Fighting for the Essence: Western Ethnosuicide or European Renaissance?
London: Arktos Media, 2012
This newest offering from Arktos is the first translation into English from the works of Pierre Krebs, a leading figure in the European New Right. Born in French Algeria (1946), Krebs studied law, journalism, sociology and political science in France, taking an active role in right-wing politics during the late 1960s. Later settling in Germany, he founded the Thule Seminar, a self-described “research society for Indo-European Culture,” in Kassel in 1980. The German Verfassungsschutz (Office for the Protection of the Constitution) appears to take considerable interest in his activities.
Besides the book under review, Dr. Krebs is the author of The European Rebirth, The Imperishable Inheritance: Alternatives to the Principle of Equality and a study on Valéry and Wagner. Fighting for the Essence was first published in German translation in 1996, with a revised French edition appearing in 2000.
Krebs’ nomenclature, original with him so far as I know, draws a sharp contrast between “Europe” and “the West.” “Europe” refers to the great racial and cultural tradition he wishes to defend; “the West” means today’s “Western community of values” that engages in humanitarian bombing campaigns, enforces tolerance at gunpoint on its subject populations, prefers the stranger to the kinsman, and wishes to erase even the distinction between men and women.
Prof. Krebs is good at pointing up the antinomies of this modern ideological abortion: its homogenization in the name of diversity and suppression of particularity in the name of tolerance. Multiculturalism and multiracialism, as he observes, are mystifying terms which function to conceal a culturicidal and raciophobic program of deracination and panmixia. “The doctrine of human rights should be seen for what it really is: the ideological alibi of the West in a battle to the death that it has declared on all the peoples of the world.”
Apologists for Western ideology rest their case upon a false dichotomy between assimilation and fearful isolation:
In fact, just as the self-defined individual who differentiates himself from the surrounding masses does not isolate himself from society, but on the contrary enriches it with his uniqueness, so also a people conscious of their difference do not isolate themselves any more from the human species, but come closer to it every time they endow it with their singularities and their peculiarities. The more a people becomes conscious of their difference, the more their opening up to the world has a chance of profiting others . . . and the more they are inclined to tolerate the differences of others.
The author distinguishes three stages in the development of “the egalitarian lie.” The first, political stage replaces organic democracy with a parliamentary procedure emptied of ethno-cultural content; the second, juridical phase, demands that all nations align their constitutions to this same model; the third, ideological stage breaks down the territorial integrity of nations through open immigration, which leads directly to the final biological abolition of human differences in universal panmixia.
All of this sounds consistent with what might be called the orthodox conservative narrative of Western decline since the Enlightenment. Nor does Krebs depart from that narrative in tracing the origin of egalitarianism to Christianity. In the view of many on the Christian right, modernism is a practical form of the Pelagian heresy, an attempt to bring heaven down to earth—“immanentizing the eschaton,” in Voegelin’s mellifluous words.
But Krebs names the heresiarch Pelagius as one of his heroes. In his view, the egalitarian lie is to be blamed not on any perversion of Christianity, but on Christianity itself—or, as he invariably writes, “Judeochristianity.” He cites Nietzsche’s observation that
Christianity, which has sprung from Jewish roots and can only be understood as a plant that has come from that soil, represents the counter-movement to every morality of breeding, race or privilege—it is the anti-Aryan religion par excellence.
From this Krebs infers that
every discourse which calls for a European Renaissance without separating itself from Judeo-Christian civilization, its dogmas and its rituals, is condemned to failure in advance, since it is enclosed within the very matrix of decline. . . . The monotheistic “Unique” and the egalitarian “Same” are, in fact, the front and reverse side of the same coin. . . . [The] continuity is flagrant between the Jewish will to reduce the polymorphic and polysemic figures of the divine to the univocal figure of the only God, an autocratic being, the absolute ‘I’ of the universe on the one hand; and the secularized monotheism of human rights on the other, informed by the same will to reduce all the racial and cultural polymorphism of the world to univocal figure of a globalized Homo occidentalis, a serial repetition of a Same detached from its identitarian affiliations.
The author also cites Nietzsche’s suggestion that monotheism, “the belief in a normal god next to whom there are only false pseudo-gods,” was a “consequence of the teaching of a normal human type.” Indo-European polytheism, on the other hand, “is fundamentally alien to the notion of messianism or proselytism, the natural sources of the intolerance and fanaticism that are characteristic of the three monotheistic religions.”
Finally, the author accuses “Judeochristianism” of “breaking the bond of friendship between men and nature” through its command to subdue the earth. Anyone with a genuinely European mentality, he says, would find incomprehensible the promise to Noah and his sons that “the fear and dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air: into your hand are they delivered.”
The look which [Westernized Europe] bestows on Nature is no longer the look of the living man who discovers and feels himself a partner of the world. It is the essentially venal, anonymous and cold look of techno-scientific inspection, a utilitarian look that no longer conceives the world as a dwelling in which man is the inhabitant, but as an object that men, endowed with the power of appropriation by Jehovah, have the duty to exploit.
The rejection of Christianity does not commit the author to reject all of post-classical European civilization, of course, or even all of its religious life. He emphasizes that Christianity never truly eradicated the pagan heritage, and claims to find the native spirit of Europe in many great figures of the Christian era, including Pelagius, John Scotus Eriugena, Meister Eckhart, Nicholas of Cusa, Giordano Bruno, Jacob Böhme, Goethe, Hölderlin, Beethoven, the dramatist Friedrich Hebbel, Theodor Storm, Rilke, Teilhard de Chardin, Saint-Exupéry and Heidegger. He also claims that Gothic architecture owed nothing to “Judeochristianity.”
Dr. Krebs’ treatment of Christianity and Western decline deserves a fuller treatment not only than I can give here but also than he himself offers in his slender volume. The issue is of the utmost practical importance, for it represents a rejection of the great majority of his potential political allies.
This reviewer is happy to agree that the rise of Christianity, with its promise of salvation to the world-weary, was closely bound up with the decline of Graeco-Roman civilization. Indeed, I suspect this historical context better accounts for what Krebs finds decadent in Christianity than does its racially alien origin. But does it make sense to blame Christianity also for the decadence of modern civilization?
There is surely considerable temerity in reducing the thirteen or fourteen centuries of European civilization between the conversion of Constantine and the Enlightenment to a list of fifteen personal favorite figures. And the temerity is increased by the implied claim to have understood several of these figures better than they understood themselves.
It is a familiar observation that enlightenment thought amounts to a secularized version of Christian doctrine, a displacement of its eschatology into the realm of politics. Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn is just one example of a Christian conservative who stressed this connection, citing the Latin proverb corruptio optimi pessima: “the corruption of the best is the worst.”
But Krebs the admirer of Pelagius cannot mean this; his explicit positions would force him to deny that the secularization of Christianity is the essential misstep. Instead he must hold that (1) Christianity itself is responsible for the specific way in which it was negated by the Enlightenment, and that (2) Europe has been in a state of decadence since at least the fourth century AD. This bold interpretation of European history may deserve consideration, but the author has hardly made a case for it in the brief manifesto under review.
Next to “Judeochristianity,” Krebs’ greatest scorn is reserved for “the putrid swamps of America,” with their fast food restaurants and comic-book literature. This, of course, is a common trope of European intellectuals across the political spectrum, easily made plausible by comparing American low culture with European high culture. As a long-time American expatriate in Europe, I often had cause to lament mindless lowbrow Americanization myself, but it is hardly a reflection on America that Europeans prefer McDonald’s to Melville. Wilsonian democratic messianism would also have got nowhere without striking a chord in other lands.
Dr. Krebs closes his work with some far more plausible reflections on culture, immigration and territory. He cites Heiner Geissler of Germany’s Christian Democratic Union party as a representative of contemporary elite opinion:
It is not the influx of foreigners but the incapacity for rejuvenation and adaptation of the Germans, combined with their aversion to immigration, that represents the real danger for our future. . . . In the future, Germans will not have to live with just five million foreigners—as today—but with seven, perhaps ten million.
The danger in such a mindset stems from its unfalsifiability. We have no reason to think Herr Geissler unacquainted with the problems connected to immigration; he may well have to deal with them every day. But he has a ready-made explanation for all of them, as well as any that may arise in the future: the “xenophobia” of his fellow countrymen. As long as he clings to this notion, no empirical evidence of immigration’s failure will ever give him cause to reconsider his commitment to it—not even a full-scale ethnic civil war. Such observations, writes Dr. Krebs, “allow one to measure to what a degree of stupidity and blindness the militants of multiracialism have sunk.”
All culture is regional, expressing the beliefs and sensibility of the people of a particular place and time. As such, it necessarily involves an element of exclusion, namely, the exclusion of what is foreign to those beliefs and sensibilities and to the way of life in accordance with them. For this reason, any serious defense of culture boils down to a defense of territory. Let us close with a fine observation Krebs takes from Irenäus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, the Austrian founder of the discipline of human ethology:
The best way to maintain peaceful cooperation between peoples consists in guaranteeing to each of them a territory that each people has the right to administer in its own way, and in which it is permitted to develop itself culturally as it sees fit. . . . To the degree that people accept the implantation of minorities in their territories, they open the door to inter-ethnic competition in their own house.
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