“God, I’m with a heathen.”
James J. O'Meara
The Rebirth of the Männerbund
in Brian De Palma’s The Untouchables
Brian de Palma’s 1987 film, The Untouchables, from a script by David Mamet, is usually seen as a Hero’s Quest film, like Star Wars (or The Final Sacrifice), or at least an Epic in some way, but I find it more interesting to see it as a film that, probably unconsciously, delineates the re-creation of the ancient Aryan Männerbund.
What is the Männerbund?
Although the study of the Männerbund dates to the 19th century, it was Hans Blüher who first championed its significance, using it first to analyze the German youth movement, the Wandervogel, and later as the key to a non-Freudian, indeed, anti-Freudian, understanding of civilization, especially that of the Aryans. Later, Julius Evola would incorporate the idea in his post-War writings on the origin and possibilities for the rebirth of the Aryan State.
Today, the foremost exponent of the Männerbund is Wulf Grimsson, who has devoted several volumes to it, most recently Male Mysteries and the Secret of the Männerbund, where he delineates the idea thus:
The Männerbund is a system of social ties found in traditional Indo European societies which is very difficult for men living in a modernist (and/or monotheistic) society to understand. . . . Among our Germanic ancestors these groups were composed of sexually mature male youths who under guidance of an elder formed a closed cult or society. They were dedicated to Odin, had special rites of pedagogical training, initiation and esoteric practise and combined the functions of a sorcerer or shaman and a warrior. To appreciate the importance of such a unit is difficult until we realize that the role of the blood brother and the Männerbund was seen as the foundation of Germanic society with the family unit of far less significance. This changes the whole structure of how we see archaic society when we realize that these societies held a virile warrior ethic based in male-male affection superior to family life.
The Männerbund was a unique social and initiatory institution, it stood at the centre of the hierarchy of archaic society offering a path to initiation into the esoteric Mysteries and providing stability to the tribe below it. In comparison to the Third Function of the tribe and family the Männerbund was certainly an outsider institution yet it was this outsidernesss that allowed it to take such a significant role within the traditional hierarchy. It was not swayed by nepotism or by tribal or familial pressures; it was a separate, distinct and unique structure. It had a warrior ethic yet also trained scribes, shamans, rune masters and many others; it combined the First and Second Functions in a very special and profound way…. The bund was Androphilic in practice and focused on the unique bond created by blood brothers. These bonds continued even if a comrade left the Bund, the blood brother was the most significant bond even above that of a wife, family or the tribe. A brother would help another even at the cost of his life. The bond created with a blood brother would last til death, and it is considered by many, thereafter.
One important point Grimsson raises is the value of the Männerbund to a society, like ours, facing seemingly endless crises:
[I]t is an immense loss to our way of life that this structure has all but vanished and it may be that such a system of social ties will be the key to surviving the many catastrophes which are around the corner.
One such crisis is the decay of everyday legal order, despite an evermore massively intrusive government, a situation Sam Francis called “totalitarian anarchy.” Such a situation might be compared, in a limited way, to America, especially cities like Chicago, under Prohibition. As John Kenneth Muir says:
Importantly, not one of these men (especially Ness) declares any fealty to the government’s (wrongheaded) policy of Prohibition. On the contrary, what this foursome defends to the death is the very principle that makes America great: the rule of law. This is the meat of Ness’s inner crisis: can the rule of law be re-established by violating the law?
As Carl Schmitt emphasized, the political is defined by the exception; he is sovereign who can in an emergency declare an exception to the rule of law — and get away with it. However much it may offend the delicate sensibilities of the Liberal, not everything is subject to debate and proper procedure. If it is the law itself that no longer works, how can it be restored legally? No wonder the Tea Party’s costumes freak them out.
Indeed, as Evola emphasizes, only the Männerbund can do so, because it is not only outside the State, as it is outside the family structure, but also prior to it, being the true origin of the State itself.
Beware of Imitations
Since the Männerbund is not a typical subject of “mainstream” discourse, most people are unaware of it, and thus susceptible to fraudulent substitutes. The Untouchables begins with the most flagrant one, the Capone mob.
Far from either creating or restoring the State, the mob is responsible for the collapse of Chicago into violence and anarchy. In real life, Chicago had been horrified by the brutality of the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, which is what led to Ness’ assignment, but Mamet wisely ignores this overdone episode and starts the film with a little girl, holding a suitcase which explodes, blowing her to bits along with a non-cooperating pub. As Frankie Five Angels sneers in Godfather Part II, “They do violence in their grandmother’s neighborhood.”
And speaking of Godfather II, the next shot gives us Robert De Niro, playing a very different character than that man of honor, Don Corleone (“I mean, we’re not murderers, in spite of what this undertaker thinks”). Instead, we have a well-fed hypocrite:
Capone: Yes! There is violence in Chicago. But not by me, and not by anybody who works for me, and I’ll tell you why — because it’s bad for business
The only truth in that statement is that Capone is a businessman. In Chicago, the castes have regressed, and now the sudra rules. Capone’s mob (note the word!) is neither a State nor a Männerbund, but, in another loaded phrase, a “criminal enterprise,” which is to say an enterprise, a business, which no longer operates under society’s laws. In contemporary terms, one might cite Wall Street in general, especially the gigantic frauds and outright thefts (MF Global) that have gone entirely uninvestigated, to say nothing of punished. Who indeed is sovereign?
Contrary to the “free market” myth, from Adam Smith to Ayn Rand to Alan Greenspan, business transactions are not a “natural” activity, prior to, and superior to, the State. As seen most recently in the ex-Soviet Union, the collapse of the State does not produce a peaceful society of “capitalist acts between consenting adults” but a gangster’s paradise.
Later in the film, we’ll get a chance to see Capone discoursing on “teamwork” only to wind-up by bashing in a gang member’s skull with a baseball bat. Like Captain Ahab, Capone uses the rhetoric of Traditional honor and leadership, but despite his “charisma and “romantic aura” he is
. . . not just some fine old warrior-aristocrat who has somehow fallen into the wrong age. Ahab is just such a man as nineteenth century America was producing, a man who could and did ruthlessly exploit the land and the people for his own grandiose, self-aggrandizing ends.
We next meet his presumed nemesis, Elliot Ness, with his wife and children. Well, we know that the family unit isn’t going to be the source of a Männerbund. But when he goes to work, carrying the lunch he wife has made for him, we learn that the Chicago Police aren’t either. They’ve been corrupted, penetrated, as it were, by Capone. His first ridiculously earnest raid — “Let’s do some good!” — is an embarrassing “bust out,” netting him only a shipment of Japanese parasols and a nickname in the press: “Poor Butterfly.” (Even the press is on Capone’s side — during the raid Ness mistakes a reporter for a gangster.)
Ness learns he is not cast as a Hero, this time, but a clown — perhaps Canio in Pagliacci, a bit of which we see Capone enjoying later in the movie — or even a forlorn geisha. He started the day as a little boy, he ends it completely emasculated.
As Jack Donovan says in The Way of Men, while Ness is a “good man,” but he’s not so “good at being a man.” Despite his empty boast, he doesn’t know how to “do some good.” To learn how to be good at being a man, Ness will obviously need a teacher; but as we have seen, the primary method of initiation in the West has been not the teacher as such, but the Männerbund, which also, conveniently, has been the primary means of establishing, and re-establishing, the State.
Ness won’t surrender to, and certainly won’t join, Capone; he won’t go along with the corrupt cops or politicians, or curry favor with the press. To beat them, he can’t join them; he needs to find another group, or create his own.
From Sack Lunch to Blood Oath
“The first and most important feature of groups is the fact that groups are not constituted according to the wish and choice of their members. Groups are constituted by the teacher, who selects types which, from the point of view of his aims, can be useful to one another.” — Gurdjieff
Enter the last honest cop, Jimmy Malone (Sean Connery) who will become the teacher who selects the men who will become known as The Untouchables. Malone is so honest that he’s never risen above beat cop. It’s not clear why Ness trusts Malone to be the last honest cop in Chicago. Connery’s bogus “Irish” accent alone might set bells off.
As we shall see, however, Connery’s character will indeed manifest a shamanic ability to shape-shift. One more clue we have that Malone is on the up and up is that they meet on a bridge.
The sorcerer and warrior are always liminal, while they may enter into the community their values and allegiances set them apart. Sorcerers, shamans and witches in most traditions are often pictured as living at the edge of the village or in forests or caves.
Malone will eventually agree to teach Ness “the Way,” in this case, “the Chicago Way,” which is a kind of karma-yoga in which appropriate, or svadharmic, action is all:
Malone: You wanna get Capone? Here’s how you get him. He pulls a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue!
Malone starts with the first of many tricks and inversions of society’s norms, in this case, both inverting Ness’ oath of duty and tricking him into affirming a new one:
Malone: I’m making you a deal. Do you want this deal?
(Unlike Ness’ wife, who only made him a meal, the characteristic family activity)
Ness: I have sworn to put this man away with any and all legal means at my disposal, and l will do so.
Malone: Well, the Lord hates a coward. Do you know what a blood oath is, Mr. Ness?
Malone: Good. ‘Cause you just took one.
At the trial, Ness admits he has “foresworn” himself by eventually being led to choose to hunt Capone with Capone’s own methods, not the State’s.
Now Malone begins to put together the warrior band. But who can they trust in the department?
Malone: If you’re afraid of getting a rotten apple, don’t go to the barrel. Get it off the tree.
The allusion to the Garden of Eden is clear, although we will see that it is Malone’s double, Frank Nitti, who embodies reptilian evil.
The . . . leader [of] any Männerbund must take great care when selecting comrades and develop a preinitiation training program which will weed out those unsuited or unwilling to commit. Such programs should not only be intellectual but include “homework” to prove dedication and “challenges” would-be comrades should overcome. . . . It should be made very clear to any potential comrades the nature of the commitment, that a Männerbund is an Androphilic organization and that no outside relationships are permitted.
First, though, Ness makes his own demand: no married men, even though, as Malone quickly points out, Ness is himself married. Ness doesn’t seem to have quite figured out what will be required of him. When Nitti threatens them with the ironic “It’s nice to have a family,” Ness ships them off the countryside.
Thor curses Starkadr telling him that if undertakes Odin’s requests he will have no children, no individual land or property and be despised by the common folk.
Malone rejects with contempt a recruit who recites the police motto, then insults and strikes another, whose violent but controlled response passes the tests.
Malone: Why do you want to join the force?
George Stone: “To protect the property and citizenry of . . .”
Malone: Ah, don’t waste my time with that bullshit. Where you from, Stone?
George Stone: I’m from the south-side.
Malone: Stone. George Stone. That’s your name? What’s your real name?
George Stone: That is my real name.
Malone: Nah. What was it before you changed it?
George Stone: Giuseppe Petri.
Malone: Ah, I knew it. That’s all you need, one thieving wop on the team.
George Stone: Hey, what’s that you say?
Malone: I said that you’re a lying member of a no good race.
George Stone: [He cuffs Stone across the face. As he draws back his arm again, Stone presses a gun under his chin] Much better than you, you stinking Irish pig.
Malone: Oh, I like him.
This is the first racial note in the movie. Obviously there are no blacks on the force, but the ‘racial’ antagonisms are there nonetheless. Between Ness, Malone (with Connery’s confusing Irish-Scot accent) and “Stone” (another blurry shape-shifter) we seem to have an early attempt at what Greg Johnson has suggested:
What is emerging is a generic white American, with a sense of his interests merely as a white… America may be the place where we recreate the original unity of the white race before it was divided and pitted against itself.
Ironically, these men are joining together to enforce Prohibition, which was largely the attempt of small town WASPs (like Ness, whose family is now hiding out in the countryside) to “control” the “thieving wops” and “stinking Irish pigs” of the big cities.
Finally, Ness has already been assigned Wallace, a meek little accountant from Treasury. Physically and professionally, he seems to be the Designated Jew, but nothing is ever made explicit, and so for our purposes we can treat him as White. Ness is still living in ignorance, and does not yet appreciate the value of Wallace, both as man, and as the key to the capture of Capone.
Wallace epitomizes the role of the geek or nerd, as Jack Donovan describes it:
Advanced levels of mastery and technics allow men to compete for improved status within the group by bringing more to the camp, hunt or fight than their bodies would otherwise allow. Mastery can be supplementary—a man who can build, hunt and fight, but who can also do something else well, be it telling jokes or setting traps or making blades, is worth more to the group and is likely to have a higher status within the group than a man who can merely build, hunt and fight well. Mastery can also be a compensatory virtue, in the sense that a weaker or less courageous man can earn the esteem of his peers by providing something else of great value. It could well have been a runt who tamed fire or invented the crossbow or played the first music, and such a man would have earned the respect and admiration of his peers. Homer was a blind man, but his words have been valued by men for thousands of years.
Or put away Capone by decoding his secret account books.
Ness: We need another man.
Wallace: Mr. Ness? This is very interesting. I’ve found a financial disbursement pattern which shows some irregu . . .
Malone: You carry a badge?
Malone: Carry a gun.
There are, then four Untouchables. The number four is
[A] code for its related letter in the Elder Futhark which is Ansuz. Traditionally Ansuz is related to Odin but reversed is related to the trickster Loki so the correlation seems correct. The rune also means the Aesir in general and hence the use of this rune emphasizes that Loki has left the community of the gods and become a true spiritual outlaw. Ansuz is related …to Venus. In the community Venus or love holds the family together while in the Männerbund Venus is androphile and focused on individual immortality through sorcery.
Initiation I: “Outsidering” — “Hey. This is the Post Office . . .”
The first rites of Initiation are those which help the comrade consolidate his rejection of the functions of the society around him.
As shamans and sorcerers they must move beyond the tribe and become separate from the rules and regulations of the community. Essentially they become spiritual and social outlaws.
Malone: There’s nothing like vaudeville.
Police Chief: What the hell are you dressed for? Hallowe’en?
Malone: Shut up. I’m working.
Police Chief: Where? The circus?
Malone has shape-shifted into civilian garb, but still uses his beat cop knowledge to strip the mask off another public institution: behind the façade, literally, of the Post Office is one of Capone’s warehouses.
This is the turning point in Ness’ career, and the movie, with Morricone’s soaring theme music underlining it for us. So does the dialog and action, which pound away at the liminal theme: crossing the street, crossing Capone, crossing the doorway.
Malone: Everybody knows where the booze is. The problem isn’t finding it. The problem is who wants to cross Capone. Let’s go.
Ness: You’d better be damn sure, Malone.
Malone: If you walk through this door, you’re walking into a world of trouble. There’s no turning back. Do you understand?
Ness: Yes, I do.
Malone: Good. Give me that axe.
The axe, of course, is a traditional symbol of male power, as well as the root of the fasces symbol.
After making his violent and uninvited entrance, Malone is confronted by a portly thug, or postal worker — once more, ambiguity — who demands his “rights.”
Portly Thug: Hey! This isn’t right! Hey! This is no good! You got a warrant?
Malone: Sure! Here’s my warrant. [Delivers the stock of his shotgun to the thug’s crotch]
Malone: How do you think he feels now? Better . . . or worse?
Malone delivers butt to crotch, the warrior band’s deviant inversion of sodomy, making quite clear that they have gone beyond concern for rights, warrants, and the social good.
Here is the scene, seen, as it were, through Grimsson’s lens:
When I look at the tale I see an initiatory rite, a ritual whereby Loki is becoming a sorcerer. He is ceremonially rejecting his role among the Gods and the tribe [the cops] and becoming a spiritual outlaw. It begins as Loki is refused entry to the feast. This is unusual as Loki as a member of the Aesir would have been invited to such an event even if he sometimes behaves erratically. [Malone as a cop would ordinarily be “in on “the crimes, but he is the one honest cop, whose goody-goody ways are joked about]
He then kills Fimafeng, the name Fimafeng means service [the Postal Service?] and he represents the normal activities of a community such serving, working and feasting. By Loki killing Fimafeng he is making it clear he is going beyond his prior role within the Aesir and within the society.
He enters the hall but Bragi says he is unwelcome. Bragi is the god of poetry and the storyteller of the community [The Post Office?]
Loki’s insults are staged and meant to symbolise him separating from each of the Gods and their functions.
Initiation II: The World Tree — “Many Things are half the battle”
As the initiate moved through the bund other rites were used including the initiation of the world tree which was a form of northern vision quest giving the initiate an experience of the power of the runes. I believe that the Männerbund was also secretly devoted to Loki as Odin’s blood brother and darker rites were used in his honour. These rites included those of shape changing and the techniques of the Berserker.
Ness has sworn a blood oath, joined a Männerbund and crossed the threshold. Now he and the others face further initiations to acquire further powers — shape-shifting, reading the runes, and the fighting skills of the Berserker.
After the successful raid, Ness decides to take the battle to Capone, heading North in an airplane — at time when such flights were rare among ordinary folk, though a common achievement for the shaman — to the Canadian border where a shipment of whiskey (from Joe Seagram to Joe Kennedy, perhaps) is scheduled to be exchanged for cash on a bridge.
Not just a bridge but a border; obviously we are meant to understand this is another, more intense, liminal situation.
Mountie: Thus taking them by surprise from the rear. And surprise, as you very well know, Mr. Ness, is half the battle.
Ness: Surprise is half the battle. Many things are half the battle. Losing is half the battle. Let’s think about what is all the battle.
The Mounties riding in is a film and cultural icon. Here, however, they seem to have forgotten their motto, “We always get our man” and become symbols of careful, bureaucratic procedure, like Canada itself. They are another false Männerbund, mere agents of the State. They’re not corrupt, like the Chicago cops, but they’re not helpful either. Their pudgy “captain” (as Ness mistakenly calls him, as if he were a cop) hands out safe and complacent orders (attack from the rear, for surprise), settling for a safe second best, which Ness rejects with some quiet contempt, preferring to be instructed by his guru:
Malone: Wait and watch.
Ness: Are you my tutor?
Malone: Yes Sir. That I am. [YHVH?]
“Many things” indeed happen in this complex scene, and most of them, I suggest, involve either the acquisition or demonstration of shamanic powers.
This suffering was part of a birth, death and rebirth motif but without the role of the biological female, the male is reborn through the agency of men alone and hence becomes part of a new “family” structure which is of a single sex.
The bureaucratic Mounties’ safe and secret strategy goes awry, creating chaos (from behind, au rebours indeed) in which the men are tested.
Since belonging to Odin means becoming a comrade of the Einherjar (or Odin’s Army), this means the comrade can be taken to Valhalla at any time, and he is considered already dead or literally dead among the living, regardless of whether he literally dies in battle or not.
This condition also creates a unique psychological state for the warrior preparing him for Berserker training, if he is already undead and eternally in Odin’s service then pain and death are minor transitionary stages and nothing to be feared.
Stone is the first and as yet only one of the Untouchables to be shot, thus pierced, but quickly jumps back up; he is either invulnerable, a trickster, or already dead and hence fearless.
The candidate is first given a basic education in ethics and the teachings of the lore. He then withdraws from the community and fasts and undertakes ascetic activities including being pierced with a spear.
Stone however is down long enough to literally infuriate the meek Wallace, who acquires the spirit of the Berserker; shrieking in rage, he rushes the gangsters like Achilles avenging Patroclus, killing several and, when out of shells, resorts to what is now the signature Untouchables method, using the butt of the shotgun to dispatch the last thug.
Ness escapes being run over by diving under the car, a symbolic death, and then, trailing a gangster back to their cabin, himself kills his first man.
Finally, Malone, the Trickster, will use the dead man to fool the captured bookkeeper into agreeing to decode the account books. Only he and Ness know the man on the porch is the one Ness killed earlier; Malone goes outside, picks him up, holds him against the window, pretends to threaten him, sticks his gun in the corpse’s mouth, and blows out the back of his head. The Canadian is horrified by all this violence.
Finding the code has been their ultimate goal, not just stopping a shipment of whiskey. In other words, interpreting the runes. The corpse, pushed up against the window and pinned their by Malone’s pistol, may suggest Odin’s self-hanging to acquire the knowledge of the runes.
Malone: Translate this ledger for us!
Thug: In hell.
Malone: In hell?! You will hang high unless you cooperate.
And we can also go back to a bit of comic relief, when Wallace, after his Berserk outburst, and to solidify his Outlaw status, helps himself to some of the booze leaking from the truck. The use of socially forbidden intoxicants is a well-known Shamanic, and Tantric, technique; one also may recall Siegfried who drinks the blood of the slain dragon and acquires understanding of the language of the birds.
As a result of Malone’s capture of Capone’s books, and trick with the corpse having convinced the bookkeeper to talk, Wallace can now prove Capone’s tax evasion. Unfortunately, Nitti manages to kill all three, leaving Ness without his sole witness. Once more, Ness is unmanned.
Capone: And if you were a man, you would’ve done it now! You don’t got a thing, you punk!
Since none of the “real” Untouchables was killed, it’s hard to see why De Palma kills off half of them. Wallace’s death is particularly unmotivated; in the language of Internet movie discussions, they all seem to have the Stupid Ball at this point — ironic, since Wallace is presumably the smart guy. It may be just cinematic: create conflict, pare down the cast to focus on Ness, etc. Or what?
The Untouchables has been a fairly “PG” film up to this point: no ears cut off, no gangsters being carved up in trunks, no exploding heads, the obsession with which Scorsese seems to be satirizing at the end of The Departed (which also involves a main character killed in an elevator by a rogue cop). Starting with Malone’s shooting the corpse in Canada, blood starts to flow; in Malone’s case, ridiculous amounts, as befitting the importance of his character.
The only sense I can make out of them is that both deaths are sacrifices, part of some kind of ritual. Wallace, having already made his point about Capone’s tax liabilities, is expendable. Malone’s death seems to be some kind of payback or “boomerang” from the etheric realm for his corpse shooting stunt.
Thus we don’t have to rack it up to stupidity. When Nitti fools Malone with the decoy killer (few people who quote it remember that Malone’s “Just like a wop, bringing a knife to a gun fight” line is followed by his being cut apart by a machine gun) it’s psychic payback for the corpse stunt. Malone, like the corpse, is already dead anyway (“It’s a dead man talking to me” said the corrupt cop earlier) and as Grimsson emphasizes, the whole point of being initiated into the warrior band is to be already dead, hence able to fight fearlessly.
If Nitti is Malone’s’ twin, then he seems to play the role of Loki to Malone’s Wotan, in accordance with Grimsson’s suggestion that the Männerbund were led by Wotan but had more secret rites associated with Loki. Nitti’s gender-ambiguity, sudden or subliminal appearances around crimes, and above all his fooling Malone with the decoy assassin (cleverly inverting Malone’s gun vs. knife with shotgun vs. Tommy gun) suggest Loki’s shape-shifting, while his Loki-like boasting about Malone’s death will lead to his own demise, and Ness’s triumph.
Malone’s death, then, is a self-sacrifice, and just as Wotan’s sacrifice leads to knowledge of the runes, both of these deaths are related to communication in some way, an appropriate role for the dead.
Nitti has hung Wallace’s body in the elevator, suggesting one of the odd ways Loki would “assist” Wotan, and used his blood to smear the message “touchable” on the elevator wall, reminding Ness of his mortality. Malone, despite losing about 90% of his blood, is still able to gasp out the train information, but more importantly, he inspires Ness; first, when Ness discovers him and Malone asks, “What are you prepared to do?” and later, when Nitti makes the mistake of mocking his ridiculously bloody death, leading us to see just what Ness in fact is prepared to do. Like Obi-Wan, Malone is even able to inspire Ness after what we would call “death.”
The Train Station sequence, while the final bravura set piece, is really quite dispensable. De Palma added it to Mamet’s script perhaps to show Ness is still capable of defending “family values” despite his increasingly outlaw status, or to re-enforce our memory of the child’s death at the beginning, as well as the threats to Ness’ family; or just as a homage to Eisenstein.
The Law on Trial: “Your Honor, Is this Justice?”
Using the knowledge provided by Wallace and Malone, Ness is able to bring Capone to trial, but perhaps not to justice; the judicial system is as corrupt as the police.
Nitti seems to have the stupid ball now; in other words, some kind of karmic payback for his previous cleverness. First, he stupidly lets Ness spot his gun in the courtroom (even Ness mumbles an incredulous “Unbelievable”), which gives him a perfectly good excuse to have him removed and searched, which yields the list of bribed jurors. Then, Nitti hands over a matchbook that links him to Malone’s death. (What? Has he been carrying it around for weeks?) Panicking, Nitti steals a gun, shoots a cop, and makes his escape up the stairs to the roof. (Has this ever worked out in movies?)
After failing to escape from the roof by — stupidly — climbing down the ivy-covered building (another Eden connection), Ness captures Nitti by successfully executing the same trick, using his superior shamanic powers of deathlessness and shape-shifting. He rolls over the edge of the building, and when Nitti — stupidly — ambles over to check out the corpse, Ness, in corpse pose, has the drop on him.
Ness seems willing to let the system take over at this point, but in a final Act of Stupid, Nitti decides have a little Loki-like laugh about Malone’s death:
Nitti: I said that your friend died screaming like a stuck Irish pig. Now you think about that while I beat the rap. (Nitti is now doubling Stone, who called Malone “a stinking Irish pig.”)
Which causes Ness to revert to full Berserker mode, frog-marching Nitti right off the roof, and shape-shifting him into Malone:
Nitti: [Screaming as he falls to his death]
Ness: Did he sound like that?
As he falls, Nitti not only shrieks like a little girl, he flaps his arms wildly, as if trying to transform into a white bird against the bright blue sky (or blue screen). But his shamanic powers to fly or shape-shift have been misplaced along with his wisdom.
It’s conceivable that Malone’s death was an elaborate scheme to not only lead Ness to Nitti but insure he would be enraged enough to kill him outright. As Grimsson has pointed out, the member of Odin’s band, the initiate, is already dead, and so does not fear death.
From the alchemical thriller, Red Dragon:
Dr. Frederick Chilton: You caught him. What was your trick?
Will Graham: I let him kill me.
Now Ness has to finish with Capone. Knowing about the bribed jurors, Ness the Trickster bluffs the judge into thinking Ness knows his name is in Capone’s coded ledger, and the judge responds by executing the largest shape-shifting yet:
Judge: Bailiff, I want you to go next door to Judge Hawton’s court, where they’ve just begun hearing a divorce action. I want you to bring that jury in here, and take this jury to his court. Bailiff, are those instructions clear?
Bailiff: [puzzled] Yes, sir, they’re . . . clear . . .
Capone: [to his attorney] What’s he talking about? What is it?
Judge: Bailiff, I want you to switch the juries.
Bailiff: Yes sir.
Defense Attorney: Your honor, I object!
Remember, Capone is in a civil court, for tax evasion; not murder, but now he will face a family court jury, since in the film’s terms he is guilty of the child’s death at the beginning, the child whose mother asked Ness for justice.
Capone’s attorney reacts by switching his plea to guilty (unlike the jury switching, not really a possible defense motion at this point, but whatever, this is a philosophical fiction) and, as the cliché has it, the courtroom “explodes.”
Ness has achieved his shamanic purpose: he and his androphilic band has inverted reality, ripping the facade off society, and even turned back time. We are back at the beginning of the movie. The elite courtroom of false justice explodes, not the bar full of honest working people. Frank Nitti has exploded into a pile of bloody flesh in the back of a car, not the little girl who found his bomb in the bar. Capone, who we first met telling us that there was no violence in Chicago, at least “not by me,” is now swinging punches wildly, like a common juvenile delinquent.
Capone: I’m askin’ Your Honor, is this justice?
Better he should ask the child’s mother, or Ness’ family in hiding.
“Here endeth the lesson.”
In the aftermath, Ness is cleaning out his office, and finds Malone’s call box key, with its religious medal, St. Jude, patron saint of police and lost causes (“God, I’m with a heathen” Malone had said when having to explain it to Ness). Ness gives it to Stone: “He’d wanted a cop to have it.” Apparently, while Ness is moving on, back with his family (choosing The Path of the Ancestors), Stone will remain.
Here we uncover a final Männerbund: the Twelve Disciples (there were 11 Untouchables in reality, the 12 minus Judas). Stone, born Giuseppe Petri, has received the key(s), and upon this rock a new, uncorrupt police force and cleansed society will be built, safe for Ness and his family to return.
We’ve learned that the Männerbund is not an archaic, literally primitive feature of Aryan culture in a dead past, as the Christians and secular “Progressives” would have us believe (conveniently for them) but an eternal principle, which can always and anywhere be re-accessed and re-created when needed. As Krishna said, in a verse frequently quoted by Savitri Devi:
yada yada hi dharmasya
glanir bhavati bharata
tadatmanam srjamy aham
Whenever there is decline of righteousness
and rise of unrighteousness;
To protect the virtuous, to destroy the wicked and
to re-establish Dharma,
I manifest myself, through the ages.
1. For example, “It isn’t ancient Sparta (like 300), or The Trojan War (as in Troy). But make no mistake, De Palma brings to The Untouchables the same archetypal flourishes we might reasonably expect in any cinematic depiction of those legends. He transforms real historical figures into larger-than-life scoundrels, saints, and angels. As dramatized by De Palma, The Untouchables is nothing less than the Timeless Heroic Poem of Avenger Eliot Ness.” See John Kenneth Muir’s Reflections on Film/TV, Friday, July 31, 2009, at http://tinyurl.com/yf2psv7.
2. I want to emphasize that these reflections are based on the Brian de Palma film, not the 1950s TV show, the autobiography Ness wrote near his death to make money for his family, or “actual” history, whatever that is. For what it’s worth, “the real Al Capone and Eliot Ness never met face-to-face; there were 11 “Untouchables” who all lived after Prohibition; but most notably, the real Frank Nitti lived several years after Capone’s conviction, rather than being thrown off a roof by Ness” (tvtropes.org). Incredibly, though, the most absurd scene (other than the train station shoot-out), namely, the switching of the juries, really did happen. As Aristotle said, art was more true than history, as it narrates what ought to be.
The script is by David Mamet, who here, and in Glengarry Glen Ross, shows a most un-Judaic, perhaps unconscious, understanding of male group dynamics.
Finally, it needs to be pointed out that it is emblematic of the misunderstanding, at times perhaps deliberate, of Tradition by Westerners and Westernized Hindus like Gandhi, to portray as “untouchables” the supposedly downtrodden lowest castes. Actually, the Untouchable was the highest caste, the Brahmin. See Alain Daniélou, The Way to the Labyrinth: Memories of East and West, (New York: New Directions, 1987), p. 137, where he adds “One of the most typical characteristics of the European mentality is the ability to present everything backwards.”
3. Hans Blüher: Wandervogel. Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung. (Berlin-Tempelhof, 191/23); Die Rolle der Erotik in der männlichen Gesellschaft: Eine Theorie der Menschlichen Staatsbildung (Jena, 1917/19). Neither has ever appeared in English, other than a few excerpts, but see Alisdair Clarke’s “Hans Blüher and the Wandervogel,” a talk from sixth New Right meeting in London, February 2006, available at http://tinyurl.com/24cwn5f.
4. “It was this Männerbund, in which the qualification of “man” had simultaneously an initiatory (i.e. sacred) and a warrior meaning, that wielded the power in the social group or clan. This Männerbund was characterized by special tasks and responsibilities; it was different from all other societies to which members of the tribe belonged. In this primordial scheme we find the fundamental ‘categories’ differentiating the political order from the ‘social’ order. First among these is a special chrism – namely, that proper to ‘man’ in the highest sense of the word (vir was the term employed in Roman times) and not merely a generic homo: this condition is marked by a spiritual breakthrough and by detachment from the naturalistic and vegetative plane. Its integration is power, the principle of command belonging to the Männerbund. We could rightfully see in this one of the ‘constants’ (i.e. basic ideas) that in very different applications, formulations and derivations are uniformly found in theory or, better, in the metaphysics of the State that was professed even by the greatest civilizations of the past.” See Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins., trans. Guido Stucco (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002).
5. All available at http://lulu.com/spotlight/lokisway. Grimsson, by the way, agrees with Aristotle when it comes to dealing with history: truth is “more often than not in myth legends, traditions and symbols; literal history needs to be decoded by it, not vice versa” (p. 19).
6. Grimsson, p. 7.
7. Grimsson, p. 89.
8. Grimsson, p. 7.
10. One could argue, in another essay, that the particular law, Prohibition, was itself responsible for the breakdown in respect for the Law as such, as well as providing the entrée for Capone. In this way, Prohibition is a synecdoche for the Judeo-Christianity which brought about the regression of the castes, or degeneration of the functions, by demonizing the Männerbund (Judaism’s well-known and unique ‘homophobia’). See Grimsson, ch. 6. In addition, not only did ordinary citizens learn to fraternize with criminals, they also became accustomed to hobnobbing with Jews, the financier and businessman par excellence, and even welcoming them into their homes. Once more, the small town Protestant, in their war against big city immigrants, shot themselves in the foot.
11. Tony Tanner, “Introduction” to the Oxford World Classics edition of Moby Dick (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), p. xix.
12. Jack Donovan, The Way of Men (Portland, Or.: Dissonant Hum, 2012).
13. “. . . the point is that a ‘group’ is the beginning of everything. One man can do nothing, can attain nothing. A group with a real leader can do more. A group of people can do what one man can never do.” — G. I. Gurdjieff, quoted in by P. D. Ouspensky’s In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching (New York: Harcourt, 1949), p. 30.
14. In Search of the Miraculous, p. 222.
15. While Connery won his only Oscar for the role, his performance has been voted “Worst Movie Accent of All Time” in several surveys over the years; in 2009, his runner up was co-star Kevin Costner, for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves. See http://tinyurl.com/boy79nv
16. Grimsson, p. 65.
17. Grimsson, p. 79.
18. Interestingly, the real Capone was married, like the standard Mafia “family man,” but in the movie we see no women anywhere around him or his mob, and Capone lives in sybaritic splendor in a swank hotel suite. Malone also lives alone, but in a rundown apartment; also like Capone, his listens to opera, but on a gramophone, not at a meet-and-greet with Caruso. Unlike Capone, or Ness, he cooks for himself, and even serves Ness tea; all somewhat unmanly traits by the social standards of the time, but right at home in the world of the Männerbund.
19. Grimsson, pp. 90–91.
20. Greg Johnson, Confessions of a Reluctant Hater (San Francisco: Counter-Currents, 2010), pp. 12–13.
21. Donovan, The Way of Men, ch. 2.
22. Grimsson, p. 95.
23. Grimsson, p. 90.
24. Grimsson, p. 93.
25. Grimsson, p. 94.
26. Grimsson, p. 36.
27. Grimsson, p. 90.
28. Grimsson, p. 97.
29. Grimsson, p. 98.
30. Grimsson, p. 101.
31. Discussing this “Language of the Birds,” René Guénon recalls that in the Gospels the “birds of the air” that settle in the branches of the tree that grows from the mustard seed of faith, represent angels in various levels of the spiritual hierarchy, the tree itself being the World Tree which links all the levels, bringing us back to Odin’s hanging, the bridge at the border, which like the tree is a means of changing states, and even the airplane flight with which the sequence opens. See The Sword of Gnosis: Metaphysics, Cosmology, Tradition, Symbolism, ed. by Jacob Needleman (New York: Penguin, 1988), pp. 299–300.
32. Malone’s literally operatic death has been mocked endlessly; even Connery refused to do more than two takes, saying it epitomized “everything he hates about moviemaking.” See the analysis at The Movie Deaths Database: http://www.moviedeaths.com/untouchables,_the/jim_malone/
33. Baron Evola observed that the Magus, despite his powers, may appear poor, downtrodden, or even in danger of death or injury in this realm, precisely because of his achievements in the higher realms, due to the law of cosmic compensation.
34. Nitti is the shape-shifting Malone’s own double. He’s dressed entirely in white, which is a nice flipping of conventions, like Henry Fonda’s blue-eyed killer, also named Frank, in Sergio Leone’s Once Upon a Time in America, also scored by Morricone. It works nicely cinematically, as his stark white figure is seen yet barely registered on the edges of his crimes, but not so well against the blue screen in his fall. As played by B-movie favorite Billy Drago, he takes the womanless Capone gang over the edge into effeminacy, although perhaps he’s just European. (Later he’ll play the call-boy that ruins Steven Lang’s life in that monument to despair, Last Exit to Brooklyn.) When a bailiff puts a hand on his shoulder, he shakes it off with the haughty annoyance of a drag queen dismissing an unwanted bar patron. He suggests both the feminine and the reptilian, and thus the snake in the Garden, thus forbidden knowledge, and ultimately his own Fall. He is the Evil Tutor to the Evil Männerbund, just as the real Frank Nitti was not a killer but more of a consigliore. (While red-haired Tom Hagen was always shown as a family man, in accordance with the Don’s views, the balding actor, Robert Duvall, suggests a kind of James Carville snakiness.)
35. “That cockamamie baby carriage”; see “David Mamet Talks About The Untouchables on Tax Day” by Ben Kenber of Yahoo Voices at http://voices.yahoo.com/david-mamet-talks-untouchables-5905806.html?cat=2
36. “Ness collects a small bunch of would-be vigilante cops (vigilante in the sense that since the rest of the force is corruptly suckling on the teat of organized crime payouts, their righteousness could be considered transgressive)” — Eric Henderson on October 4, 2004 http://www.slantmagazine.com/dvd/review/the-untouchables/463
37. If assimilating the Apostles to the warrior band seems forced, it is, like the switched juries, absurdly real. Christianity was presented to the Germanic tribes in the form of a revamped gospel story, the Heliand, in which Jesus leads his warriors on raids between Fort Rome and Fort Jerusalem. See G. Ronald Murphy, S.J., The Saxon Savior: The Germanic Transformation of the Gospel in the Ninth-Century Heliand (New York: Oxford University Press, 1995) and James Russell, The Germanization of Early Medieval Christianity: A Sociohistorical Approach to Religious Transformation (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
38. Bhagavad-Gita, Chapter 4, Verse 7.
Trevor Lynch’s Classics of Right-Wing Cinema
Race and Ethics in John Ford’s Stagecoach
Hunter S. Thompson as Psyop
John Wayne’s The Alamo & the Politics of the 1960s
The Banshees of Inisherin
By the Twisted Word, Slain; By the Good Word, Saved . . . & Other Stories Part II
My Salinger Year: Chamber Music for a Writer
An awing analysis.
You are a genius. I haven’t ever seen the film, but I will be this evening.
Brilliant, James. As always, I really look forward to your book and future pieces. To be able to seamlessly integrate the Traditionalist message into pieces of culture such as this movie, takes quite the talent, but you definitively have the knack for it.
But the Vanir pantheon of Fertility and Wholesomeness defeated the Aesir Warrior Band in War. Yes, the Mannerbund is First and Last, but in the Middle the Squares win. Just so, the North defeated the gallant South, and the Samurai usually defeated the Ninjas in open battle.
I want to see the movie now too. We need Malones who Wait until the right time to unleash the healing mayhem. And who better to play such a one than Sean Connery? The new James Bond drinks beer. Score another victory for the beer barons of mediocrity. Heinken payed big to get James Bond corrupted.
Ennio Morricone – Once Upon a Time in America
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1Ry0mNkCjw&feature=related (turn sound up)
James — this is a brilliant essay! (I wish I had written it.) I am going to see the film again, and read Grimsson.
very interesting essay
Though I’ve been noticing the interest in Männerbund here on C-C, I haven’t been motivated to find out more about it; it didn’t seem like something I’d be interested in, sort of a dismissal, oh, more big-man stuff (translates as kidstuff).
When I saw the Costner/Connery film, I felt it was too prettified compared to the series that featured Robert Stack, the man who never smiles, and no handsome shaman-like father figure that I recall. Reality steps in to throw cold water on this male-mythology review is that the duration of Eliot Ness’s Untouchables period was less than two years (1929-1931) — although his and his gang of 13’s activities were bothersome to Capone, it was the tax problem alone that did him in. From 1931 until his death in 1957, Ness was on a downhill course of heavy drinking (where was his ; he had three wives in consecutive succession (so much for males-only).
I don’t mean to be critical; I found the review to be extremely interesting, if idiosyncratically creative (that’s a good thing); I learned from it. My only criticism would relate to the so common gender conversion that men engage in without challenge, such as when this article says Nitti shrieked “like a little girl.” He didn’t shriek like a little girl; he shrieked like a scared bully. Signs of weakness or whatever in males should not be described in terms that redirect criticism to females.
Although I never heard of Männerbund before it came up here, my father was a gymnast in one of the German all-male Türnvereins. When I read, a few years ago, of the later shift in the focus of the Türnvereins from gymnastics to political discussion, I wonder if Jews had played a role in that.
You make some excellent points, especially about the rather sad decline of the “real” Ness. I recall a TV doco about it years ago and it was one disaster after another, and the somewhat fictionalized and ghost-written book was a last attempt to provide for his family’s future, none of the success of which, book or TV, he lived to see.
As for Stack, it’s perhaps interesting that his square-jawed character eventually became suitable for parody in the Jew-comedy, “Airplane!” along with similar “romantic lead” Leslie Nielsen. Despite the element of culture distortion, the scenes where Stack battles the airport panhandlers, or whips off his dark glasses to reveal another pair underneath, are comedy gold. Like Jack Webb’s similar Joe Friday character, he seems to have survived years of parody precisely because of his air of impossibly square but honest Aryan integrity.
Speaking of Jack Webb, any ever seen The DI? It’s a well-known but little scene movie where Webb, like Dragnet the writer/star/producer, basically plays the first half of Full Metal Jacket but STRAIGHT: the DI’s the hero, the slackers are bad guys, etc. When I saw it recently on I think TCM I was slackjawed with amazement. It’s almost word for word; except that St. Jack wouldn’t allow any swearing, so as to protect the Marines’ image! A comparison of the two films would reveal much about cultural changes from 50s to 80s.
You’re right, in general, about the ‘screams like a girl’ but I was really just trying to make the parallel of Nitti and the girl killed at the beginning, and later it occurred to me I should better have noted they are both in white, I think the only characters in white. I could drop the reference to screaming and instead focus on his white clothes and soft, almost inaudible normal voice instead.
As for the Turnverein, I rather thought all those Germanic organizations has political, or at least group discussions of something, as part of the ‘social’ element, but I’ve never looked into it.
From 1931 until his death in 1957 at age 54, Ness was on a downhill course of heavy drinking (where was his Männerbund then? He had three wives in consecutive succession (so much for males-only).
I wanted to response to these very nice comments, but I’ll put it all in one comment to avoid looking like I’m trying to pump up my numbers.
Robert of Arabia: Thanks!
Rhondda: Thanks. I am reminded of the story of how John Wayne, in some Biblical epic, was told to “add more awe” to his line, and the second take was “Aw, surely this the Son of God.”
Eric Hale: Thanks, and let us know your reaction to the film!
Stig, Thanks, but everyone should know that your “White Film Reviews” on amazon were a big influence on my idea to approach pop culture this way.
Jaego: Well, the new Bond is a Jew, so what do you expect? Remember when Connery’s Bond knows Robert Shaw is a fake when he orders red wine with fish?
MOB: Haven’t checked out those links, but OUATIA is probably my vote for Best, or at least favoritest, movie of all time.
Carl: Thanks! Greg’s interview with me, available here and soon in my book, explains the origins of many of these influences.
Jef: How do we know you didn’t?
Crowley: Kudos from the Beast Himself!
Your essay gives me hope that similar bands of men traversing the modern world will be able to band together and affect the beginning of a new cycle. Discovering the Männerbund gives me the feeling of having uncovered a missing but crucial link in understanding how we as Europeans and as humans were able to create the States and societies which have come into existence, and a path to understanding how Initiation operated in the world of our Ancestors. Sheer brilliance, particularly using the movie which I’ll be watching tonight; keep up the good work.
Understanding the cultural/political role of the Mannerbund reveals how feminism will perish. Feminism breaks down male-female pairs, creating a large number of single and bitter males who will band together into gangs. Eventually, the feminized society will grow sufficiently weak, and the male gangs sufficiently strong, that a new masculine, patriarchal order will emerge. Life will be violent and insecure, thus natural familial and political obligation will re-emerge: the weak will agree to be subordinated to the strong, who will agree to be their protectors.
So perhaps our women are our secret weapon against the Jews? Don’t tell them or it will ruin everything.
I find myself wondering whether it will be quite that easy, in the sense of having some kind of literal roaming gangs burning the last texts of the feminists and cultural marxists after the flag of the Counterrevolution is raised across the West.
Personally, I’m more inclined the think that it would be easier to subvert the current order by having such Männerbunden form as what are known as “Invisible colleges” – not official groups but de-facto ones, where men aid each other in life, struggle and Initiation, and do not openly strike at the Establishment so much as simply doing what they do and living as they wish regardless of its response (simply being and acting, in other words) and thus creating a basis for support as the current order weakens and crumbles.
As Michael Collins said, “We defeat the British Empire by ignoring it.”
In the short and intermediate run, that is a good strategy. But in the long run, the current system will have to be wrapped up and replaced, and people are probably going to go Mad Max when that happens.
In the end, the IRA defeated the British Empire by killing its men and bleeding its resources.
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