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Aspects of Racial Doctrine

1,845 words

Giambattista Vico

Giambattista Vico

Editor’s Note:

In this text, Evola distinguishes the race of the body (biological race–race as such, in my opinion), the race of the soul (which I would call non-hereditary character types, shaped by culture, ideas, and education), and race of the spirit, which has to do with “vertical,” “superhistorical” heredity, i.e., man’s alleged descent from superhuman or divine beings. It is unfortunate that Evola speaks disparagingly of evolution as a “myth” — only to replace it with genuine myths of a process of “devolution” from divine beings which do not deign to leave a trace in the fossil record. It bears an uncomfortable likeness to Biblical creationism. 

There is, however, a form of the Traditional, cyclical view of history as decline from a Golden Age to a Dark Age which is consistent with what we know of human biological and cultural evolution, namely the philosophy of history of the Neapolitan sage Giambattista Vico (1668–1744) who argued, against the Traditionalists, that the superior wisdom of the Golden Age did not consist of the intuitive knowledge of highly spiritual beings but rather the passions and instincts of primitives which were, nevertheless, superior in their barbaric vitality–in their underlying harmony with nature–to the later products of more reflective civilizations.

The Different Meanings of Race

The racialist consideration of man cannot stop at a mere biological level, otherwise it would be worthy of the accusation by the Jew Trotsky of it being just “zoological materialism.”

It is also not enough to say, like Walter Gross, that “in the concept of race we intend that completeness of human life, in which body and spirit, matter and soul, are fused in a superior unity,” and that deciding whether one of the two things is determined by the other. Whether bodily form is determined by the soul or vice-versa is an extrascientific, metaphysical problem which is not a consideration of racialism.

Even less satisfactory is the following statement by Alfred Rosenberg: “We do not agree with the proposition that the spirit creates the body, nor with the inverse, that the body creates the spirit. There is no clear boundary between the spiritual world and the physical world: both constitute an indivisible whole.”

If race is no longer to be considered a myth, but as the object of a doctrine, then one cannot stop at these levels.

The concept of race assumes different meanings not only as applied man and to animal species, but also regarding different human types. We therefore must lay a primary distinction: that which lies between the “races of nature” and those of a higher, more human and spiritual, sense.

From a methodological point of view, it is absurd to consider racialism as a self-contained discipline instead of being strictly dependent on a general theory of man. The manner in which the human being is conceived affects the essence of any doctrine of race. If it is conceived in a materialistic manner, this materialism will display itself in the corresponding concept of race; if it is a spiritualistic manner, then the racial concept will also be so. Even when considering that which is material in the human and depends on the laws of matter, the racial doctrine should never forget the hierarchal place and the functional dependence possessed by matter in the whole of the human being.

Man distinguishes himself from the animal by his participation in a supernatural, superbiological element, and only by this participation can he be free or be himself.

The distinction in the human being of the three different principles of body, soul, and spirit is fundamental to the traditional vision of man. In a more or less complete form, one finds this distinction in all ancient traditions, and it was continued during the Middle Ages; the Aristotelian-Scholastic conception of the three souls,” vegetative, sensitive and intellectual; the trinity of soma, psyche and nous; the Roman one of corpus, mens and anima; the Indo-Aryan trinity of sthula-, linga- and karana-sarira, are as many equivalent expressions of that distinction. It is furthermore important to emphasize that this view is not to be considered as a particular “philosophical” interpretation amongst many others, but as objective, and impersonal knowledge which adheres to the very same nature of things.

As a basic explanation of the three concepts, it can be said that the spirit, in the traditional conception, has always meant something supernatural and superindividual; it has therefore nothing to do with the common intellect and less still with the pale world of “thinkers” and “men of letters.” It is instead the element which focuses the basis of any virile ascent, heroic elevation, or effort to achieve in life what is “more than life.”

In classic antiquity, the spirit, as nous or anima, was opposed to the soul as the masculine principle is opposed to the feminine, or as the solar element is opposed to the lunar. The soul already belongs to the world of becoming more than that of being; it is connected to the vital powers, as well as to all perceptive faculties and to any passions. With its unconscious ramifications, it establishes the connection between spirit and body.

From this view, one must acknowledge that the inequality of mankind is not only physical, biological or anthropological, but also psychic and spiritual. Men are not only different in body, but also in soul and spirit.

According to this, the racial doctrine must articulate itself in three degrees.

Races of Nature and Superior Races

Man, instead of letting the center of himself fall where it is normal, e.g., in the spirit, can let it fall in one of the subordinate elements, in the psychic element or the physical element, which will then take over as the directive part and reduce the superior elements to the role of instruments. By extending this view, from the single to those larger individualities called races, one reaches the above-mentioned distinction between races of nature and the truly human races.

Some races can be compared to the man or animal who, degrading himself, has arrived at a purely animalistic way of life: such are the races of nature. They are not enlightened by any superior element, by any force from above in which their life in space and time takes place. Because of this, the collectivistic elements predominate in them, as instinct, as characteristic of the species, as the spirit and unity of the horde.

In other races, the naturalistic element preserves its normal function of vehicle and expressive tool of a superior, superbiological element which is to the first as the spirit is to the body in an individual.

In these races, behind a race of the body, of the blood and of the soul, there lies a race of the spirit.

Such a truth was distinctly felt wherever the history attributed “divine” or “celestial” origins to a given race, stock or caste, and supernatural, “heroic” traits to the leader or to its primeval legislator.

Racialism of the Second Degree – the Race of the Soul

As racialism of the second degree, one means a theory of the race of the soul and a typology of the soul of the race. Such racialism has to recognize the primary and irreducible elements which act from the inside, so that groups of individuals manifest a constant way of being or “style” in their actions, thoughts, and feelings.

Here we come to a new concept of racial purity of a given type: it is no longer a question, like in the race of the first degree (based on purely biological considerations), to ascertain whether a given individual presents that given group of physical characteristics; it is a question of establishing whether the race of the body borne by a given individual is the adequate, conforming expression of his race of the soul, and vice-versa. If this is the case, the type is pure from the second degree point of view.

We can consider the Rassenseelekunde or “psychoanthropology” of L. F. Clauss as being racialism of the second degree. He emphasized the necessity of such research with convincing examples. Let us consider, for example, the phenomenon of mutual understanding: In everyday life there are many cases of persons who are of the same physical race, stock, or sometimes even – as in the case of brothers or fathers and sons – the same line, who do not succeed in understanding one another. A boundary separates their souls and their way of feeling and seeing is different. A common race of body or line is not enough to bridge such differences. The possibility of understanding, and thus of true solidarity, can only exist where there is a common race of the soul.

Racialism of the Third Degree – the Race of the Spirit

Racial research of the third degree, as we know, concerns the races of the spirit. It is truly the research that pursues the concept of races to its ultimate root, wherever it is a question of normal civilizations and superior human stocks; a root which communicates with superpersonal, super-ethical and metaphysical forces.

For such research, the specific manner of conceiving both the sacred and the supernatural, as well as the relationship of man with himself, the vision of life in the highest sense, and the entire world of symbols and myths, all this constitutes a very positive and objective subject, just as facial traits and cranial structures constitute positive determinations for the race of the first degree.

In the field of the third degree racial doctrine, the signs of “vertical,” superhistorical heredity are of the utmost importance.

As a first step it is necessary to eliminate the evolutionist myth in all its forms, since it is evident that, if one continues to believe that the more one goes back in time, the more one sinks into to the horror of bestial barbarity, then it would be madness to pretend to obtain points of reference valid for the present from prehistoric investigation.

Wherever there exists any evolutionist premise, the research of the origins and the emphasis on the principle of heredity would fatally lead to such aberrations as those contained in certain psychoanalytical exegeses like the “totem and taboo” of Freud.

Our official culture, which calls itself “serious” and “critical” and which is lamentable and largely represented in our schools, insists on considering myth as either an arbitrary creation of the “pre-philosophical” conscience, or as something pertaining to forms of inferior religions, or as superstitious interpretations of mere natural phenomena, or finally as part of “folklore”; without mentioning the “discoveries” of psychoanalysis and of the so-called “sociological school,” both typical creations of Judaism.

We must return to conceiving myth and symbol as they were conceived by the ancient, traditional man, e.g., as the expression peculiar to a super-rational reality, almost as the seal of those metaphysical forces which acted within the depth of the races, traditions, religions and the historic and prehistoric civilizations.

Excerpt from parts two and three of Synthesis of a Doctrine of Race (1941). Translator unknown.



  1. Posted October 4, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    On creationism, etc.

    I’m sure Evola didn’t want to distract the readers of this more practical treatise with metaphysical discussions, other than making the point that metaphysics DOES exist.

    Evolution [that is, the theory of natural selection], emanationism [which is what Evola is alluding to] and creationism [that is, the Biblical account] arise in separate areas; biology, metaphysics and religion, and thus have only a analogical relation, not real conflict.

    James Cutsinger has an excellent essay on developing a metaphysical theory of Emanationism that is consistent with both natural selection and creationism in Zarandi’s collection Science and the Myth of Progress.

    Actually, come to think of it, that corresponds to Evola’s three aspects of racism.

    The problem of course is that no one pays any attention to such distinction, when someone gives them a platform; Semitic creationists insist that scientists and metaphysicians bow down before them; while currently a certain sort of scientific asshole [viz, the Dawkins cult] demand the same. I don’t tell Dickie how to do biology (what ever that is… biologizing?); why does he insist on inflicting his ignorance theology and metaphysics on the rest of us?

  2. Pelican
    Posted October 5, 2013 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

    I must rise to protest!

    I have no particular animosity towards Vico, but to insert him into a position of significance within the Traditionalist movement is somewhat breathtaking. And to do so for the express, singular purpose of recharacterizing the Golden Age as a time of barbaric vitality rather than one of incorporeal spirituality really takes the cake.

    I have had many heart to heart talks with many evolutionists, gushing about fossil records, polypeptide linkages, and such. Some found a nearly inexplicable joy in noting that pre-humanoids were bashing each other over the heads with clubs, I suppose to fuel fantasies of future uprisings against perceived foes. Others harbored antireligious sentiments spawned by ridiculous misunderstandings spread, intentionally I believe, by a ruling elite for whom spirituality is most inconvenient. I remember saying to a friend once, with great, even life-changing effect, as we were discussing the divinity of kings: “I think when I mention the divinity of a king you must think I mean that he would have some crazy magical powers like being able to morph into an onion or be able to suddenly fly around the room. All I mean is that he upholds the divine agenda. He prays to God, tries to accomplish God’s will, he submits himself to the authority of heaven, and he seeks the grace to rule wisely. There is nothing crazy about it. The Great Triad always referred to the correspondences among God, King, and Father.”

    I hold fast to the view that evolutionists just don’t get it. Yes, it’s nice to have explanations of things, and it’s comforting to imagine ways out of predicaments, but silly explanations and groundless imaginings are poor substitutes for developing respect for the Ancient Wisdom. (As I write this line, I’m reminded of a response I got to it 20 years ago from a friend of the biological determinist persuasion: “(W)hat ancient wisdom?”, he asked. “Yikes”, thought I.)

    Let’s stick with Guenon, Coomaraswamy, Schuon, Burkhardt, Lings, Cutsinger, Smith, Nasr, and even Evola, for our Traditionalist instruction. And let’s not even bring Vico into the mix. He undoubtedly had many merits but, subscribing to Vedic theory of historic cycles was not one of them. And let us bear in mind, always and strongly, that the higher does not come from the lower (Evola). And evolutionary theory is but another form of that razzle-dazzle vanity one would expect from the current crop of moderns, a metaphor for whom one might imagine as a guy giving himself a big pat on the back while proclaiming “OMG, can you believe we are the greatest people, smartest people, most advanced people, the world has ever known?”

    Yeah, right.

  3. rhondda
    Posted October 6, 2013 at 4:18 am | Permalink

    Thanks for the reference to Vico. It is good to know that someone actually took on Descartes. I will look for his book. I want the world re-enchanted.

  4. Donar van Holland
    Posted October 7, 2013 at 10:40 am | Permalink

    Giambattista Vico seems a very relevant thinker for our time and our movement. Thank you for suggesting him!

    For example, Massimo Lollini writes about the emergence of language, according to Vico:

    “The beginning of gentile humanity for Vico took place when the primitive ‘bestioni’, frightened by thunder and lightning, named the sky Jove, inventing at the same time language, myth, poetry and religion, all out of the fear of God (…)

    The first language for Vico is monosyllabic and develops a process of signification based on visual and acoustic elements; it is not the expression of human subjectivity, freedom or action and takes place as an event deeply implicated with nature and the body, as a combination of voices, gestures, bodily expressions and natural phenomena (…)

    Reason and reflection are not a point of departure for human civilization but a later development of a process that originated under the impulse of wild and ferocious passions and was triggered by the ‘conatus’, the drive toward infinity and immortality (…)

    The names are extensions of the body; humans do not give them out of nothing but from the body’s actual interaction with the natural environment (…)

    These figures, such as Jove, are not the product of a subjective agency, but the impersonal ‘sensus communis’ of human society as emerging from the natural environment.”

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