, his request was ignored (in fact, he was told that the only civilians who would be permitted to travel to Germany were the professional looters who were officially authorized to rob Germany of industrial patents and those valiant exiles who had spent the war years as literary traitors, who made a living writing scurrilous and mendacious anti-German pamphlets). This refusal, followed shortly by his receipt of the news of her miserable death, aroused an almost unendurable grief in his soul.

His spirits were raised somewhat by the Festschrift that was organized for his 75th birthday, and his creative drive certainly seemed to be have remained undiminished by the ravages of advancing years. He was deeply immersed in the philological studies that prepared him to undertake his last great literary work, the Die Sprache als Quell der Seelenkunde, which was published in 1948. In this dazzling monument of 20th century scholarship, Klages conducted a comprehensive investigation of the relationship between psychology and linguistics. During that same year he also directed a devastating broadside in which he refuted the fallacious doctrines of Jamesian “pragmatism” as well as the infantile sophistries of Watson’s “behaviorism.” This brief but pregnant essay was entitled Wie Finden Wir die Seele des Nebenmenschen?

During the early 1950s, Klages’s health finally began to deteriorate, but he was at least heartened by the news that there were serious plans afoot among his admirers and disciples to get his classic treatises back into print as soon as possible. Death came at last to Ludwig Klages on July 29, 1956. The cause of death was determined to have been a heart attack. He is buried in the Kilchberg cemetery, which overlooks Lake Zurich.

Understanding Klagesian Terms

A brief discussion of the philosopher’s technical terminology may provide the best preparation for an examination of his metaphysics. Strangely enough, the relationship between two familiar substantives, “spirit” [Geist] and “soul” [Seele], constitutes the main source of our terminological difficulties. Confusion regarding the meaning and function of these words, especially when they are employed as technical terms in philosophical discourse, is perhaps unavoidable at the outset. We must first recognize the major problems involved before we can hope to achieve the necessary measure of clarity. Now Klages regards the study of semantics, especially in its historical dimension, as our richest source of knowledge regarding the nature of the world (metaphysics, or philosophy) and an unrivalled tool with which to probe the mysteries of the human soul (psychology, or characterology [Charakterkunde]). We would be well advised, therefore, to adopt an extraordinary stringency in lexical affairs. We have seen that the first, and in many ways the greatest, difficulty that can impede our understanding of biocentric thought confronts us in our dealings with the German word Geist. Geist has often been translated as “spirit” or “mind,” and, less often, as “intellect.” As it happens, the translation of Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes that most American students utilized in their course-work during the 1960s and 1970s was entitled “The Phenomenology of Mind” (which edition was translated with an Introduction and Notes by J. B. Bailey, and published by Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1967).

Lest it be thought that we are perversely attributing to the word Geist an exaggeratedly polysemic status, we would draw the reader’s attention to the startling fact that Rudolf Hildebrandt’s entry on this word in the Grimm Wörterbuch comprises more than one hundred closely printed columns. Hildebrandt’s article has even been published separately as a book. Now in everyday English usage, spirit (along with its cognates) and soul (along with its cognates) are employed as synonyms. As a result of the lexical habits to which we have grown accustomed, our initial exposure to a philosopher who employs soul and spirit as antonyms can be a somewhat perplexing experience. It is important for us to realize that we are not entering any quixotic protest here against familiar lexical custom. We merely wish to advise the reader that whilst we are involved in the interpretation of Klagesian thought, soul and spirit are to be treated consistently as technical philosophical terms bearing the specific meanings that Klages has assigned to them.

Our philosopher is not being needlessly obscure or perversely recherché in this matter, for although there are no unambiguous distinctions drawn between soul and spirit in English usage, the German language recognizes some very clear differences between the terms Seele and Geist, and Hildebrandt’s article amply documents the widely ramified implications of the distinctions in question. In fact, literary discourse in the German-speaking world is often characterized by a lively awareness of these very distinctions. Rudolf Kassner, for instance, tells us that his friend, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, inhabited a world of soul [Seele], not one of spirit [Geist]. In speaking of Rilke’s world as that the soul, Kassner is proclaiming the indisputable truth that Rilke’s imagination inhabits an innocent, or pagan, world, a realm that is utterly devoid of such “spiritual” baggage as “sin” and “guilt.” Likewise, for Kassner, as for Rilke, the world of spirit is the realm of labor and duty, which is ruled by abstractions and “ideals.” I can hardly exaggerate the significance of the spirit-soul dichotomy upon which Kassner has shed so much light in these remarks on Rilke as the man of “soul.” If the reader bears their substance in mind, he will find that the path to understanding shall have been appreciably cleared of irksome obstacles.

Therefore, these indispensable lexical distinctions are henceforth to function as our established linguistic protocol. Bearing that in mind, when the reader encounters the Klagesian thesis which holds that man is the battlefield on which soul and spirit wage a war to the death, even the novice will grasp some portion of the truth that is being enunciated. And the initiate who has immersed his whole being in the biocentric doctrine will swiftly discover that he is very well prepared indeed to perpend, for instance, the characterological claim that one can situate any individual at a particular point on an extensive typological continuum at one extreme of which we situate such enemies of sexuality and sensuous joy as the early Christian hermits or the technocrats and militarists of our own day, all of whom represent the complete dominance of spirit; and at the opposite extreme of which we locate the Dionysian maenads of antiquity and those rare modern individuals whose delight in the joys of the senses enables them to attain the loftiest imaginable pinnacle of ecstatic vitality: the members of this second group, of course, comprise the party of life, whose ultimate allegiance is rendered to soul.

Before we conclude this brief digression into terminological affairs, we would advise those readers whose insuperable hostility to every form of metaphysical “idealism” compels them to resist all attempts to “place” spirit and soul as “transcendental” entities, that they may nevertheless employ our terms as heuristic expedients, much as Ampére employed the metaphor of the “swimmer” in the electric “current.”

Biocentric Metaphysics in its Historical Context

Perhaps a brief summary will convey at least some notion of the sheer originality and the vast scope of the biocentric metaphysics. Let us begin by placing some aspects of this philosophical system in historical context. For thousands of years, western philosophers have been deeply influenced by the doctrine, first formulated by the Eleatic school and Plato, which holds that the images that fall upon our sensorium are merely deceitful phantoms. Even those philosophers who have rebelled against the schemes devised by Plato and his successors, and who consider themselves to be “materialists,” “monists,” “logical atomists,” etc., reveal that have been infected by the disease even as they resist its onslaught, for in many of their expositions the properties of matter are presented as if they were independent entities floating in a void that suspiciously resembles the transcendent Platonic realm of the “forms.”

Ludwig Klages, on the other hand, demonstrates that it is precisely the images and their ceaseless transformations that constitute the only realities. In the unique phenomenology of Ludwig Klages, images constitute the souls of such phenomena as plants, animals, human beings, and even the cosmos itself. These images do not deceive: they express; these living images are not to be “grasped,” not to be rigidified into concepts: they are to be experienced. The world of things, on the other hand, forms the proper subject of scientific explanatory schemes that seek to “fix” things in the “grasp” of concepts. Things are appropriated by men who owe their allegiance to the will and its projects. The agents of the will appropriate the substance of the living world in order to convert it into the dead world of things, which are reduced to the status of the material components required for purposeful activities such as the industrial production of high-tech weapons systems. This purposeful activity manifests the outward operations of an occult and dæmonic principle of destruction.

Klages calls this destructive principle “spirit” (Geist), and he draws upon the teaching of Aristotle in attempting to account for its provenance, for it was Aristotle who first asserted that spirit (nous) invaded the substance of man from “outside.” Klages’s interpretation of this Aristotelian doctrine leads him to conclude that spirit invaded the realm of life from outside the spatio-temporal world. Likewise, Klages draws on the thought of Duns Scotus, Occam and other late mediæval English thinkers when he situates the characteristic activity of spirit in the will rather than in the intellect. Completely original, however, is the Klagesian doctrine of the mortal hostility that exists between spirit and life (=soul). The very title of the philosopher’s major metaphysical treatise proclaims its subject to be “The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul” (Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele).

The indivisible body-soul unity that had constituted the living substance of man during the “primordial,” or prehistoric, phase of his existence, in time becomes the focus of spirit’s war against life. Spirit severs the vital connection by thrusting itself, like the thin end of an invasive wedge, between the poles of body and soul. History is the tragic chronicle that recounts the ceaseless war that is waged by spirit against life and soul. When the ever-expanding breach between body and soul finally becomes an unbridgeable abyss, the living substance is no more, although no man can predict how long man may endure as a hollow shell or simulacrum. The ceaseless accumulation of destructive power by spirit is accompanied by the reduction of a now devitalized man to the status of a mere machine, or “robot,” who soullessly regurgitates the hollow slogans about “progress,” “democracy,” and the delights of “the consumer society” that are the only values recognized in this world of death. The natural world itself becomes mere raw material to be converted into “goods” for the happy consumer.

A Unified System of Thought: Graphology

Let us now turn to a more detailed survey of the elements that comprise the biocentric system of metaphysics. The thought of Ludwig Klages comprises several structural components, which form a series of interdependent and increasingly comprehensive fields of research. Although each component may be profitably examined as a discrete entity, we can only grasp the full grandeur of Klagesian thought when we study the various components in the context of their interrelationships within the comprehensive system that the philosopher has constructed, for it is only when we view his thought as a unified system that we can comprehend its truly unsurpassed metaphysical profundity. Thus, graphology constitutes one element of expression-research, which, in its turn, constitutes one element of characterology. Characterology, finally, is the indispensable element that enables us to formulate a coherent interpretation of the nature of the universe, viz. philosophy in the strict sense.

Although graphology didn’t initially interest the “natural science” psychologists, the investigations that were conducted by Klages eventually evoked the interest of psychiatrists and applied psychologists, who would eventually incorporate some of his teachings in the curriculum of German universities. Graphology was also utilized in such fields as child-guidance and clinical psychology.

Klages was preceded in this field of research by a host of investigators, most of whom relied on intuitive guesses and inspired leaps of deduction in developing their own, occasionally quite profound, theories. Klages, in fact, pays explicit tribute to these pathfinders in numerous of his graphological publications. (Americans might be startled to learn that Edgar Allan Poe himself has an honorable place in the illustrious line of graphological prophets!) Nevertheless, it was only at the end of the 19th century that the interpretation of written script was erected upon an enduring scientific foundation by the Frenchman J.-H. Michon and the German Wilhelm Preyer.

The most renowned of Klages’s contributions to graphology is his idea of the Formniwo, or “style-value.” With the aid of this tool, the researcher can discriminate between various exemplars (handwritten samples) under examination, and can apply a general overall evaluation (negative, positive, or, even, ambiguous), without the guess-work and shoddy formulations of earlier students, who relied on “isolated signs” to guide them. Klages employs this concept of “style-value” to examine organic, or “holistic” entities, and his evaluation proceeds from a global perception of the personal expression through to a more detailed scrutiny. The procedure begins with an analytical inspection carried out on three levels: 1. the person’s driving-forces or motivations (“interests”); 2. the person’s creative impulses and level of intelligence; and 3. the person’s civic or political virtues. Klages tells us frankly that if we are aware of a person’s emotional makeup, the degree to which he or she is a productive and community-minded member of the polis, and how creative the person is, we know pretty much how that person will react to a life-situation.

We can best understand a person’s emotional life and the level of his intelligence through an analysis of the characteristic rhythm that his handwriting displays. Rhythm is manifested in the harmony of spaces and forms, as evidenced in the margins, the spaces between the lines, and between the letters and words. Here we find the most accurate indications as to the nature of the inner life of the person, and how rich or poor is his thought. The creative elements are best observed in the simplification and improvement that we find in the person’s handwriting. Just as mankind is dependent upon the creative genius for improvements in the cultural and technological fields, and upon the simplifications in technique that are brought about by the inventor, so too will these characteristics be evident in an individual’s handwriting. The creative person is always interested in improving his “tools,” as it were. The degree to which the person will be a coöperative and responsible member of the community is reflected in the legibility and fluency of his handwriting. The legibility of a man’s exemplars is obviously going to indicate his ability to communicate successfully. The fluency will demonstrate the person’s level-headedness and sincerity.

The five keys to the evaluation of style are: 1) Rhythm. Klages tells us that there are inherent rhythmic patterns that govern the universe. We are able to recognize and gauge these rhythms in the spatial patterns of a person’s handwriting by examining whether the margins are contextually harmonious, viz., we must scrutinize a particular exemplar with an eye to determining the natural configurations (structural harmonies) formed by the gaps that intervene between the lines, between the words, and also between the individual letters. Because disharmonies are arresting—they “leap to the eye,” as it were—we have no difficulty in establishing the grade of spatial rhythm in an exemplar. The rating of handwriting’s rhythm is more a matter of insight and intuition than of expert reasoning. 2) Symmetry. In a harmonious exemplar we find that the person does not overdevelop one zone at the expense of another zone; i.e., we do not find the bottom loop of a q to be exaggerated as against the upper zone stroke. In short, where we find such a deviation, or loss of proportion, we must assign the exemplar a low grade. An examination of the individual character’s height (as from the bottom of the q to its summit) cannot furnish us with a sufficient basis upon which to evaluate the overall symmetry of a person’s handwriting. Where we find excessive width, pressure, slant, loops, bars, dots, flourishes, or any other such deviation, we must recognize a disturbance of symmetry. The letters, whether they are capitals or minimum letters, must be well developed in a gradual fashion, avoiding a deflated narrowness as well as an inflated width. In short a character is to be judged both on its height as well as on the amount of space that it covers. Wide lower zone loops in an overall narrow handwriting or conjoined with deflated small letters, indicate a lack of symmetry; and unevenness of pressure or slant belong as well to the category of disproportions. 3) Creativeness. Although very few people exhibit a high degree of symmetry in their handwriting, it is a fact that even fewer display creativeness. Most people will not be grieved by this fact, as most people would rather belong to the bovine throng than to the creative elite—even in their handwriting! Only perhaps one in a thousand are willing to become heretics, to break away from the sweaty masses, to display the slightest signs of independence and boldness, to write an individual hand. In fact, only a genius is capable of inventing new and finer characters and connections, even though such creations might make for easier writing without impaired or compromised legibility. However, we must realize that an original hand and a creative hand can be two different things, for an original scribe is not always creative, but a creative person always will compose an original script. An original script must merely avoid the existing patterns; but an original script must add something to the already existing fund of patterns. A creative script must facilitate writing, and only he who writes a great deal, one who must confront and develop his ideas on the wing, as they come and go, will desire more easily written characters, and will experience the urge to create them. Such a person is ordinarily well educated, and will continue to improve his script throughout his life because he is demanding and discriminating. Klages emphatically asserts that eccentricity alone cannot indicate the creative scribe. All innovations in script will be simpler and easier to write—purpose is the rule for the creative scribe, and not merely unnaturalness. 4) Legibility. A letter is written in order to be read, obviously, and any letter that cannot be deciphered by the addressee has clearly failed of its purpose. We do not normally read from letter to letter, or from word to word. Instead, we read from cluster to cluster of words and only stumble when we come across an unfamiliar expression, or an illegible one. In consequence, the only method that we have to establish objectively the legibility of an exemplar is to remove words at random from their context and scrutinize them. Very often, the most intelligent writers will not pass this test. 5) Speed. The elementary law of creativeness is violated if the sample has not been written spontaneously, if it has required an inordinate amount of time in which to be produced. What is needed here is time saving simplicity. In fact, slowly produced writings often give evidence of criminal tendencies in the scribe. Although such scribes will attempt to furnish a genteel, legible, and conforming script, they often attempt to patch up their initially unworthy efforts by closings open letters, by straightening out faulty strokes, and by re-crossing their t-bars. The overall impression such exemplars give is one of uncleanness. A fluently produced sample, on the other hand, will show a right-slanted writing, with irregularly placed i-dots, with most dots placed ahead of the letter itself, with other letters and letter connections with garland shapes rather than angles or arcades, with the left margins tending to widen as the scribe reaches the bottom of the page, with smooth, light, and unbroken strokes.

Klages definitively refuted the doctrine of “fixed signs,” which had so misled his predecessors, who erroneously ascribed “atomistic” character traits to discrete signs without perceiving the contextual matrix from which the signs are born. The biocentric investigator does not concern himself with expressive fragments: for life can only be found in organic wholes. To summarize: idiosyncratic traits are revealed in such formal elements as evenness, regularity, tempo, distribution, pressure, breadth, consistency, variety, connectedness, “angle of incidence,” and initial stress of the handwritten sample, which is a permanent record of expressive gesture, a residue of living being, an examination of which can eventually enable us to embark upon ever more profound investigations of the inner life of man. (The major graphological texts published by Klages are: Die Probleme der Graphologie [“The Problems of Graphology”], published in 1910; the Handschrift und Charakter [“Handwriting and Character”], of 1912, which has gone through 26 editions; and the Einführung in die Psychologie der Handschrift [“Introduction to the Psychology of Handwriting”], which appeared in 1928.)

A Unified System of Thought: Expression Analysis

From this brief glance at the narrow field of biocentric graphology, we now proceed to a more comprehensive division of the Klagesian system of thought, viz. the “analysis of expression” (Ausdruckskunde). According to Klages, the larger part of our knowledge of the inner life of those around us stems from our ability to comprehend the meanings inherent in each person’s gestures and facial expressions. This knowledge is not mediated by consciousness, for we must grasp the inner life of another directly, if we would grasp it at all. Every expressive movement is the precipitate of a lived impulse, and, unlike the viewpoint advanced by certain “behaviorists,” these impulses are not reducible to the simple antithetic pair: pleasure or pain. Every expressive movement can be interpreted so as to reveal the form, duration, and sequence of the inner impulses. Klages subtly differentiates between several types of movements: the expressive movement, the mechanical movement, and the volitional movement. The expressive movement is regarded as one aspect of the impulse movement; the reflex movement is regarded as an element of the expressive movement; the mechanical movements earlier existed as impulse movements and are to be grouped under this head; volitional-movement is an impulse-movement controlled by the will. The types of movements are differentiated by their relationship to their aims. Volition movements are shaped by expectations of successful outcomes. Expressive movements are symbolic enactments; thus, the facial expression that embodies terror is the symbolic performance of the motions that represent the actions of one who would escape from a situation that evokes terror.

Klages rejects the Darwinian theory of expression, which interprets all expressive movements as the rudimentary remains of actions that once were purposive. This view reflects Darwin’s insistence on rationalizing the “mechanisms” of nature, in spite of the obvious fact that expressive gestures have their origins in the subjectivity of the organism in which they arise. Pace Darwin, Klages insists that the living being never responds to the same stimulus with the same response: it responds to similar impressions with similar reactions. Instincts are similar only in species that are similar, and the process of individuation can only be consummated after the development of judgment and will. The will is not rooted in the affects, for its task is to bind, or repress, the affective life. The power of the will can be expressed as a quantum of driving force that is non-qualitative. It harnesses life in order to direct it to a goal, and the regulation of volition-movement is completely different from expressive movement. The expressive movement has no aim other than itself; the impulse-movement derives its aims from its environment; and for the volitional-movement, the conscious willing of the aim is of the essence. Actions (in contrast to pathic, dream-like states) are volitional movements (handwriting belongs under this head). Since the personality comprises a constellation of dynamic relationships, every movement expresses personality in its essential nature, for the character of an individual is revealed in every action. However, one must study aspects of expression that are outside the realm of volition, not subject to the control of consciousness, and beyond the governance of intention and learned skills. Volitional movement expresses the personality of the willing person; it does not originate in vitality, for it is chained to the causal nexus originating in the conscious mind. By itself, the volition is not expressive; the important thing is the individual course of the movement. There is present in all of an individual’s expressive movements a unity of character, and any movement on the part of a person will assume that type or manner of movement which is characteristic of that individual. Klages asserts that the writing movement, for instance, is the manifestation of the will to express oneself with the aid of a certain writing system, the volition, which is the current state of some personality. Therefore, handwriting is a volitional movement and carries the idiosyncratic stamp of any personality.

Volitional movements cannot exist without impulse movements, but the impulse movement can exist without the volitional one. Every state of the body expresses an impulse system, and every attitude finds its appropriate expression. Every movement of the body is a vital movement that has two constituent parts, the impulse and the expressive. Therefore, an expressive movement is the visible manifestation of the impulses and affects that are symbolically represented in the vital movement of which it is a component part. The expression manifests the pattern of a psychic movement as to its strength, duration, and direction.

Now how is it possible for human beings to perceive, and to interpret, the expression of the soul? Klages answers this by explaining that the capacity for expression is coördinated with the human being’s capacity for impression. Impression is split into two functions: a passive (“pathic”) one, which receives the impression; and an active one, which makes it possible for one to become aware of one’s own nature as well as that of others—only through this objectification can expression have meaning. It is the very foundation of all genuine research into the study of expressive gestures.

Klages cautions the student to avoid all vain quests after qualitative states of expressive movement; instead, we must examine vital “essences,” because, in the end, isolated segments of expression must not be divorced from their organic matrix. This point of view recapitulates Klages’s criticisms of the graphological theory of “isolated signs,” which can never reveal the global structure that embodies the elements of personality.

The study of expressive movement does not derive its findings from the analysis of purely “objective” states, for the entities examined by the biocentric researcher are experienced as living beings. Klages’s affirmation of the value of expression is in perfect harmony with his high evaluation of the pathic or ecstatic abandonment of the ego in a surrender to the actuality of the living images. We can locate an individual’s capacity for such self-abandonment on a continuum that is graduated according to the living content. According to the entity in which it occurs, each rhythmic pulsation gives birth to another and yet another vital content, whether it is manifested as a faint arousal of the soul or as pathic frenzy. Paradoxically, one person’s rage may be shallower and feebler than the mere breathing of another person. The man who able to observe this, and who is thereby enabled to understand the implications of his observations, so that he can distinguish authentic personality from the mere precipitate of its psychic activity, such as a handwritten exemplar, has perceived the agency through which each formal, or functional, element alternately expresses a ‘minus’ character or a ‘plus’ character. He is able to determine, as between one instance of expressive movement and another, whether he is witnessing the strength of a vital impulse or the weakness of an antagonistic inhibition, and can then correctly evaluate the character’s true traits.

The power of creativity, or formative ability [Gestaltungskraft], which is the measure of one’s capacity for enhanced intensity of expressive force, has its only source in nature. However, every vital impulse is impeded by certain binding forces, or inhibitions. This duality is referred to by Klages as the “dual significance of expression.” Thus, if we witness an individual’s performance of a violent act, this act may be the result of the attractive force of the goal towards which he is aiming; or it may, on the other hand, indicate merely a lack of inhibition on the part of the person in question. The will to domination may indicate strength of will, of course; but it may also indicate an embittered affective life. Likewise, sensitivity may arise from emotional delicacy; but it may also be the result of emotional irritability. Such judgments can only be validated on the basis of a global examination of the individual under review.

As we shall see shortly, Klages’s philosophy holds that the historical evolution of culture can only be interpreted as murderous record, a chronicle of ever-mounting horror in the course of which the vital power of expressive forces recedes before the soulless world ruled by the will, most perfectly embodied in the all-powerful state. But the enlightened biocentrist will turn from this dead Dingwelt (thing-world) to seek refreshment in the en-souled Ausdruckswelt (expression-world).

A Unified System of Thought: Characterology

From the study of expressive movement we proceed to characterology (Charakterkunde). Just as graphology led to the more comprehensive science of expression, the science of expression, in turn, provides the fund of empirical observations that supports the biocentric characterology. Klagesian characterology, in fact, constitutes the most comprehensive study of the human being that has ever been formulated. (Characterology, in its turn, constitutes the indispensible structural component of the biocentric scheme of metaphysics).

The Grundlagen der Charakterkunde presents Klages’s system of psychology in great detail, and because his psychological exposition in that treatise is so intimately interrelated with the philosophical exposition contained in Der Geist and in his other philosophical publications, we will treat the characterology and the metaphysics as indivisible aspects of one vast symphony of thought. However, we will say a few words at this point about the most original feature of biocentric characterology, viz., the presentation of character as a dynamic structural system, comprising such elements as the material (Stoff), the structure (Gefüge), the specific type or idiosyncratic quality (Artung), the architectonics (Aufbau), and the constitutional disposition (Haltungsanlagen).

The material comprises such innate capacities as recollection, cognition as it is embodied in conceptual thought, critical “penetration” (or acumen), intensity, sensibility, and many other capacities, all of which are innate, i.e., conditioned by the genetic endowment of the particular character. From the outset, Klages rejects with some contempt the inadequate “tabula rasa” tradition of British empiricism, which he correctly traces back to its source in Locke and his school. This innate material occurs in various combinations that vary from person to person, and although Klages ordinarily voices opposition to methodologies that are based upon quantitative “formalism,” he agrees that the material is measurable in at least a metaphorical sense, for it constitutes our personal possession, the “capital,” as it were, with which we are equipped.

The structure comprises such differentiations as: temperamental or reserved, wandering or fixed, emotionally stable or unstable. Within each personality there is a unique tempo of affective excitability that can be analogized to an emotional wave, whose quantum of reactivity is functionally related to an individual’s internal organic processes. Unlike the purely innate capacities, the characteristics can be adequately expressed as a correlation between the magnitude of an impulse and the force of resistance to that impulse (we had occasion earlier to refer briefly to this relationship as it pertains to the analysis of expressive gestures).

The quality relates to the formal aspects of volition and the tendencies of the affects, which unite to form the system of drving-forces or “interests.” Specific driving-forces are by their nature directional, as we can see by examining the different goals toward which a greedy person or domineering person seem to be impelled. Architectonics constitutes the correlated interrelationships that weave all the other elements of the character together.

Finally, the dispositions (or attitudes) comprise those traits that are obvious even to the cursory glance of an external observer, and among these traits we find courage, talkativeness, diffidence, and obnoxiousness.

However, the most important of all the elements that make up the character is the qualitative estimation of an individual’s capacities of feeling and volition. Volition is a limited instantiation of the will, and the will is of the very essence of spirit; in fact the will is the darkest and most destructive of spirit’s manifestations, the demon of negation, the very essence of the void.

The constellation of the driving-forces constitutes the personality, and these driving forces are as diverse and multiform as life. The drive is manifest as an urge that issues in a movement, and that movement is generated under the influence of the non-conceptual, vital experience of a power to which Klages has given the name symbol. The driving-forces are polarized, for a drive that has its source in an excess of energy (thus entailing an impulse to discharge energy) must be contrasted with the drive that arises out of a lack of energy (which will give rise to the attempt to recoup energy). There are drives that can be stirred without regard to time, as well as drives that manifest periodicity

The instincts are opposed to the will. The will devises conscious, purposive projects that are in conflict with the immediate desire for gratification of the instincts. In opposition to the world as it is felt, the will erects conscious purposiveness and the life-hostile, moralistic codes of ethics. The authentic content of the personality is drawn from the living world, but the will ruthlessly imposes form upon that content by constricting, inhibiting, directing, or suppressing the instincts and affects. The will possesses no original, creative power of its own. The will is incarnated in man as the ego, which can be expressed metaphorically as the rudder on a vessel whose only function is controlling the vessel’s course. The will-as-ego is characterized by self-awareness and insistent activity. The instinctual drives, on the other hand, give birth to an unconscious, “pathic” surrender to the living cosmos. The instincts and affects are revealed in the love for knowledge, Eros, the quest for truth, and the admiration of beauty. The will reveals its nature in duty, conscience, ambition, greed, and egomania. The will seeks to repress or extirpate the vital impulses, and the destructive effects of the will in action can even be fatal to the organism, as we can see in the case of the political revolutionary who embarks on a fatal hunger-strike. The shattered health and twisted mind resulting from the obsessive asceticism of the religious zealot is too familiar to require further elaboration.

Philosophical Works

The strictly philosophical writings of Ludwig Klages comprise a wide range of materials. In length they range from pithy articles contributed to various lexicons and encyclopedias, through extended essays and revamped lectures, and culminate in his full-dress, formal treatises, the most comprehensive of which is the epochal Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele [3 volumes, 1929-32]. Der Geist contains an astonishing 1500 pages of text as well as an elaborate scholarly apparatus devoted to source notes and ancillary material, the closely-printed text of which would make a fair-sized book on its own!

One of his shorter essays, the Brief Über Ethik, which was published shortly after the German defeat in 1918, is of exceptional interest to the student of race. Unlike many of his optimistic contemporaries, Klages viewed the catastrophic mongelization that was poisoning the Aryan race as an ineluctable doom, the fatal and irremediable dissolution of life under the savage assault of triumphant spirit. In the Brief, his intense study of the psychological aspects of man’s disastrous evolution, enabled him to trace the 20th century’s accursed proliferation of “slave”-types and men without character to a single poisonous source, for the production of such wretched types, he proclaims, “has arisen, arises now, and will arise, always and everywhere, as the direct result of racial bastardization and pollution of the blood!” On similar grounds, he excoriates the modern world’s monstrous plague of moralistic fanaticism in the Brief, asserting that the rapidly increasing legions of ethical preachers constitute one more manifestation of the dysgenic breeding that is destroying our culture. The moral maniac’s twisted psyche within as well as his distorted physiognomy without clearly demonstrate that such a creature “is merely the spiritual expression of tainted blood!” Because the modern world regards the man of ethics, will, and reason as the sole proper vehicle of ego and spirit, no one should be surprised that traditional and healthy value must go to the wall. Race, breeding, nobility, depth of soul, beauty, courage, and blood, are one and all devoid of substance to the moralist and the egalitarian crusader. To them, man is his mind, his morals, and his ego, and the man who has given his sole allegiance to ego and spirit, has simultaneously surrendered all interest in the particular man. Henceforth he compulsively devotes his attentions to man as generality. Klages ridicules all respect for “humanity,” that ghost of an abstraction, as a willful repudiation of every vital power of discrimination, and he who stubbornly refuses to immerse himself in the undiffentiated ochlocratic mob will always be assailed as an enemy of “mankind.” This humanitarian insanity is, paradoxically, also the root of the murderous career of Christian and post-Christian civilization, for those who preach so incessantly of “love” and who babble so cretinously of “compassion,” have but one response to those who do not endorse their “spiritual” values: that response is murder. The egalitarian can never face the obvious fact that wherever and whenever you order a man to love, you have guaranteed that he will respond with hate.

The racialist theoreticians whom Klages most admired and cited most pertinently in his collected works were Gobineau, Ludwig Woltmann, and L. F. Clauss. Klages’s analysis of the racial dimension of the science of expression is indebted to the analytical studies of race and expression published by Clauss, especially in the formulation by Klages of what we will call the racial continuum of expression and excitability. No objective observer would wish to deny the obvious fact that the Mediterranean division of the Aryan race is typically characterized by a greater ease of expression than is found in the Nordic Aryan. Klages enforces the validity of this truth quite vividly through the ingenious use of national stereotypes as illustrative heuristic expedients; thus, his typological extremes extend from the Italian, in whom we find the maximum ease of expressive gesture as well as the greatest degree of temperamental excitability, passes through the various intermediary increments, and arrives at the opposite extreme of the racial continuum of expression, where Klages situates the only possible candidate for title of least expressive and most temperamentally reserved of European Aryans, viz., the Englishman.

In his critical exposition of the doctrine of the “temperaments,”Klages extends his investigation of individual differences to encompass an analysis of the capacity for stimulation of the will that is peculiar to the different races. Several qualities that are falsely considered by many researchers to be permanently and deeply rooted in man, e.g., the tendency to seek for perfection and the adoption of an “idealistic” point of view, vanish almost completely in the course of a lifetime. On the other hand, the least variable property of a character is this “capacity for stimulation of the will,” which Klages calls the “constant of temperament.” The magnitude, or degree, of the capacity for such stimulation varies significantly between the races as well, and because it constitutes a temperamental “constant,” it provides a permanent index of racial differences. The Oriental race, for instance, is characterized by a will that is far less excitable than the will of the Aryan, and Klages draws upon the great Count Gobineau for an illustration: “Consider…buying and selling as they are practiced in an Oriental bazaar. An Oriental will bargain for the same article with perfect equanimity for days on end, whereas the European loses patience after an hour, and often much sooner. Joseph Arthur de Gobineau makes a fine artistic use of these differences of character in his Nouvelles Asiatiques.”

Like Gobineau, Woltmann, and Clauss, Klages was a universal scholar who possessed the same wide-ranging vision and the treasures of living wisdom that all of these men shared. And we can be apodictically certain that every one of these scholars would have rejected with utter scorn the narrow-minded theory, endorsed even by many modern writers who consider themselves to be the true heirs of the great racialists of yore, which holds that the quality of a man can be reduced to a mathematical expression. Without a doubt, Klages would have felt that the egalitarian lunacy that now rules the world is only slightly more ludicrous than the attempts that are made by modern anti-egalitarians to reduce man to his IQ. And when certain writers attempt to place characterology on a “scientific” basis through the use of factor-analysis—in other words, by pouring even more formalistic mathematics into the sauce!—we can imagine his ironic smile as he whispers: sancta simplicitas!

Klages traces the origins of the modern, mongrelized world’s moralistic fanaticism and criminality back to its source in another devastatingly ironic essay, Das Problem des SOKRATES, in which he dismantles the beloved figure of Socrates as if he were a defective toaster-oven. Because Socrates is regarded by Klages as the very antithesis of the true philosopher, we will examine in some detail this unconventional and irreverent analysis of Socrates and his thought. Without qualification or proviso, Klages launches his attack. He sees Socrates as an utter fraud, a dissembling hypocrite, a complete ignoramus in scientific matters whose arrogance and lack of curiosity are truly astonishing. Why did Socrates ignore the truly epochal cosmological discoveries that were being made by the Hylozoists? A true philosopher would have been enthralled by the discoveries of these great scholars, but Socrates could care less. Heraclitus, Protagoras, and the Hylozoists were the true philosophers, not this rachitic ghoul, this professional sponger and house-guest, this most sophistical of sophists who habitually sought to diminish the genuine achievements of his hated contemporaries, not by surpassing them, but by dismissing them instead as contemptible—sophists!

No figure in the intellectual history of Greece had a more skilful touch when it came to lodging dust in his spectators’ eyes. We witness the Socratic gambit par excellence when this logomach employs the most childish word-games conceivable in order to transform his blatant lack of creative talent into that which he has successfully persuaded all subsequent generations was, in reality, the most dazzling array of talents ever united within one mortal frame. Socrates obviously couldn’t master science: therefore science is an unworthy avocation! A prominent Sophist has arrived in town, and the word is out that he has prepared his lectures with a scrupulous care for formal elegance and a proper observance of the canons of logic: therefore, says Socrates, he’s nothing but logic-chopping hustler with a fancy prose style and a yen for a fast buck! From the dawn of time this has been, is now, and ever will remain, the bitter complaint leveled by the work-shy parasite against the gainfully employed citizen.

In addition to his other dubious gifts, Socrates is also an unparalleled expert at forestalling criticism, for his hidden motivation seems almost childishly transparent when we find him assuring his audience, with all the candor and guilelessness of a Uriah Heep, that the only thing that he knows is that he knows nothing! And this pish posh and flummery is still luring philosophical yokels to the Socratic side-show 2,400 years later!

In fact, the whole repertoire of Socratic methods is exactly what Hegel and Klages say that it is: a bare-faced and unworthy swindle. Furthermore, although hardly any commentator has drawn attention to the fact, Socrates was completely successful in one of his more sinister ploys, for his most subtle dialectical maneuvers can even be said to have ominous political implications in addition to their philosophical ones. We are alluding to the sly manipulation whereby Socrates assures his auditors that the truths that they seek are already within them, for his seemingly innocent claim conceals the fact that by this very means Socrates is engineering a monstrous and underhanded tyranny over naïve youths who can scarcely realize that, invariably, everything that they will “discover” within them has already been planted there by an autocratic and mendacious charlatan!

But what of the great martyr to “free thought,” the plaster bust whom endless generations have been taught to revere as a saint and genius? Nonsense, says Klages. Not for the first, and certainly not for the last time, Klages confounds our expectations by explicitly endorsing his predecessor Hegel’s view, for Hegel effortlessly proved that Socrates got just what what coming to him. Hegel found that the conduct of the court during the trial of Socrates was legally unimpeachable and he wholeheartedly endorsed the verdict of the court. Klages also draws on Hegel’s account when he directs our attention to this charlatan’s truly mortal offenses against Athens, for who among this sophist’s accusers could forget for one moment the brutal crimes that were committed against the citizenry of Athens by Kritias, who in addition to being one of the the dearest pupils of Socrates, was also the bloodiest of all the Thirty Tyrants? And was not another cherished apostle—and, perhaps, a bit more—of Socrates, i.e., the slimy Alcibiades, known by both court and citizenry as the conscienceless traitor who bore the ultimate responsibility for the defeat and downfall of Athens in the Peloponnesian War? This obvious truth was disputed by no sane Athenian.

No Greek thinker known to history, in fact, has a flimsier claim to the august title of true philosopher than this mongrelized gargoyle whose moral mania and theatrically grandiose death anticipate both the ethical idiocy and the shabby demise of the founder of the Christian cult, and Klages explicitly speaks of Socrates as the ancient world’s first Christian martyr. In the end, the only genuine achievements that can be credited to Socrates, Klages insists, were in the fields of epistemology and philosophical linguistics. And in all candor, who would seek to challenge the view that Socrates had about as much capacity for meaningful metaphysical speculation as your average floor-polisher? The rest is smoke and mirrors, a petty swindler’s sleight of hand.

Another brief philosophical text by Klages has become his best-known and most controversial work. In 1913, publisher Eugen Diederichs and the organizers of the anniversary celebration of the “Battle of the Nations” (which had taken place at Leipzig during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon) invited the philosopher to address the representatives of the German Youth Movement. He delivered his Mensch und Erde, a stunning and prophetic attack on the enemies of Mother Earth, which was later published in a commemorative volume featuring a striking piece of cover-art by the neo-pagan painter Fidus. This seminal work has only recently received its due as the first statement of the philosophy of “deep ecology” when a new edition was published in 1980 in coordination with the establishment of the German “Green” political party. In this “roll-call of the dead,” Klages laments the destruction of wildlife and landscape by encroaching “civilization,” and, in attacking the very idea of “Progess,” Klages praises the chthonic gods who have been driven into the underworld. He deplores the extinction of animal species and their wild habitats, the loss of ancient forests, and the annihilation of aboriginal peoples. He condemns Capitalism, Christianity, and utilitarianism as weapons aimed at the destruction of the ecology. Even tourism is excoriated as just another agent of environmental destruction, and Klages laments the murder of the whales long before such a concern was widespread .

“Without a doubt,” Klages says, “we are living in the age of the waning of the Soul,” and he insists that when Spirit has finally silenced the “primal song of the landscape,” the earth will be converted into “one gigantic Chicago interspersed with agriculture.” Our machines are attended by machine-men, whose noisy and glittering amusements are unable to conceal the fact that the world has been stripped of all life-enhancing symbols and ritual observances. Our hearts are barren, and “their inner rivulets can no longer water the blossoms of song and holy feasts; there remains only this bleak and grey workaday world,” in this age of soul-destruction.

“Progress” is simply an “unfettered lust for murder,” and all of nature must perish “before its poisonous breath.” Our age has lost all “knowledge of the world-creating, world-weaving force of all-unifying Eros.” “Originating with Socrates and coming through Kant all the way down to the present age, the hoarse demand of the Will resonates in every one of the refractions, disguises, and transformations assumed by our ethical systems, that it is the duty of man to control himself, to subject his desires to the rule of reason, to moderate his feelings when he can’t manage to exterminate them entirely.” Moralistic preachers, devoted to the “improvement” of man, are nothing but criminals against life, whose immunity to the lessons of experience is reflected in their oblivion to the data of our historical experience. The “inborn” conscience, as a matter of fact, is not at all an original fact of existence, for it cannot be found anywhere else in the animal kingdom; conscience is merely spirit’s poison at its work of destroying the soul of man. Under this influence, the soul can no longer dwell amid the pulsating flux of images, for a despotic rationality, in tandem with this moral mania, finally substitutes for the endless “becoming” of the actuality of the world of nature, the disconnected, dead world of “being.” “Whatever falls under the ray of intellect is immediately turned into a mere thing, a numbered object of thought connected only mechanically with other objects. The paradox enunciated by the modern sage, ‘we perceive but what is dead’, is a lapidary formulation of a profound truth.” Klages tells us that Life must soon perish, “for the hour of returning has been missed.”

The philosopher’s meditations on the myths and mysteries of the ancient Mediterranean world form the substance of the treatise entitled Vom kosmogonischen Eros, which appeared in 1922. Paradoxically, perhaps, in view of the anti-Socratism that we’ve been discussing, Klages follows the classic Platonic exposition in the “Symposium” regarding the nature of Eros, which is held to be compounded of antitheses such as wealth and poverty, fullness and emptiness, possession and want. This insight accounts for the dual nature of all striving, for every impulse and every desire arises from a lack of something that we yearn to possess and perishes at the moment when that which we have yearned to possess falls into our hands.

The duality that constitutes the substance of man is also clarified in the Eros-book. In primordial ages, man’s nature comprised the connected poles of body and soul, whose vital bonds it is spirit’s mission to sever from the moment that man enters into the realm of recorded history. Klages also clarifies the unique status of the image in his course of his exposition of biocentric phenomenology: “Wherever we find a living body, there we also find a soul; wherever we find a soul, there also we find a living body. The soul is the meaning of the body, and the image of the body is the manifestation of the soul. Whatever appears has a meaning, and every meaning reveals itself as it is made manifest. Meaning is experienced inwardly, the manifestation outwardly. The first must become image if it is to communicate itself, and the image must be re-internalized so that it may take effect. Those are, in the most literal sense, the twin poles of actuality.” (Klages’s exposition had, for once, been anticipated by Friedrich Paulsen, in whose textbook, “An Introduction to Philosophy,” we find the following remark: “Either we must regard the entire body, including the nervous system, as a system of means external to the soul, or we must regard the entire body as the visible expression, or physical equivalent, of life” [emphasis added]).

Life is not governed by spirit, for “the law of spirit” demands that spirit divorce itself utterly from the “rhythms of cosmic life.” Only the living image possesses a truly vital autonomy, for the image alone is independent of spirit. The image remains totally unaffected by whether or not the receiver of the sensuous image recollects its visitation afterwards. The thing, on the other hand, is thought into the world of consciousness. It exists as a dimension of a person’s inwardness. Life is not directed towards the future, for the future is not a property of actual time. The great error of Promethean man was in his elevating that which was to come to the same stage of actuality as the past. The “man of ‘world-history’” is a man dedicated to voids. He has annihilated and is annihilating the actuality of what has been in order to devote himself more completely to the projects of a hallucination called the future. He insists on shattering the fruitful connection of the near and the far in order to erect in its place the present’s Wandering Jew-like fascination “with a distant phantasm of futurity.” Actual time is a “stream coursing from the future into the past.”

This “cosmogonic Eros” of which Klages speaks is the life-creating son of the Mother Goddess of the prehistoric Ægean world, and must not be confused with the vapid cupids that can still be found on ancient Roman frescoes, whose pale plaster descendants so gaudily adorn the walls and ceilings of the palaces of rococo Europe. A more authentic incarnation is found in the Theogony of Hesiod, in which the poet calls Eros one of the first beings, born without father or mother. Likewise, in the Orphic hymns, Kronos is his father; Sappho calls him the offspring of Earth and Heaven; and Simonides traces the descent of Eros to the union of Aphrodite and Ares. Hesiod’s treatment, by far the most profound, portrays Eros as the force of attraction upon which the very existence of the material world depends. When Hesiod makes Eros the offspring of the rainbow and the westwind, he is indicating, by the use of metaphor, that spring, the season in which they prevail, is the time of love. For Hesiod, Eros is “the most beautiful of all the deathless gods.” The historical aspect of Klages’s text is largely an apologia for the Weltanschauung of Bachofen, with its forthright celebration of the “world of woman” and the life of “primitive” peoples (his most elaborate presentation of the Magna Mater and her world will appear in the crucial chapter on the “Great Mother” in Der Geist, which bears the telling subtitle “Marginal Observations on Bachofen’s Discoveries”).

Eros is to be distinguished from “love” and “sex,” both of which are tied to that obnoxious entity the “self” (Selbst), which tends to become the center of gravity in the life of man as history progressively tears his soul from the earth, turning the richly-endowed individual into a hollow mask and robot, divorced from Eros and earth. All Eros is Eros of distance (Eros der Ferne), and a moment’s reflection will suffice to demonstrate that nothing is more characteristic of our modern planetary technology than its tendency toward the annihilation of distance. Likewise, the will-to-possesion, the impulse for domination, and the thoughtless addiction to “information” that characterizes modern man are all condemned by Klages as attempts to lift the veil of Isis, which he sees as the ultimate “offense against life.” “The intellectual will to power is the crime against life itself, causing man to meet life’s vindictive retaliation.” For behind the veil, there is “nothingness,” which is to say spirit and the will to desubstantialize the cosmos. This “modern man” has traveled very far indeed from the Naturvölker, who prefer life to cogitation, and who experience the erotic bond without commingling their precious egos, whose desire is impersonal and not focused upon an insane idealization and apotheosis of the loved one. For Klages, the most vital manifestation of Eros is not the “love unto death” of sentimental “tragedy,” but is, instead, a surrender of the will to the impersonal forces of the cosmos. There is an Eros of the home as well as of the homeland, an Eros of the implement that we have fashioned with our own hands as well as an Eros of the art work that we have created with the implement’s aid. Eros inhabits, in fact, any object of perception to which we feel intimately connected, and all such objects and events become living symbols of our joys or of our sorrows. The ego has nothing to do with these erotic bonds, anymore than it has anything to do with maternal love.

Soul and Spirit

The very title of Klages’s metaphysical treatise, Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, “The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul,” refers to the ceaseless and savage battle waged by spirit against the soul. The mounting onslaught of spirit against the living soul has constituted the innermost essence of the life of man. Whereas spirit once existed in a temporary and uneasy symbiosis with the soul, in the course of human history spirit’s destructive power waxes ever stronger, until spirit eventually abandons the symbiotic compromise that endured whilst the powers of life were still exalted, and erupts into the waning empire of the living soul as a savage and unyielding dæmon whose malevolent career reaches its grisly climax in our apocalyptic age of “virtual” reality, compassion-babble, hydrogen bombs, and racial chaos.

But just what is this “soul”? In the first place, the soul is not something exclusively human, for all phenomena possess soul, viz., the sea, animals, mountains, the wind, and the stars. In fact, all phenomena are “en-souled.” Now the soul possesses two poles, the archetypal soul and the substantial soul, or, to look upon these matters from a slightly different angle, a passive receptor pole and an active effector pole. The passive receptor pole is, in the thought of Klages, the truly characteristic aspect for the soul’s life. From its birth, the soul leads a pathic, or passive, dream-existence, in which its life is filled with visionary images. The soul only becomes released for activity in the phenomenal world when the bearer of that soul is confronted by the polarity of another soul, which forces each soul to reveal its nature to the other. The original characteristics of the soul are night, dreaming, rhythmic pulsation, infinite distance, and the realm of the unconscious.

The “elementary” substances that constitute the earth originated under the complex influence of telluric and cosmic forces, and the symbiotic interaction of all telluric phenomena was required in order to bring the animate world into being. According to the doctrine of the “actuality of the images,” the plant represents the transitional stage between the element and the living creature. (The botanist Jagadis Bose performed experiments that he felt conclusively demonstrated the capacity of plants to experience pain). The plant experiences life in the form of growth and maturation, as well as in the creation of offspring through the processes familiar to natural science. Spontaneous movements of various kinds are characteristic of plant-life, viz., the turning of the leaves and buds to the light, the sending of the root-system into the soil in order to extract nourishment from the earth, the fixing of supportive tendrils to fixed surfaces, etc. Klages draws our attention to the fact that there are several varieties of plant that are indubitably capable of self-motility. There are, at this threshold of another realm of being, organisms such as sea squirts, mussels, oysters, sponges, and zoophytes, which become fixed in their habitat only after the early stages of the lives. (When Verworrn published his experiments on the psychical life of the protista in 1899, he attributed sensation to these organisms, a position that certainly has much to recommend it. But when he attempted to demonstrate that even the will is in evidence at this stage of life, one can only shake one’s head in disbelief, for that which this author adduces as evidence of volition in the protista is the simple phenomenon of reaction to stimuli! Thus, Verworrn equates the reactive responses in the protista to the action of the will in man, in whom the “volitional” processes are more highly developed. This is certainly a case of blindness to a difference of essence.)

In the next developmental stage, i.e., that of the animal, the soul is now captured in a living body. The drives and instincts make their first appearance during this phase. The characteristic functions of the creature comprise physical sensation (as represented by the body-pole) and contemplation (the psychical pole). The living body is the phenomenon of the soul, and the soul is the meaning of the living body. However, in opposition to the realm of the lower animals, wherein sensation dominates contemplation, we find that in the higher animals, contemplation is strengthened at the expense of the physical sensations, as the result of spirit’s invasion of the life-cell, which occurs at this time. Now if one were to consider “the waking state” to be synonymous with consciousness itself, than one must consclude that consciousness is present in animal and man alike. According to Klages, however, it is only the capacity for conceptual thought that characterizes consciousness, so that we must attribute consciousness proper only to man. In the animal, the image cannot be divorced from the sensory impression. In man, on the other hand, the content of the visual image can be separated from the act of perception that receives that content throught the sensorium. Therefore, although the animal undoubtedly possesses instincts, only man is truly conscious.

The biological processes that constitute plant life and animal life are also operative in man, but with the intervention of spirit (at least during the initial phase of development, during which spirit and life maintain some kind of balance), he is capable of creating symbolic systems of communication and expression, viz., art and poetry, as well as myth and cult. The processes of life establish the polar connection between the actual images of the world (or, the “macrocosm”) and the pathic soul that receives them (or, the “microcosm”).

The human soul comprises the totality of the immediate experiences of man. It is the soul that receives its impressions of actuality in the shape of images. “The image that falls upon the senses: that, and nothing besides, is the meaning of the world,” Klages insists, and one such immediate act of reception can be seen in the manner in which one comprehends the imagery employed by a great poet or the skillfully drawn portrait executed by a gifted artist. The actualities received by the “pathic” soul are experienced in the dimensions of space and time, but they have their coming-to-be and their passing-away solely within the temporal order. In sharp contrast to the traditional Christian insistence that virtue constitutes a valorization of the “spirit” at the expense of a denigrated body, Klages sees man’s highest potential in the state of ecstasy, i.e., the privileged state of rapture in which the connected poles of body and soul are liberated from the intrusive “spirit.” What the Christian understands by the word soul is, in fact, actually spirit, and spirit—to simplify our scheme somewhat for the sake of expediency—is the mortal adversary of the soul. Another way to express this insight would be the formula: spirit is death, and soul is life.

Spirit manifests its characteristic essence in formalistic cognition and technological processes and in the hyper-rationalism that has pre-occupied western thought since the Renaissance. Both mathematical formalism and “high” technology have reared their conceptual skyscrapers upon a foundation formed by the accumulation of empirical data. Spirit directs its acolytes to the appropriation and rigidification of the world of things, especially those things that are exploitable by utilitarian technocrats. Spirit fulfils its project in the act, or event, that occurs within the spatio-temporal continuum, although spirit itself has its origin outside that continuum. Spirit is manifest in man’s compulsive need to seize and control the materials at hand, for only “things” will behave consistently enough for the spirit-driven utilitarian to be able to “utilize” them by means of the familiar processes of quantification and classification, which enable “science” to fix, or “grasp,” the thing in its lethal conceptual stranglehold.

We must draw a sharp distinction between the thing and its properties on one side, and the “essence” (Wesen) and its characteristics on the other. Only an essence, or nature, can be immediately experienced. One cannot describe, or “grasp,” an essence by means of the conceptual analysis that is appropriate only when a scientist or technician analyzes a thing in order to reduce it to an “objective” fact that will submit to the grasp of the concept. The souls of all phenomena unite to comprise a world of sensuous images, and it is only as unmediated images that the essences appear to the pathic soul who receives their meaning-content. The world of essences (phenomena) is experienced by the pathic soul, which is the receptor of the fleeting images that constitute actuality [Wirklichkeit der Bilder]. These images wander eternally in the restless cosmic dance that is the Heraclitean flux. The image lives in intimate connection with the poles of space and time.

The world of things, on the other hand, is rationally comprehended as a causally connected system of objects (noumena). In the course of historical time man’s ability to perceive the living images and their attendant qualities is progressively impoverished until finally spirit replaces the living world of expressive images with the dead world of mere things, whose only connections are adequately expressed in the causal nexus, or, to use the language of science, the “laws of nature.”

In the final act of the historical tragedy, when there is no longer any vital substance upon which the vampire spirit may feed, the parasitic invader from beyond time will be forced to devour itself.

Paradise Lost

We see that the philosophy of Klages has both a metaphysical dimension as well as a historical one, for he sees the history of the world as the tragic aftermath to the disasters that ensued when man was expelled from the lost primordial paradise in which he once enjoyed the bliss of a “Golden Age.” When man found himself expelled from the eternal flux of coming-to-be and passing-away of the lost pagan paradise, he received in exchange the poor substitute known as consciousness. Paradise was lost, in effect, when man allowed his temporally-incarnated life-cell to be invaded by the a-temporal force that we call spirit.

Klages is quite specific in putting forward a candidate for this “Golden Age” which prospered long before spirit had acquired its present, murderous potency, for it is within the pre-historic Ægean culture-sphere, which has often been referred to by scholars as the “Pelasgian” world, that Klages locates his vision of a peaceful, pagan paradise that was as yet resistant to the invasive wiles of spirit.

Now who are these “Pelasgians,” and why does the Pelasgian “state of mind” loom so largely in Klages’s thought? According to the philosopher, the development of human consciousness, from life, to thought, to will, reveals itself in the three-stage evolution from pre-historic man (the Pelasgian), through the Promethean (down to the Renaissance), to the Heracleic man (the stage which we now occupy). For Klages, the Pelasgian is the human being as he existed in the pre-historic “Golden Age” of Minoan Crete, Mycenean Hellas, and the related cultures of the Aegean world. He is a passive, “pathic” dreamer, whose predominant mode of being is contemplation. He consorts directly with the living Cosmos and its symbols, but he is doomed.

The “Pelasgians” occupy a strategic place in the mythos of Ludwig Klages, and this “Pelasgian Realm” of Klages closely resembles the mythic Golden Age of Atlantis that looms so large in the Weltanschauung of E. T. A. Hoffmann. But who, in fact, were these Pelasgians? According to the pre-historians and mythologists, the Pelasgians were an ancient people who inhabited the islands and seacoasts of the eastern Mediterranean during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. Homer, in a well-known passage in the Odyssey (XIX, 175 ff), places them on Crete, but another writer, Dionysius Halicarnassus, could only tell us that the Pelasgians were autokhthonoi, or “indigenous” throughout Hellas. Homer also refers to “Lord Zeus of Dodona, Pelasgian,” in the Iliad (II, 750). Plutarch says of them that “they were like the oak among trees: the first of men at least in Akhaia,” while Pliny believes that Peloponnesian Arkadia was originally called Pelasgis; that Pelasgos was an aristocratic title; and that the Pelasgians were descended from the daughters of Danaos.

The most famous Pelasgian settlement was at Dodona, and Thucydides (we discover with relief) informs us that all Greece was Pelasgian before the Trojan war (approximately 1200 B. C.): “Before the Trojan War no united effort appears to be made by Hellas; and to my belief that name itself had not yet been extended to the entire Hellenic world. In fact, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, the appelation was probably unknown, and the names of the different nationalities prevailed locally, the widest in range being ‘Pelasgians.’” (Book One of the “History of the Peloponnesian War,” Oxford text, edited by H. Stuart-Jones; translated by Arnold J. Toynbee). Homer mentions them in the Iliad (ii, 840), and, in the Odyssey (xix, 172-7), the poet describes them as “divine.” Racially, there seems to be no doubt that the Pelasgians were an Aryan people, and physical anthropologists inform us that the twenty skulls discovered at the Minoan sites of Palakaistro, Zakro, and Gournia turn out to be predominantly dolicocephalic, with the cranial indices averaging 73.5 for the males, and 74.9 for the women (Prehistoric Crete, by R. W. Hutchinson, London, 1962). The historian Herodotus, like Thucydides, groups all of the pre-classical peoples of the Hellenic world under the name Pelasgian: “Croesus made inquiries as to which were the greatest powers in Hellas, with a view to securing their friendly support, and, as a result of these inquiries, he found that the Lacedaemonians and the Athenians stood out among the people of the Dorian and Ionian race respectively. Of these people that had thus made their mark, the latter was originally a Pelasgian and the former a Hellenic nationality….As regards the language spoken by the Pelasgians, I have no exact information; but it is possible to argue by inference from the still-existing Pelasgians who occupy the city of Creston in the hinterland of the Tyrrhennians; from the other Pelasgians who have settled in Placia and Scylace on the Hellespont; and from the various other communities of Pelasgian race which have changed their national name. If inferences may be legitimately drawn from this evidence, then the original Pelasgians were speakers of a non-Greek language, and the Athenian nation must have learned a new language at the time when they changed from Pelasgians into Hellenes. At all events, the inhabitants of Creston and of Placia, who in neither case speak the same language as their present respective neighbors, do speak the same language as one another…In contrast to this, the Hellenic race has employed an identical language continuously, ever since it came into existence. After splitting off from the Pelasgian race, it found itself weak, but from these small beginnings it has increased until it now includes a number of nationalities, its principal recruits being Pelasgians It is my further opinion that the non-Hellenic origin of the Pelasgians accounts for the complete failure of even this nationality to grow to any considerable dimensions” (Herodotus, Book I, chapters 56 to 58; translated by Arnold J. Toynbee). The rest, as they say, is silence (at least in the Classical sources), and we can see why this obscure people should appeal to the mythologizing “Golden Age” bent of Klages. Modern authorities regard the Pelasgians as inhabitants of a purely Neolithic culture pertaining only to the area of Thessaly bounded by Sesklo in the east and the Peneios valley in the west (the area which is now known as Thessaliotis).

Although the philosopher’s alluring portrait of the Pelasgians was formulated before modern archaeology had completed our image of Ægean prehistory, the picture which Klages paints, in the Eros-book and in the “Magna Mater” chapter of Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, of a vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful people, in touch with the gods and with Nature, requires little—if any—correction in the wake of the new researches. The figures who move so gracefully through the enchanted atmosphere of the Palace frescoes at Knossos, as they carry their brightly-colored gifts of vase, flowers, and pyxis, to the Goddess, are straight out of a poet’s dream. The young women walk barefoot, and wear hip-hugging, flared skirts to which flounces are attached at knee and hem; their long raven-tresses are worn in a chignon, adorned with red and white ribbons, and their jackets are brightly colored, usually pink or sky-blue. The gifts that they bring to the Mother Goddess are also brilliantly colored: a porphyry pyxis; poppies of red and white, and a bottle striped with silver, gold, and copper bands. They wear bracelets and necklaces dressed with strands of beads. They appear graceful and serene with their white breasts in profile in the tholos tombs as well.

This Minoan, or “Pelasgian,” world was characterized by a dialectical fusion of two strains of religiosity: on the one hand, we meet with the Ægean worship of the Mother Goddess, with all that that entails with regard to ritual and style of living; and, on the other, we confront the Indo-European sky-god, or Father God, and the two strains seem to co-exist in an uneasy, unstable—but certainly fruitful—truce. Mythologists tell us that this heritage is reflected in the tales that indicate the marriages between the Indo-European sky-god Zeus with various incarnations of the Ægean Mother-Goddess (in some of the myths, Zeus is, himself, born on Crete!). In time, of course, the Father God will achieve dominance in the Hellenic world, but Klages is more interested in traces of the religion of the Goddess as it survives from the Stone Age into the world of the second millennium B.C. Our philosopher, in effect, merges the misty Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the ancient Aegean into a single magical world-space, wherein an innocent race lives at one with Nature and the Goddess. Klages treats the Pelasgians as the primeval Hellenes, who worshiped the Goddess, as she was embodied in female idols in the form of figurines of the famous steatopygous Fertility-Goddess type, with huge belly and swollen buttocks (even though this iconographic image, represented most clearly in the “Venus of Willendorf,” proceeds from a much-earlier cultural stratum, the Palaeolithic. The later Greeks celebrated Demeter, the Life-Mother, in the Eleusinian mysteries). The Palace Culture of Minoan Crete would exemplify the matriarchalist style of the (late) Pelasgian world, especially as prehistoric Knossos had a far more sophisticated attitude toward women than did, say, the later Periclean Athens. For instance, in the legend of Ariadne, the fact that her presence is indicated at the funeral games shows us that women were free to mingle with men at their will, and the version of the myth which shows Ariadne as in charge of the palace in her father’s absence shows the great value which the Cretans placed on women. This centrality of woman is indicated in all of Minoan art, which depicts her as beautifully-animated; in fact, one of the most elegant of the ebon-tressed, slim-waisted, and crimson-lipped women depicted on the frescoes on the Palace of Knossos, was nicknamed La Parisienne by a French visitor at the turn of the century! Klages is drawn more toward the “pacifist,” thalassocratic (sea-ruling) aspect of the Minoans of the second millennium B.C., than toward the covetous Bronze Age Greeks of the mainland with their heavily-fortified cities and unending wars (the Bronze Age mainlanders seem to have loved war for its own sake; another troubling element in their civilization is their reliance on slavery, especially of women). These are the Mycenaeans, who would eventually sack, and destroy, the Minoan Culture. It is a notable fact that most of our evidence about the “Pelasgian” religious beliefs and practices stems from Minoan Crete: very little material survives from Mycenae and the other mainland sites. On Crete, however, we find the dove-goddess image and the snake-goddess image, the stepped altars and shrine models, in religious sanctuaries overflowing with such sacred items. Clearly, the Goddess ruled on Minoan Crete, and, in fact, the Goddess Potnia, whose name crops up repeatedly in the Linear B tablets, might indeed be the “Lady of the Labyrinth,” which is to say, the Lady of the Place of the labrys, or the double ax—the Palace of Knossos itself. Another Knossos cult-figure was the anemo ijereja, of “Priestess of the Winds”; there is also qerasija, which could well mean “the Huntress.” According to some historians, offerings to the Goddess were entirely bloodless, and were usually gifts of honey, oil, wine, and spices like coriander and fennel; sheep and their shepherds were associated with Potnia, but certainly not in the aspect of blood-sacrifices. On the mainland, however, we find the Mycenaeans slaughtering rams, horses, and other animals in their vaulted tombs. We also find the cult of the Goddess on the Cycladic islands (to which “Greek islands” American “millionaires” and other arch-vulgarians habitually cart their flatulent girths on “vacations”). The famous Cycladic figurines represent the Mother Goddess as well, under the aspects of “the divine nurse” or the “Goddess of Blessing.” In these figurines the Goddess is almost invariably represented with the pubic delta and the stomach emphasized. I will have more to say about this religion of the “Mother Goddess” later on, in the section devoted to the ideas of Bachofen, but for now I’d like to note that in the early phase of Minoan religion, the relationship of ruler and deity was not that of father-and-son, but of mother-and-son. For Minoan Crete, the Mother Goddess was represented on earth by the priest-king. Some lovely manifestations of this reverence for the Goddess can be found in the faience statuettes of the bare-breasted Mother Goddess which were found by Sir Arthur Evans in the Palace of Knossos: one of them shows the Goddess holding up a serpent in each of her hands; the other statuette shows the snakes entwining themselves around her arms. These figures appear in both “peak sanctuaries” and in household shrines, and have been designated by pre-historians as the “Snake Goddess” or the “Household Goddess.” The “Household Goddess” is often associated with the motif of the double-axe, the emblem of the Palace at Knossos, and also with the horns-of-consecration, which associate her with the sacred bull of the Palace of King Minos.

One inhabitant of the Palace of King Minos was the princess Ariadne, to whom we alluded briefly above. After the loss of Theseus, the fate of Ariadne would be intimately intertwined with that of Dionysus, the problematical Greek divinity whose cult excited so much controversy and such fierce opposition among the Greeks of the Classical Age. Dionysus was the orgiastic god in whom Klages, following Nietzsche, locates the site of an untrammeled sensuous abandon. This Thraco-Grecian deity, whose nature was so brilliantly interpreted by Nietzsche in the latter half of the 19th century, and by his worthy successor Walter F. Otto in the first half of the 20th century, becomes in the Klagesian view the ultimate symbol of heathen life, the epiphany of that frenzied ecstasy that the god’s followers achieved by means of the drunkenness and wild dancing of the maenads, those female adherents of the god of the vine, who experienced genuine enthusiasm, i.e., “the god within,’ as they followed the progress of their far-wandering god, who gave to man the inestimable gift of wine. These maenads celebrated their secret Dionysian cultic rituals far from the accustomed haunts of man, and any man was slaughtered on the spot if he should be apprehended whilst illicitly witnessing the ceremonies reserved for the gods’ female followers. These maenads were alleged to be in the possession of magical powers that enabled the god’s worshipers to bring about magical effects at great distances. And “all Eros is Eros of distance!”

Philosophical Roots and Biological Consequences

Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele contains a comprehensive survey of the philosophical literature that relates to “biocentric” concerns, and in these pages Klages closely scrutinizes the troubled seas and fog-shrouded moorlands of philosophy, both ancient and modern, over which we, unfortunately, have only sufficient time to cast a superficial and fleeting glance. We will, however, spend a profitable moment or two on several issues that Klages examined in some detail, for various pivotal disputes that have preoccupied the minds of gifted thinkers from the pre-Socratics down to Nietzsche were also of pre-eminent significance for Klages.

One of the pre-Socratic thinkers in particular, Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 536-470 B.C.E.), the “dark one,” was looked upon by Ludwig Klages as the founding father of “biocentric,” or life-centered, philosophy. Klages and Heraclitus share the conviction that life is ceaseless change, chaos, “eternal flux” [panta rhei]. Both thinkers held that it is not matter that endures through the ceaseless patterns of world-transformation: it is this ceaseless transformation itself that is the enduring process, which alone constitutes this ever-shifting vibrancy, this soaring and fading of appearances, this becoming and passing away of phenomenal images upon which Klages bestowed the name life. Likewise, Klages and Heraclitus were in complete accord in their conviction that natural events transpire in a succession of rhythmical pulsations. For both thinkers, nothing abides without change in the human world, and in the cosmos at large, everything flows and changes in the rhythmical and kaleidoscopic dance that is the cosmic process. We cannot say of a thing: “it is”; we can only say that a thing “comes to be” and that it “passes away.” The only element, in fact, in the metaphysics of Heraclitus that will be repudiated by Klages is the great pre-Socratic master’s positing of a “Logos,” or indwelling principle of order, and this slight disagreement is ultimately a trivial matter, for the Logos is an item which, in any case, plays a role so exiguous in the Heraclitean scheme as to render the notion, for all practical and theoretical purposes, nugatory as far as the basic thrust of the philosophy of the eternal flux.

Another great Greek philosopher, Protagoras of Abdera (c. 480-410 B.C.E.), is fulsomely acclaimed by Klages as the “father of European psychology and history’s pioneer epistemologist.” When Protagoras asserted that the content of perception from moment to moment is the result of the fusion of an external event (the world) with an inner event (the experiencing soul), he was, in effect, introducing the Heraclitean flux into the sphere of the soul. No subsequent psychologist has achieved a greater theoretical triumph. The key text upon which Klages bases this endorsement is Sext. Emp., Pyrrh. I (217): “…matter is in flux, and as it flows additions are made continuously in the place of the effluxions, and the senses are transformed and altered according to the times of life and to all the other conditions of the bodies.” (218) “Men apprehend different things at different times owing to their differing dispositions; for he who is in a natural state apprehends those things subsisting in matter which are able to appear to those in a natural state, and those who are in a non-natural state the things which can appear to those in a non-natural state.” Thus, the entire sphere of psychical life is a matter of perception, which comprises the act of perception (in the soul) and the content of perception (in the object). This Protagorean insight forms the basis for the distinction between noumenon and phenomenon that will exert such a fructifying influence on Western thought, especially during the period of German Romanticism.

Greek thought has a significant bearing on crucial discoveries that were made by Klages. We have learned that there are two forces that are primordially opposed to each other, spirit and life; in addition, we have seen these forces cannot be reduced to each other, nor can they be reduced to any third term; body and soul constitute the poles of unified life, and it is the mission of spirit to invade that unity, to function as a divisive wedge in order to tear the soul from the body and the body from the soul. Thus, spirit begins its career as the disrupter of life; only at the end of history will it become the destroyer of life. We find a piquant irony in the oft-expressed view that accuses Klages of inventing this “spirit” out of whole cloth, for those who have sneered at his account of the provenance of spirit as a force that enters life from outside the sphere of life, dismissing the very idea from serious consideration by reducing the concept to a caricature (“Klagesian devil,” “Klages with his spirit-as-‘space-invader’,” and so on), offer quite an irresistible opening for a controversialist’s unbuttoned foil, because such statements reveal, at one and the same time, an ignorance of the history of philosophy in our professors and commentators that should curdle the blood of the most trusting students, as well as an almost incomprehensible inability, or unwillingness, to understand a scrupulously exact and closely-argued text. This intellectual disability possesses, one must confess, a certain undeniable pathos. As it happens, the question as to the provenance of spirit has always enjoyed a prominent position in the history of philosophical speculation (especially in the narrow field of epistemology, i.e., the “theory of cognition”), and the Klagesian viewpoint that has been so ignorantly and persistently excoriated is explicitly drawn from the philosophy of—Aristotle! It was Aristotle, “the master of those who know,” who, in discussing the divided substance of man, discovered that he could only account for the origin of one of the components, viz., spirit [Gk. nous], by concluding that spirit had entered man “from outside”! Likewise, the idea of a “tripartite” structure of man, which seems so bizarre to novice students of biocentrism, has quite a respectable pedigree, for, once again, it was Aristotle who viewed man as having three aspects, viz., Psyche-Soma-Nous (Soul-Body-Spirit).

The speculations of the Greek philosophers who belonged to the Eleatic School provided the crucial insights that inspired Klages’s masterful formulation of the doctrine of the “actuality of the images.” The specific problem that so exercised the Eleatics was the paradox of motion. The Eleatics insisted that motion was inconceivable, and they proceeded from that paradoxical belief to the conclusion that all change is impossible. One of the Eleatics, Zeno, is familiar to students of the history of philosophy as the designer of the renowned “Zeno’s Paradoxes,” the most famous of which is the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise. Zeno provided four proofs against the possibility of motion: 1) a body must traverse in finite time an infinite number of spaces and, therefore, it can never ever begin its journey; 2) here we have Zeno’s application of his motion-theory to the “Achilles” problem that we’ve just mentioned—if Achilles grants a lead or “head start” (analogous to a “handicap”) to the tortoise against whom he is competing in a foot-race, he will never be able to overtake the tortoise, because by the time Achilles has reached point A (the starting-point for the tortoise), his opponent has already reached point B. In fact, Achilles will never even reach point A, because before he can traverse the entire distance between his starting-point and point A, he must necessarily cover one-half of that distance, and then one-half of the remaining distance, and so on and so on ad infinitum, as it were! 3) the arrow that has just been launched by the archer is always resting, since it always occupies the same space; and 4) equivalent distances must, at equivalent velocity, be covered in the identical time. But a moving body will pass another body that is moving in the opposite direction (at the identical velocity) twice as quickly as when this body is resting, and this demonstrates that the observed facts contradict the laws of motion. Betraying a certain nervousness, historians of philosophy usually dismiss the Eleatics as superficial skeptics or confused souls, but they never condescend to provide a convincing refutation of their “obvious” or “superficial” errors.

Klages, on the other hand, finds both truth and error in the Eleatics’ position. From the standpoint of an analysis of things, the Eleatics’ are on firm ground in their insistence on the impossibility of change, but from the standpoint of an analysis of appearances, their position is utterly false. Their error arose from the fact that the Greeks of this period had already succumbed to the doctrine that the world of appearances is a world of deception, a reservoir of illusory images. This notion has governed almost every metaphysical system that has been devised by western philosophers down to our own time, and with every passing age, the emphasis upon the world of the things (Noumena) has increased at the expense of the world of appearances (Phenomena). Klages, on the other hand, will solve the “Problem of the Eleatics” by an emphatic demonstration that the phenomenal images are, in fact, the only realities.

During the Renaissance, in fact, when ominous temblors were heralding the dawn of our “philosophy of the mechanistic apocalypse,” there were independent scholars (among whom we find Giordano Bruno and Paracelsus) who speculated at length on the relationship that exists between the macrocosm and the microcosm, as well as on the three-fold nature of man and on the proto-characterological doctrine of the “Temperaments.”

But the key figure in the overturning of the triadic world-view is undoubtedly the French thinker and mathematician René Descartes (1596-1650), who is chiefly responsible for devising the influential schematic dualism of thinking substance and extended substance, which has dominated, in its various incarnations and permutations, the thinking of the vast majority of European thinkers ever since. Descartes explicitly insists that all of our perceptions as well as every “thing” that we encounter must be reduced to the status of a machine; in fact, he even suggests that the whole universe is merely a vast mechanism (terram totumque hunc mundum instar machinæ descripsi). It is no accident, then, that Cartesian thought is devoid of genuine psychology, for, as he says in the Discours de la méthode, man is a mere machine, and his every thought and every movement can be accounted for by means of a purely mechanical explanation.

Nevertheless, there have been several revolts against Cartesian dualism. As recently as two centuries ago, the extraordinarily gifted group of “Nature Philosophers” who were active during the glory days of German Romanticism, pondered the question of the “three-fold” in publications that can be consulted with some profit even today.

We have seen that the specifically Klagesian “triad” comprises body-soul-spirit, and the biocentric theory holds that life, which comprises the poles of body and soul, occurs as processes and events. Spirit is an intruder into the sphere of life, an invader seeking always to sever the poles, a dæmonic willfulness that is characterized by manic activity and purposeful deeds. “The body is the manifestation of the soul, and the soul is the meaning of the living body.” We have seen that Klages was able to trace proleptic glimpses of this biocentric theory of the soul back to Greek antiquity, and he endeavored for many years to examine the residues of psychical life that survive in the language, poetry, and mythology of the ancient world, in order to interpret the true meanings of life as it had been expressed in the word, cult, and social life of the ancients. He brilliantly clarifies the symbolic language of myth, especially with reference to the cosmogonic Eros and the Orphic Mysteries. He also explores the sensual-imagistic thought of the ancients as the foundation upon which objective cognition is first erected, for it is among the Greeks, and only among the Greeks, that philosophy proper was discovered. During the peak years of the philosophical activity of the Greek thinkers, spirit still serves the interests of life, existing in an authentic relationship with an actuality that is sensuously and inwardly “en-souled” [beseelt]. The cosmological speculation of antiquity reveals a profound depth of feeling for the living cosmos, and likewise demonstrates the presence of the intimate bonds that connect man to the natural world; contemplation is still intimately bound-up with the primordial, elemental powers. Klages calls this “archaic” Greek view of the world, along with its later reincarnations in the history of western thought, the “biocentric” philosophy, and he situates this mode of contemplation as the enemy of the “logocentric” variety, i.e., the philosophy that is centered upon the Logos, or “mind,” for mind is the manifestation of spirit as it enters western thought with the appearance of Socrates. From Plato himself, through his “neo-Platonic” disciples of the Hellenistic and Roman phases of antiquity, and down to the impoverished Socratic epigones among the shallow “rationalists” of 17th and 18th century Europe, all philosophers who attempt to restore or renew the project of a philosophical “enlightenment,” are the heirs of Socrates, for it was Socrates who first made human reason the measure of all things. Socratic rationalism also gave rise to life-alien ethical schemes based upon a de-natured creature, viz., man-as-such. This pure spirit, this distilled ego, seeks to sever all natural and racial bonds, and as a result, “man” prides himself upon being utterly devoid of nobility, beauty, blood, and honor. In the course of time, he will attach his fortunes to the even more lethal spiritual plague known as Christianity, which hides its destructive force behind the hypocritical demand that we “love one’s neighbors.” From 1789 onwards, a particularly noxious residue of this Christian injunction, the undifferentiating respect for the ghost known as “humanity,” will be considered the hallmark of every moral being.

The heirs of the Socratic tradition have experienced numerous instances of factional strife and re-groupings in the course of time, although the allegiance to spirit has always remained unquestioned by all of the disputants. One faction may call itself “idealistic” because it considers concepts, ideas, and categories to be the only true realities; another faction may call itself “materialistic” because it views “things” as the ultimate constituents of reality; nevertheless, both philosophical factions give their allegiance, nolentes volentes, to the spirit and its demands. Logocentric thought, in fact, is the engine driving the development of the applied science that now rules the world. And by their gifts shall ye know them!

The bitterly antagonistic attitude of Klages towards one of the most illustrious heirs of Socrates, viz., Immanuel Kant, has disturbed many students of German thought who see something perverse and disingenuous in this opposition to the man whom they regard uncritically as the unsurpassed master of German thought. Alfred Rosenberg and the other offical spokesmen of the National Socialist movement were especially enraged by the ceaseless attacks on Kant by Klages and his disciple Werner Deubel. Nevertheless, Kant’s pre-eminence as an epistemologist was disputed as long ago as 1811, when Gottlob Ernst Schulze published his “Critique of Theoretical Philosophy,” which was then, and remains today, the definitive savaging of Kant’s system. Klages endorses Schulze’s demonstration that Kant’s equation: actuality = being = concept = thing = appearance (or phenomenon) is utterly false, and is the main source of Kant’s inability to distinguish between perception and representation. Klages adds that he finds it astonishing that Kant should have been able to convince himself that he had found the ultimate ground of the faculty of cognition in—cognition! Klages cites with approval Nietzsche’s “Beyond Good and Evil,” in which Kant is ridiculed for attempting to ground his epistemology in the “faculty of a faculty”! Klages shows that the foundation of the faculty of cognition lies not in cognition itself, but in experience, and that the actuality of space and time cannot have its origins in conceptual thought, but solely in the vital event. There can be no experienced colors or sounds without concomitant spatio-temporal characteristics, for there can be no divorce between actual space and actual time. We can have no experience of actual space without sensory input, just as we have no access to actual time without thereby participating in the ceaseless transformation of the phenomenal images.

Formalistic science and its offspring, advanced technology, can gain access to only a small segment of the living world and its processes. Only the symbol has the power to penetrate all the levels of actuality, and of paramount importance to Klages in his elaborate expositions of the biocentric metaphysics is the distinction between conceptual and symbolic thought. We have previously drawn attention to the fact that drive-impulses are manifest in expressive movements that are, in turn, impelled by the influence of a non-conceptual power that Klages calls the symbol. Likewise, symbolic thinking is a tool that may profitably be utilized in the search for truth, and Klages contrasts symbolic contemplation with the logical, or “formalistic,” cognition, but he is at pains to draw our attention to the errors into which an unwarranted, one-sided allegiance to either type of thought can plunge us. Although Klages has been repeatedly and bitterly accused by Marxists and other “progressives” as being a vitriolic enemy of reason, whose “irrationalism” provided the “fascists” with their heaviest ideological artillery, nothing could be further from the truth. On occasions too numerous to inventory, he ridicules people like Bergson and Keyserling who believe that “intuition” lights the royal road to truth. His demolition of the Bergsonian notion of the élan vital is definitive and shattering, and his insistence that such an entity is a mere pseudo-explanation is irrefutable and might have been published in a British philosophical journal. In the end, Klages says, “irrationalism” is the spawn of—spirit!

Our ability to formulate and utilize concepts as well as our capacity to recognize conceptual identities is sharply opposed to the procedure involved in the symbolic recognition of identities. The recognition of such conceptual identities has, of course, a crucial bearing on the life of the mind, since it is this very ability that functions as the most important methodological tool employed by every researcher involved in the hard sciences. Symbolic identification, on the other hand, differs widely from its conceptual counterpart in that the symbolic type derives its meaning-content from the “elemental similarity of images.” Thus, the process of substantive, or conceptual, identification confronts its opposite number in the “identity of essence” of symbolic thought. It is this “identity of essence,” as it happens, which has given birth to language and its capacity to embody authentic meaning-content in words. Jean Paul was quite right, Klages tells us, in describing language as a “dictionary of faded metaphors,” for every abstraction that is capable of verbal representation arose from the essentiality of the meaning-content of words.

He draws a sharp distinction between the true symbol (Gk. symbolon, i.e., token) and the mere sign whose significance is purely referential. The true meaning of an object resides in its presence, which Klages refers to as an aura, and this aura is directly communicated to a sensory apparatus that resists all purely linguistic attempts to establish formulas of equivalence or “correspondence.” The sensual imagination participates in an unmediated actuality, and intuitive insight (Schauung) allows us to gain access to a realm of symbols, which rush into our souls as divine epiphanies.

Life resists rules, for life is eternal flux. Life is not rigid being, and therefore life will always evade the man-traps of mind, the chains of the concept. Life, comprising the poles of body and soul, is the physical event as phenomenal expression of the soul. There can be no soul-less phenomena and there can be no souls without (phenomenal) appearances, just as there can be no word-less concepts and no words without meaning-content. The physical world is the image-laden appearance (phenomenon) that manifests a psychical substance. When the dæmonic object encounters the receptive, or “pathic,” soul, the object becomes a symbol and acquires a “nimbus,” which is a pulsating radiance surrounding the moment of becoming. This nimbus is referred to as an “aura” when applied to persons, and both nimbus and aura represent the contribution of the object to the act of perception.

Non-symbolic, formalistic thought, on the other hand is irreverent, non- contemplative, and can best be characterized as an act that is enacted in the service of spirit, which imperiously and reductively ordains that the act of perception must also be an act of the will. Thus the will attains primacy even over the de-substantialized intellect, and Klages—who has persistently been dismissed as an obscurantist and irrationalist—never misses an opportunity to re-iterate his deep conviction that the essence of spirit is to be located in the will and not in the intellect.

As we’ve seen, Klages holds that the living soul is the antithesis of the spirit. The spirit seeks to rigidify the eternal flux of becoming, just as the soul, in yielding passively to the eternal flux, resists the raging Heracleic spirit and its murderous projects. Body and soul reach the peak of creative vitality when their poles are in equipoise or perfect balance, and the high point of life is reached in the experience of sensuous joy. Spirit’s assault upon the body is launched against this joy, and in waging war against the joy of the body, spirit also wages war against the soul, in order to expel the soul, to make it homeless, in order to annihilate all ecstasy and creativity. Every attempt that has been made by monistic thinkers to derive the assault on life from the sphere of life itself has misfired. Such troublesome anomalies as the supernatural visions and cases of dæmonic possession that transpired during the Middle Ages, as well the crippling cases of hysteria so familiar to psychologists in our own time, can never be satisfactorily explained unless we realize that the souls of these unfortunates were sundered by the acosmic force of spirit, whose very essence is the will, that enemy and murderer of life. The conceptual “Tower of Babylon” reared by monists in their ludicrous efforts to derive the force that wages war against life from life itself is no less absurd than would be the foredoomed attempt of a firefighter to extinguish a blaze by converting a portion of the fire into the water that will extinguish the fire!

There is, however, one privileged example of a manifestation of the will in the service of life, and this occurs when the will is enlisted for the purposes of artistic creation. The will, Klages insists, is incapable of creative force, but when the artist’s intuition has received an image of a god, the will functions “affirmatively” in the destructive assaults of the artist’s chisel upon the marble that is to embody the image of the divinity.

Actuality (the home of the soul) is experienced; being (the home of spirit) is thought. The soul is a passive surrender to the actuality of the appearances. Actuality is an ever-changing process of coming to be and passing away that is experienced as images. Spirit attempts to fix, to make rigid, the web of images that constitutes actuality by means of conceptual thought, whose concrete form is the apparatus of the scientist. Cognition represents identical, unfaltering, timeless being; life is the actuality of experience in time. When one says of time that it “is,” as if it were something rigid and identical behind the eternal flux, then time is implicitly stripped of its very essence as that which is “temporal”; it is this temporal essence which is synonymous with becoming and transformation. When one speaks of a thing or a realm that is beyond, i.e., that “transcends,” the unmediated, experienced actuality of the living world, one is merely misusing thought in order to introduce a conceptual, existential world in the place of the actual one, which has the inalienable character of transitoriness and temporality.

It is within the “pathic” soul that the categories of space and time originate. Acosmic spirit, on the other hand, invaded the sphere of life from outside the spatio-temporal cosmos. Klages scorns the schemes of philosophical “idealists” who attempt to ground the structures of space and time in some transcendental world. He also distinguishes a biocentric non-rational temporality from “objective” time. Biocentric thought, true to its immanentist (“this-worldly”) status, recognizes that the images that pulsate in immanentist time are excluded by their very nature from any participation in objective time, for the images can only live within the instantaneous illumination of privileged moments. Klages savages the platitudes and errors of logocentric thinkers who adhere, with almost manic rigidity, to the conventional scheme of dual-axis temporality. In ordinary logic, time is viewed as radiating from the present (that extension-less hypostasis) backward into time-past and forward into time-to-come: but the whole scheme collapses in a heap as soon as we realize that the future, the “time-to-come,” is nothing but a delirious void, a grotesque phantom, a piece of philosophical fiction. Only the past possesses true actuality; only the past is real. The future is merely a pale hallucination flitting about in deluded minds. True time is the relationship that binds the poles of past and present. This union occurs as a rhythmical pulsation that bears the moment’s content into the past, as a new moment is generated, as it were, out of the womb of eternity, that authentic depository of actual time. Time is an unending cycle of metamorphoses utterly unrelated to the processes of “objective” time. True time, cyclical time, is clocked by the moments that intervene between a segment of elapsed time and the time that is undergoing the process of elapsing. Time is the soul of space, just as space is the embodiment of time. Only within actual time can we apprehend the primordial images in their sensuous immediacy. Logic, on the other hand, can only falsify the exchange between living image and receptive soul.

Let us examine the biological—or, more properly, ethological—implications of the doctrine of “primordial images” [Urbilder]. Bear in mind, of course, the crucial distinction that is drawn by Klages between the science of fact (Tatsachenwissenschaft) and the science of appearances (Erscheinungswissenschaft): factual science establishes laws of causality in order to explain, e.g., physiological processes or the laws of gravitation; thus, we say that factual science examines the causes of things. The science of appearances, on the other hand, investigates the actuality of the images, for images are the only enduring realities.

The enduring nature of the image can be seen in the example of the generation of a beech-tree. Suppose a beech-tree sheds its seed upon the forest floor, in which it germinates. Can we say of the mother-tree that it lives within the child? Certainly not! We can chop down the mother tree and burn it to ashes, whilst the offspring continues to prosper. Can we say that the matter of which the old tree was composed survives intact within the younger tree? Again, no: for not an atom of the matter that made up the seed from which the young beech grew exists within it. Likewise, not an atom of the matter of which a man’s body is composed at the age of thirty survives from that same man’s body as it was on his tenth birthday. Now, if it is not the matter of which the organism is composed which endures through the ages, what then is it that so endures? “The one possible answer is: an image.” Life and its processes occur outside the world of things. On the contrary: life comprises the events in the world of the images.

Thus, we see that the doctrine of the “actuality of the images” [Wirklichkeit der Bilder] holds that it is not things, but images, that are “en-souled” [beseelt], and this proposition, Klages tells us, forms the “key to his whole doctrine of life [Lebenslehre].” Things stand in a closed chain of causality, and there is no reciprocal action between the image and the thing, no parallelism, and no connection, and the attempts that have been undertaken by various philosophers to equate the thing and the image merely serve to rupture the chain of causality in its relevant sphere, i.e., the quantitative scientific method. The receptive soul is turned towards the actuality of the image, and when we say on one occasion that an object is “red,” and on another that this same object is “warm,” in the first case the reference is to the reality of things, whereas in the second case the reference is to the actuality of images. By using the name of a color, we indicate that we are differentiating between the superficial qualities, or surface attributes, of things; when we say that a colored object is “warm” or “cold,” on the other hand, we are pointing to the phenomenal “presence” that has been received by the pathic soul. In fact, there are a whole host of common expressions in which this attribution of subjective, psychical states to visible phenomena occurs. We say, for instance, that red is “hot” and that blue is “cold.” In the Vom Wesen des Bewusstseins (1921), a treatise on the nature of consciousness, Klages adduces an astonishingly vast inventory of words that are routinely utilized in descriptions of subjective as well as perceptual phenomena. Someone will speak of his a “bitter” feeling of resentment at some slight or injury. The expression that love is “sweet” occurs in almost every language. Likewise, joy is often described as “bright,” just as grief or sorrow are often referred to as “dark.” We also have “hot” anger (or the familiar variant, the “‘heat’ of the moment”).

Images are the charged powers, or natures, that constitute the basis of all phenomena of cosmic and elemental life as well as of cellular, organic life. All that exists participates in the life of the images. Air, fire, earth, and water; rocks, clouds, planets and suns; plant, animal and man: all of these entities are alive and have souls that share in the life of the cosmos. It isn’t matter that constitutes the stuff of reality, for matter perishes; but the image, which remains alive as it wanders through the rhythmically pulsating cosmos, never dies. It changes through the processes of maturation and growth in the organism, and it transforms itself through the millennia in the species. The images alone have life; the images alone have meaning. The souls of those who now live are images that are temporarily wedded to matter, just as the souls of the dead are images that have been released from matter. The souls of the dead revisit us in their actual form in dreams (Wirklichkeitsform der Traumerscheinung), unconstrained by the limitations of material substance. The souls of the dead are not expelled from the world to live on as immortal “spirits” housed in some transcendent “beyond”; they are, instead, dæmonically vital presences, images that come to be, transform themselves, and vanish into the distance within the phenomenal world that is the only truly existing world.

The human soul recalls the material palpability of the archaic images by means of the faculty that Klages calls “recollection,” and his view in this regard invites comparison with the Platonic process of “anamnesis.” The recollection of which Klages speaks takes place, of course, without the intervention of the will or the projects of the conscious mind. Klages’s examination of “vital recollection” was greatly influenced by the thought of Wilhelm Jordan, a nineteenth century poet and pioneer Darwinist, whose works were first encountered by the young philosopher at the end of that century. In Jordan’s massive didactic poem Andachten, which was published in 1877, the poet espouses a doctrine of the “memory of corporeal matter.” This work had such a fructifying influence on the thought of Klages, that we here give some excerpts:

It is recollection of her own cradle, when the red stinging fly glues grains of sand into a pointed arch as soon as she feels that her eggs have ripened to maturity. It is recollection of her own food during the maggot-state when the anxious mother straddles the caterpillar and drags it for long distances, lays her eggs in it, and locks it in that prison. The larva of the male stag-beetle feels and knows by recollection the length of his antlers, and in the old oak carves out in doubled dimensions the space in which he will undergo metamorphosis. What teaches the father of the air to weave the exact angles of her net by delicate law, and to suspend it from branch to branch with strings, as firm as they are light, according to her seat? Does she instruct her young in this art? No! She takes her motherly duties more lightly. The young are expelled uncared-for from the sac in which the eggs have been laid. But three or four days later the young spider spreads its little nest with equal skill on the fronds of a fern, although it never saw the net in which its mother caught flies. The caterpillar has no eye with which to see how others knit the silken coffins from which they shall rise again. From whence have they acquired all the skill with which they spin so? Wholly from inherited recollection. In man, what he learned during his life puts into the shade the harvest of his ancestors’ labors: this alone blinds him, stupefied by a learner’s pride, to his own wealth of inherited recollections. The recollection of that which has been done a thousand times before by all of his ancestors teaches a new-born child to suck aptly, though still blind. Recollection it is which allows man in his mother’s womb to fly, within the course of a few months, through all the phases of existence through which his ancestors rose long ago. Inherited recollection, and no brute compulsion, leads the habitual path to the goal that has many times been attained; it makes profoundest secrets plain and open, and worthy of admiration what was merely a miracle. Nature makes no free gifts. Her commandment is to gain strength to struggle, and the conqueror’s right is to pass this strength on to his descendants: her means by which the skill is handed down is the memory of corporeal matter.

The primordial images embody the memory of actual objects, which may re-emerge at any moment from the pole of the past to rise up in a rush of immediacy at the pole of the present. This living world of image-laden actuality is the “eternal flux” [panta rhei] of Heraclitus, and its cyclical transformations relate the present moment to the moments that have elapsed, and which will come around again, per sæcula sæculorum.

Thus we see that the cosmos communicates through the magical powers of the symbol, and when we incorporate symbolic imagery into our inmost being, a state of ecstasy supervenes, and the soul’s substance is magically revitalized (as we have already seen, genuine ecstasy reaches its peak when the poet’s “polar touch of a pathic soul” communicates his images in words that bear the meaning of the actual world within them).

When prehistoric man arrives on the stage, he is already experiencing the incipient stages of the fatal shift from sensation to contemplation. Spirit initiates the campaign of destruction: the receptor-activity is fractured into “impression” and “apperception,” and it is at this very point that we witness, retrospectively, as it were, the creation of historical man. Before the dawn of historical man, in addition to the motor-processes that man possessed in common with the animal, his soul was turned towards wish-images. With the shift of the poles, i.e., when the sensory “receptor” processes yield power to the motor “effector” processes, we witness the hypertrophic development of the human ego. Klages is scornful of all egoism, and he repeatedly expressed bitter scorn towards all forms of “humanism,” for he regards the humanist’s apotheosis of the precious “individual” as a debased kowtowing before a mere conceptual abstraction. The ego is not a man; it is merely a mask.) In the place of psychical wishes, we now have aims. In the ultimate stages of historical development man is exclusively devoted to the achievement of pre-conceived goals, and the vital impulses and wish-images are replaced by the driving forces, or interests.

Man is now almost completely a creature of the will, and we recall that it is the will, and not the intellect, that is the characteristic function of spirit in the Klagesian system. However, we must emphasize that the will is not a creative, originating force. Its sole task is to act upon the bearer of spirit, if we may employ an analogy, in the manner of a rudder that purposively steers a craft in the direction desired by the navigator. In order to perform this regulative function, i.e., in order to transform a vital impulse into purposeful activity, the drive impulse must be inhibited and then directed towards the goal in view.

Now spirit in man is dependent upon the sphere of life as long as it collaborates as an equal partner in the act of perception; but when the will achieves mastery in man, this is merely another expression for the triumph of spirit over the sphere of life. In the fatal shift from life to spirit, contemplative, unconscious feeling is diminished, and rational judgment and the projects of the regulative volition take command. The body’s ultimate divorce from the soul corresponds to the soullessness of modern man whose emotional life has diminished in creative power, just as the gigantic political state-systems have seized total control of the destiny of earth. Spirit is hostile to the demands of life. When consciousness, intellect, and the will to power achieve hegemony over the dæmonic forces of the cosmos, all psychical creativity and all vital expression must perish.

When man is exiled from the realm of passive contemplation, his world is transformed into the empire of will and its projects. Man now abandons the feminine unconscious mode of living and adheres to the masculine conscious mode, just as his affective life turns from bionomic rhythm to rationalized measure, from freedom to servitude, and from an ecstatic life in dreams to the harsh and pitiless glare of daylight wakefulness. No longer will he permit his soul to be absorbed into the elements, where the ego is dissolved and the soul merges itself with immensity in a world wherein the winds of the infinite cosmos rage and roar. He can no longer participate in that Selbsttödung, or self-dissolution, which Novalis once spoke of as the “truly philosophical act and the real beginning of all philosophy.” Life, which had been soul and sleep, metamorphoses into the sick world of the fully conscious mind. To borrow another phrase from Novalis (who was one of Klages’s acknowledged masters), man now becomes “a disciple of the Philistine-religion that functions merely as an opiate.” (That lapidary phrase, by the way, was crafted long before the birth of the “philosopher” Karl Marx, that minor player on the left-wing of the “Young Hegelians” of the 1840s; many reactionaries in our university philosophy departments still seem to be permanently bogged down in that stagnant morass—yet these old fogies of the spirit insist on accusing Fascists of being the political reactionaries!)

Man finally yields himself utterly to the blandishments of spirit in becoming a fully conscious being. Klages draws attention to the fact that there are in popular parlance two divergent conceptions of the nature of consciousness: the first refers to the inner experience itself; whilst the second refers to the observation of the experience. Klages only concerns himself with consciousness in the second sense of the word. Experiences are by their very nature unconscious and non-purposive. Spiritual activity takes place in a non-temporal moment, as does the act of conscious thought, which is an act of spirit. Experience must never be mistaken for the cognitive awareness of an experience, for as we have said, consciousness is not experience itself, but merely thought about experience. The “receptor” pole of experience is sharply opposed to the “effector” pole, in that the receptive soul receives sensory perceptions: the sense of touch receives the perception of “bodiliness”; the sense of sight receives the images, which are to be understood as pictures that are assimilated to the inner life. Sensation mediates the experience of (physical) closeness, whilst intuition receives the experience of distance. Sensation and intuition comprehend the images of the world. The senses of touch and vision collaborate in sensual experience. One or the other sense may predominate, i.e., an individual’s sense of sight may have a larger share than that of touch in one’s reception of the images (or vice versa), and one receptive process may be in the ascendant at certain times, whilst the other may come to the fore at other times. (In dreams the bodily component of the vital processes, i.e., sensation, sleeps, whilst the intuitive side remains wholly functional. These facts clearly indicate the incorporeality of dream-images as well as the nature of their actuality. Wakefulness is the condition of sensual processes, whilst the dream state is one of pure intuition.)

Pace William James, consciousness and its processes have nothing to do with any putative “stream of consciousness.” That viewpoint ignores the fact that the processes that transpire in the conscious mind occur solely as interruptions of vital processes. The activities of consciousness can best be comprehended as momentary, abrupt assaults that are deeply disturbing in their effects on the vital substrata of the body-soul unity.These assaults of consciousness transpire as discrete, rhythmically pulsating “intermittencies” (the destructive nature of spirit’s operations can be readily demonstrated; recall, if you will, how conscious volition can interfere with various bodily states: an intensification of attention may, for instance, induce disturbances in the heart and the circulatory system; painful or onerous thought can easily disrupt the rhythm of one’s breathing; in fact, any number of automatic and semi-automatic somatic functions are vulnerable to spirit’s operations, but the most serious disturbances can be seen to take place, perhaps, when the activity of the will cancels out an ordinary, and necessary, human appetite in the interests of the will. Such “purposes” of the will are invariably hostile to the organism and, in the most extreme cases, an over-attention to the dictates of spirit can indeed eventuate in tragic fatalities such as occur in terminal sufferers from anorexia nervosa).

Whereas the unmolested soul could at one time “live” herself into the elements and images, experiencing their plenitudinous wealth of content in the simultaneous impressions that constitute the immediacy of the image, insurgent spirit now disrupts that immediacy by disabling the soul’s capacity to incorporate the images. In place of that ardent and erotic surrender to the living cosmos that is now lost to the soul, spirit places a satanic empire of willfulness and purposeful striving, a world of those who regard the world’s substance as nothing more than raw material to be devoured and destroyed.

The image cannot be spoken, it must be lived. This is in sharp contradistinction to the status of the thing, which is, in fact, “speakable,” as a result of its having been processed by the ministrations of spirit. All of our senses collaborate in the communication of the living images to the soul, and there are specific somatic sites, such as the eyes, mouth, and genitalia, that function as the gates, the “sacred” portals, as it were, through which the vital content of the images is transmitted to the inner life (these somatic sites, especially the genitalia, figure prominently in the cultic rituals that have been enacted by pagan worshipers in every historical period known to us).

An Age of Chaos

In the biocentric phenomenology of Ludwig Klages, the triadic historical development of human consciousness, from the reign of life, through that of thought, to the ultimate empire of the raging will, is reflected in the mythic-symbolic physiognomy which finds expression in the three-stage, “triadic,” evolution from “Pelasgian” man—of the upper Neolithic and Bronze Ages of pre-history; through the Promethean—down to the Renaissance; to the Heracleic man—the terminal phase that we now occupy, the age to which two brilliant 20th century philosophers of history, Julius Evola and Savitri Devi, have given the name “Kali Yuga,” which in Hinduism is the dark age of chaos and violence that precedes the inauguration of a new “Golden Age,” when a fresh cycle of cosmic events dawns in bliss and beauty.

And it is at this perilous juncture that courageous souls must stiffen their sinews and summon up their blood in order to endure the doom that is closing before us like a mailed fist. Readers may find some consolation, however, in our philosopher’s expressions of agnosticism regarding the ultimate destiny of man and earth. Those who confidently predict the end of all life and the ultimate doom of the cosmos are mere swindlers, Klages assures us. Those who cannot successfully predict such mundane trivialities as next season’s fashions in hemlines or the trends in popular music five years down the road can hardly expect to be taken seriously as prophets who can foretell the ultimate fate of the entire universe!

In the end, Ludwig Klages insists that we must never underestimate the resilience of life, for we have no yardstick with which to measure the magnitude of life’s recuperative powers. “All things are in flux.” That is all.

 

—————-

Pryce, Joseph. “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages.” Revilo-Oliver.com, 2001. <http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/Ludwig_Klages.html >. (See this essay in PDF format here: On the Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages).

Note: This essay has been republished in print as an introduction to the Ludwig Klages anthology The Biocentric Worldview (London: Arktos, 2013).

Another good overview of Klages’s thought in English was made in Lydia Baer, “The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 1941), pp. 91–138.

In the conclusion of her essay, Lydia Baer summarises her studies of Klages’s theories thus (quoted from pages 137-138):

Biocentric criticism in literature rests on the philosophic and psychological background established by Ludwig Klages. It is proud to call itself romantic and it disdains every humanistic premise. It enlists under its standards, however, poets and writers who have stood preponderantly for the humanistic tradition, determining, much in the fashion of the classic romantic controversy, the biocentric and the logocentric traits. Very roughly speaking, the alleged antithesis biocentric-logo centric corresponds to the claim of romantic-classic polarity; however, Klages has exercised extreme selective care in formulating his definitions of romanticism, and all the values lie on that side. The enthusiasm of his followers, which he himself deprecates as at times “over-zealous” in drawing hasty conclusions, carries biocentric criticism to the point of excess and sometimes misinterpretation of the founder.

In its essence biocentric criticism is vitalistic. It glorifies Life, as carefully distinguished from mere Existence,158 but it is not necessarily optimistic in its outlook.159 It is non-moral and non-ethical, its religion is paganism, its mysticism is thorough-going. Its standard of perfection is the completeness of soul content (meaning) of the work of art, its birth in fire, flame, and intoxication, thus constituting its own reason for being. In judging it, the biocentric critic demands that neither the author nor the work be a product of reasoned reflection; neither must have been dominated by volition or activism, nor manifest a high degree of consciousness or personality. “Live dangerously” and “surrender yourself to the cosmos” are keynotes of biocentric criticism. The proof of value lies in successful symbolic thinking, that is, wealth of imagery. The great standards of Wonder, Love and Example are unceasingly symbolized in the infinite variety of the Cosmos, in the constantly recurring pattern of the Mother and the Child, and finally in the continued re-appearance of poets, gods, and heroes.

The biocentric quest leads to “Kulturpessimismus,” to a longing for a Golden Age, primitive forms of life, and unconscious modes of living.

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German Conservative Revolution – Tudor

The German Conservative Revolution & its Legacy

By Lucian Tudor

 

Translations: Suomi, Română

During the years between World War I and the establishment of the Third Reich, the political, economic, and social crises which Germany suddenly experienced as a result of its defeat in the First World War gave rise to a movement known as the “Conservative Revolution,” which is also commonly referred to as the “Conservative Revolutionary Movement,” with its members sometimes called “Revolutionary Conservatives” or even “Neoconservatives.”

The phrase “Conservative Revolution” itself was popularized as a result of a speech in 1927 by the famous poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who was a Catholic cultural conservative and monarchist.[1] Here Hofmannsthal declared, “The process of which I am speaking is nothing less than a conservative revolution on such a scale as the history of Europe has never known. Its object is form, a new German reality, in which the whole nation will share.”[2]

Although these phrases give the impression that the Conservative Revolution was composed of people who shared the same worldview, this was in fact not the case because the thinkers and leaders of the Conservative Revolution often had disagreements. Furthermore, despite the fact that the philosophical ideas produced by this “new conservatism” influenced German National Socialism and also had links to Fascism, it is incorrect to assume that the people belonging to it are either Fascist or “proto-Nazi.” Although some Revolutionary Conservatives praised Italian Fascism and some also eventually joined the National Socialist Movement (although many did not), overall their worldviews were distinct from both of these political groups.

It is difficult to adequately summarize the views held by the Revolutionary Conservatives due to the fact that many of them held views that stood in contradistinction to certain views held by others in the same movement. What they generally had in common was an awareness of the importance of Volk (this term may be translated as “folk,” “nation,” “ethnicity,” or “people”) and culture, the idea of Volksgemeinschaft (“folk-community”), and a rejection of Marxism, liberalism, and democracy (particularly parliamentary democracy). Ideas that also were common among them was a rejection of the linear concept of history in favor of the cyclical concept, a conservative and non-Marxist form of socialism, and the establishment of an authoritarian elite. [3]

In brief, the movement was made of Germans who had conservative tendencies of some sort but who were disappointed with the state into which Germany had been put by its loss of World War I and sought to advance ideas that were both conservative and revolutionary in nature.

In order to obtain an adequate idea as to the nature of the Conservative Revolution and its outlook, it is best to examine the major intellectuals and their thought. The following sections will provide a brief overview of the most important Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals and their key philosophical contributions.

The Visionaries of a New Reich

The most noteworthy Germans who had an optimistic vision of the establishment of a “Third Reich” were Stefan George, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Edgar Julius Jung. Stefan George, unlike the other two, was not a typical intellectual but a poet. George expressed his Revolutionary Conservative vision of the “new Reich” largely in poetry, and this poetry did in fact reach and affect many young German nationalists and even intellectuals; and for this he is historically notable.[4] But on the intellectual level, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (who popularized the term “Third Reich”) and Edgar Julius Jung had a deeper philosophical impact.

1. Arthur Moeller van den Bruck

Moeller van den Bruck was a cultural historian who became politically active at the end of the First World War. He was a founding member of the conservative “June Club,” of which he became the ideological leader.[5] In Der preussische Stil (“The Prussian Style”) he described what he believed to be the Prussian character, whose key characteristic was the “will to the state,” and in Das Recht der jungen Volker (“The Right of Young Peoples”) he presented the idea of “young peoples” (including Germany, Russia, and America) and “old peoples” (including England and France), advocating an alliance between the “younger” nations with more vitality to defeat the hegemony of Britain and France.[6]

In 1922, he contributed, along with Heinrich von Gleichen and Max Hildebert Boehm, to the book Die neue Front (“The New Front”), a manifesto of the Jungkonservativen (“Young-conservatives”).[7] A year later, Moeller van den Bruck produced his most famous work which contained a comprehensive exposition of his worldview, Das Dritte Reich, translated into English as Germany’s Third Empire.[8]

In Germany’s Third Empire, Moeller made a division between four political stances: Revolutionary, Liberal, Reactionary, and Conservative. Revolutionaries, which especially included Communists, were unrealistic in the sense that they believed they could totally brush aside all past values and traditions. Liberalism was criticized for its radical individualism, which essentially amounts to egotism and disintegrates nations and traditions. Reactionaries, on the other hand, were criticized for having the unrealistic position of desiring a complete revival of past forms, believing that everything in past society was positive. The Conservative, Moeller argued, was superior to the former three because “Conservatism seeks to preserve a nation’s values, both by conserving traditional values, as far as these still possess the power of growth, and by assimilating all new values which increase a nation’s vitality.”[9] Moeller’s “Conservative” was essentially a Revolutionary Conservative.

Moeller rejected Marxism because of its rationalism and materialism, which he argued were flawed ideologies that failed to understand the better side of human societies and life. “Socialism begins where Marxism ends,” he declared.[10] Moeller advocated a corporatist German socialism which recognized the importance of nationality and refused class warfare.

In terms of politics, Moeller rejected republicanism and asserted that true democracy was about the people taking a share in determining its destiny. He rejected monarchy as outdated and anticipated a new form of government in which a strong leader who was connected to the people would emerge. “We need leaders who feel themselves at one with the nation, who identify the nation’s fate with their own.” [11] This leader would establish a “Third Empire, a new and final Empire,” which would solve Germany’s political problems (especially its population problem).

2. Edgar Julius Jung

Another great vision of a Third Reich came from Edgar Julius Jung, a politically active intellectual who wrote the large book Die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen, translated into English as The Rule of the Inferiour,[12] which has sometimes been called the “bible of neo-conservatism.”[13] This book presented a devastating critique of liberalism and combined ideas from Spann, Schmitt, Pareto, and other thinkers.

Liberal democracy was rejected by Jung as the rule of masses which were manipulated by demagogues and also the rule of money because it had inherent tendencies towards plutocracy. The French Revolutionary ideas of “liberty, equality, fraternity” were all rejected as corrosive influences harmful to society and sources of individualism, which Jung viewed as a key cause of decay. Jung also rejected Marxism as a corrupt product of the French Revolution. [14] The Conservative Revolution for Jung was, in his words, the

Restoration of all those elementary laws and values without which man loses his ties with nature and God and without which he is incapable of building up a true order. In the place of equality there will be inherent standards, in the place of social consciousness a just integration into the hierarchical society, in the place of mechanical election an organic elite, in the place of bureaucratic leveling the inner responsibility of genuine self-government, in the place of mass prosperity the rights of a proud people. [15]

In the place of liberal and Marxist forms, Jung envisioned the establishment of a New Reich which would use corporatist economics (related to the medieval guild system), would be organized on a federalist basis, would be animated by Christian spirituality and the power of the Church, and would be led by an authoritarian monarchy and an elite composed of selected qualified members. In Jung’s words, “The state as the highest order of organic community must be an aristocracy; in the last and highest sense: the rule of the best. Even democracy was founded with this claim.”[16]

He also critiqued the materialistic concept of race as “biological materialism” and asserted instead the primacy of the cultural-spiritual entity (it was on this basis, rather than on biology, that the Jewish Problem was to be dealt with). Furthermore, he rejected nationalism in the normal sense of the term, supporting the concept of a federalist, supra-national, pan-European Empire, while still recognizing the reality and importance of Volk and the separateness of ethnic groups. In fact, Jung believed that the new Reich should be formed on “an indestructible volkisch foundation from which the volkisch struggle can take form.”[17]

Edgar Jung, however, was not content with merely writing about his ideas; he had great political ambitions and actively worked with parties and conservatives who agreed with him in the 1920s up until 1934.[18] The necessity of battle was already part of Jung’s philosophy: “If the German people see that, among them, combatants still live, then they become aware also of combat as the highest form of existence. The German destiny calls for men who master it. For, world-history makes the man.” [19]

During his political activity, he came to dislike the National Socialist movement due to a personal dislike for Hitler as well as his view that National Socialism was a product of modernity and was ideologically linked with Marxism and liberalism. Jung was highly active in his opposition to the NSDAP and was eventually responsible for writing Papen’s Marburg address which criticized Hitler’s government in 1934, which resulted in Jung’s death on the Night of the Long Knives.[20]

Theorists of Decline: Spengler and Klages

1. Oswald Spengler

The most famous theorist of decline is Oswald Spengler, the “doctor-prophet” who predicted the fall of the Western High Culture in his magnum opus, The Decline of the West. According to Spengler, every High Culture has its own “soul” (this refers to the essential character of a Culture) and goes through predictable cycles of birth, growth, fulfillment, decline, and demise which resemble that of the life of a plant.[21] To quote Spengler:

A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring. It blooms on the soil of an exactly-definable landscape, to which plant-wise it remains bound. It dies when the soul has actualized the full sum of its possibilities in the shape of peoples, languages, dogmas, arts, states, sciences, and reverts into the proto-soul. [22]

There is an important distinction in this theory between Kultur (“Culture”) and Zivilisation (“Civilization”). Culture refers to the beginning phase of a High Culture which is marked by rural life, religiosity, vitality, will-to-power, and ascendant instincts, while Civilization refers to the later phase which is marked by urbanization, irreligion, purely rational intellect, mechanized life, and decadence. Spengler particularly focused on three High Cultures which he made comparisons between: the Magian, the Classical, and the present Western High Culture. He held the view that the West, which was in its later Civilization phase, would soon enter a final imperialistic and “Caesarist” stage – a stage which, according to Spengler, marks the final flash before the end of a High Culture.[23]

Perhaps Spengler’s most important contribution to the Conservative Revolution, however, is his theory of “Prussian Socialism” which he expressed in Prussianism and Socialism, and which formed the basis of his view that conservatives and socialists should unite. In this short book he argued that the Prussian character, which was the German character par excellence, was essentially socialist. For Spengler, true socialism was primarily a matter of ethics rather than economics.[24]

This ethical, Prussian socialism meant the development and practice of work ethic, discipline, obedience, a sense of duty to the greater good and the state, self-sacrifice, and the possibility of attaining any rank by talent. Prussian socialism was differentiated from Marxism and liberalism. Marxism was not true socialism because it was materialistic and based on class conflict, which stood in contrast with the Prussian ethics of the state. Also in contrast to Prussian socialism was liberalism and capitalism, which negated the idea of duty, practiced a “piracy principle,” and created the rule of money.[25]

2. Ludwig Klages

Ludwig Klages was a less influential, although still noteworthy, theorist of decline who focused not on High Cultures, but on the decline of Life (which stands in contrast to mere Existence). Klages’s theory, named “Biocentrism,” posited a dichotomy between Seele (“Soul”) and Geist (“Spirit”); two forces in human life that were in a psychological battle with each other. Soul may be understood as pure Life, vital impulse, and feeling, while Spirit may be understood as abstract intellect, mechanical and conceptual thought, reason, and Will.[26]

According to Biocentric theory, in primordial pre-historic times, man’s Soul and body were united and thus humans lived ecstatically in accordance to the principle of Life. Over time, human Life was interfered with by Spirit, which caused humans to use conceptual (as opposed to symbolic) thought and rational intellect, thus beginning the severing of body and Soul. In this theory, the more human history progresses, the more Life is limited and ruined by the Spirit in a long but ultimately unstoppable process which ends in completely mechanized, over-civilized, and soul-less people. “Already, the machine has liberated itself from man’s control,” wrote Klages, “it is no longer man’s servant: in reality, man himself is now being enslaved by the machine.”[27]

This final stage is marked by such things as a complete disconnection from Nature, the destruction of the natural environment, massive race-mixing, and a lack of true Life, which is predicted to finally end in the death of mankind due to damage to the natural world. Klages declared, “. . . the ultimate destruction of all seems to be a foregone conclusion.”[28]

Spann and the Unified State

Othmar Spann was, from 1919 to 1938, a professor at the University of Vienna in Austria who was influential but who, despite his enthusiastic support for National Socialism, was removed by the Third Reich government due to a few ideological disagreements.[29] He was the exponent of a theory known as “Universalism” (which is entirely different from universalism in the normal sense of the term). His Universalist view of economics, politics, society, and science was expounded in numerous books, the most important of which was his most memorable work, Der wahre Staat (“The True State”).[30]

Spann’s Universalism was a corporatist theory which rejected individualism. To understand Spann’s rejection of individualism it is necessary to understand what “individualism” is because different and even contradictory definitions are given to that term; individualism here refers to the concept that the individual is absolute and no supra-individual reality exists (and therefore, society is nothing more than a collection of atoms). The reader must be aware that Spann did not make a complete denial of the individual, but rather a complete denial of individualist ideology.[31]

According to Universalist theory, the individual exists only within a particular community or society; the whole (the totality of society) precedes the parts (individuals) because the parts do not truly exist independent from the whole.[32] Spann wrote, “It is the fundamental truth of all social science . . . that it is not the individuals that are the truly real, but the whole, and that the individuals have reality and existence only so far as they are members of the whole.”[33]

Furthermore, society and the State were not entirely separable, because from the State comes the rights of the individual, family, and other groups. Liberalism, capitalism, democracy, and Marxian socialism were all rejected by Spann as individualist or materialist and corrupt products of French Revolutionary ideas. Whereas in past societies the individual was integrated into community, modern life with its liberalism had atomized society. According to Spann, “Mankind can reconcile itself to poverty because it will be and remain poor forever. But to the loss of estate, existential insecurity, uprootedness, and nothingness, the masses of affected people can never reconcile themselves.”[34] As a solution to modern decay, Spann envisioned the formation of a religious Christian, corporatist, hierarchical, and authoritarian state similar to the First Reich (the Holy Roman Empire).[35]

A lesser-known Revolutionary Conservative academic, Hans Freyer, also held similar views to Spann and challenged the ideas and results of the “Enlightenment,” particularly secularism, the idea of universal reason, the concept of a universal humanity, urbanization, and democratization. Against modern society corrupted by these things, Freyer posed the idea of a “totally integrated society” which would be completed by a powerful, non-democratic state. Culture, Volk, race, and religion would form the basis of society and state in order to restore a sense of community and common values. Freyer also joined the National Socialists believing that the movement would realize his aims but later became disappointed with it because of what he saw as its repressive nature during the Third Reich.[36]

Zehrer and Elitist Theory

Hans Zehrer was a notable contributor to and editor of the “neoconservative” magazine Die Tat, and thus eventually also a founding member of a group of intellectuals known as the Tat-Kreis (“Tat-Circle”). Zehrer held the view that “all movements began as intellectual movements of intelligent, well-qualified minorities which, because of the discrepancy between that which is and that which should be, seized the initiative.”[37] His theory was somewhat related to Vilfredo Pareto’s concept of a “circulation of elites” in that he believed that intellectuals, in most cases gifted and intelligent men emerging from any social class, were crucial in determining the succeeding social order and its ideas.

In Germany at that time, the middle class, which made up a large segment of society and of which Zehrer was a member, was facing a number of economic problems. It was Zehrer’s dream that a new political order could be established by young intellectuals of the middle class which he attempted to reach. This new order would result in the abolishment of the insecure Weimar republic and the establishment of an authoritarian elite made up largely of such intellectuals. This elite would not be subject to control by the masses and would choose its own members based on the criterion of personal quality and ability without regard to social class or wealth.[38]

Zehrer’s vision was not fulfilled due to a series of failures to establish a new state by a “revolution from above” as well because of the rise of the NSDAP, which he attempted to influence in the early 1930s despite his disdain for party rule and, after being unsuccessful, retreated from political activity. However, although most Revolutionary Conservative thinkers did not envision an elite composed almost solely of intellectuals, it is notable that they shared with Zehrer the view that an authoritarian elite should have its membership open to qualified individuals of all classes and ranks.[39]

Sombart and Conservative Socialism

Socialists with nationalist and conservative leanings such as Paul Lensch, Johann Plenge, Werner Sombart, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Oswald Spengler to the rise of a new, national, conservative socialism. Of course, it should be remembered that non-Marxist socialism already had a long history in Germany, including such people as the Kathedersozialisten (“socialists of the chair”), Adolf Stöcker, and Ferdinand Tönnies.[40] Werner Sombart himself began as a Marxist, but later became disillusioned with Marxist theory, which he realized was destructive of the human spirit and organic community much in the same way capitalism was.

Sombart is for the most part remembered for his work on the nature of capitalism, especially his works linking the materialistic character of the Jews with capitalism. The obsession with profit, ruthless business practices, indifference to quality, and “the merely rationalizing and abstracting characteristics of the trader” which were key products of capitalism, destroy any “community of labor” and disintegrate bonds between people which were more common in medieval society.[41] Sombart wrote, “Before capitalism could develop, the natural man had to be changed out of all recognition, and a rationalistically minded mechanism introduced in his stead. There had to be a transvaluation of all economic values.”[42]

Sombart’s major objections to Marxism consisted of the fact that Marxism aimed to suppress all religious feelings as well as national feelings and the values of rooted, indigenous culture; Marxism aimed not at a higher mankind but mere base “happiness.” In contrast to Marxism and capitalism, Sombart advocated a German Socialism in which economic policies would be “directed in a corporative manner,” exploitation would be ended, and hierarchy and the welfare of the whole state would be upheld.[43]

Radicalism and Nationalism: Jünger and Niekisch

1. Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger is well-known for his work on what he saw as the positive effects of warfare and battle, with himself having experienced these in World War I. Jünger rejected the bourgeois civilization of comfort and security, which he saw as weak and dying, in favor of the hardening and “magnificent” experience of action and adventure in war, which would transform a man of the bourgeois world into a “warrior.” The warrior type battled “against the eternal Utopia of peace, the pursuit of happiness, and perfection.”[44] Jünger believed that the crisis and restlessness of Germans after the World War was essentially a good thing.

In his book Der Arbeiter, the “warrior” was followed by the “worker,” a new type which would become dominant after the end of the bourgeois order. Jünger had realized that modern technology was changing the world; the individual man was losing his individuality and freedom in a mechanized world. Thus he anticipated a society in which people would accept anonymity in the masses and obedient service to the state; the population would undergo “total mobilization.”[45] To quote Jünger:

Total Mobilization is far less consummated than it consummates itself; in war and peace, it expresses the secret and inexorable claim to which our life in the age of masses and machines subjects us. It thus turns out that each individual life becomes, ever more unambiguously, the life of a worker; and that, following the wars of knights, kings, and citizens, we now have wars of workers. The first great twentieth-century conflict has offered us a presentiment of both their rational structure and their mercilessness.[46]

Ernst Jünger’s acceptance of technology in the “worker” stage stands somewhat in contrast to the position taken by his brother, Friedrich Georg Jünger, who wrote critiques of modern technological civilization (although Ernst would later in life agree with this view).[47] Ernst Jünger later changed in his attitudes during World War II, and afterwards nearly inverted his entire worldview, praising peace and individualism; a change which had not come without criticism from the Right.[48]

2. Ernst Niekisch

Another notable radical nationalist in the Conservative Revolution was Ernst Niekisch, who began as a Communist but eventually turned to a seemingly paradoxical mixture of German nationalism and Russian communism: National Bolshevism. In accordance with this new doctrine, Niekisch advocated an alliance between Soviet Russia and Germany in order to overcome the Versailles Treaty as well as to counter the power of the capitalist and anti-nationalist Western nations. However, this deviant faction, in competition with both Communists and anti-Communist nationalists, remained an unsuccessful minority.[49]

Political Theory: Schmitt and Haushofer

1. Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt was a notable Catholic philosopher of politics and jurist who was a major influence on political thought and who also supported the Third Reich government after its formation. His most famous book was The Concept of the Political, although he is also the author of numerous other works, including Political Theology and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy.

The “political,” for Schmitt, was a concept distinct from politics in the normal sense of the term, and was based on the distinction between “friend” and “enemy.” The political exists wherever there exists an enemy, a group which is different and holds different interests, and with whom there is a possibility of conflict. This criterion includes both groups outside of the state as well as within the state, and therefore both inter-state war as well as civil war is taken into account. A population can be unified and mobilized through the political act, in which an enemy is identified and battled.[50]

Schmitt also defended the practice of dictatorship, which he distinguished from “tyranny.” Dictatorship is a form of government which is established when a “state of exception” or emergency exists in which it is necessary to bypass slow parliamentary processes in order to defend the law. According to Schmitt, dictatorial power is present in any case in which a state or leader exercises power independently of the approval of majorities, regardless of whether or not this state is “democratic.” Sovereignty is the power to decide the state of exception, and thus, “sovereign is he who decides on the exception.”[51]

Schmitt further criticized parliamentary or liberal democracy by arguing that the original basis of parliamentarism — which held that the separation of powers and open and rational dialogue between parties would result in a well-functioning state — was in fact negated by the reality of party politics, in which party leaders, coalitions, and interest groups make decisions on policies without a discussion. Another notable argument made by Schmitt was that true democracy is not liberal democracy, in which a plurality of groups are treated equally under a single state, but a unified, homogenous state in which leaders’ decisions express the will of the unified people. In Schmitt’s words, “Every actual democracy rests on the principle that not only are equals equal but unequals will not be treated equally. Democracy requires, therefore, first homogeneity and second – if the need arises elimination or eradication of heterogeneity.”[52]

2. Karl Haushofer

Karl Haushofer was another philosopher of politics who is well-known for his theoretical work on “geopolitics” which aimed to advance Germany’s understanding of international politics and geography. Haushofer asserted that nations not only had the right to defend their land, but also to expand and colonize new lands, especially when experiencing over-population. Germany was one nation in such a position, and was thus entitled to Lebensraum (“living-space”) for its excess population. In order to overcome the domination of the Anglo-American power structure, Haushofer advocated a new system of alliances which particularly involved a German-Russian alliance (thus Haushofer can be viewed as a “Eurasianist”). Haushofer joined the National Socialists but his ideas were eventually rejected by Third Reich geopoliticians because of their hostility to Russia.[53]

The Influences of the Conservative Revolution

The thinkers of the Conservative Revolution had not only an immediate influence in Germany during the early 20th Century, but also a deep and lasting impact on right-wing (and in some cases even left-wing) thought up to the present day. Aside from the obvious influence on National Socialism, and if we assume that Otto Strasser cannot be included as part of the Conservative Revolution, then Strasserism was still clearly influenced by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Oswald Spengler.[54]

Francis Parker Yockey, the author of Imperium, also revealed influence from Spengler, Schmitt, Sombart, and Haushofer.[55] Julius Evola, the famous Italian traditionalist, is yet another writer who was affected by Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals, as is clear in such major works as Men Among the Ruins[56] and The Path of Cinnabar.[57]

More recently, the European New Right shows a great amount of inspiration from Revolutionary Conservatives. Armin Mohler, who may himself be considered a part of Germany’s Conservative Revolution as well as the New Right, is well-known for his seminal work Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932.[58] In addition, Tomislav Sunic also draws many intellectual concepts from Revolutionary Conservatives in his highly important book, Against Democracy and Equality, including Schmitt, Spengler, and to a lesser extent Spann and Sombart. [59]

Yet another intellectual in league with the New Right, Alexander Jacob, is the translator of Jung’s The Rule of the Inferiour and is also responsible for multiple works on various Revolutionary Conservatives.[60] When one considers these facts, it becomes apparent that much can be learned by studying the history and ideas of the German Conservative Revolution. It is a source of philosophical richness which can advance the Conservative position and which leaves its mark on the thought of the Right even today.

 

Notes

[1] On Hofmannsthal’s political views, see Paul Gottfried, “Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Interwar European Right.” Modern Age, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Fall 2007), pp. 508–19.

[2] Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Das Schrifttum als geistiger Raum der Nation (Munich, 1927). Quoted in Klemens von Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism; Its History And Dilemma In The Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 9.

[3] Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932 (Stuttgart: Friedrich Vorwerk Verlag, 1950).

[4] Robert Edward Norton, Secret Germany: Stefan George and his Circle (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

[5] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 102–111.

[6] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 156–159.

[7] Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, p. 329.

[8] Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany’s Third Empire (New York: Howard Fertig, 1971).

[9] Ibid. p. 76.

[10] Ibid. p. 245.

[11] Ibid. p. 227.

[12] Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, trans. Alexander Jacob (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1995).

[13] Larry Eugene Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung: The Conservative Revolution in Theory and Practice,” Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association, vol. 21, Issue 02 (June 1988), p. 142.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Edgar J. Jung, Deutsche uber Deutschland (Munich, 1932), p. 380. Quoted in Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 121–22.

[16] Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, p. 138.

[17] Jung, “Sinndeutung der konservativen Revolution in Deutschland.” Quoted inJones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” p. 167. For an overview of Jung’s philosophy, see: Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 144–47, 149; Walter Struve, Elites Against Democracy; Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890-1933 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1973), pp. 317–52; Alexander Jacob’s introduction to Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940 (Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, 2002), pp. 10–16.

[18] Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 145–48.

[19] Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, p. 368.

[20] Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 147–73.

[21] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West Vol. 1: Form and Actuality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926).

[22] Ibid. p. 106.

[23] Ibid. For a good overview of Spengler’s theory, see Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right (Third Edition. London: Arktos, 2010), pp. 91–98.

[24] Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays (Chicago: Gateway/Henry Regnery, 1967).

[25] Ibid.

[26] See: Joe Pryce, “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages,” Revilo-Oliver.com, 2001, http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/Ludwig_Klages.html, and Lydia Baer, “The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 1941), pp. 91–138.

[27] Ludwig Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections, trans. Joe Pryce, 14 May 2001, http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/515.html, 453.

[28] Ibid., http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/100.html, 2.

[29] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 204–5.

[30] Othmar Spann, Der Wahre Staat (Leipzig: Verlag von Quelle und Meyer, 1921).

[31] Barth Landheer, “Othmar Spann’s Social Theories.” Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Apr., 1931), pp. 239–48.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Spann, quoted in Ernest Mort, “Christian Corporatism.” Modern Age, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Summer 1959), p. 249. http://www.mmisi.org/ma/03_03/mort.pdf.

[34] Spann, Der wahre Staat, p. 120. Quoted in Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality, pp. 163–64.

[35] Janek Wasserman, Black Vienna, Red Vienna: The Struggle for Intellectual and Political Hegemony in Interwar Vienna, 19181938 (Saint Louis, Missouri: Washington University, 2010), pp. 73–85.

[36] Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God that Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988). The single book by Hans Freyer to be translated into English is Theory of Objective Mind, trans. Steven Grosby (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1998).

[37] Hans Zehrer, “Die Revolution der Intelligenz,” Tat, XXI (Oct. I929), 488. Quoted in Walter Struve, “Hans Zehrer as a Neoconservative Elite Theorist,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Jul., 1965), p. 1035.

[38] Struve, “Hans Zehrer as a Neoconservative Elite Theorist.”

[39] Ibid.

[40] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 57–58. On Tönnies, see Christopher Adair-Toteff, “Ferdinand Tonnies: Utopian Visionary,” Sociological Theory, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 58-65.

[41] Alexander Jacob, “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism,” The Scorpion, Issue 21. http://thescorp.multics.org/21spengler.html.

[42] Werner Sombart, Economic Life in the Modern Age (New Brunswick, NJ, and London: Transaction Publishers, 2001), p. 129.

[43] Jacob, “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism.”

[44] Ernst Jünger, ed., Krieg und Krieger (Berlin, 1930), 59. Quoted in Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, p. 183. See also Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel, trans. Basil Greighton (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929) and Copse 125 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930).

[45] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 185–88.

[46] Ernst Jünger, “Total Mobilization,” trans. Joel Golb, in The Heidegger Controversy (Boston: MIT Press, 1992), p. 129. http://anarchistwithoutcontent.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/junger-total-mobilization-booklet.pdf.

[47] Alain de Benoist, “Soldier Worker, Rebel, Anarch: An Introduction to Ernst Jünger,” trans. Greg Johnson, The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 3 (Fall 2008), p. 52.

[48] Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), pp. 216–21.

[49] Klemens von Klemperer, “Towards a Fourth Reich? The History of National Bolshevism in Germany,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Apr., 1951), pp. 191–210.

[50] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, expanded edition, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

[51] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 1.

[52] Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), p. 9.

[53] Andrew Gyorgy, “The Geopolitics of War: Total War and Geostrategy.” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Nov., 1943), pp. 347–62. See also Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, p. 474.

[54] Otto Strasser, Hitler and I (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1940), pp. 38–39.

[55] Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics (Sausalito, Cal.: Noontide Press, 1962).

[56] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002).

[57] Evola, The Path of Cinnabar, pp. 150–55.

[58] See note #3.

[59] See Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality, pp. 75–98, 159–64.

[60] See Jacob, Europa; “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism”; Introduction to Political Ideals by Houston Stewart Chamberlain (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2005).

 

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Tudor, Lucian. “The Conservative Revolution of Germany & its Legacy.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 14 August 2012. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/the-german-conservative-revolution-and-its-legacy/ >.

 

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Interview with Steuckers

Interview with Robert Steuckers by Troy Southgate

 

Troy Southgate: When and why did you decide to become involved in politics?

Robert Steuckers: I was never actually involved in politics, as I was never a member of a political party. Nevertheless I am a citizen interested in political questions but of course not in the usual plain and trivial way, as I have no intention to become a candidate, council deputy or Member of Parliament.

For me “politics” means to maintain continuities or, if you prefer, traditions. But traditions that are embedded in the actual history of a particular human community. I started to read historical and political books at the tender age of 14. This lead to a rejection of established ideologies or non-values.

From the age of 15 onwards, with the help of a secondary school history teacher, a certain Mr. Kennof, I realized that people should grasp the main trends of history in keys and always make use of historical atlasses (I have collected them ever since) in order to understand in one glimpse the main forces animating the world scene at a precise moment of time. Maps are very important for politics at a high level (diplomacy, for instance).

The principal idea I acquired at this young age was that all ideologies, thoughts or blue prints which wanted to get rid of the past, to sever the links people have with their historical continuities, were fundamentally wrong. As a consequence, all political actions should aim at preserving and strengthening historical and political continuities, even when futurist (pro-active) actions are often necessary to save a community from a sterile repetition of obsolete habits and customs.

The discourses of most ideologies, including the various expressions of the so-called far right, were in my eyes artificial in the Western World just as communism was an abstraction in front of the whole of Russian history in the East or an abstraction obliterating the genuine historical patterns of the East-European peoples submitted to Soviet rule after 1945. The rupture of continuities or the repetition of dead past “forms” leads to the political-ideological confusion we know nowadays, where conservatives aren’t conservative and socialists aren’t socialists anymore, and so on.

Fundamental political ideas are better served in my eyes by “Orders” than by political parties. Orders provide a continuous education of the affiliated and stress the notion of service. They feel reluctant in front of the mere politicians’ petty ambitions. Such Orders are the Chivalric Orders of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance in Europe, the notion of fatwa in the Persian Islamic world as well as later experiments, including in the 20th Century (The Legion of Michael the Archangel Michael in Romania, the Verdinaso in Flanders, etc.).

Troy Southgate: Please explain what you mean by the term “Conservative Revolution” and, if possible, provide us with an outline of some of its chief ideologues.

Robert Steuckers: When the phrase “Conservative Revolution” is used in Europe, it is mostly in the sense given to it by Armin Mohler in his famous book Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932. Mohler listed a long list of authors who rejected the pseudo-values of 1789 (dismissed by Edmund Burke as mere “blue prints”), stressed the role of the Germanic in the evolution of European thought and received the influence of Nietzsche. Mohler avoided, for instance, purely religious “conservatives,” be they Catholics or Protestants.

For Mohler the main brandmark of “Conservative Revolution” is a non-linear vision of history. But he doesn’t simply take over the cyclical vision of traditionalism. After Nietzsche, Mohler believes in a spherical conception of history. What does that mean? It means that history is neither simply a repetition of the same patterns at regular intervals nor a linear path leading to happiness — to the end of history, to a Paradise on Earth, to felicity, etc. — but is a sphere that can run (or be pushed) in every direction according to the impulsion it receives from strong charismatic personalities. Such charismatic personalities bend the course of history towards some very particular ways, ways that were never previously foreseen by any kind of Providence.

Mohler in this sense never believes in universalistic political receipts or doctrines but always in particular and personal trends. Like Jünger, he wants to struggle against everything that is “general” and to support everything that is “particular”. Further, Mohler expressed his vision of the dynamic particularities by using the some awkward terminology of “nominalism.” For him “nominalism” was indeed the word that expressed at best the will of strong personalities to cut for themselves and their followers an original and never used path through the jungle of existence.

The main figures of the movement were Spengler, Moeller van den Bruck, and Ernst Jünger (and his brother Friedrich-Georg). We can add to these triumviri Ludwig Klages and Ernst Niekisch. Carl Schmitt, as a Catholic lawyer and constitutionalist, represents another important aspect of the so-called “Conservative Revolution”.

Spengler remains the author of a brilliant fresco of the world civilizations that inspired the British philosopher Arnold Toynbee. Spengler spoke of Europe as a Faustian civilization, at best expressed by the Gothic cathedrals, the interaction of light and colors in the glass-works, the stormy skies with white and gray clouds in most of the Dutch, English, and German paintings. This civilization is an aspiration of the human soul towards light and towards self-commitment.

Another important idea of Spengler is the idea of “pseudo-morphosis”: a civilization never disappears completely after a decay or a violent conquest. Its elements pass into the new civilization that takes its succession and bends it towards original paths.

Moeller van den Bruck was the first German translator of Dostoevsky. He was deeply influenced by Dostoevsky’s diary, containing some severe judgments on the West. In the German context after 1918, Moeller van den Bruck advocated, on the basis of Dostoevsky’s arguments, a German-Russian alliance against the West.

How could the respectable German gentleman, with an immense artist’s culture, plea in favor of an alliance with the Bolsheviks? His arguments were the following: in the whole diplomatic tradition of the 19th century, Russia was considered as the shield of reaction against all the repercussions of the French Revolution and of the revolutionist mind and moods. Dostoevsky, as a former Russian revolutionist who admitted later that his revolutionist options were wrong and mere blue prints, considered more or less that Russia’s mission in the world was to wipe out of Europe the tracks of the ideas of 1789.

For Moeller van den Bruck, the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia was only a changing of ideological clothe Russia remained, despite the Bolshevik discourse, the antidote to the Western liberal mind. So defeated Germany should ally to this fortress of anti-revolutionism to oppose the West, which in the eyes of Moeller van den Bruck is the incarnation of liberalism. Liberalism, stated Moeller van den Bruck, is always the final disease of a people. After some decades of liberalism, a people will ineluctably enter into a terminal phase of decay.

The path followed by Ernst Jünger is known enough to everyone. He started as an ardent and gallant young soldier in the First World War, leaving the trenches with no gun, simply with a hand grenade under his arm, worn with elegance like the stick of a typical British officer. For Jünger the First World War was the end of the petty bourgeois world of the 19th Century and the “Belle Epoque,” where everyone had to be “as it should be,” i.e. behave according to said patterns pre-cut by borrowing teachers or priests, exactly as we all today have to behave according to the self-proclaimed rules of “political correctness.”

Under the “storms of steel,” the soldier could state his nothingness, his mere fragile biological being, but this statement couldn’t in his eyes lead to an inept pessimism, to fear and desperation. Having experimented the most cruel destiny in the trenches and under the shelling of thousands of artillery guns, shaking the earth thoroughly, reducing everything to the “elemental,” the infantrymen knew better of cruel human destiny on the surface of this planet. All artificiality of civilised urban life appeared to them as mere fake.

After the first World War Ernst Jünger and his brother Friedrich-Georg turned out to be the best national-revolutionist journalists and writers.

Ernst evolved to a kind of cynical, soft, ironical, and serene observer of humanity and the facts of life. During a carpet bombing raid on a Parisian suburb, where factories were producing war material for the German army during WWII, Jünger was terrified by the unnatural straight air path taken by the American flying fortresses. The linearity of the planes’ path in the air above Paris was the negation of all the curves and sinuosities of organic life. Modern war implied the crushing of those winding and serpentine organicities. Ernst Jünger started his career as a writer by being an apologist of war. After having observed the irresistible lines thrust forward by the American B-17s, he became totally disgusted by the unchivalrousness of the pure technical way of running a war.

After WWII, his brother Friedrich-Georg wrote a first theoretical work leading to the development of the new German critical and ecological thinking, Die Perfektion der Technik (The Perfection of Technics). The main idea of this book, in my eyes, is the critique of “connection.” The modern world is a process trying to connect human communities and individuals to big structures. This process of connection ruins the principle of liberty. You are a poor chained prole if you are “connected” to a big structure, even if you earn £3000 or more in one month. You are a free man if you are totally disconnected from those big iron heels. In a certain way, Friedrich-Georg developed the theory that Kerouac experimented untheoretically by choosing to drop out and travel, becoming a singing tramp.

Ludwig Klages was another philosopher of organic life against abstract thinking. For him the main dichotomy was between Life and Spirit (Leben und Geist). Life is crushed by abstract spirit. Klages was born in Northern Germany but migrated as a student to Munich, where he spent his free time in the pubs of Schwabing, the district in which artists and poets met (and still meet today). He became a friend of the poet Stefan Georg and a student of the most original figure of Schwabing, the philosopher Alfred Schuler, who believed himself to be the reincarnation of an ancient Roman settler in the German Rhineland.

Schuler had a genuine sense of theater. He disguised himself in the toga of a Roman Emperor, admired Nero, and set up plays remembering the audience of the ancient Greek or Roman world. But beyond his lively fantasy, Schuler acquired a cardinal importance in philosophy by stressing for instance the idea of “Entlichtung,” i.e. the gradual disappearance of Light since the time of the Ancient City-State of Greece and Roman Italy. There is no progress in history: On the contrary, Light is vanishing as well as the freedom of the free citizen to shape his own destiny.

Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin, on the left or conservative-liberal side, were inspired by this idea and adapted it for different audiences. The modern world is the world of complete darkness, with little hope of finding “be-lighted” periods again, unless charismatic personalities, like Nero, dedicated to art and Dionysian lifestyle, wedge in a new era of splendor which would only last for the blessed time of one spring.

Klages developed the ideas of Schuler, who never wrote a complete book, after he died in 1923 due to an ill-prepared operation. Klages, just before WW1, pronounced a famous speech on the Horer Meissner Hill in Central Germany, in front of the assembled youth movements (Wandervogel). This speech bore the title of “Man and Earth” and can be seen as the first organic manifesto of ecology, with a clear and understandable but nevertheless solid philosophical background.

Carl Schmitt started his career as a law teacher in 1912 but lived till the respectable age of 97. He wrote his last essay at 91. I cannot enumerate all the important points of Carl Schmitt’s work in the frame of this modest interview. Let us summarize by saying that Schmitt developed two main idea the idea of decision in political life and the idea of “Great Space.”

The art of shaping politics or a good policy lays in decision, not in discussion. The leader has to decide in order to lead, protect, and develop the political community he is in charge of. Decision is not dictatorship as many liberals would say nowadays in our era of “political correctness.” On the contrary: a personalisation of power is more democratic, in the sense that a king, an emperor, or a charismatic leader is always a mortal person. The system he eventually imposes is not eternal, as he is doomed to die like any human being. A nomocratic system, on the contrary, aims at remaining eternal, even if current events and innovations contradict the norms or principles.

Second big topic in Schmitt’s work the idea of a European Grand Space (Grossraum). “Out-of-Space” powers should be prevented to intervene within the frame of this Great Space. Schmitt wanted to apply to Europe the same simple principle that animated US President Monroe. America for the Americans. OK, said Schmitt, but let us apply “Europe to the Europeans.” Schmitt can be compared to the North-American “continentalists,” who criticised Roosevelt’s interventions in Europe and Asia. Latin Americans also developed similar continentalist ideas as well as Japanese imperialists. Schmitt gave to this idea of “Greater Space” a strong juridical base.

Ernst Niekisch is a fascinating figure in the sense that he started his career as a Communist leader of the “Councils’ Republic of Bavaria” of 1918-19, that was crushed down by the Free Corps of von Epp, von Lettow-Vorbeck, etc. Obviously, Niekisch was disappointed by the absence of a historical vision among the Bolshevik trio in revolutionist Munich (Lewin, Leviné, Axelrod).

Niekisch developed a Eurasian vision, based on an alliance between the Soviet Union, Germany, India, and China. The ideal figure who was supposed to be the human motor of this alliance was the peasant, the adversary of the Western bourgeoisie. A certain parallel with Mao Tse-Tung is obvious here. In the journals that Niekisch edited, we discover all the German tentatives to support anti-British or anti-French movements in the colonial empires or in Europe (Ireland against England, Flanders against a Frenchified Belgium, Indian nationalists against Britain, etc.).

I hope I have explained in a nutshell the main trends of the so-called conservative revolution in Germany between 1918 and 1933. May those who know this pluri-stratified movement of ideas forgive my schematic introduction.

Troy Southgate: Do you have a “spiritual angle”?

Robert Steuckers: By answering this question, I risk being too succinct. Among the group of friends who exchanged political and cultural ideas at the end of the Seventies, we concentrated of course on Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World. Some of us rejected totally the spiritual bias, because it lead to sterile speculation: they preferred to read Popper, Lorenz, etc. I accepted many of their criticisms, and I still dislike the uttermost Evolian speculations, alleging a spiritual world of Tradition beyond all reality. The real world being disregarded as mere triviality. But this is of course a cult of Tradition mainly supported by young people “feeling ill in their own skin,” as we say. The dream to live like beings in fairy tales is a form of refusing to accept reality.

In Chapter 7 of Revolt Against the Modern World, Evola, on the contrary, stresses the importance of the “numena“, the forces acting within things, natural phenomena or powers. The initial Roman mythology laid the accent more on the numena than on the personalised divinities. This bias is mine. Beyond the people and the gods of the usual religions (be they Pagan or Christian), there are acting forces and man should be in concordance with them in order to be successful in his earthly actions.

My religious/spiritual orientation is more mystical than dogmatic, in the sense that the mystical tradition of Flanders and Rhineland (Ruusbroec, Meister Eckhart), as well as the mystical tradition of Ibn Arabî in the Muslim area or of Sohrawardî in the Persian realm, admire and worship the total splendor of Life and the World. In these traditions, there is no clear-cut dichotomy between the godly, the sacred, and the holy on the one side and the worldly, the profane, and the simple on the other. Mystical tradition means omni-compenetration and synergy of all the forces yeasting in the world.

Troy Southgate: Please explain to our readers why you place such importance on concepts like geopolitics and Eurasianism.

Robert Steuckers: Geopolitics is a mixture of history and geography. In other words of time and space. Geopolitics is a set of disciplines (not a single discipline) leading to a good governance of time and space. Geopolitics is a mixture of history and geography. No serious power can survive without continuity, be it an institutional or historical continuity. No serious power can survive without a domination and a yielding of land and space.

All traditional empires first organized the land by building roads (Rome) or by mastering the big rivers (Egypt, Mesopotamia, China), then lead on to the emergence of a long history, to the sense of a continuity, to the birth of the first practical sciences (astronomy, meteorology, geography, mathematics) under the protection of well structured armies with a code of honor, especially codified in Persia, the womb of Chivalry.

The Roman Empire, the first empire on European soil, was focussed on the Mediterranean Sea. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation couldn’t find a proper core as well coordinated as the Mediterranean. The waterways of Central Europe lead to the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, or the Black Sea, but without any link between them. This was the true tragedy of German and European history. The country was torn between centrifugal forces. The Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen tried to restore the Mediterranean realm, with Sicily as the central geographical piece.

His attempt was a tragic failure. It is only now that the emergence of a renewed imperial form (even under a modern ideology) is possible in Europe: after the opening of the canal between the Rhine-Main system and the Danube river system. There is a single waterway now between the North Sea, including the Thames system in Britain, and the Black Sea, allowing the economical and cultural forces of Central Europe to reach all the shores of the Black Sea and the Caucasian countries.

Those who have a good historical memory, not blinded by the usual ideological blue-prints of modernism, will remember the role of the Black Sea shores in the spiritual history of Europe: in Crimea, many old traditions, be they Pagan or Byzantine, were preserved in caves by monks. The influences of Persia, especially the values of the oldest (Zoroastrian) Chivalry in world history, could influence the development of similar spiritual forces in Central and Western Europe. Without those influences, Europe is spiritually mutilated.

Therefore the Mediterranean area, the Rhine (also coupled to the Rhone) and the Danube, the Russian rivers, the Black Sea and the Caucasus should constitute a single civilization area, defended by a unified military force, based on a spirituality inherited from Ancient Persia. This, in my eyes, means Eurasia. My position is slightly different than that of Dughin but both positions are not incompatible.

When the Ottomans gained complete control over the Balkan Peninsula in the 15th Century, the land routes were cut for all Europeans. Moreover, with the help of the North African sea rovers assembled by the Turkish-born Barbarossa based in Algiers, the Mediterranean was closed to peaceful European commercial expansion towards India and China. The Muslim world worked as a bolt to contain Europe and Moscovy, core of the future Russian Empire.

All together, Europeans and Russians joined their efforts to destroy the Ottoman bolt. The Portuguese, Spaniards, English and Dutch tried the sea routes and circumvented the African and Asian land mass, ruining first the Moroccan kingdom, which drew gold from subtropical Western African mines and claims in order to build an army to conquer again the Iberian Peninsula. By landing in Western Africa, the Portuguese got the gold more easily for themselves and the Moroccan kingdom was reduced to a mere residual superpower. The Portuguese passed around the African continent and entered the Indian Ocean, circumventing definitively the Ottoman bolt, and giving for the first time a real Eurasian dimension to European history.

At the same time, Russia repelled the Tartars, took the City of Kazan, and destroyed the Tartar shackle of the Muslim bolt. This was the starting point of the continental Russian Eurasian geopolitical perspective.

The aim of American global strategy, developed by a man like Zbigniew Bzrzezinski, is to recreate artificially the Muslim bolt by supporting Turkish militarism and Panturanism. In this perspective, they support tacitly and still secretly the Moroccan claims on the Canary Isles and use Pakistan to prevent any land link between India and Russia. Hence the double necessity today for Europe and Russia to remember the counter-strategy elaborated by ALL European people in the 15th and 16th Century.

European history has always been conceived as petty nationalist visions. It is time to reconsider European history by stressing the common alliances and convergencies. The Portuguese seaborne and the Russian landborne actions are such convergencies and are naturally Eurasian. The Battle of Lepanto, where the Venetian, Genoan, and Spanish fleets joined their efforts to master the East Mediterranean area under the command of Don Juan of Austria, is also a historical model to meditate upon and to remember.

But the most important Eurasian alliance was without any doubt the Holy Alliance lead by Eugene of Savoy at the end of the 17th Century, which compelled the Ottomans to retrocede 400,000 sq. km of land in the Balkans and Southern Russia. This victory allowed the Russian Tsars of the 18th Century, especially Catherine II, to win decisive battles once more.

My Eurasianism (and of course my whole geopolitical thought) is a clear answer to Bzrzezinski’s strategy and is deeply rooted in European history. It is absolutely not to be compared with the silly postures of some pseudo-national-revolutionist crackpots or with the poor aesthetic blueprints of new rightist would-be philosophers. Besides, one last remark concerning geopolitics and Eurasianism: my main sources of inspiration are English. I mean the historical atlas of Colin McEvedy, the books of Peter Hopkirk about the secret service in the Caucasus, in Central Asia, along the Silk Road and in Tibet, the reflections of Sir Arnold Toynbee in the twelve volumes of A Study of History.

Troy Southgate: What is your view of the State? Is it really essential to have systems or infrastructure as a means of socio-political organization, or do you think a decentralized form of tribalism and ethnic identity would be a better solution?

Robert Steuckers: Your question needs a whole book to be properly and completely answered. Firstly, I would say that it is impossible to have A view of THE State, as there are many forms of States throughout the world. I make of course the distinction between a State, which is still a genuine and efficient instrument to promote the will of a people and also to protect its citizens against all evils be they machinated by external, internal or natural foes (calamities, floods, starvation, etc.).

The State should also be carved for one population living on a specific land. I am critical, of course, of all artificial States like those that were imposed as so-called universal patterns. Such States are pure machines to crush or to exploit a population for an oligarchy or foreign masters. An organization of the peoples, according to ethnic criteria, could be an ideal solution, but unfortunately as the events in the Balkans show us the ebbs and flows of populations in European, African, or Asian history have very often spread ethnical groups beyond natural boarders or settled them within territories which were formerly controlled by others. Homogeneous States cannot be built in such situations. This is the source of many tragedies, especially in Middle and Eastern Europe. Therefore the only perspective today is to think in terms of Civilizations as Samuel Huntington taught us in his famous article and book, The Clash of Civilizations, first written in 1993.

Troy Southgate: In 1986, you said “the Third Way exists in Europe at the level of theory. What it needs is militants.” [“Europe: A New Perspective” in The Scorpion, Issue #9, p.6] Is this is still the case, or have things developed since then?

Robert Steuckers: Indeed, the situation is still the same. Or even worse because, growing older, I state that the level of classical education is vanishing. Our way of thinking is in a certain way Spenglerian, as it encompasses the complete history of the human kind.

Guy Debord, leader of the French Situationnists from the end of the Fifties until the Eighties, could observe and deplore that the “society of the spectacle” or the “show society” has as its main purpose to destroy all thinking and thought in terms of history and replace them by artificial and constructed blueprints or simple lies. The eradication of historical perspectives in the heads of pupils, students, and citizens, through the diluting work of the mass-media, is the big manipulation, leading us to an Orwellian world without any memory. In such a situation, we all risk becoming isolated. No fresh troops of volunteers are ready to take over the struggle.

Finally, tell us about your involvement with Synergies and your long-term plans for the future.

“Synergies” was created in order to bring people together, especially those who publish magazines, in order to spread more quickly the messages our authors had to deliver. But the knowledge of languages is also undergoing a set-back. Being plurilingual, as you certainly know, I have always been puzzled by the repetition of the same arguments at each national level. Marc Lüdders from Synergon-Germany agrees with me. It’s a pity for instance that the tremendous amount of work performed in Italy is not known in France or in Germany. And vice-versa. In order to keep this short: my main wish is to see such an exchange of texts realized in a swift manner within the next twenty years.

 

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Steuckers, Robert. “Interview with Robert Steuckers.” Interview by Troy Southgate. Synthesis, 2001. <http://www.rosenoire.org/interviews/steuckers.php>.

Note: See also Robert Steucker’s website Euro-Synergies: <http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com >.

Notes on further reading: Armin Mohler’s book Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1933 (Graz & Stuttgart: Ares-Verlag, 2005), mentioned in this interview, is one of the most important works concerning the Conservative Revolution. It has been translated into French as La Révolution conservatrice en Allemagne: 1918-1932 (Puiseaux, Loiret: Pardès, 1993).  Also worth noting is Mohler’s Von Rechts Gesehen (Stuttgart: Seewald Verlag, 1974).

On Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, one of the founding intellectuals of the Conservative Revolution, an excellent overview of his thought in English is Lucian Tudor’s “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man & His Thought” (originally published online: Counter-Currents.com, 17 August 2012), available on our website here: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-tudor/ >.

For a good overview of Carl Schmitt’s works and philosophy in English, see Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).

For an overview of Ludwig Klages’s works and philosophy, see Joe Pryce, “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages,” Revilo-Oliver.com, 2001, <http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/Ludwig_Klages.html > (this essay was republished in print as an introduction to Klages anthology, The Biocentric Worldview [London: Arktos, 2013]). (See this essay in PDF format here: On the Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages).

 

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