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Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Frithjof Schuon: Racism, Patriotism and Nationalism

The Transfiguration of Man, Chapter: "Usurpations of Religious Feeling"

The sacred character of a nation depends, not on the sanctity of its citizens, this is obvious, but on the traditional integrity of its regime; what makes it impossible to equate a secular State with a "Holy Land" is precisely the confessionally "neutral" and therefore heterogeneous and profane character of modern civilization. There are two idolatries which are incompatible with the sacred character of a nation: one is civilizationism, the other is nationalism; the former, which is "pagan" and worldly in essence, dates from the irruption of Prometheanism that was the Renaissance, and the latter, which is secular, racist and democratic in essence, dates from the French Revolution, which itself was a kind of Renaissance but in vulgar, not aristocratic mode. Now it is precisely these two frameworks, "civilization" and "fatherland," that many people lay claim to in the name of tradition, without realizing that this involves more than one contradiction: firstly, and this is essential, religion is something sacred and thus cannot fit in with entirely profane ideologies and institutions; secondly, "civilization" would have itself essentially objective, since it is rationalistic and scientistic, whereas the nationalist and racist "fatherland" on the contrary is subjective by definition, whence an absurd and hypocritical mixture of scientism and romanticism.

Profane patriotism improperly mixed with religion is a luxury which is all the more useless in that it substitutes itself for a normal patriotism, and all the more pernicious in that it fatally compromises the prestige of religion. Here it is a case of two religions being confused in fact, one of them true and the other false, and this doubtless explains to some extent the reluctance shown by Heaven in coming to the aid of a tradition which has already been betrayed in various ways by its own adherents. According to nationalistic and "Jacobin" patriotism, the fatherland never commits a crime, or nothing is a crime if it is done in the name of the fatherland; or again, if it does act badly, it is a crime to reproach it for this.(5) The fatherland-nation is erected into a transcendent value, and the patriotic sentiment of others is possibly trampled under foot, even while an unsullied "loyalty" is still expected of them; one despises foreign peoples, but one still wishes to be liked by them. What we reproach chauvinistic patriots for is certainly not their consciousness of the real values of their country, but their blindness toward those of certain other countries — it is a question of political and sentimental interest — and even toward the most elementary rights of other peoples, whereas the said patriots erect these same rights into a universal law and make of them a principle of life. This brings to mind those so-called "peace treaties," conceived in the name of "self-determination," which replace ancient oppressions by new ones while at the same time maintaining such of the past subjugations as do not inconvenience any of the signatories.

5 But it is never wrong to proclaim aloud, or to carve in marble, the tale of other peoples' misdeeds, taking them out of their context of circumstances and without taking into account the laws of collective psychology lying behind them, in any given case.

Castes and Races, Chapter: "The meaning of Race".

In order to understand the meaning of races, one must first of all realize that they are
derived from fundamental aspects of humanity and not from something fortuitous in nature. If racism is something to be rejected, so is an anti-racism which errs in the opposite direction by attributing racial difference to merely accidental causes and which seeks to reduce to nothing these differences by talking about inter-racial blood-groups, or in other words by mixing up things situated on different levels. Moreover, that the isolation of a race may have contributed to its elaboration certainly does not mean that this race can be explained in terms of its isolation alone, nor that the isolation was fortuitous and thus something which might not have happened.

Again, the fact that there is nothing absolute in nature and that races are not separated in completely watertight compartments in no way means that pure races are not to be found as well as mixed ethnic groupings. Such an opinion has no meaning for the simple reason that all men have the same origin and that humanity as a whole — often wrongly referred to as the human race—constitutes one single species. Racial mixtures may be good or detrimental according to the case: mixing may "aerate" an ethnic stock that has become too "compact," just as it may bastardize a homogeneous group endowed with precise and precious qualities. What is never understood by those who have a passion for racial purity is that there is a greater qualitative difference between the psychic heredity of different natural castes — even if the race be the same — than between that of members of the same caste of different races; fundamental and personal tendencies have more importance than racial modes, at any rate insofar as the major races or their healthy branches are concerned, and not degenerate groups.

To have a Center, Chapter: Survey of Integral Anthropology

As for the question of physiognomy, there are not only types peculiar to the races, there are also what may be termed "astrological" types, which are found everywhere and which can coincide with given racial types; so much so that one cannot in every case determine whether a given type is of a racial or astrological origin. One may well note, for example, that the Nordics are tall and dolichocephalic, yet there are necessarily pure Nordics who are small and brachycephalic, for the simple reason that the same typological possibilities are manifested in all the racial frameworks, independently of races and regional elaboration. This is precisely what certain racists are unaware of, or wish to be unaware of:(4) according to them, all the great works of humanity are due to the Nordic race which, it would seem, is present everywhere; if they observe, in China for example, tall individuals with long faces, they claim that Vikings — or the ancestors of the Vikings — passed through there, and they explain all the achievements of Chinese civilization, above all the creation and expansion of the empire, by the presence of Nordic blood. They are unaware of the fact that in each race repetition of certain types is due, not to mixtures, but to the homogeneity of mankind and to the ubiquity of the same typological possibilities, not to mention the role of astrological types, the universality of the temperaments, and other factors both diversifying and repetitive.(5)

4 Such as Chamberlain, Gobineau, Gunther and others. It is not the Scandinavians or the Germans who invented Nordic or Nordist racism; no race or people is responsible for it.

5 Don Quixote and Sancho Panzo are both — or could be — Mediterraneans; they represent a human opposition which, precisely because it is human, is found in all races. It would be ridiculous to claim that the "knight of the woeful countenance" is Dinaric because he is tall and bony, and that his squire is an Alpine because he is short and stocky.

To have a Center, Chapter "To Have a Center"

The question of normal genius, unconditioned by any cultural abuse, allows us to pass to the following considerations, which have their importance in this context. The racist argument that the whites, and among them the Europeans, have more genius than other races, obviously loses much of its value — to say the least — in the light of what we have said about humanism and its consequences; because it is all too evident that neither a hypertrophy nor a deviation constitutes an intrinsic superiority. Still, when considering genius under its natural and legitimate aspect, one has a right to ask whether this phenomenon is also met with among peoples without writing, given the fact that they do not seem to have any such examples to offer; we reply without hesitation that genius lies within human nature and that it must be possible for it to occur wherever there are men. Obviously, the manifestation of genius depends on such cultural materials as are at the disposal of a racial or ethnic group; since these materials are relatively poor among the peoples in question, the manifestations of genius must be all the more intangible and exposed to oblivion, except for legends and proverbial expressions.(37)

37 "Not every man is the son of Gaika," the Zulus say, evoking the memory of a particularly gifted and glorious
chief, but who has disappeared in the mists of time.

Castes and Races, Chapter: "The meaning of Race".

It will have been gathered from what has been said above that for us the question is not: "What is our racial heritage?" but rather: "What are we making of that heritage?" To talk about a racial value is, for the individual, quite meaningless, for the existence of Christ or of the Vedantic doctrine adds nothing to the value of a white man with a base nature any more than the barbarism of certain African tribes takes anything away from a black man of saintly soul; and as for the effective value, not of a race, but of an ethnic atavism, this is a question of "spiritual alchemy," not of scientific or racist dogmatism.

In one respect the metaphysical reason for races is that differences cannot be merely qualitative as in the case of castes; differences can and must also arise "horizontally," from the point of view simply of modes and not of essences. There cannot be only differences between light and darkness, there must also be differences of color.
If each caste is in some way to be found in the other castes, the same thing can be said of races, for the same reasons and apart from any question of racial admixtures. But besides castes and races there are also four temperaments, which Galen relates to the four sensible elements, and the astrological types, which are related to the planets of our system. All these types or possibilities are present in the human substance and form the individual by determining him in many different ways: to know the aspects of man is one way of better knowing oneself.

Races exist and we cannot ignore them, less than ever now that the time of closed universes has come to an end and with it the right to purely conventional simplifications; in any case what it is above all important to understand is that racial determination can only be relative, man thus determined never ceasing to be man as such. The modern movement towards uniformity, which causes the world to become smaller and smaller, seems able to attenuate racial differences, at any rate at the mental level and without speaking of ethnic mixtures. In this there is nothing surprising if one reflects that this standardizing civilization is at the opposite pole from any higher synthesis, based as it is solely on man's earthly needs; human animality provides in principle a rather facile ground for mutual understanding and favors the breaking down of traditional civilizations under auspices of a quantitative and spiritually inoperative "culture." But the fact of thus depending on what gives mankind a "low level solidarity" presupposes the detaching of the masses, who are intellectually passive and unconscious, from the elites who legitimately represent them and in consequence also incarnate both the tradition, insofar as it is adapted to a given race, and the genius of that race in the most lofty sense.(22)

22 If we write "elites" in the plural it is not because we believe in the existence of some other elite besides that which is intellectual or spiritual — without a foundation of truth and thus intellectuality no spirituality can exist — but solely in order to show that the elite includes modes and levels which run through a people as arteries run through a body; if the elite is first of all sacerdotal in substance, it is nonetheless true that sections of the elite are to be found at all levels of society, just as inversely, there is no sacerdotal body without its Pharisees, but this fact in no way abolishes the normal hierarchy.

Christianity and Islam, Chapter: Alternations in Semitic Monotheism

Note 16: The prejudice which reduces the ethnic and cultural substance of the Catholic Church to the Mediterranean world alone is at the root of a number of fatal errors: to begin with, insufficient account was taken in Rome of the needs and rights of the Germanic soul — Protestantism was the reaction to this — and thereafter, Catholic nationalists and racists of Latin culture have obstinately refused to understand that there is no Western Christianity without the Germanic world, and that to exclude this world from Christianity or from Western civilization is to destroy the one as well as the other, or the one along with the other; indeed this has already come about to a large extent. Moreover, it should not be forgotten that the Renaissance, and later the French Revolution, were Latin, not Germanic misdeeds; to each his role, for good and for ill.

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