Sparta – IV

Translated from EVROPA SOBERANA


The first who created were the peoples, and only then did the individuals created. Actually, the individual himself is rather a recent creation. At one time, the peoples imposed upon themselves a table of good. Love that craves to command and longs to obey jointly created these tables.

—Nietzsche


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Lycurgus and the Revolution

As said, between 1200 and 800 BCE, there were 400 years of “dark age” or Greek Middle Ages. The men were acting on personal glory; their behavior was inspired by the legendary feats of ancient individualist heroes. Blood brothers senselessly killed each other instead of uniting in a common will and not seeking personal glory but the glory of their people. Sparta herself was immersed in this heroic but fratricidal system, where every man was walking his way seeking his own immortality. Noble Dorians killed each other while their real enemies proliferated. Sparta was but a realm of many that existed in Hellas, and also pretty tumultuous and chaotic. But at the end of the dark ages came a figure that heralded a new era: Lycurgus, the father of Sparta, the spokesman of Dorian blood: the man who made what Sparta would later become.

After quelling the second Messenian rebellion with great difficulty, the Spartans found themselves contemplating the disturbing picture of being on the brink of defeat; very vulnerable, and on the reins of a resentful and hostile foreign population that surpassed them in quantity of more than ten to one. And they were not easy slaves to subjugate, but Greek peoples who retained their identity, pride and will to power. All Spartans knew full well that the subjugated would rebel again one day sooner or later and that they must be prepared for the occasion. In this tense atmosphere, if Sparta could preserve its purity and survive it was thanks to Lycurgus.

It is not known when Lycurgus lived. Some say he belongs to the ninth century BCE, that is, before the Messenian wars, others to the eighth century, and others to the seventh. In any case, his extraordinary personality is of an ancestral legislator or “giver of tables.” Lycurgus is half historical and half legendary. His name means “conductor of wolves.” He was a veteran of the Messenian wars and the Heracleidae, and belonged to the royal line of the Agis, youngest son of King Eunomos, who had softened his regime to please the crowds. But these crowds were emboldened and the king fell stabbed with a butcher knife. Polydectes inherited the kingdom, his eldest son, but having died suddenly Lycurgus (his younger brother) succeeded to the throne. His reign lasted eight months, but was so right, fair and orderly compared to the previous anarchy that won the respect of his people forever. When Lycurgus knew that his sister-in-law (the former queen) was pregnant of his brother and late King, he announced that the fruit of such pregnancy would inherit the throne, the right thing, and therefore Lycurgus would become merely regent.

But the queen was an ambitious woman who wanted to continue enthroned, so she proposed Lycurgus to marry her and get rid of the baby as soon as he was born, so they could become king and queen for life, and after them his own descendants. Lycurgus was furious at the proposal and rejected it vehemently in his inside. However, as a negative response would have meant that the party of the queen rise up in arms, he falsely sent messengers to accept the proposition. But when the baby was born, he sent servants with orders that if the child was a girl to be delivered to the mother; if boy to be handed over to him.

A male baby was born and was delivered as ordered. During a night he dined with military Spartans leaders and Lycurgus ordered the child to be brought, with the idea to let the leaders know there was already an heir. Lifting him with his arms and set him on the Spartan throne, said “Men of Sparta, here is a king born to us!” And since the heir still had no name, he named him Charilaus, “joy of the people.” With this gesture, Lycurgus affirmed his loyalty to the heir and future king and made it clear that he should be protected, and that he became his guardian and protector until he was old enough to rule.

Meanwhile, Lycurgus as Regent was highly revered by the people, who admired his uprightness, honesty and wisdom. The queen mother, however, had not forgiven his refusal and that he kidnapped and made Charilaus known. Due to manipulation and intrigues, she spread the rumor that Lycurgus was conspiring to murder his nephew and become king of Sparta. When this rumor reached the ears of Lycurgus, he went into exile until Charilaus was old enough to reign, marriage and become heir to the Spartan throne. In his exile Lycurgus traveled thorough different kingdoms studying their laws and customs in order to improve the Spartan after his return. The first country he visited was the island of Crete, the Dorian settlement after Mycenae and of renowned wisdom, where he befriended the wise Tales, convincing him to go to Sparta to help him in his purpose.

Tales appeared in Sparta as a musician-poet, a kind of minstrel, throwing songs of honor and discipline to the people of Sparta, and preparing them for what was to come. The greedy and ambitious willfully abandoned their desire for wealth and material luxuries in the sake of unity in a common will with their race. Lycurgus also visited Ionia, where he not only studied Homer, but legend says that he knew him personally (here it is clear that certain dates do not add up). Lycurgus compiled his work and then made it known to his people, who liked it very much initiating the Spartan celebration of Homer. Another legendary feat attributed to Lycurgus was the founding of the Olympics.

Lycurgus also traveled to Egypt, where he spent time studying the Army training. He was fascinated by the fact that in Egypt the soldiers were lifelong soldiers, as in other nations warriors were called to arms in war and returned to their previous work in peacetime. Although this certainly was not the only purpose of his trip to Egypt, at the time that country was a place where all those who sought initiation of ancient wisdom went.

The Spartan Aristocrates says that Lycurgus also traveled to Iberia, Libya and India, where he met the famous wise gymnosophists, with whom Alexander would also meet centuries later. The gymnosophist school valued, among other things, nudity to the inclemency of weather as a method to tan the skin and make the body and spirit resistant in general. As we will see later, this idea was greatly appreciated in Spartan education.

While Lycurgus was out, Sparta declined. The laws were not obeyed and there was no executive power to punish offenders. Upright men longed the time of the regency of Lycurgus and begged him: “It is true we have kings bearing the marks and assume the titles of royalty, but as for the qualities of their minds, nothing distinguishes them from their subjects. Only you have a nature made to rule and a genius to gain obedience.”

Lycurgus returned to Sparta and his first action was to bring together thirty of the greatest military leaders to inform them of his plans and to harangue them. After these men swore loyalty he ordered to join, armed, in the market square at dawn with their followers to instill terror in the hearts of those who would reject the changes he planned. He compiled a blacklist of potential enemies to hunt them down and eliminate if needed. That day the square was packed with fanatical followers of Lycurgus, and the effect was so impressive that the king fled to the temple of Athena, fearing a conspiracy against him. But Lycurgus sent a messenger to inform him that all he wanted was to introduce new legislation to improve and strengthen Sparta. Thus reassured, the king left the temple and headed to the square, and joined the party of Lycurgus. With Lycurgus, the two kings and thirty military leaders, the party had thirty-three members.

But even with the support of the king, what Lycurgus had made was clearly a coup, a conquest of power or imposition of his will: a revolution. He had united his people, instilling a sense of cohesion that should characterize any grand alliance. “The individual is nothing and the species everything.” Or as Hitler would say to his followers: “You are nothing–your Volk is everything.”

After developing his laws and make kings sworn they would respect them, Lycurgus reported that he would travel to the shrine of Delphi (the most important religious center of Hellas, considered “navel of the world”) in search of counsel from Apollo, to ratify their decision. Near Delphi, marginal nucleus of Dorian population, there were in the slopes of Mount Parnassus a shrine to this god, with a legend that there he had killed the serpent Python (a telluric idol related to pre-Indo-European peoples). A whole school was there for all initiatory mysteries of Delphi. These mysteries were a venerable institution, Dorian to the core, to which the notables of all Hellas looked for advice, initiation, and wisdom. It was a highly strategic location: from the sea, the sanctuary dominates the heights and seems to lie above the navigator, and from Delphi, everything what comes and leaves the Gulf of Corinth is seen clearly.

The sanctuary was saying, “Here we are the Greeks, dominating the naval and the trade traffic it brings, and we are vigilant.” In the temple of Apollo was a Sibyl, a virgin priestess who believed he had a special bond with this god and, like him, gifts of clairvoyance that were able to see the future and make prophecies. After receiving Lycurgus, the Sibyl called him “more god than man” and claimed he was a chosen of the gods, and announced that his laws were good and blessed his plans to establish the Spartan constitution, which would make the kingdom of Sparta the most famous of the world.

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This modern reconstruction recreates how the sanctuary of Delphi must have looked in ancient times. The road is strewn of stony plates that the Greek city-states donated to the oracle. The plates are adorned with elaborate writings and long dedications, except the Spartan plate, which reads: “To the oracle of Delphi, from Sparta.”


With the blessing of the priestess, Lycurgus established the Spartan constitution and his laws were so harsh and severe that he prohibited writing them down: only as oral tradition so that, over years of training, each individual assimilated them in his soul, by practice and internalization: something which would make him a carrier of such laws wherever he went and in any situation. His intention was not to create a mechanical, grid, stiff and cold system, but a living wheel: flexible and adaptable not only as common sense and logic, but also as an ancestral intuition and instinct.

By then Sparta was surrounded by hostile neighbors difficult to repel and possessed some nine thousand, non-militarized men to act in case of war or crisis. Lycurgus foresaw that if each of them was to be selected and trained hard in the arts of war since childhood, they would achieve victory over their opponents in spite of being outnumbered. Over generations, the people of Sparta would harden so much that would not be afraid of their enemies, and their fame would spread to the four cardinal points. Since then, Spartan boys became more than warriors: natural-born fighters with a lifelong mission, entirely committed in body a and soul sacrificed in honor of their homeland. They became, then, soldiers; perhaps the first professional soldiers in Europe.

Lycurgus did not exactly intend establish a kind of democracy. On one occasion a man had before him a compliment of democracy, giving a fiery speech. Lycurgus, having heard all the talk in silence, replied: “Good, now go and set an example by establishing a democracy at home.” Keep in mind that even in those ancient “democracies” only Greek citizens voted, i.e. men of pure Hellenic blood who had reached the majority of age. They had nothing to do with our modern idea. Despite of this, there is no shortage of deceivers today who try to sell us that Sparta was a kind of communist system just because the state was omnipresent and the Spartans knew how to share among them.

Lycurgus’ revolution was not entirely peaceful. The Spartan people soon realized that the laws were extremely hard even for them: good lineage of Dorian Greeks that had become accustomed to the comfort and luxury that always come victorious when it is not maintained on guard. The sober, ascetic and martial socialism preached by Lycurgus, which required all young men to part from their families and eat with their comrades, was not well received among many, especially the rich and affluent. There was a wave of outrage and an angry mob gathered to protest against Lycurgus. The mob was composed especially by the former wealthy individuals who found degrading the military rule that prohibited eating except on a collectively table of comrades in arms. When Lycurgus appeared nearby the crowd began to stone him, and was forced to flee to avoid death by stoning. The angry mob chased him but Lycurgus—robust despite his age—was so fast that soon after only a young man named Alexander was at his heels.

When Lycurgus turned to see who was chasing him with such agility, Alexander struck him in the face with a stick, gouging out an eye. Lycurgus gave no sign of pain and just stood with his bloodied face to face his pursuer. When the rest of the crowd arrived they saw what the young man had done: a venerable old man, standing solemnly before them, bleeding with an empty eye. Those were very respectful times for the elderly, especially men as charismatic and noble as Lycurgus. Instantly they must have felt immense guilt. Embarrassed, the crowd accompanied Lycurgus to his home to show their apologies, and delivered Alexander to him to punish him as he saw fit. Lycurgus, now one-eyed, did not rebuke the young, but he invited Alexander to live with him as a student. The young man soon learned to admire and emulate the austere and pure way of life of his mentor. As tradition derived from that event, the Senators gave up the habit of attending state meetings with batons.

After the Spartan people swore the laws of Lycurgus, he decided to leave Sparta for the rest of his days. His mission was accomplished and he knew it; now he had to die giving an example of a strong will. Feeling nostalgic for his homeland and being unable to live away from her, he committed suicide by starvation. A man born for a particular purpose, once fulfilled that purpose, he has no reason to linger earthbound. The ritual suicide has been practiced by many exceptional men whose mission was over, men who, after serving their fate, nothing was left in the world; they had lost the right to life. Nietzsche also spoke of voluntary death: “Many die too late, and some die too early. Yet strange soundeth the precept: “Die at the right time! Die at the right time: so teacheth Zarathustra.”

Another version relates that before leaving Delphi, Lycurgus made the Spartan people swore to follow their laws at least until he returned from Delphi. And, having committed suicide without ever returning to Sparta, the Spartans were left with no choice but to always abide by the laws of Lycurgus.

For Sparta, Lycurgus was something of a precursor, a vanguard leader, a messenger before his time. He had royal power, and the sacred charisma of great leaders, kings, saints and emperors, “certain power that drew the wills” in the words of Plutarch. He came and transformed a chaotic and overflowing mass with great potential in the most effective army of Earth. He imprinted his world with a new inertia: his, and gave a new aspect: what he wanted. After his death, a temple was erected in his honor and he was worshiped as a god. And it was from his time that not only Sparta but all Greece shone again: the beginnings of the Classic Age.

bas-relief_U.S._House_chamber

Xenophon greatly admired Lycurgus, saying that he “reached the highest limit of wisdom” (Constitution of the Lacedaemonians, 1). Savitri Devi referred to him as “the divine Lycurgus” and recalled that “the laws of Lycurgus had been dictated by Apollo at Delphi” (The Hyperborean). Gobineau appreciated the salvation led by the legislation of Lycurgus: “The Spartans were few in number but big-hearted, greedy and violent: a bad legislation would have turned them into poor devils. Lycurgus transformed them into heroic bandits” (An Essay on the Inequality of the Human Races, book I, chapter V).

Beyond evil and tyranny

The 2011 biography authored by R. H. S. Stolfi on Adolf Hitler mentions that Caesar perpetrated a genocide of whites in Gaul, something that I discussed in my previous post. Greg Johnson’s recent review of Stolfi’s biography merits reproduction below:

Stolfi


Russell Stolfi (1932–2012)


Adolf Hitler was clearly the man of the 20th century, whose shadow grows taller as the sun of the West sinks ever lower. Sadly, though, there is no biography worthy of Hitler.

If great men are those who leave their stamp on history, then Hitler was a great man. But great men present great problems for biographers. Great men are not necessarily good men, and even good men, when they hold political power, often find it necessary to kill innocent people. Evil men do not find this difficult, but good men do. Thus a good man, if he is to be a great man, must also be a hard man. But it is difficult for biographers, who are ordinary men, to sympathize with great men, especially men who are unusually bad or hard.

But biographers must at least try to enter imaginatively into the minds of their subjects. They must feel their feelings and think their thoughts. They must feel sympathy or empathy for their subjects. Such sympathy is not a violation of objectivity but a tool of it. It is a necessary counter-weight to the antipathy and ressentiment that hardness, cruelty, and greatness often inspire. Sympathy is necessary so a biographer can discover and articulate the virtues of intellect and character necessary to achieve anything great in this world, for good or ill.

Of course, one’s ability to sympathize with great men depends in large part on one’s moral principles. A Nietzschean or Social Darwinist would, for instance, find it easier to sympathize with a human beast of prey than would a Christian or a liberal democrat. Even so, it has been possible for Christians and liberals to write biographies of such great conquerors as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, Genghis Khan, and Napoleon without whipping themselves into thousand-page paroxysms of self-righteous moralistic denigration.

Hitler, of course, provides even greater problems for biographers, because his demonization is a prop of contemporary Jewish hegemony, and there are consequences for any writer who challenges that consensus.

R. H. S. Stolfi’s Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny is one of my favorite books on Hitler. It is not a biography of Hitler, although it is organized chronologically. It is, rather, a kind of “meta-biography,” an essay on the interpretation of Hitler’s life. Stolfi’s project has both positive and negative aspects: Stolfi critiques the existing interpretations of Hitler’s life as a whole and of specific episodes in Hitler’s life, and Stolfi sets forth his own interpretations.

Stolfi’s criticism of Hitler biographies focuses on the work of those he calls the four “great biographers”: John Toland (Adolf Hitler: The Definitive Biography, Alan Bullock (Hitler: A Study in Tyranny), Joachim Fest (Hitler), and Ian Kershaw (Hitler: 1889-1936, Hubris and Hitler: 1936-1945, Nemesis). In Stolfi’s words, “the penchant of [Hitler's] biographers for gratuitous sarcasm, strained skepticism, and writing from preconceived heights of antipathy has left the world with a dangerously inaccurate portrait of Hitler” (p. 54). (Judging from the reception of David Irving’s Hitler’s War and The War Path, the existing establishment regards an accurate portrait of Hitler more dangerous than an inaccurate one.) Four examples of this bias will suffice:

(1) Ian Kershaw claims that outside of politics, Hitler was an “unperson,” a nullity, which completely ignores Hitler’s voracious reading, serious engagement with and understanding of philosophers like Schopenhauer, love of painting and fine art, remarkable architectural knowledge and skill, and love of classical music, including a connoisseur’s knowledge of the operas of Richard Wagner that impressed the Wagner family and other highly discerning individuals.

(2) Hitler’s biographers invariably denigrate his humble, common origins, coming off like parodies of the worst forms of social snobbery. But of course the same authors would wax sodden and treacly in describing any other man’s rise from poverty and obscurity to fame and fortune. Jesse Owens, for instance.

(3) Stolfi rebuts one of Joachim Fest’s most outrageous liberties as follows: “The great biographers all debunk Nazi theories of racial differences, which they characterize as pseudoscientific and based on unredeemed prejudice, yet one of them [Fest] could claim confidently, without hint of countervailing possibility, that the subject of his biography had ‘criminal features’ set in a ‘psychopathic face’” (p. 268).

(4) The great biographers regularly slight Hitler’s service as a soldier during the First World War, yet as Stolfi points out, Hitler won the Iron Cross First Class, the Iron Cross Second Class, and a regimental commendation for bravery. He was also seriously wounded twice. Hitler never spoke much about what he did to earn these commendations, partly out of his characteristic modesty and reserve, but also probably because he did not wish to relive painful experiences. But even this is twisted by his biographers to cast aspersions on Hitler’s bravery and character. Stolfi notes that with no other historical figure do biographers feel entitled to take such liberties.

Kershaw is the most tendentious of the great biographers, repeatedly characterizing Hitler as an “unperson,” a “nonentity,” a “mediocrity,” and a “failure.” These epithets must surely feel good to Kershaw and like-minded readers, but if they are true, then Hitler’s career is utterly incomprehensible. Stolfi is acerbic, witty, and tireless in skewering the great biographers—although some of his readers might find it tiresome as well.

In addition to offering fascinating interpretations of particular events, Stolfi argues for three overriding theses about Hitler: (1) Hitler cannot be understood as a politician but as a prophet, specifically a prophet forced to take on the role of a messiah; (2) Hitler cannot be understood as an evil man, but as a good man who was forced by circumstances and his own ruthless logic and unemotional “hardness” to do terrible things; and (3) Hitler must be understood as one of the great men of history, indeed as a world-historical figure, who cannot be grasped with conventional moral concepts.

Surely by now you are thinking that our author must be some sort of “discredited,” “marginal,” outsider historian like David Irving, or even a dreaded “revisionist.” So who was Russell Stolfi? Born in 1932, Stolfi is to all appearances an established, mainstream military historian. He was Professor at the US Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, California and a Colonel in the US Marine Corps Reserve. He is the author of three other books: German Panzers on the Offensive: Russian Front–North Africa 1941-1942 (Schiffer Publishing, 2003), Hitler’s Panzers East: World War II Reinterpreted (University of Oklahoma, 1993), and NATO Under Attack: Why the Western Alliance Can Fight Outnumbered and Win in Central Europe Without Nuclear Weapons (with F. W. von Mellenthin, Duke University Press, 1983). I first read Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny in May of 2012, and I was so excited that I tried to contact Stolfi for an interview only to learn that he had just died in April.


Politician or Prophet?

Adolf Hitler was a formidable political organizer who took over a minuscule Bavarian debating club and turned it into the largest political party in Germany. After being imprisoned for an abortive Putsch, Hitler decided to attain power legally, through electoral politics. To that end, he virtually created the modern political campaign, traveling tirelessly by automobile and airplane and masterfully employing the mass media of his time. When he became Chancellor, Hitler proved a formidable statesman, transforming Germany with a virtually bloodless revolution and recovering German lands and pride through a series of deft foreign policy triumphs until the British and French started a World War to stop him.

Yet for all that, Stolfi argues that Hitler’s personality, goals, and grand strategy were more like those of a religious prophet, specifically an armed prophet like Mohammed.

Politicians presuppose a common political system and climate of opinion. They generally avoid contesting fundamental principles and instead deal with essentially quantitative differences within the same political and ideological continuum, hence their ability to compromise and their susceptibility to corruption. Stolfi points out again and again that Hitler refused to behave like a politician.

Hitler never compromised on basic principles. He took dangerously unpopular stands (p. 225). He refused to soften the party’s message to appeal to squeamish and lukewarm people. He was no demagogue: “A demagogue tells his audience what it wants to hear. A messiah tells his audience what he wants it to hear” (p. 248). Hitler never worried that his radical views would “discredit” him in the eyes of the public, whose minds were mostly in the grip of his enemies anyway. Instead, Hitler was supremely confident of his ability to lend credit to his ideas through reason and rhetoric. He wanted to elevate public opinion toward truth rather than condescend to pander to ignorance and folly.

Hitler also refused to enter common fronts with enemy parties, especially the Social Democrats, even when they took patriotic stands.

Hitler was, moreover, utterly incorruptible. He refused to make special promises to businessmen and other interest groups. He just handed them the party’s platform. In the end, he was offered the Chancellorship simply because his opponents knew he could not be bought off with anything less.

Revolutionaries deal with fundamental issues of principle, which is why they seek to overthrow existing systems and begin anew. Hitler was, of course, a political revolutionary. But he was something more. He saw himself as the exponent of a whole philosophy of life, not just a political philosophy. He placed politics in a larger biological and historical perspective: the struggle of Aryan man against Jewry and its extended phenotypes Communism and Anglo-Saxon capitalism. He believed the stakes were global: nothing less than the survival of all life on Earth was in peril. And having miraculously survived four years of slaughter and two serious wounds in the trenches of World War I—including an experience that can only be described as supernatural (p. 95)—Hitler believed that he enjoyed the special protection of Providence.

Hitler had a number of heroic role models. As a child, he was transported by Germanic myths and sagas. As a teenager, he identified with the hero of Wagner’s opera Rienzi, based on the story of Cola di Rienzi, the 14th century popular dictator who sought to restore Rome to its Imperial glory but who was undone by the treachery of the aristocracy and church and finally murdered. Hitler prophesied that he would become a tribune of the people who would rise and fall like Rienzi, and he did. Hitler also identified with Wagner’s Lohengrin and Siegfried. Although Hitler himself had little use for the Bible, his later career as armed prophet brings to mind the Hebrew prophets and lawgivers as well. Stolfi’s analogy between Hitler and Mohammed is quite apposite and revealing.

Savior of Germany – and Europe

Hitler, however, apparently did not think of himself as a messiah figure, but more as a John the Baptist, preparing the way for someone greater than him. But, as Stolfi documents, many of Hitler’s closest followers—all of them intelligent men, ranging from mystics like Hess to consummate cynics like Goebbels—as well as some of his more fair-minded enemies, did see him as a messiah figure, and in the end, he was forced to take on that role. Reading Stolfi makes Savitri Devi’s thesis in The Lightning and the Sun that Hitler was an avatar of the god Vishnu seem a little less eccentric. (Savitri did not originate that thesis. It was a view that she encountered widely among educated Hindus in the 1930s.) There was something messianic about Hitler’s aura and actions, and people around the world understood it in terms of their own cultural traditions.

Stolfi does not mention it, but there is a sense in which Hitler was the savior of Germany and all of Western Europe, although his accomplishments fell far short of his ambitions, consumed his life, and devastated his nation. When Hitler launched operation Barbarossa in 1941, the Soviets were poised to launch a massive invasion of all of Central and Western Europe. Hitler pre-empted that invasion, and although he failed to destroy the USSR, the Third Reich was destroyed instead, and Stalin conquered half of Europe, the outcome would have been much worse if Stalin had been able to launch his invasion. Stalin could have conquered all of Europe. At best he would have been repulsed after unimaginable devastation and bloodshed. Thus every Western European who has lived in freedom from want and terror since 1941 owes a debt of thanks to Adolf Hitler, the German people, and their Axis partners.

(See on this site [Counter Currents] Daniel Michaels, “Exposing Stalin’s Plan to Conquer Europe” and the National Vanguard review of Viktor Suvorov’s Icebreaker; for more recent literature on this subject, see Viktor Suvorov’s definitive statement of his research has been published as The Chief Culprit: Stalin’s Grand Design to Start World War II [Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 2008] and Joachim Hoffmann, Stalin’s War of Extermination, 1941-1945: Planning, Realization and Documentation [Capshaw, Al.: Theses and Dissertations Press, 2001].)

The Question of Evil

In today’s climate of moral relativism and rot, Adolf Hitler is probably the only human being that even liberals will denounce as evil. Hitler is the modern world’s paradigm and embodiment of evil. But of course other people can be evil if they are “like Hitler.” Thus the most radical thesis of Stolfi’s book is that Adolf Hitler was not evil.

There are many dimensions to this argument.

(1) Stolfi points out that there is no evidence that Hitler had psychopathic or sociopathic personality traits as a child. He did not torture animals or steal, for instance. He was polite, serious, and reserved.

(2) Stolfi also points out that Hitler was not primarily motivated by hate or ressentiment. He arrived at his two great enmities, namely against Jewry and Bolshevism, based on personal experience, current events, and extensive research. But when he was rationally convinced of their enormity, he naturally hated them with appropriate magnitude and intensity. As Stolfi writes, “It is difficult to imagine Hitler either as messiah or otherwise and not hating the enemy. Did Jesus the Christ or Mohammed the Prophet hate Satan or merely disapprove of him?” (p. 233).

(3) Calling Hitler evil, like calling him “crazy,” is mentally lazy, because it exempts us from trying to understand the reasons for Hitler’s actions: both his thought processes and objective events that prompted him to act. Hitler had his reasons.

(4) Stolfi argues that Hitler’s character, goals, and actions were not evil. Hitler did what he thought was right, and he was hard enough to spill oceans of blood if he thought it was necessary to advance the greater good. A Socratic, of course, would claim that it is an empty claim, as nobody does evil as such but only under the guise of a perceived good. The evil of an act is in its outcome, not its motive. We all “mean well.”

(5) Stolfi hints that Hitler may have, in a sense, been beyond good and evil, because his goal was nothing less than the creation of a new order, including a new moral order, and it begs the question to subject such men to the moral laws they seek to overthrow. This points us back to Stolfi’s thesis that Hitler has to be seen more as a religious than a political figure and forward to his third major thesis, that Hitler was a world-historical individual.

Russell Stolfi deals with a number of episodes in Hitler’s life that are adduced as evidence of evil. Stolfi argues that some of these acts are not evil at all. He others that others were necessary or mitigated evils. And he claims that still others were no more evil than the actions of other great men of history who nevertheless manage to receive respectful treatment from biographers. Finally, Stolfi argues that all of these acts, even the evil ones, do not necessarily make Hitler an evil man, for even good men can commit horrific acts if they believe they are necessary to promote a greater good.

(1) Stolfi argues that Hitler’s Beer Hall Putsch and other violations of the laws of the Weimar Republic are somewhat softened by the fact that he believed that the Weimar Republic was an illegitimate and criminal regime. Hitler’s early attempts to defy it and replace it are not, therefore, “evil,” unless all acts of disobedience and revolution against governments as such are evil. In any case, after his release from prison, Hitler adopted a policy of strict legality: he pursued the Chancellorship through electoral politics, and he won.

(2) Stolfi argues that the creation of the Sturm Abteilungen (Storm Troops) was not motivated by a desire to violently intimidate political opponents and seize power. Instead, the SA was formed in self-defense against organized Communist efforts to violently intimidate political opponents and seize power, violence that had effectively suppressed the ability of all Right-wing parties to assemble. The SA did not merely assure the NSDAP’s freedom to assemble and organize, it broke the Red terror and restored political freedom to all parties.

(3) Stolfi argues that the Röhm purge was necessary because there was ample evidence that Röhm himself was plotting a coup, and, true or not, Hindenburg, the leaders of the military, and Hitler’s top lieutenants all believed it to be true. Hindenburg threatened to declare martial law and have the army deal with Röhm if Hitler would not. Hitler had to act, because if he didn’t, he would be effectively deposed: he would be abdicating the sovereign function to decide and act for the good of the people to Hindenburg and the army. Even so, Hitler temporized to the last possible moment.

Stolfi claims that Röhm’s death was a kind of apotheosis for Hitler: “By June 1934, Hitler stood poised to pass beyond friendship with any man into the realm of the lonely, distant Leader. But Hitler could never pass into that realm with Röhm alive and serving as a reminder of Hitler’s own historical mortality. Röhm had to die, and Hitler had to kill him” (p. 306). But this was not, of course, Hitler’s motive for killing him.

Ultimately, Stolfi judges Röhm’s death to be politically necessary and morally excusable. He describes it not as a cool, premeditated murder but as a “crime of passion” of a man faced with the infidelity of a sworn confidant (p. 309). Of course, the Röhm purge was the occasion for settling a number of other old scores, which complicates Stolfi’s moral picture considerably.

(4) Stolfi evidently thinks there was nothing evil at all about Hitler’s assumption of dictatorial powers—through a provision in the Weimar constitution—or his suppression of a political movement as destructive and implacable as Marxism. But he praises the relative bloodlessness of Hitler’s legal revolution.

(5) As for the concentration camps off to which Hitler packed the leaders of the Marxist parties and other subversive groups: in 1935, when the German population stood at 65 million, the concentration camp inmates numbered 3,500, most of them Communists and Social Democrats. The camp system and its mandate were expanded to house people in protective custody for being social nuisances, including beggars, drunks, homosexuals (homosexuality was criminalized under the Second Reich, remained criminalized under Weimar, and was criminalized in the liberal democracies too), gypsies, and habitual criminals—by 1939 there were 10 camps with 25,000 inmates in a country of 80 million people. That doesn’t seem quite as evil as it was cracked up to be. Furthermore, since Himmler and Heydrich certainly did not lack persecuting zeal and organizational skill, we can conclude that the camp system was exactly as big as they thought it should be.

To give some context, according to Wikipedia—where statistics about Soviet atrocities tend to be on the low end due to Marxist policing—in March of 1940, the Soviet Gulag comprised 53 separate camps and 423 labor colonies in which approximately 1.3 million people were interned out of a population of 170 million. Whatever the real size, it was exactly as big as Stalin wanted it to be.

Although I have not been able to find records of similar forms of internment in liberal democracies for political dissidents and social nuisances, these surely did take place. But even in the absence of these numbers, it seems clear that Hitler’s camps were far more similar to the prisons of liberal democracies than the Soviet Gulag to which they are always likened.

Of course, these were peacetime numbers. Under the exigencies of war, Hitler’s camp system expanded dramatically to house hostile populations, prisoners of war, and conscript laborers, which is another topic.

(6) Hitler’s anti-Semitism is often put forward as evidence of evil. Hitler himself thought that certain forms of anti-Semitism were repugnant if not outright evil: religious anti-Semitism, anti-Semitism based on ressentiment, gutter populist scapegoating, etc. His repugnance for such phenomena prejudiced him against anti-Semitism as such. But his personal experiences in Vienna, combined with serious reading eventually led him to a dispassionate, scientifically based, and historically informed anti-Semitism.

When Hitler took power, Germany had a relatively small Jewish population. His basic policy was to prevent any further German-Jewish genetic admixture, remove Jews from positions of power and influence, and encourage Jews to emigrate. By the outbreak of the Polish war, Germany’s Jewish population had been dramatically reduced. But due to Hitler’s war gains, millions of new Jews fell into his remit. More about this anon. Stolfi is somewhat circumspect in passing judgment about Hitler’s peacetime Jewish policy. But we can safely say that it was no more evil than, say, the British treatment of Boer non-combatants or the American treatment of the Plains Indians.

(7) Regarding Hitler’s foreign policy exploits as Chancellor—including rearmament, pulling out of the League of Nations, remilitarizing the Rhineland, the annexation of the Sudetenland and Austria, the annexation of Bohemia, and the war with Poland—Stolfi writes, “every international crisis that involved Hitler in the 1930s stemmed from an iniquity on the part of the Allies in the Paris Peace Conference of 1919” (p. 316). According to Stolfi, in all of these crises, morality was on Hitler’s side, and he lauds Hitler for conducting them with restraint and relative bloodlessness—at least up until the Polish war.

These were hardly the outrageous, unendurable moral provocations of Allied propaganda that justified Britain and France starting a World War because Hitler, having exhausted diplomatic negotiations, started a war with Poland to recover German lands and peoples subjected to horrific Polish oppression. The British and French simply could not grasp that, in Stolfi’s words, “a world-historical personality had marched, outraged, out of the desert of shattered Flanders fields, and the former Allies had not even superior morality to shield themselves from him” (p. 317).

(8) Stolfi interprets Operation Barbarossa against the USSR as a colonial war of conquest as well as a crusade to rid Europe of the scourge of Bolshevism. From an ethnonationalist perspective, of course, Hitler’s aim to reduce Slavs to colonized peoples was evil. Furthermore, it was more evil than British, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Belgian, American, and Russian imperialism directed at non-European peoples, because it is always worse to mistreat one’s own blood than foreigners. But it was certainly not uniquely evil in the annals of human history. If Genghis Khan and Timur the Lame can be the subjects of objective historical assessments, then Barbarossa does not disqualify Hitler.

Stolfi does not treat Barbarossa as a necessary war to preempt Stalin’s planned invasion of Europe. I wanted to ask Stolfi his thoughts about the thesis defended by Viktor Suvorov and Joachim Hoffmann in an interview, but that was not to be. If they are right, of course, then there was no evil at all in launching Barbarossa, although one can justly criticize the excesses of its execution.

(9) According to Stolfi, Hitler’s darkest deeds are the massacre of 3.1 million Soviet POWs captured in the opening months of Barbarossa and the killing of 4.5 million Jews in what is known as the Holocaust. Stolfi is certainly a Hitler revisionist, but I do not know whether he is a Holocaust revisionist or not, since I am unsure if it is legal for him to think that “only” 4.5 million Jews were killed by the Third Reich. I had not even heard of the 3.1 million Soviet POWs, which Stolfi mentions only a couple of times in passing. But of course I have heard of the Holocaust, to which Stolfi dedicates the last two paragraphs of the book (pp. 461-62). Such a brief treatment may itself constitute revisionism, at least in France, where Jean-Marie Le Pen was fined for saying that the Holocaust was only a footnote to the Second World War. Given that some footnotes are longer than the paragraphs in question, Stolfi might have gotten in trouble in the land of liberté. Stolfi’s treatment, however, is a welcome corrective to the Jewish tendency to treat World War II as merely the backdrop of the Holocaust.

Of course, just as Hitler is our age’s paradigm of an evil man, the Holocaust is the paradigm of an evil event. Stolfi does not dispute that the massacre of 7.6 million people is evil. But he does not think it is uniquely evil in World War II or the annals of history in general. Winston Churchill, for example, was responsible for the starvation of millions of Indians whose food was seized for the war effort. He was responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of German non-combatants in strategically unnecessary terror bombings of German cities. He was responsible for the expulsion of 14 million Germans from their homes in Eastern and Central Europe, up to two million of whom died. Was Churchill evil? His apologists, of course, would argue that his actions were necessitated by the exigencies of war and the pursuit of the greater good. But Hitler’s apologists, if there were any, could argue the very same thing and be done with it. If Churchill, Lenin, Trotsky, Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, Julius Caesar, and other members of the Million Murder club can receive fair treatment in a biography, then why not Hitler?

Stolfi compares the Holocaust to Julius Caesar’s ten year conquest of Gaul, in which he killed more than a million armed men and reduced another million to slavery. One million civilian non-combatants were also killed or reduced to slavery. Some particularly troublesome tribes were entirely exterminated because they were “irreconcilable, menacing, and useless either as allies or slaves” (p. 38). Stolfi points out, however, that Caesar’s acts “revealed harshness of almost incredible proportion,” but his acts were “based on realism and prudence in the face of perceived danger—scarcely sadism and cruelty” (p. 38). Likewise, Stolfi argues that “Hitler took the action of pitiless massacre as a last resort in the face of a perceived irreconcilable enemy” and his actions “showed virtually nothing that can be interpreted as sadism, cruelty, or ingrained hate as opposed to temporary fury in the carrying out of the action” (p. 39).

Hitler’s massacres, terrible though they may be, do not prove that he is an evil man, since even good men might resort to such measures in direst extremity. Moreover, even if they were expressions of evil, they were not unique expressions of unique evil but all too common in the annals of history. But, again, only in Hitler’s case are they treated as insuperable objections to serious historical treatment.

In sum, Stolfi argues that Hitler cannot be seen as evil if that means that he was motivated by sadism, psychopathy, hatred, or a neurotic need for power and attention. Instead, Hitler was motivated, first and foremost, by love of his people, beyond which were wider but less pressing concerns with the larger Aryan race, European civilization, and the welfare of the world as a whole. Because Hitler believed that the things he loved were imperiled by Jewry, Bolshevism, and Anglo-Saxon capitalism, he fought them. And when the fight became a world conflagration, he fought them with a remarkable hardness and severity. But his essentially decent character and positive ends remained unchanged. Thus for Stolfi, Hitler is a good man who did some bad things as well as good things—a good man who made many good decisions and some catastrophic mistakes.

A Dark World Historical Personality

But there is a sense in which Stolfi thinks that Hitler is beyond the very categories of good and evil, at least as far as historians should be concerned. Stolfi argues that Hitler was a great man, like such great conquerors as Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Mohammed, and Napoleon. (Stolfi makes scant mention of unarmed prophets like the Buddha or Jesus.) According to Stolfi, if one were to freeze Hitler’s life at the end of 1942, he would have to be considered one of history’s greatest statesmen and conquerors. And even if one plays the film all the way to the end, Stolfi argues that the Allies did not win World War II so much as Hitler lost it, which itself underscores his greatness and the relative nullity of his opponents.

Indeed, Stolfi argues that Hitler was more than just a great man but one of Hegel’s “world-historical individuals,” who inaugurates a new stage in human history and cannot be judged or comprehended by the standards of the previous stage. Stolfi, it seems, detaches this concept from Hegel’s overall view that world-historical individuals advance history toward the Providential goal of universal freedom, a goal that Hitler, of course, rejected in favor of particularisms of race and nation. Sadly, though, Hitler may have advanced the universalist agenda in defeat, through no intention of his own.

But, as another prophetic figure once said of World War II, “the war’s not over as far as I’m concerned,” meaning that history is still unfolding, including the consequences of Hitler’s actions. So it remains to be seen whether Hitler will contribute to the victory or defeat of universalism. If racial nationalism—of which Hitler is an inexpugnable part—defeats the drive toward a homogeneous global society, then Hitler would be a world historical figure of an entirely new order: not an agent of “progress,” but of its termination; the man who ended the “end of history” and started the world anew; the man who took the ascending line of progress and inscribed it within a cyclical view of history, whether interpreted in the widely variant Traditionalist or Spenglerian senses.

Hitler: Beyond Evil and Tyranny is a remarkable book that I recommend to all my readers. Stolfi executes his audacious project with clarity and dry humor. Sometimes Stolfi seems to go a bit too far, perhaps just to test his dialectical skills. For instance, he even defends Hitler as a painter. He does a surprisingly good job, but I will still not budge from my conviction that Winston Churchill was Hitler’s superior in this—and only this—regard.

This book is even more remarkable because it is the work of a mainstream military historian, and it clears the way for other genuinely historical studies of Hitler and the Third Reich. This really is an inevitable development as the generations that lived through the war die off. Furthermore, we are now living in a multipolar world with new rising powers—Russia, China, India—that are free of Jewish cultural and political hegemony and hungry for a genuine understanding of Hitler and the Second World War.

White Nationalists should especially welcome Stolfi’s book because it works to dispel the cloud of moral hysteria and denigration that surrounds Hitler, taking some of the sting out of the inevitable accusation that we are “just like Hitler,” which turns out to be an undeserved compliment.

Original source: here and here

Why Hitlerism should be our new religion

The recent blog wars of nationalists vs. counter-jihadists was so engrossing that I interrupted the reading of a piece by Savitri Devi (photo below), “The Religion of the Strong” that reminded me a Counter-Currents featured article by William Pierce, republished also in this blog under the title “God and White Nationalism.”

Finally, today I had a little time to finish my reading. Devi wrote (no ellipsis added between unquoted excerpts):



You who exalt the image of the solitary rock, free yourself from two deadly superstitions: the search for “happiness” and concern for “humanity”.

Attach yourself to the essential—to the eternal. And never worry about happiness. He who has the Word, father of thought, and who, far from putting it in service of the essential, wastes it in the search for personal satisfactions, he is not Strong; he is not an aristocrat in the deep sense of the word, but petty, an egoist and a coward, an object of disgust in the eyes of the natural élite.

All society, all “civilization” is marked by the seal of the Powers of Decadence, a civilization of the Dark Age. If you are obliged to suffer it, suffer it by unceasingly opposing it, denouncing it, combating it every minute of your life.

It is, however, true that—beyond a certain degree of mixing of races and cultures and conditioning on a vast scale, thanks to all the modern means of communication—people end up resembling each other strangely, psychically if not physically, a uniformity of grayness, a kind of manufactured homogeneity—desired by those who control the masses; a uniformity which reveals only the deterioration of a society that has definitively turned its back on the eternal—in other words: a damned society.

But one can still sometimes discover an exceptional individual within such a society, an individual who disdains the ethnic chaos that he sees around him and of which he is perhaps himself a product.

As for the enemy, fight him with all the ardor of your heart. It is not necessary to hate him. He follows his nature and achieves his destiny while being opposed to the eternal values. Fight him, and by all means, without respite and weakness. For he is your absolute opposite.

Any true religion is a path open to those who tend towards the eternal, consciously or not. And there is no true religion without ritual.

One almost can define a decadent age simply by saying that it is an age when traditional doctrines, that is to say, those that raise the faithful to the contemplation of the eternal, cease to interest men, except for a negligible minority.

In order for a Weltanschauung, a vision of the Universe, a “philosophy,” once infused with the magic of ritual, to become the basis of a true religion, it is necessary not only that it contain no internal contradictions, but also that its fundamental propositions are true, not relatively but absolutely.

A false religion in our age, the case with Marxism, adopted by Lenin as the foundation of the proletarian State, is based on flagrant untruths: on the assertion that man is nothing more than what his economic milieu makes of him; on the negation of the role of heredity, therefore of race; on the negation of the role of superior personalities.

Among the doctrines of the twentieth century called political, I know of only one that meets the condition sine qua non to be used as the basis of a true religion, namely, that it rests on eternal truths. Only one, I say, and I speak of the true Aryan racism, in other words, Hitlerism.

In a passage of his novel The Seven Colors, Robert Brasillach describes the consecration ceremony for the new flags of the Third Reich at one of the great annual meetings at Nuremberg, at which he himself was present. After the imposing procession of all the organizations dependent upon or attached to the National Socialist Party, the Führer solemnly advanced under the eyes of five hundred thousand spectators crowded on the steps of the immense stadium, on which reigned an absolute silence. One after another, he raised the new banners and put them in contact with the “Blood Flag”: the standard that his earliest disciples had carried during the Putsch of 9 November 1923 and to which the blood of the Sixteen who fell this day had given a sacred character. In this way, each flag became similar to that one; “charged” like it with a mystical fluid by participation in the sacrifice of the Sixteen. And the French writer remarks, quite justly, that he whom the religious meaning of this act escapes “does not understand anything of Hitlerism.” He emphasizes, in other words, that this act is a ritual.

But this ritual, to which many others can be added, would never have sufficed to give Hitlerism the character of a religion, if it had not already been a more-than-political doctrine: a Weltanschauung. And above all, it would have been unable to make it a true religion, if, at the base of this Weltanschauung, there had not been eternal truths and a whole attitude which was not (and does not remain), in last analysis, anything other than the quest for the eternal even in what changes—the traditional attitude par excellence.

These words may seem strange in 1969, more than twenty-four years after the defeat of Hitler’s Germany on the battlefield and the collapse of its political structure. They can seem strange, now that one would seek in vain, in the whole geographical region covered by the Third Reich, a visible sign of the resurgence of National Socialism such as the Führer intended it, and that the majority of the organizations which, beyond the old frontiers of the Reich, claim they would rescue the condemned Movement, are just pale imitations without heart, or just lamentable caricatures.

It is correct that Hitlerians had been vanquished on all fronts in 1945; it is correct that the Third German Reich was dismembered; that the National Socialist party does not exist anymore; that in Germany and elsewhere there are no more Swastika flags in the windows, no streets bearing the name of the Führer, no publications of any kind that honor his memory. It is correct that thousands of Germans learned how to scorn or hate He whom their parents had acclaimed, and that millions are no more interested in him and his teaching than if he had never lived. Yet it remains no less true that the essence of the Hitlerian doctrine is the very expression of eternal laws; the laws that govern not only man, but life; which represent, as I wrote in a book in the German language, “the wisdom of the starry heaven,” and that the choice posed to the world is, consequently, the same after 1945 as before. It is the acceptance of this more than human wisdom, it is this accord with the spirit of the Nature, which Hitlerism implies, or disintegration, ethnic chaos, the degeneration of man—separation from the Heart of the cosmos; damnation. It is—and the words are again mine—“Hitler or hell.”

People of our planet seem to have chosen hell. It is what a declining humanity invariably does. It is the very sign that we are completely in what the Hindu tradition calls the Kali Yuga, the Dark Age.

But the ages follow one another. The laws that regulate their succession remain.

A doctrine like Hitlerism, whose spirit and application in this world can only go against the current of our time [contrasts with] the religions “of extinction,” as I call them—such as Buddhism, Jainism, and later Catharism—guide the lost and the desperate for whom the absence of hope is suffering, people broken or rejected by the fight without end and who aspire to “leave it.” The doctrines that preach action in detachment and enthusiasm without hope are addressed to the Strong.

Hitlerism considered in its essence, i.e., stripped of all that attaches it to the political and economic contingencies of a particular time, is the religion of the Strong of the Aryan race, as opposed to a world in decline; a world of ethnic chaos.

When will one see in Germany monuments, if not “temples,” to the glory of all those Germans hung from 6 October 1946 and after, up to 7 June 1951, for having been faithful to their faith, which is also ours, and having done their duty?

The Führer said to each of his compatriots: “You are nothing; your people is all.” Only he who is of Germanic blood can be a member of the (German) people. From whence it follows that no Jew can be a citizen of the (German) State”

It is a return, pure and simple, to the ancient conception of the people: of the German conception, certainly, but also the Greek, that of the Romans before the Empire, with that of all peoples, or almost all. It is the negation of the Roman attitude of the centuries of decadence, which allowed any inhabitant of the Empire, any subject of the Emperor, to become a “Roman citizen,” be he Jewish, like Paul of Tarsus or Flavius Josephus, or Arab, like the Emperor Philip—and, later, it sufficed to be “Christian,” and of the same Church as the Emperor to be an Byzantine “citizen,” able to reach the highest offices. It is the negation of the ideas of the “people” and the “citizen” such as presented by the French Revolution at the moment when, at the suggestion of the Abbé Grégoire and others as well, the Constituent Assembly proclaimed “French” all the Jews residing in France and speaking French.

In other words, if a people is an historical and social reality, if its common memories, glorious and painful, common habits and, in general, common language, are factors of cohesion among its members, it is also more than that. It is part of a great race. It is an Aryan or Mongoloid people, an Australoid, Negro, or Semitic people. It can, without ceasing to be a true people, contain a more or less large proportion of different sub-races, provided that these are all part of the great race to which it belongs. (The Führer himself was physically as “Alpine” as he was Nordic, and perhaps more. The brilliant and faithful Goebbels was almost purely Mediterranean. And they are not the only greater Germans or the only personages in the first rank of the Third Reich not to be one hundred percent Nordic.)

If one admits, as I would readily, that “the Divine sleeps in the stone, wakes up in the plant, feels in the animal, and thinks in the man” Hitlerism represents, in the midst of ethnic chaos, in the midst of an epoch of the world’s physical and moral decline, the supreme effort to bring the thinking Aryan back to respect for the cosmic order as it is affirmed in the laws of development.

_______________

My two cents:

But how could Hitlerism be our new religion in the West’s darkest hour? Tip: focus Northwest.

Published in: on June 14, 2011 at 4:22 pm  Comments (5)  
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