On Herder, Human Nature, and the Antifa


Portrait of a loser antifa: “He that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole world about himself.” — Johann Gottfried von Herder, Essay on the Origin of Language, 1772. 

In his Essay on the Origin of Language, the German philosopher Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) undertook a marked departure from earlier ruminations on human nature. Like Plato’s account of the soul, the majority of Enlightenment philosophers tended to see human nature in universal terms, assuming both that rationality was its most significant aspect, and that this rationality was evenly distributed throughout the human population. Man, they argued, was essentially the same creature wherever he was found. Adopting a very different approach, Herder argued that since peoples from different historical periods and cultures varied so much in their concepts, beliefs and abilities, human nature must also be radically different in different cultures. Writing before the discovery of racial and genetic science, Herder argued that broad differences between cultures could be partly explained by two basic observations. The first was that man was indisputably a creature of his herd, society. Or to express is another way, man was, whether he liked it or not, bound to the group from which he was begotten. Secondly, and relatedly, man’s values and sense of himself were shaped by this surrounding society and culture, especially its language.

This notion of the ‘shaping’ of man by his surrounding tribe and its culture led to a further, connected idea of Herder’s — that man was not born ‘complete.’ As Herder expressed it, “a bee was a bee as soon as it built its first cell, but a person was not human until he had achieved completeness. People continued to grow as long as they lived …. We are always in process, unsettled, unsatiated. The essence of our life is never satisfaction, rather always progression, and we have never been human until we have lived to the end.” At the risk of misinterpretation, it is worth stressing that Herder was no existentialist. He did not suggest that we can never be satisfied and therefore that we should each seek to fulfil our own hyper-individual destiny. Rather, Herder argued that this movement towards becoming who we are, our identity, is determined to a great extent by how effectively we fulfil our destiny as part of our group. We can achieve completeness, and that completeness is fulfilled when we become part of our tribe, and play our role in the tribe by passing on its attributes to a new generation. Therefore, our identity, while certainly involving being true to ourselves, has an inescapable national and collectivist dimension to it. This part of our personal identity is handed down to us, and a significant part of who we are is therefore simply not a matter of choice.

Any interference with this process of becoming part of one’s nation would, according to Herder, be catastrophic. He argued that each nation was separate, distinguished by climate, education, custom, tradition, and heredity. Herder wrote that Providence “wonderfully separated nationalities not only by woods and mountains, seas and deserts, rivers and climates, but more particularly by languages, inclinations and characters.” National culture was so crucial to the formation and validity of one’s personal identity and nature that to be without it would render the individual incomplete. “He that has lost his patriotic spirit has lost himself and the whole world about himself. … In a certain sense every human perfection is national.” Becoming a person involves growing and learning to fully identify with one’s culture and values. Only by embracing this growth and identification can one ever discover one’s ‘true’ nature and fulfil one’s destiny.

For Herder the key to this becoming — the make-or-break aide to one’s individual development — was language. Language was developed organically by the group to transmit its cultural essence. Language can determine thought or behavior, and language habits within groups can predispose its members to certain choices of interpretation. Language habits within families or nations can therefore not only transmit factual information about the surrounding world to their youth, but also values and perceptions of the world. A useful example might be the fact that all European languages have a word for ‘love’ and a concept of ‘romantic love.’ The word, and the concept it described, emerged from and reinforced a distinctly European value-set and worldview. By contrast, until their nation was opened up to the infant globalist project in the nineteenth century, the Japanese had no word for ‘love,’ nor anything remotely approaching a cultural concept or understanding of romantic love. Only when western novels were translated into Japanese, introducing this most European of concepts, were the Japanese forced to phoneticize the word as ra-bu. Tellingly, it remains rarely used, and the concept as it exists in Japan would be barely recognized by the European.

Herder’s emphasis on language, values and culture reinforces his view of nationality and human nature: to compose a genuine part of the national entity, it was simply not enough to be a genetic component of it. A German, even one of unadulterated German genetic inheritance, remains not fully German until he has been made ‘complete’ through the transmission of cultural Germanness. This illustrates the precarious nature of individual and national growth being dependent on language, values and culture. Changes and departures in language can interrupt the transmission of values, and they can corrupt the reproduction of the national unit, even if its birth rate might be stable. Or to express it more simply, unless a nation can effectively transmit its values, worldview and culture to its racial progeny, birth rates are irrelevant since the births produce only potential nationals who are never ‘fully formed.’ Such a nation will eventually die.

We see this today. People of European origin might be having children (though at a slower pace than previous generations), but they are not necessarily producing Europeans in the truest sense. By corrupting language, one can introduce a kind of cultural prophylaxis. Cultural prophylaxis will of course lead inevitably to its biological corollary.

Orwell masterfully illustrated this weakness of linguistic and cultural transmission (and anticipated its exploitation) in 1984, where his idea of ‘Newspeak’ is built on the premise that if words and concepts are banned and eliminated, then they cannot be thought. Culture in the world of 1984 was dramatically changed as a result. Words like ‘freedom’ were banned while words like ‘thoughtcrime’ were introduced. Within a generation, Orwell’s society stopped believing in freedom, and started believing in the validity of ‘thoughtcrimes’ as if they were something that had always existed.

Words can of course be ‘hijacked’ or made taboo, as well as created. One need only point to words and phrases like ‘White supremacist,’ ‘Fascist,’ ‘racist,’ ‘hate crime,’ ‘human rights,’ ‘tolerance,’ ‘diversity,’ and ‘multiculturalism’ to make the point that many of our contemporary woes are due to the manipulation of language, and with it the warping of our values and the destruction of our processes of cultural reproduction. Just imagine a world where words like ‘capitalist’ and ‘proletariat’ had never been introduced; a world where such concepts had never taken root.

Herder’s observations about the vulnerability of language seem remarkably consonant with later concerns about language purity and about the impact of Jewish intellectuals on the linguistic lives of European nations. In 1793 Johann Gottlieb Fichte published On the French Revolution, in which he cautioned the nations of Europe to preserve their linguistic purity and accused the Jews of introducing foreign ideas into the European consciousness by speaking in the native tongues of Europe “sugar-sweet words about toleration and human rights and civic rights, by which you infringe on our basic rights.”   In 1819 Jacob Grimm published Deutsche Grammatik, developing Fichte’s ideas on the purity of the German and stressing the unifying force of language as völkische Sprachenheit. Grimm’s book appears to have marked the beginning of a steady increase in the attention paid to language by völkisch thinkers. Many of these scholars and thinkers would later argue against the assimilation of Jews on the grounds that increased use by Jews of the German language would increase the infiltration of Jewish thought into German linguistic culture, diluting and corrupting it.

Herder has occasionally been represented by modern scholars as a cultural relativist, refusing to see one national culture above another, or one race above another. Such biased and subversive interpretations miss entirely the central thrust of his treatment of human nature — that he was greatly concerned with the authenticity of both personal and national identity, and the interdependency of both on language as a mode of cultural transmission and reproduction. In this vein, to Herder the honest African savage could actually be superior to the culturally and racially alienated European because he was more authentic to himself and his nature. The White man who denied his racial and cultural roots in favor of seeing himself as some kind of ‘world citizen’ was a sham and a caricature of a human being; incomplete and ultimately meaningless. There was no ‘world’ one should claim citizenship in; no one single grand ‘human species’ that one could claim to be part of. Or as Herder put it:

The savage who loves himself, his wife and child with quiet joy and glows with joy at the limited activity of his tribe as for his own life, is in my opinion a more real being than that cultivated shadow who is enraptured with the shadow of the whole species. [Emphasis added].

Herder wouldn’t have been fooled by the cultural critiques of Jewish intellectuals and their allies. He believed that there was more truth and virtue in following the time-worn values of one’s family and society than in questioning and criticizing them. He praised the dignity of the organic national community (‘das Volk’) and was critical of fashionable Enlightenment trends that feigned concern for an imagined ‘whole species.’ Assuming that they weren’t calculating foreigners, people who pursued such fashions and ideas were clearly, in Herder’s mind, stunted and incomplete in the development of their human nature. They were alienated from their Folk and its culture. They pursued a false path. They were nothing more than biological shadows chasing ideological shadows.  Herder would have mocked, and been disgusted by, the many ‘world citizens’ who today parade their alien, pathological ‘virtues’ on our streets. These individuals, who in their hubris assume themselves to be the pinnacle of human enlightenment (!), would have been seen by Herder as quite the opposite — lower even than the worst savages that yet inhabit the jungles and rainforests of this Earth.


“I wrestled with my innermost soul: are these people human, worthy to belong to a great nation? … I pondered with anxious concern on the masses of those no longer belonging to their people and saw them swelling to the proportions of a menacing army.”  — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf

Although we in the West have more than our fair share of pathological race-deniers, there is perhaps no greater example of the ‘cultivated shadows’ than the so-called ‘anti-Fascists’ or Antifa. These people may be our genetic brothers and sisters, but they are incomplete members of our nation. They follow a false path that is very distant from that laid down by their ancestors. They feign concern for the ‘whole species,’ as Herder put it, while assisting in the destruction of their own branch of that species. While we are greatly concerned at TOO with the pathological altruism displayed by large numbers of Whites, White anti-Fascists seem to up the ante a considerable degree. Indeed, what we witness among anti-Fascists is not pathological altruism but aggressive pathological self-destruction. This phenomenon deserves closer study.

I believe that Herder’s instruction on human nature can assist in our understanding of White Antifa. Anti-Fascism, ignoring for a moment its manipulators and the occasional befuddled old hippie, is overwhelmingly a youth phenomenon and this is precisely what one would expect of a movement composed of the ‘incomplete.’ The Antifa demographic reflects its immature, stunted and stagnant ideological roots. It is staffed by those who cannot grow. And, for all its pretensions to radicalism, when its members reach middle age and leave the movement, they gracefully re-enter bourgeois liberalism. Here they remain stunted but form part of a larger, quieter, mass of the incomplete. Their ‘radicalism’ is both transient and superficial. As they enter their 30s and 40s, they refrain from confrontational self-destruction, but remain distant from patriotism and alienated from their human nature. They continue to vote, act, and raise children as ‘world citizens,’ and thus remain mere shadows until their day of their miserable and meaningless deaths.

I’ve heard it remarked on more than one occasion that our movement should strive to achieve a younger demographic, and, indeed, so often have I heard this refrain that one would think that we should strive for an overwhelmingly young demographic. I disagree. A young demographic is desirable only to the extent that it might help attract more young people to the cause. But we should also be trying to bring more middle-aged and elderly Whites to the cause. Added to this, I believe that nothing truly lasting, durable and constructive would come from a movement staffed predominantly by those in their early 20s, such as is the case with Antifa. The Antifa can certainly muster numbers of unemployed agitators from this age group for violence against Nationalists, but what have they ever produced or built? What political programme is advanced by Antifa, beyond glib screeching about ‘humanity’ and hysterical bleating about ‘fighting racism’? Antifa is, as its very name suggests, an anti-ideology. It is lacking in imagination. It exists only to destroy. When a body produces cells that grow uselessly, malignantly and destructively, we term it cancer. Antifa is a particularly aggressive and acute cancer in the body of the nation.

By contrast, the fact that we have all age groups represented in our movement, particularly the wisdom of a generation of elders, conveys both its organic nature and its greater claim to ideological truth. It possesses what Herder would have perceived as a natural lifespan. Its appeal is both ageless and timeless. Our movement is in keeping with our human nature. When I was informed late last year that an esteemed veteran of our cause had been assaulted by a contingent of the local Antifa at the NPI conference in Washington D.C., I was not only disgusted with the attack, but also struck by the mental image it conjured up. According to attendee Matt Forney, just before the closing of the conference he was approached by another attendee. The attendee warned Forney that Antifa had posted members at each exit of the conference venue, the National Press Building: “These guys aren’t fighting fair. They’ll gang up on you, sucker punch you, attack the elderly; we’re gonna have to figure out a way to leave without getting attacked. We don’t want them going after our elderly or following people home on the Metro.”

It was the attack on Sam Dickson, one of our movement’s elder statesmen, and the reference by the attendee to “our elderly” that drove home, in my mind, a very pertinent point about the difference between our movement and that of the Antifa. We have, in our movement, a large number of elders who have been through thick and thin, good times and bad, and have stayed the course. They have fought, grown, and worked creatively to adapt our movement for shifting times, and they have been a source of great encouragement and support for younger generations of Nationalists. They have been successful businessmen, scholars, servicemen, educators, artists and lawyers. The incomplete shadows that comprise the Antifa don’t even remotely match their calibre. The targeting of our movement’s elders by opportunistic and cowardly non-entities merely accentuates and makes more obvious the loathing that the dysfunctional have for the healthy. And when these cowards attempt to target those who are alone or over 65? Some photographs of Anti-fascists following a recent Nationalist demonstration in Dover, England say more than words can appropriately convey.

Clashes as anti-immigration groups including the National Front (NF) and the English Defence League (EDL) protest in Dover. In an attempt to disrupt the far-right, anti-fascist groups including Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Kent Anti-Racism Network (KARN) hold a counter-protest. Featuring: View Where: Dover, United Kingdom When: 30 Jan 2016 Credit: WENN.com

Clashes as anti-immigration groups including the National Front (NF) and the English Defence League (EDL) protest in Dover, UK. In an attempt to disrupt the far-right, anti-fascist groups including Unite Against Fascism (UAF) and the Kent Anti-Racism Network (KARN) hold a counter-protest.

Another ‘shadow’ European receives instruction in reality

I am in full agreement with the concept of pathological altruism as it affects White populations globally. As we seek to better understand this phenomenon, Herder’s philosophical rather than scientific exploration of patriotism and ethnocentrism may offer a valuable and complimentary addition to the manner in which we analyze and interpret self-destructive White behavior. I remain convinced that we must never fail to acknowledge the importance of alien ideological influence over White populations, and this is certainly a poison that needs to be exposed and reckoned with. However, to me it appears inarguable that we are prone to sick levels of ethno-masochism. Herder’s ideas about patriotism and transmission of culture and values may shed further light on how the capture of our culture in the twentieth century could be so catastrophic to the sense of racial identity among our youth. It may explain why we find ourselves, on so many occasions, fighting ethnic brothers and sisters who seem barely human. It explains why they are mere shadows of what they could and should have been.


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