We were divided and we are conquered. That is the tragic epitaph of two war generations. Those words alone should adorn the grave of the youth of Europe. That was the fate of my generation in 1914, and that was the doom of a new generation of young soldiers in 1939. The youth of Europe shed the blood of their own family, and the jackals of the world grew fat. Those who fought are in the position of the conquered, whatever their country. Those who did not fight, but merely profited, alone are victorious.
What, then, was the truth concerning the National Socialist or Fascist movements before the war? Our fault was exactly the opposite of that suggested against us. How often in politics is that the fact? How rarely are the people permitted to know anything except the reverse of truth. It was suggested that we might set the interest of other countries before our own: that was an absurd lie. In reality, we were all too National—too narrowly concentrated upon securing the interests of our own nations. That was the true fault of all real National Socialist or Fascist Movements; whether in Britain, Germany, France, Spain, Italy. So far from being willing to serve each other as “Fifth Columns” in the event of a clash between States, our political ideology and propaganda were far too Nationalistic even to mould the minds of men in a new sense of European kinship and solidarity which might have avoided disaster by universal consent. So far from fighting for other countries in a war, we none of us argued with sufficient force in favor of that new sense of European Union which modern fact must now make an integral part of a new creed. Our creed was brought to the dust because the Fascist outlook in each land was too National.
How did it happen? How did that creed, which might have brought the Renaissance of Western Man, confine itself within the limits of a too narrow Nationalism? How did the rush of that mighty river of re-birth lose itself in the dry sands of a past that should have been dead?
There are two reasons; the first practical, the second ideological. For all the fiery idealism of our creed it was ever imbued with the most realistic practical sense. We had, therefore, observed with strong feelings of revulsion the ridiculous structure of that Tower of Babel which the old world erected after the last war. The attempt to solve every problem by bigger and better committees of wider and more diverse nationalities ended in the grotesque failure which our realism foresaw. Their procedure in the face of difficulty was ever to introduce more and more people who were less and less like each other in tradition, thought, feeling and instinct. Consequently and inevitably the difficulties became ever more insuperable until the whole attempt broke down in tragic absurdity. That did not appear to us a practical method. So we tried the opposite approach of each nation building in its own area a system suitable to its own tradition, culture, and feeling.
The first stage was, therefore, to divide the world into large self-contained blocks on this realistic basis of natural division. A super-structure of universal friendship and understanding between nations could later have been erected on the solid foundation of these natural and practical areas. In my writing and speeches long before the war, I thus opposed the concept of “Universalism” to that of “Internationalism.” It is a practical sense which says, let us begin by cleaning up our own corner when the room is in a mess; afterwards we can discuss the future of the room as a whole. That attitude was, anyhow, a very natural reaction from the performances of Babel which confronted chaos with the confused jabber of a multitude of conflicting tongues and diverse instincts within the old “Internationalism,” which began as an ideal and ended as a racket.
But the revulsion from current errors led most protagonists of the new European creed back into what should have been regarded as the obsolete paths of Ultra-Nationalism. On practical grounds it became all too clear that a grotesque medley of races and cultures could never get anywhere; so the realism of the new men reacted too far to the other extreme of a nationalism which, in modern conditions, is unnaturally narrow.
Our ideological opposition to the old Internationalism was naturally even stronger than the practical. The principles of that Internationalism appeared to us an absurdity and an outrage—a complete violation of every self-evident truth of nature which could only bring degeneration and destruction. The argument that every savage was in every way the brother and equal of a European just plainly was not true; every sense and every instinct, all history and knowledge, told us that. Those people were not the same as us; they were obviously and deeply different. So International Brotherhood was founded on an entire negation of the truth. The idea that you could build a world on the premise that all men, or all races, were equal was a dangerous absurdity: yet that was the whole premise of the “democratic” concept which we opposed. In fact, they are obviously not equal in intellect, physique, knowledge, achievement, history or tradition.
Further, the gifts of different races or peoples vary as widely as the gifts of different individuals. To affirm that they are just the same is to state so palpable an untruth that you risk the charge of seeking the destruction of the higher in the interests of the lower. That is, in fact, the charge against Communism. They seek to break down every European value, founded on truths that have endured the test of ages, because the first task in the move to replace the higher by the lower is to tear down the values of the former. Before you put the lower on top you must first prove there is no higher. That argument was, also, very welcome to the International Money Power which knew that the lower could be corrupted for its own purpose, while the higher could not. The higher values of a higher type are the natural barriers to corruption and chaos. The easiest way to remove them is to prove that all men and all peoples are the same; spiritual conquest thus precedes the material triumph.
Such was the ideology and such the teaching from which the National Socialist or Fascist creed reacted so naturally and so vehemently. The tragedy was that the revulsion produced too narrow a Nationalism.
The real idea, which must become the creed of the future, is surely to reject the old Internationalism on the one hand, and, on the other hand, to transcend an exclusive nationalism which divides natural friends and relatives. Man moved from the village to the nation in the natural process of uniting with his nearer kinsmen as his mind and spirit grew. Now the time is come to move from the nation to the continent, or even beyond it, under the same natural impulse and process of next uniting with those nearest to us in blood, tradition, mind and spirit.
The Idea of Kinship is the true Idea; the reaching out of our bands to those who are kindred or of the same kind. The Idea of Kinship can bring the Union of Europe where the old Internationalism failed. As a family of the same stock and kind, Europe should always have been united in Ideal. Today, the Real as well as the Ideal faces Europe with the alternative of Union or Disaster. So must come a new union of mind and spirit, not only to avoid destruction, but for further purposes of construction. Yet the Idea of Kinship carries us far beyond Europe; there are kindred of our same kind in both Americas. Their spiritual life is also ultimately based on nearly three millennia of European History and Culture. In the deep realities and further ideals of this Age all Nature impels them in their final test to feel and think as we do.
We love our countries, but we must extend that love; the ideal and the practical alike now compel it. The extension of Patriotism; that is the necessity and that is the hope. The New Patriotism will extend to embrace all of like kind, but will not destroy the values of its kind by seeking the unnatural mingling of the old Internationalism which is proved to fail. The Universalism of like kind, within a new union of the spiritual and the material, will protect its members and its values, but will menace no others. Thus shall we of two war generations no longer be divided. Thus shall our ideals, which were so misused and betrayed, at length be realized in ways our eyes could not then see.
The anguish of our Age will not have been in vain if now is born the Idea that shall carry men beyond what is called “Democracy,” and even beyond Fascism. From the flames which end an epoch rises the Idea of the Future.
Remembering Martin Heidegger:
September 26, 1889–May 26, 1976
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