Indo-European society has always been defined by aristocratic radicalism, combining its social hierarchy with meritocracy, as well as by a warlike and perpetually questing spirit. What are the factors which brought this about?
Also read: The Infinitude of the European Soul – Part I
The Danish scholar Georges Brandes coined the phrase “aristocratic radicalism” to describe Nietzsche’s idealized aristocratic elite, whose politics were metapolitical as well as politically explicit, and whose intrinsic nature exuded greatness in the form of the love of excellence. Not so incidentally, the aristocratic radicalism of Brandes was an atavistic resurrection of the aristocratic spirit of our Indo-European ancestors, reformulated for a more modern age. In Indo-Europe, this radical aristocratism was based upon meritocracy, particularly in combat, rather than birthright, and was the primary determinant of a social hierarchy based upon ability and deed rather than ancestry, kinship, and ultimately, the plutocratic apathy that accompanies hereditary wealth. On the other hand, the sedentary farmers of Europe, largely as a result of the variable climatic conditions that followed the last Ice Age, possessed a social structure that was based upon exogamy and meritocracy. The verisimilitude of both societies, particularly with regards to meritocracy, was astounding. However, it was the martial culture of Indo-Europe that defined the pair’s symbiotic relationship. Thus, the Ur-European society which had been created by the mixing of indigenous and Indo-European lineages formed a civilizational infrastructure that was the externalization and epitomization of Brandes’ aristocratic radicalism, principally because it was a balanced amalgamation of the egalitarian and inegalitarian metacultural precepts of each prospective culture.
The Indo-Europeans, via the “might-is-right” bias of Natural Law, managed to impose their hierarchical social model and their warrior aristocratism over a people who were more passive, sedentary, and settled, and thus more malleable under the force of arms and will of their Indo-European conquerors. A racio-cultural symbiosis occurred, but it was under the aegis of the active martiality of the Indo-Europeans. The European society engendered by this dialectical fusion was egalitarian in its overt meritocracy, specifically with regard to opportunity, while inegalitarian in that an individual’s social status, or potential social status, was contingent upon his intrinsic abilities. Thus, Indo-European society was structured along an egalitarian-inegalitarian continuum, centered on a ruling elite of warrior-aristocrats whose individual prowess kindled a brilliant flame of martiality that permeated the entirety of Nova Europa (Latin: “New Europe”). This may seem contradictory, but similar processes occurred in varying degrees throughout the entirety of the Indo-European world. For example, in ancient India, scholars have hypothesized that the so-called “caste system” was initially meritocratic rather than permanently fixed by lineage.14 As the Indo-European, or “Aryan,” element within Vedic society became less pronounced, and more importantly a smaller percentage of the overall population, the “caste system” became more fixed and intransigent, eventually becoming impossible to transcend. Further, aside from the indigenous peoples of Europe, most of the peoples conquered by the Indo-Europeans possessed societies that were endogamous and thus low in trust, with meritocracy itself being a foreign concept. Ancient India was one such society, whose indigenous penchant for the pettiness of kinship-based politics reasserted itself contemporaneously with the decline of the “Aryan” element of its society. Thus, in stark contrast to the other peoples conquered by the Indo-Europeans, the meritocracy of the European farmers was not only exceptional, but compatible with the meritocratic-aristocratism of their conquerors, and it was this affinity which helped to usher in the inauguration of a Europe based upon meritocratic excellence.
This union of inegalitarian with egalitarian, of active with passive, of nomadic with settled, of becoming with being as the foundation of Europe vis-à-vis dialectical synthesis is best emphasized by the German autodidact extraordinaire, Oswald Spengler, and his conceptualization of the “Faustian Spirit” in his opus, The Decline of the West. Spengler conceived the “prime-symbol” of the West as being “pure and limitless space,” and it was this transcendence of the spatial, of the present, with the interminable longing for the mutability of a future yet unrealized that imbued Europe with its “Faustian Soul.”15 Through the union of opposites, of dialectical sublation, and of transcendence through synthesis, our “Faustian” culture ceaselessly struggles in vain for a civilizational homeostasis and balance which is always just beyond our grasp. Thus, it is through the love of the struggle, what the ancient Greeks conceptualized as the agon (Greek: “struggle of competition”) which animates the soul of Europe and pushes its people forward.
Accentuating this predilection for the infinite is the unique physical geography of Europe, acting in unison with the societal traits gifted to us by the dialectical synthesis of the Indo element with old Europe. The indigenous population of old Europe resided within the littoral peninsula of Europe in a landscape quite literally delineated by the encapsulating exclusivity of its maritime geography. Contrary to this, the Indo-Europeans emerged from the vast steppes of Eurasia.16 Thus it was the sense of bewildering amazement, catalyzed by the seemingly never-ending beauty of vast oceans of water and steppe, which first imprinted a sense of the infinite upon the souls of our ancestors. The European fixation on the infinite, for the surpassing and conquering of space, propelled by both our genes and the environment, is first made evident by the formulation of the linear perspective in fifth-century Greece by the renowned mathematician Euclid. Thus, the codification of space in transmissible, mathematical form and perspective, in accordance with the “Faustian” nature of Western civilization, would a posteriori be a delineating boundary that the dialectical ontogeny of the European soul would ultimately seek to overcome. The Greek preoccupation with space (and, contrary to Spenglerian thought, its transcendence), and with epistemological understanding through rationalization vis-à-vis the impartation of meaning onto the phenomenological world, further solidified, but on a more concrete and tangible basis, the Western penchant for control, particularly control over oneself and one’s surroundings. The Greeks, in emulation of and in continuation of the spirit of their Indo-European ancestors, possessed a culture that sought control and transcendence through a conceptualization of combat that rose above the purely physical and entered into the realm of the abstract, the ethereal, and the infinite. Our Indo-European ancestors had conquered nature by literally expanding throughout the entirety of the Western world, while their Greek descendants sought to transpose this “Will to Power” over the impermeability of the mind, the abstract, and the metaphysical.
Taking these things into consideration, one could posit that the European preoccupation with and codification of spatiality and its eventual transcendence can be explained by Nietzsche’s theories regarding action. The spontaneity and beauty of action, framed within a modicum of intentionality and self-mastery (as in action given purpose and direction) can be harnessed by the so-called Übermensch to shatter any preconceptions concerning the finitude of space. Thus, the “Faustian” animus of Western man, guided by a sense of infinite directionality, broke free from the confines of space, like Prometheus unbound, and strove towards the cosmic projection of his will, towards a dominion over all things, physical and metaphysical. As Nietzsche wrote, “our way is upwards,” and this statement epitomizes the unity of desire, thought, and action that makes manifest the Faustian sense of our great becoming. The Nietzschean ascension of Western man is infused with the words of the Renaissance philosopher, Giovanni Pico della Mirandola, who wrote, “…man can become what he likes – subhuman or superhuman,” and this best encapsulates the generational capital bestowed upon we Europeans by our Indo-European and indigenous ancestors.17 Like our Indo-European ancestors, we seek the glory of self-mastery, the exertion of our will, and the accolades of our peers. We seek to reach the next horizon, to aim at its subjugation through the indomitable “Will to Power” that characterizes our European soul, and most importantly we seek to move forward, to march towards a glimmering sun which illuminates the horizon of a future yet unrealized, but within our grasp. But what catalyzes this desire and sublimation of instinct externalized as a “Will to Power” within Western man?
From where does the seemingly “infinite” vitality of the European peoples derive, specifically at the meta-biological level? The impetus behind it emanates from a race and culture which continuously renews itself à la a racial regeneration of the creatio ex materia (“creation out of the preexistent”) variety. The historian William McNeil described the West as possessing an underlying civilizational infrastructure of “restless instability,” and to further our thesis, the dialectical synthesis that forms the ontological essence of European man would by nature seek to surpass this “restless instability” via sublation as a vessel of transcendent creation.18 According to McNeil, this “restless instability” is expressed firstly by the Western propensity for the synthesis of “incomparable [societal] elements” and secondly from its genetic “barbarian inheritance.”19 The history of Europe is littered with examples of the perennial struggle between “barbarity” and “civility,” between active and passive, between sedentary and nomad, between being and becoming. One could argue on the biological-ontological level that the rebirth of Europe is contingent upon the racial regeneration of a population who chronologically, and cyclically, dilutes itself. This notion has a precedent in ancient Indo-Europe via the process of the Ver Sacrum (Latin: “Sacred Spring”). When Indo-European life shifted from the nomadic to the more sedentary, the predominance of the Männerbund declined and the institution was robbed of its sacrality, transmogrifying it into a martial force of secularism.20 Concomitant with this secularization came an incremental process of marginalization, with its members being relegated to the fringes of Indo-European society. Eventually, these social pariahs and outliers would break off from the larger social body and civilizational core and reestablish themselves on the periphery, as a people reborn in another land. More concretely, these social outliers would “migrate” in the fashion of their wayward ancestors, conquer a surrounding population, establish themselves atop the apex of its social hierarchy, and eventually interbreed with the conquered. This cycle would repeat itself in an infinite process of civilizational renewal and racial-ontological regeneration. As evidenced by the founding myths of the ancient city of Rome, specifically with regards to the mythos surrounding Romulus and Remus and numerous other Italic peoples, the mighty Roman Empire itself was a product of the racial-ontological regenerative processes of the Ver Sacrum.
The Indo-Germanic invasions of the Western Rome Empire, culminating with the alleged “fall” of Rome itself in the fifth century AD, was an attempt at regenerative homeostasis through the ontogenesis of a new race. Contrary to the popular historiography propagated by Edward Gibbon in The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Rome didn’t “fall” in 476, but on the contrary it was reinvigorated by an influx of Germanic “barbarians,” who over a period of several hundred years prior to 476 had managed to sustain an empire that was rotting from the inside out. More accurately, the year 476 was a crescendo of ontological revolution which witnessed the birth of a new people and a new Europe atop the ruins of an empire and people that had long since perished. Moreover, the Germanic invasions heralded a rebirth, ushering in an ontological regeneration of a people on the precipice of oblivion.
As alluded to above, the original tribal pastoralists who inhabited the fabled Seven Hills of Rome were members of the Indo-European Latini tribe. More specifically, the prototypical Romans and other “Peninsular Latins” were members of the Italic branch of the North-Western Indo-European race, who originally entered Italy circa 1200 to 1000 BC. These Indo-Europeans conquered their neighbors and eventually birthed a civilization that would one day transform into one of the most colossal empires of the ancient world, mighty Rome. Fast-forward several hundred years to the second century BC, and miraculously, Rome had managed to maintain its Indo-European, one could even say Germanic, racial character. Following the cessation of the Punic Wars in 146 BC and with Rome’s archenemy Carthage now humbled, the “Faustian” spirit of Rome sought to exert its collective “Will to Power” via territorial expansion. The Romans, in quick succession, become the hegemonic power first of the Western Mediterranean, then of the entire Mediterranean Basin, and then finally of the entirety of the Western world.
However, contemporaneously with this territorial expansion, the values of the aristocracy waned, particularly as the Roman race was unable to assimilate the sheer breadth of foreign elements entering into its genome. This decline in racial vitality gave rise to a decline in morality which intensified as the aristocracy declined. Eventually, by 212 AD, this degeneracy of both Roman society and its biology reached its apex when the Emperor Caracalla drafted legislation that henceforth made all the peoples residing within the boundaries of the Empire citizens.21 This dramatically expanded the Imperium’s tax base while simultaneously hastening and intensifying the balkanization of the now quite non-Roman/European populace. Not unsurprisingly, within a century Rome was a pale shadow of its former self, shambling about in its death throes, with its once vaunted civilizational stability mired in the perpetual turmoil of internecine conflict. Contemporary historiographical models, deriving largely from Gibbon’s work, posit that the “Western Roman Empire” fell in 476 AD. However, this perspective is a historical misnomer and is overly simplistic, and if anything proves my previous assertion that contemporary historiographical narratives are dictated more by liberal-humanist dogmatism than by historical truth.
Chronologically, it is true that that the last “Roman Emperor” was Romulus Augustulus and that he was deposed by the Germanic-Ostrogothic leader Odoacer, and that Rome itself was “sacked” at that time. However, contemporary historiography interprets these events in a methodology permeated by the perversity of liberal-humanist dogma, infused with a strong current of anti-Germanicism. Odoacer, like many of his Gothic contemporaries, was a Romanophile who perceived, both metaphysically and existentially, that it was his duty (Latin: pietas) to preserve the Empire, and preserve it he and his descendants did, albeit in fragmented form. The notion of “imperial centralization” was foreign to the Germans, even anathema one might say, and thus the territorial continuity of the Roman Empire fractured along Germanic tribal lines; however, it retained many of its material and immaterial sociocultural institutions, now augmented by the nuances of Germanic culture. Odoacer, and those like him, preserved Rome by dissolving its empire, allowing for a return to its more humble provincial origins from which modern Europe would one day leap forth. Thus it was the infusion of Indo-Germanic warrior blood into the now decrepit bloodlines of a wholly heterogeneous and degenerate “Roman” population which ushered in a new dialectical synthesis. This new synthesis revitalized the old Roman institutions which had been co-opted by foreign invaders under the short-sighted naivety of economic expediency. Furthermore, this dialectical synthesis catalyzed a palingenetic rebirth of the Roman world which ultimately resulted in the resurrection of the “Aryan” spirit which had previously animated the Roman Republic during its apex. The regeneration of Roman society by the Germani interjected, or rather re-animated, the Indo-European desire for glory, self-overcoming, and the infinite, and forced to the genetic surface the metaphysical constructs necessary for the eventual rise of modern Europe, whose fruition had been needlessly impeded by the xenocentrism of the late Roman Empire. From this synthesis, a pre-modern Western civilization was born, one which was in harmony, or rather re-harmonized, with the “Faustian” spirit of Europe. In Spenglerian terminology, the concept of the beyond, the infinite, and of the spire of the Gothic cathedral reaching towards the heavens supplanted the fatalistically delimiting hic et nunc (Latin: “here and now”) ethos of the non-European-dominated late Roman Empire, and ensured that Europe would once again realign itself with the spirit of its ancestors and continue its inexorable march towards the distant horizon.
- Kris Kreshaw, The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbund (Washington, DC: The Institute for the Study of Man, 2000), passim.
- Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. I (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932), p. 183.
- Ricardo Duchesne, The Uniqueness of Western Civilization (Leiden: Brill Publishing, 2012), p. 373.
- Daniel S. Forrest, Suprahumanism: European Man and the Regeneration of History (London: Arktos Media, 2014), p. 67.
- William H. McNeill, The Rise of the West (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964), pp. 540-543.
- Ibid., pp. 538-539.
- Kris Kreshaw, The One-eyed God: Odin and the (Indo-)Germanic Männerbund, pp. 172-175.
- M. Cary & H. H. Scullard, A History of Rome: Down to the Reign of Constantine (Boston: Bedford-St. Martin’s, 1976), p. 325.