Sunday, December 18, 2005

Assuming We Know (4)

I confess: I have not a clue what blood purity and soil mysticism mean. I read this stuff and find that I'm baffled and confused. Maybe it's evidence of my mongrelism. Below we'll look more closely at Darre, a figure we've dealt with before here. He concerns us for two reasons: he is still a major figure in the ecology movement, whether most ecologists know of him or not; and he is also a key figure in how we view the Palestinians today.

People cannot be Human, according to the line of reasoning that follows from Herder, Fichte, Darre and others, unless they have a community to be one of, like images that cannot exist in a mirror without something to reflect. And to be legitimate and authentic as a group one must be in a place, legitimately rather than contingently. To be of a place means to be from the place of ones blood group wherefrom the soil emanates spirit or something. It's more or less beyond me. What I do know is that some people believe deeply in the idea that there is a special place for special people, and that if one removes them from that place they cannot live as authentic people any longer. Look for example at the Palestinians, exiled from the land they have lived in forever, now expelled by the Zionist (whatever the cliche of the day is today.) Whatever this crap is about, some of our own fellow Western and modernist citizens are right into it, so much so that they go nuts raging about Israelis, become cheerleaders for terrorists, and ht the West with more passion than they love their children, as one might gather from the story of the demise of Rachel Corrie.

When we look at our views from the distance of a hundred years ago we might get a sense of perspective that allows us to have an honest and conscious understanding of some of our assumptions today. That would preclude our Presbyterian synod readers, of course. For the rest of us we can see that Nietzsche's idiot sister and her great idea played out just about the way one would expect, and that what we see today in the Western Left dhimmi fascist's "discourse" is more of the same only different but not much.

Third World Peoples! Back to Nature! In Harmony with the Spirit of Life! The round-up of usual suspects will do. The more we see of the past fascists the more we see the same rehash today. What we see today is the same tired fascism of yesteryear. We assume it's all new and interesting but a look will show it's no different today. first some snippets of proto-Nazi wonderland followed by a look at ecofascism as it is now and then.

Ben MacIntyre writes about Nietzsche's sister and the colony of pure-breds she and her husband founded in Paraguay. Below are three excerpts from reviews that give the basics of what came of it.

In 1886 Elisabeth Nietzsche, the bigoted, imperious sister of the famous philosopher, founded a "racially pure" colony in Paraguay together with her husband, anti-Semitic agitator Bernhard Forster, and a band of fair-skinned fellow Germans. In 1991 Macintyre, once a foreign-affairs reporter for Britain's Sunday Correspondent, tracked down the survivors of Nueva Germania, as the colony was called; he found a strange, tight-lipped people, still interbreeding to the point of genetic deterioration.

[T]he Paraguayan colony as `New Germany' (Nueva Germania); this colony was designed to appeal to `true' Germans who wanted to establish not only an ideological power base, but flee economic problems at home. The colony does not succeed, as Macintyre discovers when he journeys there in 1991: there are a few of the old families around, and the dangers of inbreeding, according to one recent German immigrant doctor, are becoming noticeable, heralding the inevitable decline of what Elisabeth envisioned as her own pure, private kingdom.

In 1886, Nietzsche's sister, Elisabeth, together with her husband, Bernhard Foerster, and 14 German families, founded a colony in Paraguay that they christened "Nueva Germania." Their purpose was to escape a fatherland they believed to be in serious decline and to live in a place where their beliefs--anti-Semitism, vegetarianism, nationalism, and Lutheranism--could flourish.... The pathetic group of descendants he finally found would hardly have delighted the founders.

We might assume that something is good simply because it seems so right that it couldn't possibly be wrong. Of course we all want to protect the environment. We do not want to poison the Earth and kill off animals and lay waste to the world. And then we add on a few more details. We put in some other ideas that seem pretty good. Maybe we think we should have some pure water, some pure air, some pure land. And before we know what we've done we find ourselves in the wastes of Nazi Utopia so inbred we can't see straight, or, like the fascists of Elizabeth Nietzsche's commune, blind and idiotic. Nature has no sense of humor, no sense of irony, no sense of forgiveness. Nature, sad to say, has no sense whatsoever; and neither, obviously, do some people.

When our fellow citizens claim they have sympathy for the Palestinian! People! and that the Zionists are the cause of all the trouble in the Middle East, we must ask where their ideas come from. When completely ordinary middle class Americans in the suburbs, say, Protestants of the Presbyterian Church, claim they want to save the baby seals and stop Zionist aggression against the Palestinian! People! we have to ask ourselves just what is going on that these seemingly decent people would become enthusiastic cheerleaders for some of the world's most brutal and psychotic killers. Let's look further at Peter Staudenmaier's essay:

Blood and Soil as Official Doctrine

"The unity of blood and soil must be restored," proclaimed Richard Walther Darré in 1930. 37 This infamous phrase denoted a quasi-mystical connection between 'blood' (the race or Volk) and 'soil' (the land and the natural environment) specific to Germanic peoples and absent, for example, among Celts and Slavs. For the enthusiasts of Blut und Boden, the Jews especially were a rootless, wandering people, incapable of any true relationship with the land. German blood, in other words, engendered an exclusive claim to the sacred German soil. While the term "blood and soil" had been circulating in völkisch circles since at least the Wilhelmine era, it was Darré who first popularized it as a slogan and then enshrined it as a guiding principle of Nazi thought. Harking back to Arndt and Riehl, he envisioned a thoroughgoing ruralization of Germany and Europe, predicated on a revitalized yeoman peasantry, in order to ensure racial health and ecological sustainability.

Darré was one of the party's chief "race theorists" and was also instrumental in galvanizing peasant support for the Nazis during the critical period of the early 1930s. From 1933 until 1942 he held the posts of Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture. This was no minor fiefdom; the agriculture ministry had the fourth largest budget of all the myriad Nazi ministries even well into the war.38 From this position Darré was able to lend vital support to various ecologically oriented initiatives. He played an essential part in unifying the nebulous proto-environmentalist tendencies in National Socialism:

It was Darré who gave the ill-defined anti-civilization, anti-liberal, anti-modern and latent anti-urban sentiments of the Nazi elite a foundation in the agrarian mystique. And it seems as if Darré had an immense influence on the ideology of National Socialism, as if he was able to articulate significantly more clearly than before the values system of an agrarian society contained in Nazi ideology and -- above all -- to legitimate this agrarian model and give Nazi policy a goal that was clearly oriented toward a far-reaching re-agrarianization.39

This goal was not only quite consonant with imperialist expansion in the name of Lebensraum, it was in fact one of its primary justifications, even motivations. In language replete with the biologistic metaphors of organicism, Darré declared: "The concept of Blood and Soil gives us the moral right to take back as much land in the East as is necessary to establish a harmony between the body of our Volk and the geopolitical space." 40

Aside from providing green camouflage for the colonization of Eastern Europe, Darré worked to install environmentally sensitive principles as the very basis of the Third Reich's agricultural policy. Even in its most productivist phases, these precepts remained emblematic of Nazi doctrine. When the "Battle for Production" (a scheme to boost the productivity of the agricultural sector) was proclaimed at the second Reich Farmers Congress in 1934, the very first point in the program read "Keep the soil healthy!" But Darré's most important innovation was the introduction on a large scale of organic farming methods, significantly labeled "lebensgesetzliche Landbauweise," or farming according to the laws of life. The term points up yet again the natural order ideology which underlies so much reactionary ecological thought. The impetus for these unprecedented measures came from Rudolf Steiner's anthroposophy and its techniques of biodynamic cultivation.41

The campaign to institutionalize organic farming encompassed tens of thousands of smallholdings and estates across Germany. It met with considerable resistance from other members of the Nazi hierarchy, above all Backe and Göring. But Darré, with the help of Hess and others, was able to sustain the policy until his forced resignation in 1942 (an event which had little to do with his environmentalist leanings). And these efforts in no sense represented merely Darré's personal predilections; as the standard history of German agricultural policy points out, Hitler and Himmler "were in complete sympathy with these ideas."42 Still, it was largely Darré's influence in the Nazi apparatus which yielded, in practice, a level of government support for ecologically sound farming methods and land use planning unmatched by any state before or since.

For these reasons Darré has sometimes been regarded as a forerunner of the contemporary Green movement. His biographer, in fact, once referred to him as the "father of the Greens."43 Her book Blood and Soil, undoubtedly the best single source on Darré in either German or English, consistently downplays the virulently fascist elements in his thinking, portraying him instead as a misguided agrarian radical. This grave error in judgement indicates the powerfully disorienting pull of an 'ecological' aura. Darré's published writings alone, dating back to the early twenties, are enough to indict him as a rabidly racist and jingoist ideologue particularly prone to a vulgar and hateful antisemitism (he spoke of Jews, revealingly, as "weeds"). His decade-long tenure as a loyal servant and, moreover, architect of the Nazi state demonstrates his dedication to Hitler's deranged cause. One account even claims that it was Darré who convinced Hitler and Himmler of the necessity of exterminating the Jews and Slavs.44 The ecological aspects of his thought cannot, in sum, be separated from their thoroughly Nazi framework. Far from embodying the 'redeeming' facets of National Socialism, Darré represents the baleful specter of ecofascism in power.

We assume that ecology is a good thing because we don't want to wreck nature and kill chickens for no good reason. Some of us might go so far as to think we should become vegetarians to prove how decent we are as Human beings. We might protest the Chinese occupation of Tibet to show how dedicated we are to civil rights and national self-determination, not really considering the nature of dismissing people themselves as nothing more than the meaningless bits of the important whole. And from one stupid idea it's easy to go on to the next till we find ourselves falling right overboard in our support for any number of things that seem right, and things that are also highly popular among sophisticated people like movie stars and media personalities.

Once we open the door to ecology we let in all kinds of other ideas that come with it part and parcel. If anti-Humanism, which is what ecology is, becomes ones epistemological base, then anything irrational and anti-humanist is possible. We can easily go from food purity and concern for the sufferings of the Palestinian! Peoples! to thinking of ridding the Israelis from The Land of the Palestinian! Peoples! And once that starts we can move on to ridding the land of machines and technologies so as to restore Nature to its proper place, and to restore Man to his proper place within Nature, and so on.

We must look closely at how we see reality, how we decide what is true, how we know the world and its truths. Once we buy into the specialness of Nature we devalue Humans. Once we revalue the special people we assign them moral autonomy outside the Human race, and then truth and morals become exceptional, for them but not for others, and eventually for no one if they don't like it or for them if their group decides for them instead. We have to decide if people are important or if they are not. If people are individuals first or if they are Peoples. If land is a resource to use rationally or if it's something mystical that has spirits in it. We have to decide if people are all of the same and equal worth by virtue of their Humanness or if some are different, some better, some not. We have to decide how we decide.

We'll return next post to see more of ecology as epistemology. It's a frightening topic.


eyesallaround said...

Lord have mercy! How do you do this? You are like an ever flowing river of wisdom!

dag said...

Lots of coffee!

More tomorrow. I mean copy on ecofascism and identity politics.

Pastorius said...

It is amazing, isn't Sissyblue?

Dag, I didn't know about Nietzsche's sisters New Germany colony. How did she manage that, and the caretaking of Nietzsche's legacy as well? One was in Paraguay, and the other was in Germany. I don't get it?

dag said...

I don't know much about it other than that Elizabeth's husband killed himself when the commune went into total poverty due to self-imposed isolation and natural stupidity on the part of German farmers who thought they'd recreate Germany in the jungle.

Elizabeth returned to Germany in time to be feted endlessly by Hitler. She was something of a celebrity and there's a plaque commemorating her somewhere in Germany, I don't know where.

In all, it was a bad idea taken to an extreme on a small scale that caused some unnecessary human suffering, and rather than examine it for the lessons one could have learned we get academics today preaching variations on it in America, ideas such as "Back to Africa," the Garvey nonsense one encounters, the Nation of Islam lines, the Afro-centrism and anti-Zionist racism from the so-called Left.

The point of this, to a large extent, is that we're repeating the failures of fascism from the 19th century. Nazis are a local variant of fascism, and I hope it's clear that not all fascists are Nazi though all Nazis are fascists. Elizabeth N. was a proto-fascsist, as it were, and later a full-blown Nazi. People like Ward Churchill, the prof. out of Colorado fired for plaigarism, or some such, is a fascist in the sense of it's classical and cumulative meaning. If one looks at the commonalities of Rousseau, Herder, Hegel, Fichte, and the lot who followed from them,even if they weren't literally members of Mussolini's party they were the fathers of it, and by extention, fathers of all else that stememed from them.

Poeple don't need bad ideas to act badly, but bad ideas can and do haul in many unsuspecting people, which is why I go to this effort to expose the history of our common assumptions regarding such benign concepts as "protecting the Earth." It sounds good, and it is good, in the same way that moving to Paraguay to start a farm is a good idea. But what's behind it all? Maybe this good idea is actually a bad idea that really sounds goood and really looks good till we find out it's a cult and a Satanic one at that. Or maybe it's just fine and we should smile because others smile.

I'm going on again, and I have some work to do. Will come back later if there's more I should include here.

Pastorius said...

I'm thinking maybe the date of the beginning of the commune is inaccurate, because I'm pretty sure Elizabeth cared for Nietzsche from the time of his breakdown in 1888 until his death in 1900.

But, who cares about that. I'm nitpicking. This is fascinating. I also did not know that she made the acquaintance of Hitler.

dag said...

Friedrich had a number of sisters,i don't recall how many, and I think a number of them tended him. I'll try to find out and post it later.

dag said...

I don't have any of Kaufmann's works here to consult. My dictionaries of philosphy here say F.N. collapsed in Jan. 1889 (Cambridge: 1996; Oxford: 1995.) I found on the Net that E. returned from Paraguay in 1894. Still, Kaufmann is the best source for information about N. I'm not sure who does the best publishing on him these days; I'm guessing Kaufmann is out of date by now. I feel that way myself pretty often.

Pastorius said...

Yeah, I don't know. I don't own a biography on Nietzsche. All I know of his life I got from Forwards to books, if I recall correctly.