Western Civilization

The West is Desperately in Need of a New Elite: A Review-Essay of Maurice Muret’s The Greatness of Elites, Part 2

Go to Part 1.

The Handsome and Good Greek 

Why are the images of the gods of non-Western civilizations monstrous, or unimpressive, or thirsting for blood? Why are they somewhat pedestrian? Look at the gods of the Aztecs, Africans, Hindus, Chinese, Mesopotamians. It is partly because of the subordinate personality of these people, their lack of free individuality, which made men feel small and powerless in face of the mysterious powers of the unknown, and this psychological state instilled fear and terror. The Greek Olympian gods reflect a radically new state of being. The Greek aristocratic culture—in which every noble was equal in dignity and free to exercise his talent and seek glory—instilled respect among its members, a dignified sense of self, an awareness of what is highest among humans; and this state of being led the aristocratic Greeks to envision their gods in humanistic terms, “removed from the mysteries, from the chthonic darkness and ecstasy” of the earth, as Bruno Snell puts it.

The free individuality of the aristocrats, their unwillingness to submit to despotic rulers, allowed the Greeks to conquer the monstrosity and grossness of the underground, to overcome the crude superstitions of the peasants, to leave the dark powers of the earth, and envision instead sky-dwellikng Olympian gods in charge of order, justice, and beauty. The dark forces, the chthonian elements, which retained their power among Greek peasants and within the old psyche of the Greeks, manifested in their bacchanalian festivals and drunken revelries, would sometimes regain their power, but in Greek art and in the Platonic philosophy of seeking perfection, it was the Olympian gods who set the standards. The Olympian gods are noble in their attractiveness and grandeur, combining in their personalities “vitality, beauty, and lucidity”.

This provides a context for understanding Muret’s argument that the ideal or perfect man for the aristocratic elite of ancient Athens was defined by the term “kalokagathia”, by which it was meant the harmonious combination of bodily, moral and spiritual virtues, the “handsome and good Athenian,” beauty with goodness united. This Athenian man was frugal and sober. He was not cruel; if slaves were inflicted with torture, it was for a reason, not for the sake of pleasure, as it was for Eastern tyrants. While the Athenian would open his doors to the shipwrecked person, pity “was a condemnable weakness”. Avoiding all excess, knowing oneself, doing everything in moderation, was a supreme wisdom. Fanaticism was shunned. A handsome and good man had to express himself with “facility and elegance”. The ancient Greek language had a “sonority, a harmony, a suppleness that no language has ever surpassed”. These men envisaged death with serenity, “without excessive anguish”.

The Athenian was a father but also a citizen, an active participant in the politics of his city state, rather than a mere private person. “The young Athenian lived in the public square, the gymnasium, the spas, in the gardens where he met other young people and where he was instructed at the feet of beloved masters”. Their civic dedication to their city was not oppressive; “born subtle and insubordinate, the Greek had a great deal of the critical spirit”. This culture rose in the sixth century BC, and reached full bloom in the fifth century in Athens. Decadence began in the late fifth century, as young men began deserting the gymnasiums for gaming houses, neglecting the exercises “that maintained that sovereign balance between the body and the soul from which was born the nobility and the greatness of the Athenian civilization”. The Macedonian conquests, the turn towards the East, the absorption of the Greek mainland within the Roman empire, would increase the taste for luxury and a private life, diminishing the virtues of the Athenians.

The Roman (and Greek) Citizen-Farmer-Soldier

The senatorial aristocracy had guided the state, not primarily by virtue of natural right, but by virtue of the highest of all rights of representation—the right of the superior, as contrasted with the mere ordinary man.[1]

Whatever could be demanded of an assembly of burgesses like the Roman, which was not the motive power, but the firm foundation of the whole machinery—a sure perception of the common good, a sagacious deference to the right leader, a steadfast spirit in prosperous and evil days, and, above all, the capacity of sacrificing the individual to the general welfare and common comfort of the present for the advantage of the future—all these qualities the Roman community exhibited in so high a degree that, when we look to its conduct as a whole, all censure is lost in reverent admiration.[2] Theodor Mommsen, The History of Rome, vol. 2

There is a common image about the Roman elite consisting of a “patrician” class with a privileged noble status giving it exclusive access to the main offices of the republic and owning large tracts of land worked by slaves captured in their conquests, while excluding the rest of the general body of free Roman citizens, the plebians, small landowners often in debt. Maurice Muret has it right: “the Roman citizen was originally a man given to working in the fields who took to arms when his territory of Latium or the city of Rome, seat of the royalty, was threatened.” The patricians were originally men who worked the land and constituted the Roman army. These patricians were “aristocratic” but for many centuries they were not men living off the labor of others, though they did have more land, and did hire laborers, and later used slave labor in their extended landholding as Rome defeated one rival after another and thereby accumulated land. The elite Muret is focusing on is that of the Republic, which lasted for about 500 years, starting in the sixth century BC. The “austere crucible” in which the soul of the Roman patrician farmer-soldier was formed was a mixture of rural life and camp life; “commerce and the arts were not worthy of those truly free men; … agricultural work conferred on the one who exercised it an undeniable nobility.” “A Roman citizen, no matter how poor he was, was honoured if he lived on the land, cultivated his estate, raised a numerous family.”

Moreover, while it is true that “originally there was no equality between…the patricians belonging to the…senate and the plebeians, considered as foreigners to the city, deprived like the slaves of all civil and political rights”,  eventually “the plebeians raised their head and claimed their rights”.

Muret does not get into this. But it is worth emphasizing that the Roman patrician aristocracy was open to talent. Beginning in the fifth century, the patricians granted the plebeians the right to annually elect their own leaders, the right to appeal to the people and hold plebiscites binding on the whole community, and the right to marry patricians. During the 300s, plebeians were successively allowed to become consults, censors, praetors, pontiffs, and augurs; and, by 300, they had achieved substantial equality with the patricians, with both patricians and the upper plebeians becoming wealthy landowners. The struggle between classes would henceforth be between the “nobiles” consisting of large landowning and commercialized patricians and plebeians, and the poorer plebeians. These nobiles were far removed from their former austere lives of patricians as farmers, though some would retain to the last days of the Republic the values that made Rome great in the first place.

Before I write about these values, as Muret sees them, it should be emphasized that a class of citizen farmers was also a reality in ancient Greece. In fact, only in Western civilization (beyond ancient times) do we find a legacy of family-owned, privately held, small-to-medium homestead farms. In the ancient civilizations of the Near East, and the civilizations of the world thereafter, including India, China, and the Americas, the ruler and his court of blood relatives, administrators and provincial elites, owned most of the land. They had huge estates, from which they extracted taxes and rents from slaves, serfs, indentured servants, or from faceless peasants with tiny plots owned by their clans. It was Greece, roughly between 700 and 300 BC, that saw the emergence of “an autonomous group of independent farmers” for the first time in history, as Victor David Hanson argues in The Other Greeks, The Family Farm and the Agrarian Roots of Western Civilization (1999).

Muret tends to identify the elite with citizens living in urban areas attending gymnasiums, engaged in athletic contests and discussions, and as creators of art. But perhaps we should integrate the farmers of Greece as members of the elite. If Muret thinks the Roman patrician farmers constituted the founding elite of Republican Rome, the ones who created the virtues that sustained this civilization for centuries, why ignore completely the citizen farmers of ancient Greece, who did enjoy rights as full citizens and took on the defense of their communities? Independent farming instilled upon Greeks the ideal that the true test of manhood, of having a good character, is the ability to sustain a family farm, postpone pleasures today, have self-control and patience, for the sake of ensuring the fruits of one’s hard work in the future.

Citizen farmers, then, were not unique to Rome but also a key component of the elite culture of ancient Greece, though in Rome agrarian values went deeper into the soul, whereas in Greece there was an urbane aristocratic culture of artists, philosophers, literary writers, and scientists. This point is important because beyond Greece and Rome, homestead family farms were an important proportion, in varying degrees, of northwestern European medieval-modern agriculture, and of the settler states of America, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. Only in Western history do we find farmers, the famous “yeomen” who owned their own land and rose gradually to play a role in the industrialization of the West. The image of yeomen farmers as honest, hardworking, virtuous and independent played a significant role in Western republican thought, which originated in Rome. The founding fathers of the U.S., Jefferson and others, believed yeomen were “the most valuable citizens” trusted to be committed to republican values, as contrasted to financiers, bankers, industrialists with their “cesspools of corruption” in the cites.

Another reason to bring up the citizen farmers of Greece is they represented a new consciousness of moderation and justice between the extremes of wealth and poverty, in opposition to the excessive wealth and unrestrained militaristic behavior of power-hungry aristocrats prone to disrupt the unity of city-states by pursuing the interests of their own clan. Muret recognizes that elites without a sense of justice, duty to their own people, respect for tradition, order and prudence, are bound to become parasitic and effeminate in their decadent affluence, as was the case with non-Western elites. Solon, the great Athenian statesman of the early sixth century, is remembered for passing laws aimed at overcoming the endless, divisive squabbling of clannish aristocratic men in the name of harmony, the interests of the middling segments of the farming population, good order, avoidance of extremes, and the insatiable desire for more honors and wealth on the part of tyrannical rich men. He aimed to promote the general good of the city-state. To this end, debt slavery was abolished and those who had been sold abroad were allowed to return as free men. The intention was to support a free, self-sufficient middling class of farmers against the greed of big landowners.

Connected to these citizen farmers, the reforms by Solon, and subsequent reforms by Cleisthenes and Pericles, is the fact that fifth-century Athens was quite democratic, though not in the sense of universal suffrage and mass popular cultural values, but in the extent to which the state was open to participation by citizens, comprising about one-third of the population, excluding slaves, women, and alien residents. Every decision had to be approved by a popular assembly; every judicial decision was subject to appeal to a popular court of some fifty-one citizens, and every official was subject to public scrutiny before taking office.

By the same token, this should not detract us from the reality that Athens remained a city ruled by a small elite of aristocratic families with the means, knowledge and leisure to regulate the affairs of the state. Moreover, an aristocratic spirit of beauty, honor, and heroism permeated Greek life, as Muret correctly points out.

Finally, emphasizing the citizen farmers is also crucial to understanding the origins and nature of the “republican” form of government of Rome, characterized by a balance between monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. An aristocratic class freed from a despotic ruler does not guarantee a republican government. In their primordial tendencies, aristocratic governments are oligarchic rather than republican, although republicanism presupposes the higher (senatorial) authority of a class of aristocrats. Roman aristocrats despised any noble among their ranks who elevated himself above their peers to rule in the interests of the lower classes. Like the Greeks, they viewed aristocrats who attacked the privileges of their noble peers and sought the popular support of plebeians, as tyrants. But, as the plebeians gained substantial equality in citizen rights through the 300s BC, a “democratic” element was added to the Roman government. This democratic element was controlled by the upper plebeians, not the lower landless plebs, which became a mob in the city of Rome. The monarchical element came in the annual election by the Senate of “Consuls” with extensive powers, often holding in wartime the highest military command. The Founding Fathers of the United States Constitution self-consciously assumed the Roman mantle of “res-publica” as their guiding principle of a government organized for the “public good”.

The values of the Roman citizen-farmer-soldier Muret admires were rooted in the austere rural life of its independent farmers. This life gave these men an “undeniable nobility”, a conservative temperament with a “taste for continuity and traditions”, and exhibiting “extreme piety”. We may add to Muret’s observations that not only were people expected to participate in state-sponsored religious rituals and festivals, but each Roman family was expected to perform daily rituals honoring their ancestors and placating various gods. The patrician farmer was seen as a venerable paterfamilias, the high priest of his own household religion. These customs and rites sustained and reinforced Roman identity and greatness for centuries. Romans also developed a very strong sense of civic identity. The patricians saw themselves both as members of their extended families and clannish patron-client groups, and as members of the Roman republic. For a long time they served their city as a matter of public service with patriotic devotion and without seeking to enrich themselves. “In war, the most affluent wished to fight in the front rank”. Muret estimates that “of all the human societies of antiquity,” the most devoted, honest and competent functionaries of the state were the Romans.

The highest virtue of the Romans was virility, strength, energy, self-control, patience in misfortune and sacrifice for the public good. Roman civilization, says Muret, was “more valuable than those it defeated”. In contrast to Carthage, which was maritime and mercantile, a “city of luxury and pleasure”, with an army of mercenaries from multiple places, Rome was a land-based culture with an army of citizen soldiers who identified with Rome and fought for Rome rather than for private gain. “Rome did not make war in the name of a bloody god that it claimed to be the instrument of” but “in the name of the moral superiority of the Roman citizens over peoples that did not yet belong to Rome”. The conquered within Italy who were closely related ethnically to the Romans, it should be added, were gradually granted the same citizenship rights, a precondition for serving in the army.

But as Rome grew rich from its successes and vast amounts of wealth started pouring in, masses of slaves were pushed into working the lands of the rich, while at the same time soldier-farmers were losing their farms from neglect after years of military service and from debt. Moreover, many in the upper classes were involved in commercial undertakings, acting as tax-farmers milking the provinces, the old Roman spirit of discipline, austerity, and virility slowly died away. Muret does not go into this, but it worth noting that the decline of the Roman character is a pervading theme of Roman historiography; already apparent in Cato the Elder (234–149 BC), author of Origins, of which only fragments survive, about the beginnings of Rome up until the victory over Macedonia in 168 BC. Cato eulogized the “Spartan” austerity and simplicity of the early men who built Rome, and lamented the effeminate influence of Greek learning. In the first century BC, Sallust (86–35 BC) saw the old Roman virtues of frugality and piety decline under the influence of luxury and Asiatic indulgences and taste. As Ernst Breisach notes in his Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern, “Growing love of money and the lust for power which followed it engendered every kind of evil. Avarice destroyed honour, integrity and every other virtue, and instead taught men to be proud and cruel, to neglect religion and to hold nothing too sacred to sell. … Rome changed: her government, once so just and admirable, became harsh and unendurable”.[3]

The empire certainly lasted a few more centuries until the fifth century AD, demonstrating the remaining greatness of Rome as it declined slowly. Of all the elites Muret examines, the republican Roman elite was indeed the longest lasting, 500 years counting only the Republican era, not the Imperial era that began in the first century AD. This enduring elite should thus be added as another major achievement of Rome, in addition to its famous aqueducts, invention of concrete, creation of the most sophisticated system of roads in the ancient world, its arches, which allowed the weight of buildings to be evenly distributed along various supports in the construction of their bridges, monuments and buildings, the Julian Calendar, its systematic compilation of juristic writings (corpus juris civilis), and its new types of surgical tools.

But it may be that Rome’s greatest legacy was the honor of its citizen-farmer elite, which cannot be taken away from them.

The Liberated Personality of the Renaissance

The next elite Muret celebrates, from Renaissance Italy, a period covering roughly the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries, represents “the blossoming of the human species”, resuscitating in some respects the Roman virtues of virility, courage, and energy—with the difference that these were the “first modern men” in their “exaltation of the liberated personality”, “the primacy of the self”. Muret is clearly following Jacob Burckhardt’s well-known thesis that the Renaissance gave birth to modernity because it gave birth to individualism. In the Middle Ages, Burckhardt wrote, “man was conscious of himself only as a member of a race, people, party, family, or corporation. … In Italy this veil first melted into air … Man became a spirited individual, and recognized himself as such.” Among the humanists, the painters, architects, and condottiere, he observed “an unbridled subjectivity,” men obsessed with fame, status, appearances. This nurtured an intense self-awareness, unlike their medieval forebears, who were trapped within a collective identity.

Muret does say that in Rome “individualism never prevailed. The submission to the civic ideal began there from the top.” It is a common view that “freedom” in ancient Greece also consisted in the right of citizens to participate in political assemblies, choose their leaders and voice their views, without a modern conception of the right of individuals to enjoy “negative liberties” as private citizens to peacefully pursue their own lifestyle and happiness without interference from the state. This is true; freedom in ancient times was primarily civic in character. He is postulating a higher degree of individualism and free personality among the men of the Renaissance. Muret however is careful not to dismiss the achievements of the Middle Ages, briefly mentioning the attenuating effects on barbarism of the new ethos of chivalry along with “the critical spirit” of the scholastic method with its dialogical way of ascertaining the merits and flaws of different answers. He recognizes the major contribution of Christianity to the humanization of European elites with its virtues of compassion, fidelity, humanity piety, and sincerity, although he knows that even if Machiavelli expediently called upon princes to exhibit these qualities, the more powerful traits of the Renaissance condottiere, the Italian captains in command of mercenary companies, were ambition, excessive pride, and pursuit of power without scruples

The history of the gradual emergence of Western individualism is very intricate. Colin Morris in The Discovery of the Individual, 1050–1200 (1972) and Larry Siedentop in Inventing the Individual (2017) both believe that “the Western view of the value of the individual owes a great deal to Christianity”, for this was a religion that recognized every individual as worthy of dignity and emphasized the inner conscience and obligation of each person to lay himself open to God. Aaron Gurevich in The Origins of European Individualism (1995) goes further back in time for a latent conception of the human personality seen in the representation of the hero in the pagan Germanic, Scandinavian, Icelandic, and Irish epics of the early Middle Ages. In such sagas, the very idea of the hero speaks of accomplishments performed by a particular name, his acts as an individual and whether they bring him glory and reputation.

Nevertheless, the Renaissance does witness, as Muret says, “an excess of the self”, a belief, in the words of Leon Battista Alberti, that “what man wants he can do”. This was the ideal of the courtier, “equally given to the works of the mind and to the exercises of the body”, trained in riding horses and fencing, educated in the Classics and the fine arts, able to use elegant and brave words, with proper bearing and gestures, and a warrior spirit. Pico della Mirandola argued that central to the dignity of man was the exercise of the free will that God gave man: “You can descend to the level of the beast and you can raise yourself to becoming a divine being”. In the non-Western world, one was born with a pre-given role in life, predetermined norms and forms of behavior, without free will. But we should not forget that before recent decades, the free will of man entailed formidable duties and obligations to aristocratic virtues and respect for ancestors. Only thusly could the Renaissance have produced such a magnificent sequence of great men: Petrarch, Masaccio, Lorenzo de’ Medici, Donatello, Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Machiavelli, Michelangelo, Brunelleschi, Raphael, Titian.

The Gentilshommes of Seventeenth Century-France

The fourth elite Muret chooses may strike some as unusual: it is not the elite of the Spanish “Golden Age”, from about 1580 to 1680, the age of the great conquistadores led by Hernán Cortés and Francisco Pizarro, the magnificent painters El Greco and Velázquez, and the celebrated novel Don Quixote by Cervantes. It is neither the elite of Elizabethan England in the 1500s, Francis Bacon, Walter Raleigh, William Shakespeare and Francis Drake. It is the French gentilhomme of the 1600s, men who “delighted in cordial and cheerful conversations”, strongly influenced by the bourgeois urbane values of civility, who knew the art of pleasing the ladies with good conversations, men of letters without being pedantic, able to play the lute, the guitar, and games of chance, men of leisure who did not work to eat—benevolent, tolerant and welcoming.

Muret’s choice reflects his belief that the seventeenth century was the greatest cultural age of France, above the commonly known eighteenth-century Enlightenment. This was the age of La Rochefoucauld, famous for his Maximes, a collection of 500 epigrammatic reflections on human behaviour in which he sees self-interest as the source of all actions; Jean Racine, known for his great tragedies, from Bérénice (1670) to Iphigénie (1675); Blaise Pascal, best known for his Pensées;  the comic genius Molière; Pierre Corneille, the writer of classical tragedies, Horace (1640), Cinna (1643), and Polyeucte (1643), and René Descartes, one of the greatest mathematicians and philosophers in human history. Muret mentions women, including Catherine de Vivonne, marquise de Rambouillet, known for hosting the salon Hôtel de Rambouillet, praised in her day “as a model of respectability, wisdom, gentleness”. Corneille read his tragedies at her salon.

For Muret, this “polite society” was truly aristocratic despite its integration with the bourgeoisie. There was “nothing popular” about this age. Whereas Shakespeare and Schiller in Germany appealed to the hearts of the masses, Racine and Corneille consciously addressed a very exclusive audience. Unlike the men of the next century, Voltaire, Rousseau, Diderot, they were not interested in moralizing and changing society. Muret sees a healthier form of reasoning in this age, not the glorification of reason of the Enlightenment, which sought to recreate society from the ground up out of ideas concocted by intellectuals in complete disregard for tradition, order, and prudence. In Muret’s view, seventeenth-century France achieved the right combination of “innate good taste, acquired refinement, unconscious aestheticism, triumphant reason [of the Cartesian kind which sought to understand nature], and unshakeable good sense”.

For Muret, Mme. de Lafayette and her “masterpiece” novel, La Princesse de Clèves is fully infused with the ideal of the true gentlemen of the age. “The Princess of Clèves is almost a saint by virtue of being a gentlewoman. All her words, her acts betray what one should indeed call that ‘ideal of reason’, the last word in wisdom. … Nothing is more classical than the conception of life in general, and of love in particular, that emerges from The Princesse de Clèves. And in this pure ideal what moral superiority to the sensational and subversive novelties that Romanticism was to set in fashion two centuries later”. The Princesse de Clèves, which I enjoyed reading during the lockdown summer of 2020, is recognized as the “first novel” in French, the prototype of the “modern novel” in its depth of psychological analysis, a quality of which is how feelings are conveyed through internal monologue. Muret could have explored this as a new facet in the exaltation of the individual, this time by way of an “internal dialogue,” that is, the rise of a voice inside one’s head that self-consciously examines one’s thoughts and feelings and subjects them to critical analysis, on the way towards making a decision. In nonwestern societies, this voice barely developed. The voices non-Westerners hear are the voices of pre-established feelings, norms, conventions, not the voices of a self deciding what to do through its own inner reflections. This inner self was to become the source of much creativity in the West, though ultimately it is a very dangerous path, as we are witnessing now, to cut off the self from the surrounding world into a world within that is nevertheless controlled, no longer by traditions and heritage, but by “limbic capitalist” corporations.

The English Victorian Gentleman

The English gentleman of the Victorian era is the fifth and last elite Muret celebrates. Why does Muret define this elite as “aristocratic” even though it was born after the liberal Glorious Revolution of 1688, which established the principles of frequent parliaments and freedom of speech within Parliament, and even though he believes that this elite came to rule Britain only during the mid-nineteenth century when the industrial revolution was spreading and voting rights were being expanded to the middle classes—and even though he believes that this elite was still dominant in the 1930s when he wrote his book.

Muret notes that in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries there was a British aristocracy “in the sense of noble blood and military customs”. But this class disappeared, and a new “gentry” class that esteemed money and bourgeois comfort over military honor and virtue emerged. This new class with its “rather low ideals” would remain rather uncouth for some time, acquiring refined and courteous manners only slowly during the eighteenth century. By the Victorian age a new aristocratic elite “open to all sorts of talents”—but including big landowners with prestigious family pedigrees—had consolidated itself with new ideals. These were still “practical, down-to-earth” ideals, a fine country house, honest and healthy occupations, but with a strong civic commitment for the laws of the land, piety towards God, and a well-disposed to advance the well-being of the community as a way of showing themselves worthy of their wealth.

Notwithstanding their individualism—their unique “history of liberty”, the British had a strong “group consciousness” in their insular island, a national identity nurtured by their apartness from continental Europe. “On the continent, nobles and bourgeois, workers and peasants detest and fight one another. Not in England; they support one another, but even while maintaining their distance, they are capable of acting in common for the general interest.” The same individualist gentleman who believes in liberty and careers open to talent is “rigorously conformist, respectful of all the rules and all the institutions, the gentleman will bow lower before the most ancient and the most sacred: the monarchy”. This conformism, it should be noted, was not tribal or based on kinship ties; it was conformism to the voluntary or contractually based associations and rules created by the modern Brits.

This group consciousness came along with snobbism, “the superstitious respect for social positions, the caste spirit raised to a system”, which Muret sees as an attribute that has allowed, and will continue to allow, this elite to mould British society for a long time. This snobbism entailed a “high notion of his duties as a man … towards God, towards his neighbour, even towards himself”. “The obligation to comport oneself and maintain one’s respectability … a mask of impassibility … no effusion in public … a hearty handshake and not these resounding kisses that fill the continental railway stations with sounds that seemed vulgar”. This gentleman is “something of a sinner, but he will keep his sin to himself and his partner; he will sin behind doors, secretly”. “To keep one’s mouth shut is indeed an English ideal, just as to speak a lot is a Latin ideal”.

A preference for manly sports at the expense of the intellect was another attribute of this elite. Practical results, accomplishments, were more important than beautiful ideas. Artists and intellectuals can’t be trusted, “they change laws and customs all the time”. Muret notes the seriousness with which English schools took sports, not only to keep young men fit, but to teach them rules, combined with corporal punishment, “they box and they whip, they do fist-fights and wield the cane,” which has nurtured an English temperament that can be “ferocious and indomitable” when there is a need to act. “To act when one must, to refrain when one must, to intervene at the right moment, is a veritable science that is simple only in appearance”.

This English elite made concessions to feminism “with benevolence, from a gentleman to a lady, in a chivalrous spirit, if not a gallant one … but the gentleman has not, for all that, been dashed from his throne. His authority remains the keystone of the edifice”. Yet, a few years after Muret wrote this, the Victorian gentlemen disappeared, England lost its empire, and now it is in a state of self-flagellation about its patriarchal, imperialistic, and racist past. Vilfredo Pareto’s famous observation is quoted in the opening page of The Greatness of Elites: “History is a cemetery of aristocracies”. The difference is that the British elite of the post-World War II years willingly went about condemning and destroying this Victorian heritage for a Britain made up of Africans, Muslims and Asians. Though Britain still produces many White Olympic winners, a culture of genocidal self-denigration, without parallels in history, prevails at the top.

Can We Learn Something Today About the German Elite Between 1750–1914?

So, having read about great elites in history, which one do you prefer? Or, which one has qualities, virtues, that can be realistically adapted to our current times? The answer may seem self-evident enough, the British. They are closest to us in time, existing within a liberal representative society that was undergoing rapid modernization—but then this elite disappeared suddenly, without leaving a legacy. Still, one lesson we can learn from the British case, while it lasted, is that it did showcase for posterity a strong sense of group consciousness and civic conformism in a society that was otherwise liberal in the classical sense of this word.

Many on the right talk about becoming “tribal again” without realizing that tribalism among Whites has been slowly eroded since ancient times, and demolished with the imposition of monogamy and abolition of polygamous clan networks by the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages, which led to formation of many civic associations, towns based on citizenship, universities and monasteries, contractual business partnerships. We already see the concept of citizen in the ancient Greek city-states, above tribal identities, developing further in Rome’s republican form of government. But it is worth realizing that, as the British case shows, this civic unity prevailed as long as strong monogamous families existed and there was a strong sense of civic identity within a nation state that presupposed in its origins an ethnic core and a Christian religion, with most citizens deeply rooted in their local communities, marrying and having children, attending schools where they were proud of a British identity.

Muret blames the “masses”, “socialism” and the enlargement of the state. But we may want to examine the inbuilt progressive logic of liberalism, how this ideology has continually been pushing for “progressive reforms”, the elimination of all traditional restraints against freedom of choice, the extension of individual rights to “oppressed minorities”, the promotion of equal voting rights to everyone irrespective of standards, the demonization of aristocratic elites as “hierarchical”, the promotion of the notion that everyone is equally capable and that inequalities are a function of illiberal privileges and monopolies, the allocation of special rights to overcome “systemic inequalities,” the idea that everyone in the world has “human rights” including the right to a nationality of their choice—coupled with a capitalist economy that reduces everyone to rootless consumers and producers, and melts all that is solid into thin air.

I believe that Germany, from about the 1750s to 1914, provides an example of an elite that we can learn from. Muret, a French man, clearly has an animosity towards Germany, though he recognizes its immense cultural achievement during this period. The ideal of this elite can be summed up with the word “Bildung”, which means a state that consciously strives to nurture what Goethe called “the higher human being within us”. Muret dislikes the militarism of this Germany, how it was based on “the exaltation of the masses to the detriment of the individual”, citing Nietzsche’s criticism of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s government, which culminated in World War I. We can agree with Muret insofar as Germany did take a turn in the 1930s and 1940s that was excessively militaristic and against “the good European”.

But before 1914, Germany was the only powerful White nation attempting to create a path that would come to terms with modernity, while advocating a nationalism that emphasized the priority of the freedom of Germans as a people over the rights of abstract individuals. This rejection of the universalist pretensions of Enlightenment liberalism did not amount to a rejection of modernity. The Germans of the post-1850s were the most advanced Europeans in science, technology, military power, levels of education, and culture generally. Germans wanted a path that would be balanced with its unique history, respect for aristocratic authority, together with a propertied and cultured middle class, working in unison with a powerful state acting in the interests of the Germans, with the highest capacity for independence and strength among the competing powers of the world, rather than a state acting at the behest of a dominant capitalist class pursuing its own interests, or at the behest of a democratic mob easily controlled by private companies and media. At the same time, Germans during this period enjoyed considerable individual liberties, universities were open to merit; there as a constitutional monarchy, rule by established procedure, a high degree of economic freedom, and a truly dynamic cultural atmosphere which encouraged the full development of individuality in culture.

It will be very hard for Western nations to recapture the aristocratic-citizen virtues of their past. We are heading into a high-tech, AI-controlled society, driven by the imperatives of capitalist globalism with socialist provisions and mandated racial equity. Can we learn something from the Russian and Chinese elites in their adoption of the newest technologies without embracing Western liberalism? Or is the West inherently liberal, irremediably committed to individual rights? The only way out, as I see it, is a state of affairs characterized by persistent societal breakdown, widespread racial tension, discontent, and delegitimization of the current elite, leading towards a serious consideration of an alternative beyond liberalism.

[1] Theodore Mommsen, The History of Rome, vol. 2, trans. W. P. Dickson (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894), 386.

[2] Ibid., 403–404.

[3] Ernst Breisach, Historiography: Ancient, Medieval, and Modern (University of Chicago Press, 1983).

The West is Desperately in Need of a New Elite: A Review-Essay of Maurice Muret’s “The Greatness of Elites,” Part 1 of 2

A request for me to review Maurice Muret’s The Greatness of Elites could not have come at a more opportune time. I have been thinking a lot about the treacherous character of our ruling class and the possibility of envisioning a new elite capable of leading us out of our ethnocidal trajectory. The masses on their own can’t reverse it, and neither can isolated and powerless dissidents who are educated but have no financial power and no political network within the upper classes.

In Russia a small group of Marxists managed to persuade a wide proportion of the Russian-Jewish educated classes to join them, with considerable influence inside the universities and across the middle and educated classes and professions. This is not the case today in the West. The most we have are some mainstream conservatives who agree with the fundamentals of the left. Dissidents have very little intellectual capital. Educated Whites, school teachers, university professors, doctors, scientists, lawyers, the middle classes, are almost invariably liberal. There are strong chances for populist political movements, but as crucially important as populists are in challenging the worst excesses of liberalism, populism wants a return to an earlier version of liberalism, say, the 1990s version, and even if they take power, all the institutions and the deep state, will remain controlled by the left and the globalist capitalist rulers. Every peasant revolt in history has been suppressed without support from above. Peasants and Parisian shopkeepers and artisans played an important role in the French Revolution of 1789, but it was the “Third Estate” nurtured by the Enlightenment, combined with the power of the bourgeoisie, with its growing wealth, that made the revolution in law and political structures possible. The Trucker Convoy was defeated in Canada without even the support of the Conservative Party, little or untrustworthy support from the mainstream media and the educated professional groups.

These questions have made me think about the nature of the ruling classes at other periods in Western history. There is a strong inclination against elites even among dissidents, rooted in the democratic impulse of Whites, their inclination for equality, despite their statements to the contrary. Nevertheless, in comparison to today’s elites, we can point to various points in American history when the elites were worthy of great admiration. It has been argued by Tom Cutterham in Gentlemen Revolutionaries: Power and Justice in the New American Republic (2017) that the American Revolution was led by men who set themselves above the ordinary, common man—by the merchants, lawyers, planters, and landowners who comprised the independent republic’s elite. Status, “not ideology or equal rights,” motivated these men who emphasized hierarchy and obedience in the 1780s. It can’t be denied, however, that the ideology these men proposed, natural rights liberalism, was about equality, and that their ideal was about the pursuit of private comfort, happiness, pleasure, and riches.

Maurice Muret’s The Greatness of Elites, originally published in 1939, and now published by Arktos, offers only five examples of elites deserving the highest admiration, and Americans are not included. Alexander Jacob, who translated this book with an introduction, deserves much praise for bringing Muret’s book to our attention. I had never heard of Muret. That’s how efficient liberalism has been suppressing the most educated men proposing ideas that question liberal democratic politics. Jacob is the translator of a number of similarly neglected authors and books, including The Future of the Intelligentsia & For a French Awakening by Charles Maurras, The Significance of the German Revolution by Edgar Julius Jung, and several of his translation have appeared in The Occidental Observer and The Occidental Quarterly. He has also written a number of important books about Richard Wagner, Indo-European mythology, Henry More, and, indeed, an essay-book entitled, Nobilitas: A Study of European Aristocratic Philosophy from Ancient Greece to the Early Twentieth Century (2001). This study praises in particular the aristocratic philosophy and “racialistic elitism” of Germany in the nineteenth to early twentieth century.

Muret’s greatest elites in history, however, exclude the Germans. His choice of the best five elites may surprise you:

  • The “handsome and good” Athenian citizen of the age of Pericles, fifth century BC.
  • The “realistic, practical and virile” Roman citizen during the long Republican period.
  • The Renaissance “humanist” courtier with his pride and “liberated personality”.
  • The cordial, pleasant, conversationalist French “gentilhomme” during the age of Louis XIV.
  • The “snobbish” British gentleman of the Victorian age with his fine house, honest occupations, respect for the laws, piety, and love of manly sports.

These elites were capable of moulding society in their own image. Muret believes that without elites there can’t be great periods in history. Democracy and equality of rights are bound to destroy the capacity of elites to mould their nations in their own image, for they imply liberation of the “naturally perverse instincts” of the masses and the creation of tyrannies based on appeals to these instincts by populist demagogues.

The Limbic Capitalist Western Elite

So what exactly are the attributes that Muret found in these elites? Let’s start by saying that the current Western ruling classes are devoid of all the attributes the above elites had. They are simultaneously agents of the imperatives of capitalist global accumulation and ideological advocates of immigration replacement and transexualism. The other day Conrad Black, a wealthy businessman, penned an article allaying fears about the rise of China claiming that the US is the greatest nation in history and that it will resume its advance in the next administration, without displaying any worries about the decomposition of American education, the systematic looting and killings by Blacks, the widespread drug addiction, the spread of uninhabitable cities, and the migrant invasion into the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia. Vdare has just presented evidence showing “that some 145,695 white people—including 35,000 women—have been killed by blacks in the last 53 years”! Conrad Black, a member of the Western elite, is most likely benefitting from this state of affairs. The Pew Research Center reported in 2020 that “income growth was the most rapid for the top 5%” of Americans between 1971 and 2019, which coincided, I might add, with the intensification of mass immigration. On the other hand, the share of American adults who live in middle-income households decreased from 61% in 1971 to 51% in 2019.

Condemning the “capitalist ruling elite” is not popular in conservative and even dissident circles, which prefer blaming leftist professors, journalists, and antifa. Samuel Francis, James Burham, and Paul Gottfried have written about the “therapeutic managerial” elite of the US with its concern with government intervention in favor of welfare, regulation of citizens’ private lives, and enforced political correctness. Lately the term “anarcho-tyranny” introduced by Francis in the 1990s has been the subject of discussion after Tucker Carlson used it. The observation is that Western governments don’t mind allowing criminals to break the law, even if this creates a climate of fear, for what the elite really cares about is regulating the thoughts and lives of law-abiding citizens, imposing stricter limits on gun ownership, enacting hate speech laws, and forcing diversity and rainbow flags.

My disagreement with this view is that it is still caught up with the notion that we have a socialistic/welfare state and a ruling class that is “therapeutic” while ignoring the reality of capitalist ownership and globalism. The elites in charge not only control governments; they are extremely wealthy individuals controlling vast amounts of resources in finance, media, drugs and AI robotics. These individuals welcome welfare therapy, political correctness, and diversity hiring in the lower managerial positions as long as the imperatives of capitalist accumulation are obeyed. This is no longer, as Francis observed, a capitalist class rooted in towns and nations, family oriented, and church-going, but a rootless internationalist class. Perhaps we can call Western elites “limbic capitalists” dedicated to making citizens addicted to consumption by producing “health-demoting products that stimulate habitual consumption and pleasure for maximum profit”. This elite accesses consumers “routinely through everyday digital devices and social media platforms…designed to generate, analyse and apply vast amounts of personalised data in an effort to tune flows of online content to capture users’ time and attention, and influence their moods, emotions and desires in order to increase profits”.

This limbic capitalist elite knows that social media is “central to young people’s socialising, identities, leisure practices and engagement in civic life.” During Covid lockdowns the elite saw large increases in users and traffic, realizing more than ever how it can control totally the minds of consumers by intensifying marketing online and driving online purchases and deliveries of products with limbic appeal that can turn consumers into gambling addicts, sex addicts, internet addicts, and food addicts, completely trapped within the logic of capitalist accumulation. Of course, there is more to the economy than limbic products, but limbic capitalists are the most capable of moulding the minds of Westerners, and thus the ones with “ruling class” power.

Individualism of Western Elites

I believe the only way to escape from the controls of this limbic capitalist elite is through the creation of a new traditionalist elite that makes the collective freedom of European citizens, their heritage, culture, and customs, a priority over the individual rights of private citizens. The difficulty is that the elites of the West have not been commonly traditionalist in the manner of elites in non-Western nations. This becomes apparent in the way Muret defines his five best elites. First, it should be said that for Muret the biggest threat, at the time he was writing, was the rise to political influence of the masses. He believes the Great War, and the formation of powerful socialist states, was a “great victory of the masses over the elites” across the West, with the Soviet Revolution constituting the highest expression of the hegemony of the masses. He feared that Bolshevism would bring down “the Western fortress founded on the rights of the individual … whose essential merit consists in the production, through the centuries, of certain types of eminent individuals”.

Muret, who is a Frenchman by ethnicity, does not like the Fascist elites of Italy and the Third Reich, accusing them of “collectivism, statism, socialism”. The Third Reich was “deprived of personality and regimented”. Is Muret a liberal individualist? No, he is an aristocratic individualist who rejects equal individual rights. What’s the difference between aristocratic individualism and democratic individualism? One of the great difficulties in understanding the West is that this civilization always had room for the expression of personality even when, as was the case in Rome and Athens, individuals were persons only as members of a civic collective. For ancient Athenians, “freedom” was understood to mean the right of the free citizen to participate in the political deliberations of city affairs. And while the Athenians did contrast their ability to engage in critical discussions with the “despotism of Asia”, they lacked the modern idea of freedom as the right of the individual to be left alone to choose his own goals.

It is true that Aristotle valued a contemplative philosophical life, but he did not think that individuals could be worthy of admiration in their private pursuits. There is more, however, to Muret’s conception of an aristocratic personality beyond political membership, and this is why he praises as one of the best elites in history the Athenian over the Spartan aristocracy. In the latter, members of the elite lacked a “free personality” in their complete subsumption under a militaristic collectivist state. There is something else to the “free personality” of the Athenians. We will see that it has to do with their overall “humanist ideal”, which is about striving to express the highest abilities in art, philosophy, literary creations, not just in military and political affairs.

Muret recognizes that, at the beginning of the 1900s, the German nation “was still one of the most cultivated and civilised of Europe.” “It counted in all fields scholars of a remarkable competence and a scrupulous conscience”. But he objects to the “mass regime” that was soon installed in Germany before 1914, and during the Third Reich, which was “deprived of personality and regimented”. The rest of Europe had been falling as well to the “rising tide of the masses” since the Great War of 1914. Bolshevism sanctified the “divine right of the masses”, and the spread of socialism in the West threatens to do the same. But while collectivism and statism are reaching a peak under socialist nations, regimes without aristocratic personalities, without devotion to humanism, have been the norm throughout the nonwestern world. What is new about Western post-Enlightenment times, which led to the eventual rise of socialistic states, with the exception of England, is that the masses had started to become an actual reality with industrialization and, what is worse, a reality that was juridically “gloried” in the French Revolution of 1789 with its proclamation of the Rights of Man.

Didn’t the French Rights of Man sanctify the right of individuals to be free, the right to choose their own governments, freedom of religious and political expression against an oppressive state? Here’s the cardinal difference between aristocratic and democratic individualism. The masses are simply not capable of having a free personality, of making their own decisions. In societies with universal suffrage, the opinions of the masses are taken to be true and forced upon the rest of the population. But are the masses really in control in a democratic society? While Muret’s prose is very literary and pleasant, as translated by Jacob, his arguments are not analytically presented, as I am arguing in this review; but he has a quotation from the Soviet paper Pravda which is very revealing: “The new man is not formed of himself. It is the Party that directs the entire process of social remoulding and of the re-education of the masses”.

Hasn’t this happened in the liberal West today with the relentless advertisement of companies in combination with a therapeutic and multicultural state deciding for everyone what the accepted values are? The mass man can’t mould himself, so a state dedicated to the masses is in charge of moulding everyone alike in their “free choices”, abolishing the possibility for free aristocratic personalities.

Of course, it is more complicated than this, since in a liberal society each individual lifestyle (as long as it does not infringe on the same right of others) is accorded equal moral dignity. There is no elite to mould the society according to humanist ideals; instead, the administrators of contemporary Western states shape individuals into pursuing their own lifestyle without setting up standards—except the standard that anyone who questions progressive free choice will not be tolerated, which means that traditional aristocratic values will not be tolerated as common values for the society. The aristocracy Muret has in mind co-existed for centuries during the modern era with the bourgeoisie, and for a long time with a Christian religion that cherished ancient humanism, in “respect for tradition, the cult of the family, the spirit of order, prudence and economy”. These values are not tolerated in a mass demos controlled by progressive administrators and businesses seeking to encourage everyone to pursue their own lifestyle.

Go to Part 2.

Tristan Tzara and the Jewish Roots of Dada — Part 2 of 3

Tristan Tzara depicted in a contemporary painting

Go to Part 1.

Dada in Paris

By 1919, when Tzara left Switzerland to join the poet André Breton in Paris, he was, according to Richter, regarded as an “Anti-Messiah” and a “prophet”.[1] His 1918 Dada Manifesto had appeared in Paris, and, according to Breton, had “lit the touch paper. Tzara’s 1918 Manifesto was violently explosive. It proclaimed a rupture between art and logic, the necessity of the great negative task to accomplish; it praised spontaneity to the skies.”[2] The editors of the avant-garde literary review Littérature felt that Tzara could fill the gap left by the deaths of Guillaume Apollinaire and Jacques Vaché. Gale notes that “Tzara immediately became the most extreme contributor to Littérature,” and by the end of 1919, “the Littérature editors had to defend his work from nationalistic attacks in the Nouvelle Revue Française.”[3] A coordinated Dada insurgency was not, however, achieved until Tzara’s arrival in Paris in 1920.

In addition to his messianic zeal, Tzara brought to Paris Dada a skill in managing events and audiences, which transformed literary gatherings into public performances that generated enormous publicity. In the five months from January 1920 he helped organize six group performances, two art exhibitions and more than a dozen publications. Dempsey notes how “the popularity of these events with the public soon turned these revolutionary ‘anti-artists’ into celebrities. The cumulative effect of this first ‘Dada season’ as it became known, was to mark the movement as a nihilistic collective force leveled at the noblest ideals of advanced society.”[4] The performances with which Dadaists tested their Parisian audiences were consistently aggressive in nature, and psychological aggression characterized many of their artworks and journals. As one source notes: “Like the plays and stage appearances, individual works produced within Dada emanate a violent humor, ranging from vulgar to sacrilegious language to images of weapons and wounds, or references to taboos great and small: suicide, cannibalism, masturbation, vomiting.”[5]

Tzara (bottom left) with other Dada artists in Paris 1920

It was widely observed at the time that the output of Paris Dada exhibited a “profound violence: physical hurt, damage to language, a wounding of pride or moral spirit,” that to native observers seemed wholly “uncharacteristic of French sensibility.”[6] Comoedia, a Parisian arts daily focused on theatre and cinema, soon became the central forum for debates over Dada and its effects on French audiences. Charges of enemy subversion, lunacy and charlatanism regularly appeared — just as it did in many German newspapers — pretexts to isolate what seemed to many a traitorous insurgency against bedrock national values.[7] Attacks on Dada in Paris soon took on an openly anti-Semitic tone when the French writer Jean Giraudoux, in explaining his rejection of Dada, pointed out: “I write in French, as I am neither Swiss nor Jewish and because I have all requisite honors and degrees.”[8]

The French cultural establishment looked askance at Dada from its arrival in Paris at the beginning of 1920. It was common knowledge that the Dadaists were avowed partisans of revolution and supported the communist uprisings in Berlin and Munich that had barely been put down. Trotsky’s red legions were, at that time, cutting a swathe of death and destruction in Poland, and many perceived a conjoined ethnic agenda behind Trotsky’s Bolshevism and Tzara’s Dada — especially given Dada’s appearance at socialist and anarchist venues throughout Paris. The connection was unambiguous in the mind of the Romanian nationalist Nicolae Rosu who noted that “Dadaism and French Surrealism exploit the moral and spiritual exhaustion of a war-torn society: the aggressive revolutionary currents in art seem to be an explosion of primal instincts detached from reason; post-war German socialism, largely developed by Jews, uses the opportunity of defeat to dictate the Weimar constitution (written by a Jew), and then through Spartakism, to install Bolshevism. Russian Bolshevism is the work of Jewish activists.”[9]

In October 1920, the messianic Jewish Dadaist Walter Serner arrived in Paris and reconvened with Tristan Tzara, who had just returned from his first visit to Romania since 1915. Serner’s campaign of shameless self-promotion, which included placing an advertisement in a Berlin newspaper describing himself as the world leader of Dada, was resented by Tzara, who was eager to establish his own priority as leader. By 1921, many of the original Dadaists had converged on Paris, and arguments among them created difficulties. By 1922, internal fighting between Tzara, Francis Picabia, and André Breton led to the dissolution of Dada.[10] Dada was officially ended in 1924 when Breton issued the first Surrealist Manifesto. Hans Richter claimed that “Surrealism devoured and digested Dada.”[11] Tzara distanced himself from Surrealism, disagreeing with its dream-centered Freudian dynamic, despite its anti-rationalism. Robert Short notes that

for Tzara, automatism [literary and artistic free association] was a visceral spasm, an explosion of the senses and the instinct that expressed the primitive and chaotic intensity in man and Nature. Where Surrealist automatism was introverted and sought to reveal patterns in the human unconscious, Dada art mimicked an objective chaos. … Surrealism was to prospect and exploit a vast substratum of mental resources which the Western cultural and economic tradition had deliberately tried to seal off. In place of science and reason, Surrealism was to cultivate the image and the analogy. In its efforts to restimulate the associative faculties of the mind, it turned its attention with respect and enthusiasm toward the thought processes of children and primitive peoples, towards the lyrical manifestations of lunacy and the synthesizing notions of occultism.[12] 

Tzara also increasingly disagreed with the political orientation of Surrealism which evolved from the near-nihilist anarchism of the Dadaists to a strict adherence to the Communist Party line by the late 1920s, and then to Trotskyism following Breton’s personal meeting with Trotsky in Mexico in 1938.[13] Nonetheless, Tzara willingly reunited with Breton in 1934 to organize a mock trial of the Surrealist Salvador Dalí, who, at the time, was a confessed admirer of Hitler.[14]

Left: Adolf the Superman: Swallows Gold and Spouts Junk by John Heartfield (Herzfeld) (1923). Right: ABCD by Raoul Hausmann (1923—24)

Tzara’s own politics were profoundly radical, and with Hitler’s ascension to power in 1933 effectively marking the end of Germany’s avant-garde, Tzara threw his support behind the French Communist Party (the PCF). Codrescu notes that the secular Jews of Tzara’s parents’ generation “were capitalists whose practical materialism horrified Samuel. The French resistance to the Nazis was, of course, the reason he later joined the Communist Party, but there was also an oedipal reason for his joining the communists: as a mystic, he was viscerally opposed to capitalism. He had to kill his father.”[15] The allegiance of the great majority of Dadaists to Marxism was paradoxical given that Marxist dialectical materialism and forecast of the historical inevitability of communist revolution was based on a kind of mathematical rationalism that ran directly counter to the Dada spirit.

Tzara’s allegiance to Marxism-Leninism was reportedly questioned by the PCF and the Soviet authorities. This was because Tzara’s irregular vision of utopia made use of particularly violent imagery — shocking even by Stalinist standards.[16] Tzara backed Stalinism and rejected Trotskyism (at least publically), and unlike some of the leading Surrealists, even submitted to PCF demands for the adoption of socialist realism during the writers’ congress of 1935. Tzara nevertheless interpreted Dada and Surrealism as revolutionary currents, and presented them as such to the public.[17]

During World War II, Tzara took refuge from the German occupation forces by moving to the southern areas controlled by the Vichy regime. Back in Romania, he was stripped of Romanian citizenship, and his writings were banned by the Antonescu regime, along with 44 other Jewish-Romanian authors. In France, the pro-German publication Je Suis Partout made his whereabouts known to the Gestapo. In late 1940 or early 1941, he joined a group of anti-Nazi and Jewish refugees in Marseille who were seeking to flee Europe. Unable to escape occupied France, he joined the French Resistance and contributed to their published magazines, and managed the cultural broadcast for the Free French Forces clandestine radio station.

During 1945, he served under the Provisional Government of the French Republic as a representative to the National Assembly, and two years later received French citizenship. Tzara remained a spokesman for Dada, and in 1950 delivered a series of radio addresses discussing the topic of “the avant-garde revues in the origin of the new poetry.”[18] Towards the end of his life Tzara returned to his Jewish mystical roots, with Codrescu noting that “after the Second World War, after the Holocaust, after membership of the French Communist Party, Tzara returned to the Kabbalah.”[19]

In 1956, Tzara visited Hungary just as the hated government of Imre Nagy faced a popular revolt (with strong undercurrents of anti-Semitism), and while receptive of the Hungarians’ demand for political liberalization, did not support their emancipation from Soviet control, describing the independence demanded by local writers as “an abstract notion.” He returned to France just as the revolution broke out, triggering a brutal Soviet military response. Ordered by the PCF to be silent on these events, Tzara withdrew from public life, and dedicated himself to promoting the African art he had been collecting for years. He died in 1963 and was buried in the Montparnasse cemetery in Paris.

Dada in New York and Germany

According to the account of Marcel Duchamp, in late 1916 or early 1917 he and Francis Picabia received a book sent by an unknown author, one Tristan Tzara. The book was called The First Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine which had just been published in Zurich. In this work, Tzara declared Dada to be “irrevocably opposed to all accepted ideas promoted by the ‘zoo’ of art and literature, whose hallowed walls of tradition he wanted to adorn with multicolored shit.”[20] Duchamp later recalled: “We were intrigued but I didn’t know who Dada was, or even that the word existed.”[21] Tzara’s scatological message was the catalyst for the establishment of the antipatriotic and anti-rationalist Dada message in New York, and it may well have informed Duchamp’s decision to submit his infamous Fountain to the Society of Independent Artists in New York.

In 1917, Duchamp famously sent the Independent an upside-down urinal entitled Fountain, signing it R. Mutt (famously photographed by Alfred Stieglitz). By doing so, Duchamp directed attention away from the work of art as a material object, and instead presented it as an idea — shifting the emphasis from making to thinking. He later did the same with a bottle rack and other items. Through subversive gestures like these, Duchamp parodied the Futurist machine aesthetic by exhibiting untreated objets trouvés or readymade objects. To his great surprise, these readymades became accepted by the mainstream art world.

Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain (1917)

Alongside the Frenchman Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968) and the French-born Cuban Francis Picabia (1879-1953) were the American Jews Morton Schamberg (1881-1918) and Man Ray (1890-1977). The work of the New York Dadaists was focused around the gallery of the Jewish photographer Alfred Stieglitz and his publication 291, and the art collectors Walter and Louise Arensberg. Picabia later described this group as “a motley international band which turned night into day, conscientious objectors of all nationalities and walks of life into an inconceivable orgy of sexuality, jazz and alcohol.”[22] They hotly debated such topics as art, literature, sex, politics and psychoanalysis. Dada in New York stayed in contact with Dada in Zurich, though it ultimately failed to take hold, and in 1921 Man Ray wrote to Tzara, complaining that “Dada cannot live in New York. All New York is Dada and will not tolerate a rival, will not notice Dada.”[23]

Most of the artists of New York Dada left for Paris. Man Ray arrived there in July 1921, shortly after Duchamp, and remained there until 1940, becoming the youngest member of the Paris Dada group, and later of the Surrealists, even though this did not reflect any real modification of his art. With the arrival of Duchamp and Man Ray in Paris, New York Dada, which had not engaged in the kind of militant cultural protest seen in the European centers of Dada, came to an end. Their experiences were not dissimilar to those of other Dadaists “who were swept along, as they were, by the vehemence of André Breton into the coils of the new Surrealist movement which was, in many ways, an offspring of Dada.”[24]

Early in 1917, Richard Huelsenbeck, a twenty-four-year-old German medical student and poet, returned to Berlin from Zurich, where he had spent the preceding year in the company of the Zurich Dadaists under the leadership of Tristan Tzara. After the war ended, Dada activity in Germany increased as Dadaists dispersed to various sites throughout the country including, most prominently, Berlin, Cologne and Hanover. In Germany, alongside George Grosz, Walter Mehring, Johannes Baader, Hannah Höch and Kurt Schwitters were Jews like Johannes Baargeld (1876–1955), Raoul Hausmann (1886–1971), and Eli Lissitzky (1890–1941).

The political radicalism of the Berlin Dadaists was even more pronounced than that of the Zurich or Paris Dadaists, with most belonging to the League of Spartacus, a radical socialist group that became the German Communist Party in 1919. German Dada was also closer to the Eastern European avant-garde led by Jewish artists like Eli Lissitzky and László Moholy-Nagy. The new Soviet state that emerged after the Bolshevik Revolution initially adopted a policy in favor of radical experimentation. In Berlin, more than anywhere outside the Soviet Union, “a direct equation could be made between political reform and artistic radicalism. Despite the seeming absurdity of some of their activities, the Dadas’ reinvention of poetic language and artistic form could be seen as a prelude to reforming the whole of the decayed social system.”[25] A Dada Manifesto by Huelsenbeck and Hausmann, published in a Cologne newspaper, declared that Dada “is German Bolshevism”[26] and that “Dadaism demands: the international revolutionary union of all creative and intellectual men and women on the basis of radical Communism.” [27]

The Berlin Dadaists even condemned the Weimar Republic as representing a renaissance of “Teutonic barbarity,” and held Communism to be the best hope for freedom.[28] Robert Short notes that, among the German Dadaists, were those for whom “Dada was a political weapon and those for whom communism was a Dadaistical weapon. There was a faction which saw anarchy and anti-art as a sufficient programme in itself, and a second faction which saw anarchy as a provisional precondition for the introduction of new values.”[29]

Falling into the latter category was Johannes Baargeld. Born Alfred Emanuel Ferdinand Gruenwald to a prosperous Romanian-Jewish insurance director, “Baargeld” was the ironic, leftist pseudonym he adopted (Baargeld being the German word for cash or ready money). Growing up in Cologne in a wealthy home, he was exposed from a young age to contemporary art and culture, beginning with his parents’ collection of modernist paintings. He joined the Independent Socialist Party of Germany (USPD) — the radical left wing of the Socialist Party — and in the process “turned his back on his wealthy bourgeois upbringing and became actively involved in the leadership of the Rhineland Marxists.”[30]

Baargeld (also called “Zentrodada”) and Max Ernst cofounded Dada in Cologne in the summer of 1919. Baargeld’s father was anxious about his son’s political leanings and sought Ernst’s help. Robert Short notes that: “They succeeded in convincing him that Dada went further than Communism and that its combination of new-found inner freedom and powerful external expression could do more to set the whole world free. In return, Grunewald senior financed the publication of a new international Dada magazine Die Schammade.”[31]

In April 1920, Cologne Dada staged one of the most memorable of German Dada’s exhibitions. Entered by way of a public lavatory, it included “exhibits” like a young girl in communion dress reciting obscene verses, and a bizarre object by Baargeld consisting of an aquarium filled with red fluid from which protruded a polished wooden arm and on whose surface floated a head of woman’s hair.[32] The First International Dada Fair was held in Berlin in June 1920, and was the most significant Dadaist event organized in the Berlin milieu. The radical political orientation of the organizers was illustrated by a mannequin of a German officer with the head of a pig hanging from the ceiling with a notice “Hanged by the revolution,” which triggered fierce debate about its subversive and anti-military character.[33]

The First International Dada Fair in Berlin in 1920

Given such provocative gestures and the extensive Jewish participation in Dada, it was not surprising that, between the two world wars, German nationalists linked Dada (and avant-gardism generally) to Jews, claiming these modern trends aimed to destroy the principles of classical beauty and eradicate national traditions. The Dadaists were said to express the “nihilistic Jewish spirit” (a common phrase at the time), if they were not actually mad. In response to the activities of Jewish Dadaists, “calls for ‘degenerate’ art to be banned were widely published in pre-Nazi and later in Nazi Germany, as well as in France.”[34]

Interestingly, Mein Kampf was composed by Hitler at the time of Paris Dada’s existence, and his comments about Jewish influence on Western art need be understood in this context. He mentions the “artistic aberrations which are classified under the names of Cubism and Dadaism,” and clearly has the Dadaists in mind when he observes that “Culturally, his [the Jew’s] activity consists in bowdlerizing art, literature and the theatre, holding the expressions of national sentiment up to scorn, overturning all concepts of the sublime and the beautiful, the worthy and the good, finally dragging the people to the level of his own low mentality.”[35] Likewise, when he recalls how he once asked himself whether “there was any shady undertaking, any form of foulness, especially in cultural life, in which at least one Jew did not participate?,” he subsequently discovered that “On putting the probing knife carefully to that kind of abscess one immediately discovered, like a maggot in a putrescent body, a little Jew who was often blinded by the sudden light.”[36]

In 1933, Hitler’s new government announced that: “The custodians of all public and private museums are busily removing the most atrocious creations of a degenerate humanity and of a pathological generation of ‘artists.’ This purge of all works marked by the same western Asiatic stamp has been set in motion in literature as well with the symbolic burning of the most evil products of Jewish scribblers.”[37] At the exhibition of degenerate art held in Munich in 1937 the Dadaist works were considered the most degenerate of all — the epitome of Kulturbolschewismus. In that year the Ministry for Education and Science published a pamphlet in which Dr. Reinhold Krause, a leading educator, wrote that “Dadaism, Futurism, Cubism, and other isms are the poisonous flower of a Jewish parasitical plant.”[38]

Hitler and Goebbels at the Degenerate Art Exhibition of 1937

British historian Paul Johnson points out that: “Hitler always referred to degenerate art as ‘Cubism and Dadaism’, maintaining that it started in 1910, and the ‘Degenerate Art’ exhibition bore a curious resemblance to the big Dada shows of 1920-22, with a lot of writing on the walls and paintings hung without frames.”[39] He also notes that the Nazi campaign against “degenerate art” was “the best thing that could possibly have happened, in the long term, to the Modernist Movement.” This is because since the Nazis, universally reviled by all governments and cultural establishments since 1945, tried to destroy and suppress such art completely, then its merits were self-evident morally, and anything the Nazis opposed was assumed to have merit — on the illogical basis that the enemy of my enemy must be my friend. “These factors,” notes Johnson, “so potent in the second half of the twentieth century, will fade during the twenty-first, but they are still determinant today.”[40]

The Legacy of Dada

Dada’s destructive influence has been seminal and long-lasting. As Dempsey points out, Dada’s notion that: “The presentation of art as idea, its assertion that art could be made from anything and its questioning of societal and artistic mores, irrevocably changed the course of art.”[41] The movement represented “an assertive debunking of the ideas of technical skill, virtuoso technique, and the expression of individual subjectivity. … Dada’s cohesion around these procedures points to one of its primary revolutions — the reconceptualization of artistic practice as a form of tactics.”[42] These tactics consisting, variously, of “intervention into governability, that is, subversions of cultural forms of social authority — breaking down language, working against various modern economies, willfully transgressing boundaries, mixing idioms, celebrating the grotesque body as that which resists discipline and control.”[43]

Dada’s iconoclastic force had enormous influence on later twentieth-century conceptual art. Godfrey notes that: “Dada can be seen as the first wave of conceptual art” which exercised an enormous influence on subsequent art movements. [44] In the late 1950s and 1960s, in opposition to the then dominant Abstract Expressionism and Post-Painterly Abstraction, Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns resurrected the Dadaist tradition, describing the works they produced as “Neo-Dada” — a movement that, together with the “pre-emptive kitsch” of Pop Art, effectively relaunched the conceptual art of the original Dadaists, and which has plagued Western art ever since. The Neo-Dadaists themselves left a deeply influential Cultural Marxist legacy insofar as their

visual vocabulary, techniques, and above all, their determination to be heard, were adopted by later artists in their protest against the Vietnam War, racism, sexism, and government policies. The emphasis they laid on participation and performance was reflected in the activism that marked the politics and performance art of the late 1960s; their concept of belonging to a world community anticipated sit-ins, anti-war protests, environmental protests, student protests and civil rights protests that followed later.[45]

Another pernicious influence of Dada stemmed from its rejection of the identity between art and beauty. Crepaldi notes that “many artists before Dada had called into question the aesthetic canons of their contemporaries and had proposed other canons, destined to meet varying degrees of success.” The Dadaists went beyond this, and called into question “the notion according to which the goal of art is the expression of a value called ‘beauty.’”[46]

The Dadaists thus legitimized the idea that the artist has a right (nay a duty) to produce ugly works, and instituted a cult of ugliness in the arts that has since eroded the cultural self-confidence of the West.

Go to Part 3.

Brenton Sanderson is the author of Battle Lines: Essays on Western Culture, Jewish Influence and Anti-Semitism, banned by Amazon, but available here.

[1] Richter, Dada. Art and Anti-art, 168.

[2] Fiona Bradley, Movements in Modern Art — Surrealism (London: Tate Gallery Publishing, 2001), 18-19.

[3] Gale, Dada & Surrealism, 180.

[4] Janine Mileaf & Matthew Witkovsky, “Paris,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 349.

[5] Ibid., 358.

[6] Ibid., 350.

[7] Ibid., 352.

[8] Ibid., 366.

[9] Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, 174.

[10] Dempsey, Styles, Schools and Movements — An Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art, 119.

[11] Richter, Dada — Art and Anti-art, 119.

[12] Robert Short, Dada and Surrealism (London: Laurence King Publishing, 1994), 69; 83.

[13] Patrick Waldberg, Surrealism (London: Thames & Hudson, 1997), 18.

[14] Carlos Rojas, Salvador Dalí, or the Art of Spitting on Your Mother’s Portrait (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1993), 98.

[15] Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, 215.

[16] Beitchman, I Am a Process with No Subject, 48-9.

[17] Irina Livezeanu, “From Dada to Gaga: The Peripatetic Romanian Avant-Garde Confronts Communism,” Mihai Dinu Gheorghiu & Lucia Dragomir (Eds.), Littératures et pouvoir symbolique (Bucharest: Paralela 45, 2005), 245-6.

[18] Hockensmith, “Artists’ Biographies,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 489.

[19] Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, 211.

[20] Michael Taylor, “New York,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 287.

[21] Pierre Cabanne, Duchamp & Co., (Paris: Finest SA/Editions Pierre Terrail, 1997), 115.

[22] Taylor, “New York,” 278.

[23] Hockensmith, “Artists’ Biographies,” 479.

[24] Schnapp, Art of the Twentieth Century — 1900-1919 — The Avant-garde Movements, 412.

[25] Gale, Dada & Surrealism, 120.

[26] Bernard Blisténe, A History of Twentieth Century Art (Paris: Fammarion, 2001), 62.

[27] Dawn Ades, “Dada and Surrealism,” David Britt (Ed.) Modern Art — Impressionism to Post-Modernism, (London, Thames & Hudson, 1974), 222.

[28] Edina Bernard, Modern Art — 1905-1945 (Paris: Chambers, 2004), 86.

[29] Robert Short, Dada and Surrealism (London: Laurence King Publishing, 1994), 42.

[30] Doherty, “Berlin,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 220.

[31] Short, Dada and Surrealism, 42.

[32] Robert Short, Dada and Surrealism (London: Laurence King Publishing, 1994), 50.

[33] Schnapp, Art of the Twentieth Century — 1900-1919 — The Avant-garde Movements, 399.

[34] Philippe Dagen, “From Dada to Surrealism — Review” (The Guardian, July 19, 2011). http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2011/jul/19/dada-to-surrealism-dagen-review

[35] Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf (trans. By James Murphy), (London: Imperial Collegiate Publishing, 2010), 281.

[36] Ibid., 58.

[37] Peter Adam, Arts of the Third Reich (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1992), 55.

[38] Ibid., 12-15.

[39] Paul Johnson, Art — A New History (New York: HarperCollins, 2003), 707.

[40] Ibid., 709.

[41] Dempsey, Styles, Schools and Movements — An Encylopaedic Guide to Modern Art, 119.

[42] Dickerman, “Introduction & Zurich,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 8.

[43] Ibid., 11.

[44] Godfrey, Conceptual Art, 37.

[45] Dempsey, Styles, Schools and Movements — An Encyclopedic Guide to Modern Art, 204.

[46] Gabriel Crepaldi, Modern Art 1900-1945 — The Age of the Avant-Gardes (London: HarperCollins, 2007) 195.

Tristan Tzara and the Jewish Roots of Dada — Part 1 of 3

Tristan Tzara (Samuel Rosenstock)

The twentieth century saw a proliferation of art inspired by the Jewish culture of critique. The exposure and promotion of this art grew alongside the Jewish penetration and eventual capture of the Western art establishment. Jewish artists sought to rewrite the rules of artistic expression — to accommodate their own technical limitations and facilitate the creation (and elite acceptance) of works intended as a rebuke to Western civilizational norms.

The Jewish intellectual substructure of many of these twentieth-century art movements was manifest in their unfailing hostility toward the political, cultural and religious traditions of Europe and European-derived societies. I have examined how the rise of Abstract Expressionism exemplified this tendency in the United States and coincided with the usurping of the American art establishment by a group of radical Jewish intellectuals. In Europe, Jewish influence on Western art reached a peak during the interwar years. This era, when the work of many artists reflected their radical politics, was the heyday of the Jewish avant-garde.

A prominent example of a cultural movement from this time with important Jewish involvement was Dada. The Dadaists challenged the very foundations of Western civilization which they regarded, in the context of the destruction of World War One, and continuing anti-Semitism throughout Europe, as pathological. The artists and intellectuals of Dada responded to this socio-political diagnosis with assorted acts of cultural subversion. Dada was a movement that was destructive and nihilistic, irrational and absurdist, and which preached the overturning of every cultural tradition of the European past, including rationality itself. The Dadaists “aimed to wipe the philosophical slate clean” and lead “the way to a new world order.”[1] While there were many non-Jews involved in Dada, the Jewish contribution was fundamental to shaping its intellectual tenor as a movement, for Dada was as much an attitude and way of thinking as a mode of artistic output.

Writing for The Forward, Bill Holdsworth observed that Dada “was one of the most radical of the art movements to attack bourgeois society,” and that at “the epicenter of what would become a distinctive movement… were Romanian Jews — notably Marcel and Georges Janco and Tristan Tzara — who were essential to the development of the Dada spirit.”[2] For Menachem Wecker, the works of the Jewish Dadaists represented “not only the aesthetic responses of individuals opposed to the absurdity of war and fascism” but, invoking the well-worn light-unto-the-nations theme, insists they brought a “particularly Jewish perspective to the insistence on justice and what is now called tikkun olam.” Accordingly, for Wecker, “it hardly seems a coincidence that so many of the Dada artists were Jewish.”[3]

It does seem hardly coincidental when we learn that Dada was a genuinely international event, not just because it operated across political frontiers, but because it consciously attacked patriotic nationalism. Dada sought to transcend national boundaries and deride European nationalist ideologies, and within this community of artists in exile (a “double Diaspora” in the case of the Jewish Dadaists) what mattered most was the collective effort to articulate an attitude of revolt against European cultural conventions and institutional frameworks.

First and foremost, Dada wanted to accomplish “a great negative work of destruction.” Presaging the poststructuralists and deconstructionists of the sixties and seventies, they believed the only hope for society “was to destroy those systems based on reason and logic and replace them with ones based on anarchy, the primitive and the irrational.”[4] Robert Short notes that Dada stood for “exacerbated individualism, universal doubt and [an] aggressive iconoclasm” that sought to debunk the traditional Western “canons of reason, taste and hierarchy, of order and discipline in society, of rationally controlled inspiration in imaginative expression.”[5]

Tristan Tzara and Zurich Dada

The man who effectively founded Dada was the Romanian Jewish poet Tristan Tzara (born Samuel Rosenstock in 1896). “Tristan Tzara” was the pseudonym he adopted in 1915 meaning “sad in my country” in French, German and Romanian, and which, according to Gale, was “a disguised protest at the discrimination against Jews in Romania.”[6] It was Tzara who, through his writings, most notably The First Heavenly Adventure of Mr. Antipyrine (1916) and the Seven Dada Manifestos (1924), laid the intellectual foundations of Dada.[7] Tzara’s Dadaist Manifesto of 1918, was the most widely distributed of all Dada texts, and “played a key role in articulating a Dadaist ethos around which a movement could cohere.”[8]

Tzara’s Dada Manifesto of 1918

In his book Dada East: The Romanians of Cabaret Voltaire, Tom Sandqvist notes that Tzara’s intellectual and spiritual background was infused with the Yiddish and Hassidic subcultures of his early twentieth-century Moldavian homeland, and how these were of seminal importance in determining the artistic innovations he would institute as the leader of Dada. He links Tzara’s revolt against European social constraints directly to his Jewish identity, and his perception of the Jewish population of Romania (and particularly of his native Moldavia) was cruelly oppressed by anti-Semitism. Under Romanian law, the Rosenstocks, a family of prosperous timber merchants, were not fully emancipated. Many Russian Jews settled in Romanian Moldova after being driven out of other countries and lived there as guests of the local Jews who only became Romanian citizens after the First World War (as a condition for peace set by the Western powers). For Sandqvist, the treatment of Jews in Romania fueled an attitude of revolt against the socio-political status quo in Tzara, and this was fully consistent with the anarchist impulses he exhibited at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich and later in Paris.

Agreeing with this thesis, the ethnocentric Jewish poet and Dada historian, Andrei Codrescu, claims the supposedly ubiquitous anti-Semitism suffered by Romanian Jews like Tzara extends into the present day, insisting: “The Rosenstocks were Jews in an anti-Semitic town that to this day does not list on its website the founder of Dada among the notables born there.” This is considered all the more egregious given that, despite its marginality, Tzara’s hometown Moineşti is, in Codrescu’s opinion, “the center of the modern world, not only because of Tristan Tzara’s invention of Dada, but because its Jews were among the first Zionists, and Moineşti itself was the starting point of a famous exodus of its people on foot from here to the land of dreams, Eretz-Israel.” For Codrescu, Tzara’s Jewish heritage was of profound importance in shaping his contribution to Dada.

The daddy of dada was welcomed at his bar mitzvah in 1910 into the Hassidic community of Moineşti-Bacau by the renowned rabbi Bezalel Zeev Safran, the father of the great Chief Rabbi Alexandre Safran, who saw the Jews of Romania through their darkest hour during the fascist regime and the Second World War. Sammy Rosenstock’s grandfather was the rabbi of Chernowitz, the birthplace of many brilliant Jewish writers, including Paul Celan and Elie Weisel [both of whom wrote about the Holocaust]. … Sammy’s father owned a saw-mill, and his grandfather lived on a large wooded estate, but his family roots were sunk deeply into the mud of the shtetl, a Jewish world turned deeply inward.[9]

For Codrescu, Tzara was one of the many “shtetl escapees” who was “quick to see the possibility of revolution,” and he became a leader within “the revolutionary avant-garde of the 20th century which was in large measure the work of provincial East European Jews.” Crucially, for shaping the intellectual tenor of Dada, Tzara and the other Jewish exiles from Bucharest like the Janco brothers “brought along, wrapped in refugee bundles, an inheritance of centuries of ‘otherness.’”[10] This sense of “otherness” was rendered all the more politically and culturally potent given the “messianic streak [that] drove many Jews from within.” Codrescu notes that: “By the time of Samuel’s birth in 1896, powerful currents of unrest were felt within the traditional Jewish community of Moineşti. The questions of identity, place and belonging, which had been asked innumerable times in Jewish history, needed answers again, 20thcentury answers.”[11] In this need for answers lay the seeds of Dada as a post-Enlightenment (proto-postmodern) manifestation of Jewish ethno-politics.

Tristan Tzara in Romania in 1912 (far left) with Marcel and Jules Janco (third and fourth from left)

While there is some controversy over who exactly invented the name “Dada,” most sources accept that Tzara hit upon the word (which means hobbyhorse in French) by opening a French-German dictionary at random. “Da-da” also means “yes, yes” in Romanian and Russian, and the early Dadaists reveled in the primal quality of its infantile sound, and its appropriateness as a symbol for “beginning Western civilization again at zero.” Crepaldi notes how the choice of the group’s name was “emblematic of their disillusionment and their attitude, deliberately shorn of values and logical references.”[12] Tzara seems to have recognized its propaganda value early with the German Dadaist poet Richard Huelsenbeck recalling that Tzara “had been one of the first to grasp the suggestive power of the word Dada,” and developed it as a kind of brand identity.[13]

Tzara’s own “Dadaist” poetry was marked by “extreme semantic and syntactic incoherence.”[14] When he composed a Dada poem he would cut up newspaper articles into tiny fragments, shake them up in a bag, and scatter them across the table. As they fell, they made the poem; little further work was called for. With regard to such practices, the Jewish Dadaist painter and film-maker Hans Richter commented that “Chance appeared to us as a magical procedure by which we could transcend the barriers of causality and conscious volition, and by which the inner ear and eye became more acute. … For us chance was the ‘unconscious mind,’ which Freud had discovered in 1900.”[15] Codrescu speculates that Tzara’s aleatoric poetry had its likely intellectual and aesthetic wellspring in the mystical knowledge of his Hassidic heritage, where Tzara was inspired by:

the commentaries of other famous Kabbalists, like Rabbi Eliahu Cohen Itamari of Smyrna, who believed that the Bible was composed of an “incoherent mix of letters” on which order was imposed gradually by divine will according to various material phenomena, without any direct influence by the scribe or the copier. Any terrestrial phenomenon was capable of rearranging the cosmic alphabet toward cosmic harmony. A disciple of the Smyrna rabbi wrote, “If the believer keeps repeating daily, even one verse, he may obtain salvation because each day the order of the letters changes according to the state and importance of each moment … .”

An old midrashic commentary holds that repeating everyday even the most seemingly insignificant verse of the Torah has the effect of spreading the light of divinity (consciousness) as much as any other verse, even the ones held as “most important,” because each word of the Law participates in the creation of a “sound world,” superior to the material one, which it directs and organizes. This “sound world” is higher on the Sephiroth (the tree of life that connects the worlds of humans with God), closer to the unnamable, being illuminated by the divine. One doesn’t need to reach far to see that the belief in an autonomous antiworld made out of words is pure Dada. In Tzara’s words, “the light of a magic hard to seize and to address.”[16]

That Tzara returned to study of the Kabbalah towards the end of his life certainly lends weight to Codrescu’s thesis. Finkelstein notes how Tzara’s poetry “sounds eerily like a Kabbalistic ritual rewritten as a Dadaist café performance,” and links Tzara’s Dadaist spirit to the influence of the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Jewish heresies that were centered on the notion of “redemption through sin” which involved “the violation of Jewish law (sometimes to the point of apostasy) in the name of messianic transformation.” The Jewish-American poet Jerome Rothenberg calls these heresies “libertarian movements” within Judaism and connects them to Jewish receptivity to the forces of secularization and modernity, leading in turn to the “critical role of Jews and ex-Jews in revolutionary politics (Marx, Trotsky etc.) and avant-garde poetics (Tzara, Kafka, Stein etc.).” Rothenberg sees “definite historical linkages between the transgressions of messianism and the transgressions of the avant-garde.”[17] Heyd endorses this thesis, observing that: “Tzara uses terminology that is part and parcel of Judaic thinking and yet subjects these very concepts to his nihilistic attack.”[18] Perhaps not surprisingly, the Kabbalist and Surrealist author Marcel Avramescu, who wrote during the 1930s, was directly inspired by Tzara.

Nicholas Zarbrugg has written detailed studies of the ways that Dada fed into the sound and visual poetry of the first phase of postmodernism.[19] Tzara’s poetry was, for instance, to strongly influence the Absurdist drama of Samuel Beckett, and the poetry of Andrei Codrescu, Jerome Rothenberg, Isidore Isue, and William S. Burroughs. Allen Ginsberg, who encountered Tzara in Paris in 1961, was strongly influenced by Tzara. Codrescu relates that: “A young Allen Ginsberg, seated in a Parisian café in 1961, saw a sober-looking, suited Tzara hurrying by, carrying a briefcase. Ginsburg called to him “Hey Tzara!” but Tzara didn’t so much as look at him, unsympathetic to the unkempt young Americans invading Paris again for cultural nourishment.” For Codrescu, it was a minor tragedy that “the daddy of Dada failed to connect with the daddy of the vast youth movement that would revive, refine and renew Dada in the New World.”[20]

The Cabaret Voltaire

The Cabaret Voltaire was created by the German anarchist poet and pianist Hugo Ball in Zurich in 1916. Rented from its Jewish owner, Jan Ephraim, and with start-up funds provided by a Jewish patroness, Käthe Brodnitz, the Cabaret was established in a seedy part of the city and intended as a place for entertainment and avant-garde culture, where music was played, artwork was exhibited, and poetry was recited. Some of this poetry was later published in the Cabaret’s periodical entitled Dada, which soon became Tristan Tzara’s responsibility. In it he propagated the principles of Dadaist derision, declaring that: “Dada is using all its strength to establish the idiotic everywhere. Doing it deliberately. And is constantly tending towards idiocy itself. … The new artist protests; he no longer paints (this is only a symbolic and illusory reproduction).”[21]

Left: Poster for the Cafe Voltaire, Zurich 1916 / Right: Spiegelgasse 1, Zurich, Location of the Cabaret Voltaire

Evenings at the Cabaret Voltaire were eclectic affairs where “new music by Arnold Schoenberg and Alban Berg took its turn with readings from Jules Laforgue and Guillaume Apollinaire, demonstrations of ‘Negro dancing’ and a new play by Expressionist painter and playwright Oskar Kokoschka.”[22] The inclusion of dance and music extended Dada activities into areas that allowed a total expression approaching the pre-war (originally Wagnerian) ideal of the Gesamtkunstwerk (combined art work). In time the tone of the acts “became more aggressive and violent, and a polemic against bourgeois drabness began to be heard.”[23] Performances sought to shock bourgeois attitudes and openly undermine spectator’s templates for understanding culture. Thus, a June 1917 lecture “on modern art” was delivered by a lecturer who stripped off his clothes in front of the audience before being arrested and jailed for performing obscene acts in public.[24] Godfrey notes that: “This was carnival at its most grotesque and extreme: all the taste and decorum that maintains polite society was overturned.”[25] Robert Wicks:

The Dada scenes conveyed a feeling of chaos, fragmentation, assault on the senses, absurdity, frustration of ordinary norms, pastiche, spontaneity, and posed robotic mechanism. They were scenes from a madhouse, performed by a group of sane and reflective people who were expressing their decided anger and disgust at the world surrounding them.[26]

The outrages committed by Dadaists attacking the traditions and preconceptions of Western art, literature and morality were deliberately extreme and designed to shock, and this tactic extended beyond the Cabaret Voltaire to everyday gestures. For instance, Tzara, “the most demonic activist” of Dada, regularly appalled the dowagers of Zurich by asking them the way to the brothel. For Godfrey, such gestures are redolent of the “propaganda of the deed” of the violent anarchists who, through their random bombings and assassinations of authority figures, sought to “show the rottenness of the system and to shock that system into crisis.”[27] Arnason likewise underscores the serious ideological intent behind such gestures, noting that: “From the very beginning, the Dadaists showed a seriousness of purpose and a search for a new vision and content that went beyond any frivolous desire to outrage the bourgeoisie. … The Zurich Dadaists were making a critical re-examination of the traditions, premises, rules, logical bases, even the concepts of order, coherence, and beauty that had guided the creation of the arts throughout history.”[28] Jewish Frankfurt School intellectual Walter Benjamin, spoke admiringly of Dada’s moral shock effects as anticipating the technical effects of film in the way they “assail the spectator.”[29]

Left: Color lithograph of a painting by Marcel Janco from 1916, “Cabaret Voltaire”; Right: annotations identifying portrayals of Dada artists within the painting

The leadership of Zurich Dada soon passed from Ball to Tzara, who, in the process, “impressed upon it his negativity, his anti-artistic spirit and his profound nihilism.” Soon Ball could no longer identify with the movement and left, remarking: “I examined my conscience scrupulously, I could never welcome chaos.”[30] He moved to a small Swiss village and, from 1920, became removed from social and political life, returning to a devout Catholicism and plunging into a study of fifth- and sixth-century saints. Ball later embraced German nationalism and was to label the Jews “a secret diabolical force in German history,” and when analyzing the potential influence of the Bolshevik Revolution on Germany, concluded that, “Marxism has little prospect of popularity in Germany as it is a ‘Jewish movement.’”[31] Noting the makeup of the new Bolshevik Executive Committee, Ball observed that:

there are at least four Jews among the six men on the Executive Committee. There is certainly no objection to that; on the contrary, the Jews were oppressed in Russia too long and too cruelly. But apart from the honestly indifferent ideology they share and their programmatically material way of thinking, it would be strange if these men, who make decisions about expropriation and terror, did not feel old racial resentments against the Orthodox and pogrommatic Russia.[32]

Tzara, as Ball’s successor, quickly converted Ball’s persona as cabaret master of ceremonies into a role as a savvy media spokesman with grand ambitions. Tzara was “the romantic internationalist” of the movement according to Richard Huelsenbeck in his 1920 history of Dada, “whose propagandistic zeal we have to thank for the enormous growth of Dada.”[33]

In addition to the Jewish mysticism of his Hassidic roots, Tzara was strongly influenced by the Italian Futurists, though, not surprisingly, he rejected the proto-Fascist stance of their leader Marinetti. By 1916, Dada had replaced Futurism as the vanguard of modernism, and according to Jewish Dadaist Hans Richter, “we had swallowed Futurism — bones, feathers and all. It is true that in the process of digestion all sorts of bones and feathers had been regurgitated.”[34]

Nevertheless, the Dadaists’ intent was contrary to that of the Futurists, who extolled the machine world and saw in mechanization, revolution and war the logical means, however brutal, to solving human problems. Dada was never widely popular in the birthplace of Futurism, although quite a few Italian poets became Dadaists, including the poet, painter and future racial theorist Julius Evola, who became a personal friend of Tzara and initially took to Dada with unbridled enthusiasm. He eventually became disillusioned by Dada’s total rejection of European tradition, however, and began the search for an alternative, pursuing a path of philosophical speculation which later led him to esotericism and fascism.[35]

The entry of Romania into the war on the side of Britain, France, and Russia in August 1916 immediately transformed Tzara into a potential conscript. Gale relates that: “In November Tzara was called for examination by a panel ascertaining fitness to fight. He successfully feigned mental instability and received a certificate to that effect.”[36] At this time, living across the street from the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich were Lenin, Karl Radek and Gregory Zinoviev who were preparing for the Bolshevik Revolution.

After the November 1918 Armistice, Tzara and his colleagues began publishing a Dadaist journal called Der Zeltweg aimed at popularizing Dada at time when Europe was reeling from the impact of the war, the Bolshevik Revolution, the Spartacist uprising in Berlin, the communist insurrection in Bavaria, and, later, the proclaiming of the Hungarian Soviet Republic under Bela Kun. These events, observed Hans Richter, “had stirred men’s minds, divided men’s interests and diverted energies in the direction of political change.”[37] According to historian Robert Levy, Tzara around this time associated with a group of Romanian communist students, almost certainly including Ana Pauker, who later became the Romanian Communist Party’s Foreign Minister and one of its most prominent and ruthless Jewish functionaries.[38] Tzara’s poems from the period are stridently communist in orientation and, influenced by Freud and Wilhelm Reich, depict extreme revolutionary violence as a healthy means of human expression.[39]

Among the other Jewish artists and intellectuals who joined Tzara in neutral Switzerland to escape involvement in the war were the painter and sculptor Marcel Janco (1895–1984), his brothers Jules and George, the painter and experimental film-maker Hans Richter (1888–1976), the essayist Walter Serner (1889–1942), and the painter and writer Arthur Segal (1875–1944). After Zurich, Dada was to take root in Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, New York and Paris, and each time it was Tzara who forged the links between these groups by organizing (despite the disruption of the war and its aftermath) exchanges of pictures, books and journals. In each of these cities, Dadaists “gathered to vent their rage and agitate for the annihilation of the old to make way for the new.”[40]

Go to:

Brenton Sanderson is the author of Battle Lines: Essays on Western Culture, Jewish Influence and Anti-Semitism, banned by Amazon, but available here.

[1] Menachem Wecker, “Eight Dada Jewish Artists,” The Jewish Press, August 30, 2006. http://www.jewishpress.com/printArticle.cfm?contentid=19293

[2] Bill Holdsworth, “Forgotten Jewish Dada-ists Get Their Due,” The Jewish Daily Forward, September 22, 2011. http://forward.com/articles/143160/#ixzz1ZRAUpOoX

[3] Wecker, “Eight Dada Jewish Artists,” op. cit.

[4] Amy Dempsey, Schools and Movements – An Encyclopaedic Guide to Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 2002), 115.

[5] Robert Short, Dada and Surrealism (London: Laurence King Publishing, 1994), 7.

[6] Matthew Gale, Dada & Surrealism (London: Phaidon, 2004), 46.

[7] Wecker, “Eight Dada Jewish Artists,” op. cit.

[8] Leah Dickerman, “Introduction & Zurich,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada (Washington D.C., National Gallery of Art, 2005), 10.

[9] Andrei Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess (Princeton University Press, 2009), 209.

[10] Ibid., 173.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Gabriele Crepaldi, Modern Art 1900-1945 – The Age of the Avant-Gardes (London: HarperCollins, 2007), 194.

[13] Dickerman, “Introduction & Zurich,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 33.

[14] Alice Armstrong & Roger Cardinal, “Tzara, Tristan,” Justin Wintle (Ed.) Makers of Modern Culture (London: Routledge, 2002), 530.

[15] John Russell, The Meanings of Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 1981), 179.

[16] Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, 213.

[17] Jerome Rothenberg in Norman Finkelstein, Not One of Them in Place and Jewish American Identity (New York: State University of New York Press, 2001), 100.

[18] Milly Heyd, “Tristan Tzara/Shmuel Rosenstock: The Hidden/Overt Jewish Agenda,” Washton-Long, Baigel & Heyd (Eds.) Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture: Anti-Semitism, Assimilation, Affirmation (Lebanon, NH: University Press of New England, 2010), 213.

[19] See Nicholas Zurbrugg et al. Critical Vices: The Myths of Postmodern Theory (Amsterdam: OPA, 2000).

[20] Codrescu, The Posthuman Dada Guide: tzara and lenin play chess, 212.

[21] Sarane Alexandrian, Surrealist (London: Thames & Hudson, 1970), 30-1.

[22] Russell, The Meanings of Modern Art, 182.

[23] Jeffrey T. Schnapp, Art of the Twentieth Century – 1900-1919 – The Avant-garde Movements (Italy, Skira, 2006), 392.

[24] Ibid., 389.

[25] Tony Godfrey, Conceptual Art (London: Phaidon, 1998) 41.

[26] Robert J. Wicks, Modern French Philosophy: From Existentialism to Postmodernism (Oxford: Oneworld, 2003), 10.

[27] Godfrey, Conceptual Art, 40.

[28] H. Harvard Arnason, A History of Modern Art (London: Thames & Hudson, 1986), 224.

[29] Dickerman, “Introduction & Zurich,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, 9.

[30] Schnapp, Art of the Twentieth Century – 1900-1919 – The Avant-garde Movements op cit., 396.

[31] Boime, “Dada’s Dark Secret,” Washton-Long, Baigel & Heyd (Eds.) Jewish Dimensions in Modern Visual Culture: Anti-Semitism, Assimilation, Affirmation, 98 & 95-6.

[32] Ibid., 96.

[33] Dickerman, “Introduction & Zurich,” Leah Dickerman (Ed.) Dada, op cit., 35.

[34] Hans Richter, Dada – Art and Anti-art, (London & New York: Thames & Hudson, 2004), 33.

[35] Gale, Dada & Surrealism, 80.

[36] Ibid., 56.

[37] Richter, Dada – Art and Anti-art, 80.

[38] Robert Levy, Ana Pauker: The Rise and Fall of a Jewish Communist (Berkley: University of California Press, 2001), 37.

[39] Philip Beitchman, I Am a Process with No Subject (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1988), 37-42.

[40] Dempsey, Styles, Schools and Movements – An Encylopaedic Guide to Modern Art, op cit., 115.

A Negative Review of Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition

A rather negative review of my book Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future appeared by someone who calls himself thezman. I am not familiar with his blog, but he seems to be basically on the right side of things as indicated by its blogroll, which includes Vdare.com, AmRen, Steve Sailer, etc. Since most people are not going to wade through a 500+-page book, this is my version of the main ideas.

Thezman’s review will not be helpful to someone who isn’t familiar with the book because it leaves out critical information and basic ideas. The review begins by complaining that I don’t get around to defining individualism until Chapter 8. But a major point, ignored by the reviewer, is that there are two clearly spelled out definitions of individualism in Chapters 2 and 3 respectively, the aristocratic individualism of the Indo-Europeans, and the egalitarian individualism of the northern hunter-gatherers. Unless one discusses these concepts, the entire point of the book is missed because it’s essentially about how these two types of individualism played out in history, with the power of aristocratic individualism gradually decreasing after the English Civil War in the mid-seventeenth century. One would do better by reading some of the reviews on Amazon, such as this one; or even better, read Prof. Ricardo Duchesne’s 9-part review for the Council of European Canadians.

Re aristocratic individualism, from Chapter 2:

The novelty of Indo-European culture was that it was not based on a single king or a typical clan-type organization based on extended kinship groups but on an aristocratic elite that was egalitarian within the group. Critically, this elite was not tied together by kinship bonds as would occur in a clan-based society, but by individual pursuit of fame and fortune, particularly the former. The men who became leaders were not despots, but peers with other warriors—an egalitarianism among aristocrats. Successful warriors individuated themselves in dress, sporting beads, belts, etc., with a flair for ostentation. This resulted in a “vital, action-oriented, and linear picture of the world” [citing Ricardo Duchesne’s The Uniqueness of Western Civilization]i.e., as moving forward in pursuit of the goal of increasing prestige. Leaders commanded by voluntary consent, not servitude, and being a successful leader meant having many clients who pledged their loyalty; often the clients were young unmarried men looking to make their way in the world. The leader was therefore a “first among equals.” …

Oath-bound contracts of reciprocal relationships [not biological relatedness] were characteristic of [Proto-Indo-Europeans] and this practice continued with the various [Indo-European] groups that invaded Europe. These contracts formed the basis of patron-client relationships based on reputation—leaders could expect loyal service from their followers and followers could expect equitable rewards for their service to the leader. This is critical because these relationships are based on talent and accomplishment, not ethnicity (i.e., rewarding people on the basis of closeness of kinship) or despotic subservience (where followers are essentially unfree).

Thus aristocratic individualism is fundamentally about individual accomplishment rather than kinship ties as being at the heart of social organization while retaining a strongly hierarchical social structure. Chapter 3 describes Egalitarian Individualism:

As noted in Chapter 2, there were already strong strands of individualism in Indo-European-derived cultures. Thus the argument here is not that northern [hunter-gatherers; h-gs] are the only basis of Western individualism, but that Indo-European individualism dovetailed significantly with that of h-gs they encountered in northwest Europe. The major difference between these two strands is that I-E-derived cultures are strongly hierarchical and relatively egalitarian only within aristocratic peer groups (aristocratic individualism), while the h-g’s were strongly egalitarian without qualification. The burden of this chapter is to make the case for this.  The contrast and conflict between aristocratic (hierarchical) individualism and egalitarian individualism is of fundamental importance for my later argument.

I really don’t understand how a competent reviewer could miss this, or the material in the following paragraph on the evolutionary basis of egalitarianism in hunter-gatherer groups and the central importance of moral communities as the social glue binding hunter-gatherer communities rather than extensive kinship. This concept is critical for understanding Chapters 6–8. From Chapter 3:

Egalitarianism is a notable trait of hunter-gatherer groups around the world. Such groups have mechanisms that prevent despotism and ensure reciprocity, with punishment ranging from physical harm to shunning and ostracism.[1] Christopher Boehm describes hunter-gatherer societies as moral communities in which women have a major role,[2] and the idea that Western cultures, particularly since the seventeenth century, are moral communities based on a hunter-gatherer egalitarian ethic will play a major role here, particularly in Chapters 6-8. In such societies people are closely scrutinized to note deviations from social norms; violators are shunned, ridiculed, and ostracized. Decisions, including decisions to sanction a person, are by consensus. Adult males treat each other as equals.

Re climate, I certainly agree that climate is important, as emphasized in Chapter 3 on the northern hunter-gatherers, where the harsh climate of Scandinavia resulted in a general deemphasis on extended kinship in favor of nuclear families. The Indo-Europeans originated in what is now Ukraine but developed a very different culture than the hunter-gatherers. Their culture was completely militarized—likely needed to survive and prosper in the steppes where marauding groups were the norm (not the case in Scandinavia). Their individualism, whereby individual merit mattered more than kinship, was highly adaptive in getting the best leaders. I suppose this could have been simply a cultural invention enabled by domain-general processing (see below; the cultural invention approach is emphasized by Joseph Henrich in his The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous re the role of the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages). Or it could have been due to a similar scenario as that sketched in Chapter 3 for the northern hunter-gatherers: Both of these groups lived in areas where one kinship group couldn’t control the basis of economic production. In the case of the northern hunter-gatherers, their source of food on the Scandinavian littoral was not available year-around, forcing them to retreat into small family-based bands where only very close kinship relationships mattered for part of the year (Chapter 3). On the other hand, the proto-Indo-Europeans periodically traveled for extended periods in their wagons in small family-based groups to grazing areas for their cattle and returned to the larger encampment. Again, no kinship group could control the vast steppe region, and relatively intensive kinship typical of hunter-gatherers rather than extensive kinship relations (e.g., in a Middle Eastern clan) would continue as the fundamental basis of social organization. I favor the ecological scenario, but the cultural innovation perspective is also possible. However, a purely cultural shift would have to entail strong social controls to prevent evolved predilections for kinship ties from dominating. Seems difficult and there is no evidence for it.

[thezman:] The first three chapters of the book cover the migration of people into Europe and what we know about the organizational structures. Europe was initially settled by hunter-gatherers with an egalitarian culture. Then nomadic people with an aristocratic warrior class came in from the east. MacDonald argues that the genetic basis for egalitarianism and meritocracy is in these original people. This is not an argument from science, but rather an argument from inference.

Thezman thus ignores the ecological argument of Chapter 3, the clear evidence for individualism in both of these groups, and the genetic cline from northern to southern Europe revealed by population genetic research discussed in Chapter 1.

[thezman:] It cannot be emphasized enough how marriage patterns and family formation helped define what we think of as the West. The rapid decline in cousin marriage, for example, is arguably the great leap forward for Western people. It naturally lead [sic] to the evolution of alternatives to narrow kinship in human cooperation. MacDonald does a good job summarizing how these mating patterns were brought to the West with the aristocratic people who migrated from the East.

But it’s not just the aristocratic peoples from the East that created the familial basis of individualism (i.e., a tendency toward nuclear families rather than, say, compound families common in Southern and Eastern Europe based on brothers living together with their wives). I argue in Chapter 4 that the nuclear family pattern is strongest in Scandinavia, a result I attribute to climate (monogamy is favored in harsh environments because of the difficulty of men provisioning the children of more than one woman) in conjunction with the ecological argument noted above.

[thezman:] In the next chapters the focus shifts to culture and history. Chapter four is about European family formation. The focus is entirely on Europe, so the reader is left to guess why this differs from the rest of the world.

But the arguments from Chapters 2 and 3 make it clear that the roots of individualism in both the Indo-Europeans and the northern hunter-gatherers are essentially primordial, as noted above.

[thezman:] Chapter eight is an interesting chapter in that he finally gets around to providing a definition of individualism. He states at the opening that individualist societies are based on the reputation of the individual. Group cohesion depends on the members judging other members on an individual basis. Each member also accepts that he will be judged by society as an individual. This contrasts with other societies where membership in a tribe or clan is the basis for judging people.

But the theme of the importance of reputation appears long before Chapter 8. Indeed the word ‘reputation’ appears around 80 times in the entire book, beginning with Chapter 1 and throughout the book. The stage is set for developing the importance of reputation in the emphasis on individual military reputation in Chapter 2 on the Indo-Europeans and the concept of moral communities in Chapter 3—individuals were trusted to the extent that they had a good reputation, and trust was not based on kinship distance. This chart contrasting northwestern European hunter-gathers with the Middle Old World culture  is from Chapter 3:


European H-G

Cultural Origins

Middle Old-World

Cultural Origins



Hunting, gathering Pastoralism, agriculture


weakly patricentric
strongly patricentric
Family System Nuclear family;

simple household

Extended family;
joint household
Marriage  Exogamous;




Individual choice based on personal characteristics of spouse Utilitarian; based on
family strategizing within kinship group
Position of


Relatively high Relatively low
Ethnocentrism Relatively low Relatively high
Social Status Mainly influenced by reputation Mainly influenced by status in kinship group
Trust Trust based on individual’s reputation Trust based mainly on kinship distance

Contrasts between European and Middle Old-World Cultural Forms

[thezman:] This gets to the major flaw in the book. It needs an editor. The parts are here for a straight line argument that individualism has genetic roots and that it was selected for in European people. As humans adapted to the harsh northern climates, they adopted social structures that rewarded the behaviors necessary to survive as a group in the areas we now call Europe. While we cannot locate an “individualism gene” we can infer it through things like marriage patterns and family formation.

I realize that at 511 pages, Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition is something of a tome but I think there is in fact a straight-line—albeit complex—argument. The difficulty is that one is dealing with two different forms of individualism and how they play out in history. The primordial tendencies of all three groups (the Indo-Europeans, the northern hunter-gatherers and Early Farmers) and how they influence family structure (Ch. 4) must be integrated. But one must also include the argument on the role of the Church in accommodating to aristocratic individualism in the early Middle Ages (the Germanization of Christianity) and ultimately facilitating egalitarian individualism (e.g., the canon law of moral universalism, monogamy, exogamy. Canon law swept away the morality of the ancient world based on natural inequality characteristic of the aristocratic moral framework and substituted a morality based on moral egalitarianism and individual conscience, paving the way for outbreaks of Protestant-type individualist thinking about religion during the later Middle Ages) (Ch. 5). This culminated in the Protestant Reformation and the rise to dominance of egalitarian individualism, leading to the English Civil War and the gradual decline of aristocratic individualism (Ch. 6). And then Chapter 7 (which is completely unmentioned in the review) focuses on egalitarian individualism and how it figured in the movement to eradicate slavery by creating a moral community that abhorred slavery. In any case, its tomeishness is no reason to fail to comment on the central differences and the historical dynamic between aristocratic individualism and egalitarian individualism. There is an argument there, but I rather doubt that thezman read it carefully enough to get it.

[thezman:] This [a shorter book] would make for a nice, crisp two-hundred-page book. Instead, these bits are spread over five hundred pages, mixed with material that is highly debatable. People familiar with the history of the early church, for example, will scratch their head at the assertions made in chapter five. The section on Puritanism often seems to contradict what he said in early chapters about individualism. A professional editor could have pointed this out and forced a rethinking of these chapters.

It’s not professional to complain about the statements in Chapter 5 without saying what was puzzling. And the chapter on Puritanism shows that essentially it started out as what one might call a group of individualists (because of their evolutionary background as northern Europeans). This concatenation of individuals formed a cohesive group via powerful social controls embedded in Calvinism. In America, the Puritans originated with the intention of keeping non-Puritans out of Massachusetts (building “the proverbial city on a hill”), but this gradually gave way, mainly because of the colonial policies of the British government preventing the colony from restricting immigration and settlement. During the nineteenth century, several intellectual offshoots of Puritanism, having escaped the powerful social controls of Calvinism, revealed themselves to be radical individualists (e.g., the libertarian anarchists).

[thezman:] Another problem with the book is that it is not really about individualism so much as a way to support his theory of group evolutionary strategy. As a result, he reduces group behavior to individual motivations. This sort of reductionism is common among older right-wing writers for some reason. That generation has always had a fetish for assigning base human desires to the behavior of groups. For some reason, emergent behavior lies beyond their intellectual event horizon.

Sorry, but I don’t get this; I would like to see examples where I reduce group behavior to individual motivations or assign “base human desires to the behavior of groups.” The whole point of cultural group selection theory (which has gradually become eminently respectable) is that groups are a fundamental category of natural selection, that groups are far more than a concatenation of individuals—an idea I first developed regarding the ancient Spartans (Social and Personality Development: An Evolutionary Synthesis (Plenum, 1988) and later applied to traditional Jewish groups (A People That Shall Dwell Alone: Judaism as a Group Evolutionary Strategy (Praeger, 1994). Take a look at Chapter 1 of the latter; it’s a cultural group selection argument. Think of a military unit. Group behavior is not a simple function of individual motivations but of a hierarchical command structure enforced by rigid discipline; cheaters in the ranks are often forced to suffer severe penalties, thereby solving the fundamental problem of group selection: human groups, unlike the vast majority of animals, are able to develop social controls and  ideologies that prevent individual cheating detrimental to group interests. This is a major theme of A People That Shall Dwell Alone where I show that heretical Jews were dealt with harshly.

Moreover, my argument is definitely not biologically reductionist, since there is a major role for cultural innovation via human general intelligence and its control over the modular mechanisms of the lower brain (see here and here on the links between general intelligence and innovation, solving novel problems, and solving old problems in new ways). My view is that ideologies are not reducible to the deterministic output of evolved modules, and this should have been apparent from reading the book, especially Chapters 5 and 8. From Chapter 5:

Religious beliefs are able to motivate behavior because of the ability of explicit representations of religious thoughts (e.g., the traditional Catholic teaching of eternal punishment in Hell as a result of mortal sin) to control sub-cortical modular mechanisms (e.g., sexual desire). In other words, the affective states and action tendencies mediated by implicit [modular] processing are controllable by higher brain centers located in the cortex.[3] For example, people are able to effortfully suppress sexual thoughts, even though there is a strong evolutionary basis for males in particular becoming aroused by sexual imagery. Thus, under experimental conditions, male subjects who were instructed to distance themselves from sexually arousing imagery were able to suppress their sexual arousal. Imagine that instead of a psychologist giving instructions, people were subjected to religious ideas that such thoughts were sinful and would be punished by God.

Ideologies such as the Christian ideology of the sinfulness of sexual thoughts are a particularly important form of explicit processing [i.e., non-modular processing linked to general intelligence] that may result in top-down control over behavior. That is, explicit construals of the world may motivate behavior. For example, explicit construals of costs and benefits of religiously relevant actions mediated by human language and the ability of humans to create [emphasis added here] explicit representations of events may influence individuals to avoid religiously proscribed food or refrain from fornication or adultery in the belief that such actions would lead to punishments in the afterlife.

Ideologies, including religious ideologies, characterize a significant number of people and motivate their behavior in a top-down manner—i.e., the higher cognitive functions involving explicit processing located primarily in the prefrontal cortex are able to control the more primitive (modular, reflexive) parts of the brain such as structures underlying sexual desire. Ideologies are coherent sets of beliefs. These explicitly held beliefs are able to exert a control function over behavior and evolved predispositions.

There is no reason to suppose that ideologies are necessarily adaptive. Ideologies often characterize the vast majority of people who belong to voluntary subgroups within a society (e.g., a particular religious sect). Moreover, ideologies are often intimately intertwined with various social controls—rationalizing the controls but also benefitting from the power of social controls to enforce ideological conformity in schools or in religious institutions [e.g., Marxist control of the educational system in the USSR]. The next section illustrates these themes as applied to regulating monogamy in Western Europe.

Ideologies are cultural creations enabled by human general intelligence and language; they are not a deterministic outcome of evolved psychological mechanisms. In Chapter 8 I discuss the ability of ideologies such as racial egalitarianism created by elites throughout the West that dominate the media and academia to control evolved tendencies toward ethnocentrism—a major problem for White people now. Hence, I absolutely reject biological reductionionism. Thus the title of my book, The Culture of Critique. Culture is critical and underdetermined by our evolutionary history.

[thezman:] The final criticism of the book is that it fails to explain why individualism has led the West to the verge of self-extinction. It has become an article of faith in certain circles that Western individualism is the cause of decline. Some argue that it makes it possible for tribal minority groups to exert undue influence on society to the detriment of the majority population. If so, then why now and not a century ago or five centuries ago when the West was far more fragmented?

Again, I think the argument is quite clear: the rise of a substantially Jewish elite (i.e., thezman’s “tribal minority”) hostile to the traditional people and culture of the West discussed extensively in Chapters 6 and 8, and continued in Chapter 9. From Chapter 9:

So, what went wrong? Why, little more than a half century after the countercultural revolution, is the West on the verge of suicide, everywhere inundated by other peoples—peoples that are typically far more clannish, far more prone to corruption (an endemic problem in much of the Third World where relationships are based primarily on kinship rather than individual merit and trust of non-kin), and often of demonstrably lower intelligence. This has continued to the point that Western peoples are on the verge of becoming minorities in areas they have dominated for hundreds or, in Europe, thousands of years.  Ultimately, if present trends continue, their unique genetic heritage will be lost entirely. One need only look at the demographic trend lines in all Western countries, steady declines in the White percentage of the world population, and generally below-replacement White fertility in the context of massive immigration of non-Whites. Extinction, after all, is just as much a part of the story of life as the evolution of new life forms.

This ongoing disaster for the traditional people of America is the direct result of the rise of a new elite as a result of the 1960s countercultural revolution. This new elite despises the traditional people and culture of America.

The above is essentially a reference to the argument from Chapter 6 on the decline of the WASP elite and the rise of a substantially Jewish elite, culminating in the 1960s countercultural revolution and recounted in my book The Culture of Critique (especially Chapter 3). The above passage continues:

The intellectuals who came to dominate American intellectual discourse and academe were quite aware of the need to appeal to Western proclivities toward individualism, egalitarianism, and moral universalism discussed throughout this volume. A theme of The Culture of Critique is that moral indictments of their opponents have been prominent in the writings of these activist intellectuals, including political radicals and those opposing biological perspectives on individual and group differences in IQ. A sense of moral superiority was also prevalent in the psychoanalytic movement, and the Frankfurt School developed the view that social science was to be judged by moral criteria.

The triumph of these intellectual movements to the point of consensus in the West has created a moral community where people who do not subscribe to their beliefs are seen as not only intellectually deficient but as morally evil.

It was noted in Chapter 6 that during the period of ethnic defense in the 1920s, Darwinist thinking on race was common throughout Western culture and assumed prominence among many U.S. immigration restrictionists, energized by the changing ethnic balance of the United States. A theme of The Culture of Critique is that the intellectuals who became influential beginning in the 1930s (particularly the Boasian school of anthropology) targeted Darwinian theories of race as well as individual identities based on White racial group identity. For example, attacking racial identities in favor of atomized individualism for European-Americans was a central strategy of the Frankfurt School. Group identities based on race and even the family, were portrayed as an indication of psychopathology. Radical individualism was thus promoted by intellectuals who retained a strong allegiance to their own group and self-consciously promoted group interests.

These ideologies fell on particularly fertile soil because they dovetailed with Western European tendencies toward individualism. And whereas individualism has been the key characteristic of Western peoples in their rise to world dominance, these ideologies and their internalization by so many Europeans now play a major role in facilitating Western dispossession.

In particular, the ideology that White identity and having a sense of White interests are signs of psychopathology has made it impossible in mainstream media and academia to argue for the legitimate interests of White people in having homelands and in avoiding becoming minorities in societies they have dominated for hundreds, and in the case of Europe, thousands of years. Such ideologies are disseminated by the mainstream media—including conservative and libertarian media—and throughout the educational system, from elementary school through university.

They have in effect created a moral community that is radically opposed to the interests of Whites. And as with the Puritans, the new elite has been able to create a culture of altruistic punishment in which White people punish fellow Whites who deviate from the dogmas of the moral community created by the new elite, even at the cost of compromising the long-term interests of themselves and their descendants.

These ideologies have been increasingly buttressed by powerful social controls. As discussed in Chapter 8, in much of the West these controls include formal legislation punishing critics of immigration and Western dispossession. Because of the First Amendment, such statutory controls are in their infancy in the United States but are likely to gain traction in the coming years if the left gains power.

However, informal controls are also very effective in the United States and throughout the West. For example, many people have been fired from their jobs as a result of the actions of activist organizations simply phoning their employers. These organizations take advantage of the moral community created by media and academic elites over the last 50 years by limiting the influence of dissident individuals and exposing them to public scrutiny, thereby subjecting them to ostracism and job loss. The effectiveness of these tactics relies on elite consensus and conformist popular attitudes for their effectiveness. Scientifically based ideas that were entirely respectable less than a century ago now result in ostracism and job loss.

You can disagree with that (please do!), but it’s unprofessional to review this book without mentioning the book’s discussion of the role of the rise of the Jews in creating the culture of Western suicide. But once again, a critical piece of the argument is missing from the review. One wonders if thezman did anything more than thumb through the book.

[1] Christopher H. Boehm, Hierarchy in the Forest: The Evolution of Egalitarian (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1999).

[2] Ibid., 8.

[3] Kevin MacDonald, “Evolution and a Dual Processing Theory of Culture: Applications to Moral Idealism and Political Philosophy,” Politics and Culture (Issue, #1, April, 2010), unpaginated; see also K. MacDonald, K. (2009). Evolution, Psychology, and a Conflict Theory of Culture. Evolutionary Psychology, 7(2), 208–233.

西洋文化をユニークにしたものは何か (“What Makes Western Culture Unique”)

What Makes Western Culture Unique? 翻訳

Kevin MacDonald





1. カトリック教会とキリスト教

2. 一夫一妻制の傾向

3. 核家族が基本のシンプルな家族構造の傾向

4. 結婚が両性の合意に基づいており、相互の愛情を基本にする傾向が強い

5. 拡大血縁(extended kinship relationships)とその互恵関係の重視を避け、エスノセントリズムが比較的弱い

6. 個人主義へ向かう傾向。国家に対する個人の権利、代議制政府、道徳の普遍主義化、自然科学へ向かう傾向





Richard Alexanderは”socially imposed monogamy” (SIM)[社会的に課せられた一夫一妻制]という用語で、過酷な生態的条件なしの一夫一妻制を定義した。







また、Louis IX (St. Louis) のような、フランスを統治しながらも一人の妻と一緒に修行僧のような生活をし、聖地解放の十字軍に参加するような王は、西洋以外には見出せなかった。




Saint Bonifaceは742年にフランスの教会について以下のように書き、ローマ教皇に苦言を呈した。「いわゆる司祭補佐は、少年時代から放蕩、姦淫、あらゆる穢れに人生を浪費し、その悪評のままで司祭補佐になり、今やベッドに4、5人の側室を抱えたまま福音書を読む有り様である。」















離婚が許される場合もあったが、それは最初の結婚で男児の跡継ぎを産めなかった場合に限られた。例えば中世フランスのルイ七世とEleanor of Aquitaineの場合が当てはまる。
イギリスでの離婚率は1914年まで0.1/1000以下、1943年まで1/1000以下だった。(Stone 1990)1910年当時、離婚率が0.5/1000を超えるヨーロッパの国は無かった。


非嫡出子の相続に対する社会コントロールは大抵効果的だったようだ。教会は、合法的結婚が合法の子供を産み、それ以外は法的地位を持たないという姿勢だったが、特定の時代には私生児は他の子供より地位が高かった。(see below)















拡大された親族関係が衰退し(see below)、全ての社会階層で一夫一妻が制度化されると、 子どもたちへの支援は独立した核家族次第になった。


拡大血縁(extended kinship relations)の衰退と単純世帯の台頭





近親婚については、教会は拡大し続ける個人の集団の間での結婚を禁じた。六世紀にはまたいとこまで、11世紀までには6th cousins、つまりgreat-great-great-great-great grandfatherが共通になる個人にまで禁止が拡大された。

十世紀から十一世紀のフランス貴族の間で、4th or 5th cousinsより近い親族間の結婚はほとんど起きなかった。





「Wolfran von Eschenback、セルバンテス、シェイクスピア、ゲーテにとって、個人の人生の悲劇の線は、内側から外側へ、ダイナミックに、機能的に発展する」。


これは元々Fritz Lenzが提唱したもので、氷河期の厳しい環境のために北欧人は少人数グループで進化し、社会的孤立の傾向があるというものだ。


















Frank Salterは以下のように提唱した。北欧人グループは性行動に関して多くの個人主義的適応を持つ。それには寝取られを防ぐための社会コントロール機構よりむしろ、恋愛や遺伝特性へのより強い傾向がある。








この文化圏は、西洋社会組織の特徴とは正反対である。Table 1に示すように、ユダヤ教は集産主義であり、エスノセントリズム・xenophobia(外国人憎悪)・moral particularism(道徳非普遍主義)に陥りやすい。

Table 1 省略

研究者たちは以下のことを提唱した。個人主義文化圏の人々は、free ridingに対するネガティヴな感情反応を進化させ、自分がコストを払ってでもフリーライダーを罰するようになった。これは”altruistic punishment”(利他的罰)と呼ばれる。





ピューリタンの道徳熱と、悪人への厳罰を正当化する傾向は、以下のコメントにも見て取れる。「ニューヨークのHenry Ward Beecher’s Old Plymouth Churchの会衆派牧師は’ドイツ人を絶滅させ…1000万人のドイツ兵の不妊手術と女性の隔離’を呼び掛けるほどだった」。



私の著作「The Culture of Critique(批判の文化): An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political Movements」の主題は、これこそがユダヤ人知的運動がやってきたことだと証明する点にあった。


これらの発想はいずれも、Israel Zangwill等のユダヤ人移民推進活動家が強調したように、人種・民族グループへの帰属が公的な知的是非を問われない共和制・民主主義社会の政治・道徳・人道イデオロギーとの調和が困難なものであった。
1952年のMcCarran-Walter act immigration actを巡る論争で、これら民族的自己利害の主張が「同化可能性」のイデオロギーに置き換えられたことは、反対派にとっては「racism(人種主義)」の煙幕に過ぎないと受け取られた。

ユダヤ人知識人の非常に顕著な戦略の一つは、社会の民族基盤が全般的に損なわれるほどの radical individualism(急進的個人主義)とmoral universalism(道徳普遍主義)の促進であった。

しかし、生物学の視点で民族感覚を見出そうとするこの最後の試みは急激に衰退した。The Culture of Critiqueで論じたような知的運動の結果、今日では学界で恐怖の目で見られている。






Guillaume Durocher’s “The Ancient Ethnostate: Biopolitical Thought in Ancient Greece”


The Ancient Ethnostate: Biopolitical Thought in Ancient Greece
Guillaume Durocher
Amazon Createspace, 2021

This is an extended version of the foreword to The Ancient Ethnostate.

Guillaume Durocher has produced an authoritative, beautifully written, and even inspirational account of the ancient Greeks. Although relying on mainstream academic sources, he adds an evolutionary perspective that is sorely lacking in contemporary academia at a time when the ancient Greek civilization, like the Western canon in toto, has been subjected to intense criticism reflecting the values of the contemporary academic left. To get a flavor of the current state of classics scholarship, consider the following from the New York Times:

Long revered as the foundation of “Western civilization,” the field [of classics] was trying to shed its self-imposed reputation as an elitist subject overwhelmingly taught and studied by white men. Recently the effort had gained a new sense of urgency: Classics had been embraced by the far right, whose members held up the ancient Greeks and Romans as the originators of so-called white culture. Marchers in Charlottesville, Va., carried flags bearing a symbol of the Roman state; online reactionaries adopted classical pseudonyms; the white-supremacist website Stormfront displayed an image of the Parthenon alongside the tagline “Every month is white history month.” …

For several years, [Dan-el Padilla] has been speaking openly about the harm caused by practitioners of classics in the two millenniums since antiquity: the classical justifications of slavery, race science, colonialism, Nazism and other 20th-century fascisms. Classics was a discipline around which the modern Western university grew, and Padilla believes that it has sown racism through the entirety of higher education. Last summer, after Princeton decided to remove Woodrow Wilson’s name from its School of Public and International Affairs, Padilla was a co-author of an open letter that pushed the university to do more. “We call upon the university to amplify its commitment to Black people,” it read, “and to become, for the first time in its history, an anti-racist institution.” Surveying the damage done by people who lay claim to the classical tradition, Padilla argues, one can only conclude that classics has been instrumental to the invention of “whiteness” and its continued domination.

In recent years, like-minded classicists have come together to dispel harmful myths about antiquity. On social media and in journal articles and blog posts, they have clarified that contrary to right-wing propaganda, the Greeks and Romans did not consider themselves “white,” and their marble sculptures, whose pale flesh has been fetishized since the 18th century, would often have been painted in antiquity. They have noted that in fifth-century-B.C. Athens, which has been celebrated as the birthplace of democracy, participation in politics was restricted to male citizens; thousands of enslaved people worked and died in silver mines south of the city, and custom dictated that upper-class women could not leave the house unless they were veiled and accompanied by a male relative. They have shown that the concept of Western civilization emerged as a euphemism for “white civilization” in the writing of men like Lothrop Stoddard, a Klansman and eugenicist. Some classicists have come around to the idea that their discipline forms part of the scaffold of white supremacy — a traumatic process one described to me as “reverse red-pilling” — but they are also starting to see an opportunity in their position. Because classics played a role in constructing whiteness, they believed, perhaps the field also had a role to play in its dismantling.[1]

Durocher’s treatment is a refreshing antidote to this contemporary academic orthodoxy. Unlike so many scholars, whose main concern is to score political points useful to the anti-White left and thereby improve their standing in the profession, he has attempted to present an accurate account of these writers and the world they were trying to understand and survive in. The phrase “so-called white culture” in the above quotation from Rachel Poser’s New York Times article is indicative of this mindset. Durocher does not shy away from discussing slavery, the relatively confined role of women, or the cruelty that Greeks could exhibit even toward their fellow Greeks. But he also emphasizes the relative freedom of the Greeks, their intellectual brilliance, and the ability of the two principal city-states, Athens and Sparta, to pull together to defeat a common foe and thereby save their people and culture from utter destruction.

The contemporary academic left has abandoned any attempt to understand the Greeks on their own terms in favor of comparing Western cultures (and typically only Western cultures) to what they see as timeless moral criteria—criteria that reflect the current sacralization of diversity, equity, and inclusion. But even the most cursory reflection makes it obvious that moral ideals such as valuing diversity, equity, and inclusion are not justified because of their value in establishing a society that can survive in a hostile world. They are valued as intrinsic goods, and societies that depart from these ideals are condemned as evil. Recently there was something of a stir when a video was released by the website of Russia Today, a television station linked to the Russian government, comparing ads for military service in Russia and the United States.[2] Ads directed at Russians show determined, physically fit young men engaged in disciplined military units and difficult, dangerous activities under adverse conditions. On the other hand, the recruitment ad for the U.S. military features a woman who, although physically fit, dwells on her pride in participating in the marriage of her two “mothers.” The contrast couldn’t be more striking. The Russian military is seeking the best way to survive in a hostile world, while the American military is virtue-signaling its commitment to the gender dogmas of the left.

Durocher emphasizes that the Greeks lived in a very cruel world, a world where “the fate of the vanquished was often supremely grim: the men could be exterminated, the women and children enslaved as so much war booty. Our generation too often forgets that our political order exists by virtue of a succession of wars — from the revolutionary wars of the Enlightenment to the World Wars of the Twentieth Century — and it cannot be otherwise.” We in the contemporary West have a life of relative ease, wealth, and security that was unknown to the ancient Greeks who were threatened not only by other Greek poleis, but by foreign powers, particularly the aggressive and much more populous Persian Empire. In such an environment, there is no room for virtue signaling. Survival in a hostile, threatening world was the only worthwhile goal:

Before anything else, a good city-state was one with the qualities necessary to survive in the face of aggressive foreign powers. This was ensured by solidarity among the citizens, each being willing to fight and die beside the other. Hence the citizen was also a soldier-citizen.

 Aristocratic Individualism. Ancient Greece was an Indo-European culture, and thus prized military virtues, heroism, and the quest for honor, fame, and glory. Homer “tells of a terrible war for sexual competition, for the heart of beautiful Helen, and its inevitable tragedies. But the maudlin self-pity and effeminacy of our time are unknown to Homer: if tragedy is inevitable in the human experience, the poet’s role is to give meaning and beauty to the ordeal, and to inspire men to struggle for a glorious destiny.” “Their way of life is one of ‘vital barbarism,’ having the values of ruthless conquerors, prizing loot, honor, and glory above all.” Achilles “prefers a brief but glorious life to one of lengthy obscurity.” “Quick, better to live or die, once and for all, than die by inches, slowly crushed to death – helpless against the hulls in the bloody press, by far inferior men!” (Iliad, 15.510). Trust was confined to people within one’s social circle. Strangers and foreigners could not be trusted: “As in the Iliad, in the Odyssey strangers and foreign lands are synonymous with uncertainty and violence. This is a world without mutual confidence. Even the gods do not trust in one another.”

This sense of heroic struggle in a hostile environment is central to the classical world of Greece and Rome, and was evident among the Germanic peoples who inherited the West after the fall of the Roman Empire. As Ricardo Duchesne notes, the Indo-European legacy is key to understanding the restless, aggressive, questing, innovative, “Faustian” soul of Europe. Indo-Europeans were a “uniquely aristocratic people dominated by emerging chieftains for whom fighting to gain prestige was the all-pervading ethos. This culture [is] interpreted as ‘the Western state of nature’ and as the primordial source of Western restlessness.”[3] Durocher expands on this beautifully:

This Aryan ethos is what so appealed to Nietzsche: a people not animated by pity or guilt, nor trying to achieve impossible or fictitious equality in an endlessly vain attempt to assuage feelings. Rather, Hellenic culture, driven by that aristocratic and competitive spirit, held up the ideal of being the best: the best athlete, the best warrior, the best poet, the best philosopher, or the most beautiful. This culture also held up the collective ideal of being the best as a whole society, for they understood that man as a species only flourishes as a community.

This competitive ethic so central to the West is fundamentally individualistic, not based on extended kinship. It is in strong contrast to the contemporary West where the main goal of far too many of its traditional peoples is to uphold moral principles and to feel guilt for differences in wealth and accomplishment. In individualist Western culture, reputation is paramount, and in the modern West, reputation revolves mainly around being an honest, morally upstanding, trustworthy person, with moral rectitude defined by media and academic elites hostile to the Western tradition. In my Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition I ascribe this fundamental shift in Western culture to the rise of the values of an egalitarian individualist ethic that originated among the northwestern European hunter-gatherers—an ethic that is in many ways the diametrical opposite of the Indo-European aristocratic tradition.[4] This new ethic began its rise to predominance with the English Civil War of the seventeenth century and remains most prominent in northwest Europe, particularly Scandinavian cultures.

The aristocratic individualism of the ancient Western world implies a hierarchy in which aristocrats have power over underlings (although there was the expectation of reciprocity), but there is egalitarianism among peers. “The kings … are not tyrants: they are expected to welcome legitimate criticism from their peers and even tolerate a good deal of backtalk.” In the Iliad, the Achaean army is made of several kings and is therefore fractious, with no one having absolute power over the rest. Decisions therefore require consensus and consultation. Aristocratic individualism is always threatened by what one might term a degenerate aristocracy—the ancient tyrants and early modern European monarchs kings who aspired to complete control. For example, King Louis XIV of France (reigned 1643-1715) had power over the nobility undreamed of in the Middle Ages while his legacy of absolute rule led ultimately to the French Revolution.

Herodotus notes that a common strategy for ruling elites was to form a distinct and solidary extended family by only marrying among themselves, for example by the ruling Bacchiadae clan of Corinth (Herodotus, 5.92). This also occurred in the European Middle Ages and later as elites severed ties with their wider kinship groups and married among themselves—likely a tendency for any aristocratic society.

But even apart from peers, there was an ideal of reciprocity within the hierarchy—a fundamental feature of Indo-European culture. As I noted in Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition:

Oath-bound contracts of reciprocal relationships were characteristic of [Proto-Indo-Europeans] and [Indo-Europeans] and this practice continued with the various I-E groups that invaded Europe. These contracts formed the basis of patron-client relationships based on reputation—leaders could expect loyal service from their followers, and followers could expect equitable rewards for their service to the leader. This is critical because these relationships are based on talent and accomplishment, not ethnicity (i.e., rewarding people on the basis of closeness of kinship) or despotic subservience (where followers are essentially unfree). (p. 34)

Such reciprocity is apparent in Homer’s world: “The Homeric ideal of kingship is one of familial solidarity, moderation, trust, piety, strength, and reciprocal duties between king and people, to the benefit of one another. Hierarchy and community are fundamentally necessary in Homer’s world. Followers require leadership and, indeed, servitude in a sense makes them foolish.”   

Greek Collectivism: The Necessity of Social Cohesion

Given the exigencies of survival in a hostile world, Greek conceptions of the ideal society were firmly based on realistic assessments of what was necessary to survive and flourish. In my book Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition,[5] I noted that the Puritan-descended intellectuals of the nineteenth century, like today’s academic and media left, were moral idealists, constructing ideal societies on the basis of universalist moral principles, such as abolitionist ideology based on the evil of enslaving Africans. The Greeks also had ideas on the ideal society, but they were not based on moral abstractions independent of survival value. And among those values, social cohesion was paramount. Because of its inherent individualism and the practical necessity of social cohesion, Western culture has always been a balance between its individualism and some form of social glue that binds people together to achieve common interests, including forms of social control that impinge on the self-interest of at least some individuals, but also providing citizens with a stake in the system.

There is thus a major contrast between the Greeks and a slave-type society such as the Persian Empire—a contrast the Greeks were well aware of. For example, Aristotle wrote “these barbarian peoples are more servile in character than Greeks (as the peoples of Asia are more servile than those of Europe); and they therefore tolerate despotic rule without any complaint” (Politics, 1285a16). The social cohesion of the West has typically resulted from all citizens having a stake in the system. In the world of Homer, kings understood that they would benefit if the citizens are willing to fight and die for their homeland: “The Odyssey reaffirms the Iliad’s tragic message: that good order and the community can only be guaranteed by the willingness to fight and die for family and fatherland.” And Herodotus noted that Athens became a superior military power after getting rid of tyrants and developing a citizenry with a stake in the system: “while they were under an oppressive regime they fought below their best because they were working for a master, whereas as free men each individual wanted to achieve something for himself” (Herodotus, 5.78).

My interest in understanding the West has always revolved around kinship, marriage, and the family as bedrock institutions amenable to an evolutionary analysis. An important aspect of social cohesion in the West has been institutions that result in relative sexual egalitarianism among males, in contrast to the common practice (e.g., in classical China, and the Middle East, including Greece’s main foreign enemy, the Persian Empire) where wealthy, powerful males maintained large harems, while many men were unable to procreate. In ancient Greece, the importance of social cohesion can be seen in Solon’s laws on marriage (early sixth century BC). Solon’s laws had a strongly egalitarian thrust, and indeed, the purpose of his laws was to “resolve problems of deep-seated social unrest involving the aristocratic monopoly on political power and landholding practices under which the ‘many were becoming enslaved to the few.’”[6] As Durocher notes, Solon “abolished existing private and public debts and banned usurious loans for which the penalty for defaulting was enslavement. In his poems, Solon condemns the nation-shattering effects of usury and poverty, which lead unfree citizens to wander the world, homeless.”

The concern therefore was that such practices were leading to a lack of social cohesion—with people not believing they had a stake in the system. As in the case of the medieval Church, the focus of Solon’s laws on marriage was to rein in the power of the aristocracy by limiting the benefits to be gained by extra-marital sexual relationships. In Solon’s laws, legitimate children with the possibility of inheritance were the product of two Athenian citizens, a policy approved by popular vote in 451 B.C. As Pericles noted, bastards were to be “excluded from both the responsibilities and privileges of membership in the public household” (in Patterson, 2001, 1378). Given that wealthy males are in the best position to father extramarital children and provide for multiple sexual partners, it’s critical that Solon’s legislation (like the Church’s policies in the Middle Ages) was explicitly aimed at creating sexual egalitarianism among men—giving all male citizens a stake in the system.

Greek thinkers and lawgivers thus had no compunctions about reining in individual self-interest in the interest of the common good. For example, “Aristotle’s discussion of population policy and eugenics reflects the view which the Greeks took for granted: that the biological reproduction and quality of the citizenry was a fundamental matter of public interest. The citizen had a duty to act and the lawmaker to regulate by whatever means necessary to achieve these goals.” The public interest in achieving a society able to withstand the hostile forces arrayed against it was paramount, not the interests of any particular person or segment of the society, including the wealthy.

Greek cultures therefore often had strong social controls aimed at creating cohesive, powerful groups where cohesion was maintained by regulating individual behavior, effectively making them group evolutionary strategies. These cultures certainly did not eradicate individual self-interest, but they regulated and channeled it in such a manner that the group as a whole benefited. For example, in constructing an ideal society, Aristotle rejected a mindless libertarianism in favor of a system that had concern for the good of the society as a whole. Anything that interfered with social cohesion or any other feature that contributed to an adaptive culture had to be dealt with—by whatever means necessary.

Solon’s laws on marriage and inheritance would therefore have been analyzed by Aristotle for their effect on social cohesion. Egalitarianism, like everything else, had to be subjected to the criterion of what was best for the community as a whole, and that meant that societies should be ethnically homogeneous and led by the best people. Aristotle’s arguments for moderate democracy are not founded on abstract “rights” or a moral vision, ideas that have dominated Western thinking since the Enlightenment, “but rather, are based on what benefits the community as a whole. … Aristotle’s citizens rule and are ruled in turn, this reciprocity fostering a spirit of friendship between social classes.” “Aristotle is clear … that private property is not a right enabling individuals to be as capricious and selfish as they please, but merely a sensible way of producing wealth, whose aim must ultimately be the well-being of the community.” The social cohesion needed in a hostile world was a fundamental value that trumped any concern for individual rights. Durocher:

Aristotle’s unabashed ethics are typically Hellenic: there is no egalitarian consolation for the ugly and the misbegotten, there is no pretense that all human beings can be happy and actualized. Rather, Aristotle, like the Greeks in general, celebrates excellence. … This vision is in fact unabashedly communitarian and aristocratic: Firstly, the human species cannot flourish and fulfill its natural role unless it survives and reproduces itself in the right conditions; secondly, the society must be organized so as to grant the intellectually-gifted and culturally-educated minority the leisure to exercise their reason.

Sparta was even more egalitarian among the Spartiates, giving the citizens a stake in the system, but with an ethic that rejected effeminacy and weakness and in which individuals strived to achieve excellence in military skills. Also likely promoting social cohesion was that the Helot slave class was an outgroup that Spartans understood needed to be rigorously controlled, setting up a very robust ingroup-outgroup psychology that promoted social cohesion and high positive regard for the ingroup along with disparagement and even abuse of the outgroup. Spartan social cohesion is legendary and likely contributed to the intense solidarity needed to defeat the far more numerous Persian Empire:

By their triumph in the Persian Wars, the Greeks preserved their sovereignty and identity, setting the stage for the Golden Age of Athenian power and philosophy. The Greeks triumphed because of the winning combination of their culture of civic freedom and solidarity, and the successful alliance between Athens and Sparta, which required both cities to adopt a conciliatory attitude. Herodotus’s Histories are a poignant commemoration of the fragility and value of Greek unity.

The results have resounded down the ages:

In the Persian Wars, the Greeks showed that a small and scattered nation could, with luck, skill, and determination, triumph even over the greatest empire of the day. This example can still inspire us today and discredit all defeatism. In their victory, the Greeks were able to pass down an enormous political, cultural, and scientific heritage to generations ever since. No wonder John Stuart Mill could claim: “The Battle of Marathon, even as an event in British history, is more important than the Battle of Hastings.”

This emphasis on giving individuals a stake in the system as a mechanism for social cohesion thus has strong roots in Western culture. The political system of the Roman Republic was far from democratic, but it was also far from a narrow oligarchy, and the representation and power of the lower classes gradually increased throughout the Republic (e.g., with the office of tribune of the plebs). The highest offices, consuls and praetors with military and judicial functions, were elected by the comitia centuriata, a convocation of the military, divided into centuries, where people with property had the majority of the vote (people were assigned to a century depending on five classes of property ownership, with the lower classes voting after the wealthy; the election was typically decided before the poorer centuries could vote).

A deep concern with social cohesion enabled by having a stake in the system was also apparent in the Germanic world after the fall of the Roman Empire. Although unquestionably hierarchical, early medieval European societies had a strong sense that cultures ought to build a sense of social cohesion on the basis of reciprocity, so that, with the exception of slaves, even humble members near the bottom of the social hierarchy had a stake in the system. The ideal (and the considerable reality) is what Spanish historian Américo Castro labeled “hierarchic harmony.”[7]

For example, the Visigothic Code promulgated by seventh-century King Chindasuinth of Spain illustrates the desire for a non-despotic government and for social cohesion that results from taking account of the interests of everyone (except slaves). Regarding despotism:

It should be required that [the king] make diligent inquiry as to the soundness of his opinions. Then, it should be evident that he has acted not for private gain but for the benefit of the people; so that it may conclusively appear that the law has not been made for any private or personal advantage, but for the protection and profit of the whole body of citizens. (Title I, II)[8]

Thus the concern with social cohesion is a strong current in Western history.

Ethnic Diversity and Lack of Social Cohesion.

Aristotle was well aware that extreme individualism may benefit some individuals who gain when a culture discourages common identities. I recall being puzzled when doing research on the Frankfurt School that intellectuals who had been steeped in classical Marxism had developed an ideology that prized individualism—jettisoning ethnic and religious identities in favor of self-actualization and acceptance of differences.

In the end the ideology of the Frankfurt School may be described as a form of radical individualism that nevertheless despised capitalism—an individualism in which all forms of gentile collectivism are condemned as an indication of social or individual pathology. … The prescription for gentile society is radical individualism and the acceptance of pluralism. People have an inherent right to be different from others and to be accepted by others as different. Indeed, to become differentiated from others is to achieve the highest level of humanity. The result is that “no party and no movement, neither the Old Left nor the New, indeed no collectivity of any sort was on the side of truth. . . . [T]he residue of the forces of true change was located in the critical individual alone.”[9]

Aristotle understood this logic, noting that both extreme democrats and tyrants encouraged the mixing of peoples and losing old identities and loyalties. Aristotle:

Other measures which are also useful in constructing this last and most extreme type of democracy are measures like those introduced by Cleisthenes at Athens, when he sought to advance the cause of democracy, or those which were taken by the founders of [the] popular government at Cyrene. A number of new tribes and clans should be instituted by the side of the old; private cults should be reduced in number and conducted at common centers; and every contrivance should be employed to make all the citizens mix, as much as they possibly can, and to break down their old loyalties. All the measures adopted by tyrants may equally be regarded as congenial to democracy. We may cite as examples the license allowed to slaves (which, up to a point, may be advantageous as well as congenial), the license permitted to women and children, and the policy of conniving at the practice of “living as you like.” There is much to assist a constitution of this sort, for most people find more pleasure in living without discipline than they find in a life of temperance. (Politics, 1319b19)

The ancient Greeks were also aware that ethnic diversity leads to conflict and lack of common identity. As Aristotle noted, “Heterogeneity of stocks may lead to faction – at any rate until they have had time to assimilate. A city cannot be constituted from any chance collection of people, or in any chance period of time. Most of the cities which have admitted settlers, either at the time of their foundation or later, have been troubled by faction.” Realizing this, tyrants often took advantage of this evolutionary reality by importing people in order to undermine the solidarity of the people they ruled over.

It’s interesting in this regard that such efforts to undermine the homogeneity of populations continue in the contemporary West. In the wake of World War II, the activist Jewish community, in part inspired by the writings of the Frankfurt School,[10] made a major push to open up immigration of Western countries to all the peoples of the world, their motive being a fear of ethnically homogeneous White populations of the type that had turned against Jews in Germany after 1933.[11] Corroborating this assessment, historian Otis Graham notes that the Jewish lobby on immigration “was aimed not just at open doors for Jews, but also for a diversification of the immigration stream sufficient to eliminate the majority status of western European so that a fascist regime in America would be more unlikely.”[12] The motivating role of fear and insecurity on the part of the activist Jewish community thus differed from other groups and individuals promoting an end to the national origins provisions of the 1924 and 1952 laws which dramatically lowered immigration and restricted immigration to people largely from northwestern Europe. These same intellectuals and activists have also pathologized any sense of White identity or sense of White interests to the point that it’s common for White liberals to have negative attitudes about White people.


Greek Race Realism. The ancient Greeks were vitally concerned with leaving descendants and they understood that heredity was important in shaping individuals—a view that is obviously adaptive in an evolutionary sense. Aristotle writes that “good birth, for a people and a state, is to be indigenous or ancient and to have distinguished founders with many descendants distinguished in matters that excite envy” (Rhetoric, 1.5). The Greeks also had a sense that they shared a common ethnicity and culture with other Greeks, resulting in common expressions of the need for ethnic solidarity, particularly in the wars with Persia. Durocher notes that “One cannot exaggerate the pervasiveness of the rhetoric of kinship and pan-Hellenic identity throughout the conflict.”

The Greeks were thus proud of their lineage and had a sense of common kinship. However, it was not the sort of extensive kinship that is typical of so much of the rest of the world. There was an individualist core to Greek culture stemming from its Indo-European roots, resulting in the famously fractious Greek culture, with wars between Greek city-states. Even during the Persian wars, several Greek city-states failed to join the coalition against Persia, and “the sentimental love for Hellas was often overridden by personal or political interests. Prominent Greek leaders and cities frequently collaborated with the Persians, either because the alternative was oblivion or simply for profit.”

As in individualist cultures generally, lineage is confined to close relatives, and there are no corporate kinship-based groups that own property or where brothers live together in common households: “Despite typically vague modern notions of a primitive clan-based society as the predecessor to the historical society of the polis, early Greek society seems securely rooted in individual households—and in the relationships focused on and extending from those households.[13]

And congruent with contemporary behavior genetic research, there was an expectation that children would inherit the traits of parents: King Menelaus is impressed by Odysseus’s son Telemachus: Surely you two have not shamed your parentage; you belong to the race of heaven-protected and sceptered kings; no lesser parents could have such sons” (4.35-122). Menelaus later adds: “What you say, dear child, is proof of the good stock you come from” (4.549-643).

Reflecting the common Greek view that it was necessary to regulate society in order to achieve adaptive goals of the city as a whole, the Greeks accepted the idea that individual behavior needed to be regulated in the common interest, resulting in eugenic proposals by philosophers and, in the case of Sparta at least, practices such as killing weak infants. Both Plato and Aristotle accepted eugenics as an aspect of public policy. Plato was particularly enthusiastic about eugenics—Durocher labels it “an obsession,” and, like many evolutionists, such as Sir Francis Galton, he was much impressed by animal breeding as a paradigm for eugenic policies for humans. For Plato, eugenics was part of a broader group evolutionary strategy he proposed for the Greeks. As Durocher notes, Plato advocated

a great reform of convention grounded in reason and expertise, to transform Greece into a patchwork of enlightened, non-grasping city-states, cultivating themselves intellectually and culturally, reproducing themselves in perpetuity through systematic and eugenic population policies, avoiding fratricidal war and imperialism among themselves, and working together against the barbarians, under the leadership of the best city-states. Taken together, I dare say we can speak of a Platonic Group Evolutionary Strategy for Greece.

It’s worth noting in this context that the basic premises of eugenics are well-grounded in evolutionary and genetic science and were broadly accepted in Western culture, even among progressives, from the late nineteenth century until after World War II when the entire field became tarred by association with National Socialism. It is thus part of the broad transformation among Western intellectuals away from thinking in terms of racial differences and the genetic basis of individual differences—to the point that it’s currently fashionable to deny the reality of race and any suggestion that race differences in socially important traits such as intelligence could possibly be influenced genetically. As Durocher notes, “Race is, especially in geographically contiguous land masses, typically a clinal phenomenon, with gradual change in genetic characteristics (i.e., allele frequencies) as one moves, for instance, from northern Europe to central Africa.” However, in the contemporary West, intellectual and cultural elites have sought “to suppress cultural chauvinism and ethnic solidarity, for example by glorifying foreign cultures and shaming native ethnic pride. Such nations are unlikely to survive long however.” So true. 

Scientific Think as Characteristic of the West

In his discussion of Herodotus, Durocher describes the “beginnings of scientific thought concerning both nature and society, for instance with plausible speculations about the formation of the Nile Delta, micro-climates, and the effect of the natural environment on human biology and culture.” Analogical thinking is fundamental to science (e.g., Christiaan Huygens’s use of light and sound to support his wave theory of light; Darwin’s analogy between artificial selection and natural selection—with obvious implications for eugenics; the mind as a blank slate or computer). Scientific thinking is thus apparent in the eugenic recommendations noted by Greek philosophers based, as they were, on analogies with animal breeding.

Such scientific thinking is a unique characteristic of Western individualist culture. In his book The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich describes “WEIRD psychology”—i.e., the psychology of Western, educated, industrialized, rich, and democratic people. A major point is that the psychology of Western peoples is unique in the context of the rest of the world: “highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. … When reasoning WEIRD people tend to look for universal categories and rules with which to organize the world.” (21)

Henrich notes that people from cultures with intensive kinship are more prone to holistic thinking that takes into account contexts and relationships, whereas Westerners are more prone to analytic thinking in which background information and context are ignored, leading ultimately to universal laws of nature and formal logic. I agree with this,[14] but, while Henrich argues that analytical thinking began as a result of the policies on marriage enforced by the medieval Church, this style of thinking can clearly be found among the ancient Greeks. Consider Aristotle’s logic, a masterpiece of field independence and ignoring context, in which logical relationships can be deduced from the purely formal properties of sentences (e.g., All x’s are y; this is an x; therefore, this is a y); indeed, in Prior Analytics Aristotle used the first three letters of the Greek alphabet as placeholders instead of concrete examples. Or consider Euclidean geometry, in which theorems could be deduced from a small set of self-evident axioms and in which the axioms themselves were based on decontextualized figures, such as perfect circles and triangles, and infinite straight lines. Despite its decontextualized nature, the Euclidean system has had huge applications in the real world and dominated thinking in geometry in the West until the twentieth century.

Ancient Greece was an Indo-European-derived culture (Individualism, Ch. 2) and, beginning in the Greco-Roman world of antiquity, logical argument and competitive disputation have been far more characteristic of Western cultures than any other culture area. As Duchesne notes, “the ultimate basis of Greek civic and cultural life was the aristocratic ethos of individualism and competitive conflict which pervaded [Indo-European] culture. … There were no Possessors of the Way in aristocratic Greece; no Chinese Sages decorously deferential to their superiors and expecting appropriate deference from their inferiors. The search for the truth was a free-for-all with each philosopher competing for intellectual prestige in a polemical tone that sought to discredit the theories of others while promoting one’s own.”[15]

In such a context, rational, decontextualized arguments that appeal to disinterested observers and are subject to refutation win out. They do not depend on group discipline or group interests for their effectiveness because in Western cultures, the groups are permeable and defections based on individual beliefs are far more the norm than in other cultures. As Duchesne notes, although the Chinese made many practical discoveries, they never developed the idea of a rational, orderly universe guided by universal laws comprehensible to humans. Nor did they ever develop a “deductive method of rigorous demonstration according to which a conclusion, a theorem, was proven by reasoning from a series of self-evident axioms,”[16] as seen in Aristotle’s Prior Analytics. Indeed, I can’t resist noting the intelligence and creativity that went into creating the incredibly intricate Antikythera Mechanism designed by an unknown Greek (or Greeks). Dated to around 150–100 B.C. and “technically more complex than any known device for at least a millennium afterwards,” it was able to predict eclipses and planetary motions decades in advance.[17] Western scientific and technological creativity did not begin after the influence of Christianity, the Renaissance, or the Industrial Revolution.

Schematic of the Antikythera Mechanism

As Durocher notes, “The fruits of Hellenic civilization are all around us, down to our very vocabulary.”



The Ancient Ethnostate should be at the top of everyone’s reading for those interested in understanding Western origins and the uniqueness of the West. It is also an inspiring work for those of us who seek to reinvigorate the West as a unique biocultural entity. The contemporary West, burdened by loss of confidence and moral and spiritual decay, cannot be redeemed by a fresh influx of ethnically Western barbarians as happened with the collapse of the Roman Empire and the rise of Germanic Europe. There are no more such peoples waiting in the wings to revive our ancient civilization.

Reinvigoration must come from within, but now it must do so in the context of massive immigration of non-Western peoples who are addicted to identity politics and are proving to be unwilling and likely unable to continue the Western traditions of individualism and all that that implies in terms of representative, non-despotic government, freedom of speech and association, and scientific inquiry. Indeed, we are seeing increasing hatred toward the people and culture of the West that is now well entrenched among Western elites and eagerly accepted by many of the non-Western peoples who have been imported into Western nations, many with historical grudges against the West. It will be a long, arduous road back. The Ancient Ethnostate contains roadmaps for the type of society that we should seek to establish.

[1] Rachel Poser, “He Wants to Save Classics from Whiteness. Can the Field Survive?,” New York Times (February 2, 2011). https://www.nytimes.com/2021/02/02/magazine/classics-greece-rome-whiteness.html;  see also Donna Zuckerberg, Not All Dead White Men: Classics and Misogyny in the Digital Age (Harvard University Press, 2018).

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZEnxmzqXJN8

[3] Ricardo Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (Leiden: Brill, 2011), p. 51.

[4] Kevin MacDonald, Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition: Evolutionary Origins, History, and Prospects for the Future (Seattle: CreateSpace, 2019).

[5] Ibid.

[6] Susan Lape, “Solon and the institution of ‘democratic’ family form. Classical Journal 98.2 (2002–2003), pp. 117-139, p. 117.

[7] Américo Castro, The Structure of Spanish History, trans. Edmund L. King (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1954), p. 497; see also Américo Castro, The Spaniards: An Introduction to Their History, trans. Willard F. King and Selma Margaretten (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971).

[8] The Visigothic Code (Forum judicum), trans. S. P. Scott (Boston, MA: Boston Book Company, 1910; online version: The Library of Iberian Resources Online, unpaginated).


[9] Kevin MacDonald, The Culture of Critique: An Evolutionary Analysis of Jewish Involvement in Twentieth-Century Intellectual and Political movements (Bloomington, IN: Authorhouse, 2002; originally published: Westport, CT: Praeger, 1998), p. 165, quoting J. B. Maier, “Contribution to a critique of Critical Theory,” in Foundations of the Frankfurt School of Social Research, ed. J. Marcus & Z. Tar (New Brunswick, NJ: 1984, Transaction Books).

[10] Ibid., Ch. 5.

[11] Ibid., Ch. 7.

[12] Otis Graham (2004). Unguarded Gates: A History of American’s Immigration Crisis. (Rowman & Littlefield), p. 80.

[13] C.B. Patterson, The Family in Greek History (Cambridge, MA: 2001, Harvard University Press), pp. 46–47.

[14] MacDonald, Individualism and the Western Liberal Tradition, 112–113.

[15] Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization, 452,

[16] Ibid.

[17] S. Freeth, et al. (2006). Decoding the ancient Greek astronomical calculator known as the Antikythera Mechanism. Nature 444: 587-591, 587.