Difference between Higher & Lower Views on Racism

however Meaningless to Discuss Today

(from "The Path of Cinnabar")




[...] Racist ideology, as is known, had always played a prominent role within National Socialism: generally promoted in an extremist and primitive fashion, racism represented one of the most problematic features of the Third Reich, and one in need of rectification. On the one hand, racism was associated with anti-Semitism; on the other, racism had given rise to 'pagan' tendencies, the chief exponent of which was Alfred Rosenberg. As I already mentioned when talking of Pagan Imperialism, Rosenberg - whom I had personally met - regarded me as the spokesman of an Italian current similar to his own. In fact, the differences between my own thought and that of Rosenberg were very conspicuous. In his well-known book entitled The Myth of the Twentieth Century, Rosenberg, not unlike myself, had quoted authors such as Wirth and Bachofen in order to discuss the idea of Nordic origins, and to provide a dynamic historical analysis of various civilizations from a racist perspective. Rosenberg's study, however, was superficial and imprecise; politically, it was aimed at serving, almost exclusively, German interests. Rosenberg also lacked any understanding of holiness and transcendence - hence his most primitive critique of Catholicism, a religion which he even attacked, in a kind of renewed Kulturkampf, by borrowing the most obsolete arguments from Enlightenment and secularist polemics. The 'myth of the twentieth century', according to Rosenberg, was to be the myth of blood and race: 'A new myth of life that is called forth to create, along with a new kind of life, a new kind of state and of civilization.'

As for the racism of the German state, it merged a sort of pan-Germanic nationalism with the ideas of biological science. With respect to the latter, I believe that Trotsky was not far off the mark when he described racism as a kind of zoological materialism. The German state embraced biology, eugenics, and the theory of heredity, accepting all the materialist assumptions behind such doctrines. This led National Socialism to posit the unilateral dependence of the superior to the inferior: of the psychic and super-biological part of man to the biological. This materialist view was little affected by the superimposition of a vague mystique of blood. A materialist perspective was also responsible for the National Socialist illusion that mere prophylactic intervention on the biological level - an intervention, that is, upon the physical race - might automatically better all aspects of the life of peoples and nations. Where a similar analysis might have proven valid was in the idea that it is not the state, society or civilization which are of central importance, but rather race - had 'race' here been understood in its higher sense, as describing the deepest and most fundamental components of man. Also potentially valid was the National Socialist acknowledgement of the need and opportunity to 'fight for a worldview' appropriate for the Aryan man - this representing a means of promoting a broad reassessment of the values which have come to inform the Western world. A negative element, instead, was the fanatical anti-Semitism of National Socialism, something which many people have regrettably come to identify with racism tout court.

On more than one occasion in the past, I had already had my say on the issue of materialist racism. As for Nazi neopaganism, at a press conference held in 1936 at the Kulturbund of Vienna, I argued that its theories were enough 'to turn into Catholics even those best disposed towards paganism'. I should also mention the fact that Mussolini expressed his approval of one article of mine entitled 'Race and Culture' ('Razza e cultura'), which I had published in 1935 in the magazine Italian Review (Rassegna Italiana). In this article, I affirmed the pre-eminence of formative ideas over merely biological and ethnic traits (the same argument I also made in the pages of my own section in Regime Fascista). An editorial of mine in Balbo's newspaper, Corriere Padano, was also well-received by the upper echelons of the Fascist regime. The editorial was entitled 'The Duty of Being Aryan' ('Responsabilita di dirsi ariani'), and was aimed at criticizing the fetish of physical race. I here denounced the irrelevance of 'Aryanness' as an expression used merely to denote individuals who are neither Jewish nor colored, rather than as a term employed in the spiritual and ethical sense to imply a certain duty towards oneself. Racism, I suggested, certainly expressed legitimate needs, but needed to be redefined on a different basis.

By exploiting my aforementioned influence in certain German circles, I sought to promote a rectification of racist ideology. The opportunity for me to take a more decisive stand on the matter, however, only presented itself in 1938, when Fascism suddenly turned 'racist' and issued its 'Race Manifesto'.

As in the case of many other policies adopted by the Fascist regime, most people today have misunderstood the Fascist embrace of racism. It is generally believed that Fascism passively followed Hitler in this regard, and that racism, in Italy, was merely something imported. It is certainly true that racist ideology had no precedents in Italy - not least because of the historical precedents of the country - and that it only took hold with difficulty. Yet, intrinsic and legitimate reasons existed for the Fascist promotion of racism. Firstly, the establishment of an empire in Africa, and the new contact with colored peoples such an empire entailed, required a sense of remoteness, and for the racial consciousness of the Italian people to be strengthened, as - to avoid forms of dangerous promiscuity and to safeguard a necessary colonial prestige. Besides, the same approach was favored by Britain until very recently - had it been maintained by Whites, it would have forestalled the kind of 'anti-colonial' uprisings which struck at the heart of a weakened Europe like a righteous Nemesis in the aftermath of the Second World War.

A second justification for the Fascist embrace of racism was the well documented anti-Fascist sentiment of international Jewry, which intensified following Italy's alliance with Germany. It was only natural, therefore, for Mussolini to react. The suffering of Jews in Fascist Italy - a small thing in comparison to that of Jews in Germany - was due to the attitude of Jews on the other side of the Alps. The third and most important reason for the Fascist adoption of racism, however, was Mussolini's ambition to invest his 'revolution' with more than a merely political significance by shaping a new kind of Italian. Mussolini correctly believed that political movements and states require adequate and well-defined human resources in order to survive and assert themselves. It is as a means to secure such resources that Mussolini first approached the myth of race and blood.

The Italian 'Race Manifesto', however, which had been hurriedly assembled on Mussolini's orders, proved a slipshod piece of work. No doubt, Italy lacked individuals capable of discussing similar issues. The same carelessness that marked the Manifesto also surfaced in the course of the Fascist racial campaign, which was partly articulated by means of cheap and virulent polemics. All of a sudden, a whole bunch of Fascist men of letters and journalists realized they were 'racists', and started using the word 'race' at every turn, to describe the most varied and less pertinent things. People also started talking of the 'Italian race', an utterly meaningless idea, given that no modem nation corresponds to one race - Italy least of all. The various European races described in racial studies rather feature as the single components of a whole in almost all Western nations.

In 1937, the publisher from Hoepli entrusted me with the writing of a history of racism. The book was entitled The Myth of Blood (II milo del sangue), and a second edition of the work was published during the war. In this volume, I discussed the antecedents of racism in the ancient world (where 'race' was seen not as a myth, but as a living reality), and in the centuries leading up to the present day. I then outlined the modern variants of racial ideology by describing the basic ideas of de Gobineau, Woltmann, de Lapouge, Chamberlain and various other authors. I also examined racist views of anthropology, genetics, heredity and typology, and discussed the racist view of history and the foundations of anti-Semitism. Finally, I provided an outline of the various forms of political racism in Hitler's day. The book, with its descriptive character, allowed me to clarify a number of points.

The research I had conducted in order to write The Myth of Blood Ied me to develop a racial doctrine of my own. I outlined such a doctrine in a book entitled Synthesis of the Doctrine of Race (Sintesi di dottrina della razza), which was published by Hoepli in 1941 (a slightly revised edition was published in German by Runge Verlag of Berlin). The appendix of the volume included 52 photos.

One's idea of race depends on one's idea of man: the nature of each racial doctrine is determined by its conceptualization of the human being. All distortions in the field of racism derive from a materialist view of man, a view informed by science and naturalism. By contrast, at the very basis of my racial doctrine I placed the traditional idea of man as a being comprised of three elements: body, character and spirit. I argued that an exhaustive racial theory has to take all three elements into account by examining race in its threefold manifestation: as race of the body, race of the character, and race of the spirit. Racial 'purity' is found when these three races stand in harmonious balance with one another, each race shining through the other two. This, however, has long been only a rare occurrence. The most unwelcome consequence of the various cases of miscegenation which have occurred during the historical development of human society is not the alteration of the physical race and psychosomatic type - what ordinary racism is chiefly concerned with - but, rather, the divide and contrast between the three kinds of races within the same individual. As a consequence of such miscegenation, one finds men whose body no longer reflects their character, and whose emotional, moral and volitional dispositions no longer agree with their spiritual inclinations. 'Spirit' should here be distinguished from 'character' as that component of man in touch with higher values that transcend life. In this sense, the 'race of the spirit' manifests itself in the different approaches to the sacred, to destiny and to the question of life and death, as well as in world-views, religions, etc. I here argued, therefore, that three levels of racism ought to be distinguished in order to reflect the three kinds of races: the first level of racism pertaining to the race of the body, the second to the race of the character, and the third to the race of the spirit.

In my study of race, I argued that in accordance with the legitimate inner hierarchy of man, the inner race ought to be regarded as superior to the external and merely biological form. A similar approach called for a radical reassessment of the views of materialist racism, not least with respect to genetics and heredity. I rejected the fetish of merely physical racial purity, on the grounds that the purity of the external race of an individual is often preserved even when his inner race has dimmed or deteriorated (a common example of this is that of the Dutch and Scandinavians). Such an approach also put the problem of miscegenation into perspective: miscegenation certainly has negative consequences in those cases where the inner race is weak; yet if the inner race is strong, the presence of an external element, introduced - albeit not in excess - by means of interbreeding, potentially provides a galvanizing challenge (hence, the opposite problem of certain aristocratic stocks which degenerate on account of incestuous unions). These, and other, similar considerations I made in my book.

From a political and social perspective, I acknowledged the use of racism as the expression of an anti-egalitarian and anti-rationalistic approach. Racism clearly emphasizes the idea of differentiation, with regard to both the peoples and the members of a given people. Racism opposes the democratic ideology born of the Enlightenment which proclaims the identity and equal dignity of all human beings; on the contrary, racism asserts that humanity as such is either an abstract and fictitious concept, or the final stage in a process of degeneration, dissolution and collapse - a stage only to be posited as an outmost limit never actually to be reached. Human nature, instead, is ordinarily differentiated, and this differentiation is expressed in the form of different bloodlines and races. This differentiation constitutes the primary feature of humanity: not only is it a natural condition among all beings, but also a positive element, something which ought to exist, and ought to be defended and safeguarded. The acknowledgement of diversity never led me - unlike certain other racists - to conceive humanity as a series of isolated, self-contained units; nor did it lead me to reject all higher principles. A kind of unity is certainly conceivable for humanity, but only at a higher level; and such unity accepts and preserves differentiation at a lower level. Unity 'from below', on the other hand, is a regressive phenomenon: such is the leveling unity sought by democracy, 'integrationism', humanitarianism, pseudo-universalism and collectivism. De Gobineau had already criticized similar ideas, essentially by promoting racism in aristocratic terms.

The other, generally positive aspect of racism is its anti-rationalism, which accompanies the racist embrace of differentiation as an attempt to valorize the kind of qualities, dispositions and dignities which cannot be bought, gained or replaced, which do not derive from an external influence or from the environment, which are related to the living whole of an individual person, and which have their roots in a deep, organic terrain. Such is the foundation of the individual person, as opposed to the merely abstract or amorphous individual. My aforementioned racial theory provided a safe key to approach these issues by emphasizing the fact that human races cannot be discussed in the same terms as horse or cat breeds: for human life, unlike the life of animals, is not confined to instincts and bios.

The notion of an 'inner race', and of its pre-eminence over the external race, was particularly useful in two regards. On the one hand, from a moral point of view, this doctrine presented each race as an independent essence regarded as a universal in itself, almost as a Platonic 'idea' - although each race might empirically be understood in conjunction to a given physical race, among a given people. A similar analysis could practically be applied to the use of the terms 'Aryan' and 'Jewish', here understood as indicative of a series of attitudes that may or may not be found among all people of Aryan or Jewish blood. Such a use of the two terms would have provided a safeguard against conceit and one-sidedness: for what ultimately counted the most, in my view, was the inner form of each individual. As anticipated in my article in Corriere Padano, my doctrine of the inner race also implied a number of duties. It is for this reason, I may add, that after the war I was to emphasize the futility, from a superior perspective, of dwelling on the 'Jewish' or 'Aryan' question: for the negative behavior which Jews are charged with is now common among most 'Aryans' (who, unlike Jews, lack the extenuating circumstance of any hereditary predisposition).

Moreover, the notion of inner race implied the idea of race as a moulding energy. Thus, the development of a definite human type free of ethnic miscegenation might be explained on the grounds of an inner moulding power, which finds its most direct manifestation in a given civilization or tradition. A notable example of this phenomenon is provided by the Jewish people: originally lacking any ethnic unity (in a physical sense), the Jews came to possess recognizable hereditary traits thanks to their tradition, ultimately coming to embody one of the clearest historical examples of strenuous racial unity. A more recent example is that of North American society: for Americans have come to show rather constant racial traits (particularly in terms of inner race) thanks to the moulding power of their civilization, which has shaped an extraordinarily mixed ethnic whole. My approach, therefore, ruled out the possibility that populations might be conditioned by biological factors alone.

The practical possibilities of applying my racial doctrine to the field of what Vacher de Lapouge termed 'political anthropology' were self-evident. In a country where the state  embodies the role of a superior, active and moulding principle, an attempt to favor the differentiation of the ethnic make-up of the population is certainly a conceivable prospect. In this regard, National Socialism was not entirely mistaken. What ought to have been distinguished in Germany was negative racism - understood as a means to protect the nation from dangerous forms of miscegenation - from positive racism - which is aimed at fostering diversity within the national community in order to define and strengthen a superior human type. Modern racism goes beyond the broad racial distinctions found in school textbooks (those between the White race and the Black, Yellow, etc.): for even the White, ‘Aryan’ or Indo-European race ought to be divided into smaller groupings: the Mediterranean race, the Nordic, the Dinaric, the Slav, Ostid, etc. (such terms significantly varying among different authors). In his Rassenseelekunde, L.R Clauss had also sought to provide a description of the soul and inner character of these different races, which are present in every European nation to various degrees. The aim of political racism ought to have been that of determining which race should be granted pre-eminence in the case of each country, and allowed to shape the nation. In the case of Germany, this race was the Nordic Aryan.

I personally addressed the same question with regard to Italy, and reached the conclusion that the central, guiding race of the country was to be the Roman Aryan race, a race that in ancient times had broken away from the same branch which had later engendered the Nordic race. In my book, I provided a description of the Roman Aryan type primarily in terms of its inner race (I provided a rough outline of the typology of the various 'races of the spirit'). In a separate chapter, I also discussed the prospect of an ethnic rectification of Italy aimed at reducing the widespread 'Mediterranean' elements in favor of the Roman Aryan - this, it goes without saying, from the point of view of sensibility and customs. I here described the elite as a governing class which would not only possess authority, power and prestige thanks to its position, but also embody a superior human type, where external and inner race would ideally coincide. The book also contained an iconographic appendix with photos and images in order to provide initial guidance in the study of the various races of the body, of the character and of the spirit, and of the consequences of interfering with them.

My book, no doubt, provided an original approach to racism, which avoided the chief pitfalls that marked the German approach. In my study of the subject, I raised a number of points which, I believe, remain valid even outside the specific context in which they were first formulated.

From a historical perspective, it might be interesting to note that Synthesis of the Doctrine of Race was openly approved by Mussolini. After reading the book, Mussolini got in touch with me, praising the work beyond its real merit on the grounds that the doctrine it espoused was just what he needed. My racial doctrine, Mussolini believed, might allow him to engage with the same issues addressed in Germany, thus 'conforming' to Germany, while at the same time maintaining an independent approach based on a spiritual drive (the primacy of the spirit which German racism generally lacked). In particular, Mussolini believed that my theory regarding the Roman Aryan race, and the myth which accompanied it, might serve both to integrate the Roman ideal of Fascism and to provide a foundation for his attempt to rectify and elevate the Italian people - to create, as it were, a new kind of Italian - by  means of the Fascist 'revolution' and state.

[...] As should be evident from what I have written so far, mine had been an attempt to engage with the issue of race from a superior, spiritual perspective. Racism I actually regarded as a secondary matter: my purpose was rather that of contrasting the errors of the materialist and primitive brand of racism which had surfaced in Germany, and which some people amateurishly sought to emulate in Italy. This field, too, I explored in accordance with my own inclinations, and nothing I then wrote I now truly disown - although I acknowledge the meaninglessness of any attempt to resume similar discussions today. [...]



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