The idea of progress – indefinite betterment – is anything but modern. It is probably as oldest as man’s oldest successful attempt to improve his material surroundings and to increase, through technical skill, his capacity of attack and defence. Technical skill, for many centuries at least, has been too precious to be despised. Nay, when displayed to an extra ordinary degree, it has, more than once, been hailed as something almost divine.
Wondrous legends have always been woven, for instance, round such men as was said to have, by some means, been able to raise themselves, physically, above the earth, be it Etana of Erech who soared to heaven “borne upon eagle’s wings”, or the famous Icarus, unfortunate forerunner of our modern airmen, or Manco Capac’s brother, Auca, said to have been gifted with “natural” wings which finally fared hardly better than Icarus’ artificial ones.
But apart from such incredible feats by a handful of individuals, the Ancients as a whole distinguished themselves in many material achievements. They could boast of the irrigation system in Sumeria; of the construction of pyramids revealing, both in Egypt and, centuries later, in Central America, an amazing knowledge of astronomical data; of the bath-rooms and drains in the palace of Knossos; of the invention of the war-chariot after that of the bow and arrow, and of the sand-clock after that of the sun-dial – enough to make them dizzy with conceit and over-confident in the destiny of their respective civilisations.
Yet, although they fully recognised the value of their own work in the practical field, and surely very soon conceived the possibility – and perhaps acquired the certitude – of indefinite technical progress, they never believed in progress as a whole, in progress on all lines, as most of our contemporaries seem to do. From all evidence, they faithfully clung to the traditional idea of cyclic evolution and had, in addition to that, the good sense to admit that they lived (in spite of all their achievements) in anything but the beginning of the long-drawn, downward process constituting their own particular “cycle” – and ours. Whether Hindu or Greeks, Egyptians or Japanese, Chinese, Sumerians, or ancient Americans – or even Romans, the most “modern” amongst people of Antiquity – they all placed the “Golden Age”, the “Age of Truth”, the rule of Kronos or of Ra, or of any other Gods on earth – the glorious Beginning of the slow, downward unfurling of history, whatever name it be! given – far behind them in the past.
And they believed that the return of a similar Age, foretold in their respective sacred texts and oral traditions, depends, not upon man’s conscious effort, but upon iron laws, inherent to the very nature of visible and tangible manifestation, and all-pervading; upon cosmic laws. They believed man’s conscious effort is but an expression of those laws at work, leading the world, willing or unwilling, wherever its destiny lies; in one word, that the history of man, as the history of the rest of the living, is but a detail in cosmic history without beginning nor end; a periodical outcome of the inner Necessity that binds all phenomena in Time.
And just as the Ancients could accept that vision of the world’s evolution while taking full advantage of all technical progress within their reach, so can – and so do – to this day, thousands of men brought up within the pale of age-old cultures centred round the self-same traditional views, and, also, in the very midst of the over-proud industrial cultures, a few stray individuals able to think for themselves. They contemplate the history of mankind in a similar perspective.
While living, apparently, as “modern” men and women – using electric fans and electric irons, telephones and trains, and aeroplanes, when they can afford it – they nourish in their hearts a deep contempt for the childish conceit and bloated hopes of our age, and for the various recipes for “saving mankind”, which zealous philosophers and politicians thrust into circulation. They know that nothing can “save mankind”, for mankind is reaching the end of its present cycle. The wave that carried it, for so many millenniums, is about to break, with all the fury of acquired speed, and to merge once more into the depth of the unchanging Ocean of undifferentiated existence. It will rise again, some day, with abrupt majesty, for such is the law of waves. But in the meantime nothing can be done to stop it. The unfortunate – the fools – are those men who, for some reason best known to themselves – probably on account of their exaggerated estimation of what is to be lost in the process ! – would like to stop it. The privileged ones – the wise – are those few who, being fully aware of the increasing worthlessness of present-day mankind and of its much-applauded “progress”, know how little there is to be lost in the coming crash and look forward to it with joyous expectation as to the necessary condition of a new beginning – a new “Golden Age”, sunlit crest of the next long drawn downward wave upon the surface of the endless Ocean of Life.
To those privileged ones – amongst whom we count ourselves – the whole succession of “current events” appears in an entirely different perspective from that either of the desperate believers in “progress” or of those people who, though accepting the cyclic view of history and therefore considering the coming crash as unavoidable, feel sorry to see the civilisation in which they live rush towards its doom.
To us, the high-resounding “isms” to which our contemporaries ask us to give our allegiance, now, in 1948, are all equally futile: bound to be betrayed, defeated, and finally rejected by men at large, if containing anything really noble: bound to enjoy, for the time being, some sort of noisy success, if sufficiently vulgar, pretentious and soul-killing to appeal to the growing number of mechanically conditioned slaves that crawl about our planet, posing as free men; all destined to prove, ultimately, of no avail. The time-honoured religions, rapidly growing out of fashion as present-day “isms” become more and more popular, are no less futile – if not more: frameworks of organised superstition void of all true feeling of the Divine, or – among more sophisticated people – mere conventional aspects of social life, or systems of ethics (and of very elementary ethics at that) seasoned with a sprinkling of out-dated rites and symbols of which hardly anybody bothers to seek the or! iginal meaning: devices in the hands of clever men in power to lull the simpletons into permanent obedience; convenient names, round which it might be easy to rally converging national aspirations or political tendencies; or just the last resort of weaklings and cranks: that is, practically, all they are – all they have been reduced to in the course of a few centuries – the lot of them. They are dead, in fact – as dead as the old cults that flourished before them, with the difference that those cults have long ceased exhaling the stench of death, whil e they (the so-called “living” ones) are still at the stage at which death is inseparable from corruption. None – neither Christianity nor Islam nor even Buddhism – can be expected now to “save” anything of that world they once partly conquered; none have any normal place in “modern” life, which is essentially devoid of all awareness of the eternal.
There are no activities in “modern” life which are not futile, save perhaps those that aim at satisfying one’s body hunger: growing rice; growing wheat; gathering chestnuts from the woods or potatoes from one’s garden. And the one and only sensible policy can but be to let things take their course and to await the coming Destroyer, destined to clear the ground for the building of a new “Age of Truth”: the One Whom the Hindus name Kalki and hail as the tenth and last Incarnation of Vishnu; the Destroyer Whose advent is the condition of the preservation of life, according to Life’s everlasting laws.
We know all this will sound utter folly to those, more and more numerous, who, despite the untold horrors of our age, remain convinced that humanity is “progressing”. It will appear as cynicism even to many of those who accept our belief in cyclic evolution, which is the universal, traditional belief expressed in poetic form in all the sacred texts of the world, including the Bible. We have nothing to reply to this latter possible criticism, for it is entirely based upon an emotional attitude which is not ours. But we can try to point out the vanity of the popular belief in “progress”, be it only in order to stress the rationality and strength of the theory of cycles.
The exponents of the belief in “progress” put forth many arguments to prove – to themselves and to others – that our times, with all their undeniable drawbacks, are on the whole, better than any epoch of the past, and even that they show definite signs of improvement. It is not possible to analyse all their arguments in detail. But one can easily detect the fallacies hidden in the most widespread and, apparently, the most “convincing” of them.
All the advocates of “prog-ress” lay enormous stress upon such things as literacy, individual “freedom”, equal opportunities for all men, religious toleration and “humaneness,” progress in this last line covering all such tendencies as find their expression in the modern preoccupation of child-welfare, prison-reforms, better conditions of labour, State aid to the sick and destitute and, if not greater kindness, at least less cruelty to animals. The dazzling results obtained, of recent years, in the application of scientific discoveries to industrial and other practical pursuits, are, of course, the most popular of all instances expected to show how marvellous our times are. But that point we shall not discuss, as we have already made it clear that we by no means deny or minimise the importance of technical progress. What we do deny is the existence of any progress at all in the value of man as such, whether individually or collectively, and our reflections on universal l! iterac y and other highly praised “signs” of improvement in which our contemporaries take pride, all spring from that one point of view.
We believe that man’s value – as every creature’s value, ultimately – lies not in the mere intellect but in the spirit; in the capacity to reflect that which, for lack of a more precise word, we choose to call “the divine,” i.e. that which is true and beautiful beyond all manifestation; that which remains timeless (and therefore unchangeable) within all changes…
Progress? – It is true that, today, at least in all highly organised (typically “modern”) countries, nearly everybody can read and write. But what of that? To be able to read and write is an advantage – and a considerable one. But it is not a virtue. It is a tool and a weapon; a means to an end; a very useful thing, no doubt; but not an end in itself. The ultimate value of literacy depends on the end to which it is used. And to what end is it generally used today? It is used for convenience or entertainment, by those who read; for some advertisement, or some objectionable propaganda – for money-making or power-grabbing – by those who write; sometimes, of course, by both, for acquiring and spreading disinterested knowledge of the few things worth knowing: for finding expression of or giving expression to the few deep feelings that can lift a man to the awareness of things eternal, but not more often so than in the days in which one man out of ten thousand could understand th! e symb olism of the written word. Generally, today, the man or woman whom compulsory education has made “literate” uses writing to communicate personal matters to absent friends and relatives, to fill forms – one of the international occupations of modern civilised humanity – or to commit to memory little useful, but otherwise trifling things such as someone’s address or telephone number, or the date of some appointment with the hairdresser or the dentist, or the list of clean clothes due from the laundry. He or she reads “to pass time” because, outside the hours of dreary work, mere thinking is no longer intense and interesting enough to serve that purpose.
We know that there are also people whose whole lives have been directed to some beautiful destiny by a book, a poem – a mere sentence – read in distant childhood, like Schliemann, who lavishly spent on archeological excavations and wealth patiently and purposefully gathered in forty years of dreary toil, all for the sake of the impression left upon him, as a boy, by the immortal story of Troy. But such people always lived, even before compulsory education came into fashion. And the stories heard and remembered were no less inspiring than stories now read. The real advantage of general literacy, if any, is to be sought elsewhere. It lies not in the better quality either of the exceptional men and women or of the literate millions, but rather in the fact that the latter are rapidly becoming intellectually more lazy and therefore more credulous than ever – and not less so – more easily deceived, more liable to be led like sheep without even the shadow of a protest, provided th! e nons ense one wishes them to swallow be presented to them in printed form and made to appear “scientific”. The higher the general level of literacy, the easier it is, for a government in control of the daily press, of the wireless and of the publishing business – these almost irresistible modern means of action upon the mind – to keep the masses and the “intelligentsia” under its thumb, without them even suspecting it.
Among widely illiterate but more actively thinking people, openly governed in the more autocratic manner, a prophet, direct mouthpiece of the Gods, or of genuine collective aspirations, could always hope to rise between secular authority and the people. The priests themselves could never be quite sure of keeping the people in obedience for ever. The people could choose to listen to the prophet, if they liked. And they did, sometimes. Today, wherever universal literacy is prevalent, inspired exponents of timeless truth – prophets – or even selfless advocates if timely practical changes, have less and less chances to appear. Sincere thought, real free thought, ready, in the name of superhuman authority or of humble common sense, to question the basis of what is officially taught and generally accepted, is less and less likely to thrive. It is, we repeat, by far easier to enslave a literate people than an illiterate one, strange as this may seem at first sight. And the enslave! ment is likely to be more lasting. The real advantage of universal literacy is to tighten the grip of the governing power upon the foolish and conceited millions. That is probably why it is drummed into our heads, from babyhood onwards, that “literacy” is such a boon. Capacity to think for one’s self is, however, the real boon. And that always was and always will be the privilege of a minority, once recognised as a natural elite and respected. Today, compulsory mass-education and an increasingly standardised literature for the consumption of “conditioned” brains – outstanding signs of “progress” – tend to reduce that minority to the smallest possible proportions; ultimately, to suppress it altogether. Is that what mankind wants? If so, mankind is losing its raison d’etre, and the sooner the end of this so-called “civilisation” the better.
What we have said of literacy can roughly be repeated about those two other main glories of modern Democracy: “individual freedom” and equality of opportunities for every person. The first is a lie – and a more and more sinister one as the shackles of compulsory education are being more and more hopelessly fastened round people’s whole being. The second is an absurdity.
One of the funniest inconsistencies of the average citizen of the modern industrialised world is the way in which he criticises all institutions of older and better civilisations, such as the caste-system of the Hindus or the all-absorbing family cult of the Far East, on the ground that these tend to check the “liberty of the individual.” He does not realise how exacting – nay, how annihilating – is the command of the collective authority which he obeys (half the time, unknowingly) compared to that of traditional collective authority, in apparently less “free” societies. The caste-ridden or family-ridden people of India or of the Far East might not be allowed to do all that they like, in many relatively trifling and in a few really all-important matters of daily life. But they are left to believe what they like, or rather what they can; to feel according to their own nature and to express themselves freely about a great number of essential matters; they are allowed to condu! ct their higher life in the manner they judge the wisest for them, after their duties to family, caste and king have been fulfilled. The individual living under the iron and steel rule of modern “progress” can eat whatever he fancies (to a great extent) and marry whom he pleases – unfortunately! – and go wherever he likes (in theory at least). But he is made to accept, in all extra-individual matters – matters which, to us, really count – the beliefs, the attitude to life, the scale of values and, to a great extent, the political views, that tend to strengthen the mighty socio-economic system of exploitation to which he belongs (to which he is forced to belong, in order to be able to live) and in which he is a mere cog. And what is more, he is made to believe that it is a privilege of his to be a cog in such an organism; that the unimportant matters in which he feels he is his own master are, in fact, the most important ones – the only really important ones. He is taught not to value that freedom of judgment about ultimate truth, aesthetical, ethical or metaphysical, of which he is subtly deprived. More still: he is told – in the democratic countries at any rate – that he is free in all respects; that he is “an individual, answerable to none but his own conscience”… after years of clever conditioning have moulded his “conscience”! and h is whole being so thoroughly according to pattern, that he is no longer capable of reacting differently. Well can such a man speak of “pressure upon the individual” in any society, ancient or modern!
One can realise to what an extent men’s minds have been curved, both by deliberate and unconscious conditioning, in the world in which we live today, when one encounters people who have never come under the influence of industrial civilisation, or when one happens, oneself, to be lucky enough to have defied, from childhood onwards, the pernicious pressure of standardised education and to have remained free amongst the crowd of those who react as they were taught to, in all fundamental matters. The cleavage between the thinking and the unthinking, the free and the slaves, is appalling.
As for “equality of opportunities,” there can be no such thing anyhow, really speaking. By producing men and women different both in degree and quality of intelligence, sensitiveness and will power, different in character and temperament, Nature herself gives them the most unequal opportunities of fulfilling their aspirations, whatever these might be. An over-emotional and rather weak person can, for instance, neither conceive the same ideal of happiness nor have equal chances of reaching it in life, as one who is born with a more balanced nature and a stronger will. That is obvious…
What our contemporaries mean when they speak of “equality of opportunities” is the fact that, in modern society – so they say – any man or woman stands, more and more, as many chances as his or her neighbour of holding the position and doing the job for which he or she is naturally fitted. But that too is only partly true. For, more and more, the world of today – the world dominated by grand-scale industry and mass production – can offer only jobs in which the best of the worker’s self plays little or no part if he or she be anything more than a merely clever and materially efficient person. The hereditary craftsman, who could find the best expression for what is conveniently called his “soul” in his daily weaving, carpet-making, enamel work, etc …, even the tiller of the soil, in personal contact with Mother Earth and the Sun and the seasons, is becoming more and more a figure of the past. There are less and less opportunities, also, for the sincere seeker of truth – spe! aker or writer – who refuses to become the expounder of broadly accepted ideas, products of mass-conditioning, for which he or she does not stand; for the seeker of beauty who refuses to bend his or her art to the demands of popular taste which he or she knows to be bad taste. Such people have to waste much of their time doing inefficiently – and grudgingly – some job for which they are not fitted, in order to live, before they can devote the rest of it to what the Hindus would call their sadhana – the work for which their deeper nature has appointed them; their life’s dedication.
The idea of modern division of labour, condensed in the oft-quoted sentence “the right man in the right place,” boils down, in practice, to the fact that any man – any one of the dull, indiscriminate millions – can be “conditioned” to occupy any place, while the best of human beings, the only ones who still justify the existence of the more and more degenerate species, are allowed no place at all. Progress….
Remain the “religious toleration” of our times and their “humaneness” compared with the “barbarity” of the past. Two jokes, to say the least!
Recalling some of the most spectacular horrors of history – the burning of “heretics” and “witches” at the stake; the wholesale massacre of “heathens,” and other no less repulsive manifestations of Christian civilisation in Europe, conquered America, Goa, and elsewhere – modern man is filled with pride in the “progress” accomplished, in one line at least, since the end of the dark ages of religious fanaticism. However bad they may be, our contemporaries have, at any rate, grown out of the habit of torturing people for such “trifles” as their conception of the Holy Trinity or their ideas about predestination and purgatory. Such is modern man’s feeling – because theological questions have lost all importance in his life. But in the days when Christian churches persecuted one another and encouraged the conversion of heathen nations by means of blood and fire, both the persecutors and the persecuted, both the Christians and those who wished to remain faithful to non-Christian c! reeds, looked upon such questions as vital in one way or another. And the real reason for which nobody is put to torture, today, for the sake of his or her religious beliefs, is not that torture as such has become distasteful to everybody, in “advanced” twentieth-century civilisation, not that individuals and States have become “tolerant,” but just that, among those who have the power of inflicting pain, hardly anybody takes any vivid, vital interest in religion, let alone in theology.
The so-called “religious toleration” practised by modern States and individuals springs from anything but an intelligent understanding and love of all religions as manifold, symbolical expressions of the same few essential, eternal truths… It is, rather, the outcome of a grossly ignorant contempt for all religions; of indifference to those very truths which their various founders endeavoured to re-assert, again and again. It is no toleration at all.
To judge how far our contemporaries have or not the right to boast of their “spirit of toleration,” the best is to watch their behaviour towards those whom they decidedly look upon as enemies of their gods: the men who happen to be holding views contrary to theirs concerning not some theological quibble, in which they are not interested, but some political or socio-political Ideology which they regard as “a threat to civilisation” or as “the only creed through which civilisation can be saved.” Nobody can deny that in all such circumstances, and specially in war time, they all perform – to the extent they have the power – or condone – to the extent they have not, themselves, the opportunity of performing – actions in every respect as ugly as those ordered, performed or tolerated in the past, in the name of different religions (if indeed the latter ugly be). The only difference is, perhaps, that modern cold-blooded atrocities only become known when the hidden powers in contro! l of the means of herd-conditioning – of the press, the wireless and the cinema – decide, for ends anything but “humanitarian,” that they should be, i.e. when they happen to be the enemies atrocities, not one’s own – nor those of one’s “gallant allies” – and when their story is, therefore, considered to be “good propaganda,” on account of the current of indignation it is expected to create and of the new incentive it is expected to give the war-effort. Moreover, after a war, fought or supposed to have been fought for an Ideology – the modern equivalent of the bitter religious conflicts of old – the horrors rightly or wrongly said to have been perpetrated by the vanquished are the only ones to be broadcasted all over the world, while the victors try as hard as they can to make believe that their High Command at least never shut its eyes to any similar horrors. But in sixteenth century Europe, and before; and among the warriors of Islam conducting “jihad” against men of other faiths, each side was well aware of the atrocious means used, not only by its opponents for their “foul ends,” but by its own people and its own leaders in order to “uproot heresy” or to “fight popery.” Modern man is more of a moral coward. He wants the advantages of violent intolerance – which is only natural – but he shuns the responsibility of it. Progress, that also.
The so-called “humaneness” of our contemporaries (compared with their forefathers) is just lack of nerve or lack of strong feelings – increasing cowardice, or increasing apathy.
Modern man is squeamish about atrocities – even about ordinary, unimaginative brutality – only when it happens that the aims for which atrocious or merely brutal actions are performed are either hateful or indifferent to him. In all other circumstances…. he shuts his eyes to any horrors – especially when he knows that the victims can never retaliate (as it is the case with all atrocities committed by man upon animals, for whatever purpose it be) and he demands, at the most, not to be reminded of them too often and too noisily. He reacts as though he classified atrocities under two headlines: the “unavoidable” and the avoidable. The “unavoidable” are those that served or are supposed to serve modern man’s purpose – generally: “the good of humanity” or the “triumph of Democracy.” They are tolerated, nay, justified. The “avoidable” are those which are occasionally committed, or said to be committed, by people whose purpose is alien to his. They alone are condemned, and their! real or supposed authors – or inspirers – branded by public opinion as “criminals against humanity.”
Which are, anyhow, the alleged signs of that wonderful “humaneness” of modern man, according to those who believe in progress? We no longer have today – they say – the horrid executions of former times; traitors are no longer “hung, drawn and quartered,” as was the custom in glorious sixteenth century England; anything approaching in ghastliness the torture and execution of Francois Damien, upon the central square of Paris, before thousands of people purposefully come to see it, on the 28th of May, 1757, would be unthinkable in modern France. Modern man also no longer upholds slavery, nor does he (in theory, at least) justify the exploitation of the masses under any form. And his wars – even his wars! monstrous as they may seem, with their elaborate apparatus of costly demoniacal machinery – are beginning to admit, within their code, (so one says) some amount of humanity and justice. Modern man is horrified at the mere thought of the war time, habits of ancient peoples – at! the s acrifice of twelve young Trojans to the shade of the Greek hero Patrocles, not to speak of the far less ancient but far more atrocious sacrifices of prisoners of war to the Aztec war-god Huitzilopochtli. (But the Aztecs, though relatively modern, were not Christians, nor, as far as we know, believers in all round progress). Finally – one says – modern man is kinder, or less cruel, to animals than his forefathers were.
Alone an enormous amount of prejudice in favour of our times can enable one to be taken in by such fallacies.
Surely modern man does not “uphold” slavery; he denounces it vehemently. But he practices it nevertheless – and on a wider scale than ever, and far more thoroughly than the Ancients ever could – whether in the Capitalistic West or in the Tropics, or (from what one hears from outside its impenetrable walls) even in the one State supposed to be, today, the “workers’ paradise.” There are differences, of course. In Antiquity, even the slave had hours of leisure and merriment that were all his own; he had his games of dice in the shade of the columns of his master’s portico, his coarse jokes, his free chatter, his free life outside his daily routine. The modern slave has not the privilege of loitering, completely carefree, for half an hour. His so-called leisure itself is either filled with almost compulsory entertainment, as exacting and often as dreary as his work, or – in “lands of freedom” – poisoned by economic worries. But he is not openly bought and sold. He is just taken! . And taken, not by a man in some way at least superior to himself, but by a huge impersonal system without either a body to kick or a soul to damn or a head to answer for its mischief.
And similarly, old horrors have no doubt disappeared from the records of so-called civilised mankind, regarding both justice and war. But new and worse ones, unknown to “barbaric” ages, have crept up in their place…
And, curiously enough – although (they say) they “hate such things” – a considerable number of men and women of today, while lacking the guts to commit horrible actions personally, seem to be just as keen as ever on watching them being performed or, at least, on thinking of them and gloating over them, and enjoying them vicariously, if denied the morbid pleasure of watching…
Such are also the millions of folk, hitherto “civilised” and apparently kind, who reveal themselves in their proper light no sooner a war breaks out, i.e. no sooner they feel encouraged to display the most repulsive type of imagination in competitive descriptions of what tortures everyone of them “would” inflict upon the enemy’s leaders, if he – or more often she – had a free hand. Such are, at heart, all those who gloat over the sufferings of the fallen enemy after a victorious war. And they are also millions: millions of vicarious savages, mean at the same time as cruel – unmanly – whom the warriors of the so-called “barbaric” ages would have thoroughly despised…
Such a world may well boast of its tender care for prize dogs and cats and for pet animals in general, while trying to forget (and to make better civilisations forget) the hideous fact of a million creatures vivisected yearly, in Great Britain alone. It cannot make us overlook its hidden horrors and convince us of its “progress” in kindness to animals, anymore than of its increasing kindness to people “irrespective of their creed.” We refuse to see in it anything else but the darkest living evidence of that which the Hindus have characterised from time immemorial as “Kali Yuga” – the “Dark Age”; the Era of Gloom; the last (and, fortunately, the shortest) subdivision of the present Cycle of history. There is no hope of “putting things right”, in such an age. It is, essentially, the age so forcefully though laconically described in the Book of books – the Bhagavad Gita – as that in which “out of the corruption of women proceeds the confusion of castes; out of the confusion of! caste s, the loss of memory; out of the loss of memory the lack of understanding; and out of all this, all evils;” the age in which falsehood is termed “truth” and truth persecuted as falsehood or mocked as insanity; in which the exponents of truth, the divinely inspired leaders, the real friends of all the living – the god-like men – are defeated, and their followers humbled and their memory slandered, while the masters of lies are hailed as “saviours”; the age in which every man and woman is in the wrong place, and the world dominated by inferior individuals and vicious doctrines, all part and parcel of an order of inherent ugliness far worse than complete anarchy.
This is the age in which our triumphant Democrats and our hopeful Communists boast of “slow but steady progress through science and education.” Thanks very much for such “progress”! The very sight of it is enough to confirm us in our belief in the immemorial cyclic theory of history, illustrated in the myths of all ancient, natural religions… It impresses upon us the fact that human history, far from being a steady ascension towards the better, is an increasingly hopeless process of bastardisation, emasculation and demoralisation of mankind; an inexorable “fall”. It rouses in us the yearning to see the end – the final crash that will push into oblivion both those worthless “isms” that are the product of the decay of thought and of character, and the no less worthless religions of equality which have slowly prepared and ground for them; the coming of Kalki, the divine Destroyer of evil; the dawn of a new Cycle opening, as all time-cycles ever did, with a “Golden Age”.
Never mind how bloody the final crash may be! Never mind what old treasures may perish for ever in the redeeming conflagration! The sooner it comes, the better. We are waiting for it – and for the following glory – confident in the divinely established cyclic Law that governs all manifestations of existence in Time: the law of Eternal Return. We are waiting for it, and for the subsequent triumph of the Truth persecuted today; for the triumph under whatever name, of the only faith in harmony with the everlasting laws of being; of the only modern “ism” which is anything but “modern”, being just the latest expression of principles as old as the Sun; the triumph of all those men who, throughout the centuries and today, have never lost the vision of the everlasting Order, decreed by the Sun, and who have fought in a selfless spirit to impress that vision upon others. We are waiting for the glorious restoration, this time, on a worldwide scale, of the “Golden Age”, of the everlas! ting Order of the Cosmos.
It is the only thing worth living for – and dying for, if given that privilege – now, in 1948.
Is ‘Being’ a mere word and its meaning utterly nebulous, or is it the spiritual destiny of the Occident?
This Europe, which is always in the process of tearing itself apart out of utter blindness, lies today in the great pincer-grip formed by Russia on the one hand and America on the other. Seen metaphysically, Russia and America are both the same: the same desolate frenzy of unbounded technology and of the unlimited organization of the average human being. Once the furthermost corner of the globe has been technologically conquered and opened up to economic exploitation, when every possible event in every possible place at every possible time has become as accessible as quickly as possible, when people can ‘experience’ an attempt on the life of a king in France and a symphony conceit in Tokyo simultaneously, when time has become only speed, instantaneousness, and simultaneity, and time as History has disappeared from the existence of all peoples, when the boxer is seen as the great man of a people, when mass gatherings running into millions are regarded as a triumph—then, yes, then, the questions which hover over this whole grotesque charade like ghosts are: for what?—where to?—and what then?
The spiritual decay of the earth is so advanced that peoples risk exhausting that reserve of spiritual force which enables them just to see and take stock of this decay (in respect of the destiny of ‘Being’). This simple observation has nothing to do with cultural pessimism: for in every corner of the world the darkening of the world, the flight of the gods, the destruction of the earth, the massification of man, the contemptuous suspicion of everything which is creative and free, have reached such proportions that such childlike expressions as pessimism and optimism have long become laughable.
We lie in a pincer-grip. As the people placed at the centre we experience the hardest pressure, as the people with the most neighbours we are most at risk, and on top of this we are the most metaphysical people. But this people will only be able to forge a destiny out of its fate if it first creates in itself a resonance, some possibility of a resonance, of this fate and achieves a creative understanding of its tradition. What all this involves is that this people as a historical people projects itself and thereby the history of the West from the core of its future development into the original realm of the forces of Being. If the great verdict on Europe is not to be reached on its road to annihilation, then it can only be reached because of the unfolding of new historically spiritual forces from the centre.
In order to underpin values which have been raised to the level of a moral imperative, the values themselves are attributed Being. But in this context Being basically means no more than the presence of what exists. Only that what is meant is not as crude and palpable as tables and chairs. Once values are endowed with Being the high-point of confusion and rootlessness has been arrived at. However, since the expression ‘value’ is gradually coming to sound hackneyed, especially since it still plays a role in economic theory, values are now called ‘totalities’. In 1928 there appeared the first volume of a complete bibliography of the concept value; 661 works concerning the concept of value are cited. They have presumably grown to a thousand by now. This is all called philosophy. What today is systematically touted as the philosophy of National Socialism, but which has nothing in the least to do with the inner truth and greatness of this movement (namely the encounter of a globally determined technology with the man of the new age), darts about with fish-like movements in the murky waters of these ‘values’ and ‘totalities’.
Cahiers du Cercle d’Etudes Metaphysiques, 1954.
When, in the natural attitude which is that of all “normal” existing beings, I “see” a house, my perception is spontaneous, and it is that house that I see, and not my own perception of it. On the other hand, if my attitude is “transcendental”, then it is my perception itself which is perceived. But this perception of a perception radically changes my primitive approach.
The state of actually experiencing something, uncomplicated to begin with, loses its spontaneity from the very fact that the new contemplation has for its object something that was originally a state, and not an object, and that the elements which make up my new perception include not only those pertaining to the house “as such”, but those pertaining to the perception itself, considered as an actually experienced flux. And an essentially important feature of this “alteration” is that the concomitant vision I had, in this bi-reflexive state of the house that was my original “motif”, so far from being lost, displaced or blurred by this interposition of “my” second perception in front of “its” original perception, is, paradoxically, intensified, becoming clearer, more “actual” and charged with more objective reality than before.
We are here confronted with a fact that cannot be accounted for by pure speculative analysis: namely, the transfiguration of the thing as consciously experienced, its transformation into a “super-thing”, its passage from being something “known about” to something “known”. This fact is insufficiently appreciated, although it is the most remarkable in the whole field of phenomenological experimentation. All the difficulties met with in ordinary phenomenology and, indeed, in all the classical theories of knowledge, stem from the fact that they consider the duality consciousness – knowledge as being self-sufficient and able to absorb the whole of experience. Whereas the triad knowledge-consciousness-science alone can provide a genuinely ontological foundation for phenomenology.
Certainly, nothing can make this transfiguration apparent except the direct and personal experience of the phenomenologist himself. But no one can claim to have understood real transcendental phenomenology unless he has had this experience and been “illuminated” as a result. No one, not even the most subtle of dialecticians or the most cunning logician, who has not actually experienced this and has therefore not seen things-beneath-things, can do more than talk about phenomenology; he cannot actively participate in any phenomenological experience. Let us make a more precise example:
As long as I can remember, I have always been able to recognize the colors blue, red, and yellow. My eye saw them, and I had a latent knowledge of them. Certainly “my eye” did not ask itself any questions about them: how could it have? Its function is to see, not to see itself in the act of seeing. But my brain itself was as if asleep: it was not in any sense the “eye of the eye”, but merely a prolongation of that organ. And so I simply said, almost without thinking: that’s a beautiful red – or a faded green – or a brilliant white.
One day some years ago while walking among the vines in the Canton of Vaud overlooking the Lake of Geneva I had a most extraordinary experience. The other of the steeply descending slope, the blue of the lake, the violet of the mountains in Savoy, and in the distance the glistening glaciers of the Grand Combin – all this I had seen a hundred times. I know knew for the first time that I had never looked at them. And yet, I had been living there for three months.
It is true that, from the very first, this landscape had profoundly affected me. But it had only produced in me a vague feeling of exaltation. No doubt the “I” of the philosopher is stronger that any landscape. The poignant sensation of beauty we experience is only the “I” measuring and deriving strength therefrom, the infinite distance that separates us from beauty. But on that day, suddenly, I knew that it was I who was creating that landscape and that without me it would not exist: “It is I who sees you and who sees myself seeing you and in so doing creates you” This cry from the heart is the cry of the Demiurg when creating “his” world. It is not only the suspension of an “old” world but the projection of a “new” one. And in that instant, indeed, the world was re-created.
Never had I seen such colors. They were thousands of times move vivid, more delicately shaded, more “alive”. I knew that I had just acquired a color-sense – which I was seeing color for the first time, and that until then I had never really seen a picture or penetrated the world of painting. But I knew also that by this awakening of consciousness, this perception of my perception, I held the key to that world of transfiguration that is not a mysterious sub-world, but the true world from which we are banished by our ignorance. This has nothing to do with attention. Transfiguration is complete. Attention never is. Transfiguration knows itself in its positive sufficiency. Attention aims at attaining some day such sufficiency. It cannot be said, of course, that attentiveness is empty. On the contrary, it craves fullness. But this craving is not fulfillment. When I returned to the village that day, the people I met were most “attentive” to their work; yet to me they all seemed to be walking in their sleep.
CHAPTER I. SACRIFICES IN GENERAL
I by no means accept the blasphemous axiom, Human fear first invented the gods.[Primus in orbe deos fecit timor. This passage, whose true author is unknown, is to be found amongst the fragments of Petronius. It is quite at home there.]
On the contrary, I am happy to notice that men, by giving God names expressing greatness, power, and goodness, by calling him Lord, Master, Father, and so on, show clearly enough that the idea of divinity cannot be born of fear. It can be seen also that music, poetry, dance, in a word all the pleasing arts, have been called on in religious ceremonies and that the idea of rejoicing was always so closely involved in the idea of festival that the last became everywhere synonymous with the first.
Far be it from me, moreover, to believe that the idea of God could have started with humanity or, in other words, that humanity can be older than the idea.
It must, however, be confessed, after having made sure that this is orthodox, that history shows man to be convinced at all times of this terrible truth, that he lives under the hand of an angry power and that this power can be appeased only by sacrifice.
At first sight, it is not at all easy to reconcile so apparently contradictory ideas, but, if they are studied closely, it can easily be understood how they agree and why the feeling of terror has always existed side by side with that of joy without the one ever having been able to destroy the other.
“The gods are good, and we are indebted to them for all the good things we enjoy: we owe them praise and thanks. But the gods are just and we are guilty. They must be appeased and we must expiate our sins; and, to do this, the most effective means is sacrifice.”
Such was the ancient belief and such is still, in different forms, the belief of the whole world. Primitive men, from whom the whole of humanity has received its fundamental opinions, believed themselves culpable. All social institutions have been founded on this dogma, so that men of every age have continually admitted original and universal degradation and said like us, if less explicitly, our Mothers conceived us in sin; for there is no Christian dogma that is not rooted in man’s inner nature and in a tradition as old as humanity.
But the root of this debasement, or this reification of man, resides in sensibility, in life, in short in the soul, so carefully distinguished by the ancients from the spirit or intelligence.
Animals have received only a soul; we have been given both soul and spirit….
The idea of two distinct powers is very ancient, even in the Church. “Those who have adopted it,” said Origen, “do not think that the words of the apostle the flesh lusteth against the spirit (Galatians 5:17), should be taken to mean the flesh literally, but to refer to that soul which is really the soul of the flesh: for, they say, we have two souls, one good and celestial, the other inferior and terrestrial: it is of the latter that it has been said its works are manifest (ibid., 19), and we believe that this soul of the flesh resides in the blood.”[Origen, De Principiis, Book iii, Chap. iv. 8.]
For the rest, Origen, who was at once the most daring and the most modest of men in his opinions, did not persist in this problem. The reader, he said, will form his own opinions. It is, however, obvious that he had no other explanation for two diametrically opposed impulses within a single individual.
Indeed, what is this power that opposes the man or, to put it better, his conscience? What is this power which is not he, or all of him? Is it material like stone or wood? In this case, it neither thinks nor feels and consequently cannot be capable of disturbing the spirit in its workings. I listen with respect and dread to all the threats made by the flesh, but I want to know what it is ….
Fundamentally, it appears that on this point Holy Scripture is in complete agreement with ancient and modern philosophy, since it teaches us “that man is double in his ways[James 1:8.] and that the word of God is a living sword that pierces to the division of the soul and the spirit and discerns the thoughts of the heart.”[Hebrews 4:12.]
And Saint Augustine, confessing to God the sway that old visions brought back by dreams still had over his soul, cried out with the most pleasing simplicity, “Then, Lord, am I myself?”[Confessions, X, xxx.]
No, without doubt, he was not HIMSELF, and no one knew this better than he, who tells us in the same passage, How much difference there is between MYSELF and MYSELF; he who so well distinguished the two powers in man when he cried out again to God: Oh, thou mystic bread of my soul, spouse of my intelligence, I could not love you.[Ibid., I, xiii.]
Milton has put some beautiful lines into the mouth of Satan, who howls of his appalling degradation.* Man also could suitably and wisely speak them ….
[* “O foul descent! that I who erst contended
With gods to sit the highest, am now constrain’d
Into a beast; and, mix’d with bestial slime,
This essence to incarnate and imbrute,
That to the height of deity aspired!” – Paradise Lost, ix, 163-167.]
I am aware that the doctrine of the two souls was condemned in ancient times but I do not know if this was by a competent tribunal: besides, it is enough to understand it. That man is a being resulting from the union of two souls, that is to say, of two intelligent constituents of the same nature, one good and the other bad, this is, I believe, the opinion which should have been condemned and which I also wholeheartedly condemn. But that the intelligence is the same as sensation, or that this element, which is also called the vital principle and which is life, can be something material, completely devoid of understanding and consciousness, is what I will never believe, unless I happen to be warned that I am mistaken by the only power with a legitimate authority over human belief. In this case, I should not hesitate a moment, and whereas now I have only the certainty that I am right, then I would have the faith that I am wrong. If I were to profess other opinions, I would directly contradict the principles which have dictated the work I am publishing and which are no less sacred to me.
Whatever view is taken about the duality of man, it is on the animal power, on life, on the soul (for all these words meant the same thing in the ancient language), that the malediction acknowledged by the whole world falls….
Man being thus guilty through his sensuous principle, through his flesh, through his life, the curse fell on his blood, for blood was the principle of life, or rather blood was life.[Genesis 9:4-5; Leviticus 17:11; Deuteronomy 12:23-24.] And it is a remarkable fact that old Eastern traditions such as these, which had long been forgotten, have been revived in our own day and upheld by the most distinguished physiologists. Let us accept the vitality of blood, or rather the identity of blood and life, as a fact which antiquity never doubted and which has been acknowledged again today; another opinion as old as the world itself was that heaven grew angry with the flesh, and blood could be appeased only by blood. No nation doubted that there was an expiatory virtue in the spilling of blood. Now neither reason nor folly could have invented this idea, still less get it generally accepted. It is rooted in the furthest depths of human nature, and on this point the whole of history does not show a single dissenting voice. The entire theory rests on the dogma of substitution. It was believed (as was and always will be the case) that the innocent could pay for the guilty; from which it was concluded that, life being guilty, a less precious life could be offered and accepted in place of another. Thus the blood of animals was offered, and this soul, offered for a soul, the ancients called antipsychon, vicariam animam, as you might say a soul for a soul OR substitute soul….
It should be noticed that, in sacrifices properly speaking, carnivorous or nonintelligent or nondomestic animals like deer, snakes, fish, birds of prey, and so on, were not slaughtered. A]ways, among the animals, the most valuable for their utility, the gentlest, the most innocent, those nearest to man by instinct and habit were chosen. Since in the end man could not be slaughtered to save man, the most human, if I can put it like that, in the animal world were chosen as victims; and the victim was always burned wholly or in part, to bear witness that the natural penalty for crime is the stake and that the substitute flesh was burned in place of the guilty flesh….
The roots of so extraordinary and so general a belief must go very deep. If there was nothing true or enigmatic about it, why should God himself have retained it in the Mosaic law? Where could the ancients have found the idea of a spiritual regeneration through blood? And why, at all times and in all places, have men chosen to honor, supplicate, and placate God by means of a ceremony that reason points out to all and that feeling rejects? It is absolutely necessary to appeal to some hidden and very powerful cause.
CHAPTER II. HUMAN SACRIFICES
The doctrine of substitution being universally accepted, it was thought equally certain that the effectiveness of sacrifices was proportionate to the consequence of the victims; and this double belief, at bottom just but vitiated by the force that vitiates all things, gave birth on all sides to the horrible superstition of human sacrifices. In vain did reason tell men that they had no rights over their fellows and that they even testified to this themselves by offering the blood of animals to atone for that of man; in vain did gentle humanity and natural compassion reinforce the arguments of reason: in face of this compulsive dogma, reason remained as powerless as feeling.
One would like to be able to contradict history when it shows us this abominable custom practiced throughout the world, but, to the shame of humanity, nothing is more incontestable…. Once again, where did men take their opinion from? And what truth had they corrupted to reach their frightful error? It is quite clear, I think, that it all results from the dogma of substitution, whose truth is beyond dispute and is ever innate in man (for how could he have acquired it?), but which he has abused in a deplorable manner: for, accurately speaking, man cannot take up an error. He can only be ignorant of or abuse the truth, that is to say, extend it by false induction to a case which is irrelevant to it.
It seems that two false arguments lead men astray; first, the importance of the subjects which are to be freed from anathema. It is said, To save an army, a town, even a great sovereign, what is one man? The particular characteristics of the two kinds of human victim already sacrificed under civil law are also considered, and it is said, What is the life of a criminal or an enemy?
It is very likely that the first human victims were criminals condemned by the laws, for every nation believed what the Druids believed according to Caesar,[De bello gallico, vi, 16.] that the punishment of criminals was highly pleasing to the Divinity. The ancients believed that every capital crime committed in the state bound the nation and that the criminal was sacred or consecrated to the gods till, by the spilling of his blood, he had unbound both himself and the nation….
Unfortunately, once men were possessed with the principle that the effectiveness of sacrifices was proportionate to the consequence of the victims, it was only a short step from the criminal to the enemy. Every enemy was a criminal, and unfortunately again every foreigner was an enemy when victims were needed….
It seems that this fatal chain of reasoning explains completely the universality of so detestable a practice, that it explains it very well, I insist, in human terms: for I by no means intend to deny (and how could good sense, however slightly informed, deny it?) the effect of evil that had corrupted everything.
Evil would have no effect at all on men if it involved them in an isolated error. This is not even possible, for error is nothing. If every previous idea was left out of account, and a man proposed to slaughter another in order to propitiate the gods, the only response would be to put him to death or lock him up as a madman. Thus it is always necessary to start from a truth to propagate an error. This is especially striking if one thinks about paganism which shines with truths, but all distorted and out of place in such a way that I entirely agree with that contemporary theosophist who said that idolatry was a putrefaction. If the subject is examined closely, it can be seen that, among the most foolish, indecent, and atrocious opinions, among the most monstrous practices and those most shameful to mankind, there is not one that we cannot deliver from evil (since we have been granted the knowledge now to ask for this favor), to show then the residue of truth, which is divine.
It was thus from the incontestable truths of the degradation of man and his original unity, from the necessity of reparation, from the transferability of merits and the substitution of expiatory sufferings that men were led to the dreadful error of human sufferings….
But we, who blanch with horror at the very idea of human sacrifices and cannibalism, how can we be at the same time so blind and ungrateful as not to recognize that we owe these feelings only to the law of love which watched over our cradle? Not long ago a famous nation, which had reached the peak of civilization and refinement, dared formally to suspend this law in a fit of madness of which history gives no other example: what happened? – in a flash, the mores of the Iroquois and the Algonquin; the holy laws of humanity crushed underfoot; innocent blood covering the scaffolds which covered France; men powdering and curling bloodstained heads; the very mouths of women stained with human blood.
Here is the natural man! It is not that he does not bear within him the indestructible seeds of truth and virtue: his birthrights are imprescriptible; but without divine nurture these seeds will never germinate or will yield only damaged and unwholesome fruits.
It is time to draw from the most undeniable historical facts a conclusion which is no less undeniable.
From four centuries’ experience, we know that wherever the true God is not known and served by virtue of an explicit revelation, man will slaughter man and often eat him.
Lucretius, having told us of the sacrifice of Iphigenia (as a true story, that is understood, since he had need of it), exclaimed in a triumphant tone, How many evils can religion spawn!
Alas, he saw only the abuses, just like all his successors, who are much less excusable than he. He was unaware that the scourge of human sacrifice, however outrageous it was, was nothing compared to the evils produced by absolute godlessness. He was unaware or he did not wish to see that there is not and even cannot be an entirely false religion, that the religion of all civilized nations, such as it was in the age when he wrote, was no less the cement of the political structure, and that, by undermining it, Epicurean doctrines were about to undermine by the same stroke the old Roman constitution and substitute for it an atrocious and endless tyranny.
For us, happy possessors of the truth, let us not commit the crime of disregarding it….
CHAPTER III. THE CHRISTIAN THEORY OF SACRIFICES
What truth is not to be found in paganism?…
How then can we fail to recognize that paganism could not be mistaken about an idea so universal and fundamental as that of sacrifice, that is to say, of redemption by blood? Humanity could not guess at the amount of blood it needed. What man, left to himself, could suspect the immensity of the fall and the immensity of the restoring love? Yet every people, by admitting this fall more or less clearly, has admitted also the need and the nature of the remedy.
This has been the constant belief of all men. It has been modified in practice, according to the characteristics of peoples and religions, but the principle always remains the same. In particular, all nations are agreed on the wonderful effectiveness of the voluntary sacrifice of the innocent who dedicates himself to God like a propitiatory victim. Men have always attached a boundless value to the submission of the just to sufferings….
As has been said in the Dialogues, the idea of redemption is universal. At all times and in all places, men have believed that the innocent could atone for the guilty, but Christianity has corrected this idea as well as a thousand others which, even in their unreformed state, had in advance borne the clearest witness to it. Under the sway of this divine law, the just man (who never believes himself to be such) still tries to draw near to his model through suffering….
We are socialists. We are enemies, deadly enemies, of today’s capitalist economic system with its exploitation of the economically weak, its unfair wage system, its immoral way of judging the worth of human beings in terms of their wealth and their money, instead of their responsibility and performance, and we are determined to destroy this system whatever happens!
And yet it is not enough just to change the system, to replace one economic system by another; what is needed above all is to change the spirit! The spirit to be overcome is the spirit of materialism!
We must learn that work means more than possessions! Performance is more than dividends! It is the most wretched legacy of this capitalist system that the criterion for everything’s value is money, wealth, possessions! The decline of a people is the inevitable consequence of the use of this yardstick, because selection on the basis of property is the arch-enemy of race, blood, life! We have never left any doubts about the fact that our national socialism puts an end to the privileges of wealth, and that the emancipation of the worker involves participation in profits, property, and management.
There has been much talk in the volkisch movement about the emergence of a new political leadership, and the call for such a leadership is compatible with what I have been saying. But the ways which it recommends for solving the problem, examining people’s blood, re-nordification, etc., etc., seem to my practical nature somewhat dubious as far as their feasibility, their value, and even their effectiveness is concerned! There is another one, however, which is an archetypally German, Prussian way, which is more appropriate than any other: selection through the army!
For a man, military service is the most profound and valuable form of participation in the State–for the woman it is motherhood! There are many African tribes where mothers who die in labor are buried with the same honors as warriors who have fallen in battle!
You can call it utopian but for me it is a certainty! Given twenty to thirty years of this type of selection, Germany will have a leadership and executive class which will change the whole face of society and the State, and provide the backbone of the State and its economy!
Tantra is a religious secret method of sexual love. The male must be pure; the woman can be a sacred prostitute from the temples, what at the end means that she is also pure . They prepare themselves a long time before realizing the “Maithuna”, in sanscrit, or mystic coitus. Both persons isolate in the jungle and live as brother and sister, like the alchemist and his Soror, having an interchange of ideas, images and words (grinding, wasting the substances, wearing the metal). They sleep together, naked, on the same place; but they do not touch each other. Only after long months they can have the realization of the Tantric Mass, drinking wine, eating cereal and practicing the “Maithuna”. This act is the end of a long process of psychic understanding, until the flesh has been transformed, until it has been transfigurated, “perfumed” as a lotus, until the lead has been converted into gold, with mercury’s help, of the misterious fire awaken on the base of the spine. Then this fire is the one that now works when the female is possessed on the “Maithuna”. This fire is an non extinguishible fire. In the act of supremus love – that have nothing to do with current love, when only death acts, and produces flesh life- In this time, the one who performs is the Angel of Death, who produces spiritual life. She, the woman, the magic love priestess, touches him with her serpentine fire, and all the chakras of the male, of the tantric heroe, are all prepared already for the mystic death and ressurrection, this process awakes all “concious centers”, at the same time this ritual open her chakras either. At the end of the Maithuna, , the unnamed pleasure is reached not on the eyaculation of semen, what is extrictly forbidden, it´s reached on the vision’s pleasure. the opening of the Third eye, the fussion of the opposites organs. On the Maithuna. Semen does not go out, but goes inside. The process of creation is inverted with a retrograde movement, explained in some way. The creature of this forbidden love is the Androginous, the Complete man, with all his Chakras or energy centers awaken, or opened. On the Self encounters. With the last flower, the one that never existed, the one created more than five thousand years ago.
I reread the pages of this book with an overpowering feeling of nostalgia.
How many years have there been, and how many editions? – twenty in the United States alone, as well as translations into most of the European languages, even Dutch and Greek, not to mention Persian and Japanese. How many years have passed since I experienced this great adventure of the soul! Truly, I have been blessed with a magical existence, since I was lucky enough to live for ten years in Montagnola, in the ancient Casa Camuzzi, which had once provided a home for Hermann Hesse. It was a nobleman’s house, built in the Saint Petersburg Baroque style by one of the architects of the Golden Hill, its balconies and terraces facing the peaks of the Alps and the Lago di Lugano – but also opening onto the Garden of Klingsor.
Youthful pilgrims from East and West beat a path to its door, carrying in their knapsacks The Hermetic Circle, often in its German translation but more often in the English version. They retraced, step by step, the journey I had made so many years earlier (more than twenty years earlier, in fact) and, quite unexpectedly, they found themselves fact to face with the author of those pages, who acted as their guide, sat them down at his table to drink wine and offered them hospitality, just as all those years ago Hesse had done with me -then merely another youthful pilgrim, who had arrived from the Polar South with no more credentials than a recently-published first work entitled: Neither by Sea nor by Land.
Many things had changed since those far-off days. The streets of Montagnola were no longer of earth but of asphalt, and the pilgrims who trod them were different, too. Almost all of them had gotten to know Hermann Hesse via the biased propaganda of an adulterated form of Hinduism or of the drug culture. I tried to make them see that Hermann Hesse was not at all like that, and that he was being used, distorted. Of course, I realized that I would only achieve limited success among a small number of those I spoke to, whom I might just be able to save before an entire generation plunged into the abyss. I was encouraged in my endeavor by the memory of Ninon Hesse, the author’s wife, who had confessed to me, in the last interview we ever had, her own discouragement in her struggle to ensure that Hesse was not distorted. She told me that she had had a visit from a Canadian television company, which wanted her to write a script from Steppenwolf. She had refused, because Hesse had expressly stated in his Will that his works were not to be filmed. Ninon was having problems with the author’s children, too. While she was alive, Hesse’s instructions were obeyed faithfully, but this was to change after her death.
One day, in Montagnola, I received a visit from Hermann Hesse’s son, Heiner, accompanied by some North American filmmakers. Heiner Hesse had given them permission to make a film of Steppenwolf. They wanted to consult me. I questioned Heiner about the terms of his father’s Will and reminded him of what Ninon had told me. He confirmed that those were indeed the terms, but explained that there was an additional clause to the effect that ‘if any of his children were to find himself in an adverse economic situation, he could authorize a film of one of the books.’ I asked him if he was in such a situation, and he said ‘no,’ but that he was ‘… doing it to help present-day youth.’ They left me the script, saying that they would return in a week’s time for my opinion.
As I read the pages, I was surprised to discover statements by the protagonist of Steppenwolf that were lengthy diatribes against Nazism – something that had never appeared in the original book. I pointed this out at our subsequent meeting, and I can still remember -with a sense of something akin to shock – the reply: ‘We had to put these in because the North American public tends to see in Hermann Hesse’s cultural baggage the same tradition that gave rise to Nazism in Germany.’ This was appalling. It goes without saying that I told them that I was opposed both to this falsification and to the making of the film itself – but, of course, it went ahead after the payment of $ 70 000 to Heiner Hesse. The film was a complete failure.
The total lack of discretion and respect shown by the North Americans and the information media, as well as their lack of culture, led them to try to destroy a German – and so German! – author’s links with the very roots of his nationality so as to use him for their own aims, to use him in the great conspiracy of ‘universal revelation,’ so to speak, which had just begun and which was soon to spread with vertiginous speed across the whole planet. This phenomenon was doubtless encouraged by the vast lack of culture which was generalized and propagated by so many circles in the United States of America.
By this time, my book, The Hermetic Circle, had acquired a certain reputation and was being read by young people and by university circles and professional psychiatrists, in Jungian groups, to a point where the Australian Psychiatric Society sent me a letter of congratulations signed by the president and all its members. For several years, symposiums were held in Montagnola or its immediate vicinity, at the instigation of enlightened North Americans, in which writers and university professors from Europe and America took part. They invited me, too, with the result that I was afforded the opportunity to give two talks. One was about Nietzsche and the Eternal Return, which was subsequently published in book-form under the same title, after I had also given the talk at a university college in Madrid and at the Institute of Hispanic Culture in Madrid and Barcelona, as well as in various Chilean universities. My second lecture was on ‘The Transformation of Hermann Hesse in the United States of America.’
In this talk, I sustained the thesis that Hermann Hesse’s essential meaning had been adulterated, making him appear to be some kin of Bohemian, a hippy, an apostle of the drug culture, a pacifist vagrant (although he was indeed a pacifist) who preached liberty at the expense of discipline and method and who, by some subtle means, hinted at homosexuality – or, if one prefers, bisexuality. I affirmed most emphatically that Hermann Hesse could not really be understood if he was cut off from his roots in the literary tradition of German Romanticism, in the ongoing tradition of Novalis, Hölderlin, Kleist and of Nietzsche himself, whom he so admired. Hesse had become the ultimate flower of German Romanticism and of the philosophical line of thought that, with Schopenhauer and Goethe himself (an admirer of Shakunthala), had initiated the great conceptual journey to the East. (Hermann Hesse wrote an extraordinary study of German Romanticism, which has long since disappeared and is completely unknown today.) Under the influence of C.G. Jung, with whom he underwent psychoanalysis, Hesse entered fully into the Germanico-alchemical dream of the Androgyne – which is the opposite of homosexuality – whose aspiration is totality and the fusion of the opposites, the unity of Nietzsche’s ‘Self,’ the inner homo, of coelo, Demian, beloved and admired by Sinclair; that is to say, by Hesse. His most intimate ego. Narcissus and Goldmund. In the original German version of Steppenwolf, the female protagonist is called Hermina, which is the feminine of Hermann. And this is the same alchemical-tantrio game as in Mozart’s Magic Flute: Pamino and Pamina. Hermann Hesse, like the great Germans of the grand tradition, was steeped in the music of Mozart and Bach.
An attempt has been made to turn Hesse into a product of the Consumer society and a propagator of its rites and orthodoxy. He has been firmly inserted in the sinister current of the Kali Yuga. But the young Chilean who, many ears ago, walked the dusty streets of Montagnola and who later returned as his country’s ambassador to India, went in search of the other Hesse, the real one; just as he went in search of the real India – that of the eternal ones, the beloved, the Immortals.
These, I can still encounter in the pages of this book.
I had to wait many years before I was accepted by the guides who control us from the Ray of Green Light, and the Master decided to initiate me.
I was summoned to the Circular Room of Glass, which had been built in the south as a copy of the first home. The warriors were all there, dreS$ed in black and carrying their swords. I, too, carried mine.
The great Sign of Return, which revolves in the opposite direction to the turning of this present earth, was suspended from the vaulted roof. A fire burned in the centre of the room. I drew my sword and passed it to the Master .
‘You must stand,’ he told me. ‘No one kneels in our company.’ The others formed a circle around us. The Master passed my sword over the flames.
‘There are two swords. One day you will be the Warrior of the Two Swords, when you regain the faculty of conversing with the animals and plants, which is the language of A valon, spoken in the City of the Caesars. You will be the Warrior of the Two Worlds, the inner and outer. There is only one sword, but it has two edges, llke a double-headed eagle. It is the Sword of the Two Consciousnesses, of the awakening.’
The Master drew a sign on the blade of the sword and handed it back to me. The warriors pointed their swords at my heart. Then they raised them towards the Emblem of Return.
‘The Circle is called Huilkanota. You are now an Ancahuinca, a warrior serving the White Gods of Albania. Now you can never turn back. Whosoever sets foot here can never go back. He must go ever onward, across burning deserts and icy plateaux, suffering thirst, half-frozen, alone, without human comfort, without the warm embrace of a living woman, usque ad mortem, until one day he reaches the diamond-encrusted walls of the City of Dawn, its drawbridge, its hidden entrance. By his constant courage in battle, by his “fury” alone, he will have gained the right to resurrection and eternal life. But whosoever sets foot upon this path which leads to the great beyond may not go forward ifhe ever has the intention of turning back. He who has attained the human state and doesn’t try to go beyond it is like a man who commits suicide.’ And the Master gave me the first sign in our initiation: ‘The sign is the language of Atlantis-Hyperborea. When you trace it over your heart, it affects the two heads of the double-headed eagle and instantly reaches the Two Earths and all your bodies, reactivating them. It is your defence and paralyses those who are opposed to your myth, opposing Nos, like a counter-initiation, an anti-spirit.
Other signs will be given to you, either by me personally or by the guides, as they become necessary to the glory of your fight, on the dangerous road which you will be following. May the Norns be propitious to you! May the immortals give you their blessing! Go, se’ek! And never return. Leap!’
THE SEARCH ONCE AGAIN
Since that day I have travelled the world from end to end, searching, consulting, looking deep into the eyes of every pilgrim I meet to see whether he is one of my comrades, to receive some sign or indication that would help me find the path that leads to the gates of the City of Dawn.
At first, I allowed myself to be dragged along by the current that flows ever farther towards the south. I penetrated its borders, where Pedro Sarmiento de Gamboa tasted the bitter fruit of return, called Calafate (l). In the Sarmiento Mountains, by Lake Nahuel Huapi, I searched for the City of the Caesars. And one day I found myself at a great altitude, near the peak of Melimoyu. Without knowing why, I burst into tears beside a small lake and a rock which stood on a plateau, near a forest of petrified conifers. It was with great difficulty that I came down from there, as if half of m y soul lay dead in that place.
And I continued my search until I reached the icy wastes of the Antarctic, guided by a golden-haired dog, always with the hope of seeing the oasis which was the entrance to the Interior World, the Hollow Earth, the refuge of our guides, appear in the thick mist. And in the expectation of their resurrection.
I don’t know what happened to my golden-haired dog, or whether I lost it in this turn of the wheel or another, whether it fell into a bottomless Antarctic abyss, or whether it was devoured by the ferocious skuas, those Antarctic seagulls which flew ever closer to its Golden Fleece.
I have said that I travelled to all the ends of the earth. And thus it was. I crossed the great Ocean which eats away at our coasts, in the knowledge that the temples, palaces and golden ghosts of Gondwana and Mu, the decomposing skeletons of the men of Lemuria, their treasures, their immense submerged powers, their cosmogonic dreams, still lie in its depths. And one day I reached the Other Spine of the Earth, the Himalayas, because I thought to find the City of Agharti and the Masters of my Master there. I lived in India for many years, searching the holy mountains for the Siddha-Ashram. The Master had to1d me that its entrance was to be found on the sacred Mount Kailas, in the Transhimalayas, above the rainline, near Lake Manasarovar. I was on the point of reaching it. But I was prevented from doing so by the other races who had taken control of those regions and who were opposed to our myth, forcing Kaliyuga towards its nadir, to the new kingdom of the ants, to a planet of lead. Only the judgment of the Noms can save our Myth of Resurrection and Eternal Love. And the sword called ‘Blood Memory’. And the Disc of Green Light and the return of the White Gods.
CARL GUSTAV JUNG
On my return to the west, in that European world which is not like the South American one, and which after the Thirty Years War and the latest war of the Mahabharata has become like a body without a soul, I discovered that a noble White Spirit had left Europe for ever . I was told that the Grail had been taken by Parsifal to Albania, the ancient name for America, in a Templars’ ship with a fiery cross on its sail which revolved in the direction of return, towards the oases of the South Pole. In Switzerland, beside a lake, in a tower built by his own hands and whose construction had been determined by his dreams, I met the Master of the Sphinx once more. He was carving a serpent on a rock, while the waters of the lake lapped gently round his feet. He saw me arrive, exhausted, thirsty and hungry, and invited me inside the tower to rest beside the fire while he prepared a meal for me.
He offered me wine in a metal jug and we talked all that night and the following day. I shall try and reproduce what he told me. ‘Like you, I have lost the war. When I have left this life, a conspiracy will take place against me. It has always been so, because only poets will be able to understand me and continue my work. Sometimes I think that my fellow countrymen, in this tiny land in which I am living in this turn of the wheel, hate me, because I endanger their materialist, money-orientated way of life. I am not from this world. I am a Hyperborean. Like you, I am a stranger in this world, in this land inhabited by the “slaves of Atlantis”. We lost this stage of the war of the Mahabharata. Because of this, my work f/ill remain unfinished and only poets, as I have said, will be able to understand it and carry it on. This homeland of mine, which was once druidic, has remained a part of a Celtic confederation whose symbol is a clover with four leaves, because it lacks the fifth leaf which is the Hyperborean polar spirit, the leaf of the number of destiny. It lost it, or it never had it. At least your homeland is the land of the Morning Star…
‘But you are to blame, ‘I broke in. ‘Why didn’t you risk your all?
You were also a son of your mountainous country, lacking in sacred fury.’
‘I would have lost the little that I had salvaged in the battle. And now it will be the sons of my own flesh who will take part in the destruction of my work. A creator, a warrior, should not have children. …’
‘That is true, ‘I agreed.
He poured out the wine. He put some large pots and the old metal frying pan into the cupboard. He greeted them and thanked them, talking to them as if they could understand him. After an almost religious silence, he looked at me fixedly: ‘Well, pilgrim, you have eaten and drunk. Do you wish to rest or would you rather open your heart to me now, as you did long ago, when you were a king standing beside the Sphinx?’
‘I will talk to you, ‘I replied. ‘That is why I have come. Only you can answer me.’
‘I have been asking myself the same question for an entire eternity, without obtaining an answer. Is there any reason to believe that anything survives death? The “ego”, for example? Can it die? If the “ego” dies, everything comes to an end with it. One day you explained to me that if the “ego” didn’t exist, there would be no world. If a yogi, for example, had stripped himself of his “ego” in his profoundest state of samadhi, there would be no one there to know that he had been in samadhi. Or perhaps he didn’t know that he was in samadhi? Because there is individuality without ego-consciousness; it exists even in a flower, a stone. ” A stone is a stone because it has no ego-consciousness, ” said Meister Eckhart.
Without consciousness, without “ego”, there can be no individuation. There is persona but not personality. And the “ego”, this “ego” I feel myself to be, that only I am, how can it die? If it dies, the world comes to an end, because how can “I” know that it will go on without “me”, when “I” die? Only because people tell me so, because someone assures me it is so, while I am still here. I learn that the world goes on after me. And it is “I” who hears it, always “I”. Ah, but if I really do die, then everything comes to an end, even the world. And I cannot escape from this. There is no possible way out for my “ego”. I can only think and feel the following: when I disappear, if ever I do disappear, someone in eternity will again feel himself to be “me”, exactly as I do now. And this “I”, who feels like this, will be “I” myself, just as if nothing had ceased to exist; because in the immense interval, after a whole eternity, if there is no “I” -this “I” -there is no consciousness, so that time also comes to an end. A moment, a sigh, a nothing. The disappearance and resurrection of the world. The sleep, the repose of the Gods. The Eternal Return.
‘I have come here to consult you, to talk to you, to think with you. How can I know that you really exist, that you are also “I”, that you feel yourself to be an “I”, “your-I”? Only because I hear you tell me so. And it could well be a projection of myself or a splitting of myself in two, like all the rest, words that I am saying to myself, questions and answers that I am putting to myself, a monologue in front of a mirror in which I am looking at myself. At the end of his dramatic life, Nietzsche also had discovered this – so they tell me – and he became all people in one, at one and the same time, succeeding in escaping from the circle into madness. But did he really escape?’
He passed his old hands across his forehead.
‘This has been my obsessive melody, too. The anguish of this mental brick wall, this narrow path which seems to leave us without a way out. Without an answer. Because, truly, there is none. You know? There is none! The only thing I can confirm to you is that I, too, feel myself to be “me”. A poor answer. Because you don’t believe me, you cannot possibly believe me. From your point of view, only “you” feel yourself to be “me”. This is how it is for you, even when I can assure you that it is the same for me, too. With your “me”, you will never be able to understand it. Separate for ever. There is no way out of this, no answer. That is to say, the answer is: there is no way out, no answer. The way does not lie in renunciation of the “ego”, “crucifixion of the ego”, but in its supreme affirmation, combining it with an entelechy, with the Persona which existed before the “ego” and which felt itself to be so old, so ancient, so filled with dignity. Combining them in the Absolute Personality.’
‘What is the “ego”? Where was it before it entered a child’s body?’ I asked.
He answered me with other questions: ‘Perhaps it was the “guardian angel” which the child later loses, when the “ego” enters his body? Or perhaps the “guardian angel” is that wise man, who goes away when the “ego” enters the child’s body and waits for “your” return? What is this “you”? Is there, perhaps, a “third”? Or is the “ego” a point, a fold in the mantle of the persona, of the Monad, of which only a tiny part can enter a body made of dense matter? Have you ever considered the possibility that the technocrats of the science of Kaliyuga managed to give an “ego” to their electronic brains, their robots, merely by moving a lever? Mightn’t something similar have happened in the case of the human being?
Will the “ego” survive when the robot is destroyed? Will the same “ego” be reproduced in other machines? This horrifying possibility is for me a further proof that consciousness is an archetype which forges a path through the universes, seeking to give itself a shape, and that it uses the human being in the same way as it would use the machine. …I have never managed to say this openly: That the “ego” is an Archetype. , ‘I understand, ‘ I said. ‘They are only words, I know. New receptacles for an old wine.
Let us return to the point from which we have strayed: combining the “ego” and the persona. There lies the gate through which one can enter and leave Ultima Thule. I have called it Individuation. Combining the “ego” with the Self. Changing the accent of individuality, moving it from the rational consciousness closer to the Ocean of the Unconscious, without ceasing to be conscious but with a different type of consciousness, bringing light as far as possible into the darkness, moving from the Yellow Sun of rational consciousness to the Black Sun of Individuation. And the centre that appears there, which is created, invented, to which the accent of individuality has now moved, is the Self, a circle whose circumference is everywhere and whose centre is nowhere. And which emits a Ray of Green Light. The light of Gnosis. Meister Eckhart’s “tiny spark” which navigates in a ghost ship on and beneath the surface of the Sea of the Unconscious, with all its lights on. The fulfilment of the totality of a being, the unus mundus. This is Individuation. Giving a face to the Self, to the “Guardian Angel”, the Monad, making the Creator conscious. …And do you know where I found the concept of the SelfI used in order to allude to this mystery? In the greatest psychologist of all time: in Nietzsche, your “Wounded King”, who was the first to discover it, using the German word Selbst.’
‘What is the Self?’ I asked.
‘It is an island of glass lost in the middle of the Ocean, a city hidden in the depths of a mountain, an oasis of warm water in the midst of the ices, it is the Continent of the Golden Age, a castle surrounded by flames, in which the Beloved lies asleep. …Yes, because once there was a King, a Queen, a Sleeping Beauty in a Wood, an Eternal Love. …Only poets will be able to understand me. …
‘Eros was united with his Beloved inside the Great Orphic, Cosmic Egg: Phanes, Erika Paios. Eros unites, but Phobos, fear, hatred (nothing is closer to love than hatred) disunites, leads to separation, breaks the Cosmic Egg. So as to acquire consciousness, individuality, so as to be able one day to give a face to the Cosmic Egg.
‘Complete fusion – losing oneself in one’s opposite, in the loved one, in an effort to return to the original Androgynous – is not a good thing. It goes against Individuation, the immortality of the persona and resurrection, which is differentiation, the individuation of both partners, so that he and she can come together again separated but, in another way, united for ever. Resurrected. ‘If you have the great good fortune to meet your beloved again, the her ofhim, in one of the turns of your wheel, don’t make the mistake of marrying her. You would both be destroyed. What you must do is help her to die outside you. Love her as if you were committing a crime. The beloved must die in order to return to life as an immortal, placing her eternity in your hands. This is the true Her, who leads the warrior to heaven, who is not all illusion, who does not drag him down into hell, profaning him, castrating his magic virility, turning man into woman. She is not the devouring mother, the widow who is not the Widow, because §he does not resign herself to her widowhood and so castrates her son. Parsifal and” Alexander had to employ Phobos (Hatred) in order to escape from the Great Mother, the little widow, so as to achieve the Grail, the Stone of Change, which the Greeks called Xoanon. Totality.
‘Das ewig Weibliche zieht uns hinan,’ as Goethe said. “The Eternal Feminine leads us to heaven. ” Because the impulse which drives you to fulfil the ultimate mystery, which I have called Individuation, projecting the “ego” into the Persona, into the Monad, into the Self, giving a face to the Gods, “lighting the darkness of the Creator”, is none other than love. Only love can make you cross the deep chasm, the drawbridge that separates your “ego” from the castle in which your beloved lies asleep, jumping into the abyss. It is in effect a change, a miracle. It is a Non-Existent Flower: the Self. Fall into this flower and you will find the face of your Beloved there. This love, this impulse, is an icy, red-green fire, which consumes everything and projects you to heaven, loving beyond life and death, for all eternity. This love makes you immortal. This face, this Fire of Love, which the troubadours and Minnesanger called Woevre Saelde, Isolde, I have called Anima in the man and Animus in the woman.
‘It has been said that the man who loves God needs seven incarnations in order to enter Nirvana and liberate himself, and that the man who hates him needs only three. it is without God but with his own “fury” that Parsifal achieved the Grail and his individuation, his Self, his totality. This is the difference between the Liquid Road and the Dry Road. We do not know whether, as well as his “fury”, his Phobos, his fear of the Mother, Parsifal carried with him a “memory of a beloved”, as he was supposed to have advised his friend Gawaine to do. Parsifal, with his “fury”, or his hatred, was resisting a participation mystique. Samadhi, fusion with Adhi, the Primordial Being, doesn’t await him at the end of his road. Because this would be the way of sainthood. What awaits him is Kaivalya, total separation, supreme individuation, Absolute Personality, the ultimate solitude of the Superman. This is the way of the magician, the Siddha, the tantric hero of the Grail. The cosmic isolation of the risen Purusha.
‘The mystery of the Grail has preoccupied and moved me deeply since my youth. For this very reason, i did not wish to touch it but passed it by op tiptoe, because i had a presentiment that this was something sacred that should not be “psychologised”. Unfortunately, i am not sure that others may not do so in my name after I have gone. …’
‘I am surprised to hear you use the word “psychologise”. Having stopped in midstream, out of a desire to preserve the “scientific” nature of your school at all costs, having enveloped your profoundest experiences in the language that was in vogue at the time, so as to escape the accusation of mysticism and magic, you nevertheless find yourself laid open to the accusation of “psychologising” traditional and sacred knowledge, such as alchemy, astrology, hermeticism and even the I Ching. Having done so, you have gained nothing, because your enemies will always accuse you of mystic ambiguities and of being a gnostic follower of Meister Eckhart.’
‘I know. This is why I have said that only poets will understand me. Because, somehow, I have handed over the “cipher”. I, too, like the troubadours ofOccitania and the Minnesanger, have sung in code, in cipher. For example, haven’t I said that Archetypes are psychoid? That is to say that, transcending the human psyche, they are beyond or before it. What difference, then, from the Gods of Greece and India and of the ancient Germans? And my two or more Collective Unconsciousnesses, incompatible between themselves? Isn’t this the “Blood Memory”, the Minne of the German troubadours, who sang of the memory of a Love lost at the beginning of time? What difference between this and the “Race Spirit” of which the occultists speak? Without doubt, I could have gone much further, had I, too, not lost the war. I could have linked my concept of the Collective Unconsciousnesses with the mysterious Tibetan doctrine of the Tulku and the Hindu-Buddhist doctrine of the Bodhisattva. A Tulku never says “I” but “we” when referring to himself. He is a Race Spirit embodied in an entire people. He possesses all his “I” while also being conscious in various parallel planes or times of existence. He is ubiquitous. Thus we link up with the theme of “I”, which you raised, and with Nietzsche’s conclusion, which is no longer one, but all. … Hinduism’s Sam sara is also my Collective Unconscious, the River of Sam sara, of those archetypal forms: Maya, for the Hindus, Illusion. And in the midst of all this is the Self, like an ideal centre, situated in no particular place in the immense Ocean, like a Non-Existent Flower.
‘In the west, there was once a way of individual initiation into love: the mystery of the Grail, of its Esoteric Order ofKnights and the hermeticism of the German and Provenial troubadours and of the Fedele d’Amore in northern Italy. The troubadours’ esotericism became a sort of Platonism, or an alchemical Tantrism of the Left Hand. It possessed a ritual and an initiation by degrees, which went from the choice of the initiate by the “glance” of the Lady of the Castle – Beatrice, in the case of Dante -to the giving of a protective ring, a girdle (Brunnhilde’s Girdle in the Nibelungenlied), a handkerchief or a glove. The initiate has been accepted. He is the Tantric Sadhaka. He then passes into the degrees of Fenhedor, “Suitor”; Precador, “Implorer”; “Bound Man” and Drut, he who has exchanged hearts, the betrothed – Rebis, the androgynous of the alchemists – he who has surmounted the ultimate test of Asag, uniting with his lady only in the mind; or rather, in the Maithuna, the mystical Tantric coitus. The Mysterium Coniunctionis. From there he should achieve resurrection, the state of definite separation, Individuation in the Absolute Personality, purushic, kaivalic, of which we have already spoken. With the face of the Beloved in his soul. In alchemy, the equivalent states are Nigredo, Albedo (from which come the names Albania, Albion, Albi) and Rubedo, resurrection in the red immortal energy-matter of Vajra. The Soror Mystica, the woman who is always at the side of the alchemist, is the Amasia Uxor, the magic bride of the troubadours’ love esotericism. And she is the Yogini and Parastri, the initiated bride of Tantrism.
‘This miraculous Hyperborean initiation comes from a great distance, from the original polar continent, where the remale magicians, the priestesses of magic love, Morgana and Allouine, appeared. And also the women who, in the legend of the Grail, healed the wounded warrior and the Sick King. This mystery comes to us from an unfathomable distance. In the west, it was destroyed with the Cathars and the Templars, with the Minnesanger and the Fedele d’ Amore, with the troubadours of the Languedoc, in the eternal war with the enemies of the divine myth. What had been a private, unique, aristocratic initiation has become vulgarised in the exotericism of the Church of Rome, which has taken possession of its symbols and adulterated them. The Gnostic Lady, Sophia, Woevre Saelde, the feminine Holy Spirit, Parakletos, the Dove, has been popularised as the Virgin Mary; the Exchange of Hearts, which is in reality the awakening of the Anahata chakra, has been externalised in the cult of the heart of Jesus. The crown of thorns and the rosary have replaced the Templars’ alchemical rose of a thousand petals, the Sahasrara chakra, at the summit of the invisible skull. It is the assassination of the sacred way of Kundalini, of the Tantric road of the chakras. A hermetic initiation of solar love has been adulterated by an exoteric, lunar religion, by an anthropomorphic, exclusively materialistic cult.
‘The initiation of “loveless love” has been destroyed, and man has gone over to the diffusion of a physical, matriarchal love, centred purely on the physical body of the woman, in which the externalised Eve triumphs, desecrating the warrior, imposing her female urgency and her “Demetrian” fever for procreation. Love has become human, all too human. The “loveless love” of the warrior, of the troubadour, is the mystery of the Grail. The love of the unresurrected woman and man is the Church of Rome, lunar Christianity. The initiatory poem has deteriorated into the novel, the popular literature and the unhealthy sexualism of our day.
‘When we talk about the religion of love of the troubadours, of the initiated knights of the Grail, of the true Rosicrucians, we must try to discover what lies behind their language. In those days, love did not mean the same thing as it does in our day. The word Amor (Love) was a cipher, it was a code word. Amor spelt backwards is Roma. That is, the word indicated, in the way in which it was written, the opposite to Roma, to all that Rome represented. Also, Amor broke down into “a” and “mor”, meaning Without-Death.
That is, to become immortal, eternal, thanks to the way of initiation of A-Mor. A way of initiation totally opposed to the way of Rome. An esoteric, solar Kristianity. The Gnostic Kristianity of Meister Eckhart. And mine. Because I have tried to teach western man to resurrect Kristos in his soul. Because Kristos is the Self for western man.
‘This is why Roma destroyed Amor, the Cathars, the Templars, the Lords of the Grail, the Minnesanger, everything which may have originated in the “Hyperborean Blood Memory” and which may have had a polar, solar origin.
‘The love talked and written about so much in novels, poetry and magazines, the love of one’s neighbour, the universal love of the churches, love of humanity, has nothing whatsoever to do with “loveless love” (A-Mor, Without-Death), which is a harsh disciplirie, as cold as ice, as cutting as a sword, and which aspires to overcome the human condition in order to reach the Kingdom of the Immortals, Ultima Thule.
‘The earth is alive, and it feels with you. It follows your footsteps, your search, with equal anxiety, because it will be transfigured in your triumph. The end of Kaliyuga and the entry into a new Golden Age depend on the results of your war. The earth by itself cannot finish the work that Nature leaves incomplete. Today the earth has joined forces with man in his destructive passion. The great catastrophe will occur in the first years of the Age of Aquarius. But if you can find the entrance to the Invisible Double of this earth, fulfilling the mystery of “loveless A-Mor”, the volcanoes will become calm, the earthquake will cease and the catastrophe will be avoided.
‘There is an essential “synchronicity” between the soul and the landscape. What you achieve in yourself will have repercussions in even the remotest corner of the universe, like the ringing of a bell which announces a triumph or a defeat, producing irreversible effects in a secret centre where Destiny acts. The Archetype is indivisible and, if you once confront it in an essential manner, the effects are universal and valid for all eternity. The old Chinese saying expresses it well: “If a man, sitting in his room, thinks the right thoughts, he will be heard thousands of leagues away. ” And the alchemical saying, too: “It doesn’t matter how alone you are. If you do true work, unknown friends will come to your aid.’
‘What I have called “synchronicity”, Nietzsche called “lucky occurrences filled with meaning”. It becomes a poetic dialogue, a concerto for two violins, between the man-magician and Nature. The world presents you with a “lucky occurrence filled with meaning”, it hands you a subtle, almost secret message, something which happens without apparent reason, a-causal, but which you feel is full of meaning. This being exactly what the world is looking for, that you should extract that meaning from it, which you alone are capable of seeing, because it “synchronises”, it fully coincides with your immediate state of mind, with an event in your life, so that it is able to transform itself, with your assistance, into legend and destiny. A lucky occurrence which transformed itself into Destiny. And once you have achieved this, everything will appear to become the same as before, as if nothing had happened. Nevertheless, everything has changed fundamentally and for all time, although the only ones to know it will be you and the earth – which is now your earth, your world, since it has given itself up to you so that you can make it fruitful. “The earth has made itself invisible inside you”, as Rilke would say, it has become an individualised universe inside you. And although perhaps nothing may have changed, “it might seem as if it were so, it might seem as if it were so”, to use your own words. And you will be a creative God of the world; because you have conceived a Non-Existent Flower. You have given a meaning to your flower.’
Notes: (1) A fruit of the south of Chile. It is believed that whoever eats it will always return there..
Conceived before the First World War is Oswald Spengler’s magisterial work, Der Untergang des Abendlandes (Munich, 1918). Read in this country chiefly in the brilliantly faithful translation by Charles Francis Atkinson, The Decline of the West (New York, two volumes, 1926-28), Spengler’s morphology of history was the great intellectual achievement of our century. Whatever our opinion of his methods or conclusions, we cannot deny that he was the Copernicus of historionomy. All subsequent writings on the philosophy of history may fairly be described as criticism of the Decline of the West. [Image: Revilo Oliver in 1938.]
Spengler, having formulated a universal history, undertook an analysis of the forces operating in the immediately contemporary world. This he set forth in a masterly work, Die Jahre der Entscheidung, of which only the first volume could be published in Germany (Munich, 1933) and translated into English (The Hour of Decision, New York, 1934). One had only to read this brilliant work, with its lucid analysis of forces that even acute observers did not perceive until 25 or 30 years later, and with its prevision that subsequent events have now shown to have been absolutely correct, to recognize that its author was one of the great political and philosophical minds of the West. One should remember, however, that the amazing accuracy of his analysis of the contemporary situation does not necessarily prove the validity of his historical morphology.
The publication of Spengler’s first volume in 1918 released a spate of controversy that continues to the present day. Manfred Schroeter in Der Streit um Spengler (Munich, 1922) was able to give a précis of the critiques that had appeared in a little more than three years; today, a mere bibliography, if reasonably complete, would take years to compile and would probably run to eight hundred or a thousand printed pages.
Spengler naturally stirred up swarms of nit-wits, who were particularly incensed by his immoral and preposterous suggestion that there could be another war in Europe, when everybody knew that there just couldn’t be anything but World Peace after 1918, ’cause Santa had just brought a nice, new, shiny “League of Nations.” Such “liberal” chatterboxes are always making a noise, but no one with the slightest knowledge of human history pays any attention to them, except as symptoms.
Unfortunately, much more intelligent criticism of Spengler was motivated by emotional dissatisfaction with his conclusions. In an article in Antiquity for 1927, the learned R.S. Collingwood of Oxford went so far as to claim that Spengler’s two volumes had not given him “a single genuinely new idea,” and that he had “long ago carried out for himself”—and, of course, rejected—even Spengler’s detailed analyses of individual cultures. As a cursory glance at Spengler’s work will suffice to show, that assertion is less plausible than a claim to know everything contained in the Twelfth Edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica. Collingwood, the author of the Speculum Mentis and other philosophical works, must have been bedeviled with emotional resentments so strong that he could not see how conceited, arrogant and improbable his vaunt would seem to most readers.
It is now a truism that Spengler’s “pessimism” and “fatalism” was an unbearable shock to minds nurtured in the nineteenth-century illusion that everything would get better and better forever and ever. Spengler’s cyclic interpretation of history stated that a civilization was an organism having a definite and fixed life-span and moving from infancy to senescence and death by an internal necessity comparable to the biological necessity that decrees the development of the human organism from infantile imbecility to senile decrepitude. Napoleon, for example, was the counterpart of Alexander in the ancient world.
We were now, therefore, in a phase of civilizational life in which constitutional forms are supplanted by the prestige of individuals. By 2000, we shall be “contemporary” with the Rome of Sulla, the Egypt of the Eighteenth Dynasty, and China at the time when the “Contending States” were welded into an empire. That means that we face an age of world wars and what is worse, civil wars and proscriptions, and that around 2060 the West (if not destroyed by its alien enemies) will be united under the personal rule of a Caesar or Augustus. That is not a pleasant prospect.
Greatness or Optimism
The only question before us, however, is whether Spengler is correct in his analysis. Rational men will regard as irrelevant the fact that his conclusions are not charming. If a physician informs you that you have symptoms of arteriosclerosis, he may or may not be right in his diagnosis, but it is absolutely certain that you cannot rejuvenate yourself by slapping his face.
Every detached observer of our times, I think, will agree that Spengler’s “pessimism” aroused emotions that precluded rational consideration. I am inclined to believe that the moral level of his thinking was a greater obstacle. His “fatalism” was not the comforting kind that permits men to throw up their hands and eschew responsibilities. Consider, for example, the concluding lines of his Men and Technics (New York, 1932):
Already the danger is so great, for every individual, every class, every people, that to cherish any illusion whatever is deplorable. Time does not suffer itself to be halted; there is no question of prudent retreat or wise renunciation. Only dreamers believe that there is a way out. Optimism is cowardice.
We are born into this time and must bravely follow the path to the destined end. There is no other way. Our duty is to hold on to the lost position, without hope, without rescue, like that Roman soldier whose bones were found in front of a door in Pompeii, who, during the eruption of Vesuvius, died at his post because they forgot to relieve him. That is greatness. That is what it means to be a thoroughbred. The honorable end is the one thing that can not be taken from a man.
Now, whether or not the stern prognostication that lies back of that conclusion is correct, no man fit to live in the present can read those lines without feeling his heart lifted by the great ethos of a noble culture—the spiritual strength of the West that can know tragedy and be unafraid. And simultaneously, that pronouncement will affright to hysteria the epicene homunculi among us, the puling cowards who hope only to scuttle about safely in the darkness and to batten on the decay of a culture infinitely beyond their comprehension.
That contrast is in itself a very significant datum for an estimate of the present condition of our civilization …
Three Points of Criticism
Criticism of Spengler, therefore, if it is not to seem mere quibbling about details, must deal with major premises. Now, so far as I can see, Spengler’s thesis can be challenged at three really fundamental points, namely:
(1) Spengler regards each civilization as a closed and isolated entity animated by a dominant idea, or Weltanschauung, that is its “soul.” Why should ideas, or concepts, the impalpable creations of the human mind, undergo an organic evolution as though they were living protoplasm, which, as a material substance, is understandably subject to chemical change and hence biological laws? This logical objection is not conclusive: Men may observe the tides, for example, and even predict them, without being able to explain what causes them. But when we must deduce historical laws from the four of five civilizations of which we have some fairly accurate knowledge, we do not have enough repetitions of a phenomenon to calculate its periodicity with assurance, if we do not know why it happens.
(2) A far graver difficulty arises from the historical fact that we have already mentioned. For five centuries, at least, the men of the West regarded modern civilization as a revival or prolongation of Graeco-Roman antiquity. Spengler, as the very basis of his hypothesis, regards the Classical world as a civilization distinct from, and alien to, our own—a civilization that, like the Egyptian, lived, died, and is now gone. It was dominated by an entirely different Weltanschauung, and consequently the educated men of Europe and America, who for five centuries believed in continuity, were merely suffering from an illusion or hallucination.
Even if we grant that, however, we are still confronted by a unique historical phenomenon. The Egyptian, Babylonian, Chinese, Hindu, and Arabian (“Magian”), civilizations are all regarded by Spengler (and other proponents of an organic structure of culture) as single and unrelated organisms: Each came into being without deriving its concepts from another civilization (or, alternatively, seeing its own concepts in the records of an earlier civilization), and each died leaving no offspring (or, alternatively, no subsequent civilization thought to see in them its own concepts). There is simply no parallel or precedent for the relationship (real or imaginary) which links Graeco-Roman culture to our own.
Since Spengler wrote, a great historical discovery has further complicated the question. We now know that the Mycenaean peoples were Greeks, and it is virtually certain that the essentials of their culture survived the disintegration caused by the Dorian invasion, and were the basis of later Greek culture. (For a good summary, see Leonard R. Palmer, Mycenaeans and Minoans, London, 1961). We therefore have a sequence that is, so far as we know, unique:
Mycenaean>Dark Ages>Graeco-Roman>Dark Ages>Modern. If this is one civilization, it has had a creative life-span far longer than that of any other that has thus far appeared in the world. If it is more than one, the interrelations form an exception to Spengler’s general law, and suggest the possibility that a civilization, if it dies by some kind of quasi-biological process, may in some cases have a quasi-biological power of reproduction.
The exception becomes even more remarkable if we, unlike Spengler, regard as fundamentally important the concept of self-government, which may have been present even in Mycenaean times (see L. R. Palmer, Mycenaeans and Minoans, cited above, p. 97). Democracies and constitutional republics are found only in the Graeco-Roman world and our own; such institutions seem to have been incomprehensible to other cultures. [Image: “Mask of Agamemnon,” funerary mask from a shaft tomb at Mycenae, c. 1500 BC.]
(3) For all practical purposes, Spengler ignores hereditary and racial differences. He even uses the word “race” to represent a qualitative difference between members of what we should call the same race, and he denies that that difference is to any significant extent caused by heredity. He regards biological races as plastic and mutable, even in their physical characteristics, under the influence of geographical factors (including the soil, which is said to affect the physical organism through food) and of what Spengler terms “a mysterious cosmic force” that has nothing to do with biology. The only real unity is cultural, that is, the fundamental ideas and beliefs shared by the peoples who form a civilization. Thus Spengler, who makes those ideas subject to quasi-biological growth and decay, oddly rejects as insignificant the findings of biological science concerning living organisms.
It is true, of course, that man is in part a spiritual being. Of that, persons who have a religious faith need no assurance. Others, unless they are determined blindly to deny the evidence before us, must admit the existence of phenomena of the kind described by Franz E. Winkler, M.D., in Man the Bridge Between Two Worlds (New York, Harper, 1960), and, of course, by many other writers. And every historian knows that no one of the higher cultures could conceivably have come into being, if human beings are merely animals.
But it is also true that the science of genetics, founded by Father Mendel only a century ago and almost totally neglected down to the early years of the Twentieth Century, has ascertained biological laws that can be denied only by denying the reality of the physical world. Every educated person knows that the color of a man’s eyes, the shape of the lobes of his ears, and every one of his other physiological characteristics is determined by hereditary factors. It is virtually certain that intellectual capacity is likewise produced by inheritance, and there is a fair amount of evidence that indicated that even moral capacities are likewise innate.
Man’s power of intervention in the development of inherited qualities appears to be entirely negative, thus affording another melancholy proof that human ingenuity can easily destroy what it can never create. Any fool with a knife can in three minutes make the most beautiful woman forever hideous, and one of our “mental health experts,” even without using a knife, can as quickly and permanently destroy the finest intellect. And it appears that less drastic interventions, through education and other control of environment, may temporarily or even permanently pervert and deform, but are powerless to create capacities that an individual did not inherit from near or more remote ancestors.
The facts are beyond question, although the Secret Police in Soviet Russia and “liberal” spitting-squads in the United States have largely succeeded in keeping these facts from the general public in the areas they control. But no amount of terrorism can alter the laws of nature. For a readable exposition of genetics, see Garrett Hardin’s Nature and Man’s Fate (New York, Rinehart, 1959), which is subject only to the reservation that the laws of genetics, like the laws of chemistry, are verified by observation every day, whereas the doctrine of biological evolution is necessarily an hypothesis that cannot be verified by experiment.
The Race Factor
It is also beyond question that the races of mankind differ greatly in physical appearance, in susceptibility to specific diseases, and in average intellectual capacity. There are indications that they differ also in nervous organization, and possibly, in moral instincts. It would be a miracle if that were not so, for, as is well known, the three primary races were distinct and separate at the time that intelligent men first appeared on this planet, and have so remained ever since. The differences are so pronounced and stable that the proponents of biological evolution are finding it more and more necessary to postulate that the differences go back to species that preceded the appearance of the homo sapiens. (See the new and revised edition of Dr. Carleton S. Coon’s The Story of Man, New York, Knopf, 1962).
That such differences exist is doubtless deplorable. It is certainly deplorable that all men must die, and there are persons who think it deplorable that there are differences, both anatomical and spiritual, between men and women. However, no amount of concerted lying by “liberals,” and no amount of decreeing by the Warren [Supreme Court] Gang, will in the least change the laws of nature.
Now there is a great deal that we do not know about genetics, both individual and racial, and these uncertainties permit widely differing estimates of the relative importance of biologically determined factors and cultural concepts in the development of a civilization. Our only point here is that it is highly improbable that biological factors have no influence at all on the origin and course of civilizations. And to the extent that they do have an influence, Spengler’s theory is defective and probably misleading.
One could add a few minor points to the three objections stated above, but these will suffice to show that the Spenglerian historionomy cannot be accepted as a certainty. It is, however, a great philosophical formulation that poses questions of the utmost importance and deepens our perception of historical causality. No student of history needed Spengler to tell him that a decline of religious faith necessarily weakens the moral bonds that make civilized society possible. But Spengler’s showing that such a decline seems to have occurred at a definite point in the development of a number of fundamentally different civilizations with, of course, radically different religions provides us with data that we must take into account when we try to ascertain the true causes of the decline. And his further observation that the decline was eventually followed by a sweeping revival of religious belief is equally significant.
However wrong he may have been about some things, Spengler has given us profound insights into the nature of our own culture. But for him, we might have gone on believing that our great technology was merely a matter of economics—of trying to make more things more cheaply. But he has shown us, I think, that our technology has a deeper significance—that for us, the men of Western civilization, it answers a certain spiritual need inherent in us, and that we derive from its triumphs as satisfaction analogous to that which is derived from great music or great art.
And Spengler, above all, has forced us to inquire into the nature of civilization and to ask ourselves by what means—if any—we can repair and preserve the long and narrow dikes that alone protect us from the vast and turbulent ocean of eternal barbarism. For that, we must always honor him.
1. VATERLANDSVEREIN SPEECH
On May 11th, 1848, the royal Kapellmeister of Dresden composed his essay, Entwurf zur Organisation eines deutschen National-theaters für das Konigreich Sachsen (On the Organization of a German National Theatre for the Kingdom of Saxony.) The Kapellmeister, Wilhelm Richard Wagner now approaching his 35th birthday was merging his artistic vision with a political vision. Theatre had become a mirror image of the reactionary society that needed to be changed if he were to achieve his artistic ambitions. 1 By this time Wagner had already been recognized in the musical world for the compostion of three operas, Rienzi, Der Fliegende Hollander, and Tannhauser. Each of these operas was given a debut at the famous Dresden opera house which in less than a year would go up in flames under uncertain circumstances. A century later Allied bombs would destroy the Art-city of Dresden. This city, so rich in artistic treasures, so steeped in Germanic history and tradition, the birthplace of Wagner’s artistic and philosophical ideas would be annihilated in one of numerous examples of Allied atrocities against the German population. Allied bombs would reduce the rebuilt Dresden opera house to rubble and bury many beneath its ruins. 2
In 1848, the kingdom of Saxony, as well as other German principalities, were in a state of much unrest. At this time, Wagner’s only real operatic success was Rienzi. He was less than pleased with the reaction to his subsequent two operas, Der Fliegende Hollander and Tannhauser. Angry over his less than overwhelming success and pressured by increasing credit difficulties, Wagner was easily swept up in the grandiose scheme of socieital reform. Although the revolution was to improve the overall condition of the working class, Wagner’s inner reason for participation was two-fold. Wagner thought that the revolution would eliminate terrible conditions caused by materialism. He had hoped for the abolition of the current system of monetary reward and exchange. Of course with such an abolition, the ever increasing debts that he was incurring would be swept away. Wagner also theorized that the post- revolution society , a regenerated society would need a music, and a theatre, and a composer. With all that had gone before, wiped away in the flame and flood of revolution, a single composer would be left, that composer was of course, Wagner.
The German people clamoured for a constitutional government. The demands included: Freedom of the press, trial by jury, national armies, and political representatives. 3 A deputation set out from Leipzig, in February 1848 and pleaded the demands before the king of Saxony. The king replied through even more rigorous press censorship. Enraged by the refusal of their requests, the people now informed the king that the press was free, and if freedom was not officially recognized, Leipzig would march en masse on Dresden. Still the king refused to hear the voice of the people. Wagner’s townspeople marched on Dresden. Prussian aid was sought and given. Other towns arranged mass deputations to the king, who despatched a minister to report on the attitude of Leipzig. The report read, “The people are determined and orderly.” Upon hearing the report the king gave in. He changed his ministers, abolished the press censorship, initiated trial by jury, and promised a reform of the electoral laws. The people were overjoyed with the events. 4
At this time Wagner and August Roekel, Wagner’s muscial assistant, became members of the Vaterlandsverein (Fatherland Union). The Union, whose motto was, “The will of the people is law,” was a federation of existing reform and political institutions. 5 Due to the recent successful events and an up-with-the-people attitude ever more social reform seemed not only needed but achievable. The union was still unsatisified with the government. It was not that they desired the abolition of the monarchy so much as the acknowledgement that capable, law-abiding citizens had a right to a voice in the selectiion of their rulers. The union had its own printing-press, and distributed largely political pamphlets.
Praeger tells us that “in his heart [Wagner] was not a revolutionist.” 6 However, on June 16,1848, Wagner would read his famous Vaterslandsverein speech, later published as “What is the Relation that our Efforts bear to the Monarchy?”
Although Wagner urged the replacement of the monarchy with a republic, he stressed that the king could still remain the head of such a republic. Also in such a position, the king would enjoy a new found respect and love of his people. Although cloaked in the dramatic language of revolution, Wagner’s speech was one of reform and reconciliation. Wagner himself would claim that the audience’s reaction to his speech was appalling. “The astounded audience seemed to grasp nothing of this address…apart from my incidental blast at the officialdom of the royal court.” 7 Roekel would say that the speech was “inspired by the angel of reconciliation.” 8
During his address to a crowd in excess of one thousand, Wagner called for the ending of a priviledged class and the elimination of class distinctions.
“As the aristocracy no longer consists of feudal lords and masters who can enslave and bodily chastise us at their will, they would do wisely to obliterate old grievances by relinquishing the last remnants of class distinction…To the aristocracy I would say, forget your ancestors, throw away your titles and every outward sign of courtly favour, and we will promise you to be generous and efface every remembrance of our ancestors. Let us be children of one father, brothers of one family. Listen to the warning-follow it freely and with a good will, for it is not to be slighted. Christ says, ‘If thy right eye offend thee, pluck it out and cast it from thee, for it is better that one of thy members should perish than that thy whole body should be cast into hell.” 9
Although Wagner believed that the king still had a place in the republic, there was certainly no room for obsolete courts and constitutions. Wagner went on
“Once for all, resign the exclusive honour of ever being in the presence of our Monarch. Pray him to cease invest in you with a medley of useless court offices, distinctions, and privileges; in our time they make the court a subject for unpleasant relection. Discontinue to be lords of the chamber and lords of the robes, whose only utterance is ‘our king,’ – strip him of his tinsel, lackeys, and flunkeys, frivolous excrescences of a bad time…Withdraw from a court which is an almshouse for idle nobility, and exert yourselves, that it may become the court of a whole and happy people, which every individual will enjoy and will be ready to defend, and smile on a sovereign who is the father of a whole contented people.” 10
Wagner continued voicing his populist stand regarding the right to vote and the arming of the populace.
“We further insist upon the unconditional right of every natural born subject, when of age, to a vote. The more needy he be, the more his right, and the more earnestly will he aid in keeping the laws which he himself assisted in framing ahnd which, henceforth, are to protect him from any similar future state of need and misery. Our republican programme further includes a new system of national defence, in which every citizen capable of bearing arms shall be enrolled. No standing army. It shall be neither a standing army nor a militia, nor yet a reduction of the one nor an increase of the other. It must be a new creation, which in its process of development, will do away with the necessity of a standing army as well as a militia.” 11
Finally the nationalist in Wagner addressed the now excited audience.
“And when all who draw breath in our dear German land are united into one great free people, when class prejudices shall have ceased to exist, then do you supppose we have reached our goal? Oh, no; we are just equipped for the beginning.” 12
Wagner went on to denounce money as the root of all evil. This denunciation is less out of political necessity or of any economic plan or plausibility. Wagner was suffering from huge debts and saw the revolution as a means to clearing his servitute to money. It becomes clear from Wagner’s future writings that he is not really calling for an end to money itself so much as the power that money achieves through usury. He is opposed to using money to make money. He is opposed to the money lender (and even more so to the collector of such debts) This initial attack on the power of money and the materialistic way of life would later manifest itself in his diatribes against the Jews.
“Can [man] have been destined by God to be the servile slave of inert base metal. We must decide whether money shall exert such degrading power over the image of God-man- as to render him the despicable slave of the passions of usury and avarice. The war against this existing evil will cause neither tears nor blood. The result of the foregone victory will be a universal conviction that the highest attainable happiness is commonwealth, a state in which as many active men as Mother Earth can supply with food will join in the well-ordered republic, supporting it by a fair exchange of labor, mutually suppplying each other’s wants, and contributing to the universal happiness….We shall destroy the nebulous notion that money possesses any inherent power. And heaven will heap us to discover the true law by which this shall be proved, and dispel the false halo with which the unthinking mind invest this demon money. Then shall we root out the miseries engendered and nourished by public and secret usury, deceptive paper money and fraudulent speculations. This will tend to promote the emancipation of the human race.” 13
Wagner’s address which was given in the same year that Karl Marx published The Communist Manifesto clearly denounced the communist position. Numerous writers believe that Wagner had to have been familiar with Marx. This is however unproven. Although Wagner frequently mentioned and cited those authors that he read, there is no mentioning of Marx in any of his extensive writings. The Communist Manifesto was originally published in very small quantities and it had virtually no effect on the revolutions of 1848 and 49. Few real revolutionaries had read the work at this time. 14 Had Wagner read the Manifesto, his position is stated clearly. His anti-communist diatribe could have come directly from the pages of Mein Kampf.
“Do you think that you scent in this the teachings of communism? Are you then so stupid or wicked as to confound a theory so senseless as that of communism with that which is absolutely necessary to the salvation of the human race from its degraded servitude? Are you not capable of perceiving that the very attempt, even though it were allowed, of dividing mathematically the goods of this world, would be a senseless solution of a burning question, but which attempt, fortunately however, in its complete impossibility , carries its own death warrant. But though communism fails to supply the remedy, will you on that account deny the disease?” 15
Wagner continued his attack on communism, accurately predicting, as evidenced by the collapse of the Soviet Union, the impossibility of its long-term existence.
“Think not to solve the question by the giving of alms; acknowlege at once the inalienable rights of humanity, right vouchsafed by the Omnipotent, or else you may live to see the day that cruel scorn will be met by vengeance and brute force. Then the wild cry of victory might be that of communism, and although the impossibility of any lengthened duration of its principles as a ruling power can be boldly predicted, yet even the briefest reign of such a thraldom might be sufficient to expunge for a long time to come all the advantages of a civilization of two thousand years old.” 16
The key to understanding Wagner’s position lies in the next paragraph. As Taylor writes regarding the revolutions of 1848-1849, “Nationalism was a stronger force than economics in most of the revolutions…” 17 Gutman tells us in biographical account that Wagner perceived the Germans as gods “busy at their task of civilizing the globe.” 18 It is questionable if Wagner saw the Germans as gods, but he certainly did believe that the Germans should spread civilization to the rest of the world.
“Then shall we traverse the ocean in our ships, and found here and there a new young Germany, enriching it with the fruits of our achievements, and educating our children in our principles of human rights, so that they may be propagated everywhere ….Our colonies shall be truly German, and from sunrise to sunset we shall contemplate a beautiful, free Germany, inhabited, as in the mother country, by a free people. The sun of German freedom and German gentleness shall alike warm and elevate Cossack, Frenchman, Bushmen, and Chinese.” 19
Finally Wagner asks the obvious question,
“Will all this be achieved under a monarchy? My answer is that throughout I have persistently kept it in view, but if you have any doubts of such a possibility, then it is you who pronounce the monarchical death-warrant. But if you agree with me and consider is possible as I realize it, then a republic is the exact and right thing, and we should but have to petition the king to become the first and most genuine republican. ..At the head of the free state- the republic, the king by lineal descent, will be what he in the noblest sense should be, viz. the first of the people, the freest of the free.!” 20
Wagner was loudly applauded. By today’s standards, Wagner’s position may seem difficult to grasp. On the surface, it could seem that Wagner wants the best of all worlds. However, when read in conjunction with Wagner’s later ideas and thoughts, the philosophy of the Vaterlandsverein speech becomes clear Wagner’s socio-political philosophy would manifest itself in what has been called Volkisch Idealism. Idealism is the “doctrine that gives primacy to spirit over matter and explains the world in spiritual terms.” 21 Stackelberg writes, “idealism expressed the practical urge and obligation, so strong in the German tradition, to regenerate reality and transform humanity by infusing existence with timeless moral and spiritual ideals.” 22 The German term “volkisch” is derived from “Volk”, the German word which combines the meaning of a people, a nation , and a race.
Wagner, like many thinkers of his time had become obsessed with various social issues. The plight of the German worker in a rapidly dehumanizing industrial society. “In volkisch ideology the social question was transmuted into a question of race. The Volk stood for a unified people linked not merely by a common culture but by the mystical bonds of blood. Not classes but peoples and nations confronted each other in conflict.” 23 “Idealism implied a certain contempt for material existence, an attitude that perpetuated in more secular form the Christian renunciation of worldliness. German idealist ethics reaffirmed the Christian view that the pursuit of material happiness is unworthy of the human spirit. The proper goal of human endeavor is the moral perfection of the soul.” 24 For Wagner, Art was the instrument by which the regeneration of society would be achieved. Art, for Wagner was, “Religion represented in living form.” 25 This is the real distinction of Wagnerian Idealism.
It is not the purpose of this volume to examine the origins of Volkisch Idealism. For our purposes it is merely necessary to show the similarity of the Wagnerian Philosophy to Volkisch Idealism. Two prominent exponents of this school of thought, Heinrich von Stein and Houston Stewart Chamberlain were very influential Wagnerians. Stein lived in Bayreuth and was hired by the Wagners to educate their son, Siegfried. Houston Stewart Chamberlain would come to live in Haus Wahnfried and marry Wagner’s daughter, Eva.
The difference between Wagner’s political thought and that of his fellow revolutionaries was that Wagner was strongly anti-communist. The Volkisch Idealists were strongly anti-communist as well as anti-democratic for both political forms were based on materialism. When Wagner speaks of communism, he speaks of the “mathematical division of the goods of the world.” The entire emphasis of communism is on capital, materialism, and redistribution of the wealth. Just as in democracy, where the greatest rewards are given to those with the greatest accumulation of material wealth.
Mikhail Bakunin, the famous Russian anarchist was born in 1814, one year after Wagner. It has been said that wherever revolution occurred in Europe in the 1840’s, Bakunin was there. Bakunin along with Karl Marx were the two best known revolutionaries of the 19th century. In the years to come, those who hated the Jews and the communists were quick to declare Marx’s Jewish racial origins. Karl Marx’s father, who had come from a long line of distinquished rabbis, was born Herschel Halevi Marx. Karl’s mother, Henriette Pressborck was the daughter of a rabbi from Holland and her ancesters were rabbis in Hungary. 26 Although the leading revolutionaries of the 19th century, the Russian “Father of Anarchy” and the Jewish “Father of Communism” were poles apart in their beliefs. Bakunin was an idealist who believed that revolution was the best way to destroy tyranny. 27 Bakunin believed that the State, set up on the ruins of private property would reproduce the same tyranny which had previously existed under capitalism. His goal was the communal ownership of all property with the utmost minimization and even the complete abolition of the State. 28 Bakunin feared that the Marxists would surrender all the instruments of capitalism, such as land, railroads, and mines, to a more unified and powerful state tyranny. 29 After 1848, Marx was expelled from Prussia and set up a comfortable life style in London while Bakunin went to the barricades. Bakunin would write of Marx, “Marx called me a sentimental idealist, and he was right; I called him a vain man, perfidious and crafty, and I also was right.” 30
Wagner would recount his initial meetings with Bakunin in his autobiography. The first encounter was apparently in the home of Roekel. Wagner was initially in awe of the revolutionary. Wagner writes, “He always emerged victorious; it was impossible to counter successfully any of his confidently expressed arguments.” 31 Wagner also tells of an encounter with Bakunin while rehearsing a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. Bakunin had snuck into the theatre and called out to Wagner that “if all music were to be lost in the coming world conflagration, we should risk our own lives to preserve this symphony.” 32 It is perhaps this sentiment which so endeared Bakunin to Wagner’s soul.
As the winds of change swept through Germany, Wagner too would be swept up and his calling for revolution would echo the most extreme writers of his age. In his Bakuninist essay, Die Revolution (The Revolution), Wagner glorified the rising up of the people. Wagner was now enraptured with thought of revolution. Gone is the language of reform. The essay published by Roeckel now reads of Bakuninist destruction. Revolution, “the eternal destroyer” has become God.
“Whatever stands, must fall: such is the everlasting law of Nature, such the condition of Life; and I, the eternal destroyer, fulfill, the law and fashion ever- youthful life…..for I am Revolution,…I am the only God, to whom each creature tetifies, who spans and gives both life and happiness to all that is !” 33
It is in this vein that Wagner began work on his magnum opus, Der Ring des Nibelungen. Originally entitled, Siegfried’s Tod (Siegfried’s Death), it tells the tale of a hero redeeming the materialistic world and setting up proper rule. It is only after reading the works of Schopenhauer that Wagner would alter his work to the form now recognized by the world.
3. “TO THE BARRICADES”
In May, revolution finally broke out in Dresden. The Saxon government, under Prussian influence, had rejected the Imperial Consititution drawn up by the Frankfort Parliament. The chamber was dissolved and public demonstrations were prohibited. The foreign minister summoned Prussian troops to his aid. The rebels attacked the guard in the arsenal. The King and the government withdrew to their fortress in Konigstein. 34
Wagner threw pamphlets to the guard outside the arsenal. “Are you with us against foreign troops?” 35 While the people, who established a provisional government hoped for a peaceful resolution, Bakunin recognized the inevitability of a well-planned Prussian military offensive. Bakunin was correct. At noon on May 6th, the Prussian troops began an offensive supported by cannon fire. Wagner made his way through the barricaded streets to the tower of the Kreuzkirche, the highest point in Dresden, where he reported on troop movements. 36 The fighting had become intense with each side taking and retaking the barricades. Bullets began bouncing all around Wagner’s observation post. He decided that he should get his wife, Minna out of danger. Making his way through the Dresden streets, he made his way back to his home. Wagner managed to get Minna out of danger to neighboring Chemnitz.
Wagner then returned to Dresden. He describes the picture vividly in his autobiography,
“What I saw offered a truly horrible picture, for I was passing through those parts of the city where everyone was prepared for house-to-house fighting. The unceasing roar of big and small arms fire made the other sounds of the armed men calling to one another from barricade to barricade, or from one shattered house to another, seem merely an uncanny murmur.” 37
When Wagner met Bakunin again, the anarchist would shout, “You’re a long way from your violin here, you should have stayed with it, musician.” 38
Wagner would volunteer for a mission to travel to Freiburg and attempt to have vehicles requisitioned to move additional military reservists to assist the rebels in Dresden. After completing his mission Wagner would once again attempt to return to Dresden. On the way he met Bakunin and the rebel army in retreat. Wagner would shout out, “Where are you headed?” The tired reply was, “Home, it’s all over in Dresden!” 39 The weary group made way back to Chemnitz. Wagner decided to stay in an inn while the others rested in a hotel, where they were captured. Through the intervention of fate, Wagner managed to escape. Wanted posters would be issued calling him a “Politically dangerous individual.” 40 Police searched the country-side for Wagner.
At this time, Franz Liszt, the famous pianist and Wagner’s future father-in-law, proved to be a friend in need. He helped Wagner make way to the village, Magdala and procured a passport for him. Wagner took a last farewell of his wife, Minna at Jena and on May 28th entered Switzerland. 41 For the next eleven years Wagner was a political outcast from the country that he loved.
1. Deathridge, Wagner p.31.
2. Irving, Destruction of Dresden p.185.
3. Praeger, Wagner as I Knew him p.154.
5. Ibid., p.155.
7. Wagner, My Life p.365.
9. Praeger, p.156-157.
14.Taylor, Introduction to The Communist Manifesto p.7.
15.Praeger, p. 159.
18.Gutman, Wagner: The man His Mind and His music p.120.
19.Praeger, p. 160.
21.Stackelberg, Idealism Debased p. ix
26.Kamenka, The Portable Karl Marx p.xiii
27.Reed, Controversy of Zion p. 169.
29.Forman, Anarchism p.34.
31.Wagner, My Life p.385.
33.Wagner, The Revolution , PW Vol XIII pp.232-238.
34.Jacobs, The Master Musician’s Wagner p.51.
35.Wagner, My Life p. 394.
36.Ibid. pp. 396-397.