The Origin of the Fascist Mentality
Fascism is an ideology which has its roots in Europe. The foundation of fascism was laid by a number of European thinkers in the 19th century, and put into practice in the 20th century by such countries as Italy and Germany. Other countries, which were influenced by fascism or adopted it, "imported" the ideology from Europe. So, in order to examine the roots of fascism, we must turn to the history of Europe.
European history has gone through several stages and periods. But, in the broadest sense, we can divide it into three fundamental periods:
The pre-Christian (pagan) period.
The idea of a "Post-Christian" period may strike many readers as odd, because Christianity is still by far the majority religion in European society. But Christianity is no longer a dominant aspect of European culture: all that remains is lip-service paid to it. The real ideologies and concepts that now direct society have been formed, not by the dictates of religion, but from the materialist philosophy. This anti-religious current began in the 18th century, and came to dominate science and the realm of ideas in the 19th. And, it was the 20th century when the catastrophic results of materialism were finally witnessed.
In regards to these three periods, we can see that fascism belongs to the first and third. In other words, fascism is a product of paganism, and was later reinforced with the rise of materialism. Fascist ideology or practice was non-existent throughout the thousand or so years when Christianity dominated Europe. The reason being that Christianity is a religion of peace and equality. Christianity, which calls people to love, compassion, self-sacrifice, and humility, is the complete antithesis of fascism.
Christianity is originally a divine religion, incepted by the Prophet Jesus. After Jesus, it departed from its original form with some applications and interpretations. Nevertheless, it has managed to maintain certain aspects of the essence of the true religion, with concepts such love, compassion, sacrifice, and humility, as set out above.
Let us now have a brief look at pre-Christian Europe and examine the roots of fascism.
Fascists in the Pagan World
Essentially, as a pagan culture, religion in pre-Christian Europe was polytheistic. Europeans believed the false gods they worshipped represented various forces or aspects of life, and most important were the gods of war, much like those who have appeared in just about every pagan society.
This prestige the gods of war enjoyed in pagan belief was the result of these societies' regarding violence as sacred. Pagan peoples were essentially barbaric and lived in a state of permanent warfare. To kill and spill blood in the name of their nation was seen as a sacred duty. Savagery and violence of almost every kind could find justification in paganism. There was no ethical foundation to forbid violence or brutality.
Even Rome, thought of as the most "civilized" state in the pagan world, was a place where people were made to fight to the death or torn to pieces by wild animals. The Emperor Nero came to power by having countless numbers of people killed, including his own mother, wife, and stepbrother. He had Christians devoured by wild animals in the arena, and tortured thousands of people simply because of their beliefs. An example of his cruelty was his setting the city of Rome on fire, as he played the lyre and watched the horrible scene from a window in his palace.
Though Rome was immersed in a culture of violence, the barbarian and pagan nations of the north, such as the Vandals, Goths, and Visigoths, were still more savage. They strove to wreak devastation on each other, as well as plundering Rome. The pagan world was a place where violence prevailed, where the use of brutality of every kind was encouraged, and where there was no consideration at all for ethics.
The best example in the pagan world of a "fascist" system, in the modern sense, was the Greek city-state of Sparta.
Sparta: A Model for All Fascists
Sparta was a military state, dedicated to war and violence, and alleged to have been founded by Lycurgus in the 8th century BC. The Spartans implemented highly regimented system of education. Under the Spartan system, the state was very much more important than the individual. Peoples' lives were measured according to whether or not they would be of use to the state. Strong, healthy male children were dedicated to the state, while unhealthy babies were abandoned to the mountains to die. (This Spartan practice was taken as an example by the Nazis of Germany, and it was claimed, under the further influence of Darwinism, that the sickly needed to be eliminated to maintain a "healthy and superior race.") In Sparta, parents were responsible for raising their sons until the age of seven. From then, until the age of 12, children were placed in teams of 15, and those who stood out for their abilities were selected to be leaders. Children spent their time strengthening their bodies and preparing for war by practicing sports.
Literacy was not considered important, and there was little interest in music or literature. The only songs children were allowed to sing and learn were those of war and violence. (The education of children from the age of four under the fascism of Mussolini and Hitler was very similar). The Spartan custom was to indoctrinate people in the spirit of war, at the expense of art, literature, and education.
One of the most important thinkers to have offered detailed statements about Sparta was the famous Greek philosopher Plato. Although he lived in Athens, which was governed democratically, he was impressed with the fascist system in Sparta, and in his books portrayed Sparta as a model state. Because of Plato's fascist tendencies, Karl Popper, one of the foremost thinkers of the 20th century, in his famous book, The Open Society and Its Enemies, describes him as the first source of inspiration for oppressive regimes, and an enemy of open society. In support of his contention, Popper refers to how Plato calmly defended the killing of infants in Sparta, and describes him as the first theoretical proponent of "eugenics":
...[I]t is important that the master class should feel as one superior master race. 'The race of the guardians must be kept pure', says Plato (in defence of infanticide), when developing the racialist argument that we breed animals with great care while neglecting our own race, an argument which has been repeated ever since. (Infanticide was not an Athenian institution; Plato, seeing that it was practised at Sparta for eugenic reasons, concluded that it must be ancient and therefore good.) He demands that the same principles be applied to the breeding of the master race as are applied, by an experienced breeder, to dogs, horses or birds. 'If you did not breed them in this way, don't you think that the race of your birds or dogs would quickly degenerate?' Plato argues; and he draws the conclusion that 'the same principles apply to the race of men'. The racial qualities demanded from a guardian or from an auxiliary are, more specifically, those of a sheep-dog. 'Our warrior-athletes .. must be vigilant like watch-dogs', demands Plato, and he asks: 'Surely, there is no difference, so far as their natural fitness for keeping guard is concerned, between a gallant youth and a well-bred dog?'3
These views of Plato, who regarded human beings as a species of animal, and proposed that they should be "evolved" through "forced mating," came to the fore once again with the advent of Darwinism in the 19th century, and were implemented by the Nazis in the 20th. We shall be examining this in the pages that follow.
While defending the Spartan model, Plato also advanced another aspect of fascism, the state use of repression to administer society. In Plato's view, this pressure should be so comprehensive that people should be unable to think of anything apart from the orders of the state, and behave in complete adherence to state policy, forsaking the use of their intelligence and free will. The following words of Plato, quoted by Popper as a complete statement of the fascist mentality, describe the structure of fascist order:
The greatest principle of all is that nobody, whether male or female, should be without a leader. Nor should the mind of anybody be habituated to letting him do anything at all on his own initiative; neither out of zeal, nor even playfully. But in war and in the midst of peace—to his leader he shall direct his eye and follow him faithfully. And even in the smallest matter he should stand under leadership. For example, he should get up, or move, or wash, or take his meals .. only if he has been told to do so. In a word, he should teach his soul, by long habit, never to dream of acting independently, and to become utterly incapable of it.4
These ideas and practices, promoted by the Spartans, as they were by Plato, exemplify the fundamental characteristics of fascism—the perception of human beings as mere animals, fanatical racism, the promotion of war and conflict, state-sponsored repression, and "formal indoctrination."
Similar fascistic practices are also discoverable in other pagan societies. The system set up by the pharaohs, the rulers of ancient Egypt, is in certain aspects comparable to Spartan fascism. The Egyptian pharaohs built up state systems founded on ideals of military discipline, and used them to oppress even their own people. Rameses II, the tyrannical Egyptian ruler, who is believed to have lived in the time of the Prophet Moses, ordered that all male Jewish children be killed, a cruelty reminiscent of the infanticide in Sparta, and the psychological forms of oppression he inflicted on his own subjects also recalls the fascistic system described by Plato. As God revealed in the Koran, Pharaoh offered his subjects the following tyrannical ultimatum: "...I only show you what I see myself and I only guide you to the path of rectitude." (Koran, 40:29) And he threatened those magicians who rejected his pagan beliefs and led to the true religion by following Moses, "...Have you believed in him before I authorized you to do so?...I will cut off your alternate hands and feet and then I will crucify every one of you." (Koran, 7:123-124)
Fascism's Retreat in the Face of Religion
The fascistic pagan culture which dominated Europe disappeared in stages with the spread of Christianity in the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD, first to Rome, and then to all of Europe. Christianity carried to European society the basic ethical characteristics of the true religion revealed to man by the Prophet Jesus. Europe, which had once encouraged violence, conflict and bloodshed as sacred, and been composed of different tribes, races and city-states constantly at war with one another, underwent an important change.
1) Racial and tribal wars disappeared:
In the pagan world, all tribes and races saw each other as enemies, and there was constant fighting between them. Each pagan society had its own gods and totems which it invented, waging war in their name. With the coming of Christianity, there was a single belief, culture, and even language in Europe as a whole, thus the conflicts of the pagan world came to an end.
2) Peace and compassion came to be considered sacred, instead of violence:
In pagan societies, inflicting bloodshed, suffering and torture was seen as heroic, actions that appeased the imaginary "gods of war." Under Christianity however, European societies learned that people should love each other and exercise compassion (even for their enemies), and that the shedding of blood was a great sin in the sight of God.
3) The perception of human beings as a species of animal disappeared:
The Spartans regarding their warriors as equivalent to "watch-dogs" was an extension of the "animist" belief widespread in pagan societies. Animism implied ascribing a soul to nature and animals. According to animism, there was no difference between a human being and an animal, or even a plant. But when religion came to predominate, this superstition disappeared, and European societies realized that human beings possessed a soul given to them by God, and were completely different from animals, and could not, therefore, be subject to the same laws.
These three aspects of paganism—racism, bloodshed, and equating human beings with animals—are also the basic characteristics of fascism. In Europe, they were vanquished by Christianity. In the Middle East, the same victory was achieved by Islam over Arab paganism. Before the advent of Islam, the Arabs (and other Middle Eastern and Central Asian societies) were warlike, blood-thirsty, and racist. The Spartans' barbaric "abandonment of unwanted children to die" was adopted by the pagan Arabs, in the form of burying their female children alive. The Koran mentions this savage practice:
When the baby girl buried alive is asked for what crime she was killed. (Koran, 81: 8-9)
When any of them is given the good news of (the birth of a daughter) the very thing which he himself has ascribed to the All-Merciful his face darkens and he is furious.(Koran, 43:17)
The Arabs, and other Middle Eastern and Central Asian cultures, were only transformed into peaceful, civilized, intelligent societies opposed to bloodshed after they were enlightened by Islam. Thus they were freed from the old tribal wars and nomadic savagery, and found peace and stability in religion.
Neo-Paganism and the Birth of Fascism
Although European paganism was suppressed by Christianity, it did not die out. It survived under the guise of various teachings, movements, and secret societies, such as the Freemasons, and re-emerged in a definite form in Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries. A number of European thinkers, influenced by the works of ancient Greek philosophers, such as Plato or Aristotle, began to revive concepts from the pagan world.
This neo-pagan current became increasingly influential, and in the 19th century, surpassed Christianity and imposed itself on Europe. It will be useful to examine the main outline of this lengthy process here, without necessarily going into details.
The vanguard of neo-pagan movement was those thinkers known as "humanists." Influenced by ancient Greek sources, they tried to spread the pagan philosophies of such philosophers as Plato and Aristotle. The belief they professed in the name "humanism" was a perverted philosophy that ignored the existence of God and man's responsibilities to Him, but instead considered man a great, superior, and independent being. The influences of humanism took on further aspects with the philosophy of the Enlightenment in the 17th and 18th centuries. Enlightenment philosophers were influenced by and fiercely defended materialism, an idea which developed in ancient Greece. (Materialism is a dogmatic philosophy put forward by such Greek thinkers as Leucippus and Democritus, positing that only matter exists).
The rebirth of paganism is clearly evident in the French Revolution, widely accepted as the political end-product of Enlightenment philosophy. The Jacobins, who led the bloody "terrorist" period of the French Revolution, were influenced by paganism, and nurtured a great hatred for Christianity. As a result of intensive Jacobin propaganda during the fiercest days of the revolution, the "rejection of Christianity" movement became widespread. In addition, a new "religion of reason" was established, which was based on pagan symbols rather than Christianity. Its first signs were seen in the "revolutionary worship," on the Festival of Federation on July 14, 1790, which were then widely disseminated. Robespierre, the ruthless leader of the Jacobins, brought about new rules for "revolutionary worship," setting out their principles in a report under the name "Cult of the Supreme Being." The most significant outcome of these developments was the conversion of the famous Notre Dame Cathedral into a "temple of reason." The Christian icons on its walls were torn down, and a female statue known as the "goddess of reason" was erected in the center of it, in other words, a pagan idol.
These pagan tendencies were portrayed among the revolutionaries by a number of symbols. The liberty cap worn by the revolutionary guards of the French Revolution, and which often became a symbol of the revolution, descended from the pagan world and the worship of Mithras.5
The rebirth of paganism, and the beginning of its intellectual dominance over Europe, also led the way to a rebirth of fascism, itself a system rooted in the pagan world. In fact, Nazi Germany, with its system reminiscent of that practiced in Sparta, was based on paganism. Towards this development, a number of fundamental cultural changes were necessary between the French Revolution, at the end of the 18th century, and Nazi Germany, at the beginning of the 20th. These important changes were brought about by a number of thinkers during the 19th century. The most important of these was Charles Darwin.
That is because God- He is the Truth, and what you call upon besides Him is falsehood. God is the All-High, the Most Great. (Koran, 31:30)
Darwinism and the Revival of the Pagan Superstition of "Evolution"
One of the superstitions to survive from paganism, but which only began to be revived in Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, was the "theory of evolution," a theory which maintained that all living things came into existence as the result of pure chance, and then developed from one to another.
Unaware of the existence of God, and worshipping false idols which they themselves devised, pagans answered the question of how life came about with the concept of "evolution." This notion is first seen in inscriptions from ancient Sumeria, but was given shape in ancient Greece. Pagan philosophers such as Thales, Anaximander and Empedocles, claimed that living things, in other words human beings, animals and plants, formed themselves from such inanimate substances as air, fire and water. According to their theories, the first living things suddenly emerged in water and then adapted to the land. Thales had spent time in Egypt, where the superstition that "living things formed themselves out of mud" was widespread. The Egyptians believed that in this way the frogs which appeared when the waters of the Nile receded were formed.
Thales adopted the superstition and attempted to present a number of arguments on its behalf, proposing that all living things came into existence by and of themselves. These claims of his were based solely in theory, not on experiment and observation. Other ancient Greek philosophers employed the same method.
Anaximander, a student of Thales, developed the theory of evolution, giving rise to to two important modes of Western thought. The first of these was that the universe had always existed and will continue to exist into eternity. The second was the idea that living things evolved from each other, an idea which had slowly begun to take shape in Thales' time. The first written work to discuss the theory of evolution was the classical poem On Nature, in which Anaximander wrote that creatures arose from slime that had been evaporated by the sun. He thought that the first animals lived in the sea and had prickly, scaly coverings. As these fish-like creatures evolved, they moved onto land, shed their scaly coverings, and became humans.6 Books on philosophy describe how Anaximander shaped the foundation of the theory of evolution:
We find that Anaximander of Miletus (611 B.C.-546 B.C.) advanced the traditional evolutionary idea, already quite common in his day, that life first evolved from a type of pre-biotic soup, helped along a bit by the rays of the sun. He believed that the first animals developed from sea slime which had been evaporated by the sun rays. He also believed that men were descended from fish.7
In short, one of the two fundamental components of Darwinism, the claim that living things evolved from each other as a result of coincidences, was the product of pagan philosophy. The second important element of Darwin's theory, "the struggle for survival," was also a pagan belief. It was the Greek philosophers who first suggested there was a war for survival between living things in nature.
In pagan thought, the concept of evolution was called "the Great Chain of Being," an idea that influenced such early defenders of evolutionary theory as the French scientists Benoit de Maillet, Pierre de Maupertuis, Comte de Buffon and Jean Baptiste Lamarck.
In his Histoire Naturelle, Buffon reveals himself as "an exponent of the doctrine of the Great Chain of Being, with man being placed at the tope of the Chain."8 Buffon's evolutionist views were passed on to Lamarck, and eventually inherited by Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, was an evolutionist who adhered to pagan beliefs. Erasmus Darwin was one of the masters at the famous Canongate Kilwining Masonic lodge in Edinburgh, Scotland. He also had close connections to the Jacobins in France, and the Masonic organization of the Illuminati, whose founding principle was the hatred of religion. From the research he carried out in his eight-hectare botanical garden, he developed the ideas that would later go on to shape Darwinism, collected together in his books The Temple of Nature and Zoonomia. The concept of "the temple of nature" that Erasmus employed was a testament to the pagan beliefs he adopted, a repetition of the old pagan belief that nature possesses a creative force.
Darwinism Prepared the Foundation for Fascism
The myth of evolution, a legacy of Sumerian and Greek paganism, was introduced into the Western agenda with Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, published in 1859. In this work, as in The Descent of Man, he discussed certain pagan concepts that had disappeared in Europe under Christianity, and gave them "justification" under the guise of science. We can outline these pagan concepts which he attempted to justify, thus preparing the groundwork for the development of fascism, as follows:
1) Darwinism provided the justification for racism:
In the subtitle to The Origin of the Species, Darwin wrote: "The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life." With these words, Darwin was claiming that certain races in nature are more "favored" than others, in other words, that they were superior. He revealed this dimension of his ideas regarding human races in The Descent of Man, where he proposed that European white men were superior to races such as Africans, Asians and Turks, and were permitted to enslave them.
2) Darwinism provided a justification for bloodshed:
As we have seen, Darwin proposed that a deadly "struggle for survival" takes place in nature. He claimed that this principle applied to both societies and to individuals, that it was a struggle to the death, and that it was quite natural for different races to try to eliminate others for its own sake. In short, Darwin described an arena where the only rule was violence and conflict, thus replacing the concepts of peace, cooperation, self-sacrifice, that had spread to Europe with the advent of Christianity. Darwinism thus resurrected the notion of the "arena," an exhibition of violence devised in the pagan world (the Roman Empire).
3) Darwinism brought the concept of eugenics back into Western thought:
The concept of maintaining racial supremacy through breeding, known as eugenics, which the Spartans had implemented, and which Plato defended by the words, "Our warrior-athletes must be vigilant like watch-dogs," re-emerged in the Western world with Darwinism. Darwin devoted whole chapters in The Origin of Species to discussing the "improvement of animal races," and maintained, in The Descent of Man, that human beings were a species of animal. Some time later, Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, was to take his uncle's claims a step further, and put forward the modern theory of eugenics. (Nazi Germany would be the first state to implement eugenics as official policy).
As we have seen, Darwin's theory seems to be a concept that concerns only the science of biology, but it actually formed the basis for a totally new political outlook. Within a very short time, this new attitude was redefined as "Social Darwinism." And as many historians have come to accept, Social Darwinism became the ideological basis of fascism and Nazism.
The effect of Darwinism's portrayal of war and conflict as necessary has been analyzed in great detail in Paul Crook's Cambridge University publication Darwinism, War and History: The Debate over the Biology of War from 'The Origin of Species' to the First World War. Crook has made it clear that by presenting war as a "biological necessity," Darwinism formed both the formal justification for the First World War, as well as for various other warlike tendencies in fascism. Crook writes:
Darwinist discourse conferred approval on a range of doctrines glorifying power, status, elitism, conquest and repression. Differences between cultures, genders, classes and races were reduced to fixed biological differences, imprinted in humans during eons of selective struggle. Darwin's conflict model generated militarist and racist extrapolations that conferred approval on war and imperial struggle as 'biological necessities'.9
From such [Darwinist] assumptions, a variety of unpleasant consequences could be derived... War is rationalised... As Frederick Wertham has argued, if violence 'is all in human nature, and if we are all guilty, then nobody is guilty. And if we are all responsible, no man is responsible' ...The First World War was portrayed as the final vindication of the mythology of bestiality, encoded anew in terms of neo-Darwinian genetics and instinct theory.10
Darwin thought of using Hobbes's phrase 'war of nature' as a heading to his chapter on struggle in his projected 'big book' Natural Selection ...He spoke of creatures 'overmastering' one another: 'through his continual use of highly dramatic language representing the life of organisms in nature as some heroic war, with attendant battles, victories, famine, dearth, and destruction, Darwin creates the image of a great literal struggle for existence – an image which pervades the Origin.'11
You who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you.(Koran, 2:208)
As Crook has stated, Darwin not only proposed that human beings were a "species" descended from animals, but portrayed war and conflict as "the origin of species." This fallacy would be the justification for the promotion of war and the ideology of conflict, in fact, for the growth of fascism itself.
Friedrich Nietzsche: An Ill Mind Who Praised Violence
There was another 19th century thinker influenced by the neo-paganism attendant to Darwinism, and who expanded on it, thus helping to establish the foundation for fascism: The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche.
Nietzsche was born in a village near Leipzig in 1844, and was fascinated by Greek culture, learning Greek at an early age. In 1868, he began studying philosophy in the Swiss city of Basel. Nietzsche hated divine religions, such as Christianity, Islam and Judaism, but was fascinated by the pagan culture of ancient Greece. He formed a close friendship in Basel with Wagner, the best-known composer of the age. Wagner, who had come to fame with his Die Götterdämmerung (The Twilight of the Gods), was a German racist who was also fascinated by pagan culture and hated divine religions. (Wagner would be regarded as Germany's greatest cultural genius throughout the Hitler period)
Nietzsche's publisher, Peter Gast, called Nietzsche "one of the fiercest anti-Christians and atheists."12 Another testament to Nietzsche's hatred of religion is the title of his book Anti-Christ. In his book Thus Spake Zarathustra, he tried to set up an ethical system beyond divine religion. According to H. F. Peters, Nietzsche's biographer, his philosophy rested on Roman and Greek paganism, and in his writings he called for "a new Caesar" to transform the world.13
Nietzsche had a particular hatred of the ethical views of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. In his opinion, concepts such as love, compassion and humility, must be abandoned and replaced with a so-called "master morality" which accepted the warlike and ruthless state of nature. In Thus Spake Zarathustra, he wrote, "Of all that is written I love only what a man has written with his blood. Write with blood, and you will experience that blood is spirit."14
Nietzsche was also a racist. He maintained that one part of mankind was composed of übermensch (superman), and that the others had to serve and obey them. Furthermore, he claimed that these so-called "supermen" would found an aristocratic world order, a theory which was put into practice by Hitler's armies at the start of the Second World War in 1939.
These two aspects of Nietzsche's philosophy, his racism and reverence for violence, are allied closely to Darwinism. Nietzsche's thought was in fact strongly influenced by Darwin. Darwin's discrimination between the different races conformed closely to Nietzsche's perception of "superior and inferior peoples." Nietzsche also adapted his hatred of religion with the atheism of Darwin.
In his book Darwin's Dangerous Idea, the Darwinist writer Daniel C. Dennett describes Darwin's influence on Nietzsche in the following way: "Friedrich Nietzsche saw …an even more cosmic message in Darwin:...If Nietzsche is the father of existentialism, then perhaps Darwin deserves the title of grandfather."15 Dennett explains in great detail how Darwin and Nietzsche's ideas run parallel, and although Nietzsche seems to criticize Darwin in some of his writings, he gives many examples where Nietzsche clearly approves of Darwinist thought.
After Nietzsche's death, the most important exponent of his philosophy was his sister, Elisabeth Nietzsche. She stood out as an avowed supporter of Nazi ideology in Hitler's Germany, and announced that her brother's model of the "Superman" had been brought to life by Hitler.16
Nietzsche's influence on Nazi ideology is a reality that has been stressed by a great many historians. W. Cleon Skousen writes that, when "Hitler wrote Mein Kampf, it was as though Nietzsche was speaking from the dead."17 Another historian, George Lichtheim, writes, "It is not too much to say that but for Nietzsche the SS—Hitler's shock troops and the core of the whole movement—would have lacked the inspiration to carry our their programs of mass murder in Eastern Europe."18
As the historian H. F. Peters puts it, many have cursed Nietzsche as "the father of fascism."19 In his book, The Myth of the 20th Century, the Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg openly praised Nietzsche. Hitlerjugend (Hitler Youth), the youth wing of the Nazi movement, took Nietzsche's Thus Spake Zarathustra as a sacred text. Adolf Hitler had a special monument erected in Nietzsche's memory, and incepted the foundations of an educational center and library "where German youth could be taught Nietzsche's doctrine of a master race."20 Finally, the Friedrich Nietzsche Memorial Building was opened by Hitler in August 1938.
The likeness of those who disbelieve is that of someone who yells out to something which cannot hearÑit is nothing but a cry and a call. Deaf-dumb-blind. They do not use their intellect.(Koran, 2:171)
Nietzsche's influence was not limited to Germany, it was also important in Italy, the birthplace of fascism. The poet Gabriele D'Annunzio, who may be regarded as the inspiration behind Mussolini, was greatly influenced by Nietzsche's philosophy.21 Historians note that D'Annunzio's successor, Benito Mussolini acknowledged a debt of gratitude to Nietzsche as well.22
The disasters inflicted upon mankind by fascism, which Nietzsche had inspired, provide historical evidence of just how harmful were the German philosopher's Darwinist ideas. Nietzsche, who opposed the divine morality that God revealed to mankind to show it the true path, and who proposed taking mankind to the modern age by replacing that morality with a brutal and oppressive society, had put forward Darwin's idea that man is a species of animal, and divided man into superior and inferior races, is the best example of the dark reality into which a lack of religion draws individuals and societies. Moreover, Nietzsche's life itself serves a warning. At 44 he was taken to a mental hospital, where his illness grew steadily worse, until he died raving mad. In 1902, a doctor called P. J. Mobius warned people "that they should beware of Nietzsche, for his works were the products of a diseased brain."23 But the Germans had great respect for the diseased philosophy of this disturbed mind, and so Nazi Germany was born.
Nietzsche died of syphilis in a state of mental decay in a lunatic asylum. His private life was no less troubled or diseased than his philosophy.
Like all those who have ever denied the existence of God, he met a very unpleasant end.
Do not let those who rush headlong into disbelief sadden you. They do not harm God in any way. God desires to assign no portion to them in the hereafter. They will have a terrible punishment. Those who sell belief for disbelief do not harm God in any way. They will have a painful punishment. Those who disbelieve should not imagine that the extra time We grant to them is good for them. We only allow them more time so they will increase in evildoing. They will have a humiliating punishment. (Koran, 3:176-178)
Francis Galton: The Inspiration Behind Eugenic Killings
Another important 19th century ideologue, who helped lay the foundations of 20th century fascism, was Francis Galton, known as the founder of the theory of "eugenics."
We have already discussed the concept of eugenics. It saw people as a species of animal and was the product of a mentality that imagined that the same rules applied to human beings as to animals. It held the belief that the human race could be developed by "breeding methods," as with dogs or cattle. According to the theory, society's sick and deformed must be prevented from multiplying, (if necessary, they should even be killed), and healthy individuals should "reproduce" as much as possible to ensure strong and healthy later generations. This policy was one that had been implemented by the warrior city-state of Sparta, and defended by Plato.
With the domination of Christianity, eugenics had found itself relegated to the dusty shelves of history. Until Darwin's The Origin of Species was published. Darwin devoted the opening chapters of his book to the subject of raising animals, drew attention to those breeders who raised more productive breeds of horses and cattle, and then proposed, later on in the book, that these methods could be applied to human beings. Ultimately, it was Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, who widened the road of eugenics opened by his uncle, and who brought the subject onto the world stage by formulating it into a comprehensive program.
As we might imagine, Galton was a fierce supporter and follower of Darwin. In his autobiography Memories of My Life, he writes:
The publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin made a marked epoch in my own mental development, as it did in that of human thought generally. Its effect was to demolish a multitude of dogmatic barriers by a single stroke, and to arouse a spirit of rebellion against all ancient authorities whose positive and unauthenticated statements were contradicted by modern science. 24
The concepts that Galton denigrated as "dogmatic barriers" and "ancient authorities" were religious systems and beliefs. In other words, Darwin was the reason for Galton's "great turning point," giving up his beliefs, and turning to the atheism and the racism, remnants of paganism.
Other than Darwin, Galton was also influenced by another evolutionist ideologue, the French physicist Paul Broca, who proposed that human intelligence was directly related to brain size and, hence, to the size of the head. In order to allegedly "prove" this, he tore up Paris graveyards and measured hundreds of skulls. Galton united Broca's superstition about brain size—which would subsequently be proved to be utterly wrong—and Charles Darwin's "animal breeding" philosophy. The result was the theory of "eugenics," being that certain races of humanity are superior to others, and that those superior must be kept uncontaminated by those inferior.
Galton first published his ideas in 1869, in his book Hereditary Genius. It discusses a number of "geniuses" in British history and claims that they bore pure racial characteristics. (Among these "geniuses," he did not neglect to include his uncle, Charles Darwin). In accordance to his claim, Galton then suggested that the English nation possessed an inherently superior blood to other races, and that steps needed to be taken to protect that blood from contamination. These theories he considered to be applicable not just to the British, but to all races. The Canadian author Ian Taylor has this to say in his book In the Minds of Men, in which he considers the social effects of Darwinism:
He [Galton] was now left with the claim that certain races were inherently superior and that their superiority was fixed forever from the past as well as into the future… The conclusion to Galton's argument then followed that, for the sake of mankind's future, pollution of the precious superior gene pool by interbreeding with inferior stock had to be stopped at all costs.25
Galton proposed that legal measures needed to be taken to prevent "inferior races polluting the superior." In his view, marriages needed to be legally regulated. To name his racist-evolutionist theory, Galton looked to the pagan world which had once practiced the same ideology. It was Galton who coined and first used the word "eugenics," from the Greek for "good birth." Inevitably, those who believed in Darwinism, also believed in eugenics. Finally, the Eugenics Education Society was established in 1907, based at the statistics department of University College, London. In 1926, the name was simplified, and it became the "Eugenics Society."
The Eugenics Society maintained that all handicapped people should be "sterilized." Charles Darwin's son, Leonard Darwin, was president of the organization between 1911 and 1928, and its most active member.
After Great Britain, eugenics began to attract supporters in the United States. Evolutionist circles there carried out a great deal of propaganda on the subject in the 1920s and 30s, and certain states passed the laws known as "Sterilization Laws." These laws allowed men and women believed to be genetically weak or sick to be sterilized.
These laws are now seen in the United States as an example of the detriment of racism. What is more, the idea is now seen as a superstition, totally at variance with the scientific facts. The recent human genome project has shown that the genetic differences between races and individuals are very small, and that it is stupid to even attempt to construct any reproduction policy based on them. Human races were created equal by God. In the Koran, God says:
Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God's sight is that one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Koran, 49:13)
The weak and genetically sick must be treated with affection and compassion, protected and nurtured, not "sterilized." But instead of this approach, revealed to us by God as a religious moral duty, the Western world, at the beginning of the 20th century, turned to eugenics, a product of paganism and the theory of evolution. And, the scale of the savagery that this pagan-evolutionary theory led to will be revealed when we consider the case of Germany.
Ernst Haeckel: The Nazis' Racist Theoretician
The last name along the path from Darwin to the Nazis that we need to consider is the zoologist Ernst Haeckel, Germany's best-known Darwinist and a fanatical supporter of eugenics.
In the history of science, Haeckel is known for his theory that "ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny." According to this evolutionary theory, Haeckel was claiming that embryonic development repeats "evolutionary history." He thought that the stages of embryonic development repeated the adult stages of the ancestors of a species. In order to support his theory, which he developed under the influence of Darwin, Haeckel made a number of drawings of embryos, in which, it was later realized, he had made deliberate distortions, and that his theory was a forgery. Haeckel was a charlatan who used falsified evidence to make Darwinism scientifically acceptable.
Another instance of Haeckel's erroneous science is the theory of eugenics. He adopted the theory, from such names as Charles Darwin, Francis Galton and Leonard Darwin, and took it further, by suggesting a return to the Spartan model of ancient Greece: In other words, to murdering children! In his book Wonders of Life, Haeckel proposed the "destruction of abnormal new born infants" without hesitation, and claimed that it could not "rationally be classed as murder", becaıse these children were not yet conscious.26
Haeckel wanted all the sick and deformed, who may be an obstacle to the so-called evolution of society, not just children, to be eliminated as a requirement of the "laws of evolution." He opposed treatment for the sick, claiming that this obstructed the workings of natural selection. He complained that "Hundreds of thousands of incurables—lunatics, lepers, people with cancer etc—are artificially kept alive in our modern communities…without the slightest profit to themselves or the general body." He further recommended that a commission should be set up to decide the fate of individuals. Upon the decision of the commission the "'redemption from evil' should be accomplished by a dose of some painless and rapid poison."27
This barbarism, upon which Haeckel built his theory, was to be put into practice in Nazi Germany. Shortly after coming to power, the Nazis instituted an official policy of eugenics. The mentally ill, the deformed, the blind from birth, and those with genetic diseases, were gathered up in "sterilization centers." These people were regarded as parasites that spoiled the purity of the German race and its evolutionary progress. Some time after being separated from society, they were eventually killed under special orders from Hitler.
It is a well known fact, pronounced by many historians who have studied the subject, that Ernst Haeckel's ideas and the Darwinist ideology in general, were the ideological basis of Nazism. In his book The Scientific Origins of National Socialism: Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League, the American historian Daniel Gasman presents extensive proof of this. According to Gasman, Haeckel "became one of Germany's major idealists for racism, nationalism and imperialism."28 Haeckel left Nazism an organizational and an ideological legacy. On the one hand he developed the theory of eugenics and racism, and on the other he founded the "Monist League," an atheist association, and this played a major role in the effect the Nazis had on the educated section of society.
Cambridge historian and London Times journalist Ben Macintyre explains the Darwinist thought that Haeckel left as his legacy to the Nazis:
The German embryologist Haeckel and his Monist League told the world, and in particular, Germany, that the whole history of nations is explicable by means of natural selection: Hitler and his twisted theories turned this pseudo-science into politics, attempting to destroy whole races in the name of racial purity and the survival of the fittest...Hitler called his book Mein Kampf, "My Struggle," echoing Haeckel's translation of Darwin's phrase "the struggle for survival."29
This Darwinist influence at the root of Nazism and other fascist ideologies will be examined more closely in later sections of this book.
Fascism: The Return of Paganism
At the beginning of this chapter, we identified fascism as a system of violence that emerged in pagan societies. The basic reason for this violent tendency in fascism comes from the philosophy of "worshipping strength," that might is right. The strong have the right to rise to the top and crush the weak. Fascists greatly admire the strong, but hate and despise the weak. The fundamental principles of this perverted philosophy are waging war, shedding blood, ruthlessness and cruelty.
Against this perverted mentality that emerged in Sparta, in the arenas of the Roman Empire, and in the pagan barbarian tribes from the North of Europe, there is the beautiful morality God has revealed to us by means of religion. As revealed to man throughout history by prophets and holy books, such as the Torah, the Gospel and the Koran, what matters is not" strength," but "truth." Human beings must be judged by whether or not they conform to what God has revealed as the truth, not by their strength. The strong are charged with being gentle and compassionate to the weak, not crushing and oppressing them. A human being's duty is to protect the weak and be merciful and peace-loving, not to be cruel and ruthless.
Modern fascism, with its roots in the 19th century, is a product of ideologies that desire to oppose those rules of morality revealed to man by religion, and to replace them with a racist, blood-thirsty and cruel culture of paganism. The neo-Pagan tendency, which began with the French Revolution, was given shape by Friedrich Nietzsche, and carried forward to Nazi ideology. Evolutionists such as Charles Darwin, Francis Galton and Ernst Haeckel strove to give so-called scientific support to this rising paganism, by denying the existence of God, and attempting to demonstrate that all of life consists of a "struggle for survival", thus justifying racism.
The American historian, Gene Edward Veith, sums up these developments in his book Modern Fascism: Liquidating the Judeo-Christian Worldview this way: "Fascism is the modern world's nostalgia for paganism.... It is a sophisticated culture's revolt against God."30
Nazism clearly revealed that fact. The Nazis defended paganism, both during the early stages, and also when they came to power in 1933. They tore German society away from Christianity, and tried to turn it to pagan beliefs.
Even in the 1920s, Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazis' foremost ideologue, was already claiming that Christianity would be unable to generate sufficient spiritual energy under the Third Reich that was to be set up under Hitler's leadership, and that the German people would have to return to the old pagan religion. According to Rosenberg, when the Nazis came to power they would have to replace all the Christian symbols in churches with swastikas, copies of Mein Kampf, and swords symbolizing German invincibility. Hitler was influenced by these views of Rosenberg, although he refrained from implementing the so-called German religion because he was afraid of what society's reaction might be.31
However, important neo-pagan practices were experimented with during the Nazi era. Not long after Hitler came to power, Christian holidays and festivals were replaced by pagan ones. "Mother Earth" or "Father Sky" were called on at wedding ceremonies. In 1935, Christian prayers in schools were stopped, and then all lessons concerning Christianity were banned.
As made clear in the book The Pink Swastika, which discusses the Nazis' pagan ideologies (and homosexual tendencies), "the revival of Hellenic paganism became a fundamental aspect of the Nazi identity."32
The same book stresses the fact that there was a homosexual tendency in that pagan movement which formed the basis of Nazi identity. It also gives an interesting example of the Nazis' links to Greek pagan culture:
Who were these "intellectuals" who popularized Nietzschean fascism in Germany? Stefan George, one of Germany's most popular poets of the time, was a pederast, and "a guiding example" to the Community of the Special…. "George and his disciples" writes Oosterhuis and Kennedy "revivified Holderlin's concept Griechendeutschen (Hellenic Germans)... His [Stephen George's] last book, Das neue Reich (The New Kingdom) published in 1928, "prophesied an era in which Germany would become a new Greece". In 1933, when Hitler came to power, he offered George a position as President of the Nazi Academy of Letters.33
Under Nazi rule, many policies were implemented that were aimed at establishing a re-awakening of pagan culture. Schoolchildren were taught the so-called "Glorious pre-Christian German history," and various rites and ceremonies, legacies of pagan culture, were held all over Germany. All Nazi meetings were in the form of traditional pagan ceremonies. There was almost no difference between Nazi rallies, held under the shadow of flaming torches, where slogans full of hate and hostility were shouted and Wagner's pagan music played, and the perverted ceremonies carried out thousands of years ago at pagan temples and altars.
To re-awaken paganism, the Nazis also used the arts. Ancient Greek concepts and symbols began to predominate under Nazi rule, and many statues similar to Greek one were made portraying strong men and women of the Aryan race. Hitler dreamed that a "superior race" would be formed through eugenics, and a cruel and oppressive "world kingdom" would be established based on the Spartan model. The expression "The Third Reich" is a testament to this dream. (Hitler attempted to found the third and greatest German kingdom after two others which had existed previously). Because of this dream, 55 million people lost their lives in the Second World War, the bloodiest conflict that the world had ever seen. The genocides Nazis carried out against various ethnic groups such as the Jews, Gypsies, and Poles, as well as prisoners of war from other nations, were of a savagery unprecedented in history.
In the next chapter, we will see under what conditions fascism came to power, and how it proceeded once it had done so.
They are nothing but names which you yourselves have given, you and your forefathers. God has sent down no authority for them. They are following nothing but conjecture and what their own selves desire. And that when guidance has reached them from their Lord! (Koran, 53:23)
27. Ernst Haeckel, Wonders of Life, New York, Harper, 1904, pp. 118-119; cited in Daniel Gasman, Social Darwinism in Ernst Haeckel and the German Monist League, MacDonald, London and New York, 1971, p .95.