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The Beauty and the Beast: Race and Racism in Europe, Part I

Tom Sunic

August 9, 2009

No  word  in  the  modern  Western   parlance  is  as scary as the word   ‘race.’   It is avoided like the plague by contemporary opinion makers, except when they gleefully use its verbal  derivative “racist” against right-wingers,  White nationalists, forever looming ‘neo-Nazis’ and their proverbial  bed fellows ‘anti-Semites.’In modern science, let alone in the social sciences, the word and the concept of race is denounced as a social construct, not being admitted as biological reality, despite overwhelming evidence that race is not just skin deep and that different races world-wide show marked differences in  behavior, cultural achievements, and in IQ. As professor Daniel A. Beach recently noted: “Race pervades a great deal of social and interpersonal issues with which we must contend, yet we have no effective way of talking about it.”

Unlike their colleagues in the social sciences, many Western biologists and geneticists are well aware of differences among races, yet they prefer to resort to esoteric verbiage and expressions, such as "mapping the genome," or "different gene pools" or "different haplotypes," when doing research on the tricky subject of race.

Prior to the early 20th century the words ‘race’ and ‘racist’ were rarely used in the English, French, or German languages in Europe. Everybody knew which race he belonged to.  The etymology of the word 'race' is still unclear, although most likely it derives from the old Latin word 'radix,' meaning roots, or the German 'reiza, meaning family lineage. Its significance became ideologically loaded only in the late 1920s. Over the last 50 years, it has undergone a total semantic distortion. Indeed, if one were to follow the logic and discourse of professional antiracists, peoples of European ancestry must be all certified racists. Why? Because it is still an unwritten rule that White males and females all over the West mate and date solely within their own race. 

European "Gestalt":  In Quest of Order and Form

The concept of eugenics is now associated with National Socialism and has come to be understood among the educated classes as the epitome of evil. In fact, however, eugenic measures were a standard family practice from time immemorial among European tribes. Undoubtedly, each family had to be prolific with a multitude of children able to work on the land or to guard the household. This meant allowing and frequently facilitating the death of children who were sickly or had disabilities.

Until recently in the European countryside when a young girl and boy were about to start dating, parents first inquired about whether their respective fathers or mothers were alcoholics, whether somebody in their family tree had some serious illness, such as diabetes, tuberculosis, or some nervous disorder or even inborn proclivity to criminal behavior. A semi-literate, yet intelligent European peasant or farmer did not have to be versed in sociobiology or have a degree in molecular biology in order to realize that hereditary diseases of the unfortunate partner could easily be transmitted to the newborns, with deadly social consequences for the entire family.

In France it is still common to hear the expression “elle est de bonne  race” ("she is of good breed or character")  for a good looking and healthy woman. In the Croatian or the Serbian language one can hear among young adults the colloquial adjective 'rasna' ('raceful') when depicting a good and healthy looking woman.  In such particular instances 'race’ is more a synonym of good health and good looks and less a scientific term for a distinctive European appearance.

After 1945 everything changed. The whole hell of moralizing and do-good pontificating broke loose. The more degenerate, the more maladaptive and the uglier the better. The role of the environment became a sacrosanct dogma of liberal and communist world improvers, while blind faith in progress became a shining path for a promiscuous end of history. Especially the German word ‘Rasse,’ which was commonly used in the 1920s,  30s and the early 40’s,  came to be highly uncomfortable for postwar German politicians who were themselves to be groomed by the Allies in self-hate and guilt feelings about their race. 'Rasse' is a sharp monosyllabic word whose consonant 's' requires the speaker to emit a hissing sound.

Hence the reason that the legacy of National Socialism and thousands of German titles dealing with race, racial hygiene, racial studies, racial mixing, etc., had to disappear from library shelves, only to reappear as a subject of criminal proceedings in modern Germany. The German ruling class today is quick to raise the red flag against scholars who dare to use this word in a normative and value free manner. Shortly after WWII, thousands of books dealing with race and racial differences were burned and destroyed by the Allies. Institutes specializing in racial hygiene, such as Deutsche Gesellschaft für Rassenhygiene or the prestigious Kaiser Wilhelm Institut für Anthropologie,  were closed down. Hundreds of European doctors and specialists in genetics and biology if not spirited out furtively to the USA or the USSR were hunted down as war criminals, or denounced  as proverbial Nazi quacks. (See Manfred Heinemann, Hochschuloffiziere und  Wiederaufbau des Hochschulwesens in Westdeutschland,19441952. See also Reinhard Grohnert,  Die Entnazifizierung in Baden 19451949.) 

In Gods We Trust: Ancient "Ethnic Profiling"

The word 'race' did not exist but the sense of racial beauty and racial awareness was firmly grounded in the minds of ancient Europeans. In Homer’s Iliad most gods and goddesses are fair skinned and light eyed. Athena is described by Pindar as as the “blond and blue eyed goddess,” whereas tricksters or fickle persons, personified by satires and centaurs had repulsive Levantine features with wooly hair, thick lips and hooked noses.  (R. Peterson, The Classical World, 1985, pp 3031).

In the Middle Ages one encounters those grotesque images of ugliness on basilicas and cathedrals where gargoyles were used as ornamented water spouts projecting from roofs or water fountains. Those negative images displaying non-European racial traits would be banned today, as our modern multiracial pontiffs do not tolerate racial stereotyping, or what they euphemistically call ‘ethnic profiling.’ Likely, many out-group individuals in modern American or European cities would detect in those figures strange resemblance to their own non-European facial traits.

Gargoyle from Westminster Abbey, London

In a well-researched, yet forgotten book, Professor Allen G. Roper (Ancient Eugenics, 1913) provides a great many citations from ancient Greek and Latin texts describing eugenic practices by the old Greeks and Romans. Infanticide was not considered a barbaric act, but a paramount political necessity for a city-state in perennial crisis and warfare. They did not have a luxury of feeding genetic misfits, potential crooks, or the dregs of racial outgroups. The Spartan leader Solon drafted the first eugenic laws, and the Stoic Roman philosopher Seneca encouraged infanticide for misfits. “We drown the weaklings and the monstrosity. It is not passion but reason to separate the useless from the fit.”

In ancient Rome of the Republic, racial purity and close-knit bonds among kin were extremely valued. The whole concept of the city-state was premised on a small family unit, with the typical pater familias at the helm. Even today in popular unwritten culture in Europe, a saying goes that a “person’s character can best be recognized in his facial features.” Conversely, “a person’s distorted character follows his distorted countenance,” a saying that was common in ancient Rome ("Distortum vultum sequitur distortio morum.").

It is a dangerous mistake, very widespread among White European American nationalists that the ancient Greeks were all of Nordic ancestry. As I have written elsewhere, the blond dolichocephalic  faces that one finds painted on old Greek murals  or pottery, or even bronze busts  of Roman and Greek leaders, had primarily normative value; they were meant as the enhanced ideal type for what White Europeans should be not the reflection of what  they looked like in real life.

This is particularly relevant because of childish quarrels among European and American Whites nationalists and self-proclaimed Aryans. Such people often imagine ancient Spartan warriors as blond giants or even picture the Waffen SS as superhuman extraterrestrial  beings.

It should come as no surprise that the concept of beauty and race in prewar Europe, and particular in prewar Germany, witnessed a return to romanticized classicism. Models from antiquity and the Renaissance were adapted to the prevailing spirit of the times. Numerous German sculptors worked on their projects while benefiting from the logistic and financial support of the National Socialist political elite. Their sculptures resembled, either by form, or by composition, the works of Praxiteles or of Phidias of ancient Greece, or those executed by Michelangelo during the Renaissance. The most prominent German sculptors in the Third Reich were Arno Breker, Josef Thorak,  and Fritz Klimsch, who although enjoying the significant logistical support of the National Socialist regime, were never members of the NSDAP.

"Partei" (The Party") on the left and "Wehrmacht" ("The Army") on the right, by Arno Breker, at the New Reich-Chancellery, 1939

The Wave/Die Woge, Fritz Klimsch, 1942

Das Urteil des Paris, Haus des Deutschen Kunst, Josef Thorak, 1941

After the Second World War, as the result of pressure from the Allies, Europe  and to a large extent America itself were forced to open its doors to abstract art (Jackson Pollock, Piet Mondrian, etc) and, consequently Euro Americans and in particularly the Germans had to stifle the production of their traditional figurative art. A large number of paintings and other works of art executed during the Third Reich were either removed or destroyed. Several hundred sculptures were demolished or trashed during the Allied air bombardments. After the war, a considerable number of works of art were confiscated by the Americans, because of “their pornographic character.” In the spring of 1947, 8,722 paintings and sculptures of German artists were transported to the United States. Of these, only a small number have been returned to the Federal Republic of Germany.

Arno Breker's work thrown in a backyard, 1945

The concept of racial beauty in ancient Greece or during the Renaissance in the 15th century Italy was often used as a pedagogical and graphic tool to provide the sense of order and form (Gestalt). In traditional Europe and America the vast majority of citizens were never ever the replicas of these hyperreal beauties represented on busts or sculptures.

Paintings of women by the late Italians Botticelli or Titian, or sculptures by the modern Germans Breker or Thorak, did  not suggest that that all Italian and German women have elongated Gothic limbs, thin noses and Nordic cranial index.

The whole purpose of classicism and neoclassicisms, particularly in plastic art, but also in philosophy and literature suggested that Europeans had to abide by the cosmic rules of  racial form and order. Whatever and whoever departs from order brings in decadence and death.

To be continued.


Tom Sunic (www.tomsunic.info; http://doctorsunic.netfirms.com/) is an author, former political science professor in the USA, translator and former Croat diplomat. He is the author of Homo americanus: Child of the Postmodern Age ( 2007). Email him.

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