Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Von Herder, Race, and Dhimmitude

The evils of racism cannot occur without the prior theory of race. The theory of race has its original thinkers, and one of the more important of them is von Herder. It's important to us to know of him because of the fascist dhimmi Left fetish of "anti-racism." If we allow ourselves to fall into the word traps of "race" we are then caught in a dhimmitude-induced philobarbarism we'll find it difficult to extract ourselves from. When we accept the false premis of "Peoples" rather than people, cultural identity as opposed to men and women, gender as opposed to you and me, we fall into a trap of post-modernist fascism. Our first duty is thus to define our boundaries of discussion, and one of those excludes the falsity of race, another is identity based on culture. Both are fascist fallacies.

On the origins of the concept of race, and therefore racism, of culture, and therefore cultural authenticity, cultural imperialism, and c., we must look to von Herder. In the interests of fairness we provide the following excerpt from Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.


Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803) is a philosopher of the first importance. This claim depends largely on the intrinsic quality of his ideas (of which this article will try to give an impression). But another aspect of it is his intellectual influence. This has been immense both within philosophy and beyond (much greater than is usually realized). For example, Hegel's philosophy turns out to be an elaborate systematic development of Herderian ideas (especially concerning God, the mind, and history); so too does Schleiermacher's (concerning God, the mind, interpretation, translation, and art); Nietzsche is deeply influenced by Herder (concerning the mind, history, and values); so too is Dilthey (in his theory of the human sciences); even J.S. Mill has important debts to Herder (in political philosophy); and beyond philosophy, Goethe was transformed from being merely a clever but conventional poet into a great artist largely through the early impact on him of Herder's ideas.

Indeed, Herder can claim to have virtually established whole disciplines which we now take for granted. For example, it was mainly Herder (not, as is often claimed, Hamann) who established fundamental ideas about an intimate dependence of thought on language which underpin modern philosophy of language. It was Herder who, through the same ideas, his broad empirical approach to languages, his recognition of deep variations in language and thought across historical periods and cultures, and in other ways, inspired W. von Humboldt to found modern linguistics. It was Herder who developed modern hermeneutics, or interpretation-theory, in a form that would subsequently be taken over by Schleiermacher and then more systematically formulated by Schleiermacher's pupil Böckh. It was Herder who, in doing so, also established the methodological foundations of nineteenth-century German classical scholarship (which rested on the Schleiermacher-Böckh methodology), and hence of modern classical scholarship generally. It was arguably Herder who did more than anyone else to establish the general conception and the interpretive methodology of our modern discipline of anthropology. Finally, Herder also made vital contributions to the progress of modern biblical scholarship.
Von Herder is one of the first, one of the most important thinkers on the subject of race as ideological stance. For von Herder, faced with French imperialism at a time when the German speaking people were politically disunited, his solution to French power ws to fall into Germanness as German language, the one thing Germans had in common with each other that they did not share with the French, the one thing that made the Germans exceptional, different from the rest of Humanity. For von Herder, German language meant German identity. And because the French Revolution was one of Modernity, a universalist movement, the German nation, exceptional, embraced the counter-Enlightenment, the feudal reaction of the past glories, the romanticised idiocies of some phantastic mythic time of German greatness.

Against the universality of the French Revolution Germans looked to their own fragmentary German communities as unique and valid in themselves, outside the great sweep of French Modernity, in reaction against it. Where there was rationalism in France, Germany became irrational. If people thought in the German language, as the Sapir-Worf Hypothesis puts it, they became German because they could be nothing else. And because language is not individual, as Wittegstein is at our pains to point out, and as is truly obvious, those who share a language share a culture unique to themselves, eg Germanness. To speak ones communal language, to be one of that culture, is to be seperate from others. To be seperate is to be better than those others who are invading ones own.

There is much to be said further on von Herder's ideology of the exceptional. It lead to the rise of the Nazis, and it lead to the rise of dhimmi fascist Leftism today. When all people are "peoples," then no one is a person. When people speak the same language but are not of the ruling group, as it were, they find other identities, such as the false coin of race to buy and spend in the marketplace of ideas. Von Herder is one of the founding thinkers of race, identity through nation, and of exceptionalism by relative difference.

Belwow we can see where some of this lead.

For an very brief outline of some aspects of the history of fascism, we turn to:


German Romanticism and Nationalism. Volkish Movement

*Romanticism, in reaction against the rationalism of the 18th century, was a movement in philosophy & the arts, & a set of attitudes, in the latter part of the 18th c., initiated in Germany and England; it glorified feeling, emotion, sentimentality & the special characteristics of the historic past.

German thinkers concretely formulated a romantic nationalism. In Germany, these ideas were expounded by Johann Gottfried von Herder,1744-1803, August Wilhelm von Schlegel, Johann Gottlieb Fichte, and Friedrich Melchior Grimm - German folktales in Grimm's fairy tale, 1812-15. Herder, more interested in culture than in politics; most important contribution: conception of cultural nationalism; put together anthologies of traditional folk culture.

In Germany, nationalism went beyond the commonality of language & heritage." In Germany, sentimentality merged with patriotism to create a mystical concept of Germanness - the Voelkisch spirit. German citizenship was based on an obscure sense of commonality; Germanic blood & German soil created an innate ethos that could not be acquired. Only birth could infuse that volkisch spirit -German essence ... To be German-- truly German-- was not a mere matter of citizenship. ...Clearly, Jews could only pretend to be German; they were forever aliens."1

German nationalism burdened with a romantic quixotic aspect was founded by Johann Gottlieb Fichte. In 1807 -romantic nationalism; proclaimed German ethos to be the seedbed for human perfection; argued against Jewish emancipation. 1808: delivered series of 'Addresses to the German Nation,' rallied German-speaking people to resist French, & spoke of the superiority of the Germans. Anti-intellectual, anti-democratic sentiment woven into German fabric; destructive chauvinism.

So, in the 19th c., the Romantic 'Volkish' movement excluded the Jews as strangers and second-class citizens, because
- it exalted folkway and emphasized the purity of the national tradition;
- it evoked the image of a mythical golden past, with a supposed superiority;
- it produced an idealization of the Middle Ages with Christian knights.

Volkish thought attracted Germans frightened by modern age industrialization, urbanization, materialism, class conflicts, alienation. Movement appealed to farmers [and] villagers who regarded industrial city threat to native values; artisans small shopkeepers, threatened by big business; scholars, writers, teachers, students, saw in Volkish nationalism cause worthy of their idealism. Schools leading agents for dissemination Volkish ideas... Volkish thinkers glorified ancient Germanic tribes.

*German see themselves different from, better than English and French. Led them to see German culture as unique -innately superior in opposition to humanist outlook Enlightenment. Volkish held that the German people and culture had special destiny, a unique mission. Volkish thought widespread.

Following the Congress of Vienna in 1815, German hopes for national sovereignty were thwarted by the Austrian statesman, Prince Klemens Wenzel von Metternich. A period of reaction set in, and violent attacks against Jews occurred in many cities of Germany.

Growth of Racial & Political antisemitism. The "New Antisemitism." Biological Racism

Placing the nation above everything, nationalists accused national minorities of corrupting the nation's spirit; and they glorified war as a symbol of the nation's resolve and will. In the name of national power and unity, they persecuted minorities at home and stirred up hatred against other nations. In the pursuit of national power, nationalists increasingly embraced militaristic, imperialistic, and racist doctrines.

*Racism: belief that race accounts for differences in human character or ability and that a particular race is superior to others; discrimination or prejudice based on race. Division of people into races -black, white, yellow- a system of classification without value judgments. Race became racism when innate characteristics were assigned by pseudo-scientists to biological attributes=biological racism.

"Racists asserted that innate racial differences prevent Jews from assimilating with the superior culture of the host countries; ... the old religious bias fed this new strain of an old virus."9

Growth of Racial & Political antisemitism. The "New Antisemitism." Biological Racism

Schleunes: Racism in late 19th c. became an all-embracing doctrine for explaining human behavior, whether it was religious, political, cultural or economic.

Racial Antisemitism and the Aryan Myth

*In the 19th c., national-racial considerations supplemented a traditional, biased Christian perception of Jews & Judaism.
*However, whereas Christian anti-Judaism believed that through conversion, Jews could escape the curse of their religion, racial antisemites who used the language of Social Darwinism, said that Jews were racially stained and eternally condemned by their genes. Their evil & worthlessness derived from inherited racial characteristics, which could not be altered by conversion,' or expulsion.

"Social Darwinism, with its theory of natural selection ... in the late 19th century also provided a rationale for the new antisemitism. The social Darwinist notion of the struggle of races for survival became a core doctrine of the Nazi party after World War I and provided the "scientific" and "ethical" justification for genocide. Jews' destruction is a must." 10

"In a climate of fervent nationalism & jingoism, there were increasing allegations of Jewish 'cosmopolitanism' and 'clannish separatism.' Books & pamphlets appeared in France & Germany alleging that the 'Semites' were responsible for everything that was dark, ... menacing & destructive, whereas all that was pure, creative, heroic & good was the product of 'Aryan' influence. This biological view of human potential & moral worth was, in effect, a pseudo-scientific hotchpotch of the new racial, linguistic & anthropological theories, blended with the vestige of old religious hatreds and fears.

The Jews, it was argued, were racially incapable of improvement. No matter how hard they tried to be German - ... to convert to Christianity -no matter how great the impression of integration, the Jews were depicted as parasitic, scheming, manipulative & venomous, constantly plotting to 'take over' economic control of the state. ...

*Racial theorists - Those who developed theories, which were based primarily on opinions, prejudices, and non-scientific observation, to prove that one race was superior to another.

Racial theorists of the 19th century, were the first to confuse the term 'Aryan' -a linguistic term, with race. The term 'Semitic' also had a linguistic origin). The actual categories of Semite & Aryan were borrowed very loosely from the field of linguistics, in which these terms related to families of languages (and not to 'racial' groups).3

*Aryan - Originally, a term for peoples speaking the languages of Europe and India. Twisted by Nazis, who viewed those of Germanic background as the best examples of "superior," "Aryan race." ) As used by the Nazis, the term refers to a non-Jewish Caucasian, especially of the Nordic type.
The German Romantic movement of the late 18th and 19th centuries is essential to our understanding of the modern-day post modernist fascist dhimmi Left because it is a continuum rather than a new form of ideology. Fascsim didn't spring full grown from the leg of Zeus in the 1930, and it didn't die in the 1940s. It began as a clear political and social movment, as opposed to the general state of humanity since the first seeds of the Argircultural Revolution some 5,000 years ago, in the 1780, and it continues to this day.

In this day the Left is fascist, the continuation of fascism from 1945. what we assume is good and decent liberalism of the Left is often nothing but true fascsim, and one place we can look to discover its roots is in von Herder's exceptionalism of the Volk. When one group is special, then others ae special too in their own ways, maybe. And maybe special in ways that aren't very pleasant. When we break people into groups rather than people as individuals, we can create races, we can create communities, we can assign privilege. We'll come back to this topic over and over for the duration of this blog. For now we'll turn to one of our favorite historians.

Below is a review by a brilliant and, one might suggest, one of the few sensible historians of our miserable time. Our focus here is on comments regarding von Herder, and the extra detail should shed some light on the current moral/cultural relativist theory in the West. For reasons of reader fatigue we present only excerpts of this review.


Historiography and civilization
Keith Windschuttle
Washington Times

May 9 1999

While refugees from Kosovo stream across borders and talking heads in television studios debate the merits of the Serbian and NATO cases, one name unlikely to be mentioned as responsible for the current debacle is that of the German philosopher of history, Johann Gottfried von Herder. Apart from those who have studied the history of ideas in the late eighteenth century, Herder is largely unknown. Yet he deserves to be recognized as much as his later compatriot Karl Marx as an architect of many of the disasters that have befallen Europe in the twentieth century.

Herder was the man who originated two of the most influential concepts of the modern era: cultural relativism and self-determination. He said that people who constitute a language group, no matter how small and undistinguished, have their own culture which cannot be judged by outside standards and which are authentic in their own terms - all cultures are equal but different. He also argued that all unique cultures deserve to determine their own destiny -- every culture should form a nation.

Though Herder was a conservative, his ideas let loose on Europe the then radical concept of nationalism. Within a century, the wars of German unification were waged to enforce the idea that all German volkes must be affiliated to the German state. In the twentieth century the extension of this idea produced the First and Second World Wars. Under Hitler, its logic led to the extirpation of those who did not qualify as part of volk culture.

One of Herder's disciples was the great nineteenth century German historian, Leopold von Ranke, who, after reading a collection of medieval folk ballads, wrote a history of the people among whom they had originated, the Serbs, thereby inspiring the awakening of their national identity from its centuries-long domination by the Ottoman Empire. Though Serbian aspirations were subsequently curbed by the rise of the new empire of the Soviets, the collapse of Communism has seen their revival in the 1990s. Herder's romantic nationalism is today represented in the Balkans by the sinister euphemism of ethnic cleansing.

In North America and Western Europe, however, the historic track record of these ideas in fostering the most primitive kind of tribal hubris is blithely ignored. In our own societies, cultural relativism and self-determination remain inviolable, self-validating concepts from which the aura of innocence still shines. The past twelve months alone have seen them gain some remarkable endorsements. Canada, for instance, has just given one fifth of its lands to the Eskimos and the English Parliament seems determined to see Scotland become an independent nation.

Perhaps this is why, in his discussion of Herder's role as a philosopher of history in the book reviewed here, Donald Kelley in Faces of History: Historical Inquiry from Herodotus to Herder[1] feels no obligation to discuss his ideas critically nor to mention their disastrous consequences in central and eastern Europe. Indeed, Kelley toes the line of the prevailing Western intellectual establishment by defending Herder on these very grounds.

In Herder's time, the philosophes of the French Enlightenment made a clear distinction between those societies that had attained the higher plane of civilization and those who languished as barbarians. Herder's cultural relativism, however, would have none of this. There could be no barbarians since all cultures were authentic. As Kelley explains: "Herder's point was that in contrast to the civilization of scholars and philosophers, culture could involve the whole people (Kultur des Volkes) and so represented the best road to an understanding not only of history but also of human nature."

Today, there are very few Western historians who dare to use the word "civilization" because of the politically incorrect value judgement embedded within it. Almost none, however, would shy from the term "culture". Indeed, the field of "cultural studies", a combination of literary theory, criticism and ethnography, which owes its central ideas to the principles founded by Herder, has been the fastest growing area of the humanities in America in the 1990s.
Those of us who see his [Herodotus'] compatriot, Thucydides, as the first genuine historian, emphasise the latter's pains to get his facts right by using "only the plainest evidence", but especially by his efforts to distance himself from his own political system and religion. By attempting to report objectively on the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides took a profoundly revolutionary step for both himself and for the legacy his work has bequeathed. To look down, as it were, upon your society and become a critic of your own practice, is a characteristically Western notion and, indeed, one of the great strengths of Western culture-possibly even its greatest strength. We now take this notion-the attempt to be objective and self-critical, rather than subjective and self-defensive-so much for granted that we assume it is a perfectly natural thing to do, whereas to many other cultures it has long been something shocking.

Kelley, however, will have none of this. He adopts the position of the German hermeneutic theorist Hans-Georg Gadamer who claims that our use of language makes such self-awareness impossible. Kelley doesn't argue for this position, he simply asserts it, as if Gadamer's authority is sufficient to make it so.

[A] proper account of the Western historical tradition might have been used to show how this tradition contributed to the development of a genuinely civilised world view -- how it developed a distaste for ethnocentrism and racism and came to regard all human beings (though not all human cultures) as fundamentally equal, albeit equally flawed. Such an account might also have been critical of those theorists like Herder and his successors who rejected the Enlightenment in favour of the narrow-minded, tribal concepts of cultural demarcation, ethnic destiny and rule of the volk.

1. Donald R. Kelley, Faces of History: Historical Inquiry from Herodotus to Herder, Yale University Press, New Haven

Von Herder and other of the Counter-Enlightenment, are today the public intellectuals who form the public meme. And yet few know of them, what they wrote, or why we assume that their works are our opinions. The concept of race is one such idea most take as axiomatic: we are something that others are not.

For the Left fascist dhimmis, the Islamic world is something quite different in and of itself, equally valid for its own internality, ie. it's Muslim victims. To create a false identity of race or of other identity is to seperate people from Humanity, assigning some rights and others not according to accidents of birth and circumstance. If the is exceptionalism, there is no universality. If there is no universality, then of course Islam has a right to enslave its populations, and we must honor its expection to the universe of others. That, dear reader, is in our opinion, a fascist postion that we refuse to accept, based as it is on nothing at all but wind.

We will again return to this topic. It is essential that we see clearly the origins of fascism to see the Left as fascist, and thereby to decide if indeed we are fascists too.


John Sobieski said...

The Left ignores all the bad about Islam, which is pretty damn hard to do, and embrace it as a victim to ally itself with. It makes no sense since Islam represents everything they despise.

Pedestrian Infidel
The Pedestrian Infidel Blog

Toque said...

There is no English parliament. It is the UK parliament.

And the reason they gave Scotland its own devolved parliament was to try and stop the clamour for independence.