The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

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Part 1 of 2

The Theory of Aryan Race and India: History and Politics
by Romila Thapar
Social Scientist, Vol. 24, No. 1/3 (Jan. - Mar., 1996), pp. 3-29



The invention of an Aryan race in nineteenth century Europe was to have, as we all know, far-reaching consequences on world history. Its application to European societies culminated in the ideology of Nazi Germany. Another sequel was that it became foundational to the interpretation of early Indian history and there have been attempts at a literal application of the theory to Indian society. Some European scholars now describe it as a nineteenth century myth. [1] But some contemporary Indian political ideologies seem determined to renew its life. In this they are assisted by those who still carry the imprint of this nineteenth century theory and treat it as central to the question of Indian identity. With the widespread discussion on 'Aryan origins' in the print media and the controversy over its treatment in school textbooks, it has become the subject of a larger debate in terms of its ideological underpinnings rather than merely the differing readings among archaeologists and historians.

I intend to begin by briefly sketching the emergence of the theory in Europe, in which the search for the Indian past also played a role. I would like to continue with various Indian interpretations of the theory which have been significant to the creation of modern Indian identities and to nationalism. Finally, I would like to review the major archaeological and literary evidence which questions the historical interpretations of the theory and implicitly also its political role. [2]

It was initially both curiosity and the colonial requirement of knowledge about their subject peoples, that led the officers of the East India Company serving in India to explore the history and culture of the colony which they were governing. The time was the late eighteenth century. Not only had the awareness of new worlds entered the consciousness of Europe, but knowledge as an aspect of the Enlightenment was thought to provide access to power. Governing a colony involved familiarity with what had preceded the arrival of the colonial power on the Indian scene. The focus therefore was on languages, law and religion. The belief that history was essential to this knowledge was thwarted by the seeming absence of histories of early India. That the beginnings of Indian history would have to be rediscovered through European methods of historical scholarship, with an emphasis on chronology and sequential narrative, became the challenge.

These early explorations were dominated by the need to construct a chronology for the Indian past. Attempts were made to trace parallels with Biblical theories and chronology. But the exploration with the maximum potential lay in the study of languages and particularly Sanskrit. Similarities between Greek and Latin and Sanskrit, noticed even earlier, were clinched with William Jones' reading of Sandracottos as Candragupta. Two other developments took place. One was the suggestion of a monogenesis or single origin of all related languages, an idea which was extended to the speakers of the languages as well. [3] The second was the emergence of comparative philology, which aroused considerable interest, especially after the availability of Vedic texts in the early nineteenth century. Vedic studies were hospitably received in Europe where there was already both enthusiasm for or criticism of, Indian culture. German romanticism and the writings of Herder and Schlegel suggested that the roots of human history might go back to these early beginnings recorded in Sanskrit texts. [4] James Mill on the other hand, had a different view in his highly influential History of British India, where he described India as backward and stagnant and Hindu civilisation as inimical to progress. [5]

Comparative philologists, such as E. [Eugene] Burnouf and F. Bopp were primarily interested in the technicalities of language. Vedic Sanskrit, as the earliest form of Sanskrit, had primacy. Monogenesis was strengthened with the notion of an ancestral language, Indo-Germanic or Indo-European as it came to be called, as also in the origins of some European languages and their speakers being traced back to Iran and India or still further, to a central Asian homeland. Europe was on the edge of an Oriental Renaissance for it was believed that yet another Renaissance might follow, this time from the 'discovery' of the Orient, and thus taking knowledge into yet other directions. [6] The scholars associated with these studies and therefore with interpreting the Indian past, were generally based in Europe and had no direct experience of India.

The latter part of the nineteenth century witnessed discussions on the inter-relatedness of language, culture and race, and the notion of biological race came to the forefront. [7] The experience of imperialism where the European 'races' were viewed as advanced, and those of the colonised, as 'lesser breeds', reinforced these identities, as did social Darwinism.

Prominent among these identities was Aryan, used both for the language and the race, as current in the mid-nineteenth century. [8] Aryan was derived from the Old Iranian arya used in the Zoroastrian text, the Avesta, and was a cognate of the Sanskrit arya. Gobineau, who attempted to identify the races of Europe as Aryan and non-Aryan with an intrusion of the Semitic, associated the Aryans with the sons of Noah but emphasised the superiority of the white race and was fearful about the bastardisation of this race. [9] The study of craniology which became important at this time began to question the wider identity of the Aryan. It was discovered that the speakers of Indo-European languages were represented by diverse skull types. This was in part responsible for a new turn to the theory in the suggestion that the European Aryans were distinct from the Asian Aryans. 10 The former were said to be indigenous to Europe while the latter had their homeland in Asia. If the European Aryans were indigenous to northern Europe then the Nordic blonde was the prototype Aryan. Such theories liberated the origins of European civilisation from being embedded in Biblical history. They also had the approval of rationalist [url]groups opposed to the Church[/url], and supportive of Enlightenment thinking.

The application of these ideas to Indian origins was strengthened by Max Mueller's work on Sanskrit and Vedic studies and in particular his editing of the Rigveda during the years from 1849 to 1874. He ascribed the importance of this study to his belief that the Rigveda was the most ancient literature of the world, providing evidence of the roots of Indo-Aryan and the key to Hinduism. Together with the Avesta it formed the earliest stratum of Indo-European.  

Max Mueller maintained that there was an original Aryan homeland in central Asia. He postulated a small Aryan clan on a high elevation in central Asia, speaking a language which was not yet Sanskrit or Greek, a kind of proto-language ancestral to later Indo-European languages. From here and over the course of some centuries, it branched off in two directions; one came towards Europe and the other migrated to Iran, eventually splitting again with one segment invading north-western India. [11] The common origin of the Aryans was for him unquestioned. The northern Aryans who are said to have migrated to Europe are described by Max Mueller as active and combative and they developed the idea of a nation, while the southern Aryans who migrated to Iran and to India were passive and meditative, concerned with religion and philosophy. This description is still quoted for the inhabitants of India and has even come to be a cliche in the minds of many.

The Aryans, according to Max Mueller were fair-complexioned Indo-European speakers who conquered the dark-skinned dasas of India. The arya-varna and the dasa-varna of the Rigveda were understood as two conflicting groups differentiated particularly by skin colour, but also by language and religious practice, which doubtless underlined the racial interpretation of the terms. The Aryas developed Vedic Sanskrit as their language. The Dasas were the indigenous people, of Scythian origin, whom he called Turanians. The Aryan and the non-Aryan were segregated through the instituting of caste. The upper castes and particularly the brahmanas of modern times were said to be of Aryan descent and the lower castes and untouchables and tribes were descended from the Dasas. Max Mueller popularised the use of the term Aryan in the Indian context, arguing that it was originally a national name and later came to mean a person of good family. As was common in the nineteenth century, he used a number of words interchangeably such as Hindu and Indian, or race / nation / people / blood / — words whose meanings would today be carefully differentiated. Having posited the idea of a common origin for the languages included as Indo-European and among which was Indo-Aryan, common origin was extended to the speakers of these languages. Aryan therefore, although specifically a label for a language, came to be used for a people and a race as well, the argument being that those who spoke the same language belonged to the same biological race. In a lecture delivered later at Strassburg in 1872, Max Mueller denied any link between language and race. In spite of this, he continued to confuse the two as is evident from his description of Raja Ram Mohan Roy in an Address delivered in 1883.

Ram Mohan Roy was an Arya belonging to the south-eastern branch of the Aryan race and he spoke an Aryan language, the Bengali. . . We recognise in Ram Mohan Roy's visit to England the meeting again of the two great branches of the Aryan race, after they had been separated so long that they had lost all recollection of their common origin, common language and common faith. [12]

The sliding from language to race became general to contemporary thinking. An equally erroneous equation was the identification of Dravidian languages with a Dravidian race. [13]

This reconstruction of what was believed to be Aryan history, supercedes the initial Orientalist search for Biblical parallels or connections with early Indian history. There was now a focus on common origins with Europe, untouched by the intervention of the Semitic peoples and languages. As an Aryan text the Rigveda is said to be free from any taint of Semitic contact. Nor do the Puranas which were significant to Orientalist reconstructions of the past, enter Max Mueller's discourse for whom they were not only later but were in comparison, second order knowledge. The Puranas, in their descriptions of the past, do not endorse an arya-dasa separation in a manner which could be interpreted as different races. There was also an exclusion of anything Islamic in Max Mueller's definition of the Indian. He refers to the tyranny of Mohammedan rule in India without explaining why he thought it was so.

The theory of Aryan race became endemic to the reconstruction of Indian history and the reasons for this are varied. The pre-eminence given to the role of the brahmanas in the Orientalist construction of Indology was endorsed by the centrality of the Vedas. The Aryan theory also provided the colonised with status and self-esteem, arguing that they were linguistically and racially of the same stock as the colonisers. However, the separation of the European Aryans from the Asian Aryans was in effect a denial of this status. Such a denial was necessary in the view of those who proposed a radical structuring of colonial society through new legislation and administration, and in accordance with the conversion of the colony into a viable source of revenue. The complexities of caste were simplified in its being explained as racial segregation, demarcating the Aryans from the others.14 And finally, it made Indian origins relevant to the current perceptions dominating European thought and these perceptions were believed to be 'scientific' explanations.

Max Mueller's books were read in India and his views were endorsed in various influential publications, such as John Muir's Original Sanskrit Texts, (1858-1863), and John Wilson's Indian Caste (1877). Both authors were Christian missionaries and drew attention to the plight of the low castes, oppressed by brahmanas, an oppression which they claimed went back to the Aryan invasions. They referred to the conflict of the arya with the non-aryas. The term arya was used as a patronymic referring to the Aryan people. They launched an attack on the inequities of caste and therefore of Hinduism and maintained that Christianity alone could bring these to an end.

Missionary views in the later half of the nineteenth century were familiar to many Indians. Among these, Jyotiba Phule provided a radical exposition of the Aryan theory. He viewed caste relations as relations of inequality, where society had been divided into a hierarchy of ranked castes. By emphasising the importance of the non-Aryans he used the theory of Aryan race to argue a different origin and status for the lower castes. Referred to as the dasas and the shudras in brahmanical texts, the lower castes were, according to him, the indigenous people. They were the rightful inheritors of the land, whose rights had been wrongfully appropriated by the invading Aryans, and who had subjugated them and reduced them to a lower caste status. [15] The immediate context was for him the recent Peshwa rule in western India and the confrontation between the brahmanas and the non-brahmanas. The brahmanas were Aryan and therefore alien and the indigenous peoples were the shudras and others, whom he labelled as kshatriyas. The argument ran that the golden age was prior to the invasion of the Aryans when King Bali ruled and what are now the lower castes were then in the ascendant. The invasion of the Aryans was crucial to the creation of segregated groups in the form of castes, where the Aryans were the victorious aliens who kept the indigenous people permanently subordinated.

He used to good effect the well-known myth of the brahmana Parashurama destroying the / cs / iatnyas, in this construction of the past. Phule's radicalisation of the theory was popular among the lower castes and became central to many non-Brahmin movements in other parts of peninsular India. By stating that the upper castes were not indigenous, the theory was used to exclude the uppercaste dominated middle class-claiming an Aryan identity. From Phule's perspective, the theory endorsed a confrontation of castes.

The upper-castes had their own use for the theory and it was again given a twist which suited their social aspirations and political needs. The views of Phule were generally ignored. The theory was used to argue the superiority of the upper castes and promote their self-esteem by maintaining that not only were the upper-castes the lineal descendents of the Aryans but that they were also racially related to the European Aryan. Keshab Chunder Sen follows Max Mueller and John Wilson in his statement that, ' ... in the advent of the English nation in India we see a reunion of parted cousins, the descendants of two different families of the ancient Aryan race, [16] B.G. Tilak endorsed the antiquity of the Rigveda by taking it back to 4500 bc, much earlier than the 1500 bc suggested by Max Muller, basing his argument on what he interpreted as references to planetary positions. [17] Influenced by the theory of a Nordic homeland for the Aryans, Tilak suggested that they had migrated from the Arctic regions in the post-glacial age and then branched off, with one group going to Europe and the other coming to India. [18] The European Aryans according to him relapsed into barbarism but the Indian Aryans retained their original, superior civilisation which they re-established on conquering the non-Aryans of India. The introduction of geology into the argument was also seen as supporting an early date for the Rigveda. [19] Tilak's views were known to Max Mueller who of course did not agree with him but was incidentally, helpful in getting Tilak released from jail when he was incarcerated for nationalist activities.

Dayananda Sarasvati, seeking to return to the social and religious life of the Vedas, used the Vedic corpus as the blueprint of his vision of Indian society. [20] But he argued that the Vedas are the source of all knowledge including modern science, a view with which Max Mueller disagreed. He underlined the linguistic and racial purity of the Aryans and the organisation which he founded, the Arya Samaj, was described by its followers as 'the society of the Aryan race'. The Aryas were the upper castes and the untouchables were excluded. The innovation, or according to some the revival, of ritual called shuddhi or purification made it possible for those converted to other religions to be accepted back as caste Hindus. The same ritual, but with less frequency, was also used to 'purify' those outside caste, into being given a caste status. For Dayananda, it was said, castes were merely different professions or guilds established by the state and therefore the dejure status could change. A change in the de facto status had to be ordered by the state or by society regulating itself. [21] This was his reply to the criticism that he wanted to retain caste as practiced in the Vedas, despite its being projected as a rigid system in the Sutra texts.

These views coincided with the emergence of nationalism in the late nineteenth century in India, articulated mainly by the middle class, which was drawn from the upper caste and was seeking both legitimacy and an identity from the past. Origins therefore became crucial. To legitimise the status of this middle class, its superior Aryan origins and lineal descent was emphasised. It was assumed that only the upper caste Hindu could claim Aryan ancestry. This effectively excluded not only the lower castes but also the non-Hindus, even those of some social standing. Aryanism therefore became an exclusive status. In the dialogue between the early nationalists and the colonial power, a theory of common origins strengthening a possible link between the colonisers and the Indian elite came in very useful. For early nationalism, Aryan and non-Aryan differentiation was of an ethnic and racial kind, but was also beginning to touch implicitly on class differentiation.

Sympathetic to nationalism in India were the views of the Theosophical Society which changed the theory to suit its own premises. A prominent member of the Society, Col. Olcott [22] maintained that not only were the Aryans (equated with the Hindus) indigenous to India but that they were also the progenitors of European civilisation. Theosophical views emerged out of what was believed to be an aura of oriental religions and particularly Hinduism, as also the supposed dichotomy between the spiritualism of India and the materialism of Europe. The romanticising of India included viewing its civilisation as providing a counter-point to an industrialising Europe obsessed with rationalism, both of which were seen as eroding the European quality of life.

The theosophical reading of the Aryan theory was echoed in the interpretation of the theory by Hindu nationalist opinion. A group of people, close to and involved with the founding of the R.S.S. (Rashtriya Svayamsevaka Sangha) and writing in the early twentieth century, developed the concept of Hindutva or Hinduness and argued that this was essential to the identity of the Indian. [23] Since Hinduness in the past did not have a specific definition, the essentials of a Hindu identity had to be formulated. The argument ran that the original Hindus were the Aryans, a distinctive people indigenous to India. Caste Hindus or Hindu Aryas are their descendents. There was no Aryan invasion since the Aryans were indigenous to India and therefore no confrontation among the people of India. The Aryans spoke Sanskrit and were responsible for the spread of Aryan civilisation from India to the west. Confrontations came with the arrival of foreigners such as the Muslims, the Christians and more recently, the Communists. These groups are alien because India is neither the pitribhumi — the land of their birth — the assumption being that all Muslims and Christians are from outside India, nor the punyabhumi — their holy land. Hindu Aryas have had to constantly battle against these foreigners. Influenced by European theories of race of the 1920's and 1930's, parallels were drawn between the European differentiation of Aryans and Semites with the Indian differentiation of Hindus and Muslims. Justifying the treatment of the Jews in Germany, the threat of the same fate was held out to the Muslims in India.

The Hindutva version of the theory became a mechanism for excluding some sections of Indian society, specifically Indian Muslims and Christians, by insisting that they are alien. Inevitably it also ran into problems with the lower castes and the untouchables, who propagated Jyotiba Phule's view. There was a certain ambiguity among the Hindutva group as to whether or not the untouchables were Hindus and therefore Aryans. This posed the problem that if only caste Hindus are Aryans then the untouchables would have to be excluded, and this reduces the numerical count of Hindus; whereas, if the lower castes and Dalits are included as Hindus, then although this may upset some caste Hindus nevertheless the numbers listed as Hindu increases the Hindu constitution of the majority. The question of numbers also influenced the insistence that the Aryans are indigenous and not invaders. Such an increase in numbers is important to political mobilisation and to the assertion that since Hindus constitute the majority in India, it should be declared a Hindu state. The identity and origins of the Hindus was seen as crucial to the identity of the nation of the Hindus and of the nation-state. From this perspective, it is emphasised that the national identity has to focus on the antiquity and continuity of the Hindu Arya as the major component of the Hindu nation. This inevitably brings historians and archaeologists into a debate which is at one level about history but also touches on questions of political ideologies and national identities.

Mainstream historians writing on ancient India did not accept the Hindutva version of the theory. Going back to the views of Max Mueller they began their narrative with the coming of the invading Aryans. The Vedas therefore came to be seen as the foundational texts of Indian civilisation. With the growing influence of nationalism in the writing of Indian history, Max Mueller was seen as sympathetic and positive in his reading of the Indian past. The idyllic Indian lost in philosophic speculation could have been viewed as a condescending image, but in fact was appreciated. Indian historians were themselves largely from the upper castes and not averse to the highlighting of their own status. The acceptance of the Aryan theory underlined the Hindu idiom in nationalist historical writing. The Aryans were eulogised for laying the foundation of a civilisation thought to be at least equal, if not superior, to most others.

The discussion on caste as we have seen, also incorporated the Aryan theory. Caste as racial segregation separating the upper caste Aryans from the lower caste non-Aryans, was viewed as a scientific way of organising society in keeping with modern ideas, but this view was gradually discarded when there was evidence to the contrary. The Christian missionary criticism of caste was partially conceded by referring to the extreme rigidity of caste. This became a way of explaining the weakness of Indian society, particularly in its confrontation with Islam and 'in the face of Muslim invasions', for it was said that caste was divisive and the Hindus could not unite to meet the threat. But it was also argued that caste saved Hinduism from being absorbed into other religions such as Islam and helped maintain its continuing identity. There were only a very few analyses where caste was seen to have its own history of change and adaptation. Moralising on the evils of caste precluded the need to see it as an agency of power, dominance and subordination, or to recognise the large area of flexible negotiation which, to some degree, permitted certain castes to shape their status. For example, families of obscure origin and some even said to be of the lower castes, rose to political power and many legitimised their power by successfully claiming upper caste ksliatriya status. [24] To concede these facts would have contradicted the theory that the upper castes are the lineal descendants of the Aryans.

This varied exploitation of the theory received a jolt with the archaeological discovery of the Indus civilisation. The excavation of the cites of Harappa and Mohenjo-daro in the 1920's and subsequent excavations in India and Pakistan, revealing an extensive urban culture in the northern and western parts of the Indian subcontinent, created problems for the Aryan theory. Being predominantly urban, the Indus culture is distinctively different from the pastoral-agrarian society described in the Vedic texts. [25] The Vedas are primarily ritual texts and their depiction of society is ancillary to their main purpose. The archaeological evidence, more specific on data relating to the environment, technology and economy, covers a much wider area and goes further back in time. It has become therefore the primary data for the reconstruction of the earliest history of India. But because the Vedic texts were used in reconstructing the past, prior to the availability of archaeological evidence, there is a readiness to read the archaeological data in the light of the literary. [26]

The nature of the literary data is significant to the historical reconstruction of this period. It is virtually impossible to date the Vedic texts with precision since they are essentially ritual texts and in some passages are clearly anachronistic. [27] They are composed in the language of ritual and require explanatory and etymological commentaries. Among those surviving is the Nirukta of Yaska, generally dated to 700-600 bc. Panini in his grammar differentiates between the language of ritual and the spoken language. [28] The compositions were preserved orally for many centuries through careful methods of memorising. However, the question has been raised as to whether the systems of memorisation were fixed prior to the compilation of the hymns, and further whether this was also prior to the adoption of a script. On this opinions differ. A long period of a few centuries intervened between the composition of the earliest hymns and their compilation into the Rigveda as we know it. Even within a strictly monitored oral tradition there can be changes and if the memorisation extends over some centuries, then some degree of additions and subtractions may be expected. The use of astronomy in dating an entire text is regarded as unreliable since the references to planetary positions could have been incorporated from an earlier tradition which need not have been Vedic but was known in the area where the hymns were composed.

The Rigveda has been approximately dated to about 1500 bc by when the Indus cities had declined. Therefore in accordance with this chronology, the Indus civilisation was prior to the Vedic culture and precedes it as foundational to Indian civilisation. If however there is an insistence on 4500 bc as the date of the Rigveda, (which is unlikely on the basis of linguistic evidence), then the Vedic would precede the Harappan culture. Excavations in Baluchistan indicate that some settlements there go back to the seventh millennium and continue to the first millennium 29 thus vastly preceding even the early date which some have proposed for the Rigveda. But the pre-Harappan cultures of these sites are not present at the same date in the sites of the Punjab and the north-western borderlands of the Indian subcontinent, which is the location of the Rigveda. It is difficult to find an archaeological counter-part among the pre-Harappan settlements to the material culture as described in the Rigveda. The mutation to the pattern of the Harappan culture takes place at approximately the same period in both areas.

Pre-Harappan cultures in the areas where eventually the Harappa culture prevailed, are of diverse kinds and distinctively different. The Ghaggar-Hakra river system which some have sought to identify with the Rigvedic Sarasvati and are projecting it as the nucleus of what evolved into the Harappa culture, has a large number of sites but these cannot be regarded as the sole precursors to Harappan urbanisation. The contribution of the sites in the Indo-Iranian borderlands and in Baluchistan as also in the Indus system itself, appear to be more significant. The Harappan sites, although not entirely uniform, do maintain a pattern which is not only recognisable but marks a departure from the earlier cultures. Its major characteristics are the emphasis on an urban pattern with towns laid out on a grid and a rationalisation of streets in terms of direction and size, with an extensive drainage system, distinctive domestic and public buildings, artefacts such as seals and weights and measures associated with developed exchange, a variety of crafts and distinctive pottery. This was a motivated reaching out into a wide area through various networks of settlements. The requirement of manpower and the exploitation of resources was on a scale unfamiliar to preceding cultures. The sheer size of the area tapped by the Harappan culture led inevitably to some degree of regional variation.

The Late Harappan phase, from the early to mid-second millennium bc when the Mature Harappan began to decline, sees a return to a stronger regional articulation and a diversity in archaeological cultures which are geographically delimited. Once again there are a variety of cultures which emerge at this time, some with no ostensible links with other regions, some with continuities with the Harappan and some with evidence of the arrival of innovations from elsewhere. Settlements in Baluchistan suggest links with central Asia and Iran in the second millennium bc. Interestingly the overlap between the Late Harappan and a subsequent independent culture — that of the Painted Grey Ware — occurs in Punjab and Haryana. With the decline of the cities there appears to have been a ruralisation in the regions earlier associated with the Harappan culture, since it takes a few centuries before another urbanisation is witnessed and this time in the Ganga valley.

Rigvedic references to the grassy banks of the Sarasvati would predate the hydrological changes which led to the drying up of the Sarasvati just prior to about 1000 bc. The geographical location of the Rigvedic saptasindhu is generally taken to be the Punjab and the adjoining borderlands, although some scholars would place the geographical location of the Rigveda closer to central Asia and Afghanistan. 30 There is virtually no familiarity in the Rigvedic hymns with Sindh and Baluchistan, leave alone Gujarat (all these being areas where Harappan settlements have been found), nor with the middle Ganga valley. The last is part of the geography of the later Vedic corpus, when interestingly, the language of the north is described as superior. Thus the Punjab could have been the geographical overlap between a part of the area of the Harappan culture and the Rigveda.

Although the earlier notion of a systematic destruction of Harappan sites by Aryan invaders has been questioned from the evidence of archaeology, this does not allow us to maintain that the speakers of Indo-Aryan were therefore indigenous to India. Nor does the evidence support the identification of Vedic culture with the Indus/Harappan culture. That Indo-Aryan has cognates in a few words that occur in texts from Iran, Turkey and Syria, and that the links with Old Iranian suggest more than just a linguistic affinity, is well-established. Parallels from Iran occur in rituals, deities and social forms, but these were not imports from India as is also suggested by the deliberate reversal of some associated ideas in the two societies. The cult of soma/haoma and the emphasis on the worship of fire were common to Iran and India. The cult of soma does not occur elsewhere in the Indo-European speaking world suggesting a particularly close relationship of the Indo-Iranian culture, if not a common source. The ritual of soma has also been linked to some proto-type shamanistic rituals from earlier periods in Central Asia. The Indo-Iranian links tie into the chronology of the Rigveda since the earliest suggested date now for Zoroaster is circa 1200 bc. 31 There is also no evidence of a linguistic movement from India to Iran. The Vedic texts indicate to the contrary, that Indo-Aryan moved eastwards from north-western India to the Ganga valley. The problem for the historian then is to try and understand the mechanism by which Indo-Aryan was brought and adopted in India. For this it is necessary to go back a little in time and observe activities in west Asia and Iran since these are closely connected with events in North India.

Archaeological evidence from the third millennium bc confirms wide-ranging, overland contacts between north-western India, southern and eastern Iran and the Oxus region, and maritime contacts with Oman and Mesopotamia. [32] It was clearly a cosmopolitan world with people on the move, making languages mobile too. Traders from the Indus cities would have had to use diverse languages such as Akkadian, Elamite, and possibly Indo-European in the upper Oxus. This further complicates the decipherment of the Indus script, which so far has been divided between two main schools, one reading it as Indo-Aryan and the other as Proto-Dravidian, where the latter reading seems to be based on a greater reliance on the rules of linguistics. [33] One attempt however which remains controversial among linguists is the close connection which has been suggested between Elamite in southern Iran and Proto-Dravidian. The proto-Elamite script suggests comparison with the Harappan and it was being used in eastern Iran. Elamite was the language known in the area lying between the Harappan culture and Mesopotamia, prior to the arrival of Old Iranian when Indo-European place-names and proper names start being mentioned in cuneiform documents from northern Mesopotamia in the Second millennium bc. [34] This would also tie-in with the interaction in the area suggested by the archaeological evidence.

The decline of the Indus cities in the early second millennium bc is now attributed to environmental changes, the closing of trade with the Gulf and the collapse of political authority in the cities. However, the decline of the cities is not an abrupt termination of the Indus civilisation as there is some continuity of Harappan traits in post-Harappan cultures and an overlap at some sites in Punjab and Haryana. In relation to cultural traits from Iran and central Asia, the possibilities of small-scale migrations into India and the interaction of peoples and cultures over a long period of time, can be assumed. The emphasis is both on smallness and long duration as there was no massive migration such as to overwhelm the existing cultures. This is also much more likely to have been the mechanism by which the Indo-Aryan language came to be established in north-western India.

If the archaeological evidence is given primacy in establishing the roots of Indian civilisation then it is possible to reconstruct a picture of the evolution of various societies in the northern and western parts of the sub-continent. In this reconstruction, the Indus civilisation/Harappan culture, is a significant landmark and interest is shifting away from futile attempts to identify every new archaeological culture with the Aryans. A close examination of the archaeological evidence in various dimensions permits a comparison of Harappan society with that depicted in the Vedic texts and the two are diverse. The one characteristic which is striking in the archaeology of the Harappan culture is the strength of the urban organisation, reflected in the way the towns were planned and the amenities provided. Urban centres were central to extensive trade in Harappan life, whereas the Vedic society was pastoral and agricultural without descriptions of urban living. There are no references to granaries or large-scale storage systems under administrative authority. Craft production which was an established feature of the Harappan cities is mentioned in passing in the texts. The use of a script is evident from the seals but is absent in the texts. Vedic society gradually becomes more familiar with the use of iron and this is absent in the Harappan culture where the metal technology is of copper and bronze. Other technologies also point to major differences, as for example, the raja in the Vedic texts was equipped with a chariot run on spoked wheels neither of which are to be found at Harappan sites where oxen drew carts and the wheels were discoid. Chariots were drawn by horses but these are late arrivals and there is sporadic evidence of the horse at the time of the decline of the cities.

Despite these differences, an alternative view is being propagated. This interpretation seeks an unbroken genealogy for the Hindu as Arya and therefore supports the Hindutva reconstruction of events. The argument runs as follows: the Indus civilisation is said to be Vedic and Aryan and this, together with the lack of evidence of a large-scale Aryan invasion from archaeology, is said to further prove that there were people who called themselves the Aryans and who were indigenous to India. [35] The preferred date for the Rigveda is 4500 bc so that it precedes the Indus cities, but the two can also be made to coincide chronologically. [36] It is claimed that the Indo-Aryan language originated in India and spread from India westwards.

Such an early date for the Rigveda is untenable on the available linguistic evidence nor is there support for the argument of a westward flow of people from northern India, neither from linguistic nor from archaeological sources. Since language cannot be identified by an archaeological culture, the use of the term Aryan in this interpretation refers to a combination of people, culture and language, rather than strictly only to language. We are back once more to Max Mueller's confusion over language and race. The attempt to push back the chronology of the Rigveda is accompanied by the attempt to take the Harappan culture back to the fourth millennium or even earlier and the equating of the Harappan culture with the Vedic texts. There is a focus on those pre-Harappan cultures whose location is along the Ghaggar-Hakra which is identified with the now invisible Sarasvati river, important to the Rigveda. It is argued that the number of sites along the Ghaggar-Hakra river system is greater than along the Indus, therefore the former should be seen as the nucleus of the Harappan culture. The claim is then made that the Indus civilisation should more correctly be called the Indus-Sarasvati civilisation. [37]

This theory ignores the existence of a variety of pre-Harappan cultures in other areas, some of which were closely related to the process of Harappan urbanisation. It has also been contested by some archaeologists who disagree with the count and location of sites as with the implicit argument of what constitutes the nucleus of a civilisation. However, there are ideological and political dimensions to this theory which make it acceptable to those seeking origins in what they call indigenous identities. The equating of the Harappan and Vedic culture is not essentially an attempt at co-relating archaeological and literary sources in reconstructing the beginnings of the history of the subcontinent. There are other agendas which are being addressed in this attempt. If it can be argued that the Harappan culture is in fact Vedic or that the Rigveda is earlier even than the Harappan, then the Vedas continue to be foundational to the sub-continental civilisation of South Asia and also attract the encomium of representing an advanced civilisation, superior even to the pastoral-agrarian culture actually described in the Vedic texts. The Vedic culture then, has an unbroken flow, as it were, from the fourth millennium into the historical period, and in terms of the antiquity of civilisations (which was a nineteenth century obsession), places it on par with the earliest. The Sanskritic base of the civilisation is sought to be established by reading the Vedic into the Harappan. The label Indus-Sarasvati civilisation evokes the Rigveda.

There is also in this interpretation, the advantage that an extensive territory can be claimed for the Vedic culture, since Harappan artefacts and sites are located in a widespread area from Badakshan in Afghanistan to northern Maharashtra and from the Ganga-Yamuna doab to Baluchistan. This vastly extends the geographical area as described in the Rigveda and which is much more limited. The discovery of Harappan sites on the Indian side of the border between India and Pakistan, is viewed as compensating for the loss of the cities of Mohenjo-daro and Harappa which are located in Pakistan. By insisting on the Ghaggar-Hakra being the cradle of the Indus civilisation, there is an element of recapturing the civilisation for India. The equation of the Harappan with the Vedic strengthens the notion of an unbroken Hindu Aryan origin for the historical beginnings of both India and Pakistan.

Another curious agenda is that of what is described as 'a critical mass' of Indians and a few others in America and Canada who refer to themselves as the Indo-American school (as against what they call the Indo-European school of scholars who work within the earlier Indian and European scholarship). The Indo-American school, according to one of its prominent spokesmen, consists of predominantly American-trained professional scientists researching on ancient India (presumably as a hobby), and using the resources of modern science and technology. [38] Obviously well-endowed, they run their own journal from their main office in Canada. They too are committed to proving that the Vedic and the Harappan cultures are the same and that their antiquity goes back to the fifth millennium bc and therefore the Aryans are indigenous to India and took the Aryan mission westwards from India. Much of their writing contributes to the invention of yet more methodologies about a complex subject. What is striking about their publications is their evident unfamiliarity with the methods of analysing archaeological, linguistic and historical data. Consequently their writings read rather like nineteenth century tracts but peppered with references to using the computer so as to suggest scientific objectivity since they claim that it is value-free. Those that question their theories are dismissed as Marxists! That Indian scientists in America should take upon themselves the task of proving the Harappan to be Vedic, to having influenced other civilisations such as the Egyptian, and to proving that the Aryans proceeded on a civilising mission issuing out of India and going westwards, can only suggest that the 'Indo-American school' is in the midst of an identity crisis in its new environment. It is anxious to demarcate itself from other immigrants and to proclaim that the Indian identity is superior to the others who have also fallen into the 'great melting-pot'.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Tue Feb 06, 2018 6:24 am

Part 2 of 2

These reconstructions disregard the linguistic data, probably because it would puncture their argument. It is conveniently stated that the linguistic models arise out of political and cultural factors and presumably therefore may be ignored. Yet linguistics introduces another dimension, other than archaeological, which has a considerable bearing not only on the nature of the Vedic language but also on the reconstruction of the history of this period. Linguistic analyses, subsequent to Max Mueller and particularly those of the last few decades have led to the radical revision of many earlier views. The internal evidence of the Vedic texts points to Indo-Aryan travelling eastwards from north-western India to the middle Ganga valley. The Rigveda has its location in the saptasindhu region, but the later Vedic corpus indicates a shift eastwards and the crossing of the river Sadanira/ Gandak is specifically mentioned. Changes are apparent within the evolution of Vedic Sanskrit from the period of the Rigveda to that of the later Vedas. [39] There is also a greater incidence of non-Aryan linguistic elements in the later Vedic corpus as compared to the Rigveda. There is therefore an induction into Vedic Sanskrit from Indian non-Aryan languages registering an increase over time, and thus suggesting that Indo-Aryan was not indigenous. The recent linguistic analysis therefore is set aside by those who argue to the contrary.

Yet the linguistic evidence cannot be ignored as it forms part of a primary source — the Vedic texts — in the reconstruction of the history of this period. But this evidence has also to be seen in a wider context. Related languages, constituting what is called the Indo-European family are said to go back to an ancestral language spoken in the Indo-European homeland which has generally been located in central Asia and which is referred to as Proto-Indo-European. [40] Such reconstructions previously assumed that a proto form could be arrived at from words taken from later texts. This has been questioned and historical linguistics is now particular about possible changes in the history of words. Linguistics also places an emphasis on the structure of the language and does not limit itself to comparing similar sounding words.

A single homeland would imply a widespread diffusion from a small area, and the explanations for such a diffusion have been speculative. The drying up of the pasture lands in the steppe area has been suggested. In central Asia settlements tend to acquire simple fortifications in the third millennium bc perhaps indicating a more than normal movement of people. An alternative reconstruction might suggest that there was a wide belt of Indo-European speaking peoples inhabiting a large part of central Asia, from the Tocharian speaking region to the Slavonic. These would have moved in different directions and associated with a variety of pre-existing cultures, thus resulting in some similarities among Indo-European languages but with variant characteristics as well, the latter deriving from pre-existing languages. This would involve some variation in the ancestral languages and a wider spectrum of migrations and movements of peoples. The languages taken to new areas would have changed to some degree on coming into contact with non-Indo-European speakers and the establishing of languages related to Indo-European would have taken a few centuries. The imprint of Indo-European would vary from the maximum impact, namely that of gradually establishing an Indo-European language in the area, to the minimum, namely, that of the local language merely incorporating a few Indo-European words. Given the inter-relatedness of Indo-European languages and that these languages in contiguous areas have historical roots which are often connected, it is not possible to study the history of any single Indo-European language in isolation. Each has to be viewed in the context of the group with which it is associated. Thus Indo-Aryan has to be examined within the context of links with old Iranian and a possible Indo-Iranian phase at an earlier stage.

Some clarification in the use of these terms is necessary. Indo-Iranian descended from an original Indo-European would have preceded the division into Old Iranian and Indo-Aryan. The early sections of the Kvesta, associated with Zoroaster, provide evidence of Old Iranian. Indo-Aryan is available from the Rigveda onwards. However, there is another form which some scholars identify with Indo-Aryan and which they argue is perhaps a little earlier and therefore it is called Proto-Indo-Aryan. This would make it possibly earlier than the Rigveda. Its occurrence is not in south Asia or Iran, but in a few inscriptions from Turkey and Syria. There is however, no evidence of an Indo-Aryan language acting as a connecting link from an earlier location in south Asia towards the area to the west. Furthermore, these inscriptions are firmly dated to the second millennium bc and this has some relevance for dating the Rigveda.

The term 'Aryan' in the label Indo-Aryan, refers solely to the language and not to the people who spoke it or for that matter to any imagined race. The word airya in the Avesta is seen as the same as the arya of the Rigveda. Its etymology has been discussed at length and has been read as derived from meanings such as companion, enemy-friend, stranger, guest, a person of noble lineage or a person of status and possessions. [41] The inscriptions of the Achaemenid kings of Iran are also quoted where they identify themselves as descended from aryas. [42] But the earliest of these inscriptions are of the sixth century bc and therefore much later than the Avesta. Although the term has been associated with descent, it can also be read as referring to nobility of status. Since Indo-Aryan refers to a language and arya refers to a social status, attempts to identify either with archaeological cultures tend to be meaningless.

Cultural similarities recognised in the various Indo-European languages have given rise to theories concerning the organisation of the societies which use Indo-European. Of these the most influential is that of Dumezil who describes the tripartite function of Indo-European society as consisting of three categories — priests, warriors and hereditary-cultivators. [43] However, it has been shown that these divisions are so general that they can even be seen in non-Indo-European literatures such as the Bible. [44] A similarity of patterns and their traces have also been sought in the mythology and laws of Indo-European speaking societies. [45] The assumption that the speakers of Indo-European became the dominant group in the areas where the language spread, has now been superseded by the recognition that the diffusion of a language introduces some new ideas and institutions in an area, but that frequently there is a restructuring of existing ideas and institutions.

Tentative suggestions from this perspective have been made in relation to rituals. Some rituals characteristic of the Indo-Iranian area are not practised in other areas where Indo-European is spoken. This may be because of the close connections between north-western India and Iran, even prior to the establishing of Indo-European language in the region. One such ritual is the cult of soma (in Indo-Aryan) or haoma (in Old Iranian), which involves the consuming of the elaborately prepared juice of a plant with hallucinogenic properties as part of major sacrificial rituals. It has been thought that the tradition goes back to shamanistic practices in central Asia. The plant has been identified with either the ephedra, found in a ritual context at the site of Togolok 21 in Margiana (Turkmenistan) or else with the fly agaric, a mushroom which grows in a habitat associated with mountains of Afghanistan. [46] The geographical restriction of the cult may have arisen because the plant was specific to a limited location. A tentative hypothesis takes the cult back to the Harappans. [47] The argument is not that the Harappans therefore were the people of the Vedas, but that this cult had pre-Vedic and pre-Avestan origins and was incorporated into the Vedic and Avestan ritual. This underlines the need to examine how a ritual is constituted, and the extent to which it retains archaic features and introduces new ones.

The earliest definitive evidence of Indo-European, apart from a few names in Mesopotamian sources of the nineteenth century bc comes from Hittite and Mitanni inscriptions from Turkey and Syria in the period between about 1750 to 1300 bc and from the names of the Kassites whose short-lived presence in Mesopotamia is dated to the mid-second millennium bc. These data are not texts in Indo-European, but words; names of deities and rulers, and terms used in the training of horses. 48 The occurrence of Indo-European words is striking in an area which was non-Indo-European speaking prior to this and reverted to the same after this brief intrusion. 49 This does not indicate large numbers of Indo-European speakers, nor a substantial local population taking to the new language. That this form of Indo-European is close to Rigvedic Sanskrit has tended to endorse the date of about 1500-1200 bc for the early hymns of the Rigveda. Linguistic evidence of language or words close to Vedic Sanskrit prior to the second millennium bc in the area between the Indus and Turkey, is not forthcoming. This is also the period when the earlier connections between the Indus and west Asia begin to decline. In the absence of language links in the intervening area, it has been suggested that Proto-Indo-Aryan may have travelled originally from a more central point, perhaps in Iran, westwards to Turkey and eastwards to northern India. 50 Avestan references to the migrations of the arya mention places in northern and Eastern Iran and the direction would appear to be from the north to the north-east.

The assimilation of non-Aryan linguistic elements into Vedic Sanskrit [51] raises the question of whether there was bilingualism between the speakers of Indo-Aryan and of other languages, and if so, then to what degree; and who were the authors of these texts? It could be that groups of migrants over many centuries came from the region of Margiana and Bactria to northwestern India. [52] The migrants could have been slow-moving pastoralists, who also functioned as itinerant traders. This is suggested by the centrality of pastoral society in the Rigveda. They probably settled in places en route, so that those who entered India were already ethnically and culturally mixed and spoke what evolved into Indo-Aryan carrying traces of closeness to Old Iranian, but nevertheless distinct. It would have been more convenient for them to use local artefacts rather than carry items from their earlier settlements. Archaeology therefore would register their presence in indirect forms and not as a major change in material culture. They would have met with non-Aryan speakers in India, using Proto-Dravidian, Austro-Asiatic and possibly in some areas even Tibeto-Burman. Bilingualism would have followed, resulting in the induction of non-Aryan traits into Aryan, recognisable in morphology (word formation), phonology (sound), syntax (sentence pattern and grammar), lexical items (vocabulary) and semantics (meaning). Non-Aryan speakers were part of this bilingualism and over many centuries may have become proficient in Indo-Aryan. [53] Apart from elements of language, it is likely that custom and ritual were also incorporated into Vedic practice, amalgamating cultural items from local and distant traditions. This would result in some anachronisms. Bilingualism would have been a necessity. But the motivation for the adoption of Indo-Aryan by non-Aryan speakers may have been encouraged if the language being adopted gave access to artefacts, rituals, status and security. [54]

In order to strengthen this hypothesis, it would be necessary to examine the artefacts which are innovatory towards the early first millennium bc. Was the increasing use of the horse and the spoked-wheel chariot linked to the Aryan speakers? Or the introduction of iron artefacts? [55] The horse is an insignificant animal in the Indus cities and can be said to arrive, at the earliest, towards the decline of the cities and not before the second millennium bc. [56] It is noticeably absent in any ritual context such as a depiction on a Harappan seal or at places thought to be associated with rituals. This is in contrast to its presence in some post-Harappan cultures and its centrality to Vedic ritual and life. This centrality was probably because the horse, and certainly the quality livestock, was imported even in later times from central Asia or from Arabia.

The use of the horse and of the bovine in ritual, especially the ritual of sacrifice, is not identical. The sacrifice of a bovine carries less status than that of a horse. In the dana-stuti hymns of the Rigveda in which the poets list the wealth they request from their patrons, the number of horses is far fewer than of cattle. [57] Excavated animal bones from Hastinapur in the first millennium BC when the use of the horse was more frequent, indicate that horse bones make up only a very small percentage of the bones, the largest amount being those of the bos Indicus, the humped cattle. [58] The horse being more valuable, its association was with the more spectacular sacrifices such as the ashvamedha. The eating of cattle flesh was limited to occasions when the animal had been sacrificed or on special occasions. It was not eaten routinely. This is a common feature among cattle pastoralists who thus preserve quality stock. [59] The horse sacrifice is mentioned in the Vedas and the number of horses said to have been sacrificed are sometimes excessive. Exaggerated figures may have been intended to suggest power and wealth and need not be taken literally. There is no evidence of the sacrifice of a horse from Harappan sites and even what is interpreted by some as evidence of the sacrifice of an animal is extremely limited. [60]

In the Indo-Iranian borderlands, horse remains date to the second millennium bc. The arrival of the horse in the Swat valley of Gandhara and in the Ganga valley dates to the first millennium bc. Found in the early part of the millennium at sites such as Atranjikhera, Hastinapur, Bhagwanpura, the remains increase in the subsequent period. [61] From the Vedic texts onwards the horse is symbolic of nobility and is associated with people of status. In the Avesta the suffix aspa meaning 'horse' is frequent in the names of those claiming status and even as late as the Mauryan period, a high official in Saurashtra carries the Iranian name, Tushaspa. Functionally, it could be used to substantially improve efficiency in controlling herds grazing in extensive areas, apart from being an important adjunct in combat and in the fast transportation of individual riders or those riding chariots. If the culture of the Rigveda is to be equated with the Harappan culture, then obviously the horse has to be found in the Harappan cities. But even allowing for a generous time margin, there are no horse remains prior to the second millennium bc, some of the earlier suggested identifications of bones being now confirmed as those of the onager and the ass. There is therefore a frantic search for horse bones from archaeological levels prior to the second millennium bc. [63] The point which also needs to be emphasised is that the discovery of a single tooth of a horse at Lothal [64] does not indicate the presence of the horse on the scale described in the Rigveda. Such single items are a striking contrast to the more substantial bones found at Hastinapur and other sites in the first millennium bc.

Associated with the horse was the chariot and the spoked wheel, appearing on the scene at the same time and with antecedents further west. Prior to this, the ox-cart and the discoid wheel were extensively used in northwestern India. Models of actual wheels for toy carts from Harappan sites are generally of the discoid variety. Occasionally there are wheels with four lines radiating from the hub painted over the solid wheel. These have been taken to represent spoked wheels. [65] But the construction of a spoked wheel is different and presumably would be represented with many more spokes and a rim.

Iron weaponry dates to about 800 bc although some iron artefacts from central India are said to be earlier. [66] References to iron therefore in the Vedic texts would date to the first millennium bc. Interestingly in peninsular India, megalithic burials in the first millennium bc reveal the extensive use of iron artefacts as well as the presence of the horse, but such burials are located in areas which are either still Proto-Dravidian speaking or else have had a proto-Dravidian substratum. Thus in spite of these innovations, there seems to have been little inclination to adopt Indo-Aryan. Two other non-artefactual innovations may be suggested: the binary system of measurement used in Harappan times may have been replaced by the decimal, more familiar to Vedic texts; and the use of the solar calendar in addition to the lunar calendar would have been a functional advance with the gradual reorganisation of agricultural activities. Did these technological changes provide a lever, giving an edge to the speakers of Indo-Aryan who may have introduced the innovations initially. Possibly the claims based on the power of sacrificial ritual was yet another lever. The redefinitions in culture, social organisation and economy resulting from technological innovations would have been a slow process. They also imply far more complex and varied dimensions of historical change, than the simplistic mono-causal explanations of either conquest or alternatively indigenous origins for everything.

Archaeology and language can provide separate evidence on some essential questions, as for example an enquiry into migrations. This would involve an explanation of why there was a need to move and of the numbers involved. The expending of wealth on the journey would have to be controlled so as not to be counter-productive and this would determine up to a point the goods with which people traveled. [67] Assessing linguistic change would indicate the adoption and modification of the languages of those migrating and the areas to which they migrate. In the case of pastoral migrants, the animals bred might provide clues to travel. The domestication of the bos Indicus breed of cattle, evident from excavations, links the Indus valley and Iran. Migrations may have been occasioned by the search for pastures and north-western India may have been familiar to herders from the borderlands. If exchange and incipient trade also featured as they often do with pastoral groups, then the circulation of items may have encouraged a larger circuit of travel and a greater mixing of the populations. Where the migration included farming communities, new agricultural land and the diffusion of crops would be part of the pattern.  

If the existing evidence is integrated then the emerging picture is one where the presence of Indo-European in the form of Old Iranian and Proto-Indo-Aryan and Indo-Aryan is registered in the second millennium bc. This period also sees the arrival of the horse, the chariot and spoked wheel, and the use of iron, all of which are more evident in the first millennium. At a few sites in India there is an overlap of Late Harappan with the Painted Grey Ware — the latter dated to the first millennium bc. This makes a more plausible picture for the entry of Indo-Aryan into India than the arbitrary shifting of the chronology of the Harappan culture and the Rigveda.

Equally important to the question of why Indo-Aryan was adopted is the nature of the interaction between the speakers of the various languages. I have suggested elsewhere that initially it involved a symbiotic relationship between agriculturalists and pastoralists, [68] a symbiosis which is evident in many such mixed societies. With the decline of the cities of the Indus civilisation and the breakdown of political authority, villages would have been open to predatory raids from various sources. In the collapse of the Harappan system, the erstwhile farmers and craftsmen and particularly those living in villages who had been deeply integrated into the Harappan system, would have been economically rootless. The Harappan agrarian system appears to have been more carefully controlled in the north-west, if the granaries can be regarded as an indication. This was the region which would have received settlers from the borderlands. The incoming groups may not have been averse to controlling what remained of the pre-existing hierarchical structure. Did non-Aryan speaking agriculturalists seek protection from the chiefs of pastoral clans who were Aryan speaking? This does not imply the conquest of the former by the latter, but a system of patronage, which may even have existed in Harappan times except that now the patrons were not from the Harappan cities. The familiarity which these chiefs had with the horse and with new weaponry would have enabled them to provide the required protection as well as place them in a status of superiority. Such a relationship may on occasion have led to localised conflict, but would have soon assumed a symbiotic pattern, involving bilingualism at first and subsequently the adoption of an evolving Indo-Aryan. Linguistic convergence may follow from the meeting of two languages. Curiously, words associated with agriculture in Vedic Sanskrit and as early as the Rigveda, are often non-Aryan. [69] At some sites of the Painted Grey Ware cultures in northern India, frequently identified as 'Aryan', there is an interesting mixture: the cultivation of rice and the domestication of the water buffalo are associated with developments in eastern India, but the horse is an importation from the west. [70]

The historical reconstruction of this period therefore presents a different picture from that envisaged in existing theories. Given the range of evidence, there can now be a greater exploration of reconstructions rather than an insistence on reconstructing a history for which the evidence has yet to be found. The identification of archaeological cultures as Aryan, which was methodologically untenable, becomes irrelevant. Archaeology does not provide evidence to identify language where there is an absence of a script. Even where languages are related as in Proto-Indo-Aryan, Old Iranian, and Indo-Aryan, the material culture of the societies associated with these languages is dissimilar.

The notion of an Aryan race identified on the basis of an Aryan language has now been discarded. Language and race are distinctly different categories. Perhaps it would be more appropriate to discard the term 'Aryan' as well, using only Indo-Aryan to identify the language, or else staying strictly within the definition of arya from Sanskrit texts where it is a linguistic and social qualifier, without the overlay of nineteenth century theories. The reconstruction of the societies of the period would draw substantially on archaeological data. How and when the Aryan language entered India and the process of its adoption and adaptation requires to be investigated as a process in social history and not as providing identities which we today can label as indigenous or alien for purposes of narrow nationalism. A comparative analysis of analogous situations might provide some clues. Interestingly, the Indian experience parallels that of Iran where Old Iranian as an Indo-European language was ancestral to later Iranian languages. This contrasts with the short-lived intrusion of Indo-European in Turkey and Syria.

Such a change of focus would require a search for a graduated interaction over many centuries between various settlements and cultures, where large-scale violent conflict would be limited. The Rigveda refers to relations between the arya-varna and the dasa-varna. These are generally identified as distinct peoples, although arya carries the connotation of a person of status and knowing Sanskrit. The presence of non-Aryan speakers are registered in the reference to those of obstructed speech, mridhravac and those who could not speak correctly, mleccha. The later Vedic texts provide evidence of regional variations. Whereas appeals are made to the gods to destroy the dasas, mention is also made of the generosity of wealthy dasa chiefs for whom rituals are performed. The hostility of the arya towards the dasa, refers more frequently to differences in worship and rituals, than to physical differences. Nor was the conflict always between arya and dasa. Conflicts also occur between established clans and arya enemies are mentioned. [71] Subsequent Vedic texts also acknowledge that some respected brahmanas are dasvputrah, the sons of dasis and this evidence has been used to suggest that Vedic brahmanas were, to a large extent, recruited from the priest class of the pre-Aryan population. It has even been hypothesised that the dasas were the remnants of the Indus civilisation. [72] It would seem then, that the relationship is more ambivalent than has been recognised so far.

This in turn relates to the subordination of the dasa by the arya. This is central to Jyotiba Phule's version of the Aryan theory revived in Dalit politics today and its reversal from the Hindutva perspective. With the emergence of varna, which some sociologists have described as ritual status, the lowest category came to be called shudra and was expected to be servile. Dasa was not a ritual status and the word eventually was used for a slave or a servant, its antonym being arya. In the post-Rigvedic Brahmana texts, the appeal to the gods to destroy the dasas declines, for by now they are already low in the hierarchy of stratification. In a situation as complex as this, the mechanisms of subordination may be less evident than in the projection of conquest, but nevertheless they cannot be ignored. The presumed identity and lineal descent of the supposed Aryan in this reading of the evidence becomes questionable and therefore, difficult to use for political mobilisation in contemporary times.

The process of the subordination of the dasa by the arya could provide clues to some aspects of relations of dominance and subordination in the social history of later times. Hierarchies, differentiations and regulations essential to caste, exist as part of its stratification and social functioning, irrespective of an Aryan component. The insistence on differentiating between the alien/foreign and the indigenous is historically untenable for earlier times when even the existence of such a differentiation based on the premises being suggested, is questionable. 'Indigenous' and 'foreign' as notions are neither permanent nor unchanging nor transparent. The identities of the indigene and the alien are constantly mutated throughout history. It is more pertinent to analyse the major historical processes of early times, namely, the emergence of dominant groups — thearyas, and the subordination of others referred to as shudras and dasas.

I have tried to show that the application of the Aryan theory to Indian history, which began as an attempt to uncover the beginnings of Indian history, to explain the origins of Indian society, and to establish what were thought to be the roots of Indian identity, has inevitably become entangled in Indian politics. The emphasis today on a particular kind of Aryanism is also a revival of nineteenth century historiography, moulded by specific ideological concerns of time and place. This historiography has undergone a radical change where the insistence on Aryanism as an essential ingredient of the civilisations of Iran and Greece is now passe, for civilisation is being viewed as a process and not the monopoly of a particular people. [73]

The Aryan theory in India, has been in some ways, a kaleidoscope where scholarly and political concerns have in the past been trying to change the configurations of the pattern. Used in the search for modern Indian identities by drawing on a definition of origins, it sought legitimation from history, and tried to justify the aspirations of one particular group or controvert those of others. In its contemporary incarnation it provides an important element in the search for collective identities in political contestation, quite apart from contested interpretations of early Indian history. I have tried to show that in reconstructing the beginnings of Indian history, the entire complex range of evidence — archaeological, linguistic and textual — has to be brought into play, relating both to India and the neighbouring areas. This is so formidable in itself, that historians have neglected to comment on the political appropriations of the theory in our time. Thus, when the theory is again becoming an agency of empowerment and entitlement, to include some and exclude others, historians will need to discard spurious history, irrespective of the insights it might provide into the politics and ideologies of the present.



* Emeritus Professor of History at Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

** This is an expanded version of the text of a lecture delivered at the 40th International Conference of Eastern Studies in Tokyo, 26 May 1995. The text is reproduced with the permission of the Toho Gakkai, the sponsor of the Conference.

1 . E. Leach, 'Aryan Invasions Over Four Millennia, in E. Ohnuki-Tierney (ed.), Culture Through Time, Stanford, 1990; L. Poliakov, The Aryan Myth, New York, 1974.

2. I have discussed some of these aspects elsewhere. See Romila Thapar, 'The Study of Society', Ancient Indian Social History: Some interpretations, New Delhi, 1978. p. 311 ff; 'The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual', in F. Staal (ed.), Agni, II, Berkeley, 1983, pp. 1-40. journal of the Asiatic Society of Bombay, 1989-91, 64-66 (n.s.), pp. 249-268.

3. J. Majeed, Ungoverned Imaginings, Oxford, 1992.

4. J. W. Sedlar, India in the Mind of Germany, New York, 1982.

5. Majeed, op.cit.

6. R. Schwab, The Oriental Renaissance, New York, 1984 (trans.)

7. Isaac Taylor, The Origin of the Aryans, London 1892, (2nd. ed.)

8. Used in the Edinburgh Review of 1 851 .

9. L. Poliakov, The Aryan Myth, New York, 1974, p. 233 ff.

10. I. Taylor, op.cit.

11. F. Max Mueller, lectures on the Science of Language, 1862; Biographies of Words and the Home of the Aryas, 1 888; India What Can it Teach Us?, 1883; Chips from a German Workshop, 1884.

12. 'Raja Ram Mohan Roy 1774-1833' in Biographical Essays, Oxford, 1884, p. 11. This was an address delivered at Bristol Museum on 27 September 1 883 on the fiftieth anniversary of the Raja's death. See also, 7 Point to India, ed. by. N. Mookerjee, Bombay, 1 970, p. 24- 28.

13. R. Caldwell, A Comparative Grammar of the Dravidian or South Indian Family of Languages, London, 1856.

14. An example of this is the influential study by Herbert Risley, The People of India, London, 1980.

15. R. O'Hanlon, Caste Conflict and Ideology, Cambridge, 1985. G. Omvedt, Jyotiba Phule : An Incomplete Renaissance, Surat, 1991.

16. Keshab Chunder Sen's Lectures in India, p. 323.

17. Orion or Researches into the Antiquity of the Vedas, Poona 1893.

18. The Arctic Home in the Vedas, Poona, 1903.

19. A.C. Das, Rigvedic India, Calcutta, 1920.

20. Satyarth Prakash, ed. Y. Mimamshak, Sonipat, 1972.

21. Lajpat Rai, The Arya Samaj, Bombay, 1915, p. 46.

22. J. Leopold, British Applications of the Aryan Theory of Race to India 1850-70, The English Historical Review, 1974, 89, pp. 578-603. The Aryan Theory of Race in India 1170-1920, Nationalist and Internationalist Visions, Indian Economic and Social History Review, 1970, VII, 2, 271-298.

23. V. D. Savarkar, Hindutva. Who is Hindu, Bombay, written and distributed 1922, published 1969; M.S. Golwalkar, We or Our Nationhood Defined, Bombay, 1938.

24. Romila Thapar, Clan, Caste and Origin Myths in Early India, Shimla, 1992.

25. Romila Thapar, 'The Study of Society', op. cit.

26. The tendency to give priority to textual and linguistic data over the archaeological goes back to the earliest major attempts to co-relate the two sources in the writings of G. Kossinna and G. Childe. The more recent attempt of C. Renfrew, Archaeology and Language, London 1987, draws on ideas from processual archaeology which makes it theoretically an interesting departure, but his reconstruction of Aryan origins remains unconvincing.

27. Romila Thapar, 'The Archaeological Background to the Agnicayana Ritual', in F. Staal (ed.), Agni, Berkeley, 1983, pp. 110.

28. V.S. Agrawala, India as Known to Panini, Varanasi, 1963, 2nd edn., p. 354.

29. J.F. Jarrige, 'Excavations at Mehrgarh-Nausharo,' Pakistan Archaeology, 1986, 10-22, pp. 63-131.

30. A. Parpola, 'The Coming of the Aryans to Iran and India and the Cultural and Ethnic Identity of the Dasas', Studia Orientalia, 1988, no. 64.

31. M. Boyce, Zoroastrians, London, 1979, 18.

32. H.P. Francfort, Fouilles de Shortughai, Paris, 1989; P.H. Kohl, 'The Balance of Trade in south-western Asia in the mid-third millennium B.C.,' Current Anthropology, 1978, 19, pp. 463-492; C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, 'The Proto-Elamites on the Iranian Plateau,' Antiquity, 1978, 52, pp. 114-120. S. Ratnagar, Encounters, The Westerly Trade of the Harappa Civilisation, New Delhi, 1981.

33. I. Mahadevan, The Indus Script, New Delhi, 1 977. S. R. Rao, The Decipherment of the Indus Script, Bombay, 1982. A. Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge, 1994.

34. D.W. McAlpin, Proto-Elamo-Dravidian; The Evidence and its Implications, Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, No. 71. Philadelphia, 1981. A. Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script, Cambridge, 1994, 128.

35. Swami Sankaranand, RigvedicCulture of the Prehistoric Indus, Calcutta, 1943-44; K.N. Sastri, New Light on the Indus Civilisation, Delhi, 1965. A.D. Pusalkar, 'Pre-Harappan and post-Harappan Culture and the Aryan Problem,' The Quarterly Review of Historical Studies, 1967-68, VII, 4, 233-44. K.D, Sethna, The Problem of Aryan Origins, Delhi, 1980.

36. V.N. Misra, "Indus Civilisation and the Rgvedic Sarasvati," in A. Parpola and P. Koshikallio (eds.), South Asian Archaeology, 1993 Vol. II, Helsinki, 1994, 511-525.

37. S. P. Gupta, 'Longer Chronology of the Indus-Sarasvati Civilisation', Puratattva, 1 992- 93, 23, 21-29.

38. N.S. Rajaram, 'Vedic and Harappan Culture,' New Findings 7 , Puratattva, 1993-94, 24, 1-11.

39. M. Witzel, 'Tracing the Vedic Dialects', in C. Caillat (ed.), Dialectes dans les litteratures Indo-Aryennes, Paris, 1989, p. 97 ff.

40. J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-European, London, 1989, provides a useful summary of the evidence.

41. J. Brough, The Early Brahmanical System of Gotra and Pravara, Cambridge, 1953, xiii-xv. H.W. Bailey, 'Iranian arya and daJia,' in Transactions of the Philological Society, 1959.

42. R.G. Kent, Old Persian: Grammar, Texts, Lexicon, New Haven, 1953 (2nd. ed.).

43. C. Scott-Littleton, The New Comparative Mythology, Berkeley, 1973.

44. J. Brough, 'The Tripartite Ideology of the Indo-Europeans; An Experiment in Method', BSOAS, 1959, 22, 69-85.

45. J. Puhvel (ed.), Myth and Law among the Indo-Europeans, Berkeley, 1970.

46. F. Hiebert (ed.), New Studies in Bronze Age Margiana (Turkmenistan), International Association for the Study of the Cultures of Central Asia, Bulletin, No. 19, Moscow, 1993. G. Wasson,' 'The Soma of the Rigveda: What Was It?' JAOS, 1971, 91, 169-187.

47. I. Mahadevan, 'The Sacred Filter Facing the Unicorn: More Evidence, South Asian Archaeology, Helsinki 1993, 1, Helsinki, 1994, pp. 435-450.

48. J.P. Mallory, In Search of the Indo-Europeans, London, 1989, pp. 24 ff. 37 ff.
49. Mallory, op. cit.  

50. T. Burrow, 'The Proto-Indo Aryans', Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1973, 2, pp. 123- 140.

51. T. Burrow, The Sanskrit Language, London, 1965, p. 373 ff. M.M. Deshpande, 'Genesis of Rgvedic Retroflexion,' in M.M. Deshpande and P.E. Hook (eds.), Aryan and non-Aryan in India, Ann Arbor, 1979. F.B.J. Kuiper, Aryans in the Rigveda, Amsterdam, 1991.

52. FT. Hiebert and C.C. Lamberg-Karlovsky, 'Central Asia and the Indo-Iranian Borderlands,' Iran, 1992, 30, pp. 1-15. FT. Hiebert (ed.), New Studies in Bronze Age Margiana (Tmkmenistan), IASCCA Information Bulletin No. 19, Moscow, 1993; A. Parpola, 'The Coming of the Aryans to Iran and India . . .' Studia Orientalia, 64, Helsinki 1988. A. Parpola, Deciphering the Indus Script, 148 ff.

53. M.B. Emeneau, 'Indian Linguistic Area Revisited', International Journal of Dravidian Linguistics, 1974, 3, 1, p. 93 ff.

54. Mallory, op cit.

55. Romila Thapar, 'The Study of Society', op. cit.

56. R. Meadow, 'Continuity and Change in the Agriculture of the Great Indus Valley: the Palaeoethnobotanical and Zooarchaeological Evidence', in J.M. Kenoyer (ed.), Old Problems and New Perspectives in the Archaeology of South Asia, Madison, 1989.  

57. Romila Thapar, 'Dana and Daksina and Forms of Exchange', in Ancient Indian Social History: Some Interpretations, New Delhi, 1978, 105-121.

58. B.B. Lai, 'Exacavations at Hastinapur,' Ancient India, 1954 and 1955, 10 and 11, p. 109 ff.

59. E. Evans-Pritchard, The Nuer, 82-83. B. Lincoln, Priests, Warriors and Cattle, Berkeley, 1982, 43ff.

60. S.R. Rao, Lothal, 218. B.K. Thapar, 'Kalibangan', Expedition, Winter 1975, pp. 19-32.

61. A. Ghosh, The Encyclopaedia of Indian Archaeology, I, Delhi, 1985.

62. Romila Thapar, Asoka and the Decline of the Mauryas, Oxford, 1961, p. 128.

63. An example of this is A.K. Sharma, 'The Harappan Horse was buried under the dunes of . . .', Puratattva, 1992-93, 23, 30-34.

64. S.R. Rao, Lothal, New Delhi, 1985, 641.  

65. A. Ghosh (ed.), op cit, I, 337.

66. D.K. Chakrabarti, 'The Beginning of Iron in India,' Antiquity, 50, 1976, pp. 114-24.

67. F. Kortland, 'The Spread of Indo-Europeans', Journal of Indo-European Studies, 1990, 18, 1 and 2, pp. 131-140.  

68. From Lineage to State, Delhi, 1984. The symbiosis involved for instance, pastoralists grazing their animals on the post-harvest stubble in the fields and thereby helping to manure the fields. This initial simple, inter-dependence can lead to more complex relationships.

69. Burrow, op cit. Kuiper, op cit.

70. D.K. Chakrabarti, 'The Aryan Hypothesis in Indian Archaeology', Indian Studies: Past and Present, 1968, IX, 4, pp. 343-58.

71. Rigveda, 7, 33; 7.83.  

72. D.D. Kosambi, 'On the Origin of the Brahmana Gotras', Journal of the Bombay Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, 1950, 26, pp. 21-80.

73. An example of such a revision, although rather extreme, can be seen in M. Bernal, Black Athena, London, 1987. See also M.A. Dandamaev and V.G. Lukonin, The Culture and Social Institutions of Ancient Iran, Cambridge, 1989.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 6:21 am

Steiner's Early Nationalism
by Peter Staudenmaier
Posted to the Waldorf Critics discussion list January 21, 2009



A while ago I told Volker that I'd get back to the topic of Steiner's early nationalism in the Austrian context. Here is my analysis of that subject.

In early 20th century Germany, anthroposophy promised a thoroughgoing spiritual renewal that would bring salvation not only to the German people but to the rest of the world as well. What was necessary to reach this goal, according to Steiner, was a return to Germany's authentic spiritual mission. For a fuller understanding of how these ideas functioned within Steiner's mature worldview, it can help to examine Steiner's early German nationalist period before his turn to esotericism. Steiner's involvement in the German nationalist movement in Austria in the 1880s revealed a number of themes that re-appeared in spiritualized form after 1900 and powerfully shaped his later teachings.

Foremost among these themes was an abiding commitment to the notion of a German 'Kulturmission', a cultural and civilizational mission.
To appreciate the full extent of this fundamental conviction, a review of its origins in the ethnic German communities of Austria-Hungary is in order. Steiner described himself as "German by descent and racial affiliation" and as a "true-born German-Austrian," emphasizing the crucial importance of this German identity within the threatening multinational environment of the Habsburg empire in his youth. (Steiner, From Symptom to Reality in Modern History, 162-63) This retrospective self-assessment is consistent with Steiner's activities during his Vienna period.

Throughout the 1880s, Steiner participated actively in the somewhat nebulously defined 'deutschnational' movement in Austria, a tendency that is usually rendered in English as 'pan-German.' These youthful pan-German sympathies are attested in Steiner's early correspondence as well as in his student activities, and are recalled in his autobiography. Christoph Lindenberg's biography of Steiner notes that already in the early 1880s Steiner considered himself a member of the pan-German movement and that his involvement in pan-German organizations went well beyond the usual level of commitment typical for Austro-German university students at the time (Lindenberg, Rudolf Steiner: Eine Biographie, 61-62).

Above all, Steiner's nationalist convictions are displayed in the dozens of articles that he wrote for the pan-German press in Austria between 1882 and 1891. Steiner's pan-German journalism from the 1880s and 1890s is collected in volumes 29, 30, 31 and 32 of the Rudolf Steiner Gesamtausgabe, his Complete Works. Among other outlets, Steiner contributed articles to the Deutsche Zeitung, the Nationale Blätter, and the Freie Schlesische Presse. Steiner first published in the Deutsche Zeitung in 1884, and may have published in the Freie Schlesische Presse as early as 1882 and 1883.

The Nationale Blätter were the organ of the "Deutscher Verein" in Vienna, while the Freie Schlesische Presse was the organ of the "Deutscher Verein" in Troppau, a city in the Sudetenland. By the mid-1880s the Deutscher Verein was one of the major political organizations within the German nationalist movement in Austria, alongside parliamentary factions such as the Deutscher Klub and the Deutschnationale Vereinigung, both of which Steiner wrote about positively. (On the political development of the Deutscher Verein see William McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria, 199-202; McGrath notes that during the period of Steiner's association with the group, the Deutscher Verein "placed the strongest emphasis on German nationalism," which was the major unifying factor of the group.)

The Deutsche Zeitung was originally founded by the German Liberals and came to be considered "the organ of German nationalism in Austria" (Kurt Paupié Handbuch der österreichischen Pressegeschichte 1848-1959, 158). It was among the most prominent voices of German nationalist politics in the Habsburg empire until the rise of Schönerer and Lueger in the 1890s. For background on the Deutsche Zeitung see among others Pieter Judson, Exclusive Revolutionaries: Liberal Politics, Social Experience, and National Identity in the Austrian Empire 1848-1914, 169, and Hildegard Kernmayer, Judentum im Wiener Feuilleton 1848-1903, 284-86. Extensive information on each of these papers, and on others to which Steiner contributed, is also available in Lothar Höbelt, Kornblume und Kaiseradler: Die deutschfreiheitlichen Parteien Altösterreichs 1882-1918.

While Steiner's writings in these newspapers are forthrightly German nationalist, they do not espouse a state-centered power politics or call for authoritarian solutions to the interethnic conflicts of the Habsburg realm; instead they preach a kind of cultural supremacy in which non-German communities are urged to embrace purportedly German standards of civilization. The culmination of Steiner's pan-German journalism came in 1888, when he took over editorship of the Deutsche Wochenschrift for six months. This weekly paper, which carried the subtitle "organ for the national interests of the German people," was a major mouthpiece of radical German nationalism.

(On the central role of the Deutsche Wochenschrift in promoting the "sharper-key politics" of radicalized German nationalism in Austria see McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria, 201-06. For further background on the Deutsche Wochenschrift see also Helmut Zander, Anthroposophie in Deutschland, 1242-45. Other scholars have emphasized the paper's German nationalist radicalism as well; see e.g. Jacob Toury, "Josef Samuel Bloch und die jüdische Identität im Österreichischen Kaiserreich" in Walter Grab, ed., Jüdische Integration und Identität in Deutschland und Österreich 1848-1918, 55. Steiner first wrote for the Deutsche Wochenschrift in 1885.)

In addition to writing a weekly column on politics and current affairs for the Deutsche Wochenschrift, Steiner contributed substantial programmatic essays with titles such as "The Pan-German cause in Austria." (Rudolf Steiner, "Die deutschnationale Sache in Österreich" originally in Deutsche Wochenschrift: Organ für die nationalen Interessen des deutschen Volkes, Vienna, 1888 vol. VI nos. 22 and 25; reprinted in Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte, 111-20) Steiner's 1888 articles for the Deutsche Wochenschrift portray the Germans in Austria as threatened by an "onslaught from all sides," referring in particular to "Czech agitators" and "the evil Russian influence" along with Poles, Magyars, and other non-German ethnic groups, while at the same time celebrating "the cultural mission that is the duty of the German people in Austria." (Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte, 112, 85, 69)

According to Steiner in 1888, "modern culture" has been "chiefly produced by the Germans." He thus condemns not only any accommodation to non-German ethnic groups but indeed any cooperation with ethnically German parties that are insufficiently nationalist, calling these parties "un-German." (ibid., 119) Steiner blames the Austro-German Liberals in particular for failing to insist strongly enough that the Slavs must subordinate their own cultures to German culture; this failure "forced the German people to form a party in which the national idea is paramount" (113), namely the German nationalist party. But even the forthrightly nationalist party, in Steiner's eyes, did not do enough "for the national cause" (114).

Contrary to Steiner's implication, Austro-German liberalism itself had become thoroughly nationalist by the late 1880s; his polemics against it indicate an especially zealous stance on his part at this time. Indeed Steiner's harsh denunciations of the German Liberals for betraying their people reveal a firmly ethnocentric intransigence: "If we must be ruled in an un-German fashion, at least our tribal brothers ought not to take care of this business. Our hands should remain clean." (ibid., 143) Steiner similarly rejected liberalism as un-German in an 1891 article (see Steiner, Methodische Grundlagen der Anthroposophie, 298). For further context see Pieter Judson, ""Whether Race or Conviction Should Be the Standard": National Identity and Liberal Politics in Nineteenth-Century Austria" Austrian History Yearbook 22 (1991), 76-95.

In the young Steiner's view, "the Slavic enemy" both within and outside of Austria-Hungary is marked by an "empty national ego" and "spiritual barrenness," which is why the Slavs "would like nothing more than to annihilate the achievements of our European culture." (Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte, 117) Steiner also fulminates against "the culture-hating Russian colossus" and condemns the abuse of the Austrian state "for un-German purposes" (140). Portraying Czech demands for political participation as a direct threat to German cultural superiority, Steiner's pan-German essays exclaim:

"The Slavs will have to live a very long time before they understand the tasks which are the duty of the German people, and it is an outrageous offense against civilization to throw down the gauntlet at every opportunity to a people [i.e. the Germans] from whom one receives the spiritual light, a light without which European culture and education must remain a closed book." (ibid., 141-42)

In contrast, Steiner exalts "what the German is capable of, when he depends completely on his Germanness, and solely on his Germanness." (ibid., 113) Finally, Steiner's 1888 articles demand that the Habsburg empire's political agenda be set by "the exclusively national elements of the German people in Austria," namely "the pan-Germans." (143) These arguments did not cease with the end of Steiner's Vienna period, however. In Berlin in 1897 Steiner repeated the same refrain: "The Slavs and the Magyars are a danger to the mission of the Germans; they are forcing German culture to retreat." (214) The same 1897 article rails against the "non-German elements" in Austria and regrets the Austro-Germans' ostensible loss of their "privileged position within the monarchy" while looking forward to the day when "the Germans of Austria regain the position of power which corresponds to their cultural level." (215-26)

Similarly, Steiner's 1898 essay "On Pan-German Poets of Struggle in Austria" describes for his Berlin-based readership "the essence of the German national soul from the viewpoint of the German nationalist-minded Austrian." (Rudolf Steiner, "Über deutschnationale Kampfdichter in Österreich" originally in Magazin für Litteratur 1898, vol. 67, no. 34, reprinted in Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur, 448-49)

Steiner's early German nationalist essays do not merely celebrate the wonders of the German national soul; they develop a specific theory of the relationship between German national capacities and objectives and those of other ethnic groups. This distinction between Germans and non-Germans is central to Steiner's later works on the spiritual significance of race and nation. An 1890 article, for example, extols "the world-historical mission of the Germans" (Rudolf Steiner, "Zwei nationale Dichter Österreichs" from Nationale Blätter 1890, in Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsäze zur Literatur, 127). In the same article Steiner unflatteringly contrasts "the Jewish people" to "the Germans," claiming that the Jews have no appreciation for the "religion of love," in stark contrast to the German people, who "unselfishly live for the ideal." (ibid.)

In 1888, Steiner strongly emphasized "the deep contrast" between "the national idea of the Germans and that of the non-German nationalities," defining this difference as a struggle between a cultural duty incumbent upon the Germans because of their history, and the merely chauvinist strivings of the Slavic peoples: "The Germans are fighting for a cultural obligation which has been granted them by virtue of their national development, and their opponent in this struggle is national chauvinism." (Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Kultur- und Zeitgeschichte, 116; Steiner refers here explicitly to "the Slavic enemy," which he also terms simply "our national enemy," as the bearers of this national chauvinism.)

This position has sometimes been construed as a principled opposition to nationalism as such. Even non-anthroposophist accounts occasionally deny that the young Steiner's stance was German nationalist. Such analyses may be based in part on a foreshortened understanding of the late nineteenth-century Austrian context. The distinctive Habsburg ethnic-political crucible within which Steiner's national views were formed was undoubtedly complex, with numerous rival parties and national groups vying for influence. Within this Byzantine multinational landscape, however, the Austro-Germans enjoyed overwhelming hegemony during Steiner's era. Despite widespread perceptions among ethnic Germans of a 'national' peril from non-German groups within the state, there was no real "struggle for national existence" among the Germans in the Habsburg empire in the 1880s, as Steiner held; on the contrary, ethnic Germans formed the administrative, economic, and cultural elite throughout the Austrian half of the far-flung multiethnic empire.

Germans were not only the largest single ethnic group in the empire, they had successfully established and defended a paramount position across Austrian society. John Mason observes that the Austro-Germans were "the leading national group in the Empire and exercised an influence out of all proportion to their numbers." (Mason, The Dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire 1867-1918, 10) Mason further notes that "the modern centralized administration" of the country was "thoroughly German in character" (ibid.). "The official language of the Empire was German and the civil servants were overwhelmingly German [...] Not only was the cultural life of Vienna almost exclusively German, but the capitalist class, the Catholic hierarchy and the press were also the preserve of the Austro-Germans." (11) Robert Kann notes that German nationalism in Austria sought "the preservation and enhancement of a privileged position." (Kann, The Habsburg Empire, 19) For further background see among others Jörg Kirchhoff, Die Deutschen in der österreichisch-ungarischen Monarchie; Emil Franzel, Der Donauraum im Zeitalter des Nationalitätenprinzips; and Robert Kann, The Multinational Empire.

Slav efforts toward greater access to political participation in the Habsburg framework were indeed perceived as a disconcerting challenge by German nationalists, but these efforts did not pose an immediate threat to widespread German predominance under the monarchy in this period. The Germans had not lost their privileged position within the Habsburg system, and by the late 1880s, moreover, virtually all German political parties and social organizations, with the partial exception of the clerical parties that Steiner despised, had gone through a process of intense nationalist radicalization such that figures who a decade earlier had counted as strident nationalists were now seen as ineffectual moderates. (For a penetrating study of the dynamics of increasing nationalist radicalization among Austro-Germans at the time see Pieter Judson's chapter "From Liberalism to Nationalism: Inventing a German Community, 1880-85" in Judson, Exclusive Revolutionaries, 193-222.)

The context for Steiner's early nationalism was thus a shifting situation in Austria-Hungary that thoroughly unsettled inherited notions of German superiority while giving rise to rival national movements among non-German communities. Many of these inter-ethnic struggles concerned disputes over language politics, particularly challenges to German as the sole official language in a variety of administrative contexts. German anxieties over their predominance within the Austrian half of the empire were exacerbated by the conservative 'Iron Ring' government of Count Taafe, which pursued a policy of mollifying Slav constituencies, particularly Czechs and Poles, thus antagonizing both the German liberal and pan-German opposition. (For a relatively balanced account see William Jenks, Austria under the Iron Ring, 1879-1893.)

Even if the ambitions of the Habsburgs' Slav subjects did not constitute a genuine danger to the privileged position of the Germans at the time, Slav campaigns for increased representation and greater autonomy did appear to be a potential menace to the stability of German hegemony. One outcome of this dynamic was that originally universalist visions of Germanness, seemingly embattled and undoubtedly embittered by non-German resistance to their assumed right to cultural pre-eminence, gave way to increasingly intolerant variants of nationalist defensiveness. Steiner's early works partook of this broader transformation, and his emphasis on the German cultural mission thereby conjoined elements of cosmopolitanism with obstinate avowals of ethnic superiority.

When viewed within this context, Steiner's early foray into national politics takes on a different significance. Much of the impetus for the middle-class variety of nationalism which Steiner adopted came from a deep sense of cultural superiority and entitlement: Germans in Austria often perceived themselves as the bearers of civilization to their supposedly backward neighbors and fellow citizens. Rather than either condemning or defending the young Steiner's views, however, a more fruitful approach may be to re-examine the particular contours of his conception of the nation. Here the Austrian origins of Steiner's national thinking are once again decisive.

But even across the broader framework of German-speaking Europe as a whole, the protean phenomenon of nationalism assumed a remarkable variety of forms. In order to comprehend Steiner's conception of the nation, both before and after his turn to esoteric spirituality, it will be helpful to keep in mind the "wide spectrum of nationalisms" that existed in Germany in the decades surrounding 1900. (Geoff Eley, Reshaping the German Right: Radical Nationalism and Political Change after Bismarck, 168) Steiner's particular version of German nationalist thought may be considered an instance of "informal nationalism" in the terms of Thomas Hylland Eriksen, "Formal and informal nationalism" Ethnic and Racial Studies 16 (1993), 1-25; while formal nationalism focuses primarily on the state, informal nationalism concentrates on civil society, collective events, rituals, beliefs, etc. George Mosse analyzes a similar variety of nationalism as a 'secular religion' in Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses. Also worth consulting are Jost Hermand and James Steakley, eds., Heimat, Nation, Fatherland: The German Sense of Belonging; Reinhart Koselleck, "Volk, Nation, Nationalismus" in Koselleck, Geschichtliche Grundbegriffe vol. 7, 141-431; and Dominic Boyer, "The Bildungsbürgertum and the Dialectics of Germanness in the Long Nineteenth Century" in Boyer, Spirit and System: Media, Intellectuals, and the Dialectic in Modern German Culture, 46-98.

Steiner's interpretation of German national identity and national destiny can perhaps best be understood as a variant of what historian Michael Steinberg has termed "nationalist cosmopolitanism." (See the chapter "Nationalist Cosmopolitanism" in Michael P. Steinberg, The Meaning of the Salzburg Festival: Austria as Theater and Ideology, 1890-1938) This notion is based on "the principle that enlightenment and even more specifically cosmopolitanism are German virtues." (ibid., 86) According to Steinberg, nationalist cosmopolitanism "assumed the cultural superiority of the Austro-Germans" and was intimately bound up with the concomitant conception of a "German mission" in Austria, in Europe, and in the world at large. (ibid., 90, 113) "German culture," in this view, "is superior to other European cultures precisely because it is the only national culture to be possessed of a true spirit of cosmopolitanism. In other words, it is a German cultural virtue to understand foreign nations and cultures." (ibid., 108)

In many ways, this diagnosis coincides with Pieter Judson's examination of the "universalist rhetoric of German nationalism" that came to the fore among Germans in Austria in the 1880s. (Judson, Exclusive Revolutionaries, 270) Judson observes that German nationalists in Austria demanded "a strict assimilation to cosmopolitan German values" by other ethnic communities within the empire. (ibid., 269) Such an analysis can help account for the contradictory aspects of anthroposophical thinking on ethnicity and on national questions, contradictions which are already manifest in Steiner's early works. What emerges clearly from these early essays is that Steiner's espousal of a unique cultural mission for the German people – a thread that runs throughout his mature anthroposophical teachings – was a prominent presence in his public career from its very beginnings.

For further historical context on the 'deutschnational' movement in Austria in Steiner's day, I recommend the following: McGrath, Dionysian Art and Populist Politics in Austria; Höbelt, Kornblume und Kaiseradler; Andrew Whiteside, The Socialism of Fools: Georg von Schönerer and Austrian Pan-Germanism; the chapter on "Deutschnationalismus" in Albert Fuchs, Geistige Strömungen in Österreich 1867-1918; Donald Daviau, "Hermann Bahr and the Radical Politics of Austria in the 1880s" German Studies Review 5 (1982), 163-85; Günter Schödl, "Alldeutsch-deutschnationale Politik in der Habsburgermonarchie und im Deutschen Reich" in Schödl, Formen und Grenzen des Nationalen, 49-89; Kann, A History of the Habsburg Empire 1526-1918, 432-35; Kann, The Multinational Empire: Nationalism and National Reform in the Habsburg Monarchy 1848-1918, 98-101; Arthur May, The Hapsburg Monarchy 1867-1914, 210-12; Carl Schorske, Fin-de-siécle Vienna, 120-33; and the massive recent study by Michael Wladika, Hitlers Vätergeneration: Die Ursprünge des Nationalsozialismus in der k.u.k. Monarchie (Vienna 2005).


The next four years, between 1909 and 1913, turned out to be a time of utter misery and destitution for the conquering young man from Linz. In these last fleeting years before the fall of the Hapsburgs and the end of the city as the capital of an empire of fifty-two million people in the heart of Europe, Vienna had a gaiety and charm that were unique among the capitals of the world. Not only in its architecture, its sculpture, its music, but in the lighthearted, pleasure-loving, cultivated spirit of its people, it breathed an atmosphere of the baroque and the rococo that no other city of the West knew.

Set along the blue Danube beneath the wooded hills of the Wienerwald, which were studded with yellow-green vineyards, it was a place of natural beauty that captivated the visitor and made the Viennese believe that Providence had been especially kind to them. Music filled the air, the towering music of gifted native sons, the greatest Europe had known. Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven and Schubert, and, in the last Indian-summer years, the gay, haunting waltzes of Vienna's own beloved Johann Strauss. To a people so blessed and so imprinted with the baroque style of living, life itself was something of a dream and the good folk of the city passed the pleasant days and nights of their lives waltzing and wining, in light talk in the congenial coffeehouses, listening to music and viewing the make-believe of theater and opera and operetta, in flirting and making love, abandoning a large part of their lives to pleasure and to dreams.

To be sure, an empire had to be governed, an army and navy manned, communications maintained, business transacted and labor done. But few in Vienna worked overtime -- or even full time -- at such things.

There was a seamy side, of course. This city, like all others, had its poor: ill-fed, ill-clothed and living in hovels. But as the greatest industrial center in Central Europe as well as the capital of the empire, Vienna was prosperous, and this prosperity spread among the people and sifted down. The great mass of the lower middle class controlled the city politically; labor was organizing not only trade unions but a powerful political party of its own, the Social Democrats. There was a ferment in the life of the city, now grown to a population of two million. Democracy was forcing out the ancient autocracy of the Hapsburgs, education and culture were opening up to the masses so that by the time Hitler came to Vienna in 1909 there was opportunity for a penniless young man either to get a higher education or to earn a fairly decent living and, as one of a million wage earners, to live under the civilizing spell which the capital cast over its inhabitants. Was not his only friend, Kubizek, as poor and as obscure as himself, already making a name for himself in the Academy of Music?

But the young Adolf did not pursue his ambition to enter the School of Architecture. It was still open for him despite his lack of a high-school diploma -- young men who showed "special talent" were admitted without such a certificate -- but so far as is known he made no application. Nor was he interested in learning a trade or in taking any kind of regular employment. Instead he preferred to putter about at odd jobs: shoveling snow, beating carpets, carrying bags outside the West Railroad Station, occasionally for a few days working as a building laborer. In November 1909, less than a year after he arrived in Vienna to "forestall fate," he was forced to abandon a furnished room in the Simon Denk Gasse, and for the next four years he lived in flophouses or in the almost equally miserable quarters of the men's hostel at 27 Meldemannstrasse in the Twentieth District of Vienna, near the Danube, staving off hunger by frequenting the charity soup kitchens of the city.

No wonder that nearly two decades later he could write:

To me Vienna, the city which to so many is the epitome of innocent pleasure, a festive playground for merrymakers, represents, I am sorry to say, merely the living memory of the saddest period of my life.

Even today this city can arouse in me nothing but dismal thoughts. For me the name of this Phaeacial city represents five years of hardship and misery. Five years in which I was forced to earn a living, first as a day laborer, then as a small painter; a truly meager living which never sufficed to appease even my daily hunger. [38]

Always, he says of these times, there was hunger.

Hunger was then my faithful bodyguard; he never left me for a moment and partook of all I had ... My life was a continual struggle with this pitiless friend. [39]

It never, however, drove him to the extremity of trying to find a regular job. As he makes clear in Mein Kampf, he had the petty bourgeoisie's gnawing fear of sliding back into the ranks of the proletariat, of the manual laborers -- a fear he was later to exploit in building up the National Socialist Party on the broad foundation of the hitherto leaderless, ill-paid, neglected white-collar class, whose millions nourished the illusion that they were at least socially better off than the "workers."

Although Hitler says he eked out at least part of a living as "a small painter," he gives no details of this work in his autobiography except to remark that in the years 1909 and 1910 he had so far improved his position that he no longer had to work as a common laborer.

"By this time," he says, "I was working independently as a small draftsman and painter of water colors." [40]

This is somewhat misleading, as is so much else of a biographical nature in Mein Kampf. Though the evidence of those who knew him at the time appears to be scarcely more trustworthy, enough of it has been pieced together to give a picture that is probably more accurate and certainly more complete. [v]

That Adolf Hitler was never a house painter, as his political opponents taunted him with having been, is fairly certain. At least there is no evidence that he ever followed such a trade. What he did was draw or paint crude little pictures of Vienna, usually of some well-known landmark such as St. Stephen's Cathedral, the opera house, the Burgtheater, the Palace of Schoenbrunn or the Roman ruins in Schoenbrunn Park. According to his acquaintances he copied them from older works; apparently he could not draw from nature. They are rather stilted and lifeless, like a beginning architect's rough and careless sketches, and the human figures he sometimes added are so bad as to remind one of a comic strip. I find a note of my own made once after going through a portfolio of Hitler's original sketches: "Few faces. Crude. One almost ghoulish face." To Heiden, "they stand like tiny stuffed sacks outside the high, solemn palaces." [41]

Probably hundreds of these pitiful pieces were sold by Hitler to the petty traders to ornament a wall, to dealers who used them to fill empty picture frames on display and to furniture makers who sometimes tacked them to the backs of cheap sofas and chairs after a fashion in Vienna in those days. Hitler could also be more commercial. He often drew posters for shopkeepers advertising such products as Teddy's Perspiration Powder, and there was one, perhaps turned out to make a little money at Christmas time, depicting Santa Claus selling brightly colored candles, and another showing St. Stephen's Gothic spire, which Hitler never tired of copying, rising out of a mountain of soap cakes.

This was the extent of Hitler's "artistic" achievement, yet to the end of his life he considered himself an "artist."

Bohemian he certainly looked in those vagabond years in Vienna. Those who knew him then remembered later his long black shabby overcoat, which hung down to his ankles and resembled a caftan and which had been given him by a Hungarian Jewish old-clothes dealer, a fellow inmate of the dreary men's hostel who had befriended him. They remembered his greasy black derby, which he wore the year round; his matted hair, brushed down over his forehead as in later years and, in the back, hanging disheveled over his soiled collar, for he rarely appeared to have had a haircut or a shave and the sides of his face and his chin were usually covered with the black stubble of an incipient beard. If one can believe Hanisch, who later became something of an artist, Hitler resembled "an apparition such as rarely occurs among Christians." [42]

Unlike some of the shipwrecked young men with whom he lived, he had none of the vices of youth. He neither smoked nor drank. He had nothing to do with women -- not, so far as can be learned, because of any abnormality but simply because of an ingrained shyness.

"I believe," Hitler remarked afterward in Mein Kampf, in one of his rare flashes of humor, "that those who knew me in those days took me for an eccentric." [43]

They remembered, as had his teachers, the strong, staring eyes that dominated the face and expressed something embedded in the personality that did not jibe with the miserable existence of the unwashed tramp. And they recalled that the young man, for all his laziness when it came to physical labor, was a voracious reader, spending much of his days and evenings devouring books.

At that time I read enormously and thoroughly. All the free time my work left me was employed in my studies. In this way I forged in a few years' time the foundations of a knowledge from which I still draw nourishment today. [44]

In Mein Kampf Hitler discourses at length on the art of reading.

By "reading," to be sure, I mean perhaps something different than the average member of our so-called "intelligentsia."

I know people who "read" enormously ... yet whom I would not describe as "well-read." True, they possess a mass of "knowledge," but their brain is unable to organize and register the material they have taken in ... On the other hand, a man who possesses the art of correct reading will ... instinctively and immediately perceive everything which in his opinion is worth permanently remembering, either because it is suited to his purpose or generally worth knowing ... The art of reading, as of learning, is this: ... to retain the essential, to forget the nonessential. [vi] ... Only this kind of reading has meaning and purpose . . . Viewed in this light, my Vienna period was especially fertile and valuable. [45]

Valuable for what? Hitler's answer is that from his reading and from his life among the poor and disinherited of Vienna he learned all that he needed to know in later life.

Vienna was and remained for me the hardest, though most thorough, school of my life. I had set foot in this town while still half a boy and I left it a man, grown quiet and grave.

In this period there took shape within me a world picture and a philosophy which became the granite foundation of all my acts. In addition to what I then created, I have had to learn little; and I have had to alter nothing. [46]

What, then, had he learned in the school of those hard knocks which Vienna had so generously provided? What were the ideas which he acquired there from his reading and his experience and which, as he says, would remain essentially unaltered to the end? That they were mostly shallow and shabby, often grotesque and preposterous, and poisoned by outlandish prejudices will become obvious on the most cursory examination. That they are important to this history, as they were to the world, is equally obvious, for they were to form part of the foundation for the Third Reich which this bookish vagrant was soon to build.


They were, with one exception, not original but picked up, raw, from the churning maelstrom of Austrian politics and life in the first years of the twentieth century. The Danube monarchy was dying of indigestion. For centuries a minority of German-Austrians had ruled over the polyglot empire of a dozen nationalities and stamped their language and their culture on it. But since 1848 their hold had been weakening. The minorities could not be digested. Austria was not a melting pot. In the 1860s the Italians had broken away and in 1867 the Hungarians had won equality with the Germans under a so-called Dual Monarchy. Now, as the twentieth century began, the various Slav peoples -- the Czechs, the Slovaks, the Serbs, the Croats and the others -- were demanding equality and at least national autonomy. Austrian politics had become dominated by the bitter quarrel of the nationalities.

But this was not all. There was social revolt too and this often transcended the racial struggle. The disenfranchised lower classes were demanding the ballot, and the workers were insisting on the right to organize trade unions and to strike -- not only for higher wages and better working conditions but to gain their democratic political ends. Indeed a general strike had finally brought universal manhood suffrage and with this the end of political dominance by the Austrian Germans, who numbered but a third of the population of the Austrian half of the empire.

To these developments Hitler, the fanatical young German-Austrian nationalist from Linz, was bitterly opposed. To him the empire was sinking into a "foul morass." It could be saved only if the master race, the Germans, reasserted their old absolute authority. The non-German races, especially the Slavs and above all the Czechs, were an inferior people. It was up to the Germans to rule them with an iron hand. The Parliament must be abolished and an end put to all the democratic "nonsense."

Though he took no part in politics, Hitler followed avidly the activities of the three major political parties of old Austria: the Social Democrats, the Christian Socialists and the Pan-German Nationalists. And there now began to sprout in the mind of this unkempt frequenter of the soup kitchens a political shrewdness which enabled him to see with amazing clarity the strengths and weaknesses of contemporary political movements and which, as it matured, would make him the master politician of Germany.

At first contact he developed a furious hatred for the party of the Social Democrats. "What most repelled me," he says, "was its hostile attitude toward the struggle for the preservation of Germanism [and] its disgraceful courting of the Slavic 'comrade' . . . In a few months I obtained what might have otherwise required decades: an understanding of a pestilential whore, [vii] cloaking herself as social virtue and brotherly love." [47]

And yet he was already intelligent enough to quench his feelings of rage against this party of the working class in order to examine carefully the reasons for its popular success. He concluded that there were several reasons, and years later he was to remember them and utilize them in building up the National Socialist Party of Germany.

One day, he recounts in Mein Kampf, he witnessed a mass demonstration of Viennese workers. "For nearly two hours I stood there watching with bated breath the gigantic human dragon slowly winding by. In oppressed anxiety I finally left the place and sauntered homeward." [48]

At home he began to read the Social Democratic press, examine the speeches of its leaders, study its organization, reflect on its psychology and political techniques and ponder the results. He came to three conclusions which explained to him the success of the Social Democrats: They knew how to create a mass movement, without which any political party was useless; they had learned the art of propaganda among the masses; and, finally, they knew the value of using what he calls "spiritual and physical terror."

This third lesson, though it was surely based on faulty observation and compounded of his own immense prejudices, intrigued the young Hitler. Within ten years he would put it to good use for his own ends.

I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down ... This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty ...

I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical terror toward the individual and the masses ... For while in the ranks of their supporters the victory achieved seems a triumph of the justice of their own cause, the defeated adversary in most cases despairs of the success of any further resistance. [49]

No more precise analysis of Nazi tactics, as Hitler was eventually to develop them, was ever written.

There were two political parties which strongly attracted the fledgling Hitler in Vienna, and to both of them he applied his growing power of shrewd, cold analysis. His first allegiance, he says, was to the Pan-German Nationalist Party founded by Georg Ritter von Schoenerer, who came from the same region near Spital in Lower Austria as had Hitler's family. The Pan-Germans at that time were engaged in a last-ditch struggle for German supremacy in the multinational empire. And though Hitler thought that Schoenerer was a "profound thinker" and enthusiastically embraced his basic program of violent nationalism, anti-Semitism, antisocialism, union with Germany and opposition to the Hapsburgs and the Holy See, he quickly sized up the causes for the party's failure:

"This movement's inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into Parliament took away its mighty impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church . . . robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own." [50]

Though Hitler was to forget it when he came to power in Germany, one of the lessons of his Vienna years which he stresses at great length in Mein Kampf is the futility of a political party's trying to oppose the churches. "Regardless of how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination," he says, in explaining why Schoenerer's Losvon-Rom (Away from Rome) movement was a tactical error, "a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party has never succeeded in producing a religious reformation." [51]

But it was the failure of the Pan-Germans to arouse the masses, their inability to even understand the psychology of the common people, that to Hitler constituted their biggest mistake. It is obvious from his recapitulation of the ideas that began to form in his mind when he was not much past the age of twenty-one that to him this was the cardinal error. He was not to repeat it when he founded his own political movement.

There was another mistake of the Pan-Germans which Hitler was not to make. That was the failure to win over the support of at least some of the powerful, established institutions of the nation -- if not the Church, then the Army, say, or the cabinet or the head of state. Unless a political movement gained such backing, the young man saw, it would be difficult if not impossible for it to assume power. This support was precisely what Hitler had the shrewdness to arrange for in the crucial January days of 1933 in Berlin and what alone made it possible for him and his National Socialist Party to take over the rule of a great nation.

There was one political leader in Vienna in Hitler's time who understood this, as well as the necessity of building a party on the foundation of the masses. This was Dr. Karl Lueger, the burgomaster of Vienna and leader of the Christian Social Party, who more than any other became Hitler's political mentor, though the two never met. Hitler always regarded him as "the greatest German mayor of all times . . . a statesman greater than all the so-called 'diplomats' of the time . . . If Dr. Karl Lueger had lived in Germany he would have been ranked among the great minds of our people." [52]

There was, to be sure, little resemblance between Hitler as he later became and this big, bluff, genial idol of the Viennese lower middle classes. It is true that Lueger became the most powerful politician in Austria as the head of a party which was drawn from the disgruntled petty bourgeoisie and which made political capital, as Hitler later did, out of a raucous anti-Semitism. But Lueger, who had risen from modest circumstances and worked his way through the university, was a man of considerable intellectual attainments, and his opponents, including the Jews, readily conceded that he was at heart a decent, chivalrous, generous and tolerant man. Stefan Zweig, the eminent Austrian Jewish writer, who was growing up in Vienna at this time, has testified that Lueger never allowed his official anti-Semitism to stop him from being helpful and friendly to the Jews. "His city administration," Zweig recounted, "was perfectly just and even typically democratic ... The Jews who had trembled at this triumph of the anti-Semitic party continued to live with the same rights and esteem as always." [53]

This the young Hitler did not like. He thought Lueger was far too tolerant and did not appreciate the racial problem of the Jews. He resented the mayor's failure to embrace Pan-Germanism and was skeptical of his Roman Catholic clericalism and his loyalty to the Hapsburgs. Had not the old Emperor Franz-Josef twice refused to sanction Lueger's election as burgomaster?

But in the end Hitler was forced to acknowledge the genius of this man who knew how to win the support of the masses, who understood modern social problems and the importance of propaganda and oratory in swaying the multitude. Hitler could not help but admire the way Lueger dealt with the powerful Church -- "his policy was fashioned with infinite shrewdness." And, finally, Lueger "was quick to make use of all available means for winning the support of long-established institutions, so as to be able to derive the greatest possible advantage for his movement from those old sources of power." [54]

Here in a nutshell were the ideas and techniques which Hitler was later to use in constructing his own political party and in leading it to power in Germany. His originality lay in his being the only politician of the Right to apply them to the German scene after the First World War. It was then that the Nazi movement, alone among the nationalist and conservative parties, gained a great mass following and, having achieved this, won over the support of the Army, the President of the Republic and the associations of big business -- three "long-established institutions" of great power, which led to the chancellorship of Germany. The lessons learned in Vienna proved useful indeed.

Dr. Karl Lueger had been a brilliant orator, but the Pan-German Party had lacked effective public speakers. Hitler took notice of this and in Mein Kampf makes much of the importance of oratory in politics.

The power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone.

The broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. All great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of the literary aesthetes and drawing-room heroes. [55]

Though refraining from actual participation in Austrian party politics, young Hitler already was beginning to practice his oratory on the audiences which he found in Vienna's flophouses, soup kitchens and on its street corners. It was to develop into a talent (as this author, who later was to listen to scores of his most important speeches, can testify) more formidable than any other in the Germany between the wars, and it was to contribute in a large measure to his astounding success.

-- The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany, by William L. Shirer
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

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Part 1 of 2

Christ in Relation to Lucifer and Ahriman
A Lecture by Rudolf Steiner
Linz, May 18, 1915
Translated from the German by Peter Mollenhauer, Ph.D
GA 159
Copyright © 1978 The Anthroposophic Press



This lecture, given in Linz on May 18, 1915, was translated from the German by Peter Mollenhauer, Ph.D. It is included in Das Geheimnis des Todes (Vol. 159-60 in the Bibliographic Survey 1961).


The decision to construct the first Goetheanum in Dornach, Switzerland was made in May, 1913, when Rudolf Steiner visited the future building site. Construction began within a few weeks and the exterior of the building was completed in April, 1914. Work on the interior proceeded at a slower pace and lasted through World War I (1914-1918). In 1914, Rudolf Steiner had begun a scaled-down model of the Christ sculpture that was later to be installed in the Goetheanum. As the work on the sculpture itself began, he frequently explained its significance in his lectures.

One of Rudolf Steiner's lecture tours, May 6 through May 18, 1915, took him to Vienna, Prague and Linz. In all three cities he stressed that the Christ figure in the sculptured group would have to be portrayed as a being in equipoise between the polar forces of Lucifer and Ahriman and that this being was symbol of, and model for, man's own existence here on earth. The Linz lecture, which is here translated, presents the group in a world-historical context and relates the significance of the Lucifer-Christ-Ahriman configuration to the events surrounding World War I. Steiner sees a parallel between Christ's central, but equalizing position and Central Europe's mission in World War I. He implies that Germany's and Austria's militarism and political intransigence alone did not lead to war against the world powers in the East (Russia) and the West (France, England and, since 1917, the United States). According to Steiner, World War I was the earthly expression of a struggle between luciferic forces in the East and ahrimanic forces in the West, and it was Central Europe's destiny to mediate between these forces.

The fundamental polarization of East and West that Rudolf Steiner saw emerging more than six decades ago is now a political reality. While most historians today concede that World War II was in part caused by the circumstances surrounding World War I, few would accept Rudolf Steiner's statement from his Linz lecture that World War I was “destined by the European karma” or, to state it more concretely, that it was unavoidable. If the war could not have been avoided, then the question of who was to blame or who caused it is, as Steiner says, irrelevant. Based on this position, Steiner suggests that only one question has relevancy: “Who could have prevented the war?” This question seems to contradict Steiner's statement that World War I was destined by the European karma. A quick glance at the historical record may help to clarify what Steiner meant.

In suggesting that the Russian government and possibly England, could have prevented the war, Steiner simply deals with possibilities outside the realm of what had to happen according to European karma. Russia's instigation of the two Peace Conferences in the Hague (1899 and 1907) was indeed self-serving and hypocritical, for it was Russia that, in 1914, mobilized its armed forces without considering British proposals for peace negotiations. Under these circumstances and considering the political immaturity of the German leadership, it was not surprising that the German Kaiser and his generals over-reacted to the Russian mobilization and interpreted it as a declaration of war. Kaiser Wilhelm II and Czar Nicholas II, who were cousins, frantically exchanged telegrams in which one beseeched the other to preserve the peace, but to no avail. The war machinery was already overheated by the forces of chauvinism and materialism so that even from this vantage point Steiner was correct in maintaining that war was unavoidable.

Regarding the possibility of preventing the war, a glance at the major Western powers involved in the controversy, and at Germany, reveals the following historical facts. France, for thirty years an ally of Russia, did nothing to prevent the war because she did not attempt to delay the hasty Russian mobilization. Her representatives said later that France regretted the Russian action, but there seems little doubt that France was more interested in presenting herself as the innocent victim of an attack. On the other hand, England's foreign secretary, Sir Edward Grey, could have prevented the war if he had taken earlier measures to discourage Germany's militarists from asserting themselves in their country, but in view of the English tradition and the English Constitution, this was probably not possible. Finally, the confusion in Germany itself was caused by a lack of understanding of who had legitimate authority to make decisions. Eventually, the political decisions were made by generals who managed to spread the belief that the fatherland was in peril and that Germany herself was not the attacker, but the attacked. Thus, theoretically, any one of these three powers could have prevented the war but that, as Rudolf Steiner points out in the lecture, is not the real issue.

Furthermore, the war did not emerge out of a French or Russian moral conviction that was responsive to German militarism. Rather, the goal of crushing German militarism emerged well after the war had begun. The war could be interpreted, in this sense, to be inevitable because it was not generated from a goal, but exploded and then developed its goals. In this war of attrition, materialism camouflaged itself with nationalistic sentiment and strove for absolute expression and triumph.

It is against such a background of perplexity and misguided fervor that Rudolf Steiner's message to Central Europeans must be read. In rejecting the question of who had caused the war, Steiner dismissed as equally irrelevant the question of who was to blame for materialism. Materialism was there, as was Ahriman. Steiner admonished the Central Europeans to counterbalance materialism by adopting a spiritual perception of life and by striving for an encounter with the Christ.

This profound spiritual responsibility that Steiner put on the Germans in 1915 was disregarded and the challenge passed by. After World War I it was not the Christ, but Adolf Hitler who, under the guise of “savior,” emerged as Germany's Nemesis and was thus catapulted into a central position. When Hitler was finally destroyed, Central Europe broke up into two parts, one of which disappeared behind the Iron Curtain, while the other aligned with the West.

As it stands today, Rudolf Steiner's call to instate the Christ in His central position has yet to be fully received and responded to not only by the people living in what is left of Central Europe, but also in the rest of the world.

— Peter Mollenhauer



SOME DAY WHEN THE BUILDING in Dornach that is dedicated to the spiritual sciences is completed, it will contain, in a significant spot, a sculpture dominated by three figures. In the center of this group a figure will tower as if it were the manifestation of what I would call the most sublime human principle ever to unfold on earth. Hence, one will be able to experience this representation of the highest human principle in the evolution of the earth -- the Christ, who in the course of this evolution lived three years in the body of Jesus of Nazareth. A special task in the portrayal of this Christ figure will be to make two ideas visible. Firstly, it will be important to show how the being that we are concerned with dwells in a human body. Secondly, it must also become apparent how this human body, in every facial expression and in every gesture reflects a magnificent degree of spiritual refinement, which descended with the Christ from cosmic and spiritual heights into this body in its thirtieth year. Then there will be the remaining two figures of the group, one to the left and the other to the right of the Christ figure, if that is the proper name for the figure that I have just sketched. This Christ figure is placed in such a way that it seems to be standing in front of a rock that towers noticeably at His left side, with its peak extending over His head. On top of the rock there will be another figure, winged but with his wings broken, who for this reason begins to fall into the abyss. One feature in the Christ figure that must be worked out with special artistic care is the manner in which he raises his left arm, for it is precisely this gesture that precipitates the breaking of the wings. It must not appear, however, as if the Christ Himself were breaking the wings of this being. Rather, the interaction of the two figures must be portrayed artistically to show how the Christ, by the very motion of raising his hand, is expressing his infinite compassion for this being. Yet this being cannot bear the energy flowing upward through arm and hand, an energy that is evidenced by indentations that the fingers of the extended hand seem to leave in the rock itself. When this being comes into proximity with the Christ being, he feels something that may be expressed in the words: I cannot bear the radiation of such purity upon me.

This feeling dominates so essentially as to break this upper beings wings and cause his imminent plunge into the abyss.
To make this visible will be a particularly important artistic task and you will see how the meaning of this interaction could easily be misunderstood. Imagine, for example, an artistic portrayal of the Christ suggesting that merely by raising His hand He would radiate such power onto the being that his wings would be broken, forcing the plunge into the abyss. In that case it would be the Christ Himself who irradiated this being, as it were, with hatred, and thereby caused his descent. Such an impression must under no circumstances be conveyed. Rather, the being must be portrayed as having caused his own fall, for what is to be shown plunging downward, with broken wings, is Lucifer.

Now let us consider the other side of the group, toward the right of the Christ figure. There, the rock will have a ledge and, therefore, will be concave underneath. In this depression there will be another winged figure, who with his arm-like organs turns toward the ledge above. You have to visualize this as follows. To the right is the depression in the rock and in it stands this winged figure with wings entirely different from the figure on top of the rock. The wings of the figure on top of the rock resemble those of an eagle, whereas the figure in the depression has bat-like wings. This figure virtually buries himself in the cave, working in shackles, ever busy undermining the earthly realm.

The Christ figure in the middle has his right hand directed downward and the left one upward. Again, it will be an important artistic task not to show the Christ as wanting to shackle this figure; rather, he has infinite compassion for this being, which is Ahriman. Ahriman cannot bear this compassion and he writhes with pain from what the hand of the Christ exudes. This radiance from Christ's hand causes the golden veins down in the rock depression to wind around Ahriman's body like strong cords and shackle him. What is happening to Lucifer is his own doing; the same is true with Ahriman. This concept is going to take form as a sculpture that will be set up in a significant place in the new building. Above the sculptured group we will attempt to express the same motif through the medium of painting, but then the concept must be expressed differently. To summarize, the group of three figures: Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman will stand at the bottom as a sculpture, and above, the same motif will appear as a painting.

We are injecting this configuration of a relationship between Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman into our Dornach building because the science of the spirit reveals to us in a certain way that the next task regarding the comprehension of the Christ impulse will be to make man finally understand how the three forces of Christ, Lucifer and Ahriman are related in this world. To this day there has been much talk about Christianity and the Christ impulse, but man has not yet gained a clear understanding of what the Christ impulse has brought into the world as the result of the Mystery of Golgotha. Certainly, it is generally admitted that there is a Lucifer or an Ahriman, but in so doing, it is made to appear that from these two one must flee, as if one wished to say, “I want nothing to do with Lucifer and Ahriman!” — In yesterday's public lecture (see Note 1) I described the way in which the divine-spiritual forces can be found. If these forces did not want to have anything to do with Lucifer and Ahriman, either, the world could not exist. One does not gain the proper relationship to Lucifer and Ahriman by saying, “Lucifer, I flee from you! Ahriman, I flee from you!” Rather, everything that man has to strive for as a result of the Christ impulse must be seen as similar to the equilibrious state of a pendulum. In the center, the pendulum is in perfect balance, but it must oscillate to one side or the other. The same applies to man's development here on earth. Man must oscillate to the one side according to the luciferic principle and to the other according to the principle of Ahriman, but he must maintain his equilibrium through the cultivation of Paul's declaration, “Not I, but Christ in me.

To understand the Christ in His quintessential activity we must conceive of Him as a reality, as a working force. That is to say, we must realize that what wove itself into our evolution here on earth through the Mystery of Golgotha was present as a fact. It is not important how well or how inadequately this fact has been understood by mankind up to this time; what is important is that it has been present, influencing human development on earth. Much could be said to explain exactly what man has not understood about the Christ impulse up to this time; the science of the spirit will have to contribute its share to bring about a full comprehension of how the Christ impulse has come from spiritual heights and influenced man's development on earth through the Mystery of Golgotha. In order to realize how the Christ has become a working force, let us visualize — as has been done elsewhere — two events in the annals of man's evolution that have influenced the development of the entire Western world.

You will remember an important event from history when Constantine, son of Constantius Chlorus, defeated Maxentius and thus introduced Christianity externally into the mainstream of Western civilization. Constantine had to fight that important battle against Maxentius so that he could establish Christianity in his western empire as the official religion. Had this battle not taken place as it did, the entire map of Europe would have been different. But this battle really was not decided by military skill, that is, not by the intellectual prowess available to people in those days, but by something entirely different. Maxentius consulted the so-called Sibylline Books, the prophetic oracles of Rome, which guided him into leading his army out of the assured safety of Rome's walls into the open field, in order to confront Constantine's army. Constantine, on the other hand, had a dream before the battle in which he was told, “If you approach Maxentius under the banner of the Mystery of Golgotha you will reach a great objective!” Indeed, Constantine carried the symbol of the Mystery of Golgotha — the cross — when he led his forces into battle, even though his army was three-fourths smaller than that of Maxentius. Enthused by the power emanating from the Mystery of Golgotha, Constantine won that historical battle resulting in the external introduction of Christianity to Europe. When we realize the extent to which people in those days understood the Christ impulse purely by intellectual means, it is not surprising to find that there ensued an endless theological quarrel. People argued whether or not Christ was consubstantial with the Lord in all eternity, and so on. Let us say this, that the degree of knowledge of the Christ impulse available to human beings in those days is not important, but rather the fact that the Christ impulse was present and that through his dream it guided Constantine to bring about what had to happen. What is important is the actuality of the Christ and His real and visibly active power. Only in the science of the spirit do we begin to understand what the Christ impulse is.

Another historical event was the struggle between France and England. It changed the map of Europe in such a way that we can say that if France had not been victorious over England, all conditions and relationships would have become different. But how did this victory happen? It happened because the Christ impulse has worked itself into the subconscious of the soul up to the present time, when it is increasingly becoming a conscious force. So we can see in the evolution of the Western spirit how the Christ impulse seeks out in the souls of men those conditions by which it can become effective in some individuals. Legends have preserved for us the manner in which the Christ impulse can assert itself within the Western spiritual tradition. In part, these legends refer generally to ancient pagan ages, but they take us back to those heathen times in which an understanding of Christianity was beginning to germinate.

If the soul does not consciously seek initiation as delineated in Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment, but becomes saturated with the Christ impulse as if by way of natural initiation, then the most favorable period for this process is from December 25 to January 6. We can understand this clearly by realizing that for occult knowledge it is evident that the earth is not only what geologists describe. Geologists conceive the earth's components as being similar to the skeleton of man. Yet the spiritual also belongs to our earth whose aura has been permeated by Christ. During the day's twenty-four hours, this earth sleeps and is awake just as we are. We must familiarize ourselves with the fact that the state of wakefulness on earth occurs during the winter, and the state of sleep during the summer. The earth spirit is most awake in these twelve or thirteen days from Christmas to the Epiphany. In ancient ages when, as you know from the various presentations in my lecture series, human beings elevated themselves to a sort of dreamlike clairvoyance to reach a spiritual understanding of the world, in those ages the most favorable time for this process was summer. Thus, it is quite natural that whoever wants to elevate himself to spiritual heights by means of a more dreamlike clairvoyance will have an easier time of it during the summer, when the earth is asleep. Therefore, St. John's midsummer-day was in ancient ages the most propitious time to raise the soul to the spiritual level. The old way of spiritual interaction with the earth has been replaced by a more conscious elevation that can best be reached during the earth's wakefulness.

For this reason, legends inform us that unusually endowed people, who are particularly suited by their karmas, pass into an extraordinary state of consciousness that resembles sleep, but only on the surface. its inner quality is such that it can be inspired by those forces that elevate human beings to the domain we call the spirit world. A beautiful Norwegian legend (see Note 2) tells us that Olaf Åsteson, in church on Christmas Eve, falls into a sleeplike state and when he awakens on January 6 is able to relate the experiences he had in this condition. This Norwegian legend does in fact describe the experiences that one perceives first as the soul world — and then as something that feels like the spirit world, but with everything being expressed as images, as imaginative forms.

This time of year has been most favorable in those epochs when human beings were not as advanced as they are in our time. Now it is no longer possible for the Christ impulse to penetrate the souls of men in this way, as if by natural initiation. Nowadays man must make a conscious effort and climb to initiation in a way similar to that achieved through the instructions given in my book Knowledge of the Higher Worlds. We are living in an age when natural initiations are becoming increasingly rare and will eventually disappear. Yet one initiation that could still essentially be called a natural initiation took place when the Christ impulse worked itself into the soul of the simple country girl, The Maid of Orleans. It was she who caused the victory of the French over the English. Again, not the human mind nor the talents of military leaders were decisive factors in changing the map of Europe so magnificently, but rather the Christ impulse working itself into the subconscious of the Maid of Orleans and inspiring her to radiate its presence in all of history.

We would now have to examine whether something similar could have occurred in the Maid of Orleans by way of natural initiation and ask whether her soul was inspired in the nights from the 25th day of December to the 6th of January. From her biography it seems difficult to demonstrate that she was even once in a sleep-like state during the twelve or thirteen special days when the Christ impulse could have entered her soul, inspiring her to act as its human shell on the battle grounds of France. Yet, that is precisely what happened. There is a time when the karma of a particular individual can facilitate such a sleep-like state in a human being. During the last few days prior to a person's birth he lives in the mother's womb in a dreaming, sleep-like state. He has not yet perceived with his senses what is happening in the world outside. If by virtue of his karma a person were especially suited to receive the Christ impulse during these last few days in the womb, then these days could also be days of natural initiation. Strengthened by and saturated with the Christ impulse, such a person would have to be born on the sixth day of January. Joan of Arc was born on that day. It is her special mystery that she was born on the 6th day of January and had spent the time from Christmas to the day of Epiphany in a peculiar sleep-like state in the womb of her mother where she received her natural initiation. Now consider the profound connections beyond the external developments that we are accustomed to call history. As a rule, the external events that are reconstructed from historical documents are of the least significance. What is of decisive historical significance is the plain date in our calendar indicating that Joan of Arc was sent into this world on the 6th day of January. Thus, supernatural forces become active in the sentient world and we must read the occult signs that present this fact to us. They tell us that the Christ impulse had already streamed into the Maid of Orleans before her physical birth, as if by way of natural initiation.

I want to explain these facts in order to instill in your souls a feeling for the fact that the external perception must take into account unknown forces and connections beyond what we ordinarily call history. European history has been guided by the Christ impulse since the Mystery of Golgotha, whereas Asia retained a world view that is not yet fully sensitive to the Christ impulse. To be sure, Europeans have been led into considering the wisdom of India as something especially profound. Not only is it characteristic of Hindu thought, if not of all Asian religious perception, however, that its entire attention is directed to the time preceding the appearance of the Christ impulse, but also that the state of religious perception is preserved as it was in those days. If something remains behind in the evolutionary process it can be interpreted to have absorbed something luciferic, and for this reason Asian religious evolution is the carrier of a luciferic element. A glance at the religious development of Asia will inform us that it contains much of what mankind as a whole once possessed but was later forced to abandon. We must in part cleanse Western culture of the luciferic remnants and in part we must elevate them in such a way that the Christ impulse can enter.

Moving from Asia to the East of Europe, we notice how Russian orthodox Christianity has remained stationary at an earlier stage of Christian development, refusing to advance and thereby keeping something of the luciferic element. In short, we can detect a luciferic remnant in the East, which, I would say, a wise guiding force left behind for the evolution of mankind in general.

Looking to the West and especially to American culture, a different characteristic quality stands out. The characteristic feature of American culture is to explain everything from external appearance. This kind of perception can certainly lead to great and significant achievements, but still, externals are usually expected to provide answers to all questions. Suppose we in Europe, and especially in Central Europe, notice a person who earlier in his life did not yet have an opportunity to dedicate himself to Christ and to the spiritual cosmic forces. If some event in this person's life brought about his conversion, we want to know what had gone on in his soul. We are not interested in learning that there was a leap forward in his development because such a phenomenon could certainly be found everywhere. The most incorrect pronouncement made by the empirical sciences is that nature does not make any leaps (see Note 3). Yet there is a tremendous leap from a green plant leaf to the red petal of a flower, and there is another significant leap from petal to the calyx. This pronouncement is therefore patently false; the truth of all development rests precisely on the fact that leaps occur everywhere. Hence, when a person who for some time was leading an external existence is suddenly induced by something to turn to spiritual things, we are not interested in the fact that it happened. What does interest us is the inner force and power that can bring about such a conversion. We will want to look into the soul of such a person and ascertain what has caused such a reversal. The inner workings of the soul will interest us.

How would the American proceed? He would do something quite peculiar. In America, conversions of this sort have been observed frequently. Well, the American would ask the people who have experienced conversions to write letters. He would then gather all these letters into a bundle and say, “I have received these letters from some two hundred people. Fourteen percent of all these souls experienced a conversion out of sudden fear of death or hell: five percent claimed altruistic motives; seventeen percent because they aspired to ethical ideals; fifteen percent had experienced pangs of conscience; ten percent acted in obedience to what they were taught; thirteen percent because they saw that others were converted and imitated them; nineteen percent because they were forced by a good whipping at the appropriate age, and so on.” In this fashion the most extreme souls are isolated, sorted and tallied and the result is claimed to be founded on “scientific data.” The findings are then compiled in books that are sent out and billed as “soul science.” For these people all other evidence is unsound, or as they claim, rests on subjective notions. There you have an example of the externalization of the innermost phenomena, and so it goes with many, many things in America. At a time that cries out for special spiritual deepening, the most external brand of spiritism is rampant in America! Everything there has to be tangible.

That is a materialistic interpretation of spiritual life. We could mention many other instances from which it would be possible to see how the culture of the West is seized by the ahrimanic principle, and what principle causes the pendulum to swing to the other side. In the East we are confronted by the luciferic and in the West by the ahrimanic principle. In Central Europe we have been assigned the immensely important task of finding the equilibrium between East and West.
Therefore, the plastic group in our building in Dornach must represent what we consider the most significant spiritual task of our age, that is, finding the equilibrant relationship between Lucifer and Ahriman. Only then will it be recognized how the Christ impulse was meant to influence evolution on earth, when the Christ is not simply brought to preeminence, but is known in the proper way as exemplary force in balance with Lucifer and Ahriman.

The following may illustrate that no clear understanding has yet been reached concerning the relationship of man and of Christ to Lucifer and Ahriman. In a period, even the greatest phenomena are not always free from a one-sided attitude that may characterize the age. It is impossible to overestimate the significance of Michelangelo's magnificent painting The Last Judgment, which can be found in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Christ is portrayed in triumph, directing the good people to the one side and the wicked to the other. Let us look at this Christ figure. It does not possess the features we would like to emphasize in the Christ of our building in Dornach. Even though Lucifer towers above, it must be shown that the Christ raises His hand in compassion. Lucifer is not supposed to be toppled by the power of Christ, but plunges down by his own power because he is unable to bear the radiance of the Christ nearby, and the Christ looks up and raises his brow toward Lucifer. Similarly, Ahriman is not conquered by any hatred from Christ, but because he feels he cannot stand the forces emanating from Him. The Christ, however, towers in the middle as the One who is carrying the Parcival principle into the new age and who, not through His power but through His very being, induces others to overcome themselves, rather than being overcome by Him. In Michelangelo's painting, we see a Christ who uses His very power to send some to heaven and others to hell. In future, such an image will no longer be seen as the genuine Christ, but rather as a Christ having luciferic qualities. Of course, this observation does not detract from the greatness of the painting, in fact, we acknowledge it. We simply must admit, however, that Michelangelo was not yet capable of painting the genuine Christ because the development of the world had not yet advanced to such a point when this could be done. There has to be a clear understanding that we cannot turn our attention just to the Christ, but must set our sight on the threefold configuration: Christ, Lucifer, Ahriman. I can only hint at this, but spiritual science will eventually bring to light the full content of the mystery, Christ in relation to Lucifer and Ahriman.

Now consider the following. Looking eastward we can make out luciferic forces even in the eastern regions nearest to us, while in the West we see ahrimanic forces. As a matter of fact, in spiritual scientific consideration we must adopt a mode of perception by which neither objects nor nations, nor the spirit of nations, are observed with sympathy or antipathy, but rather in accordance with their characteristics. What is called the national mentality of a person steeped in the heritage of his people depends to a large degree on the activity of the physical body and the ether body. From the time of our falling asleep to the moment of our awakening we live with our spiritual-intellectual being as astral body and ego, and during this period we also live outside our habitual national identity. Only during the time from our awakening to the time when we fall asleep do we partake in our nationality, because then we are immersed in our physical body. For this reason man overcomes his sense of national identity little by little during his stay in kamaloka. There he strives toward a union with humanity as a whole in order to live most of the time between death and rebirth in the sphere of humanity as such. Among the characteristics discarded in kamaloka is one that specializes us as members of a nationality.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 7:55 am

Part 2 of 2

In this connection the various nationalities differ considerably from one another. Let us, for instance, compare a Frenchman with a Russian. It is a Frenchman's particular trait that he is especially persistent in holding onto, and dwelling in, what the collective soul of his people carries into his physical body and ether body during his life between birth and death. This can be seen in his definitive idea — not as an individual but as a Frenchman — of what it is to be French. Above all, he stresses the importance of being French and what that means to him. But this notion held by Frenchmen or by anyone else from a Romance culture about their nationality affects the ether body by clearly imprinting the idea of nationality on it. A few days after the Frenchman has passed through the gate of death he loses his ether body; it is then a closed entity that has a prolonged existence in the etheric world. The ether body is unable to dissolve for a long time because it is impregnated with, and held together by, the Frenchman's idea of nationality. Thus, if we look to the West we see the field of death filled with firmly defined ether bodies.

Now, if we take a closer look to the East, at Russian man, we recognize his peculiar trait; his soul, upon passing through the gate of death, carries an ether body that dissolves in a relatively short period of time. That is the difference between the West and the East. When the ether bodies of Western Europeans are separated after death, they tend to maintain a certain rigidity. What the Frenchman calls “Gloire” is impregnated in his ether body as a national Gloire. He is condemned for a long time after his death to turn his spiritual sight onto this ether body, and to look at himself (The Russian, however, looks little at himself after his death.) Through all this, Western European man is exposed to the ahrimanic influence because his ether body has been infected by materialistic thinking.

The speedy separation and the diffusion of the ether body is accompanied by a feeling of sensual pleasure, which is also present as a most peculiar ingredient of national sentiment. How is this expressed in the East (Central Europeans do not understand this just as they do not empathize with the East.) Consider Dostoevsky and even Tolstoy or those leading writers who are constantly speaking of “Russian man”; their jargon is an expression of an undefined sensual pleasure surging from their national sentiment. Even in Solowjow's philosophy, we find a vague and stifling quality that the Central European man cannot reconcile with the clarity and purity he seeks. This search for clarity and purity is related to what is active in Europe as spiritual power.

In Central Europe there exists another condition, an intermediate state and something I can now dwell on in greater detail than was possible in yesterday's lecture. I mentioned that something exists in Central Europe that could be called the inner disposition toward striving. As a Central European, Goethe could have written his Faust no differently in the eighteen-forties: he was always striving! This striving is innermost nature. It was in Central Europe where the mystics made their appearance — those mystics who were not satisfied with the mere knowledge of the divine-spiritual principle but wanted to experience it in their own souls. To experience the Christ event internally was their very endeavor. Now take Solowjow who proceeds above all from a historical premise that the Christ died for mankind. That is correct, but Solowjow is a soul who, similar to a cloud, perceives spiritual life as something outside himself. Somehow he thinks that everything is viewed as a completed event, while Central European man demands that everyone experience the Christ event again in himself.
Solowjow stresses time and again that Christ has to die so that man can be human. Meister Eckhart, in contrast, would have responded like this: “You are seeing Christ in the same way in which one looks at something external.” The point is that we should not look only at historical events, but that we should experience the Christ within ourselves. We must discover something within ourselves that passes through stages similar to those experienced by Christ, at least spiritually, so that we can rediscover the Christ event within ourselves.

Now it will certainly seem strange and fantastic when mankind nowadays is told that in Central Europe the close association of the “I” with the Christ principle had put a stamp on the entire development of the area, to the effect that even the linguistic spirit of a people took up this association and equated “I” (Ich) and “CH” (Christ): I-CH conjoined became “Ich.” In pronouncing “Ich” in Central Europe one utters the name of Jesus Christ. That is how close the “I” wants to be to the Christ, longing for the most intimate closeness with Him. This living together, as one, with the spiritual world, which we in Central Europe must strive to attain in all intellectual fields, is not known in the West or in the East. Therefore, something in the twentieth century is necessary so that the Christ principle can gradually spread over the entire European continent. I have frequently emphasized in several lecture series (see Note 4) that in November 1879 the spiritual being we call the Archangel Michael had reached a special stage of development. Michael had become, so to speak, the leading spirit who is now preparing the event that has to take place in the twentieth century. This is alluded to in my first mystery play (see Note 5) as the appearance of the etheric Christ on earth. It will come to pass that at first a few, and gradually more and more souls will know that the Christ is really here, is again on this earth, but as an ether body and not as a physical body.

Certain preparations are necessary. When some souls in the course of the twentieth century become clairvoyant to life in the etheric world — and that will happen — they would be disturbed by those ether bodies that are residual from Western Europe. The spiritual eye would perceive them first of all and would have a distorted vision of the Christ figure. For this reason Michael has to fight a battle in Europe. He has to contribute something to the diffusion of these rigid ether bodies from Western Europe. To accomplish this task, he must take the ether bodies from the East, which strive for diffusion, and join with them in a struggle against the West. The result of this is that since 1879 a violent struggle has been in preparation between Russian and Western European ether bodies and is now raging in the entire astral world. This furious battle between Russia and France is indeed going on in the astral world and is led by Michael; it corresponds to the war that is now being waged in Europe. We are often shaken by the knowledge that the events in the physical world take place as exact opposites to those occurring in the spiritual world, and that is precisely what is happening in this case. The alliance between France and Russia (see Note 6) can be blamed on the seductive powers of Ahriman or, if you will, on the ahrimanic element, the twenty billion francs that France gave to Russia. This alliance is the physical expression of a struggle raging between French and Russian souls, a struggle that has an impact on Central Europe as it strives in its innermost soul for an encounter with the Christ. It is the karma of Europe that we in Central Europe must experience in an especially tragic way what the West and East must settle between themselves. The only possible interpretation of the external struggle between German and French elements is that the German element lies in the middle and serves as an anvil for both East and West. Germany, which is hammered by both sides in the conflict, is in reality the subject of their own controversy. That is the spiritual truth and quite different from what is happening in the physical world. Consider how different the spiritual truth is from what is happening in the physical world! This must strike contemporary man as grotesque, but it nevertheless is the truth, which must have a shocking effect on us.

There is yet another extraordinarily important matter worth mentioning. Surely history seems to be contradicted when we see that England, even though she has in the past always been allied with Turkey against Russia, now has to fight with Russia against Turkey. We can understand this contradiction only through occult observation. On the physical plane England and Russia are allies in the fight against the Turkish element, yet occult vision, perceiving this struggle from below through the physical plane and then onto the astral plane, sees that in the North it is Russia and in the Southeast it is Turkey that appear to be allied with England. This is due to the fact that the alliance between England and Russia is only of significance on the physical plane, but has no corresponding value in the spiritual world since it rests entirely on material interests. From below one sees that England and Russia are allied in the North only on the physical plane. In the Southeast, looking through the physical plane, one perceives on the astral plane a spiritual alliance between the English and the Turks while they are both fighting the Russians. Thus, on the physical plane, England is an ally to Russia and on the astral plane Russia is attacked by England. This is how we must see the events as they unfold in external reality inasmuch as they reveal themselves as external history. What is behind this history is something entirely different.

There will be a time when people will speak about the present events differently than they are doing now. You will have to admit, the entire war literature contains something rather unpleasant. True, some valid statements are made, but there are also many disagreeable ones. Above all, there is one thing that is disagreeable. There is much talk about how it is still too early to discuss the question of who has caused the war and so on. People delude themselves about the facts when they say that at a later date the documents in our archives will surely bring to light who is to blame for the war! In reference to the external events, however, the matter can be resolved fairly easily, provided one judges dispassionately. Chamberlain, in his War Essays (see Note 7) is correct (even though he is in error about the details) when he says that it is possible to know the key issues of this war. All that is without a doubt accurate, but it leaves the proper question unasked. For example, there is but one question that can be answered unequivocally, if only it is properly posed, and this question is: Who could have prevented the war? — The constantly recurring question: Who is to blame for this war? and many other questions just are not appropriate. Who could have prevented the war? The answer to this question can be no other than that the Russian government could have prevented the war! Only in this fashion will it be possible to find the appropriate definition for the impulses that are at work in each situation. Of course, war had been desired by the East for decades, but had it not been for a certain relationship between England, Russia and France, it could not have broken out. Therefore, one might ascribe the greater blame to England. Yet all these conjectures do not take into consideration the underlying causes that made this World War a necessity. It is naive to believe that war could have been avoided. People these days talk as if it did not have to come about when it was, of course, destined by the European karma.

I wanted to allude to some of this by sketching the spiritual differences between East and West. It is not important that we look for external causes. All we have to know is that this war was a historic necessity. When that is understood the individual causes do not matter.

What is important is the proper attitude toward the various effects, for one effect can impress our souls in an especially significant way. It is remarkable and a characteristic phenomenon that a war like this one produces many unexpended ether bodies. Since this is the biggest war in man's conscious history, this phenomenon is present to a corresponding large degree. Ether bodies are produced that are not worn out.
You see, the ether body that man carries with him can support him for a long period of time, until he reaches seventy, eighty or ninety years of age. But in a war human beings are sacrificed in the prime of their lives. You know that man, when he passes through the gate of death loses his ether body after a short period of time. A person dying in a war, however, loses his ether body when normally it could have supported his physical body for a long time, in many cases for decades. Those ether bodies entering the etheric world prematurely are preserved with all their powers. Consider now the countless number of unexpended ether bodies of those going through the gate of death at an early age. There is something distinctive about these ether bodies. I would like to illustrate this fact with an example that concerns our Movement, and after that I wish to explain how the ether bodies of the young soldiers who have gone through the gate of death will emerge in the etheric world in the near future.

This fall we witnessed in Dornach the death of little seven-year-old Theodor Faiss; his family belonged to the Anthroposophical Society and was employed not far from our building project. The father used to live in Stuttgart before moving to Dornach. He worked as a gardener in the vicinity of the building and lived there with his family. He himself had been drafted soon after the beginning of the war and at the time of the event I would like to relate, he was staying in a military hospital. Little seven-year-old Theodor was really a sunny child — a wonderful, lovely boy. Now, one day the following happened. We just had a lecture that I delivered in Dornach about the work that goes on in the building. After the lecture someone appeared and reported that little Theodor's mother had not seen him since late in the afternoon. It was ten o'clock at night and we could not help thinking that a terrible accident had happened. This afternoon a horse-driven furniture van had been in the vicinity of the so-called canteen; it was seen on a narrow street where it was forced to turn. To my knowledge, no van as huge had reached that spot in decades. Little Theodor had been in the canteen before the van had turned. He had been delayed there, otherwise he would have gone home earlier with the food that he had fetched from the canteen for supper. It so happened that he covered the short distance to his home in such a way that he reached the very spot where at that moment the van turned over and fell on him. Nobody had noticed the accident, not even the coachman because he was tending to his horses when the van turned over and did not know that the child was buried under it. When we were informed that the child was missing we tried to heave the vehicle up again. Friends fetched tools and alerted Swiss soldiers to help us with the task. Naturally the child had been dead since five-thirty in the afternoon. The van had crushed him immediately and he had died of suffocation.

This case can be used as an example of what I have often tried to explain by means of a comparison: causes are mistaken for effects, and vice versa. I have frequently used the following example. A person falls into the river and people hurry to the spot where it happened. When they find a rock, they conjecture that the victim had stumbled over it and this caused him to fall into the river and drown. Thus, they are sure that the man had died because he fell into the river. If one were to conduct an autopsy, however, it might turn out that he had suffered a heart attack and as a result, was already dead when he fell into the water, but he fell into the water because he had died. You will frequently encounter a similar confusion of cause and effect when life situations are assessed, and even more frequently in the general sciences.

The situation with little Theodor was that his karma had expired, so that it is actually possible to say, “He himself ordered the van to the place of the accident.” I have told you this externally tragic case in detail because we are here concerned with a child's ether body, which could have supported his life for decades. This ether body has passed into the spiritual world with all of its unexpended powers, but where is it? What is it doing? Since that day, anyone attuned to occult perception who is working artistically on the building in Dornach or is there simply to pursue his thoughts will know that the entire ether body of the child, with all its powers, is enlarged in the aura of the Dornach building. We must distinguish that the individuality is elsewhere; it goes its own way, but the ether body was separated after a few days and is now present in the building. I will never hesitate to assert that the powers needed for intuition are those of this ether body that was sacrificed for the building. The relationships behind ordinary life are often quite different from what we are able to suspect. This ether body has become one of the protective forces of the building. Something tremendously stupendous lies in such a relationship.

Now let us consider the vast amount of power that ascends to the spiritual world from the unexpended ether bodies of these who are now wailing through the gate of death as a result of military events.

The way in which events are connected is different from what people can imagine; the karma in the world takes its course in a different way. It is the task of spiritual science to replace fantastic notions with spiritually true ideas. For example, we can hardly imagine something more fantastic and untrue, from a spiritual perspective, than what has taken place in the last few decades. Let us ask what has been accomplished by the (Hague) Peace Conference (see Note 8) which aimed at replacing war with law, or international law, as it was called. Since the Peace Conferences were held, wars have never been more terrible. During the last few decades this Peace Movement counted among its special patrons the very monarch who has waged the bloodiest and most cruel wars ever known in history. The launching of the Peace Conferences by the Russian Czar must therefore be considered the biggest farce in world history; it is also the most abominable. This must be labeled a luciferic seduction of the East; the details can be easily traced. No matter how one may view the situation, the human soul is shocked by the fact that in the beginning, when the war impulses made their way into Central Europe, the people there made few comments about the situation, even in places where they gathered for the purpose of discussion, such as the German Parliament in Berlin. Little was said, but the events spoke for themselves. In contrast, there was much talk in the East and West. The most shocking impressions come from the debates among various political parties in the St. Petersburg Duma. Representatives of these parties uttered, with great fervor, endless variations of absolutely meaningless phrases. It was terrifying to see the luciferic seduction at work. The fires raging in this war, however, are intended to warn and admonish the human race to be on guard.

From what is now happening, a few souls must come to a realization that we cannot go on like this; human evolution must take up the spiritual! Materialism is confronting its karma in this, the most terrible of all wars. In a certain sense, this war is the karma of materialism. The more this fact is realized by human beings, the more they will abandon their arguments about who is to blame for the war, and then they will have to realize that this war has been sent into world history to admonish man to turn to a spiritual perception of human life in its entirety.

Not only does materialism cause human souls to embrace materialism, it also perverts man's logic and dulls his feelings. We in Central Europe are still lacking a full understanding of what I have stated before. We in Central Europe must be most intimately engaged in the continued development of the Christ impulse. To do this we must, among other things, try to understand the minds that have already sown the seeds. Just one example. Goethe wrote a theory of color,
which physicists regard as something — well — something that deserves no more than an indulgent smile, as if they wanted to say, “What did the poet know about colors? He was nothing but a dilettante.” Since the 1880's I have tried to gain acceptance for Goethe's theory of color in spite of the findings of modern physics (see Note 9). Why does nobody understand that? The answer is that Central Europe has been imbued with the materialistic principle that has come to us from the British folk soul. Newton, whom Goethe had to oppose, has been victorious over everything emanating from Goethe's spirit. Goethe also established a theory of evolution that demonstrates how human beings, simply by grasping spiritual laws, can progress from the state of greatest imperfection to one of greatest perfection. People found this too difficult to understand. When Darwin published his theory of evolution in a more comprehensible fashion, it was readily accepted. Darwin, a materialistic thinker who was inspired by the British folk soul has conquered Goethe, a man whose perceptions resulted from a most intimate dialogue with the German folk soul.

Ernst Haeckel's experiences were tragic. During his entire life he nourished himself intellectually by leaning on the ideas of Huxley and Darwin; his materialism is basically an English product (see Note 10) Yet when the war broke out, Haeckel was enraged about what emerged from the British Isles. He was one of the first to return British medals, diplomas and honors; instead, he should have returned his brand of Darwinism and physics, which is tinged with English thought. This is what we have to realize if we are to understand how Central Europe can strive for an intimate harmony with the laws of the world.

The greatest damage is done when what is poured into a child's soul induces the child to develop merely materialistically later in life. This trend has been on the increase for several centuries. Ahriman has even inspired one of the great British writers to compose a work that is calculated to impress the child's soul materialistically. The intent is hardly noticeable because ordinarily, one does not see all this as preparatory to a materialistic orientation. The work I am talking about is Robinson Crusoe. The description of Robinson is so shrewd that once the mind has accepted the ideas in the Robinson tale, it cannot avoid thinking materialistically thereafter. Mankind has not yet recovered from the ill effects perpetrated by the inventors of Robinson tales; they existed before and exist now. Much more could be said. These statements are not made to say something derogatory about the people of the West who have to be what they are. Rather, I wish to point out how the people in Central Europe must discover the connections to great values that are just now germinating but will grow to determine future developments. In this regard, the significance of Austria is especially noteworthy. During the past few decades several men there aspired to profound accomplishments, for example, Hamerling in the area of literature, Carneri who set out to deepen Darwinism, by extending it to the moral realm, as well as Bruckner and other artists from a variety of disciplines. What matters here is the concern of a people for these things.

Now let us consider the unexpended ether bodies that are still in existence. They were cast off by human beings who had learned, through a great event, how to sacrifice themselves for their people's spiritual commonalty, a commonalty no longer present for them, at least on the surface. If a spiritual scientist today asserts that there is a collective soul of people and that it exists as archangel and so forth, he will be ridiculed. What is called a people's collective soul by the materialists is nothing but the abstract sum of attributes that the people of a nation possess. The materialist considers the people as nothing but the sum of human beings who co-exist in the same geographic area and share a sense of commonalty with each other. We, on the other hand, speak of a people's spiritual commonalty in such a way that we know that the spirit of a people is present as a real being of the rank of an archangel. Even though somebody who sacrifices his life for his people is not fully conscious of the real spirit of his people, he nevertheless confirms by the manner in which he goes through death that he believes in a continuity of life after this death. He believes that there is more to a people's spiritual commonalty than meets the eye, that is, it is related to, and co-exists with, the super-sensible world. All those going through death confirm in a more or less conscious way that there is a super-sensible world, and that realization is imprinted on their ether bodies. In a future time of peace, the unexpended ether bodies will be among people living on earth and will continually send the following sounds into the music of the spheres: there is more in the world than what mere physical eyes can perceive! This spiritual truth will ring forth as part of the music of the spheres through ether bodies that the dead have left behind.These are aside from what they are taking along as their individuality, which they retain during their lives between death and rebirth. We must listen to what lives and echoes from these ether bodies, because they were discarded by people who went through death and in so doing, affirmed the truth of the spiritual world. Mankind's greatest sin will be to ignore what the dead call out to us when their ether bodies speak. One's glance at the spiritual world will be infinitely enriched if one considers that those who have lost loved ones — fathers and mothers, sisters and brothers, sons and daughters — may tell themselves that those who were sacrificed continue to live for humanity, as a reminder of what is yet to come!

If one were to rely only on what is taking place in the physical world, there would be little hope for the successful continuation of the spiritual movement through which a spiritual scientific world view is to be cultivated. Recently, a good and faithful colleague aged thirty or so died. My words to this soul that had gone through the gate of death requested that it should continue to work in our spiritual scientific field as faithfully and as courageously as it had done here on earth, utilizing all of its acquired knowledge. This colleague had worked diligently with us here on the physical plane; my message to him for his life between death and rebirth was that he should continue to work with us after death as he had done in life, for we are counting on these so-called dead as we are counting on the living. Our spiritual-scientific world view must be alive to such a degree that the gap between the so-called dead and the living can be overcome: we must feel the dead among us as if they were alive. We want not only theory, but life. Thus we wish to point out that when there is peace, there will be a living tie between those on earth and those who have gone through the gate of death. Man will be able to learn, and must learn, from the dead how they contribute to the great spiritual progress that must take hold on earth.

Sometimes life offers us an opportunity to see how human logic alone does not suffice. I would like to mention an example — not for personal reasons but because I want to characterize the way our Movement is viewed by the public. A few years ago an article was printed in a respected South German journal (see Note 14) by a famous contemporary philosopher about our spiritual science. This treatment of spiritual science was intended to impress the public purely because the essay was authored by a famous philosopher. The editor took great pride in the fact that he was able to present an article about spiritual science by such a famous man. Of course, everything was skewed and the facts about spiritual science were distorted. But what did it take for the editor to realize that the account about spiritual science that he had sponsored in his monthly journal was distorted? The war broke out and the author of the article sent several letters to the editor. These letters contained some of the most disgusting remarks about Central European culture that one could imagine. The professor had railed and sneered at it. The editor then printed these letters in his journal as examples of the stupidity of this kind of thinking, commenting that anyone who writes this way belongs in an insane asylum. We are confronted by a curious fact. A good editor needed such an experience in order to see that the author, whose article on spiritual science had severely damaged the public image of the Movement, belonged in an insane asylum. If the man belongs in an insane asylum now, however, then the same was true before, when he wrote the article on spiritual science!

So it goes in the world! To be a judge of what is going on, man must garner other supports than those ordinarily available to him. The spiritual scientist who can clearly demonstrate that truth finds its own way, is on firm ground. Spiritual science, however, must be active in the evolution of mankind so that what is necessary, happens. Early in history Emperor Constantine had to accomplish his mission so that the Christ impulse could bear on the subconscious from the spiritual world. Later, the Christ impulse became active in the Maid of Orleans; what had to happen did indeed take place. Today, the Christ impulse must continue to bear on man, but more on his consciousness. In the future, there must be souls who will know that up there in the spiritual world there are those who sacrificed themselves as individuals and who admonish us to emulate their own belief in the active force of the spiritual, which they attained in death. The forces in the unexpended ether bodies beckon to the future, as well: to understand their message is to admit it into one's soul. Below, however, there must be souls who will perceive this truth and prepare for it through the proper and active understanding of our spiritual science. Our spiritual science must cultivate souls on this earth who will be capable of sensing what the ether bodies of the dead up there will say to us in the future. These souls will know that in the beyond there are forces to admonish human beings who had to be left on earth. When spirit-conscious souls down here harken to the hidden sounds of the spiritual world, then all bloodshed, all sacrifices and all suffering, past and future, will bear fruit. I do hope that quite a few souls come together through spiritual science and perceive the voices from the spiritual world that are resounding especially because of this war. Summarizing the final words of today's reflection, I wish to say a few words to you that are merely an expression of my feeling for what I want to instill in your souls.

From the warrior's valor,
From the blood of battles,
From the pain of the bereaved.
From a people's sacrifice
Will the spirit fruit arise —
Will the souls embrace the spirit
Consciously, with inner eyes.

[T]he third dream at the beginning of July went as follows:

I was in a remote English land. It was necessary that I return to my homeland with a fast ship as speedily as possible. I reached home quickly. In my homeland I found that in the middle of summer a terrible cold had fallen from space, which had turned every living thing into ice. There stood a leaf-bearing but fruitless tree, whose leaves had turned into sweet grapes full of healing juice through the working of the frost. I picked some grapes and gave them to a great waiting throng.

In reality, now, it was so: At the time when the great war broke out between the peoples of Europe, I found myself in Scotland, compelled by the war to choose the fastest ship and the shortest route home. I encountered the colossal cold that froze everything, I met up with the flood, the sea of blood, and found my barren tree whose leaves the frost had transformed into a remedy. And I plucked the ripe fruit and gave it to you and I do not know what I poured out for you, what bitter-sweet intoxicating drink which left on your tongues an aftertaste of blood....

Therefore the spirit foretold to me that the cold of outer space will spread across the earth. With this he showed me in an image that the God will step between men and drive every individual with the whip of icy cold to the warmth of his own monastic hearth.

-- The Red Book: Liber Novus, by C.G. Jung

With such feelings in our hearts we forever want to imbue ourselves with the meaning of the rose cross so that we can perceive it in the proper way as the motto for our doing, weaving and feeling. Not the black cross alone. He who tears the roses from the black cross and has nothing left but the black cross, would fall into the clutches of Ahriman. The black cross in itself represents life when it strives to embrace inanimate matter. Also, if one were to separate the cross from the roses, keeping only the latter, one would not find the proper thing. For the roses, separate from the cross, tend to elevate us to a life of selfish striving toward the spiritual, but not to a life in which we reveal the spirit in a material world. Not the cross alone, not the roses alone, but the roses on the cross, the cross carrying the roses: That is our proper symbol.



TRANSLATOR'S NOTE: The footnotes below are translations of the annotations appended to the original publication of this lecture. Titles of books and articles are given in their German form; they are followed by free translations in parentheses which do not necessarily refer to an English translation.

1. “Die übersinnliche Erkenntnis und ihre stärkende Seelenkraft in unserer schicksalstragenden Zeit” (“Supersensible Perception and Its Strengthening Soul-force in Our Time of Destiny”). Corresponding remarks can be found in the Berlin lectures of April 16 and 23, 1915, published as: “Aus schicksalstragenden Zeit”, (“From a Time of Destiny”) Bibl.-No. 64 in the Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works [of Rudolf Steiner]), Dornach, 1959.
2. “Welten-Neujahr. Das Traumlied von Olaf Åsteson” (“Cosmic New Year. The Legend of Olaf Åsteson's Dream”), Hanover lecture of January 1, 1912. Published as a separate edition in Dornach, 1958; Gesamtausgabe (Complete works), Bibl.-No 158.
3. In this form the pronouncement was first made by Karl von Linné in his Philosophia Botanica, Stockholm, 1751, no. 77.
4. Cf. especially “Die spirituellen Hintergründe der äusseren Welt — Der Sturz der Geister der Finsternis” (“The Spiritual Background of the External World — The Fall of the Spirits of Darkness”), 14 lectures, Dornach, September 29 to October 28, 1917. Gesamtausgabe (Complete works), Bibl.-No. 177, Dornach, 1965.
5. “Die Pforte der Einweihung” (“The Portal of Initiation”), first scene. Gesamtausgabe (Complete works), Bibl.-No 14, Dornach, 1962.
6. The alliance was negotiated in 1897 by President Faure of France and Czar Nicolas II of Russia.
7. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, Neue Kriegsaufsatze (New War Essays), Munich, 1915, p.36.
8. “The reference is to the Hague Peace Conference of 1899 and 1907, which were both initiated by Czar Nicholas II.
9. Rudolf Steiner was asked in 1882 to edit Goethe's scientific writings in Kürschner's Deutsche National-Literatur. Volume I was published in 1883; it contained writings on the formation and transformation of organisms. Rudolf Steiner's introductions and critical commentaries to the four volumes were published as a special edition, entitled: Rudolf Steiner, Goethes Naturwissenschaftliche Schriften (Goethe's Natural-Scientific Writings), Dornach, 1926. A German edition was published in Freiburg, 1949. Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works), Bibl.-No. 1. Cf. the correspondence between Karl Julius Schröer, Joseph Kürschner and Rudolf Steiner in Blätter für Anthroposophie,. 13 Jg. No. 2, February 1961.
10. Ernst Haeckel: “I have always readily acknowledged the magnificent contributions of the small insular British empire to the enrichment of human civilization. These were possible because of its advantageous insular position and its geographic alliances. In addition I worked on Darwinism for the past fifty years and had many personal dealings with Darwin, Huxley, Lyell, John Murray and many other famous natural scientists in England and Scotland; these were pleasant and fruitful personal relationships.” Haeckel, Ewigkeit. Weltkriegsgedanken über Leben und Tod, Religion und Entwicklungslehre (Eternity, World War Reflections on Life and Death, Religion, and the Theory of Evolution), Berlin, 1915, p.65 and 114.
11. Robert Hamerling, 1830-1889. Cf. Rudolf Steiner, Gesammelte Aufsätze zur Literatur 1886-1902 (Collected Essays on Literature, 1886-1902), Bibl.No. 20, Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works), Dornach, 1957; Mein Lebensgang (The Course of My Life), Bibl.-No. 28, Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works), Dornach, 1962; “Robert Hamerling, ein Dichter und ein Denker und ein Mensch” (“Robert Hamerling, the Poet, the Thinker and the Man”), Dornach, 1939.
12. Bartholomäus Ritter von Carneri, 1821-1909. Cf. Rudolf Steiner, “Carneri, der Ethiker des Darwinismus” in Methodische Grundlagen der Anthroposophie 1884-1901 (“Carneri, the Moral Philosopher of Darwinism” in Methodological Foundations of Anthroposophy, 1884-1901), Bibl.-No. 30, Gesamtausgabe (Complete Works), Dornach, 1961: also “Vom Menschenrätsel” (“On the Riddle of Man”) and Mein Lebensgang (The Course of My Life).
13. Anton Bruckner, 1824-1896.
14. Wincenty Lutoslawski, “Rudolf Steiner's sogenannte ‘Geheimwissenschaft’” in Hochland, 8.Jg., 1.Heft Oktober 1910, S.45-58. (“Rudolf Steiner's so-called ‘Occult Science’” in Hochland, VIII, 1, October 1910, p.45-58). Professor Karl Muth, editor of the journal, writes an editorial comment in No. 7 of the same year, in which he describes Lutoslawski as an “author who is eminent as a man and as a thinker.” Later, in Krisgshefte der Suddeutschen Monatshefte, Munich, February 1915, p.623-631, Muth refers to his correspondence with Lutoslawski and writes, among other things: “in addition to making several small contributions to Hochland, Lutoslawski also published in this journal three lead articles which aroused considerable attention among the readers: one article on the theosophy of Rudolf Steiner, another one on exercises to strengthen the will, and the third one on his conversion to the Catholic faith. His published notes contain peculiar biographical clues ... Where in Germany — except in an insane asylum — would there be a human being like this lector of philosophy from the University Geneva — a man who seems to be completely disoriented as he confronts the magnitude of our contemporary world-historical situation with complete blindness and a paucity of ideas! The relief which his overwrought brain received through his epistolary outpouring did not satisfy him; he now insists that his latest letter should come to the attention of the public as well.”
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Fri Feb 09, 2018 9:44 pm

The Dark Side of Political Ecology
by Peter Zegers
May 7, 2006



“[I]f the word ecology is used to describe our outlook, it is preposterous to invoke deities, mystical forces to account for the evolution of first nature into second nature. Neither religion nor a spiritualistic vision of experience has any place in an ecological lexicon. Either the term ecology applies to natural phenomena by definition, or it is a chic metaphor for the disempowered consciousness that fosters mysticism or outright supernaturalism.”

-- Murray Bookchin, The Ecology of Freedom: The Emergence and Dissolution of Hierarchy. (Montréal: Black Rose, Second edition 1991) p. xxi

The ecology movement has over the last decades been a battleground for both progressive and reactionary ideas. The notions one encounters in the ecology movements range from genuinely progressive and humanist ones to extremely misanthropic, even ecofascistic ones. In the essay “Will ecology become 'the dismal science'?” American social ecologist Murray Bookchin identified nearly ten years ago some of the anti-humanistic tendencies within the ecology movement in the United States: deep ecology, biocentrism, Gaian consciousness, and eco-theology. Basic to these outlooks is a suspicion of reason and an emphasis on the importance of intuitive and irrational approaches to ecological issues. Bookchin concluded the essay with this note: “It is not only the great mass of people that must make hard choices about humanity's future in a period of growing ecological dislocation; it is the ecology movement itself that must make hard choices about its sense of direction in a time of growing mystification.” (1) Since Bookchin’s essay was published in 1991, these anti-humanistic tendencies have unfortunately become even more prominent. A case in point is one of the leading American deep ecologists, Bill Devall. Together with George Sessions, Bill Devall introduced the ideas of Arne Næss, the founder of deep ecology, to the American public. Devall uttered on August 2, 1998, at the conference Gold and Green, a racist remark against Mexican immigrants: according to him, they “did what gangs of Mexicans always do – rape, pillage, burn, murder.” He also made the point that the owner of Maxxam Corporation (a firm threatening a redwood forest in California) was “a criminal Jewish capitalist.” Devall’s associate George Sessions, also present at this conference, lamented about the left wing perspective of a lot of people in the ecology movement and claimed that social justice issues only would distract attention from the real cause of the ecological crisis: overpopulation. In order to counteract the ecological imbalance Sessions suggested that an authoritarian regime should be implemented, like the one that ruled Japan from 1615 to 1836. (2) Is this just a marginal incident? Because of the premisses on which deep ecology is predicated I very much doubt this.

The Political Implications of Deep Ecology

Deep ecology is a vague and formless concept and one can find all kinds of mixtures of reactionary and seemingly progressive ideas in it. Deep ecologists claim very different thinkers as pioneers of deep ecology, one can for example find Heidegger alongside Spinoza. No effort is made to explain how these very different thinkers can be rubricated in the same category. Commenting on this lack of coherence Arne Næss wrote: “Why Gleichschaltung? Why monolithic ideologies? We have had enough of those in both European and world history.” (3) To put a demand for coherence on a par with a Nazi operation is telling enough and reveals his limited understanding of fascism. Næss continues in the same article: “It would, in my view, be a cultural disaster for humankind if one philosophy or one religion were to become established on earth. It would be a disaster if future Green societies were so similar that they blocked the development of deep cultural differences.” (4) Does this also apply to human rights and democracy? In another interview he stated: “Diversity in every aspect of our existence should be a norm, whether it is biodiversity, cultural diversity or economic diversity. Diversity of ideas is also very important. If we thought that there is one correct idea, one absolute truth, one right way to sustainability, then we might end up creating a kind of eco-fascism. It is only through multiplicity, plurality, diversity and inclusivity that we can find self-realization. There is no one final definition of self-realization. Everyone will find their own meaning in this word. Through deep questioning we come to deep ecology and through deep ecology we come to self-realization, but all this means nothing. It remains a kind of theory. It is through practice that we find realization. As each one of us has our own body, we have our own ‘realization’.”

I am concerned especially with that group of premises upon which Occidental concepts of the “self” are built, and conversely, with premises which are corrective to some of the more gross Occidental errors associated with that concept.

What is new and surprising is that we now have partial answers to some of these questions. In the last twenty-five years extraordinary advances have been made in our knowledge of what sort of thing the environment is, what sort of thing an organism is, and, especially, what sort of thing a mind is. These advances have come out of cybernetics, systems theory, information theory, and related sciences.

We now know, with considerable certainty, that the ancient problem of whether the mind is immanent or transcendent can be answered in favor of immanence, and that this answer is more economical of explanatory entities than any transcendent answer: it has at least the negative support of Occam’s Razor.

On the positive side, we can assert that any ongoing ensemble of events and objects which has the appropriate complexity of causal circuits and the appropriate energy relations will surely show mental characteristics. It will compare, that is, be responsive to difference (in addition to being affected by the ordinary physical “causes” such as impact or force). It will “process information” and will inevitably be self-corrective either toward homeostatic optima or toward the maximization of certain variables.

A “bit” of information is definable as a difference which makes a difference. Such a difference, as it travels and undergoes successive transformation in a circuit, is an elementary idea.

But, most relevant in the present context, we know that no part of such an internally interactive system can have unilateral control over the remainder or over any other part. The mental characteristics are inherent or immanent in the ensemble as a whole....

The significance of this conclusion appears when we ask, “Can a computer think?” or, “Is the mind in the brain?” And the answer to both questions will be negative unless the question is focused upon one of the few mental characteristics which are contained within the computer or the brain. A computer is self-corrective in regard to some of its internal variables. It may, for example, include thermometers or other sense organs which are affected by differences in its working temperature, and the response of the sense organ to these differences may affect the action of a fan which in turn corrects the temperature. We may therefore say that the system shows mental characteristics in regard to its internal temperature. But it would be incorrect to say that the main business of the computer—the transformation of input differences into output differences—is “a mental process.” The computer is only an arc of a larger circuit which always includes a man and an environment from which information is received and upon which efferent messages from the computer have effect. This total system, or ensemble, may legitimately be said to show mental characteristics. It operates by trial and error and has creative character.

Similarly, we may say that “mind” is immanent in those circuits of the brain which are complete within the brain. Or that mind is immanent in circuits which are complete within the system, brain plus body. Or, finally, that mind is immanent in the larger system—man plus environment.

In principle, if we desire to explain or understand the mental aspect of any biological event, we must take into account the system—that is, the network of closed circuits, within which that biological event is determined. But when we seek to explain the behavior of a man or any other organism, this “system” will usually not have the same limits as the “self”—as this term is commonly (and variously) understood....

Or consider a blind man with a stick. Where does the blind man’s self begin? At the tip of the stick? At the handle of the stick? Or at some point halfway up the stick? These questions are nonsense, because the stick is a pathway along which differences are transmitted under transformation, so that to draw a delimiting line across this pathway is to cut off a part of the systemic circuit which determines the blind man’s locomotion.

Similarly, his sense organs are transducers or pathways for information, as also are his axons, etc. From a systems-theoretic point of view, it is a misleading metaphor to say that what travels in an axon is an “impulse.” It would be more correct to say that what travels is a difference, or a transform of a difference. The metaphor of “impulse” suggests a hard-science line of thought which will ramify only too easily into nonsense about “psychic energy,” and those who talk this kind of nonsense will disregard the information content of quiescence. The quiescence of an axon differs as much from activity as its activity does from quiescence. Therefore quiescence and activity have equal informational relevance. The message of activity can only be accepted as valid if the message of quiescence can also be trusted.

It is even incorrect to speak of the “message of activity” and the “message of quiescence.” Always the fact that information is a transform of difference should be remembered, and we might better call the one message “activity —not quiescence” and the other “quiescence—not activity.”...

The total self-corrective unit which processes information, or, as I say, “thinks” and “acts” and “decides,” is a system whose boundaries do not at all coincide with the boundaries either of the body or of what is popularly called the “self” or “consciousness”; and it is important to notice that there are multiple differences between the thinking system and the “self” as popularly conceived:

The system is not a transcendent entity as the “self” is commonly supposed to be. The ideas are immanent in a network of causal pathways along which transforms of difference are conducted. The “ideas” of the system are in all cases at least binary in structure. They are not “impulses” but “information.”

This network of pathways is not bounded with consciousness but extends to include the pathways of all unconscious mentation—both autonomic and repressed, neural and hormonal.

The network is not bounded by the skin but includes all external pathways along which information can travel. It also includes those effective differences which are immanent in the “objects” of such information. It includes the pathways of sound and light along which travel transforms of differences originally immanent in things and other people —and especially in our own actions.

It is important to note that the basic—and I believe erroneous—tenets of popular epistemology are mutually reinforcing. If, for example, the popular premise of transcendence is discarded, the immediate substitute is a premise of immanence in the body. But this alternative will be unacceptable because large parts of the thinking network are located outside the body. The so-called “Body-Mind” problem is wrongly posed in terms which force the argument toward paradox: if mind be supposed immanent in the body, then it must be transcendent. If transcendent, it must be immanent. And so on. [76]

Similarly, if we exclude the unconscious processes from the “self” and call them “ego-alien,” then these processes take on the subjective coloring of “urges” and “forces”; and this pseudodynamic quality is then extended to the conscious “self” which attempts to “resist” the “forces” of the unconscious. The “self” thereby becomes itself an organization of seeming “forces.” The popular notion which would equate “self” with consciousness thus leads into the notion that ideas are “forces”; and this fallacy is in turn supported by saying that the axon carries “impulses.” To find a way out of this mess is by no means easy.

-- Steps to an Ecology of Mind, by Gregory Bateson

(5) Maybe because of this limited understanding of eco-fascism Næss does not mind being published by extreme right wing publications in France and Italy. Indeed his ideas bear a close resemblance to the 'ethno-pluralism' advocated by Alain de Benoist and others in the Nouvelle Droite. American author Kirkpatrick Sale, who is very close to deep ecology, is very clear about the fact that democracy and human rights need not be respected, but that we instead should respect the denial of democracy and human rights! Kirkpatrick Sale wrote: “[Bioregional diversity] does not mean that every community in a bioregion, every subregion within an ecoregion, every ecoregion on a continent, would construct itself along the same lines, evolve the same political forms. Most particularly it does not mean that every bioregion would be likely to heed the values of democracy, equality, liberty, freedom, justice and the like, the sort that the liberal American tradition proclaims. Truly autonomous bioregions would inevitably go in separate and not necessarily complementary ways, creating their own political systems according to their own environmental settings and their own ecological needs … Different cultures could be expected to have quite different views about what political forms could best accomplish their bioregional goals, and (especially as we imagine this system on a global scale) those forms could be at quite some variance from the Western Enlightenment-inspired ideal. And however much one might find the thought unpleasant, that divergence must be expected and – if diversity is desirable – respected.” (6)

Not only does deep ecology oppose the universal concepts of democracy and human rights through its misguided understanding of diversity, the ideas of Næss verge also on the mystical and he himself seems to be aware of this since he quotes New Age-author Charlene Spretnak approvingly when she calls for 'emotional involvement and caring' instead of rational thinking. (7) It is therefore not very surprising that New Age-authors Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak have embraced the label deep ecology. Fritjof Capra is like Spretnak very outspoken in his anti-rationalism: “Ultimately, deep ecological awareness is spiritual or religious awareness.” (8) Charlene Spretnak declares humanism to be the principal enemy of an ecological politics. In 1984 she said in an address to the annual gathering of the E.F. Schumacher Society: “Green politics rejects the anthropocentric orientation of humanism, a philosophy which posits that humans have the ability to confront and solve the many problems we face by applying human reason and by rearranging the natural world and the interactions of men and women so that human life will prosper.” (9) Spretnak and Capra wrote a book about the German Greens where they, in spite of the 'pluralism' of deep ecology, made very clear that they are hostile to left wing tendencies in the Green movement. (10) Unfortunately no such demarcation exists for right wing tendencies in the ecology movement. The Right seems to be very grateful to enter this lack of demarcation and it would indeed be very hard to demarcate deep ecology from the Right because it shows structural similarities with Right ideology. Although Capra and Spretnak seem to be aware of the German past, they have trouble seeing the continuity with the present. They describe Herbert Gruhl as a 'conservative' politician, whereas the term eco-fascist would be more appropriate. Gruhl was one of the founders of Die Grünen but left the party in 1982 (which Capra and Spretnak seem to regret and blame the 'marxists' for) to found the Ökologisch Demokratische Partei (Ecological Democratic Party). When this party decided in 1989 to distance itself from the extreme Right political party Die Republikaner against the will of Gruhl, he withdrew and founded the Unabhängige Ökologen Deutschlands. He was one of the first to use ecological discourse for xenophobic purposes.
(11) Capra and Spretnak also do not seem to understand why many Germans are so suspicious about ideas that bear a close resemblance to the Blut und Boden (Blood and soil) theories of the Nazis. Instead of analyzing this resemblance and continuity, they choose to ignore it and as a consequence they were uncritical of Rudolf Bahro's views that only a few years later culminated into a kind of spiritual fascism. (12)

Deep ecology is a very eclectic bag of ideas and there are yet other features that are very disturbing because of the reactionary implications. Fundamental for deep ecology is the completely unfounded assertion that the ecological crisis is caused by 'overpopulation'. There is not a single line in the vast literature on deep ecology that explains why this would be the case. It is simply a matter of faith for adherents of deep ecology and because of this, critique of this aspect has not resulted in a change of ideas in this matter. (13) Some of the supporters of deep ecology have publicly stated that AIDS and famines are nature's revenge on humankind and that we should not do anything about it. A case in point is Dave Foreman, an activist of the environmental direct action group Earth First!, who said in an interview to Bill Devall: “When I tell people how the worst we could do in Ethiopia is to give aid – the best thing would be to just let nature seek its own balance, to let the people there just starve – they think that is monstrous. But the alternative is that you go in and save these half-dead children who never will live a whole life. Their development will be stunted. And what is going to happen in ten years' time is that twice as many people will suffer and die. Likewise, letting the USA be an overflow valve for problems in Latin America is not solving a thing. It is just putting more pressure on resources we have in the USA. It is just causing more destruction of our wilderness, more poisoning of water and air, and it is not helping the problems in Latin America.” (14) Not a single protest against this raving was uttered by Devall, one of the leading exponents of deep ecology in the United States. We understand from his statements at the Gold and Green conference quoted above why Bill Devall did not bother to contradict Foreman. Deep ecology lacks a theory of the social causes of the environmental crisis and the only solution they can think of is a reduction of population. How to achieve this is not made clear, but some supporters do not exclude draconic, indeed eco-fascistic measures.

The anti-humanist notion of 'biocentrism', the notion that all living beings have equal 'intrinsic worth', is another disturbing feature in deep ecology. This 'biocentrism' has its counterpart in 'anthropocentrism', the view that human happiness and welfare should precede all other priorities. In the book The Arrogance of Humanism (1981) David Ehrenfeldt wrote in this 'biocentric' vain about the right of the smallpox-virus to exist. Since then tons of paper have been produced with articles about 'intrinsic worth', 'biocentric democracy', and 'biocentrism' and its implications. Indeed deep ecology has become a booming academic industry. The way seems to be opened for the discussion of how much human suffering and death is acceptable in the name of an 'ecological ethics'. Again, there is not the faintest idea about the social roots of the environmental problems. All people, regardless of their position in society, are held equally responsible for the destruction of the environment in this view. Humanity's 'original sin' was 'anthropocentrism' (theological words apply very neatly in this way of thinking). Deep ecologists have a very static view on nature or 'wilderness'. As important as they profess to value 'wilderness', they never explain very much the meaning of this concept. For them 'nature' is just a scenic view, untouched by human intervention even though in reality there is no 'wilderness' left on this earth. Nevertheless some deep ecologists want to exclude people from some areas, at least people not living 'traditional' (pre-1500 A.D., according to Foreman) lifestyles. (15) Hand in hand with their reverence for 'wild' nature goes a depreciation of science and technology. These are held responsible for the desacralization of nature and consequently the destruction of the environment. Bill Devall, in his usual subtle way, states it like this: “Students in natural resources sciences and management – are much like the guards in Nazi death camps.” (16) In another passage he makes the same comparison: “I see an analogy between rescuers of Jews and homosexuals in Nazi-occupied Europe and strategic monkeywrenching (a tactic used by the environmental direct action group Earth First!, PZ) in the late twentieth century.” (17) Like Næss, Devall has no hesitations about using inappropriate analogies that trivialize the Holocaust.

The Extreme Right and Ecology

Even more disturbing than the reactionary implications of basic tenets of deep ecology is the use of ecological concepts by groups and individuals of the extreme Right. Many people in the ecology movement consider themselves to be 'beyond Left and Right', but this position unfortunately makes them very vulnerable to overtures from the extreme Right, which (especially in Europe) is trying to modernize its rhetoric (the slogan was, tellingly enough, invented by the German right wing ecologist Herbert Gruhl for Die Grünen). By adopting ecological themes and concepts and incorporating them into its propaganda, the extreme Right today is seeking to gain mainstream public acceptance. For example, in France the Nouvelle Droite (New Right) has shown a lot of interest in deep ecology. Nouvelle Droite is the name for a tendency in the extreme right wing milieu that tries to modernize its ideology. A central organization in this field is the Groupement de Recherche et d'Études pour la Civilisation Européenne, founded in 1968. Its leading ideologue is Alain de Benoist, who is constantly changing his ideas, but nonetheless always opposed the egalitarian ideas that originated in the Enlightenment. (18) It is far beyond the scope of this article to explain in any detail the history of GRECE. (19) Suffice it for now to say that De Benoist and his supporters became interested in ecology around 1993. In an article about the European New Right (ENR) Mark Wegierski wrote: “Although some ENR members at one time advocated technocracy, they have now embraced ecology as one of the most hopeful tendencies on the planet today. The 1993 GRECE colloquium was dedicated to ecology.” (20) From the milieu around GRECE a new ecological organization was founded in the early nineties. This organization called Nouvelle Écologie (New Ecology) organizes conferences and lectures and publishes the magazine Le recours aux forêts. Nouvelle Écologie regards itself as the French branch of the international deep ecology movement and tries to influence the ecology movement toward a right wing direction.

Even as the extreme Right has picked up and incorporated ecological themes, some prominent ecologists have themselves evolved toward reactionary positions and do not mind to work together very closely with the extreme Right.
The British ecologist Edward Goldsmith is a case in point. Goldsmith has been a well-known figure in the international environmentalist movement for several decades. In 1970 he founded the journal The Ecologist, which has long been a leading voice for the movement. He was one of the authors of the 1972 bestseller A Blueprint for Survival. Already in this book some conservative views were exhibited: “If there is no hierarchy there will be constant bickering and fighting. There will also be no mechanism for ensuring the perpetuation of those qualities required if the society is to survive.” (21) The overall obsession in Blueprint is 'stability' and 'order'. According to the authors of Blueprint the causes of the environmental crisis are to be found in economic and demographic growth. Like the authors of the Limits to Growth report of the conservative Club of Rome, whom they regard as like-minded individuals, their view on the environmental crisis is extremely limited. In 1991 he received the Right Livelihood Award, the 'alternative Nobel prize'. He is presently very much involved with international campaigns against the WTO, MAI, nuclear energy, and genetically modified organisms. For years, Goldsmith had also been known for his socially paleo-conservative views, especially on the role of women and the family. In an interview he said: “In my view women perform a very important role, both with regard to social coherence as well as of the viewpoint of the protection of the environment. They do not have the typical male chauvinism and competitiveness. I am in favor of the kind of feminism Vandana Shiva stands for, whom I know very well by the way, but which is completely at odds with the American kind of feminism that in the end results only in a reversal of male chauvinism into female chauvinism. You know, one has to accept the differences between men and women, just like those of ethnic groups and cultures. For me, as well as for Shiva, cultural, ethnic, and also biological diversity, destroyed by the global economy, are very important.” (22) In The Way: An Ecological World-View (1992, revised and enlarged edition 1998) Goldsmith tries to formulate his worldview. Like Fritjof Capra he bases his views on an unlikely mix of mechanistic systems theory and eastern mysticism. Many of Goldsmiths ideas focus on religion and its alleged role in shaping the social order. Western society went wrong, he asserts, when it embraced technology, science, and progress instead of the traditional 'Way' (or Tao). The monotheistic religions are also to blame for the desacralization of nature. Goldsmith thinks society should be reorganized so that it accords with the precepts of 'Gaia' which means arranged in the same plan and governed by the same laws as the Cosmos and the natural world. Religion is the means through which the laws of nature should be instrumentalized in society. Goldsmith puts it himself this way: “The argument put forward in this book is that we can only conceivably do better if, among other things, we set out to re-interpret our problems in the light of a very different world-view – the worldview of ecology – inspired as it must be by the chthonic world-view entertained by our remote ancestors who knew, as modern man no longer knows, how to live on this planet.” (23) He sees potential in the religious fundamentalist movements in the Moslem world and India. He states: “[t]here are signs … that such movements are likely to preach a return to the vernacular way of life …[A] considerable proportion of the revitalist movements that have so far sprung up in the Third World have been 'nativistic' – which is to say that they correctly attributed the ills against they were reacting to the way of life imposed upon them by their colonial masters, and preached a return to the Way of their ancestors ... We cannot afford to wait and see whether such movements will develop into revivalist cults that are powerful enough to transform our society. Instead, we should work towards their development by helping to create the conditions in which they are likely to emerge. Let us remember that the world-view of ecology is very much that of the vernacular community-based society.” (24) Interestingly, he refers a few times very favorably to deep ecology in his book The Way: An Ecological World-View, which he hopes will develop into a movement to perform the task put forward in the book. Goldsmith thanks deep ecology founder Arne Næss, “who, after reading a summary of this book in The Ecologist, urged me to complete it and get it published.” (25) The view that people should obey the laws of nature (or Gaia) can be found in deep ecology, but also in New Age and the Nouvelle Droite.

The views of Goldsmith are also a potential justification for racism. Nicholas Hildyard, a former associate of Goldsmith, wrote a critique of his views and showed convincingly that he is in favor of separation of different so called 'ethnic groups'. (26) In an article for The Ecologist Goldsmith wrote: “The Catholics and the Protestants in Northern Ireland constitute two distinct ethnic groups, of different origin, with different manners and traditions and different motivations and capacities. They could occupy the same geographic area and form a single society if they were capable of living in cultural symbiosis with each other, which they have done up to now. The Catholics, however, are no longer willing to fill the lower echelons of the economic hierarchy, as the cultural pattern which previously enabled them to do so has largely broken down. The only remaining solution is to separate them territorially. Ataturk separated Greeks and Turks very successfully, although there was a terrible outcry at the time and it undoubtedly caused considerable inconvenience to the people who were forced to migrate. But should we not be willing to accept measures of inconvenience in order to establish a stable society?” (27) Few people would agree with his rather peculiar view that Irish Catholics and Protestants are two distinct ethnic groups. In his book The Way he adds more in general: “Social evolution has led to the development of complex social groupings and to a wide diversity of different ethnic groups, each perfectly adapted to the specialized environment in which it lives.” (28) This view accords perfectly with Nouvelle Droite views on ethnicity, which is also in favor of territorial separation of different 'ethnic' groups. In the 1990s he therefore has become very attractive to the Nouvelle Droite.

The popularity of Goldsmith's writings among the Nouvelle Droite has made him welcome at Nouvelle Droite conferences. On 27 November 1994 he was one of the featured speakers for the 25th annual conference of GRECE, the major Nouvelle Droite organization in France. Its theme was (very tellingly) “Left-Right: the end of a system.” He also gave an interview to their magazine Elements in October 1996. Goldsmith was also a welcome guest at the conference of the Flemish connection of Nouvelle Droite in Belgium. On 11 November 1997 he was a speaker on the third colloquium of the Delta Stichting, the Belgian connection of GRECE, about How can we survive decadence? His speech was called Against progress: the U-turn we need. Another speaker at this conference was Alain de Benoist, with whom Goldsmith obviously does not mind sharing a platform. Goldsmith has also contributed his writings to Nouvelle Droite publications, such as the Flemish Tekos. This magazine is published by the Delta Foundation, which has a lot of contacts with the extreme Right Vlaams Blok (Flemish Bloc). Guy de Martelaere, collaborator of Tekos, found translating Goldsmith’s writings to be an uplifting experience: “The Tekos-colloquium in Antwerp on 11 November was a big success. The conservative-ecological theses of Edward Goldsmith have attracted a lot of interest and acceptance from Nouvelle Droite audiences, which partly have yet to discover green thought. Alain de Benoist, internationally the leading ideologue of the Nouvelle Droite, and Luc Pauwels, chief editor of the Belgian periodical Tekos, are moving into an ecological direction, inspired among other things by contact with Goldsmith and his ideas. I myself got the task to translate one of Goldsmith's most recent and philosophically profound articles for Tekos.” (29)

In recent years, Goldsmith has also been an active supporter of Nouvelle Écologie in France. Laurent Ozon, a disciple of Alain de Benoist, is the director of this organization. Laurent Ozon wrote in an article about housing: “For ecologists it is today essential to safeguard for every people its creative local expression, its possibility even to live or to exist as a constructive part of a culture that participates in the diversity of life. Because the uprooting caused by the individualization of style and the globalization of construction standards is an important weapon in the war waged by the forces of money, hate, and standardization against the natural communities and their ecosystems.” (30) The writings of Goldsmith are an important source of inspiration for Ozon. Besides being the director of Nouvelle Écologie, Ozon was very active against the war of NATO in Kosovo as the leading figure in the Collectif Non à la Guerre, which tried to build an alliance between Left and Right in opposition to the intervention of NATO in Kosovo. Nouvelle Écologie also has the support of Antoine Waechter, the leading exponent of the 'neither Left nor Right' faction within the green movement in France, the so-called 'ninis'. On May 29, 1989, Waechter declared on French public television: “To open the borders for foreigners is a dangerous utopia. Bearing in mind the demographic explosion in the Third World, there would be millions of people wandering to an already overpopulated Europe. The damage on the cultural and environmental level would be devastating.” (31) How would the Nouvelle Droite not be interested in such an ecologist? In September 1993 Krisis, the journal edited by Alain de Benoist, asked for and got an interview from him. In this interview Waechter said: “[I]f there is a place today for an autonomous ecological movement, it is precisely because political ecology is accompanied by a philosophy of action completely different than that supported by the Right-Left cleavage, that structured the French political landscape for two centuries and shows today clear signs of exhaustion.” (32) Waechter broke away from Les Verts in 1994 because he thought they were too much leaning toward the Left and he founded the political party Mouvement Écologiste Indépendant (Independent Ecology Movement). The new party received the full support of Nouvelle Écologie and its whereabouts got plenty of coverage in Le recours aux forêts (the title of this magazine is a reference to an article by the German extreme right wing author Ernst Jünger that was translated to French and published in Krisis in 1993). Waechter has made several electoral alliances with the autonomists in Alsace. The autonomist party in Alsace (like in Brittany) has a long history in right wing politics. In an interview in Alsace Presse in December 1998 Waechter explained his differences with Les Verts, and its candidate Daniel Cohn-Bendit. Waechter said: “Our list is truly ecological, whereas that of Daniel Cohn-Bendit is a list of the Left with an ecological coloration. Our aim is to make sure that the list of Les Verts does not accumulate the votes of distracted voters, that is the votes of the Leftists and the votes of those with an ecological sensibility that could be seduced by the centrist discours of Cohn-Bendit.” (33) In a letter to the daily Libération Waechter protested against the accusation of working together closely with extreme Rightists on a conference in Paris in January 1999: “What are they reproaching me for? To have participated in a forum and presenting a lecture about Robert Hainard. Is there a single idea in my lecture that resembles closely or distantly the theses of the extreme Right? No, for sure. Is there a single word from the moderator, Laurent Ozon, that would justify such a connection? Not any more so. Burt Laurent Ozon has had the courage to ask some iconoclast questions and to gather some intellectuals of different persuasions to answer them. This is disturbing because this enterprise is situated outside of the convenient cleavage. Just like an ecological list is disturbing because it destroys the myth according to which the ecologists are represented at the European elections by Les Verts. Why cannot the Left and the Right deal with the emergence of political ideas that are different from socialism and liberalism?” (34)

Edward Goldsmith was, like Antoine Waechter, one of the featured speakers in this conference in Paris which had as its theme: Ecology against progress? It was organized by Nouvelle Écologie and Goldsmith presented his usual paleo-conservative views on Family, Community, Democracy. Of course Alain de Benoist and several other people of the Nouvelle Droite were also present. A report of this conference was published in Le recours aux forêts, the magazine of Nouvelle Écologie, which earlier devoted a special issue to the views of Edward Goldsmith. In the interview in this special issue of Le recours aux forêts on his views, Goldsmith said: “In both France and England, as well as in Germany, the Greens have the tendency to align themselves with the Left, because the Left is thought of as being less linked to the big multinational corporations, and therefor more inclined to protect the interests of the people. But, in my view, this will change, because of the simple reason that there practically no difference anymore between the Left and the Right, neither in France nor in Germany and the United States … It goes without saying that it is a question of time before a party will be created to represent all these groups that are marginalized by the global economy and also of those who want to preserve what is left of our society, of its culture, and its natural environment. The next political cleavage will be the one between the parties in favor of the global economy and those in favor of the local and communitarian economy. Of course I hope the ecologists will play an important role in the formation of this party, that could be a federation of parties.” (35)

In advance of the European elections of May 1999, Goldsmith tried to put his ideas into practice and he wanted to form an electoral alliance with Waechter's MEI. But in February 1999 the right wing affiliations of both Edward Goldsmith and Antoine Waechter were exposed, whereupon the alliance was broken up. (36) Fortunately Waechter’s MEI did not get many votes in the subsequent election. In September 1999 Goldsmith wrote a letter to the magazine Silence in which he defended his attendance at the conference of GRECE in 1994 by stating that he also spoke at a conference organized by the trotskyist party in Switzerland. He says he never checks the organizations who invite him to speak at their conferences. He states that he does not know about the current political views of GRECE (although he admits that it was founded from a extreme Rightist background) and he defends Alain de Benoist by saying that the Frenchman is critical of the views on immigration of the Front National. Indeed, De Benoist is critical of Front National, but that does not mean he is not part of the extreme right wing. It seems to escape Goldsmith that not every criticism of the Front National is necessarily progressive. De Benoist is in disagreement with the strategy used by Front National, not its principles. Goldsmith also denied that he was involved with financing the MEI campaign for the European elections but Antoine Waechter said otherwise in a press statement issued by the MEI dated 7 December 1998. Very revealing Goldsmith writes at the end of this letter: “It may be worthwhile to mention that all my African, Hindu and Polynesian friends (except those who were too much exposed to Western influences) agree on the principles of this worldview.” (37) Makes one wonder where these friends stand in the political spectrum. Goldsmith seems to believe in some kind of cultural apartheid and that different cultures should not influence one another.

Alain de Benoist said of Goldsmith in an interview: “I am … in sympathy with the views expressed by … Edward Goldsmith, in such works as The great U-turn (1988), The Way: an Ecological Worldview (1991) and again, very recently, in a collection of pieces entitled The Case against the Global Economy and for a Turn toward the Local (Sierra Club Books, San Francisco 1996).” (38) Goldsmith's book was translated into French as Le défi du XXIe siècle - Une vision écologique du monde. His book is very well received by the connections of the Nouvelle Droite in Germany and Italy as well. The Way was translated to German and Heinz-Siegfried Strelow, one of the leading exponents of the Unabhängigen Ökologen Deutschlands (Independent Ecologists of Germany) wrote that it should become obligatory reading for conservative ecologists (which is nothing but an euphemism for ecofascists). (39) In Italy The Way was published as Il Tao dell'Ecologia and Goldsmith also contributed an article to the right wing magazine Diorama Letterario under the same title. (40) This magazine is the Italian connection of GRECE and headed by Marco Tarchi, a political scientist working at the university of Florence. Goldsmith went to Florence on 17 February 1999 to speak about Community, Local Economies, and Globalization. He did not mind sharing a platform with Marco Tarchi on this occasion. Tarchi is a well-known supporter of GRECE, a former member of the neo-fascist Movimento Sociale Italiano and nowadays very close to the separatist Lega Nord. He professes an interest in the deep ecology of Arne Næss. (41) In a review of Robyn Eckersley's Environmentalism and Political Theory: Toward an Eco-centric Aproach for the British far Right magazine The Scorpion the known neo-nazi Michael Walker wrote: “[I]t is precisely deep ecology and bio-regionalism that are most likely to inspire a conservative or anti-liberal, even anti-humanist, dare we say even racialist, green perspective. There is no lack of dire warnings from the Left about the dangers for the uninitiated of bio-regionalism, which by its very name invites the novice to consider the biological implications of the conservation of differences. Deep ecology is so radical in its anti-capitalism that anti-capitalism is more important than anti-fascism and saving the world more important than either, more important than anything else in fact.” (42) Fortunately so far there have been no signs of the far Right making serious overtures to the ecology movement in Britain, but judging from this assessment of Michael Walker, the ecology movement should be very vigilant.

The Challenge for the Ecology Movement

There is a very real danger that the right wing will significantly influence the ideology and practice of the ecology movement. The Nouvelle Droite will gladly take the opportunity to use the similarities in thinking of the anti-humanist and anti-rationalist currents in the ecology movement. In this they have the full support of Edward Goldsmith. The ecology movement once was a very promising movement, but unfortunately the promise of a new kind of politics was never fulfilled. Instead it drifted into mysticism and religion on the one hand and to an uncritical acceptance of the status quo on the other hand (cfr. Les Verts in France, Die Grünen in Germany, Agalev and Ecolo in Belgium, I Verdi in Italy). The current rise of mysticism, religion, and obscurantism in Europe and North America will be regarded by the right wing as a gigantic opportunity to spread their message. In spite of the statement by the neo-nazi Michael Walker about the anti-capitalist nature of deep ecology, capitalism has nothing to fear from mystical ecology. The social causes of environmental degradation are 'deeply' mystified by the acolytes of deep ecology, bioregionalism and ecofeminism. It is more likely that these tendencies will result in authoritarian measures against the poor and weak in society. As an antidote to this kind of thinking American social ecologists Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier wrote: “What prevents ecological politics from yielding reaction or fascism is an ecology movement that maintains a broad social emphasis, one that places the ecological crisis in a social context.” (43) Rather than in a context of race, ethnicity, bioregion, mysticism, and the like, ecological politics should be embedded in the struggle against hierarchical domination and class exploitation, the fundamental social causes of environmental problems.

Ecology, if unmediated by social theory and philosophy, can easily result in terrible disasters. Context is all-important, as Murray Bookchin points out correctly: “To think ecologically is to enter the domain of nature philosophy. This can be a very perilous step. Serious political ambiguities persist in nature philosophy itself: namely its potential to nourish reaction as well as revolution. Contemporary society is still seared by images of nature that have fostered highly reactionary political views. Vaporous slogans about 'community' and humanity's 'oneness with nature' easily interplay with the legacy of 'naturalistic' nationalism that reached its genocidal apogee in Nazism, with its myths of race and 'blood and soil'. It requires only a minor ideological shift from the ideas of the nineteenth-century Romantic movement and William Blake's mystical anarchism to arrive at Richard Wagner's mystical nationalism.” (44) With the goal of creating a rational, humanist, and truly democratic society, social ecology stands out as the complete opposite of the current anti-humanist, irrationalist, and authoritarian trends in the ecology movement and in society at large. We have to make hard choices and think critically and rationally about these choices. We face a grim future if the battle against the reactionary trends is not won.



1. Murray Bookchin, “Will Ecology become 'the Dismal Science'?” in The Progressive (1991). Reprinted in Which Way for the Ecology Movement? (Edinburgh & San Francisco: AK Press, 1994).

2. Quoted in David Kubrin, “Toxic Ideologies” in Reclaiming Quarterly, Summer 1999.

3. Arne Næss, “Deep Ecology and Ultimate Premises” in The Ecologist, Vol. 18, Nos. 4/5 (1988). Reprinted in Society and Nature, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1992), p. 108.

4. idem, p. 113.

5. Interview with Arne Næss and Helena Norberg-Hodge in Resurgence, January 1997.

6. Kirkpatrick Sale, Dwellers in the Land: The Bioregional Vision (Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1991), p. 108.

7. Arne Næss, “Deep Ecology and Ultimate Premises” in The Ecologist, Vol. 18, Nos. 4/5 (1988). Reprinted in Society and Nature, Vol. 1, No. 2 (1992), p. 112.

8. Fritjof Capra, The Web of Life: A New Synthesis of Mind and Matter (London: Flamingo, 1997), p. 7. In The Turning Point: Science, Society, and the Rising Culture (1982) Capra also stated his support for deep ecology.

9. Charlene Spretnak, The Spiritual Dimension of Green Politics (Santa Fe: Bear & Co., 1986), p. 27.

10. Fritjof Capra and Charlene Spretnak, Green Politics: The Global Promise (London: Hutchinson, 1984).

11. For Herbert Gruhl, see Janet Biehl, “'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right” in Janet Biehl & Peter Staudenmaier, Ecofascism: Lessons from the German Experience (Edinburgh & San Francisco: AK Press, 1995). I also highly recommend the writings of Jutta Ditfurth, Feuer in die Herzen: Gegen die Entwertung des Menschen (Hamburg: Konkret Literatur Verlag, 1997) and Entspannt in die Barbarei. (Öko-)Faschismus und Biozentrismus (Hamburg: Konkret Literatur Verlag, 1996). Although there was a public break between the ÖDP and Gruhl, this did not have much influence on the formers ideology. In fact they continued to spread his books and pamphlets and kept informal relations with their erstwhile leader.

12. For Rudolf Bahro, see Janet Biehl, ”'Ecology' and the Modernization of Fascism in the German Ultra-right”. See also the exchange between James Hart and Ullrich Melle who defend Rudolf Bahro and Janet Biehl in Democracy & Nature #11/12 (Vol. 4, no. 2/3, 1998).

13. See Murray Bookchin, Re-enchanting Humanity: A Defense of the Human Spirit against Anti-Humanism, Misanthropy, Mysticism and Primitivism (London: Cassell, 1995).

14. Dave Foreman interviewed by Bill Devall, “A Spanner in the Woods” in Simply Living Vol. 12 (c. 1986). Quoted in Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology (Montréal: Black Rose, second revised edition, 1995), p. 117. In 1989 there was a public debate in New York between Dave Foreman and Murray Bookchin about their differences. Foreman distanced himself from his statements in the interview he gave to Bill Devall in this debate, but soon thereafter he started using the same eco-brutalist language again. This is hardly surprising because it is inherent in 'biocentric' thinking. After leaving Earth First!, Foreman joined the board of directors of the conservationist organization Sierra Club and tried, fortunately unsuccessfully so far, to have it adopt an anti-immigration policy. The debate was published in Steve Chase (ed.), Defending the Earth: A Dialogue between Murray Bookchin and Dave Foreman (Boston: South End Press, 1991).

15. Dave Foreman, “A Modest Proposal for a Wilderness Preserve System” in Whole Earth Review #53 (Winter 1986). Quoted by Bill Devall, Simple in Means, Rich in Ends: Practicing Deep Ecology (Layton: Gibbs Smith, 1988), pp. 164-165.

16. Bill Devall, Simple in Means, Rich in Ends, p. 49.

17. ibid., p. 149.

18. For his intellectual development see the detailed analysis of Pierre-André Taguieff in Sur la Nouvelle Droite (Paris: Descartes & Cie, 1994). Unfortunately Taguieff takes the proclamations of De Benoist about his politics being neither Left nor Right far too serious.

19. In Krisis #15 De Benoist published “La nature et sa valeur intrinsique” (September 1993). Under the pseudonym Robert de Herte he wrote in Elements #79 “Les deux écologies”, “Herbert Gruhl et les 'verts' allemands” and “Écologie et réligion” (January 1994).

20. Mark Wegierski, “The European New Right” in Telos #98/99 (Winter 1993/Fall 1994). Telos, once a leading neo-marxist theoretical journal in the United States, has unfortunately been transformed into a platform for European Nouvelle Droite authors.

21. The Ecologist, A Blueprint for Survival (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972), p. 102. For a critique of its conservatism see David Pepper, The Roots of Modern Environmentalism (London & New York: Routledge, 1984).

22. Edward Goldsmith interviewed by Paul Gimeno in Oikos #3. Oikos is a publication of the Belgian (Flemish) green party Agalev. My translation from the Dutch. For a critique of the reactionary ecofeminism of Vandana Shiva, see the excellent essay by Maria Wölflingseder, “Kosmischer Größenwahnsinn. Biologistische und rassistische Tendenzen im New Age und im spirituellen Ökofeminismus” in Gerhard Kern & Lee Taynor (eds.), Die esoterische Verführung: Angriffe auf Vernunft und Freiheit (Aschaffenburg: Alibri Verlag, 1995), pp. 187-210. See also from the same author “Fetisch Weiblichkeit: Über die diffizilen Zusammenhänge zwischen spirituellen Ökofeminismus und rechter Ideologie” in: Renate Bitzan (ed.), Rechte Frauen: Skingirls, Walküren und feine Damen (Berlin: Elefanten Press, 1997), pp. 56-71. For a critique of American ecofeminism see Janet Biehl, Rethinking Ecofeminist Politics (Boston: South End Press, 1991).

23. Edward Goldsmith, The Way: An Ecological World-View (Athens GA: University of Georgia Press, 1998). Revised and enlarged edition, p. 424.

24. Edward Goldsmith, idem p. 437-438.

25. Edward Goldsmith, idem p. xvii.

26. Nicholas Hildyard, `Blood' and 'Culture': Ethnic Conflict and the Authoritarian Right (London: Cornerhouse briefing #11, January 1999).

27. Edward Goldsmith, “Basic Principles of Cultural Ecology” in The Ecologist, Vol. 1, no. 12, 1971, p. 4. Quoted by Nicholas Hildyard, op. cit., pp. 12-13.

28. Edward Goldsmith, The Way, p. 420.

29. Guy de Martelaere, “Nieuws en korte beschouwingen” in Gwenved #23 (January 1998). Guy de Martelaere also publishes in the British right wing periodicals Perspectives: European identities, autonomies and initiatives, edited by the Transeuropa Collective, and Alternative Green, a magazine edited by Richard Hunt. My translation from the Dutch. In 1997 Tekos (no. 85) published a translation of the first editorial Goldsmith wrote in 1970 for The Ecologist. It also published a translation of “Scientific superstitions” (from The Ecologist, vol. 27, no. 5, Sept/Oct. 1997). Guy de Martelaere translated parts of The Way to Dutch for the publishing house of Tekos. Goldsmith also gave an interview to the right wing Belgian periodical De Vrijbuiter (Spring 1998) in which he praised the traditional family and traditional community.

30. Laurent Ozon, “L'habitat, un enjeu pour les écologistes” in Le recours aux forêts #4. My translation from the French. Ozon's articles are translated and published in Italian in Diorama Letteraria, and in Dutch in the extreme right wing paper of Voorpost, SOS-Nieuwsbrief.

31. Quoted by Philippe Pelletier, L'imposture écologiste (Paris: Reclus, 1993), pp. 101-102. My translation from the French. See also Thierry Maricourt, Les nouvelles passarelles de l'extrême droite (Paris: Syllepse, 1997).

32. “Ni droite, ni gauche. Entretien avec Antoine Waechter” in Krisis #15 (September 1993), pp. 16-23. My translation from the French. In the same issue was published “Eight Theses on Deep Ecology” by Arne Næss.

33. Interview with Antoine Waechter in Alsace Presse, 8 December 1998. My translation from the French.

34. Antoine Waechter, Libération, 15 February 1999. My translation from the French.

35. Interview with Edward Goldsmith in Le recours aux forêts #3. My translation from the French.

36. Christiane Chombeau, “Le dérive extrémiste d'Antoine Waechter” in Le Monde, 18 February 1999. Nicole Gauthier, “Waechter accusé par les siens de dérive brune” Libération, 12 February 1999.

37. Letter of Edward Goldsmith in Silence #248 (September 1999). Emphasis added. My translation from the French. Arne Næss seem to share this purist, ‘nativist’ view: “The quite young Dalai Lama was exalted by cameras and films that were ‘smuggled’ to him … When such a central personality, raised from the cradle in a strong culture, tumbles headlong for something so specifically Western technology as a camera, what chances does the culture have to survive? The enthusiasm of the Dalai Lama maybe reveals the demonic force of modern industrial technology.” Arne Næss, Økologi, samfunn og livsstil (Oslo: Universitetsforlaget, 5th edition 1976) pp. 111-112. Translation from the Norwegian by Eirik Eiglad.

38. Alain de Benoist interviewed in the British right wing magazine Right Now! A Magazine of Politics, Ideas, and Culture, 1997.

39. Heinz-Siegfried Strelow in Junge Freiheit #47 (1996), quoted by Jean Cremet, “Neue Rechte: jetzt generationen- übergreifend” in AK 403, 5 June 1997. The UÖD split away from the Ökologisch-Demokratische Partei (Ecological Democratic Party). The MEI is affiliated with the latter. Reports of Hannes Krill in the Süddeutsche Zeitung of 26 and 29 January 2000 indicate that the split between Die Grünen and the ÖDP could be restored in the near future. Die Grünen have got rid of their left wing that temporarily blocked the influence of the ecofascists.

40. Edward Goldsmith, “Il tao dell'ecologia” in Diorama Letteraria #214 (May 1998).

41. Marco Tarchi, “Cari liberali, adesso è vostro il pensiero unico” in Liberal #26 (May 1997). Tarchi also contributed to the American journal Telos, see “In Search of Right and Left” in Telos #103 (Spring 1995). Like De Benoist Tarchi is critical of Alleanza Nazionale (the former Movimento Sociale Italiano), but that does not mean he is not right wing, he is merely from a rival tendency on the Right.

42. Michael Walker, “A Darker Shade of Green” in The Scorpion #19. This British magazine is very close to GRECE. Michael Walker is also a collaborator of Elemente, the magazine of the German branch of the Nouvelle Droite.

43. Janet Biehl and Peter Staudenmaier, “Introduction” in Ecofascism, pp. 2-3.

44. Murray Bookchin, The Philosophy of Social Ecology, pp. 101-102. Emphasis added.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:09 am

Social Credit: The Ecosocialism of Fools
by Derek Wall
Capitalism Nature Socialism
September 2003



Social credit was attractive to those who recognized the value of intrinsically satisfying work as a basis for participation in the community.

In this new economy socially and ecologically destructive activities would be neither valued nor justifiable on grounds of economic necessity.

Following over half a century of neglect, these texts possess the potential to provide the basis for a new economics of cooperation.

[We] have a campaign which rallies the small business men and bothered intellectuals; which launches a violent attack on socialism; which attacks high finance and the banks; which insists on the legitimacy of profits and the necessity of private enterprise; which organizes a uniformed body of “Greenshirts,” strictly disciplined and lead. What is this but Fascism in the making?

1. Introduction

Economic debate in the British green movement is increasingly dominated by concepts of “monetary reform” drawn from the social credit philosophy of Major Clifford Douglas, a Scottish engineer, who developed his ideas in the aftermath of World War One. For advocates, social credit provides the key to understanding how economic forces generate ecological destruction, social injustice and political centralization. Brian Leslie, whose parents were members of the Social Credit Greenshirts during the 1930s, chairs the Green Party Economics Working Group. The newsletter, Sustainable Economics, is almost entirely concerned with social credit and Party economics speaker Molly Scott Cato advocates monetary reform. Green critics of globalization, including some from outside the UK, such as Herman Daly, Richard Douthwaite and David Korten acknowledge the value of Douglas’s ideas. David Icke, an ex-UK Green Party national speaker, has been a militant supporter of social credit monetary reform. Social crediters also court the anarchist oriented direct action movement in the UK. Ecosocialists too are advocates of social credit. Frances Hutchinson, a former member of the Green Party left grouping, the Association of Socialist Greens, has revived the Douglas Social Credit Secreteriat. Social credit, for historical reasons, has never been big in the US but in the UK it is impossible to discuss green economics without coming across the topic.

Academics have taken an increasing interest in social credit, noting Douglas’s importance as an advocate of a national income scheme, seen by some as a “capitalist road to communism.” In earlier decades commentators as varied as Galbraith, Keynes and Mumford praised Douglas’s contribution to economic debate.

Politically, social credit has deep roots in the UK. During the 1930s, working class activists in the Coventry League of the Unemployed and the Kibbo Kift Kin, a bizarrely named socialist scouting body, came together to found the Social Credit Greenshirts. Social credit has also been politically significant in Australia and New Zealand. Indeed, the New Zealand Labor Party is said to have won a general election on a social credit program. The philosophy took root most strongly in the Canadian province of Alberta,# where the Social Credit Party won a stunning election victory in the 1935 provincial elections.

Wilfrid Price, a member of the Greenshirts in the 1930s, joined the Ecology Party (now the Green Party) in the early 1980s and powerfully spoke for social credit as a form of green politics. He introduced Frances Hutchinson to social credit. Hutchinson, arguable the most energetic advocate of Douglas’s legacy today, sees social credit as the most sophisticated product of Britain’s Guild Socialist movement, which originated within the ecosocialism of such luminaries as William Morris. To his followers, Douglas was a prophet of considerable power whose thought demands critical attention.

In contrast, this essay argues that far from being a link to an historical ecosocialism, Douglas’s philosophy functioned as a tragic episode in its disintegration. Social credit has ominous parallels and shares elements with traditions of anti-semitic populism. The danger that social credit, along with other right wing political economies, presents within the anti-globalization movement is examined. The case of social credit indicates why ecosocialism has the potential to degrade into ecofascism and how such degradation can be fought as part of a vitally important hegemonic battle within the anti-globalization movement.

2. Social Credit

Douglas argued financial forces had increasingly centralized political power, yet a leisure state was achievable because technology, even in 1918, had so massively increased potential production. Scarcity was artificially produced to maintain economic activity. Because purchasing power was too low to buy all of the goods produced by industry, it was necessary for the community to manufacture money to mop up excess supply. Thus, crisis could be avoided, banks would lose their monopoly of credit, and “economic democracy” would result.

Douglas’s analysis of chronic economic under-consumption is based on his A+B theorem. He found while working for a Royal Air Force Factory at Farnborough that the income yielded by production was insufficient to buy the output created at the plant. The income generated in the form of A payments included salaries and dividends paid by the plant; B payments were made up of additional elements such as bank charges. The cost of the goods produced included A + B, yet purchasing power was leaking away in the form of B payments, leading to an acute drop in economic activity.

Douglas saw money as socially constructed and of symbolic value only.

Despite its lack of “reality,” money, rather than being a neutral fluid that allowed economic development to take place, could distort production, distribution and consumption. Banks created credit, increasing the money supply and partially allowing the leakage of B payments to be overcome, so as to maintain economic activity. Yet, credit created by bankers has to be paid back, enslaving both producers and consumers with debt; 97 percent of the money supply in the UK at present is made up of debt money that must be paid back with interest.

Douglas boldly argued that cultural inheritance is a forgotten and all-important factor of production.# Wealth is generated by ideas, which give rise to technological innovation. Rather than being the unique product of particular inventive individuals such cultural capital was produced by the community, which should be rewarded for its collective intellectual labor. Douglas argued that society could pay individuals a dividend as a result of such cultural capital. Taxation could be avoided because the community could directly generate money and an age of plenty would ensue.

Douglas was an economic utopian:

“The strength of the appeal, which Major Douglas makes to his followers is that his theories promise something for nothing. Consumers are to receive credits; dividends are to be issued to all; taxation will become unnecessary and no one will be called upon to pay the cost.”

Douglas can be seen as a minor under-consumptionist advocate of proto-Keynesian economics with little to say to radical greens. Keynes famously described him as “a private” rather than a general in an army of economic radicals challenging the bankrupt orthodoxy of liberal thought.

Indeed, his emphasis on technological advance as a source of Promethean human development would seem to be antagonistic. Yet, social crediters argue that environmental problems can only be seriously analyzed and dealt with using “monetary reform.” Green social crediters contend that ecologically destructive economic growth is explained by the creation of debt-money that forces us to produce and consume more and more. Douglas noted in the 1930s that,

“Industry has run riot over the countryside. A population, which has been educated in the fixed idea that the chief, if not the only, objective of life is well named “business,” whose politicians and preachers exhort their audiences to fresh efforts for the capture of markets and the provision of still more business, cannot be blamed if, as opportunity occurs, it still further sacrifices the amenities of the countryside to the building of more blast-furnaces and chemical works.”

In 2001 Alain Pilot, a prominent social crediter from Quebec, echoed such sentiments arguing:

“The basic cause of the pollution of the environment, of the waste of resources of the globe, is the chronic shortage of purchasing power, which is inherent in the present financial system.”

The great car economy has been seen as one particular consequence of the debt system. Douglas powerfully criticized the notion that human wants were unlimited and growth must therefore continue infinitely. He saw wants as constructed by forces of finance to maintain accumulation. He also believed that “the genuine consumptive capacity of the individual is limited, [therefore] we must recognize that the world, whether consciously or not, is working towards the Leisure State.” In Douglas’s alternative future, business:

“would of necessity cease to be the major interest of life and would, as has happened to so many biological activities, be relegated to a position of minor importance, to be replaced, no doubt, by some form of activity of which we are not yet fully cognizant.”

Supporters within the UK Green Party have argued that social credit produced by the community rather than banks could be used to fund expensive policies without massive tax rises. Alternative energy systems, home insulation, recycling schemes, land reclamation and measures to end poverty could be funded by debt-free money produced by the community.

In turn, the national dividend is a form of basic income scheme, which would decommodify labor, encouraging individuals to work share and allowing unpaid creative and necessary social labor to be undertaken. Jobs that were unnecessary and ecologically destructive could be swept away, thus removing the opportunity cost of environ-mental destruction as the price of job preservation. The building blocks of conventional economics, infinite wants, scarce resources, and opportunity cost would be removed by the Douglas revolution. Scarcity is a particular target of Douglas’s ire:

“The world is obsessed, or possessed, by a scarcity complex. While at the date of writing Great Britain is preparing for another war, she still has a million unemployed, farms going out of cultivation and agricultural products being destroyed because they cannot be sold, publicists still inform us on the one hand that the situation is due to over-production, and on the other hand that sacrifices must be made by everyone, that we must all work harder, consume less, and produce more.”

Social credit is an obvious solution to the global debt crisis and provides a way of tempering globalization. Globalization is conceptualized as a product of demands for increased free trade as nations struggle to export surplus goods that are unsold because of the chronic loss of purchasing power. Organic agriculture has been conceptualized as another positive by-product of a debt-free world.

Green demands for grassroots democracy can be promoted by decentralizing credit creation to local communities. Social justice will be built by de-monopolizing credit creation so as to create prosperity for all. Social credit can be seen as providing three key framing tasks noted by social movement theorists describing successful mobilization. Thus it identifies a source of political ills, poses a solution and prescribes a course of action.

Douglas has even be described as practicing a practical green lifestyle,

“When he lived in an old water mill in Hampshire he used the water wheel to turn a dynamo which lit and warmed the house as well as providing power for lathes and other tools. Later, when he moved to Scotland, many of his friends and followers remember helping to build his small hydro-electric power house, sited on the local burn, which ran through his land. Since decentralization of economic power was of the essence of his teaching, it should be put on record that he practiced what he preached.”

3. Social Discredit

While Douglas argued the economic system is profoundly dysfunctional, his analysis is flawed. Taken at face value, his description of the A+B theorem is unsustainable. B payments are paid to individuals and firms in exactly that same way as A payments, so they are potentially available to buy goods.

Either A or B payments can be saved or spent. During the 1930s, critics of social credit often foolishly invoked Say’s law to attack A+B. Say argued that the circular flow of income meant that all factor payments provided income that would generate equilibrium balancing consumption. Galbraith, Keynes, Marx and a constellation of economists have challenged the notion that income must equal consumption. Yet if incomes are saved and such saving does not lead to an equivalent balancing increase in investment, this does nothing to justify Douglas’s approach to “under consumption.” If we save more either category of payment can fall; there is no essential qualitative difference between A and B payments. If consumer spending or investment falls because of a loss of business confidence, recession may result, but this has little or nothing to do with A+B.

Critics and advocates of A+B have spilt much ink refining Douglas’s scheme so that it makes greater sense. Typically five or six alternative scenarios are entertained and worked over, generating much tedious detail. After much intellectual labor it is possible to interpret A+B as a system that suggests that in a growing economy there will be a gap between rising productive capacity and income. Damning Douglas with faint praise, Metha, who is hailed by social crediters, argues that he dimly “foreshadows the Harrod–Domer idea that for equilibrium, investment, in absolute terms, will have to increase at an increasing rate.” Douglas’s analysis suggests under consumption is chronic, while classical economists found it difficult to explain depression, Metha notes his “theory implies that industry never faces boom conditions.” Rather than making goods cheaper, investment in capital increases their price so purchasing power is not great enough to absorb them. Douglas simply provides at best a garbled and grossly simplified version of Marxist and/or Keynesian approaches to growth and crisis. In turn, any notion of exploitation or injustice driven by forces other than finance is absent from Douglas’s work:

Douglas’s account of banking does seem a little stronger than the A+B theorem. Hiskett and Franklin, in an otherwise strongly critical account of social credit, note,

“The attempt which is sometimes made, by orthodox defenders of the banking system, to show that banks do no more than lend the money which is deposited with them, is based on a specious argument which tries to prove too much.“

“The indisputable fact is that, by action of the banks, £1,000 of new cash, deposited with the banking system, is built up into a total of £10,000 deposits by the addition of £9,000 of credit money.”

Money is clearly socially created and is no longer linked to anything of intrinsic value. It can be seen as a source of damaging debt, and could in the short term, be created by the community. Douglas’s fallacies should not be used to close down all discussion of the role of debt within capitalism.

Yet, money cannot be created at the stroke of a pen as a utopian lever.

Money, even if it is made in a debt-free form will fuel either growth or inflation. If the community “prints” more money and spare productive capacity is present, more goods will be produced, creating more potentially destructive economic growth. If banks simply produced unlimited amounts of money at the stroke of a pen, their legitimacy would fall and their deposits would cease to be seen as “good.” Socially constructed money is still likely to follow Gresham’s law that accepted credit will be driven out by that with less legitimacy. To make money work appropriate rituals have to be performed. In turn, bankers cannot be seen as the source of all evils, as wicked magicians who commit the evil of usury to gain dominance over creation. Douglas’s beliefs have more to do with medieval theology than any imagined new economics. His calls for the de-commodification of money, the ultimate commodity, act only to erect an obvious oxymoron.

Marxists are criticized for advocating economic reductionism, and the project of journals such as CNS has been to provide more nuanced approaches that articulate economic, ecological, and social forces. Social credit is not merely economically reductionist, but apparently reduces economic processes to a single cause. Far from exploring the second contradiction of capitalism many monetary reformers revert to an economic prehistory by erecting a monocausal account of political economy. Debt creation and speculation may accelerate ecologically destructive accumulation but the monetary forces articulate with a host of other processes. both economic and cultural. Instead of seeking to embed economic forces within the social, Douglas advocates a fiscal technical fix.

The more closely you study Douglas’s writings, the more apparent it becomes that his ideas are based on anti-semitic conspiracy theory, with the economics fitted in almost as an afterthought. As early as 1922 he concluded,

“the International Financial groups who precipitate these struggles [world wars] do not really care how frequent they are — the cost of them is simply passed on to the public in prices, and the real authors of them not merely go completely untouched by the repeated tragedies, but from villas on the Riviera or elsewhere “glut” their love of power by contemplating the writhings of the world they have enslaved.”

In Social Credit he observed,

“In a remarkable document which received some publicity some years ago, under the title of “The Protocols of the Learned Elders of Zion,” a Machiavellian scheme for the enslavement of the world was outlined. The authenticity of this document is a matter of little importance; what is interesting about it, is the fidelity with which the methods by which such enslavement might be brought about can be seen reflected in the facts of everyday experience.”

It was explained in that treatise that the financial system was the agency most suitable for such a purpose; the inculcation of a false democracy was recommended; vindictive penalties for infringements of laws were advised; the Great War and the methods by which it might be brought about were predicted at least twenty years before the event; the imposition of grinding taxation, more especially directed against Real Estate owners, was specifically explained as essential to the furtherance of the scheme.

Douglas’s racism became more bizarre over time, and by the 1940s he was arguing that Hitler was funded by Jewish conspirators, that the Holocaust was a hoax and that a new world order was being created to advance the plot. His closest supporters were purged from the Social Credit Party (SC) in Alberta in part because of their anti-semitism. In 1983, Alberta was rocked by the Keegstra affair, when a schoolteacher was sacked from his job for informing pupils that the Holocaust was a hoax and that a Zionist plot was driving global power politics. James Keegstra, a vice-president of the Social Credit Party in Alberta, used propaganda produced by Ron Gostick.

Gostick, in turn, was a former school student of SC Premier Aberhart and the son of Edith Gostick, SC MLA from 1935 to 1940 for Calgary. He created the Union of Electors as anti-semitic rival to the official SC in 1946 and “eventually became one of Canada’s most notorious anti-Semites, leader of the Canadian League of Rights….established in 1968,” which publishes Canadian Intelligence Service and On Target. Louis Even, leader of Quebec Social Credit until the late 1950s, created “two extreme right-wing groups, Les Pelerins de Saint-Michel and Les Berets Blanc.” Members of the Australian League of Rights, a sister organization to the Canadian group, have backed Pauline Hanson’s racist One Nation Party that has helped fuel the current persecution of asylum seekers in the country. The League, founded by Eric Butler to promote social credit ideas, published The International Jew: The Truth about the Protocols of Zion in 1946.

Douglas assumed that bankers seized the B payments and refused to spend them. The A+B theorem means little without a bankers’ plot, which deliberately engineers crisis by removing purchasing power from the system.

The bankers are aliens!

Major Douglas really appears to hold the view that, although the banking system is administered by individual members of the community, it is in effect run as though it were being administered on behalf of the inhabitants of another planet. He believes that debt is continually being incurred to those imaginary proprietors — who claim the ownership of all creation of new money — a debt which accumulates, and is never fully discharged, but which involves that purchasing-power is drained away from the community whenever loans are repaid and money is retired.

Anti-semitism, rather than being contingent, is necessary to Douglas’s economics. Bob Hesketh, after making an extensive study of Douglas’s writings, observed,

“My research has convinced me that Douglas’s conspiracy-based understanding of the world, rather than his monetary and political theories hold the secret for comprehending his ideas […] He created social credit specifically to undo the power of the conspiracy as revealed in the Protocols. His monetary and political theories were tactics for defeating Finance.

“In Social Credit, Douglas links the plot by finance to absorb money in retained profits to violent threats and the plots of a racial elite.

“Apart from any more subtle explanation, even great banks hesitate to distribute their true profits for fear of attracting too much attention.

“Corner sites are potential key positions. It may be stressing the theory a little too far, to use it as an explanation of the fact that a recently built bank in Cleveland, U.S.A., has machine-guns mounted at each corner of it. A polite intimation that his overdraft must be reduced, is a more effective argument to the average man than a threat by a machine-gun. But the idea is no doubt dissimilar.

“An organization can only grow powerful at the expense of those involved in it, just as a tree can only grow at the expense of its soil. Corner sites, granite and marble buildings, only two of the more tangible signs of growth in the banking organization, represent undistributed profits.

“Undistributed profits are simply cancelled credits; they are “savings” by an institution. They are credits transformed from a visible form represented by deposits, into a potential form such as […] the security for loans or mortgages. Every credit cancelled in this way, whatever forms the cancellation may take, simply represents so much purchasing-power destroyed.”

As a result,

“It still further restricts the money and purchasing-power at the disposal of individuals and concentrates this money power in financial institutions. If the process is allowed to proceed without interruption, and it remains true that the possession of money is the only claim to the necessaries of life, then it is not difficult to see that within a short space of time, that condition of universal slavery to which the writer of “The Protocols of Zion” looked forward with such exultation will be an accomplished fact.”

In an essay entitled “British Politics” he argued that,

“a serious depression stretched from the time of the Crusades to the beginning of the Renaissance and is explainable, I think, far better by the fact that the English nobles were all mortgaged to the Jews as a result of the Crusades, than in any other way.”

He called for intense struggle against the bankers,If there is a spark of virility left in this country, the day the next war breaks our the local representatives of Finance will face a firing party in the Long Gallery of the Tower.

Anti-semitism based on economic grievances directly led to the Holocaust and was literally murderous. Douglas’s anti-semitism should not be dismissed or excused. It is frightening to find social crediters who are moved by the fact that M4 of the money supply is growing, but show only the mildest concern over their prophet’s murderous hatred.

4. From Ecosocialism to Ecofascism

Douglas, for his advocates, is the prophet, anticipating Galbraith, Gorz and a host of green thinkers. Price, describing activists within the Social Credit Greenshirts during the 1930s, observed,

The various aspects of ecology had their specialists in the Party. Edgar Saxon […] was a prominent food reformer and a champion of compost growing. […] Ashley Lewis, produced a pamphlet and lectured on how Britain could feed herself by a proper return to the soil of organic waste. He later gave up a well paid job in London to work as an agricultural worker at about a quarter of his former salary. John Hargrave, the Kibbo Kift Kin leader, advocated the formation, as a leisure activity, of a voluntary forestry corps of young men and women to look after our forests and wild life. Eric de Mare, an architect, wrote “Britain Rebuilt” showing how people could be properly housed without ribbon development and spoiling the countryside. […]

Thus, one attraction for advocates of Douglas is his supposed role as an early pioneer of green ideology. Hutchinson, who observes, “the anti-globalization and environmental movement did not start with Rachel Carson, still less with Seattle,” believes that Douglas, despite his racism, can be used to show that concepts such as ecological economics and anti-globalization have deep roots.

Yet, we need not rely on Douglas’s dubious legacy in seeking historical examples of radical green thought. The supposed rediscovery of social credit is not an act of remembering, but a way of forgetting Emma Goldman, William Morris, Edward Carpenter, Mary Shelley, Marx (of course!) and many more.

Even a superficial examination of key elements of green politics suggests that there is a deep and diverse history to be discovered. Typically, in 1906 writing in her journal Mother Earth, Goldman attacked a productivist, ecologically destructive capitalism:

“Whoever severs himself (sic) from Mother Earth and her flowing sources of life goes into exile. A vast part of civilization has ceased to feel the deep relation with our mother. […] Economic necessity causes such hateful pressure. Economic necessity? Why not economic stupidity? This seems a more appropriate name for it.”

There is considerable evidence for the existence of a historic ecosocialist tradition in Britain, which Peter Gould has described as the Early Green Politics, when radicals such as Edward Carpenter, William Morris and Peter Kropotkin linked socialist and anarchist themes with environmental concern in the period between 1880 and 1900. Ecological thought was important in the British socialist movement in this period and the boundaries between socialism, ecology and anarchism were porous. The earliest Marxist group in Britain, the Social Democratic Federation, which included both William Morris and Engels, was sympathetic to ecosocialist perspectives. In turn, British ecosocialism can be seen as a node within a global network which linked radicals in the US, Russia and Western Europe.

Between 1905 and the 1930s, this network weakened and fractured with many advocates eventually moving towards either Stalinism or fascism. The Social Credit Greenshirts are a powerful example of this process. They evolved out of a socialist scouting movement, inspired by the writings of Ernest Seton Thompson into the Kibbo Kift Kin. Hargraves, the leader of the Kin, was introduced to social credit by Rolf Gardiner and transformed the movement into the Social Credit Greenshirts. Gardiner went on to become one of Britain’s most important far right ecological activists; he corresponded with Hitler’s agriculture minister Darre and enjoyed close links with European Nazis who advocated a blood and soil philosophy.

Douglas wrote some of his earliest work in the guild socialist journal The New Age. Arthur Penty coined the term guild socialism in his book The Restoration of the Gild (sic) System, yet became an advocate of fascism by the 1930s. Equally, the alternative political economy of Chesterbelloc (or distribution) moved from guild socialism to fascism. Hilaire Belloc became convinced, like Douglas, that the “future was in the hands of Jewish bankers and financiers” and became a supporter of Mussolini.

Of course, not all of these elements embraced the far right to the same extent. Equally, some figures maintained an ecological politics of the left; for example, G.D.H. Cole continued to propagate a guild socialist message in the mainstream labor movement.# In turn the Labour governments of 1945 to 1951 realized a little of the ecosocialist vision when they introduced Britain’s first national parks. Nonetheless, Douglas’s legacy is one of defeat for radicals, part of a story of dispersal, disillusionment and movement towards the right. The growth of Fabianism and Stalinism within the British Labor milieu marginalized ecosocialist concerns. Such marginalization encouraged movement to the right. In turn anti-capitalist political economies such as those of Douglas that rely on conspiracy as an explanation of ecological and other ills open the door to fascist potentials. Douglas is not a figure that ecosocialists should celebrate, but one that we should learn from.

Douglas and distributism were quite consciously used by activists in Britain’s neo-nazi National Front to construct a “third positionist” politics, which rejected capitalism and communism and blamed Jewish financiers for environmental damage. The National Front’s founder and first chairman, A.K. Chesterton, was also a former socialist who in the 1930s had embraced fascism in the form of Oswald Mosley’s British Union. Chesterton, cousin of G.K. Chesterton, drew upon social credit to construct the ideology of the Front. The National Front created a surrogate environmental group Greenwave and attempted to recruit activists on the left. The two third positionist groups that have succeed the National Front, the Third Way and the International Third Position, both continue to promote social credit.

The Third Way has even re-published an academic article from Burkitt and Hutchinson.

5. Anti-Semitism and Populism

Rather than being an original and important economic theorist, as his supporters imply, Douglas parallels a wider tradition of anti-semitic populism which has been particularly important in the US and Canada.

Populism is confusing because in its call to hear the voice of the people, it combines features from left and right. Social justice is mixed with scapegoating, religious fundamentalism and nationalism with calls for direct democracy. Like socialism or fascism its manifestations can be heterodox.

Populism need not be anti-semitic, but a major strain of populism argues that an elite of bankers has conspired to enslave “ordinary folks” using the tool of “usury.” Indeed, an important feature of US populism that stretches back to the Populist Parties of the 19th century is an obsessive joint concern with money and conspiracy. In 1873, the de-monetization of silver was condemned as a crime perpetrated by a “cabal” of English, Jewish and Wall Street bankers. In turn the creation of the Federal Reserve in 1913 fuelled populist paranoia. In the 1920s, Henry Ford criticized Jewish bankers and called for workers and manufacturers to make a common cause against finance. In 1935, Father Dennis Fahey published The Mystical Body of Christ in the Modern World, which reinforced the ideas that an international Jewish financial conspiracy was working to dominate the world.

The most important US populist of the 20th century and the closest equivalent to Douglas was Father Charles Coughlin, the radio priest of the Depression era. Coughlin was a radical who rallied millions of ordinary Americans to his crusade to rid the US of poverty caused he argued by corrupt politicians, over corporations and arrogant bankers. He started firmly on the left as an advocate of Roosevelt’s New Deal but frustrated by his inability to influence events moved to Fascism during the 1930s.

Coughlin was yet another under- consumptionist who believed that currency reform could be used to boost the economy. Between 1933 and 1934, he produced proposals to increase the money supply and to base money on “real wealth” instead of precious metals. He argued that the US government should sack the private bankers who ran the Federal Reserve. Coughlin, contrasting productive capitalism with parasitic finance, argued:

On the one side tenaciously clinging to the past were the speculative bankers, the credit inflationists, the gamblers with other peoples’ money.

Opposing them were the battalions of the exploited — the deceived investors, the small depositors, the anxious industrialists, the hard pressed merchants, the laborer and the farmer.

Coughlin is a key figure for third positionists and his 1934 slogan that declared that both capitalism and communism “are rotten!” continues to inspire modern neo-Nazis. By 1938 his newspaper Social Justice was defending the Kristelnacht pogrom and re-publishing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.

From the 1950s, Willis Carto, inspired by the ideas of the American Nazi Francis Parker Yockey, used his journal the Spotlight to argue that Jewish financiers were part of a conspiracy with the Bilderburg group and the Trilateral Commission to dominate the world. A.K. Chesterton’s title, The New Unhappy Lords, suggests the conspiracy has been used to destroy the British Empire, drawing upon Coughlin, Carto, and Fahey and as we have already noted, Douglas.

The British League of Rights established Bloomfield Books, which has promoted Douglas’s books along with Holocaust revisionist titles, the Protocols, a massive range of populist conspiracy texts and even Mein Kampf. The League of Rights also encourages supporters to subscribe to Spotlight. The Bromsgrove Group, an alliance of varied monetary reformers, contains the Christian Ecology Group, Green Party Economics Working Group, as well as right wingers such as Don Martin from the League of Rights and Alistair McConnachie. James Gibb Stuart acts as convener. His book The Lemming Folk is a conspiracist’s bible, which promotes once again the populist message that the “money power” links capitalism and communism with its plan for world domination. The book, which has been promoted by the far right British National Party, also praises apartheid,

“it means separate development — not racism, or repression, or institutionalized violence, or the eternal social and economic subjugation of one race by another. It was adopted in South Africa some thirty years ago because a white minority saw it then as the only means by which they could preserve their culture and their identity.”

During the 1970s Stuart supported Rhodesia’s white government who he saw as a target for the conspiracy because of their financial independence. His associate Alistair McConnachie, suspended from the UK Independence Party, an anti-European Union group, after writing to the Scotsman newspaper to question the Holocaust, edits Prosperity, a social credit/monetary reform newsletter widely promoted in the green movement. McConnachie, who was a member of the Douglas Secretariat during the 1990s, and remains active in monetary reform circles, is reported to have stated, “I don’t accept that gas chambers were used to execute Jews for the simple fact there is no direct physical evidence to show that such gas chambers existed.”

Through contact with far right monetary reformers former Green Party national speaker David Icke has been advancing populist conspiratorial ideas complete with accounts of Jewish bankers funding both the Bolshevik revolution and Hitler’s regime.

Icke notes:

“Some research I have seen claims that of, 388 members of the Russian Revolutionary Government in 1918, only sixteen were Russians by birth. All but two of the rest were Jews from elsewhere, mostly from New York.”

In turn he suggests:

“if you control the financial system, undermining a country to prepare the ground for revolution is no problem. The 1929 Wall Street crash in the United States was similarly engineered. The Brotherhood bankers created inflation and encouraged the stock market to overstretch itself, so making a crash inevitable.”

The bizarre nature of Icke’s message makes it easy to dismiss, yet he has attracted large audiences on his global tours. Icke is an heir to Douglas and both show the dangers of anti-semitic conspiracy. The bankers’ conspiracy is a stable of far right politics on a worldwide scale and the term “usury” has been used to justify pogroms for centuries.

6. Towards an Anti-Capitalism of the Right?

With the possible exception of Tony Gosling# social credit advocates in the UK Green Party do not promote anti-semitism, yet green social crediters ignore the racism of Douglas and advance a philosophy that contains numerous links to the ultra right. Social credit has the potential to provide young militants with an alternative right wing anti-capitalism that provides network connections to virulent racists. Today’s anti-globalization movement is already being targeted by the far right. The British National Party magazine Spearhead in a review of one of David Icke’s books notes how anti-globalization can be fitted to a “nationalist,” i.e., neo-Nazi agenda.

Free trade, GATT, the European Union, United Nations, Club of Rome, Trilateral Commission and the sinister Bilderberg Group all come under the microscope, fitting together like pieces of a jigsaw in a global vision of a nightmare world of asset strippers, political spivs, thieves and liars of cataclysmic proportions. Readers on the idealist liberal-left will lose their rose tinted spectacles when ingesting the full horror to which world events are rapidly moving.

In Europe the radical Dutch group Fabel de illegal pulled out of the anti-globalization movement in protest at the International Forum on Globalization connections with the far right. In the US, Ralph Nader made links with Buchanan, who tapped into populist resentment with a politics based on exclusionist resistance to the New World Order. In Canada, Will Offley has shown how third positionist inspired journals including The Radical have “systematically courted sectors of the left, the greens and anarchist currents” with some success.

Naiveté on the part of anti-globalization activists puts the movement at risk. For example, Amory Starr, who claims to be a radical opponent of globalization, has called for alliances with the religious “nationalists,” observing “the militias subscribe to conspiracy theories that are not only not anti-semitic but differ little from left-wing analyses, emphasizing the Trilateral Commission, the New World Order and GATT.” She sees religious nationalism, including the militias, hard line Zionists and the Hindu fundamentalist BJP, as potential resources for those who seek to re-embed local economies so as to resist global corporations.

While Starr provides a particularly worrying example of how progressive politics can shift towards the right she is far from unique. Indeed, mainstream Green politics and even ecosocialism contain fascist potentials.

Conspiracies are seductive because they frame the complexities of capitalism in personal terms. Instead of examining abstract notions that show that accumulation is functional to capitalism, they generate a personal enemy with a human face who can be challenged. Personification need not lead to racism but it often does. Equally, there is a powerful strain of populism in green anti-capitalism that looks back with nostalgia to a falsely imagined era of the free market and small business. Greens often focus on corporations and argue that an ecological economy based on localized markets can replace “bad” multinational corporations with “good” community based businesses. Good people can tackle the bad economic structures and social forces may remain invisible. In turn, Marxism has all too often been vulgarized into an assault on a conspiratorial capitalist elite.

Kovel, who challenged Nader as Green Presidential candidate in 2000, has noted that such approaches always risks articulation with prejudice: Populism builds on resentment and anger against abusive Power […] The politics of resentment can easily turn into the politics of exclusion, scapegoating and demagoguery. That is why, along with the many virtuous people who have marched under the populist banner, have come more than a fair share of dubious characters who […] combine populist virtues with various malignant tendencies […] So long as [activists] remain populist, they cannot rise above the implications of its basic method, which is to personalize politics. The racism and scapegoating can be restrained, but the need to focus upon some personification of evil remains.

Most populists are not racists and criticism of finance is not necessarily anti-semitic; yet the uncritical celebration of Douglas’s ideas is dangerous. An honest admission of his anti-semitism and a clear rejection of racist elements in his thought by his advocates seems necessary. Without criticizing the dark side of Douglas there is a clear danger that racial conspiracy will be legitimized within supposedly radical discourse. Green movements with unpleasant right wing connotations have on rare occasions rehabilitated themselves. In the UK, Earth First! (EF) explicitly broke with conservative and Malthusian forms of deep ecology and have helped launch a vigorous anti-capitalist movement. EF!ers in the UK have been on the militant edge of the anti-racist movement, physically disrupting the construction of prisons being built to house asylum seekers and throwing pies at racist politicians. There is little evidence that social creditors are making similar efforts.

There is a clear danger atavistic right wing green political economies such as social credit will gain hegemony and displace alternatives. The components of right wing anti-capitalism are ready for political entrepreneurs to fashion and frame into more solid discursive wholes. Unless eco-Marxists, social ecologists, anti-racists and other radicals work to educate, agitate and organize, anti-capitalism could become the plaything of a ghoulish right that many of us may wrongly have felt had been buried long ago.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:19 am

Hitler's Racial Ideology: Content and Occult Sources
by Jackson Spielvogel and David Redles



In a 1931 interview with a Leipzig newspaper editor, Adolf Hitler made a passionate declaration of the true significance of his National Socialist movement:

The Frenchman Gobineau and the Englishman Chamberlain were inspired by our concept of a new order-a new order, I tell you, or if you prefer, an ideological glimpse into history in accordance with the basic principle of the blood. We do not judge by merely artistic or military standards or even by purely scientific ones. We judge by the spiritual energy which a people is capable of putting forth, which will enable it in ten years to recapture what it has lost in a thousand years of warfare. I intend to set up a thousand year Reich and anyone who supports me in battle is a fellow-fighter for a unique spiritual-I would almost say divine-creation. At the decisive moment the decisive factor is not the ratio of strength but the spiritual force employed. Betrayal of the nation is possible even when no crime has been committed, in other words when a historical mission has not been fulfilled.1

This statement by Hitler gives rise to several intriguing questions. What was the "basic principle of the blood" which inspired Hitler's "new order"? What did he mean by the "spiritual energy" of the people and how was it connected to their blood? Why did Hitler envision his movement as generating a "spiritual" and even "divine creation" that would fulfill a "historic mission"? What was the relationship between "the basic principle of the blood" and Hitler's fanatical hatred of Jews? And finally, what were the sources of these ideas, assuming of course that Hitler was influenced by the philosophies of others? Is it possible that occult or esoteric racial philosophy may, in fact, have been one of the major sources for Hitler's racial ideology? In this paper we shall attempt to provide some answers to these questions.
It is evident from Mein Kampf and Hitler's speeches that he viewed racial conflict as the determining factor in all of human history. "The racial question gives the key not only to world history, but to all human culture."2 Race was not simply a political issue to be used to curry the favor of the masses, but the "granite foundation"3 of Hitler's ideology.

Hitler's racial ideology stemmed from what he called "the basic principle of the blood." This meant that the blood of every person and every race contained the soul of a person and likewise the soul of his race, the Volk. Hitler believed that the Aryan race, to which all "true" Germans belonged, was the race whose blood (soul) was of the highest degree. God Himself had, in fact, created the Aryans as the most perfect men, both physically and spiritually.4

Since the blood (soul) of the Aryans contained specific spiritual energies, the "cultural energies" or "racial primal elements,"5 as Hitler often called them, the Aryans supplied the culture that creates the beauty and dignity of higher humanity. In other words, all that man calls higher culture was ultimately the product of the spiritual and creative energies that exist in the blood of the Aryans. Hitler stated:

All the human culture, all the results of art, science, and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan. This very fact admits of the not unfounded inference that he alone was the founder of all higher humanity, therefore representing the prototype of all that we understand by the word "man." He is the Prometheus of mankind from whose bright forehead the divine spark of genius has sprung at all times.... Exclude him- -and perhaps after a few thousand years darkness will again descend on the earth, human culture will pass, and the world turn to a desert.6Human culture and civilization on this continent are inseparably bound up with the presence of the Aryan. If he dies out or declines, the dark veils of an age without culture will again descend on this globe.7

Indeed, this dying-off of the Aryans was what Adolf Hitler perceived as happening around him. Germany's loss of World War I and subsequent economic problems were the visible contemporary evidence of Aryan decline. This descent occurred by the original sin of blood poisoning, or the contamination of the Aryan blood (soul) by an inferior race:

The Aryan gave up the purity of his blood and, therefore, lost his sojourn in the paradise which he had made for himself. He became submerged in the racial mixture, and gradually, more and more, lost his cultural capacity, until at last, not only mentally but also physically, he began to resemble the subjected aborigines more than his own ancestors.... Thus cultures and empires collapsed to make place for new formations. Blood mixture and the resultant drop in the racial level is the sole cause of the dying out of old cultures; for men do not perish as a result of lost wars, but by the loss of that force of resistance which is contained only in pure blood. All who are not of good race in this world are chaff.8

The "serpent" that brought about the contamination of pure Aryan blood was, of course, the Jew. "The mightiest counterpart to the Aryan is represented by the Jew."9 To Hitler, the Jews were, of course, not members of a particular religious creed, but a specific race:

The Jew has always been a people with definite racial characteristics and never a religion; only in order to get ahead he early sought for a means which could distract unpleasant attention from his person. And what would have been more expedient and at the same time more innocent than the "embezzled" concept of a religious community? For here, too, everything is borrowed or rather stolen. Due to his own original special nature, the Jew cannot possess a religious institution, if for no other reason because he lacks idealism in any form, and hence belief in a here-after is absolutely foreign to him. And a religion in the Aryan sense cannot be imagined which lacks the conviction of survival after death in some form.10

From Hitler's perspective the Jewish race was not created by God as one of the original root races of mankind and was, in his mind, un-Godly, inhuman, the embodiment of all that was evil. Hence the Jew " . . . stops at nothing, and in his vileness he becomes so gigantic that no one need be surprised if among our people the personification of the devil as the symbol for all evil assumes the living shape of the Jew."11 The goal of the Jews was the domination of the world, a task that could be achieved by the poisoning of Aryan blood. Hitler contended that the Jews used a variety of methods to accomplish this task. The most blatant was miscegenation, accomplished by Jewish "rape" of Aryan girls and Jewish importation of Blacks into Germany in order to further destroy Aryan purity and carry out this kind of "disarming" of the spiritually leading class "of his racial adversaries."12

To Hitler, the Jewish race was also attempting to poison the Aryan blood (soul) by utilizing social methods, such as cultural and political means. The Jew was the fundamental cause of the decadence that Hitler saw in modern art and literature. To Hitler, Jewish modem art was a deliberate attempt to infect the unconsciousness or inner self of the Aryan people. "Culturally he contaminates art, literature, the theater, makes a mockery of natural feeling, overthrows all concepts of beauty and sublimity, of the noble and the good, and instead drags men down into the sphere of his own base nature."13

But it is in the area of politics that Hitler perceived the greatest Jewish threat to the Aryan race. Jewish infiltration of the bourgeoisie had made the latter puppets for the execution of the Jewish plan for world domination. Thus the bourgeois economic institution of capitalism and the political institutions of liberalism, democracy, parliamentarianism, freedom of the press, and internationalism were all Jewish instruments creating disorder in the world as a stepping stone to domination.14

By far the most powerful political tool of the Jewish race, however, was Marxism. Marxism was a rival Weltanschauung that created a "view of life" directly hostile to everything in which Hitler believed. Marxism, to Hitler, maintained that the state had in itself the "creative, culture-forming force,"15 meaning that the state created a nation's culture out of economic necessities. In Hitler's view, the state could not create a nation's culture. Since the nation was the outward manifestation of a race's (Volk's) inner nature of soul, the state then could only be the instrument by which a race could express its cultural energies. The state's primary function was to preserve and promote those Aryan culture-creating spiritual elements that existed in the blood of the Aryan race.

The state is a means to an end. Its end lies in the preservation and advancement of a community of physically and psychically homogeneous creatures. This preservation itself comprises first of all existence as a race and thereby permits the free development of all the forces dormant in this race.... Thus, the highest purpose of a folkish state is concem for the preservation of those original racial elements which bestow culture and create the beauty and dignity of a higher mankind. We, as Aryans, can conceive of the state only as the living organism of a nationality which not only assures the preservation of this nationality, but by the development of its spiritual and ideal abilities leads it to the highest freedom.16

Hitler also deplored Marxism for its belief in racial equality. Obviously racial inequality and Aryan domination did not permit such misunderstanding of the role of race in history. Likewise, Hitler denounced Marxism's levelling egalitarianism, which he felt destroyed the natural principle of inequality and the consequent domination of some individuals (an elite) over others.17

Hitler saw the Marxist threat to Aryan culture-creating ability not as coincidental but as a deliberate plan to destroy culture, bring civilization into chaos, and enable the Jews to achieve their goal of world domination. To Hitler, "the Jew Karl Marx" knew precisely what policies would lead to world chaos.

Actually Karl Marx was only the one among millions who, with the sure eye of the prophet, recognized in the morass of a slowly decomposing world the most essential poisons, extracted them, and, like a wizard, prepared them into a concentrated solution for the swifter annihilation of the independent existence of free nations on this earth. And all this in service of his race.18

In conjunction with his racial ideology and antisemitism, Hitler often spoke of an "historic" or "higher mission" of the Aryan race and its elite core, the German people. The Aryans, according to Hitler, were once rulers of the earth, the highest race of mankind, endowed with the highest degree of spiritual qualities and the only ones capable of producing a higher civilization.19 Aryans were, in essence, god-men on earth, but through blood poisoning lost their ruling position. However, as its "higher mission," the German people were destined to regain this position for the Aryan race. To do so, Germany must restructure its political and social foundations and create a state whose function was to promote the Aryan culturecreating "spiritual elements" that exist in the blood of the German race. If this were done, racially and thus spiritually pure human beings could be produced, ensuring Aryan world domination.20

But if this Aryan destiny were to be fulfilled, Hitler believed, one major obstacle would have to be dealt with-the Jew. The Jew was the poisoner of the blood (soul) of the Aryan race, thus inhibiting its spiritual growth and endangering its divine destiny. Since Hitler saw all Jewish actions as racially and thus spiritually motivated, it became his divine mission to create an Aryan spiritual movement to combat the Jewish race.21 Hitler believed that his Nazi party, founded as a spiritual movement, would successfully rise to German political dominance since it was based in his mind on eternally true ideals rooted in the very soul of the Aryan race.22 Once in power, the Nazi movement could then create a state that would foster the historic destiny of the Aryan race. And the first task of this Aryan state would be to eliminate the Jewish threat.23 This is why Hitler's political career both began and ended with a warning against the Jewish danger. In a letter dated 16 September 1919, called "the first piece of writing of Hitler's political career," Hitler was quite clear about his motives: the "ultimate goal [of a rational antisernitism] must unalterably be the elimination of the Jews altogether."24 At the very end of his career, when he wrote his political testament to the German people, his preoccupation with the Jewish threat was still uppermost in his mind: "Above all, I bind the leadership of the nation and those under them to a meticulous observance of the racial laws and to merciless opposition to the universal poisoners of all peoples, international Jewry."25 The final solution of the "Jewish question," namely, the genocide of the Jewish race in Europe, takes on its proper significance as the final, logical product of Hitler's racial ideology. Once the Jew was purged from Europe, Germany would be able to produce pure Aryans who would be physically and spiritually perfect human beings. And thus Hitler's new order would be established with spiritually pure Aryans, demigod rulers, who, as Hitler enigmatically expressed it, "having achieved possession of this earth, will have a free path for activity in domains which will lie partly above it and partly outside it."26

This last statement is a reminder that Hitler suggested on occasion that there was a deeper, cosmic significance to his new order. "National Socialism," he once exclaimed to Otto Strasser, "would be worth nothing if it were restricted merely to Germany and did not seal the supremacy of the superior Race over the entire world for at least a thousand to two thousand years."27 Even in Mein Kampf, Hitler hinted that such a master race would have to make "the last and greatest decisions on this earth."28 Are these statements the fanciful flights of words of one who was accustomed to lack of proportion and moderation? Or are they the reflection of some of the sources that influenced the development of Hitler's ideas on racial ideology?

So much has been written about the sources for Hitler's racial ideology and other ideas that the standard histories of the Third Reich and the numerous biographies of Adolf Hitler seem content to repeat a well established litany of people and movements that may have influenced Hitler's thought. Indeed, the composer Richard Wagner, the philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer, the Viennese politicians George von Schonerer and Karl Lueger, the racial philosophers Joseph Arthur Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain, extreme nationalism, Social Darwinism, and racism in general are all regularly cited as his main sources.29 Since Hitler rarely specified his sources, scholars have resorted to indicating similarities and parallels in order to document these influences.30 The suggestion made in the 1950s by Joachim Besser and in the early 1960s by George Mosse that an examination of the impact of occult or esoteric philosophies, especially current in Vienna and Munich in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, on Hitler and early National Socialism might indeed be a more fruitful line of approach to the problem, has not been widely pursued by academic historians.31 Recently, however, Jeffrey Goldstein and James Webb have emphasized the importance of occultism in general in the emergence of Nazi ideology.32 We would like to argue that occult or esoteric racial philosophy may, indeed, have been one of the major sources for Hitler's racial ideology.33

Hitler himself may have been partly responsible for leading historians away from investigating esoteric influences.34 It is well known that Hitler criticized occultists, Freemasons, and astrologers and even persecuted some of them when he came into power. And yet, in his nightly monologues to his assembled guests, Hitler revealed his belief in the very ideas that these groups were perpetrating. Ample evidence of this is provided in his references to reincarnation, the lost continent of Atlantis, and Hans Horbiger's world ice theory, as well as in his conviction that the early myths and legends of cosmic disasters and struggles between giants and gods are actually mankind's vague memory of a disaster that destroyed a humanity that already possessed an advanced degree of civilization.35

A large variety of occult or esoteric groups and philosophies existed in German-speaking lands from the 1890s into the 1920s. One of the most influential schools of thought came out of the work established by the Russian Helena Blavatsky.36 Blavatsky, who had immersed herself deeply in esoteric spiritual beliefs from all over the world, formed a universal esoteric philosophy which she called Theosophy (Wisdom of the Gods). She viewed it as the revival of an ancient, occult knowledge derived from an earlier, advanced civilization which had known a unity between science and religion. In 1875, Blavatsky and Colonel Henry Olcott founded the Theosophical Society in New York City. Its purpose was to collect and diffuse this previously secret knowledge of the laws governing the universe. After the establishment of the first Theosophic lodge in 1884 in Germany, the movement spread rapidly in that country.

In her esoteric work, especially The Secret Doctrine, originally published in 1888, Blavatsky emphasized the concept of races as paramount in the development of human history. According to Blavatsky, there are seven root races of mankind, with each root race containing seven sub-races. The present root race is the fifth, the Aryan, and was preceded by the fourth or Atlantean race. The Aryans evolved from the fifth sub-race of the Atlanteans. According to Blavatsky, "The Aryan Race was bom and developed in the far North, though after the sinking of the Continent of Atlantis its tribes emigrated further south into Asia."37 The Aryans, following a migratory pattern that went south and west from Asia, ultimately created the great Hindu, Persian, Greco-Roman, and later European cultures. Hitler, like his party ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg, also claimed Aryan origins for all of these cultures.38

Each root race is seen by Blavatsky as being constituted differently in a physical and spiritual sense. In the earliest times man was purely spirit. Then at some point in time, this spirit entered and animated physical matter.39 Man thus evolved, in Blavatsky's cosmology, from the ethereal to the material. The original spirituality of man can be seen, according to Blavatsky, in the fact that mankind once was endowed with psychic powers, which she attributed to the so-called "Cyclopean eye."40 With the "Cyclopean eye" man had "spiritual sight," the ability to perceive subtle realities of the spiritual world, and thus could "see" into the future and read minds. Blavatsky felt that as man evolved materially and intellectually this "Third Eye" atrophied to what is now the pineal gland and man mostly lost his psychic powers.41 But, stated Blavatsky, mankind is destined to regain these abilities. That Hitler was well versed in these racial peculiarities is demonstrated in one of Herman Rauschning's conversations with Hitler:

The pursuit of the "random path of the intelligence," we learned, was the real defection of man from his divine mission. To have "magic insight" was apparently Hitler's idea of the goal of human progress. He himself felt that he already had the rudiments of this gift. He attributed to it his success and his future eminence. A savant of Munich ... had also written some curious stuff about the prehistoric world ... about forms of perception and supernatural powers. There was the eye of Cyclops, or median eye, the organ of magic perception of the Infinite, now reduced to a rudimentary pineal gland. Speculations of this sort fascinated Hitler, and he would sometimes be entirely wrapped up in them. He saw his own remarkable career as a confirmation of hidden powers. He saw himself as chosen for superhuman tasks, as the prophet of the rebirth of man in a new form.42

Might this "new form" of man of Hitler's be related to Blavatsky's root race schema? She maintained that the sixth and seventh root races would witness a return to the earlier spiritual state of existence. Man would once again have spiritual insight and be at one with the forces of nature. According to Hitler, "Creation is not yet at an end.... Man has clearly arrived at a turning point.... A new variety of man is beginning to separate out." Hitler further believed that mankind would evolve into two distinct types. "The two types will rapidly diverge from one another. One will sink to a sub-human race and the other rise far above the man of today. I might call the two varieties the god- man and the mass-animal." The new, godlike Aryan would rule over the inferior races, the "mass-animal."43 To Hitler, it was the divine mission of the Nazi movement to bring this about: "Those who see in National Socialism nothing more than a political movement know scarcely anything of it. It is more even than a religion: it is the will to create mankind anew."44 To accomplish this Hitler believed that the Nazi movement must return the Aryan to his original state, for example, oneness with Volk, "herd instinct," racial purity, and inner spirituality. If the Nazi movement was to lead the Aryan race back to its purest form, it must, Hitler felt, eliminate those factors that caused it to stray in the first place. These are the intellect, egoism, materialism, and impurity of blood. The existence of these elements was not, in Hitler's mind, an accident of Aryan evolution, but the result of the conspiratorial actions of the Jew.

It is important to observe that there are also some striking differences between Blavatsky's doctrine and Hitler's later racial ideas. Blavatsky herself did not identify the Aryan race with the Germanic peoples. And although her racial doctrine clearly entailed belief in superior and inferior races and hence could be easily misused, she placed no emphasis on the domination of one race over another. She certainly did not advocate the use of force since human racial evolution was an inevitable process that operated primarily on the basis of spiritual laws. Nevertheless, in her work Blavatsky had helped to foster antisemitism, which is perhaps one of the reasons her esoteric work was so rapidly accepted in German circles. She sharply differentiated Aryan and Jewish religion. The Aryans were the most spiritual people on earth. For them, religion was an "everlasting lodestar." For the Jews, religion was grounded on "mere calculation." They had a "religion of hate and malice toward everyone and everything outside itself."45 Jewish materialism and selfishness contrasted strongly with Aryan spirituality and selflessness. This dualism is dramatically echoed in Hitler in the following passage:

Two worlds face one another-the men of God and the men of Satan. The Jew is the anti-man, the creature of another god. He must have come from another root of the human race. I set the Aryan and the Jew over against each other; and if I call one of them a human being I must call the other something else. The two are as widely separated as man and beast. Not that I would call the Jew a beast. He is much further from the beasts than we Aryans. He is a creature outside nature and alien to nature.46

Hitler's dualism, unlike Blavatsky's, was conceived simply as a conflict between two races: "The struggle for world domination will be fought entirely between us, between Germans and Jews."47

If we regard these parallels between Blavatsky's esoteric thought and Hitler's racial ideology as significant, then we need to consider an additional question. What were the specific channels by which Theosophy reached or influenced Hitler? The occult revival in Germany and in Europe in general in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries led to a remarkable growth of Theosophic lodges as well as other occult groups.48 But in Germany Theosophical speculation, especially on race and nature mysticism, became combined with volkisch movements that were nationalistic and antisemitic. The resulting combination of occultism, volkisch nationalism, racism, and antisernitism became known in Germany as Ariosophy. It is possible that Ariosophy provides the link between Theosophy and Hitler's racial ideology.

The leading figures of Ariosophy were two Austrian occultists, Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels. Guido von List (1848-1919) was a free-lance author who turned increasingly to mystical and occult themes in his writings. His supporters formed the Guido von List Society in Vienna in 1903. It soon became one of the leading Viennese occult groups. Its members included the well-known Theosophist Franz Hartmann, the chief of staff of the Austro- Hungarian army, wealthy merchants in Vienna and Germany, and the affluent Munich industrialist Friedrich Wannieck, who largely financed the society. The primary purpose of the society was to circulate and perpetuate the books and ideas of List.49

List's ideas were explicated in a series of occult books. In Die Religio der Ario-Germanen (The Religion of the Ario-Germans) List established the fundamental beliefs of Ariosophy. There is a life-force that pervades the universe and its mysteries could be grasped solely by people closely in tune with nature. Only the Ario-Germans were capable of this attunement since they were the most removed from modem rationalistic and materialistic society. The Jews, on the other hand, were viewed as a prime example of lower races since they were heavily involved in rationalism and materialism. In his work Die Armanenschaft der Ario-Germanen (The Armanen Caste of the ArioGermans) List made proposals for an Ario-Germanic state. It would be based on the recognition of the superiority of Aryan peoples and the need for lower races to serve the higher race. Only Ario-Germans could hold leadership positions in the state, schools, professions, industry and banks, newspapers, theater and the arts. Racial laws would maintain the purity of the Ario-Germanic race by prohibiting racial intermarriage and by reserving citizenship for Ario- Germans. A new school system based on levels would reserve the highest level for the "Armanen," the Aryan leaders who were distinguished by their ability to use the occult powers of the soul to know the secrets of the ancient wisdom-religion.50 The parallels of List's Ario-Germanic state to Hitler's Nazi state are indeed striking.

List was also interested in occult signs and symbols. In Das Geheimnis der Runen (The Secret of the Runes) he portrayed runes as the sacred symbols of ancient Aryan knowledge which, interpreted properly, could provide a real understanding of spiritual forces. He used the swastika, which he depicted as a fundamental occult symbol of salvation, to represent the victory of the Aryans over the lower races. Blavatsky had also considered the swastika as a powerful occult symbol and had used it in the seal of the Theosophical Society.51 in Mein Kampf Hitler had viewed the swastika as symbolizing " . . . the mission of the struggle for the victory of the Aryan man, and ... the victory of the idea of creative work, which as such always has been and always will be anfi-Semific."52

There can be little doubt about the close relationship between List's Ariosophy and Theosophy. Franz Hartmann, himself a prominent Theosophist, explained how List's teachings, especially on racial doctrine bore remarkable resemblance to those of Blavatsky.53 The kinship between List's Ariosophy and Theosophy is also especially noticeable in Prana, a German occult monthly for applied spiritualism. It was published by the Theosophical publishing house at Leipzig and edited by Johannes Baltzli, a Theosophist who was secretary of the Guido von List Society and biographer of List. Contributors to Prana included the Theosophists Franz Hartmann and C.W. Leadbeater, and Guido von List himself. The journal's name represented the power of the sun, considered the visible symbol of God. Prana emphasized the importance of vegetarianism. It argued that the eating of meat impeded the ability to understand nature and hence the cosmic life-force. Alcohol was thought to have the same negative qualities.54 It is interesting to note that Hitler became both a dedicated vegetarian and teetotaler by the 1920s.

Whether Hitler had a direct, personal relationship to the Guido von List Society during his years in Vienna from 1907-1913 has not been definitively established. The List Society was certainly prominent in the occult circles that stressed volkisch nationalism and antisernitism. And Hitler did emphasize in Mein Kampf that in Vienna he established "a world picture and a philosophy which became the granite foundation" of all his actions.55 That "granite foundation" was centered in his racial ideology. Nevertheless, it is more probable that Hitler did come into direct contact with another major proponent of Ariosophy in Vienna, Lanz von Liebenfels.

Lanz von Liebenfels (1874-1954) moved from Catholic monasticism to an involvement in occultism, racism, and German nationalism. He came to characterize his occupation as "racial researcher, philosopher of religion and sexual mystic," all of which were consonant with various forms of occultism. He founded a quasi-religious Order of the New Templars whose primary purpose was to foster Ariosophical doctrines. He established his first New Templars castle in the Burg Werfenstein on the Danube in 1907 and proudly flew a swastika flag over it. By the 1920s he had established three more castles and a house in Salzburg as part of his Templar movement. He served as a member of the board of directors of the Guido von List Society.56

Lanz von Liebenfels wrote a series of occult works that presented his Ariosophical philosophy, although his major work Theozoologie (Theo- zoology), written in 1904, contains the essence of his thought. That philosophy, like List's, was based on the superiority of the Ario-Germans. The Aryan was an exalted spiritual being: "The Aryan hero is on this planet the most complete incarnation of God and of the Spirit."57 Jews, as well as other inferior races, were characterized as "animal- men" who must someday be eliminated by genetic selection, sterilization, deportations, forced labor, and even "direct liquidation." The elimination of the "animal-man" made possible the coming of the "higher new man."58 Liebenfels also propagated his occult racial views in a magazine called Ostara and subtitled "Library of Those Who are Blond and Defend the Rights of the Male."59

According to Liebenfels, there was a close affinity between Theosophy and his brand of Ariosophy. In discussing Blavatsky's work, The Secret Doctrine, he wrote enthusiastically that "she was almost a generation ahead of her time and of anthropology. Today for the first time work on the latest material has brought to light results which show a completely amazing identity with those of the spiritual Theosophist."60 It was claimed by a friend that Lanz had direct contact with Blavatsky and her immediate successor as head of the Theosophical movement, Annie Besant.61

The direct impact of Lanz von Liebenfels on Hitler is by no means accepted by all historians. However, Liebenfels claimed that he had personal contact with Hitler when the future Fiihrer visited him in 1909 to obtain some back issues of Ostara.62 The New Templar movement was still active during the growth of the Nazi party and Liebenfels himself made several direct assertions concerning the close relationship of his movement to Hitler's. He wrote in 1925:

Already there appear the outlines of a new Ariosophical, Ario-Christian International: Fascism in Italy, Awakening Hungary, the Spanish Fascists, the North American Ku Klux Man and finally the Swastikamovement in Germany, directly proceeding from Ariosophy.63

In 1932 Liebenfels wrote to one of his New Templar brothers: "Do you know that Hitler is one of our pupils? You will still live to see that he, and thereby we, also will triumph and kindle a movement that will make the world tremble."64 Are these statements pure fantasy? Or did Liebenfels know of Hitler's affinity to his movement?

Without new evidence it may be impossible to prove to everyone's satisfaction that Hitler was directly influenced in the development of his racial ideology by Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels. But there can be little doubt, based on the parallels found in Hitler and in both Theosophy and Ariosophy that the occult climate of Vienna in Hitler's "formative years" did have an impact on him. Hitler experienced a similar environment after the war when he returned to Munich. Postwar Germany, as one contemporary noted, was rife with occultism:

Germany seems to be gripped by an occult fever. Its victims are like drug- addicts; every new psychic fashion claims thousands of adherents and dozens of victims.... Men and women have become exhausted by the sorrows and horrors of reality; they flee to the world of imagination; the maze of everyday life enfolds them and they hope to find a way out through occultism and dreams.65

The Bavarian capital of Munich was likewise a scene of much occult activity and Hitler had ample opportunity to experience it. In the conversation with Rauschning quoted earlier in this paper, Hitler refers to his knowledge of a Munich occultist who had written about the "Cyclopean eye."66 As a frequent visitor at the home of Hugo and Elsa Bruckmann in 1922 and 1923, Hitler probably heard some of the lectures of Alfred Schuler, a disciple of Guido von List.67 Most important, however, Hitler associated with various members of the Thule Society, an occult society that combined occult racial philosophy with a belief in militant action. Ariosophy, like Theosophy, had relied on intellectual expositions of racial evolution. The Thule Society preached Aryan supremacy and acted to achieve it. It provides the final link between occult racial theories and the racial ideology of Hitler and the emerging Nazi party.

The Thule Society was basically a continuation of the Germanen Order, whose first lodge was established in Berlin in 1912. Modeled after the organization of Freemasonry, the aims of the Germanen Order were to achieve German racial purity, attack the Jews, and establish Germans as the leaders of Europe. In 1917, Rudolf von Sebottendorf was made head of the Order's Bavarian province. In order to provide a cover for the Order's activities, he founded the Thule Society in January 1918. The Thule Society functioned outwardly as a "German Studies" group. Despite its outer appearance, it was actively involved in the counter-revolutionary forces against the Bavarian Soviet Republic, which the Thule felt was dominated by Jews.68

In his 1933 book, Bevor Hitler Kam (Before Hitler Came), Rudolf von Sebottendorf claimed that the Thule Society was of great importance to the founding of Hitler's National Socialist movement. He stated,

It was Thule people to whom Hitler first came and it was Thule people who first united themselves with Hitler. The armament of the coming Fiihrer consisted, besides the Thule itself, of the German Workers' Society, founded in the Thule Society by brother Karl Harrer and the German-Socialist Party led by Hans Georg Grassinger, whose organ was the Munchener Beobachter, later the Volkische Beobachter. From these three sources Hitler created the National Socialist German Worker's Party.69

Undoubtedly, Sebottendorf exaggerated his own significance.70 There is no evidence that he and Hitler ever met. Nevertheless, the German Worker's Party, which Hitler joined and later renamed, was founded by Anton Drexler early in 1919 under the chairmanship of Karl Harrer, a member of the Thule. In fact, the German Workers' Party had a number of close links with the Thule society. Hitler also had intimate ties with Thule members. Dietrich Eckart, whom Hitler accepted as his mentor and praised as the original father of the Nazi movement, Alfred Rosenberg, eventually the Nazi party's ideologist, and Rudolf Hess, Hitler's future second-in-command, were all members of the Thule Society. Sebottendorf's Thule Society, with its occult, racist ideas is, regardless of any exaggeration in Sebottendorf's claims, connected to the beginning of Hitler's National Socialism.

Significantly, the Thule Society was well grounded in occultist philosophy. Eckart, Rosenberg, and Hess shared occult interests. In his writings, Dietrich Eckart combined German racism, his own version of occult Christian mysticism, and a profound knowledge of Theosophy and occultism in general. Alfred Rosenberg, an intimate of Eckart, shared his mystical preoccupations. In his work, The Myth of the Twentieth Century, he developed an "occult history" of mankind based on the lost Atlantis. Rudolf Hess was especially interested in astrology and astrological prophecies and herbalist lore founded upon the occult "doctrine of correspondences." Thule's founder Rudolf von Sebottendorf was a practicing occultist. He wrote a history of Turkish Freemasonry and a history of astrology that was really a discussion of occult prehistory. He edited an astrological magazine and another called Runen, which was decorated with swastikas.71 According to Sebottendorf himself, the Germanen Order and Thule Society were basically dependent for their intellectual foundation on Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels. Indeed, the connection of the Thule Society to Ariosophy is evident in a headline of Thule's newspaper, the Mfinchener Beobachter. It read "Down with the Tschandalen," the latter being Liebenfels's name for the inferior races who faced liquidation.72

This paper began with a discussion of Hitler's racial ideology and its parallels to Blavatsky's esoteric thought. Our examination of the Ariosophy of Guido von List and Lanz von Liebenfels and the Thule Society described the possible channels by which Theosophical thought might have reached Hitler and helped to determine his own racial ideology. Considerably more research remains to be done to show specifically how Hitler and other Nazis came into direct contact with esoteric philosophy and more important, what the ramifications of this new information are. The lack of originality in Hitler's thought is apparent. But Hitler's true originality was his ability to translate ideas into reality. His racial ideology, derived in part from perversion of esoteric thought, did, after all, become racial genocide.



1. Edouard Calic, Secret Conversations with Hitler (New York, 1971), p. 68.

2. Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf, trans. Ralph Manheim (Boston, 1943), p. 339,

3. Ibid., p. 22. The general subject of Hitler's ideology has not been very thoroughly explored. The standard treatment of Hitler's world view is Eberhard Jackerl, Hitler's Weltanschauung, trans. Herbert Arnold (Middletown, CT, 1972). Also valuable is Heinrich Kautz, Das zerschlagene Menschenbild: Prinzipien und Ideen zur Wirklichkeit und Ideologie des Nationalsozialismus (Sankt Augustin, 1977). Barbara Miller Lane and Leila Rupp have edited a collection of selections from other Nazis dealing with ideology in Nazi Ideology before 1933 (Austin, 1978). A new approach to this problem is taken in James Rhodes, The Hitler Movement: A Modern Millenarian Revolution (Stanford, 1980). His thesis that National Socialist ideology was a "more or less coherent millenarian and gnostic world view" is well argued.

4. Mein Kampf, pp. 327, 381 and especially 396 on blood and soul; also on God's role, see speech of 1937 in Gordon Prange, ed., Hitler's Words (Washington, DC, 1944), p. 80.

5. Mein Kampf, p. 394.

6. Ibid., p. 290.

7. Ibid., p. 383.

8. Ibid., p. 296; see also pp. 249, 286-89; and Hitler's notes for a "monumental world history" in Werner Maser, ed., Hitler's Letters and Notes (New York, 1974), p. 280.

9. Mein Kampf, p. 300.

10. Ibid., p. 306.

11. Ibid., p. 324; also see Maser, Hitler's Letters, p. 221, and Calic, Secret Conversations, p. 66.

12. Mein Kampf, pp. 316, 325.

13. Ibid., pp. 324, 326.

14. Ibid., pp. 91, 313, 316; especially on internationalism, see Hitler's speech of 1922 in Prange, Hitler's Words, pp. 73, 75-76; one of Hitler's most thorough arguments on the Jews' creation of democracy, liberalism, and parliaments is in a speech of 1922 in The Speeches of Adolf Hitler, 1922-1939, ed . Norman H. Baynes, 2 vols. (Oxford, 1942), vol. 1, pp. 23-24.

15. Mein Kampf, p. 382.

16. Ibid., pp. 393-94.

17. Ibid., pp. 65, 320, 325, 382, 447; see also Hitler's speech of 28 July 1922 in Prange, Hitler's Words, p. 73.

18. Mein Kampf, p. 382.

19. Ibid., pp. 383-84, 391, 398.

20. Ibid., pp. 397-98.

21. [bid., pp. 346, 380.

22. Ibid., pp. 351, 384.

23. Ibid., p. 338.

24. Ernst Deuerlein, "Hitlers Eintritt in die Politik und die Reichswehr," Vierteljahrshefte ffir Zeitgeschichte 7 (1959): 204.

25. Max Domarus, ed., Hitler: Reden und Proklamationen, 1932-1945, 2 vols. (Munich, 1962-1963), vol. 2, p. 2239.

26. Mein Kampf, pp. 383-84.

27. Baynes, Speeches of Adolf Hitler, vol. 1, p. 775.

28. Mein Kampf, p. 427.

29. Two examples are Karl Dietrich Bracher, The German Dictatorship, trans. Jean Steinberg (New York, 1970), pp. 7-45, 50-57, and Alan Bullock, Hitler, A Study in Tyranny (New York, 1962), pp. 36-46, 374, 382-85, 397-408.

30. As a good example of this approach, see R.H. Samuels, "The Origin and Development of the Ideology of National Socialism," The Australian Journal of Politics and History 9 (May 1963): 59-77.

31. Joachim Besser, "Die Vorgeschichte des Nationalsozialismus im neuen Licht," Die Pforte 2, no. 21-22 (Nov. 1950): 768-85. George Mosse, "The Mystical Origins of National Socialism," Journal of the History of Ideas 22 (Jan.-Mar. 1961): 81-96 and The Crisis of German Ideology (New York, 1964), pp. 13-51, 67-83. See also Wilfried Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab (Munich, 1958), pp. 239-40.

32. Jeffrey Goldstein, "On Racism and Anti-Sernitism in Occultism and Nazism," Yad Vashem Studies 13 (1979): 53-72. James Webb, The Occult Establishment (LaSalle, IL, 1976), especially pp. 21-79, 275-344. Webb, p. 15, defines occultism as a term covering Spiritualism, Theosophy, Eastern cults, varieties of Christian sects, and the esoteric pursuits of magic, alchemy and astrology. Although these can be in conflict, they share one common belief, the ideal of "spiritual development."

33. It is possible that the often lurid approach seen in books produced by popular dabblers in the occult understandably drove serious historians away from such a pursuit. Examples of such "occult" Hitler studies include: Francis King, Satan and Swastika (St. Albans, 1976); J.H. Brennan, Occult Reich (New York, 1974); Trevor Ravenscroft, The Spear of Destiny (New York, 1973); Jean-Michel Angebert, The Occult and the Third Reich, trans. Lewis Sumberg (New York, 1974); and Gerald Suster, Hitler: the Occult Messiah (New York, 1981). These studies use the same evidence to build their arguments. Most of the evidence is circumstantial and undocumented.

34. As Reginald Phelps has shown, Hitler deliberately crushed the claim of Rudolf von Sebottendorf that the occult Thule Society was largely responsible for creating the original German Worker's Party. Reginald H. Phelps, "Before Hitler Came: Thule Society and Germanen Order," Journal of Modern History 35 (1963): 245-61.

35. Hitler's Secret Conversations, 1941-1944, trans. Norman Cameron and R.H. Stevens (New York, 1953), pp. 33, 67, 118, 203-04, 263. Helena Blavatsky's occult work, The Secret Doctrine, discussed below, contains a section entitled "Giants, Civilizations, and Submerged Continents Traced in History." It forms Section VI of The Secret Doctrine, 3 vols. (London, 1928), vol. 2, pp. 784-821.

36. For a modern biography see Marion Meade, Madame Blavatsky (New York, 1980). The best scholarly work has been done by Bruce F. Campbell, Ancient Wisdom Revived: A History of the Theosophical Movement (Berkeley, 1980), pp. 31-51.

37. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, p. 812. The Northern lands were the legendary Nordic homeland of Thule, a name later used by the protoNazi group, the Thule Society, which will be discussed below.

38. Ibid., vol. 2, pp. 111, 278, 411, 527; Mein Kampf, pp. 264-65, 294, 393, 423; Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 20. jahrhunderts (Munich, 1934), pp. 21-35. Rosenberg begins with the Atlantis legend.

39. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, pp. 90-94.

40. Ibid., pp. 307, 313.

41. Ibid., pp. 302-16.

42. Hermann Rauschning, Hitler Speaks (London, 1939), p. 240. Although some historians have attempted to question the content of Rauschning's conversations with Hitler, Theodore Schieder's conclusion in his study, Hermann Rauschnings "Gesprache mit Hitler" als Geschichtsquelle (Opladen, 1972) is a well-balanced one: " . . . although the words attributed to Hitler by Rauschning cannot be valued as being authentic in the sense they were recorded verbatim . . . they must be seen as an attempt at a composite summing-up. In this Rauschning undoubtedly produces something noteworthy." Quoted in J. S. Conway, "Hermann Rauschning as Historian and Opponent of Nazism," Canadian Journal of History 8 (1973): 67-78.

43. Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, p. 241. Note Blavatsky's statement in The Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, p. 439: "Mankind is obviously divided into God-informed men and lower human creatures."

44. Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, p. 242.

45. Blavatsky, Secret Doctrine, vol. 2, pp. 339-94.

46. Rauschning, Hitler Speaks, p. 238.

47. Ibid., p. 234.

48. See Webb, The Occult Establishment, especially pp. 21-79.

49. On List, see the highly favorable biography by the secretary of the List Society, Johannes Baltzli, Guido von List (Leipzig, 1917). For a brief description, see Goldstein, "On Racism and Anti-Sernitism in Occultism and Nazism," pp. 62-64, Webb, The Occult Establishment, pp. 279-80, and Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, pp. 73-75.

50, Besser, "Die Vorgeschichte des Nationalsozialismus im. neuen Licht," pp. 770- 72.

51. In The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky wrote of the occult significance of the swastika. See especially vol. 2, p. 103, where she characterized the swastika as the most sacred symbol in India. "It is the summary in a few lines of the work of creation, or evolution as one should rather say." See also pp. 104-06, 586-91.

52. Mein Kampf, p. 497.

53. Baltzli, Guido von List, pp. 45-46. See also Mosse, "The Mystical Origins of National Socialism," pp. 85-87.

54. On Prana, see Mosse, "Mystical Origins," pp. 87-88.

55. Mein Kampf, p. 22.

56. The basic modern study of Liebenfels is Wilfried Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab.

57. Ibid., p. 180.

58. Ibid., pp. 184-88.

59. Joachim Fest, Hitler, trans. Richard and Clara Winston (New York, 1974), p. 36. See also George Mosse, The Nationalization of the Masses (New York, 1975), p. 197.

60. Quoted in Webb, The Occult Establishment, p. 282.

61. Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab, pp. 120-21.

62. Based on his research, Daim argues for the credibility of the story, ibid., pp. 20- 21.

63. Ibid., p. 23, also quoted in Goldstein, "On Racism and Anti-Sernitism in Occultism and Nazism," p. 55.

64. Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die Ideen gab, p. 12. Hitler's personal library also contained one of von Liebenfels's books and a book bearing the inscription: "An Adolf Hitler, meinem lieben Armanenbruder." See Robert G. L. Waite, "Adolf Hitler's Anti-Sernitism: A Study in History and Psychoanalysis," in The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of History, ed. Benjamin Wolsman (New York, 1971), p. 197. On Hitler's relationship to Liebenfels, see also Fredrich Heer, Der Glaube des Adolf Hitler (Munich, 1968), pp. 166-67.

65. Cornelius Tabori, My Occult Diary (London, 1951), p. 53.

66. See above, p. 234. George Mosse first identified this "Munich savant" as Edgar Dacque. See The Crisis of German Ideology, p. 306.

67. Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner, "Zwischen Rilke und Hitler-Alfred Schuler," Zeitschritt ffir Religions- und Geistesgeschichte 19 (1967): 338, 343. See also Mosse, The Crisis of German Ideology, p. 76.

68. On the Germanen Order and the Thule Society, see George Franz, "Munich: Birthplace and Center of the National Socialist German Workers' Party," The Journal of Modern History 29 (Dec. 1957): 325-29; Phelps, "Before Hitler Came: Thule Society and Germanen Order"; Goldstein, "On Racism and Anti-Sernitism in Occultism and Nazism," pp. 65-71; and Rudolf von Sebottendorf Bevor Hitler kam (Munich, 1933), especially pp. 33-43.

69. Ibid., dedication page.

70. See n. 34, above.

71. See above, p. 237, for List's preoccupation with runes. Sebottendorf believed that "a vast amount of Aryan wisdom" could be found in the teachings of alchemists, Rosicrucians, and medieval masonic guilds. Sebottendorf, Bevor Hitler kam, p. 22. On Sebottendorf's occultism, see Ellic Howe, Urania's Children: The Strange World of the Astrologers (London, 1967), pp. 86-87.

72. Quoted in Webb, The Occult Establishment, p. 297.
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:42 am

Part 1 of 2

Before Hitler Came: Thule Society and Germanen Order
by Reginald H. Phelps
Journal of Modern History, Vol. 35, No. 3, pp. 245-261
Sep., 1963

LATE IN 1933, several months after the establishment of the National Socialist regime, a book appeared in Münich with the exciting title Bevor Hitler kam: Urkundliches aus der Fruhzeit der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung von Rudolf von Sebottendorff. 1 It was dedicated to the memory of seven members of the Thule Society (Thule Gesellschaft) who were killed by the Reds as "hostages" in Münich on April 30, 1919, the day before the entrance into the city of White troops supporting the Bavarian government, then temporarily exiled in Bamberg.

It combined details of its author's activities in Bavaria during the war and the revolution with an account of the Thule's history. Its principal thesis was summarized by Sebottendorff in the preface:

"Thule members were the people to whom Hitler first turned, and who first allied themselves with Hitler! "

The armament (Rüstung) of the coming Führer consisted-besides the Thule itself-of the Deutscher Arbeiterverein, founded in the Thule by Brother Karl Harrer at Münich, and the Deutsch-Sozialistische Partei, headed there by Hans Georg Grassinger, whose organ was the Münchener Beobachter, later Völkischer Beobachter. From these three sources Hitler created the Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei."2

The book must have aroused lively interest, for a second edition appeared early in 1934.3 And well it might, considering the mass of information it contained about the myth-encrusted early days of the counterrevolution in Münich (though not about Hitler personally). Its contents did not at all suit the official view, deriving from Mein Kampf that national socialism was essentially Hitler's own creation. On March 1, 1934 the Bavarian political police sent a brief note to the publisher that the book was banned and confiscated because it was misusing Hitler's name for profit and contained inaccuracies derogatory to leading National Socialists:

"The whole tendency of the book is in general-contrary to fact-to give the chief credit for the national renewal of Germany to the Thule Gesellschaft." 4

Sebottendorff's astounding claims have been little studied. Though Georg Franz- Willing's recent study of the period uses documentary materials from the NSDAP Hauptarchiv in the Berlin Document Center, plus considerable oral information, he largely follows Sebottendorff's account of the Thule.5 This article will consider the history of the Thule in relation to the völkisch movement generally, its connections with the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei (DAP, later NSDAP) and the Deutschsozialistische Partei (DSP), with the Völkischer Beobachter, and with the Freikorps Oberland, parent of Bund Oberland, which marched together with the NSDAP in the Hitler Putsch of November 1923.

Materials from the NSDAP Hauptarchiv, from the Rehse Collection, and at the Institut für Zeitgeschichte and the Bavarian State Archives in Münich, make it possible to check Sebottendorff's claims and to fill in extensively the picture of the pre-Hitler völkisch movement, of which the Thule was a small, though locally important, part.

The principal individual sources are documents of Johannes Hering, a central figure in völkisch activities in Münich well before 1914, and of Julius Riittinger of Nuremberg, whose correspondence in the Hauptarchiv sheds considerable light on this murky chapter of ideology and politics. The results only partly confirm the implication of Sebottendorff's title, and his claims; rather they show parallel racist groups, with overlapping member- ships, most of them ultimately absorbed into, allied with, or declared heretical by, the National Socialists.

And they illuminate the tragic event-the "murder of the hostages" (Geiselmord)-which became one of the principal springs of violent anti-Semitism and anti-Leftism in Bavaria. Sebottendorff was born Rudolf Glauer, the son of a locomotive engineer, in Silesia. The Social Democratic Münchener Post reported that he had in 1909 been sentenced as a swindler and forger and that four years later he reappeared as "Baron von Sebottendorff," having meanwhile succeeded in being adopted by an Austrian of that name (and eventually re-adopted by a German branch of the family) and having become a Turkish citizen! 6 His activities in Bavaria from 19l7 to 1919 Will be dealt with below.

After the fall of the Münich Soviet Republic, he moved to Bad Sachsa in the Harz, whence he returned to Istanbul, seems to have traveled in Mexico and perhaps the United States, and turned up again at Münich in 1933, engaged in reviving the Thule. He disappeared after that; his publisher H. G. Grassinger thinks that he was killed by the Nazis but has no proof of this.7 Sebottendorff's is a spectacular version of the not unfamiliar career of the shady and mysterious adventurer, often from foreign parts, who attaches himself vehemently to an extreme nationalist cause.

He built up his own role excessively in the book; but he was less chary than Hitler in Mein Kampf of paying his respects to his "intellectual" antecedents, foremost among them Theodor Fritsch of Leipzig, and in lesser degree three Austrians, Guido von List, Jörg Lanz von Liebenfels, and Baron Wittgenberg.8

The most needed study of the "intellectual" roots of German racism and national socialism is, incidentally, one that would deal with such figures of the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Joachim Besser made a promising beginning in 1949 and 1950 but seems not to have pursued it; Wilfried Daim's significant, though not wholly convincing, study of Lanz likewise has not been followed.9

Men like Guido von List and Lanz, publications like the former's .'Germanic" researches and the latter's Ostara-Hefte and his queer tomes of pseudo-anthropology, journals like Ludwig Woltmann's Politisch-anthropologische Revue, reveal a scientifically embroidered racist theory, complete with "theology," propagated with varying success among intelligentsia and aristocrats as well as among that famous foundering petty bourgoisie that is supposed to be the chief consumer of such wares; the same names run through the same arguments and blow up the same balloons of theory, year after year, in book after book.

It is hard to decide the extent of their influence on such political-social movements as Adolf Stoecker's Christian socialism or the other antisemitic groups of the l880's and l890's; though they contributed to the ideological bases of such groups, they did not really produce a mass movement until after 1918; and the following account of Thule and its parent, the Germanen Orden, will show something of how and why this transition from conspiracy and propaganda effort to masspolitics occurred. There is still no thorough study of Theodor Fritsch, probably the most significant figure of German antisemitism before the Nazis, and the chief instigator of the political and conspiratory movement from which the Germanen Orden and Thule grew; author of innumerable tracts and books, a leader from the l880's on in the antisemitic Deutschsoziale Partei and publisher of its Antisemitische Correspondenz and the Deutschsoziale Blätter from 1885 to 1894.10

In 1902, after sulking in his tent for several years, Fritsch founded the Hammer a principal organ of "scientific" antisemitism, and henceforth devoted his chief energies, and the income from his successful trade journal Deutscher Müller, to this cause. He was in close contact with many racist-reformist groups, and he was deeply concerned with spreading his message both to the elite and to the workers-neither of them, especially in South Germany, very ready to receive it during the first decade of the Hammer. Fritsch was an inveterate founder. As early as 1904 the Hammer published an appeal for a völkisch general staff (and Fritsch actually headed a national committee incorporating this idea); Hammer readers early formed local groups, Hammer-Gemeinden, consolidated in 1908 into the Deutsche Erneuerungs.Gemeinde, and two years later the Deutscher Hammerbund.11 Early in 1912 Fritsch ca1led for an antisemitic organization "above the parties." 12

This was a crucial year; the Social Democratic success in the Reichstag election in January, and the growing fear of catastrophe abroad, exemplified in the continuing Morocco crisis and the Balkan war, stirred Fritsch as it simultaneously stirred Heinrich Class, chairman of the Alldeutscher Verband. Class's Wennich der Kaiser wär! published early that year under the pseudonym Daniel Frymann, with its appeal for dictatorship, its passionate denunciation of the Jews, its demand for "Deutschland den Deutschen," supplied Fritsch with a platfonn.13

He summoned Gennans of good will and flawless Teutonic descent to unite, and he sponsored two organizations to carry on the task of "enlightenment". At a meeting in Leipzig on Whitsuntide 1912, these two groups, the Reichshammerbund and the secret Germanen Orden-both already existing-were given formal status. Colonel Hellwig of Kassel headed the former until his death in 1914; the latter was led by Hermann Pohl, a sealer of weights and measures in Magdeburg, who was also Hellwig's vice-chairman in the Reichshammerbund. Among those present at the found- ers. meeting was Julius Rüttinger, prominent in the nationalist commercial employees' union, Deutschnationaler Handlungsgehilfenverband (DHV) at Nuremberg, and soon to be head of both Reichshammerbund and Germanen Orden in that city.14

His correspondence in the NSDAP Hauptarchiv is the chief source for this account of the two organizations until 1919. Their numbers were small, their growth slow. North and central Germany were obviously more fertile ground for this racist antisemitism than Bavaria and the south (and the number of sub- scribers for the Hammer in the north indicates that even that ground was not very fertile). From Leipzig Riittinger received in February 1912 the draft constitution of the Reichshammerbund; the Bundeswart, with Fritsch and an Armanen-Rat of twelve members-the term sounds like an echo of Guido von List's elitism-formed the executive. Members had to guarantee their Aryan blood; leaflets were for the present to be the chief weapon in the struggle against the Jews and for an independent middle c1ass.15

A set of guide lines followed at Easter, urging collaboration with Catholics, a broad spread of propaganda to workers, farmers, teachers, officials, and officers, and special activity at the universities.16 Rüttinger's correspondence reflects the slow progress of the Hammerbund and a persistent trend to internal disputes and petty concems. At the end of 1912, the Nuremberg group reported twenty-three members, an average attendance of ten at meetings, and a balance of 5.58 marks, from a year's income of 94.64! And 1913 showed figures hardly more impressive.17

Indeed, in June 1913 I only nineteen Hammer-Gemeinden existed in all Germany. The liveliest center appears to have been Hamburg, under Alfred Roth, who succeeded Hellwig as Bundeswart on the latter's death in February 1914 and was to achieve notoriety as head in 1919 of the Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund. He was ably seconded at Hamburg by Walter Otto and many other members of the DHV.18

Thousands of leaflets, hand-to-mouth propaganda, and a few hundred members! No wonder this looked like one more of Fritsch's stillborn children. Yet in October 1912 Fritsch and Hellwig informed the Hammer-Gemeinden: "We are now going to the limit!"; the enemy is prepared to exploit war or revolution; the Reichshammerbund must spread discord in his ranks; "he shall find his master in the German!"19

And in the Hammer, in November, Fritsch fired a blast for "The Counter-Revolution"; the "hate of the Tschandala" had for decades been undermining the Germanic peoples; now the counterattack against the "chief criminals" must be launched; "a few hundred courageous men can accomplish the work"; the enemy leaders "must fall, at the very start of the revolt; not even flight abroad shall protect them. As soon as the bonds of civic order lie shattered on the ground and law is trodden underfoot, the Sacred Vehme enters on its rights; it must not fear to smite the mass-criminals with their own weapons."20

Though the development of the secret Germanen Orden appears only obscurely in the material, it was obviously intended to be the activist side of the movement. In Nuremberg, as later in Münich, it lived in the shadows beside the Reichshammerbund; Rüttinger headed both groups in Nuremberg, forming, he wrote, the Germanen Orden out, of the Hammerbund, and there was doubtless much duplication of membership.21

The Hammer rarely commented on the Germanen Orden, but in the first July issue of 1912, Fritsch, responding to inquiries, stated his approval of its aims and leaders. The Orden published frequent advertisements in the Rightist press (e.g., Deutsche Zeitung, Alldeutsche Blätter) at least from 1917 on, inviting "German-blooded, serious men of pure character" to join a "Germanic lodge."22

In organization, ritual, and terminology it clearly imitated Freemasonry. It published for many years a journal, Runen embellished by the inevitable völkisch swastika-a widespread symbol among racists long before Hitler had been heard of. The Hauptarchiv contains a hectographed notice from Pohl, dated January 12, 1912, referring to a circular he had sent the previous November to "50 loyal persons in the Reich and Austria," about forming secret lodges to spread Fritsch's ideas.23

Most of the favorable replies were from north and central Germany, and he announced that he had found support in thirty-seven different places. His tone was violent, his stress was on an "Aryan-Germanic" religious revival, Germanic supremacy over "lower working races," "inexorable hate for the Jews" and their exclusion from the Volkskörper; an all-powerful Pan-Germany-but he urged cautious procedure toward the Jews as well as toward the church.

In the spring Rüttinger sounded Hering-a central figure in völkisch activities in Münich-about founding a lodge there, but was informed that "the soil in Münich is too virginal"; it was even difficult to keep together in tha.t tolerant city the fifty to sixty members of the Deutschsoziale Partei and the Hammerbund 24 Rüttinger's approach to Karl Matthes of Münich was more fruitful, and, some time in 1913, Matthes evidently established a lodge at Münich. though he reported in October, "The work here is damned hard!"25 During the following months Pohl urged the creation of a grand lodge for all Bavaria, and there was some discussion whether Nuremberg or Münich should be its cen- ter.26

The Reichshammerbund was also established in Münich that spring, headed by Wilhelm Rohmeder, chairman of the Deutscher Schulverein and a familiar figure then and after the war in Münich nationalist circles.27 The war threw both organizations into confusion. Rüttinger went to the front early. Pohl wrote him there in November 1914 that finances were bad, nearly half the brethren were with the military; "the war came on us too early, the G.O. was not yet completely organized and crystallized, and if the war lasts long, it will go to pieces."28

The childish play of ritual and ceremony in the Orden wearied the members, as Rüttinger's successor Töpfer wrote him from Nuremberg; Pohl seemed to think that the banquets were the chief thing, and Töpfer himself was sick of reproaches from headquarters for doing too little.29

In August 1916 Pohl was removed as chan- cellor of the Order, and Töpfer wrote in December 1917 that he had turned over the business of the Nuremberg lodge to its counterpart in Stuttgart; the Germanen Orden was "a seven months' child." there was no hope for it in Nuremberg. but "in Münich it is still possible for it to awake after the war to a new and powerful existence.30

Sebottendorff mentions a split in the Orden in 1916, the continuation of one branch, "Walvater", under Pohl and G. W. Freese, head of the Berlin lodge, while the author Philipp Stauff of Grosslichterfelde continued the other branch.31 Regrettably, the history of the German Orden in Münich is not much illuminated in the Hauptarchiv, and the curious anonymity of persons and events after Pohl's withdrawal is only partially clarified in Sebottendorff's book and in Hering's notes. Sebottendorff states that the Orden was "revived" at a Christmas meeting in 1917, that he was made head of the province of Bavaria, and that he undertook to finance an information sheet and the journal Runen.32

He made swift progress, finding in Münich an art student, the wounded veteran Walter Nauhaus, also a member of the Germanen Orden and head of a "Germanic study group" called the Thule Gesellschaft. The two allied; Nauhaus was to work on young prospects, Sebottendorff on older ones. Hering, Rohmeder, and Justizrat Gaubatz were his first supporters. Sebottendorff ran notices in the press, became involved in a newspaper argument about Freemasonry, and in July issued invitations to join the struggle for "Deutschland den Deutschen" mainly against the Jews, as well as against egalitarianism. In the elegant Münich hotel Vier Jahreszeiten, Sebottendorff rented the rooms of a naval officers' club, and here, on August 17, 1918, in the presence of the evidently indestructible Pohl and G. W. Freese, a dedication ceremony was held.33

Already the name Thule was used by the Germanen Orden as a cover, though the two were not yet merged, and Hering's diary long continues to refer to the Orden. Thirty members were initiated that day, and the Orden kept busy with meetings, initiations, and excursions at least once a week. How innocent they sound! Hering's diary records talks about old Germanic subjects and a lecture by Sebottendorff on divining rods (pendeln), which upset Hering because such occult nonsense los't them good will. Less innocent is his note of a joint meeting with the Alldeutschen on October 24, when the publisher J. F. Lehmann-according to Sebottendorff, "the most active, driving element in the whole circle" -demanded a coup d'etat. Sebottendorff claims that there were by November 250 members in Münich, 1,500 in all Bavaria, but says that a large number disappeared with the revolution.34

Still the round of meetings continued, while Bavaria passed through that incredible series of governments that began with Kurt Eisner's overthrow of the monarchy on November 7 and culminated in the Soviet Republics of April 1919. Thule and the Germanen Orden held their first joint meeting on November 9, to hear Sebottendorff issue a plangent call to arms against "Juda." 35 And Thule's hospitable quarters in the Vier Jahreszeiten welcomed other nationalist groups-the AIldeutschen, Rohmeder's Schulverein, the Hammerbund among them.36

Meanwhile the farce was over, and Thule and the Germanen Orden were quietly preparing for the counterrevolution and welcoming Lehmann's caches of weapons as well as his friends.37 Early in December Sebottendorff planned to seize Eisner during a political meeting at Bad Aibling but failed. So did an attempt to expand and generate counter-revolutionary activity through the "vigilante" Bürgerwehr, late in December, at a meeting in the Thule rooms. The plan was betrayed, the ubiquitous Lehmann imprisoned; there was a bitter session in the Provisional National Council on December 30, when the author-politician Ernst Toller attacked the whole plot; and the fact that the moderate Socialist 1 cabinet members Auer and Timm had signed a proclamation for the Bürgerwehr sharpened the far Left's suspicions of their aims.38

That tumultuous winter in Bavaria need not be described here. In the weeks after Eisner's assassination on February 21, the Thule did not escape the attention of the Workers' and Soldiers' Councils, but it kept up the pretense of being a study group for Germanic antiquity (and was even entered as such in the Münich: Vereins-Register on March 21, the date when, according to Nauhaus, it officially merged with the Germanen Orden).39 Its activists set up a military group (Kampf-bund), with a detachment at Eching, a few miles north of Münich; they penetrated Communist organizations and, through contact with the legal Bavarian government at Bamberg, recruited for the free corps which were being formed to march against Münich.40

Thule members took part in the unsuccessful Palm Sunday Putsch (April 13). Their role is described ironically in a narrative evidently by Seyffertitz of the Republican, Guard, leader of this anti-Soviet rising, who says that the leader of the Kampf-bund in Münich, Friedrich Knauf, offered him six hundred men; actually ten or twelve tumed out, one of them a captain, "in gala uniform! Patent leather riding boots, riding whip, monocle!"41 Sebottendorff left Münich and at Bamberg was authorized by the government on April 19 to set up a free corps.42

At Münich, the Communists seized control on April 14 from the first feeble Soviet government. Threats to take hostages were put into effect, and, as the iron ring of troops around Münich tightened, the Soviets struck more sharply at danger points within the city. How the Thule members were exposed is not clear; in any case, their quarters were raided on the afternoon of April 26; the secretary, Countess Heila von Westarp was arrested, and in the course of the day four other members; two more were seized shortly thereafter .43

Sebottendorff blames the official head of the Thule, Knauf, for failing to conceal membership lists. The next day Egelhofer, the Red commandant of Münich, posted a notice that a "band of criminals ...of the so-called upper classes" had been seized, plunderers who forged official passes in order to confiscate goods, "arch reactionaries, agents and touts for the Whites". They were taken to the cellar of the Luitpold gymnasium, a Red military post since its capture on April 14.

On Egelhofer's orders, following reports of the killing of Red prisoners by the Whites at Starnberg, the seven Thule members, with two captured White hussars, and Professor Ernst Berger-a Münich artist and a Jew were shot one by one on April 30. Apparently it is impossible to write "objectively" about this tragedy.44

Conservatives and moderates regard it as murder; the Left generally considers it to be horrible in itself, but understandable in view of the Whites' executions of Spartacists captured with arms, and the specific charge that the Starnberg shootings led to these reprisals; moreover, the Left maintains that the Thule victims were not hostages but were active counterrevolutionaries subject to whatever laws of war prevail in civil strife. There is no doubt that they were smuggling men and information out of Münich.45

But, if it can be argued that they were victims of a stern military code, the two hussars and Berger seem to have been shot as "hostages." In any case, few events have so enraged a populace as this one did. Rumors spread like fire, multiplying the terrible deed, telling of frightful mutilations (this was indeed officially announced by the authorities after the fall of Münich, and denials the next day never quite quelled the false report). The White troops hastily threw over their plan of encircling the city gradually, and began to enter it on May 1, finding an uprising, with Thule participating, already under way.46

The "murder of the hostages" goes far to explain the merciless repression of the Soviet republic, the willingness to gloss over White brutality, and the passionate wave of antisemitism that spread because the deed was alleged to represent the Vengeance of "Jewish soviet leaders" - Eugen Levine-Nissen, Tobias Axelrod, Max Levien - on antisemitic foes.

The instant violent denunciation of the act by the Jewish author-politician Ernst ToIler, ex-commander of the Red Army; the fact that the victim Berger was a Jew and that Levien, most bloodthirsty of the Soviet leaders-like Egelhofer and all those directly connected with the shooting-was not; the absence in the "hostage murder" trials in September and October of any indication of a " Jewish conspiracy" behind the killings-all this was ignored or explained away by extremists of the Right; and for Sebottendorff, for the Thule, and for the National Socialists, the slaying of the hostages remained "an act of revenge by the Jews..'47

Thus, in part actively through propaganda and counterrevolutionary action. in part because of the fate of the hostages, Thule and the Germanen Orden had a major share in the creation of the raw and rancorous atmosphere-so different from the golden haze enveloping the typical recollections of Münich before the war! -in which movements like national socialism throve.48 But thus far nothing has been shown of their direct contact with the NSDAP or the proto-Nazi elements-Harrer's political group, the Deutschsozialistische Partei, the Völkischer Beobachter - listed by Sebottendorff as Hitler's other initial sources of strength.

Chronologically, the connection with the Beobachter, a minor weekly published in the eastern suburbs of Münich, comes first. When Sebottendorff bought the paper in the summer of 1918, it had existed since 1868, with interruptions and changes of name, a cheap newspaper presenting largely local items, with a middle-class. somewhat anticlerical and antisemitic bias.49

Franz Eher published it from 1900 on. He died in June 1918; the paper, already on the downgrade, ceased publication until Sebottendorff picked it up. Without securing approval from his Germanen Orden colleagues, renamed it Münchener Beobachter und Sportblatt and began filling its four or six three-column pages with antisemitic material and items on horse-racing!

Thus he sought publicity for völkisch aims, particularly among the young. and he managed to keep the paper going, under the Eisner regime and afterward. It served also as a bulletin for meetings of several Rightist groups, including Thule and Germanen Orden, during that time. In May, after the fall of the Soviet Republic, its address was given as the Hotel Vier Jahreszeiten. On May 31, the paper announced a völkisch, anticapitalist antisemitic program of twelve points, resembling considerably the twenty five points of the NSDAP proclaimed by Hitler in February 1920. 50

In fact, though claiming to be a völkisch organ above the parties, the paper was sponsoring the program and the aims of the newly created Deutschso-zialistische Partei. In the spring, Sebottendorff passed the editorship to Hanns Georg Müller; the staff included Wilhelm Laforce and Marc Sesselmarin, both Thule members and later persons of note in the NSDAP; among the contributors were Gottfried Feder and "Redivivus" that is, Bernhard Stempfle, a Catholic völkisch friar who, after being a warm ally of Hitler in the early years, dropped away and was murdered in the Röhm purge of 1934.

During 1919 the paper also began to appear twice weekly, changed its title to Münchener Beobachter und Freiwirtschaftszeitung/Deutschvölkische Zeitung (and in August one edition began to appear as Völkischer Beobachter) and moved to Thierschstrasse 15, the address of the Nazi official press, EherVerlag, in its palmy days. On October 15 the firm of M. Müller und Sohn began printing the paper, and the editorial offices were transferred to Müller's plant at Schellingstrasse 41-later, in 1923, the scene of dramatic events as Hitler conferred, Rosenberg editorialized, and Göring instructed his SA officers in these rooms.

And on October 22, the paper carried its first report of a meeting of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei, held on October 16 in the Hofbräukeller (not the grandiose Hofbräuhaus), where Erich Kühn, editor of Lehmann's Pan-German monthly Deutschlands Erneuerung, spoke on the Jewish question, and in the ensuing general discussion, "Herr Hitler of the DAP" declaimed fierily of the need of union against the Jews and of supporting the real "German" press. In 1920 still the Beobachter maintained its standpoint ostensibly "above the parties," regularly carried columns "Aus der Bewegung" and "Aus völkischen Parteien," in which, to be sure, the (NS) DAP received increasing attention.

The new editor Bernhard Köhler - though he was to hold a high post in the Third Reich - wrote on May 27, regarding the imminent Reichstag election, that adherence to a single party would be the "death of the völkisch movement." A curious squabble occurred at the founding of a League of Friends of the Beobachter, late in July, where "Hittler" (the paper frequently misspelled his name) charged the Beobachter with cowardice for not supporting the NSDAP, in which he was clearly the rising star, and with setting the price of its shares too high; so his imperialistic and "social" tendencies were early publicly revealed.51

As usual, he eventually won. The scramble for money to get control of the paper before it fell into other, perhaps Separatist; hands, climaxed in the "loan" from Ritter von Epp to Hitler's friend Dietrich Eckart in December, and on Christmas Day a small announcement appeared that the NSDAP had taken over the paper at great sacrifice "in order to develop it into a relentless weapon for Germanism against any hostile un-German efforts." 52

So Sebottendorff's Beobachter had indeed, roundabout, entered the arsenal of the Führer. The baron's account of the paper's misadventures in 1919-20 gives numerous financial details, but nothing of the financial support by Gottfried Grandel of Augsburg, an early backer of Hitler, who in fact made the purchase of the paper possible for the NSDAP.53 While the sources on the Beobachter are fairly abundant, those concerning the Thule's connection with Karl Harrer's Arbeiterzirkel (not Verein) are scanty and depend on other witnesses than Harrer.

He was a sports reporter on the conservative Munchener-Augsburger Abendzeitung who was actively collaborating with Sebottendorff by the fall of 1918 and was assigned to form a "workers' ring" parallel to other Thule rings for Nordic culture, genealogy, and so on.54 Presumably this "ring" was the Politischer Arbeiterzirkel founded in November 1918, with Harrer as chairman, Anton Drexler-the founder of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei -its most active member next to Harrer, and Michael Lotter, a colleague of Drexler in the locomotive shops at Münich, as secretary.

This tiny group, with three to seven members usually attending, met weekly or oftener. Copies of the minutes of many meetings in 1918 and 1919 are in the Hauptarchiv.55 Generally Harrer was the chief speaker - "How the war came," "Germany's greatest foe: the Jews!" "Could we have won the war?" - such subjects were dealt with, and might have gone on interminably, had not Drexler in December urged the circle to take the lead in founding a political party.

The Deutsche Arbeiterpartei came into existence in the tavern Fürstenfelder Hof on January 5, 1919, with its supporters chiefly from among Drexler's fellow workers at the locomotive shops, invited by word of mouth.56 The exclusive circle continued to assemble, often in the Thule quarters, sometimes at the Cafe Gasteig across the Isar, or in private homes.57

Franz Dannehl, a perennial Thulist and occasional speaker at DAP meetings, claims to have discussed the founding of the party with Harrer at the Thule; but Drexler's pamphlet Mein politisches Erwachen, the document that so stirred Hitler when he read it after his first visit to a meeting of the party, mentions neither Harrer nor Dannehl nor the Thule nor the foundation of the party! 58

Though the minutes of the circle show no basic discussions of racist Weltanschauung, it is likely that Harrer's völkisch ideas seeped through the circle and through Drexler to the DAP, which was transformed a year later, about the end of February 1920, into the NSDAP. Yet it should be noted that the party's line was predominantly one of extreme political and social nationalism, not the Aryan-racist-theoretical pattern of the Germanen Orden and its like.59
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Re: The Art of Avoiding History, by Peter Staudenmaier

Postby admin » Sat Feb 10, 2018 9:42 am

Part 2 of 2

It will be recalled that Sebottendorff refers to Harrer's "Deutscher Arbeiterverein" as one of the three sources from which Hitler created the NSDAP.60 He claims indeed that this organization was founded on January 18, 1919 in the Thule rooms and that it later became the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei. I find no evidence for this statement. Harrer founded the Arbeiterzirkel with Drexler in November 1918, but Drexler was the party' s founder. The Nationalsozialisticher Deutscher Arbeiterverein was not founded until September 1920, to give the party corporate status.61

Harrer had already left the party in the preceding winter. There is, too, little evidence of participation by Thule members in the DAP. Sebottendorff gives 220 names of members of Thule, or the Thule Kampfbund, in his book, but fewer than twenty of these appear in the two probably authentic early lists of NSDAP party members. Nor do the attendance lists at DAP meetings in 1919 show any appreciable number of Thule names.62

The conclusion is that the mixed elements in the DAP, and the kind of political activity it pursued, had little appeal for the conspiratory gentlemen of the Thule. Moreover, their political wishes were probably better answered in the Deutschsozialistische Partei, or for some even in the moderate Deutsche Volkspartei, than in the DAP. As for the Deutschsozialistische Partei, the last of Sebottendorff's three sources of the NSDAP, it was only locally and in- directly a creation of the Thule; but its long program, which includes the phrase "Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz" that reappears in the Nazi program, shows substantial similarities to some parts of the latter.

Much of the purpose of the DSP had been foreshadowed in the prewar Deutschsoziale Partei, which Fritsch had supported, and which had established a small Ortsgruppe at Münich in 1911, with Hering as vice-chairman.63 The postwar DSP, another outgrowth of the Germanen Orden, was founded in the winter of 1918-19 by Alfred Brunner and Heinrich Kraeger of Düsseldorf.64 The sympathies of the Beobachter in 1919, with Sebottendorff, H. G. Müller, and Sesselmann leading the way, inclined toward it more than toward its rival, the NSDAP.

Here again the lines are blurred, for the DSP moved more energetically in Nuremberg, where Julius Streicher joined it early, than in Münich.65 It also grew swiftly outside Bavaria, unlike the early NSDAP, but in the long run it could not outmaneuver the coming Führer, and Streicher's capitulation, bringing the important Nuremberg DSP group to Hitler in 1921, marked the triumph of the Munich movement over a movement which-despite Streicher-seems to have been generally more moderate, even Christian Social, in its aims than was the NSDAP .

One other important connection of Thule and the Gennanen Orden with the NSDAP-the Free Corps Oberland- is only briefly treated by Sebottendorff; and he ignores another of the most significant links, the Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund. Sebottendorff, as noted previously, went to Bamberg shortly after mid-April 1919 to get official backing for a free corps. He writes that he made a report, supported by Stempfle, to the cabinet, on the need of quick action, that he was authorized to set up a free corps, and that the government than decided to summon Epp's free corps from Thuringia to join the attack on Münich.66

Sebottendorff opened a recruiting bureau in the Hotel Deutscher Kaiser at Nuremberg. His book gives in great detail his own movements in northem Bavaria in the days before Münich fell and some account of Oberland's part in the campaign.67 The narrative of Seyffertitz supplements him, adding that shortly after the fall of Munich Sebottendorff and Knauf called him to the Vier Jahreszeiten to discuss merging Seyffertitz' detachment with Oberland, and Knauf put at his disposal there 70,000 marks, provided by the Münich Bürgerrat, in addition to some 30,000 presented the day before to his representative.

Sebottendorff's political interference led to his removal from Oberland by its military leadership about the middle of May; the free corps was later taken over in part into Epp's regular formation, Schiitzenbrigade 21. 68 The Free Corps Oberland fought in 1920 in the Ruhr and against the Poles in Upper Silesia in 1921. After its dissolution, its successor, Bund Oberland, was officially headed by Knauf during 1921-22, till the latter-suspected of "Jesuit" tendenciesl -was dropped, founding shortly thereafter a counter-organization, Treu-Oberland; Friedrich Weber succeeded him.69

Therole of Bund Oberland under Weber among the Bavarian activists in 1923, and its participation in the Hitler Putsch, are well known. As for the Deutschvölkischer Schutz- und Trutzbund, this huge organization of the far Right was created in 1919 by Alfred Roth, Bundeswart of the Reichshammerbund, with the support of Class of the Alldeutscher Verband, and swept into its fold a mass of extremist organizations, including the members of the Hammerbund and, at least locally, many of the Germanen Orden.70 Kurt Kerlen of the Thule at Nuremberg became the head of its Bavarian office.

What the Thule and the Germanen Orden never attained in mass response was achieved by the furious activity of the Schutz- und Trutz- bund, until its dissolution in 1922 on suspicion of connection with the murder of Rathenau.71 Hitler supplemented his income at times by speaking at its meetings. From 1919 to 1923 the Thule maintained its activities, despite bitter disputes between Knauf and Sebottendorff on the responsibility for the arrest of the hostages, and Sebottendorff.s departure.72

Familiar names continue to appear in Hering's diary-Lehmann, Rohmeder, Hermann Bauer, who succeeded Knauf as head of the Thule in February 1920 and used this office as a "Sprungbrett" to the chairmanship of the powerful Vereinigte Vaterländische Verbände Bayerns in 1923. Sesselmann, who followed him in office in 1924, remained chairman for years.73 Dietrich Eckart and Alfred Rosenberg were guests of the Thule in its early days; Hans Frank joined it in the summer of 1919 and spoke to the members on Spengler's Preussentum und Sozialismus; he met Harrer and discussed with him and Drexler the forthcoming program of the DAP.74

The military and the police, anxious to keep order, now and then noted that Thule's antisemitic activities were continuing; Sebottendorff in fact was reproved in the summer of 1919 by the Reichswehr commander Möhl for distributing antisemitic leaf- lets to the Free Corps Oberland.75

But, in the chaos of contending rightist groups, Thule gradually grew quiet. The split occasioned by the Hitler Putsch of 1923 was only partly made up for by the entrance of members of the NSDAP after the ban on the party-especially "intellectuals" like Rudolf Hess and Karl Fiehler, later mayor of Munich-into this useful cover organization.76 After 1926 the Thule gave few signs of life. It was of course the Nazi triumph of 1933 that revived it; again the Vier Jahreszeiten housed Thule meetings, now more affluent, social, and artistic than a decade before.77

Sebottendorff published a journal, the Thule-Bote, and his book came out to claim Thule's place in the Nazi sun. But conflicting emotions stirred the members, the diehards refused to let Thule be "degraded" to a social club, and once more it split and foundered. If now we examine Sebottendorff's statement that the Thule provided the three chief sources of national socialism, and that "almost all of Hitler's collaborators had something to do with the Thule, if they were not themselves members," we find that it claims too much, and, perhaps, too little.78

While the Munich version of a völkisch workers' movement - the Harrer-Drexler line, Politischer Arbeiterzirkel and DAP - was initiated from the Thule, the pattern of mass national socialism, developed around the Führer complex, deviated sharply from the conspiratory nature of, Thule. The "old fighters" of Thule seldom joined the NSDAP; the political views dearest to most of them, the platform of the Deutschsozialistische Partei, were absorbed in fiercer form into the Hitler monolith. So was the originally "non-partisan" Beobachter.

So was much of the contentious military wing represented by the Kampfbund and Oberland. The obsessive antisemitism remained, but I the atmosphere of the Vier Jahreszeiten and the discussions of Germanic antiquity gave way to the beer hall meetings, and the mammoth processions of SA, SS, and co-ordinated civilians. On the other side, Thule was only a segment of the völkisch movement, and Sebottendorff muddles his case by saying "Thule" when he means "Germanen Orden" or even broader groupings.

The ideology - if the word may be used - of Fritsch and his like was a main part of that movement; the many small völkisch cells in the Reich kept the movement going, but they made conspicuously little headway in Münich and Bavaria until war, revolution, the Münich Soviets, and the killing of the hostages provided the festering soil for them to grow in. Only then did violent racist antisemitism become "popular" in Bavaria, only then could Münich become the logical center for national socialism.

But, to repeat: It was less the theories of racist cranks than concrete national and local conditions, plus the remorseless propaganda of Hitler, that enabled national socialism to make its start at the place and time it did. One of the last entries in Rüttinger's file may serve as an epilogue for the Third Reich's treatment of cast-off pioneers.79

On August 20, 1936 he was informed that he was barred for life from holding party offices because of "belonging from March 1912 to May 1921 to the Germanenorden". Even though former members of lodges who had left them before 1933 might remain Nazi party members, they could not hold office. The measure "simply corresponds to the basic attitude of the NSDAP toward Freemasonry" [!]

And the end: "No protest against this decision is permitted."




1 The first edition is slightly shorter than the second, chiefly because of the addition of numerous pictures and the expansion of the index notes. The Rehse Collection, now in the Manuscript Division, Library of Congress, contains {Rehse No.431) an undated typescript of Bevor Hitler kam (a penciled title Von Thule bis Hitler appears on the typescript); some 15 pages out of a total of 77 are missing, but these, like several other deviations from the printed text, evidently (consisted of articles or speeches which fill out Sebottendorff's narrative in print. The typescript has many small divergences from the printed text, though neither the tone nor the thesis differs from it.

2 Sebottendorff, Bevor Hitler kam, "Widmung." References to this work, unless otherwise noted, are to the second edition (Münich, 1934).

3 There is a review, composed in a tone more sour than sweet, in Ludendorff's journal Am Heiligen Quell, IV (Feb. 5, 1934), 482-84. H. G. Grassinger, the publisher, in a deposition of Dec. 19, 1951 in the archives of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte. Münich, states that the first edition totaled 3,000 copies, the second (almost all of which was seized by the Gestapo) 5,000.

4 Typescript carbon, Rehse No.431.

5 Georg Franz-Willing, Die Hitlerbewegung: der Ursprung, 1919-1922 (Hamburg and Berlin, 1962), pp. 28-34 (on the Thule), 62-102 ("Das Werden der Hitlerbewegung"). Historians of national socialism have paid little attention to the Thule. It is not mentioned by Alan Bullock, Hitler (New York, 1961), nor by Konrad Heiden, Geschichte des Nationalsozialismus (Berlin, 1932) -which, interestingly, Heiden begins by referring to the threefold origins of national socialism -as an intellectual movement, from largely North German figures in 1926-28; as a "living political cell" from the Vaterlandspartei and the Pan-Germans (Alldeutsche); as a "political instrument" from the Münich Reichswehr. Heiden does deal briefly with Thule in Adolf Hitler, das Zeitalter der Verantwortungslosigkeit (Zurich, 1936), pp. 58-59.

6 "Das Porträt eines hakenkreuzlerischen Hochstaplers,.' Munchener Post, No.61 (Mar. 14, 1923); see also "Ein gewissenloses Hetzblatt", Munchener Post, No.178 (Aug. 2, 1919), for an earlier encounter between the paper and Sebottendorff. Johannes Hering, "Beiträge zur Geschichte der Thule Gesellschaft," two typescripts, one from 1936 and the other from 1939, confirms some details and adds others; the documents are in the NSDAP Hauptarchiv (henceforth cited as HA), No.865. (It should be noted that the Hauptarchiv materials are being transferred from the Berlin Document Center to various German archives, and that microfilms of them have been made for the Hoover Institution.) A copy of the Hering document of 1939 is also in Rehse No.431. See also the above mentioned review in Am Heiligen Quell.

7 H. G. Grassinger, letter to the author.

8 Sebottendorff. pp. 31-33.

9 Besser, "Der Okku1tismus stand Pate," Archiv der unabhängigen Gesellschaft zur pfiege junger Wissenschaft und Kunst (Peine, 1949), pp. 38-50, and "Die Vorgeschichte des Nationalsozialismus im neuen Licht," Die Pforte, II (1950), 763-84;Wilfried Daim, Der Mann, der Hitler die ideen gab (Münich, 1958).

10 The principal source for Fritsch is of course his publications, especially the Hammer, Blätter fur deutschen Sinn (Leipzig, 1902 ff.). For an account of Fritsch's early activities, see "Aus der Entstehungszeit des 'Hammer,' " Hammer, XXV (1926), 529-35. See also R. H. Phelps, "Theodor Fritsch und der Antisemitismus," Deutsche Rundschau, LXXXVII (May 1961), 442-49.

11 Paul Förster, "Ein deutsch-völkischer General-Stab" Hammer, III (1904). 207-10, and Fritsch's comments on the plan, "Zusammenfassende nationale Organisation," ibid., p. 254; Fritsch. "Die Emeuerungs-Gemeinde," Hammer, VII (1908), 461-65, and "Grundziige der Emeuerungs-Gemeinde," ibid., 678-81, and 712-17; "Aufruf," on rear cover of Hammer, No. 209, X (1911).

12 "Vom partei-politischen Antisemitismus," Hammer, XI (1912), 153-58; and Richard Bergner, "Ein Vorschlag zur Organisation der Hammer-Leute," ibid., p. 247.

13 Wenn ich der Kaiser wär!" Hammer, XI (1912). 309-11.

14 Julius Riittinger, "Von 1904 bis 1937". typescript, HA No.886, and "Erinnerungen aus vergangener Zeit", typescript, HA No.496. HA No.887 contains an unidentified newspaper photograph evidently from 1935, "Griindungstag des Reichshammerbundes", showing Fritsch, Hellwig, Pohl, Professor Heinrich Kraeger, Rüttinger, and others at the founders' meeting, May 24 or 25, 1912.

15 "Verfassung des Reichshammerbundes" and "Erläuterung zu der Verfassung". HA No.888.

16 "Richtlinien für den Reichshammerbund". typescript, Leipzig. HA No.888.

17 Rüttinger's report, Reichshammerbund meeting of Jan. 11, 1913. HA No.886; "Kassenbericht für 1912", "Jahresbericht für 1912", and "Jahresbericht für 1913". HA No.888.

18 Reichshammerbund circulars, Kassel, June 13 and 28, 1913; Ortsgruppe Hamburg circulars, especia1ly July 19, 1913, Feb. 21 and 25, 1914, in HA No.888; Alfred Roth Aus der KamPfzeit des deutschvölkischen Schutz-. und Trutzbundes (Hamburg, 1939), esp. pp. 9-19.

19 Fritsch and Hellwig "Botschaft an die Hammer-Gemeinden", HA No.888.

20 Fritsch, "Die Gegen-Revolution", Hammer, XI (1912), 589-93; "Weisskind", "Vorschläge zur Organisierung der Gegen-Revolution" ibid., p. 670. "Tschandala", for lower classes or races occurs in Nietzsche and Lanz von Liebenfels

21 Rüttinger, "Erinnerungen", HA No.496; Rüttinger's correspondence with Otto Mahr of Bamberg. Jan. 27, 1913-Apr. 14, 1914, HA No. 885.

22 "Private Mitteilungen" Hammer, XI (1912), following p. 364; advertisement in Hammer, No. 340, XV (1916). The Germanen Orden's symbolic runes do not appear here (instead, there are two swastikas pointing left!) but they do in many other advertisements in the Rightist press.

23 Pohl, "Aufklärungsschrift über Veranlassung, Zweck, Ziel, Ausbau der Treulogen:. issued from Magdeburg, HA No.883. See also his first "Vertrauliche Ordensnachrichten", July 1912, HA No.492.

24 Hering to Riittinger, May 9, 1912, HA No. 884.

25 Matthes to Rüttinger, Dec. 12, 1912, and Oct. 19, 1913; Rüttinger to Matthes, Nov. 21 and 24, 1913, HA No.885.

26 Matthes to Rüttinger, Dec. II imd 20, 1913, and their correspondence in April 1914, HA No. 885.

27 Arthur Strauss to Rüttinger, Münich, May 20, 1914, HA No.885.

28 Pohl to Rüttinger, from Magdeburg, Nov. 22, 1914, HA No.886.

29 Töpfer to Rüttinger, from Nuremberg, Sept. 24 and Dec. 6, 1915, HA No.886.

30 Töpfer to Rüttinger, Apr. 15, Oct. 25, and Dec. 26, 1917, HA No.886.

31 Sebottendorff, pp. 34. 245. HA No.851 contains a few documents of "Germanen-Orden Walvater" which Sebottendorff says was the name used by the Pohl-Freese branch, which he headed in Bavaria; they include a membership application, requesting among other things information about the amount of hair on various parts of the body, and "if possible an imprint of the sole of the foot on a sheet of paper," no doubt as evidence of Aryan descent. There are also, in this file, some bits of the literature of the "Wälsungen-Orden," with the customary runic symbols of the original Germanen Orden. To complete the confusion, one authority tells the author that the Stauff branch was called the Skalden-Orden; and documents in the "Schumacher files" of HA, under "Bunde," state that the cover name of that organization in Münich was Thule Gesellschaftl And a letter of Walter Nauhaus to Rüttinger from Münich, Apr. 9, 1919, in HA No.886 seems to imply that the Thule, which he headed in Münich, was originally a branch of the Germanen Orden and not, as Hering indicates, a separate group. Such chaos among völkisch and nationalist groups in Germany was of course not unfamiliar.

32 Sebottendorff, pp. 40-41. 202; „Aus der Geschichte der Thule Gesellschaft" Thule-Bote, I (1933). 1-2.

33 Sebottendorff. p. 52; Hering. "Beiträge" 1939. including his "Tagebuch" beginning Oct. 3, 1918, HA No.865 (copy in Rehse No.431). Sebottendorff mentions the adornment of the rooms with the Thule’s arms-curved swastika pointing right (Sonnenrad) plus sword and wreath.

34 Sebottendorff. pp. 53. 62.

35 lbid., pp. 57-60. Hering however notes for "9. Nebelung" simply. "In the evening, musical rehearsal," and for tenth. "Beautiful initiation lodge, Seb. conducts it despite illness."

36 Sebottendorff, p. 62. 37 lbid., pp. 63-70.

38 Verhandlungen des provisorischen National- rates des Volksstaates Bayern im Jahre 1918/1919, 7. Sitzung. pp. 185-236, and 8. Sitzung. pp. 237-62; Me1anie Lehmann, Verleger J. F. Lehmann , (Münich, 1935). pp. 46-48. The Munchener- , Augsburger Abendzeitung, Nos. 655-59 (Dec. 27- 31, 1918) carries a lively series of reports on the arrests "in the rooms of the Germanen Orden" and on the debate in the Nationalrat.

39 Records of the Vereins-Register, .Münich. copied by Hering, HA No.865; and the high1y interesting letter of Nauhaus from Münich to Rüttinger. Apr. 9. 1919. HA No.886. on the Thu1e’s activities.

40 Darstellungen aus den Nachkriegskämpfen deutscher Truppen und Freikorps, IV: Die Niederwerfung der Räteherrschaft in Bayern 1919 (Ber1in. 1939). pp. 7. 16-17. 23; Sebottendorff, pp. 106-13; H. J. Kuron, Freikorps und Bund Oberland (dissertation, Erlangen. n.d. [1960]). , pp. 16-19.

41 The typescript, 243 pages long, anonymous and untitled, in HA No.72, is written in the first person; it concerns Alfred von Seyffertitz and the Repub1ikanische Schutztruppe and appears to be by him. The account of the Palm Sunday affair is found on pp. 177-204.

42 Sebottendorff, pp. 116-20; Darstellungen, IV, 47, 86; Kuron, pp. 17-18. See a1so Sebottendorff’s letter to Hering from Bad Sachsa (Harz), Dec. 7, 1922, HA No.1229, for further details of his military enterprise. A photostat of a typescript carbon of his authorization by Schneppenhorst, minister for military affairs, Bamberg, Apr. 19, 1919, is found in Rehse No.431.

43 Sebottendorff, pp. 135-41; his letter to Hering, Dec. 7.1922. HA No.1229.

44 The contemporary press reports in German and foreign papers of course general1y follow the official accounts; see, e.g., the Munchener Neueste Nachrichten, which also published the experiences of the hostage Kurt Schmidt, "Als Geisel im Luitpold-Gymnasium" (No. 172, May 6, 1919); and the Munchener Post, which however published a letter on May 15, "Der Geiselmord …von einem Eingeweihten" pointing out that the victims had been seized as counter-revolutionaries, not as hostages; the London Times (..Shooting of Hostages," May 5; ..Münich Savagery," May 6; "Münich Battle Fury", May 7); and the New York Times, with several reports on the shooting of the hostages, May 3-7, and an article from the Chicago Tribune service, "Jested at Slaying Münich Hostages," on May 13. The trials in September and October of those involved in the shooting were widely reported, generally with no more sympathy for the executioners than in May. A few examples of the "literature" on the subject: Josef Hofmiller, Revolutionstagebuch 1918/19 (Leipzig, n.d.), pp. 207-25; H. H. Breuer. Das blutige Fiasko der Räte-Republik (Münich, n.d. [1919]), pp. 42-43; Josef Karl, Die Schreckensherrschaft in Munchen ... (Münich, n.d. [1919]), esp. pp. 77-96, al1 hostile to the Reds; Hans Beyer, Munchen 1919: der Kampf der Roten Armee in Bayern 1919 (Berlin, 1956), pp. 26.39-40, and Von der Novem- ber-Revolution zur Räterepublik in Munchen (Berlin. 1957). pp. 91, 110, 128 ff.; anon., Die Munchener Tragödie (Berlin, 1919), esp. pp. 25-27-all explaining the shooting as a consequence of the Whites’ actions.

45 On the Starnberg shootings, see the eyewitness account by Schleusinger in Ernst Toller, Justiz: Erlebnisse (Berlin, 1927), pp. 19-29. On the Thule’s activities, see Sebottendorff, pp. III, 116-17, 137-38; Darstellungen, IV, 17. 47. HA No.70 contains a forged pass, with a note by the Thule member Fritz von Trützschler that he had provided some ten men with such papers to enable them to escape from Münich to join Epp’s free corps. See also Hering, "Beiträge" 1936, HA No.865.

46 Darstellungen. IV, 107-28; also report to the military ministry, typescript carbon (Ia d Nr 256 op. Bayerisches Oberkommando Möhl, May 7. 1919) and "Bericht über die Operation zur Befreiung Münchens", typescript carbon (Grup. penkommando Oven, Abt. Ia, May 13, 1919), both in Bavarian Hauptstaatsarchiv. Münich, files of Gruppenkommando 4. Band 11. Akt 2.

47 The Beobachter of course followed this line -see articles and letters on the "murder of the hostages" in the issues of Aug. 9, Sept. 17, and Oct. 25, 1919; and the article by Karl Brassler, "Zum Gedächtnis der am 30, April 1919 ermordeten Geiseln" Apr. 29, 1920, which was so vehement against the Jews that even the Münich Police President Pöhner saw fit to ban the paper for ten days, an action discussed acridly for a full page in the issue of May 11, Sebottendorff, in the dedication of his book, writes, "it no longer needs to be concealed that the seven Thule members did not die as hostages, -no, that they were murdered because they were antisemites. They died for the swastika, they were sacrificed to Juda, they were murdered
because some one [man] wanted to destroy the beginnings of the national revival." A contemporary leafiet, probably of June 1919, from the Ausschuss für Volksaufklärung, Berlin, a völkisch group, in HA No.847, is headed "German Pogrom in Münich! Sevenfold assassination!" On Levien, see I. Birnbaum, „Juden in der Münchener Räterepublik," in Hans Lamm, Von Juden in München (Münich. 1958). pp. 301- 3. On Toller. see his I Was a German (New York. 1934). pp. 197-200, and Paul Signer, Ernst Toller (Berlin. 1924). pp. 26-35.

48 There are probably about as many nostalgic books on Münich as on Vienna. Of particular significance for our topic are severa1 chapters of Hans Lamm, Von Juden in München.

49 Adolf Dresler. Geschichte des "Völkischen Beobachters» und des Zentralverlages der NSDAP, (Münich. 1937), passim; Dresler, Der "Münchener Beobachter" 1887-1918 (Wiirzburg- Aumühle, 1940), passim,. Sebottendorff. pp" 43- 51; Hering, "Beiträge" 1939, HA No.865. Only a few issues. or photographs from 1918 have been available. Sebottendorff reprints several articles from that year.

50 "Unser politisches Programm." Münchener Beobachter, May 31, 1919. Sebottendorff, pp. 171- 82, prints the text, noting that it had already been published as a proclamation of the Germanen Orden in the Allgemeine OrdenNach richten of the Orden, in the previous December.

51 "Zur Gründungsversammlung des Bundes der Beobachterfreunde," Völkischer Beobachter, July 31, 1920. Grassinger reports that Hitler became a reader of the paper during his propaganda course at the transit camp Lechfeld in the summer of 1919 and that Grassinger, Stempfle, and Gregor Strasser refused Hitler's offer to write for the paper!

52 This is the usual account of the purchase. Eckart's promise to repay Epp 60,000 marks (Schuldschein), dated Dec. 17, 1920, is in fact among the captured documents formerly held at Alexandria and now returned to Germany (EAP I-le-16/2). But see below, n. 53, concerning the purchase.

53 The "great sacrifice" was Grandel's, not the party's! In correspondence with the Hauptarchiv, Grandel wrote from Freiburg Oct. 22, 1941 (HA No.514) that Hitler asked him on Dec. 17, 1920 to guarantee the loan "because the party had no money"; he did so, the paper was bought.for 113,000 marks, but Frau Kunze (Sebottendorff's sister) and Käthe Bierbaumer, both heavy shareholders, shortly came to him- not the penniless Eckart- for repayment, and received a total of 56,500 marks! This is supplemented by further details, in a letter of Grandel to Grassinger, Nov. 21, 1940, made available to the author by Grassinger. Sebottendorff gives a less than full account of the financing, pp. 191-96.

54 Sebottendorff, p. 74; Hering, "Beiträge," 1936, HA No.865.

55 Photostats of fourteen sets of minutes are in HA No.76. Through the courtesy of Drexler's daughter, Frau Anni Widmaier, the author has received photostats of three further minutes. The earliest set is for Dec. 5, 1918, the latest for Nov. 24, 1919. See R. H. Phelps, „Anton Drexler der Gründer der NSDAP," Deutsche Rundschau LXXXVII (1961), 1134-43.

56 Drexler, "Lebenslauf," March 1935, typescript copy made available to the author by Frau Widmaier; M. Lotter, „Der Beginn meines politischen Denkens," typescript of a speech de- livered Oct. 19, 1935, HA No.78.

57 Lotter, op. cit.

58 Dannehl's claim is in a statement of Oct. 10, 1933 in the (unnumbered) Dannehl file, HA. Sebottendorff, p. 184, states that Drexler dedicated (widmete) the first edition of Mein politisches ETWachen (not available to the author) to Harrer as "the founder of the Deutsche Arbeiterpartei." There is no printed dedication in the 1ater editions, but the "Münich Collection" in the Hoover Institution has (Folder 10, Franz Danneh1) a photostat of the title page of the brochure with this inscription in Drexler’s handwriting! Perhaps, after al1, Harrer's political role was more significant than most of the evidence indicates. Heiden, Geschichte, pp. 20. 25, and Adolf Hitler, p. 84, presents Harrer as more moderate, less antisemitic, and more sympathetic to the proletariat, than Hit1er.

59 The contemptuous attack of Hitler on „völkisch wandering scholars" in Mein Kampf, I (Kartonierte Ausgabe, Münich. 1932), 394-400, doubt1ess echoes his old quarrels with Harrer and the conspiratory approach of groups like Thule and the Germanen Orden, just as it proclaims vehement1y that open, mass political, party ac- tivity is essentia1 to success.

60 Sebottendorff, pp. 81, 235.

61 Photostats of several documents on the foundation of the Arbeiterverein are in HA No. 76.

62 Photostats of the membership lists of the (NS)DAP were made available to the author by Frau Widmaier. Photostats of the attendance lists, once evidently in Harrer’s possession, are found in HA No.80.

63 Reports of meetings of the Münich Ortsgruppe, Mar. 10, 1911-Apr. I, 1912, HA No.883. See, on the DSP in 1918 ff., Franz-Willing, pp. 88-92.

64 File of Alfred Brunner, HA No.1371; Kraeger, «Lebenslauf," June 21, 1941, HA No.509, which mentions also Kraeger's earlier collaboration with Pohl in the Germanen Orden.

65 Anonymous typescript on the DSP in file of Julius Streicher, AL 1, HA.

66 Sebottendorff, pp. 115-20 67 bid., pp. 125-34. Various details are confirmed by a Thule member from Nüremberg, Franz Müller, «Erfahrungen eines alten Vorkämpfers," HA No. 1249.

68 Seyffertitz typescript, pp. 225-27, 237, HA No.1372; Kuron, pp. 35-37.

69 File of Bund Oberland. HA No.1662; anonymous typescript, Münich, Oct. 4, 1922, in the Polizeidirektion München files, HA No. NB 1133. Kuron, passim, gives in detail the later history of Oberland, both as free corps and, after its reorganization in October 1921 under Knauf as Bund Oberland.

70 Roth. Aus der Kampfzeit, pp. 13-19, and Roth’s extensive correspondence with Rüttinger and with Walter Otto of the Hamburg Ortsgruppe, HA No.888.

71 Alfred Roth, Judas Herrschgewalt (Hamburg. 1923), passim.

72 Sebottendorff. pp. 116-17, 135-36; Hering, "Beiträge," 1939, entries for May 4. 10, 17, 1919, HA No.865.

73 Hering, notes from Vereins-Register des Münchener Register-Gerichts, HA No; 865.

74 Eckart was arrested by the Reds in the Thule rooms but convinced them he was a friend because of his hostility to loan capital; see the police report on Eckart's speech at a DAP meeting on Feb. 6, 1920, P.N.D./M 35, HA No.81. On Rosenberg, see Serge Lang and Ernst von Shenck, Porträt eines Menschenverbrechers (St. Gallen, 1947), pp. 55-56. On Frank, see his Im Angesicht des Galgens (Münich, 1953), pp. 31-32.

75 Bayerisches Hauptstaatsarchiv: Files of Gruppenkommando 4, Band 46, Akt 9 contain intelligence reports of meetings of the Schutzund Trutzbund on Oct. 23, 1919 and Nov. 24, 1919, telling of antisemitic utterances by Dannehl and Sesselmann. Files of Schützenbrigade 21, Band 24b. Akt I, contain a letter of General Möhl in February 1920 (RW GK 4, Ia Nr. 328, geh.) concerning an attack by Thule members on a Jewish student. A photostat of Möhl's letter, of June 21, 1919 to Sebottendorff is in Rehse No.431. .

76 Hering, "Beiträge," 1939, HA No.865.

77 Rehse No.431 contains Thule correspondence from this period and two issues of the Thule-Bote.

78 The quotation is found in "Die Thule Gesellschaft:' Thule-Bote, I (1933), 2.

79 HA No.887.
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