''ESTONIA'' (15) "Hindenburg" (2) “Yom Kippur” War (1) 2017 Westminster attack (1) 20th_Century (3) 7/7 London bombings (38) 911 (389) A.H.M. RAMSAY (2) Abu Ghraib (1) ADL (1) ADOLF_HITLER (22) ADVENTURE (1) Affirmative Action (1) Afghanistan (7) AFRICA (45) Agriculture (3) AIDS (23) Al Azhar University (1) Alain de Benoist (15) Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn (22) AMAZONIA (3) America (4) American Islamization (15) American Universities (1) American_Indian (1) ANCIENT_CIVILISATIONS (2) Animal_Rights (6) ANTEDILUVIAN_CIVILISATION (15) Anthony Blunt (1) Anthony Ludovici (3) Anti-Semitism (1) Antifa (1) AR. LEESE (4) ARCHAEOLOGY (3) Argentina (1) Armenia (4) Armenian Genocide (1) Art (15) Arthur Koestler (1) Astronomy (30) AUSTRALIA (1) AUSTRIA (1) Ayaan Hirsi Ali (3) BALI (1) Balkans (4) Bangladesh (1) banned_weapons (1) BELGIUM (2) Benjamin Freedman (1) BENJAMIN SOLARI PARRAVICINI (11) Beslan (1) Bill Clinton (1) Biological Warfare (2) BLOOD PASSOVER (12) BOLSHEVIK REVOLUTION (14) Book purge (1) Brigitte Gabriel (1) British politics (1) Buddhism (5) California (1) Cambodia (8) CANADA (7) CANCER (40) Carolina bays (1) Celebrities-Show Business (3) Cell Phone towers (6) Censorship in Europe (6) CENTRAL_ASIA (1) Central/South America (1) Ch. Bollyn (30) Charles Tart (8) Charlie Hebdo (1) Che Guevara (2) CHEMTRAILS (13) CHINA (6) Christian Zionism (1) CHRISTIANISM (45) Churchill (6) Circumcision (10) CLIMATE (6) Climate Change (1) cluster bombs/mines (2) COLD_FUSION (1) COLONIALISM (1) Colonization of Europe (19) Commerce (1) Communism (48) CONGO (5) Consciousness (9) Conspiracies (8) Consumerism (1) contemporary society (8) COPTS (1) Cosmogony (1) Crime (5) Criminal_Sciense (1) crop circles (5) CUBA (16) DARFUR (3) Dead Sea Scrolls (1) Death penalty in ISLAM (1) Death-Bed Visions (1) DECADANT_ART (1) Deir Yassin (8) DENMARK (2) Depleted uranium (6) DIAMOND CARTELS (1) DIANA (10) DIETRICH ECKART (1) DILUVIUM (5) Disney (2) DOGS (1) Donald TRUMP (3) Dönmeh (1) Doppelgangers (1) Dresden (6) DRUG ADDICTION (1) E.U. (11) Eastern Europe (1) ECHELON (1) ECONOMY (14) EDUCATION (4) Egypt (7) Eisenhower (2) El Inglés (2) Elite_Child_Sex_Rings (16) Elizabeth Taylor (1) ENERGY (8) Enoch Powell (1) environmentalism (3) Ernst Zundel (1) European Parliament (1) EUROPEAN UNION (10) EUROPEAN_IDENTITY (3) Eustace Mullins (10) Evidence for the Afterlife (1) EVOLUTION (5) EXPLORATIONS (1) Ezra Pound (1) FALSE_HISTORY (1) Fascism (3) Female Genital Mutilation (2) FEMINISM (11) FINLAND (1) Fjordman (6) Flight 007 (1) Fluoride (1) Food (8) FRANCE (23) Francis P. Yockey (3) Frankfurt School (1) Franklin D. Roosevelt (5) freedom of speech (1) Fukushima (2) Gaza (1) Geert Wilders (9) genetically modified organisms (GMO) (8) Georges Bensoussan (2) German National Socialism (13) GERMANY (35) Gilad Atzmon (11) Globalism (4) Great Britain (46) Great Pyramid (16) GREECE (2) Guatemala (1) Gulag (3) Gulf War (1) Gulf War Syndrome (1) Guylaine Lanctot (2) HAARP (10) Harry Potter (1) HEALTH (114) HEMP (1) Henry Makow (2) Hidden History (15) HIDDEN HYPNOSIS TECHNIQUES (1) Hiroshima (3) Historical Review (63) History_of_IDEAS (1) HMS Hampshire (3) Hollow Earth (22) Hollywood (9) Holocaust (137) HOLODOMOR_1932-33 (17) Homosexuality (2) Horst Mahler (4) Howard Hughes (1) HUMAN_RIGHTS (1) Humorous (2) HUNGARY (2) HYPERBOREA (7) IAN STEVENSON (13) Immigration (15) IMPORTANT (5) INDIA (24) IndoEuropean (9) Indonesia (2) Infrasound Weapons (1) Intellectual_freedom (1) Intelligence (14) International Criminal Tribunal (3) INTERNET (2) INTERRACIAL_RELATIONS (1) INTIMIDATION (2) INVENTIONS (3) IRAN (9) IRAQ (21) IRAQ_war (10) IRELAND (1) ISLAM (303) Islam in Europe/America (75) ISLAM in RUSSIA (1) ISLAM propagandists (4) ISLAMIST INTIMIDATION (20) ISLAMIST_VIOLENCE (13) ISLAMIZATION OF EUROPE (43) Islamophobia (4) ISRAEL (124) ISRAEL-ARAB RELATIONS (8) ISRAEL's_ATOMIC_BOMB (4) ISRAEL/EU RELATIONS (1) ITALY (5) J.Kaminski (4) Japan (2) JEWS (97) JEWS/ISRAEL-USA_relations (47) JFK Assassination (27) JFK/RFK (1) Jihad (2) Jo Cox (6) Joe Sobran (4) John Bryant (17) John Lear (3) Journalists (2) Julius Evola (38) Jyllands-Posten newspaper (1) Kafirs (1) Karl Marx (1) Katie King (1) Katyn (11) Kevin MacDonald (28) KHAZARs (1) Knut Hamsun (1) Kurdistan (1) KURDS (1) Lasha Darkmoon (3) Laurel Canyon (4) Layla Anwar (4) LEBANON (3) LEFT (16) Lord Kitchener (4) Lord Northcliff (1) Lost Civilisations (2) Lost Technology (1) LYDDA (1) MADELEINE McCANN (4) Magic (1) Magnesium (7) Mahathir (1) Mahatma Gandhi (4) Malaysia (2) Manipulation (66) MAPS (1) Mark Weber (10) Mass immigration_Multiculturalism (18) Mass_Media (2) Mass-Psychology (3) Massacres (1) METEMPSYCHOSIS (16) MEXICO (1) MH370 (2) MIDDLE EAST (44) Military Tribunal at Nuremberg (8) MIND CONTROL (23) MONEY-Banking (8) Monsanto (9) Mormonism (1) Mortacracy (6) MUSIC MAFIA (2) Muslim Brotherhood (5) Muslim Persecution of Christians (1) MUSLIMS IN EUROPE (59) Mussolini (2) Mysterious (69) Mysterious_SKY (1) Nathuram Godse (3) Native Americans (1) Neapolis (1) NESSIE (17) Netherlands (10) New World Order (4) NEW_ZEALAND (1) NGOs (2) Nicolai Sennels (1) no-go zones (1) NOAM CHOMSKY (4) Nonie Darwish (10) North Africa (3) NORWAY (1) Norway massacre (5) NUCLEAR (11) Nutrition (20) Obama (2) Occult Symbols (21) Oklahoma City bombing (7) OLYMPIC_GAMES (13) OPINION (9) Orel_Yiftachel (5) P. Buchanan (23) PACIFISM (1) PAEDOPHILIA (15) Paganism (2) PALESTINE 1944-1948 (1) Palestinians (17) PARIS (1) Patrice Lumumba (1) PATRICIA HEARST (2) Patton (2) Paul Craig Roberts (1) Paul Weston (9) PEARL HARBOR (1) Persecuted Christians (7) PERSONALITIES (1) Photographic_Archive (1) Photography (2) Physics (9) POLAND (5) POLAR REGIONS (30) Poliomyelitis (8) Political Thought (50) Pollution (3) Polynesia (25) Pope Benedict (1) PORTUGAL (5) PREHISTORY (28) propaganda (3) Prophecies (12) Psychedelics (64) PSYCHIATRY (10) Psychical Research (122) Psychology (5) QATAR (1) QUEBEC (1) Queen Victoria (1) R.R.Rife (10) Race (119) Racism (2) RED_Alert (4) Religion (23) René Guénon (1) Revilo Oliver (11) Richard Dawkins (1) Rockefellers (1) Roger Garaudy (6) Roman Catholic Church (8) Ron Paul (7) Rudolph Hess (1) Ruling_by_CORRUPTION (14) RUSSIA (8) RUSSIAN REVOLUTION (1) RWANDA (31) S. H. Pearson (1) Sabra-Shatila massacre (10) Sandy Hook (1) Sanskrit (1) SAUDI ARABIA (5) Savitri Devi (27) Scandinavia (1) SCIENCE (42) Secret Military Technology (14) Secret weapons (10) Sedition Trial (1) SERBIA (1) sexual freedom (1) Skepticism (1) Slave trade (1) SOUTH AFRICA (2) Space/Apollo_Hoax (54) SPAIN (2) Spengler (6) Spirituality (1) Srebrenica (1) State_criminality (8) Steganography (16) Steven Yates (7) STRANGE SOUNDS (4) Subterranean_world (10) SUDAN (2) Surveillance (1) SWASTIKA (33) SWEDEN (8) Switzerland (1) SYRIA (8) Taj Mahal (13) Ted Kaczynski (1) Terrorism (24) TESLA (6) The 1001 Club (1) The Celts (1) The Frankfurt School (1) The Great Flood (8) The Nuremberg Trials (2) The plutonium injections (4) Theo van Gogh (1) Thought of the Right (63) TITANIC (72) Tommy Robinson (1) Torture (1) Tradition (5) Transcendent Experience (6) Tunguska (1) Tunisia (2) TURKEY (7) TWA flight 800 (1) U.S.A. (142) U.S.A. ARMY CRIMINALITY (18) U.S.A. Foreign policy (11) U.S.A. Military (2) U.S.A._HISTORY (2) U.S.A._POLITICS (3) U.S.A._SOCIETY (3) U.S.A.-CIA (12) U.S.A.-Power Structure (4) U.S.S. Liberty (7) UFOs (166) Ukraine (15) United Church of Christ (1) United Nations (3) UNKNOWN_EARTH (2) USA (3) USA_Press (2) USA/USSR_relations (2) USS San Francisco (1) USSR (51) Vaccination (1) VATICAN (11) Vatican II (2) VELIKOVSKY (2) Vernon Coleman (14) Voynich_manuscript (15) WAFA SULTAN (1) War Crimes (30) water (2) Wayne MADSEN (2) WEST (9) WEST/ISLAM Relations (16) WESTERN_ELITES (1) White phosphorous (1) WILD_LIFE (1) Wilhelm Reich (4) William Gough (10) wind farms (1) Wm F. Koch (8) Women in Islam (4) World Wildlife Fund (8) WORLD_ORDER (57) WWI (6) WWII (89) WWII Aftermath (34) Younger Dryas Ice Age (4) Yugoslavia (7) ZIONISM (10)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Knut Hamsun and the Cause of Europe

Knut Hamsun and the Cause of Europe

Mark Deavin

Knut HamsunAfter fifty years of being confined to the Orwellian memory hole created by the Jews as part of their European "denazification" process, the work of the Norwegian author Knut Hamsun -- who died in 1952 -- is reemerging to take its place among the greatest European literature of the twentieth century. All of his major novels have undergone English-language reprints during the last two years, and even in his native Norway, where his post-1945 ostracism has been most severe, he is finally receiving a long-overdue recognition. [Image: Knut Hamsun.]Of course, one debilitating question still remains for the great and good of the European liberal intelligentsia, ever eager to jump to Jewish sensitivities. As Hamsun's English biographer Robert Ferguson gloomily asked himself in 1987: "Could the sensitive, dreaming genius who had created beautiful love stories ... really have been a Nazi?" Unfortunately for the faint hearts of these weak-kneed scribblers, the answer is a resounding "yes." Not only was Knut Hamsun a dedicated supporter of Adolf Hitler and the National Socialist New Order in Europe, but his best writings -- many written at the tail end of the nineteenth century -- flow with the essence of the National Socialist spirit and life philosophy.
Born Knud Pederson on August 4, 1859, Hamsun spent his early childhood in the far north of Norway, in the small town of Hamaroy. He later described this time as one of idyllic bliss where he and the other children lived in close harmony with the animals on the farm, and where they felt an indescribable oneness with Nature and the cosmos around and above them. Hamsun developed an early obsession to become a writer and showed a fanatical courage and endurance in pursuing his dream against tremendous obstacles. He was convinced of his own artistic awareness and sensitivity, and was imbued with a certainty that in attempting to achieve unprecedented levels of creativity and consciousness, he was acting in accordance with the higher purpose of Nature.
In January 1882 Hamsun's Faustian quest of self-discovery took him on the first of several trips to America. He was described by a friend at the time as "tall, broad, lithe with the springing step of a panther and with muscles of steel. His yellow hair ... drooped down upon his ... clear-cut classical features."
These experiences consolidated in Hamsun a sense of racial identity as the bedrock of his perceived artistic and spiritual mission. A visit to an Indian encampment confirmed his belief in the inherent differences of the races and of the need to keep them separate, but he was perceptive enough to recognize that America carried the seeds of racial chaos and condemned the fact that cohabitation with Blacks was being forced upon American Whites.
Writing in his book On the Cultural Life of Modern America, published in March 1889, Hamsun warned that such a situation gave rise to the nightmare prospect of a "mulatto stud farm" being created in America. In his view, this had to be prevented at all costs with the repatriation of the "black half-apes" back to Africa being essential to secure America's future (cited in Robert Ferguson, Enigma: The Life of Knut Hamsun, London, 1987, p.105). Hamsun also developed an early awareness of the Jewish problem, believing that "anti-Semitism" inevitably existed in all lands where there were Jews -- following Semitism "as the effect follows the cause." He also believed that the departure of the Jews from Europe and the White world was essential "so that the White races would avoid further mixture of the blood" (from Hamsun's 1925 article in Mikal Sylten's nationalist magazine Nationalt Tidsskrift). His experiences in America also strengthened Hamsun's antipathy to the so called "freedom" of democracy, which he realized merely leveled all higher things down to the lowest level and made financial materialism into the highest morality. Greatly influenced by the works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Hamsun saw himself as part of the vanguard of a European spiritual aristocracy which would reject these false values and search out Nature's hidden secrets -- developing a higher morality and value system based on organic, natural law. In an essay entitled "From the Unconscious Life of the Mind," published in 1890, Hamsun laid out his belief:
An increasing number of people who lead mental lives of great intensity, people who are sensitive by nature, notice the steadily more frequent appearance in them of mental states of great strangeness ... a wordless and irrational feeling of ecstasy; or a breath of psychic pain; a sense of being spoken to from afar, from the sky or the sea; an agonizingly developed sense of hearing which can cause one to wince at the murmuring of unseen atoms; an irrational staring into the heart of some closed kingdom suddenly and briefly revealed.
Hamsun expounded this philosophy in his first great novel Hunger, which attempted to show how the known territory of human consciousness could be expanded to achieve higher forms of creativity, and how through such a process the values of a society which Hamsun believed was increasingly sick and distorted could be redefined for the better. This theme was continued in his next book, Mysteries, and again in Pan, published in 1894, which was based upon Hamsun's own feeling of pantheistic identification with the cosmos and his conviction that the survival of Western man depended upon his re-establishing his ties with Nature and leading a more organic and wholesome way of life.In 1911 Hamsun moved back to Hamaroy with his wife and bought a farm. A strong believer in the family and racial upbreeding, he was sickened by the hypocrisy and twisted morality of a modern Western society which tolerated and encouraged abortion and the abandonment of healthy children, while protecting and prolonging the existence of the criminal, crippled, and insane. He actively campaigned for the state funding of children's homes that could take in and look after unwanted children and freely admitted that he was motivated by a higher morality, which aimed to "clear away the lives which are hopeless for the benefit of those lives which might be of value."
In 1916 Hamsun began work on what became his greatest and most idealistic novel, Growth of the Soil, which won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1921. It painted Hamsun's ideal of a solid, farm-based culture, where human values, instead of being fixed upon transitory artificialities which modern society had deemed fashionable, would be based upon the fixed wheel of the seasons in the safekeeping of an inviolable eternity where man and Nature existed in harmony:
They had the good fortune at Sellanraa that every spring and autumn they could see the grey geese sailing in fleets above that wilderness, and hear their chatter up in the air -- delirious talk it was. And as if the world stood still for a moment, till the train of them had passed. And the human souls beneath, did they not feel a weakness gliding through them now? They went to their work again, but drawing breath first, for something had spoken to them, something from beyond.
Growth of the Soil reflected Hamsun's belief that only when Western man fully accepted that he was intimately bound up with Nature's eternal law would he be able to fulfill himself and stride towards a higher level of existence. At the root of this, Hamsun made clear, was the need to place the procreation of the race back at the center of his existence:
Generation to generation, breeding ever anew, and when you die the new stock goes on. That's the meaning of eternal life.
The main character in the book reflected Hamsun's faith in the coming man of Europe: a Nietzschean superman embodying the best racial type who, acting in accordance with Nature's higher purpose, would lead the race to unprecedented levels of greatness. In Hamsun's vision he was described thus:
A tiller of the ground, body and soul; a worker on the land without respite. A ghost risen out of the past to point to the future; a man from the earliest days of cultivation, a settler in the wilds, nine hundred years old, and withal, a man of the day.
Hamsun's philosophy echoed Nietzsche's belief that "from the future come winds with secret beat of wings and to sensitive ears comes good news" (cited in Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century). And for Hamsun the "good news" of his lifetime was the rise of National Socialism in Germany under Adolf Hitler, whom he saw as the embodiment of the coming European man and a reflection of the spiritual striving of the "Germanic soul."The leaders of the new movement in Germany were also aware of the essential National Socialist spirit and world view which underlay Hamsun's work, and he was much lauded, particularly by Joseph Goebbels and Alfred Rosenberg. Rosenberg paid tribute to Hamsun in his The Myth of the Twentieth Century, published in 1930, declaring that through a mysterious natural insight Knut Hamsun was able to describe the laws of the universe and of the Nordic soul like no other living artist. Growth of the Soil, he declared, was "the great present-day epic of the Nordic will in its eternal, primordial form."
Hamsun visited Germany on several occasions during the 1930s, accompanied by his equally enthusiastic wife, and was well impressed by what he saw. In 1934 he was awarded the prestigious Goethe Medal for his writings, but he handed back the 10,000 marks prize money as a gesture of friendship and as a contribution to the National Socialist process of social reconstruction. He developed close ties with the German-based Nordic Society, which promoted the Pan-Germanic ideal, and in January 1935 he sent a letter to its magazine supporting the return of the Saarland to Germany. He always received birthday greetings from Rosenberg and Goebbels, and on the occasion of his 80th birthday from Hitler himself. 
Vidkun QuislingLike Nietzsche's Zarathustra, Hamsun was not content merely to philosophize in an ivory tower; he was a man of the day, who, despite his age, strove to make his ideal into a reality and present it to his own people. Along with his entire family he became actively and publicly involved with Norway's growing National Socialist movement in the form of Vidkun Quisling's Nasjonal Samling (National Assembly). This had been founded in May 1933, and Hamsun willingly issued public endorsements and wrote articles for its magazine, promoting the National Socialist philosophy of life and condemning the anti-German propaganda that was being disseminated in Norway and throughout Europe. This, he pointed out, was inspired by the Jewish press and politicians of England and France who were determined to encircle Germany and bring about a European war to destroy Hitler and his idea. [Image: Quisling in Nasjonal Samling poster.]
With the outbreak of war Hamsun persistently warned against the Allied attempts to compromise Norwegian neutrality, and on April 2, 1940 -- only a week before Hitler dramatically forestalled the Allied invasion of Norway -- Hamsun wrote an article in the Nasjonal Samling newspaper calling for German protection of Norwegian neutrality against Anglo-Soviet designs. Hamsun was quick to point out in a further series of articles soon afterward, moreover, that it was no coincidence that C.J. Hambro, the president of the Norwegian Storting, who had conspired to push Norway into Allied hands and had then fled to Sweden, was a Jew. In his longest wartime article, which appeared in the Axis periodical Berlin-Tokyo-Rome in February 1942, he also identified Roosevelt as being in the pay of the Jews and the dominant figure in America's war for gold and Jewish power. Declaring his belief in the greatness of Adolf Hitler, Hamsun defiantly declared: "Europe does not want either the Jews or their gold."
Hamsun's loyalty to the National Socialist New Order in Europe was well appreciated in Berlin, and in May 1943 Hamsun and his wife were invited to visit Joseph Goebbels, a devoted fan of the writer. Both men were deeply moved by the meeting, and Hamsun was so affected that he sent Goebbels the medal which he had received for winning the Nobel Prize for idealistic literature in 1920, writing that he knew of no statesman who had so idealistically written and preached the cause of Europe. Goebbels in return considered the meeting to have been one of the most precious encounters of his life and wrote touchingly in his diary: "May fate permit the great poet to live to see us win victory! If anybody deserved it because of a high-minded espousal of our cause even under the most difficult circumstances, it is he." The following month Hamsun spoke at a conference in Vienna organized to protest against the destruction of European cultural treasures by the sadistic Allied terror-bombing raids. He praised Hitler as a crusader and a reformer who would create a new age and a new life. Then, three days later, on June 26, 1943, his loyalty was rewarded with a personal and highly emotional meeting with Hitler at the Berghof. As he left, the 84 year-old Hamsun told an adjutant to pass on one last message to his Leader: "Tell Adolf Hitler: we believe in you."
Hamsun never deviated from promoting the cause of National Socialist Europe, paying high-profile visits to Panzer divisions and German U-boats, writing articles and making speeches. Even when the war was clearly lost, and others found it expedient to keep silence or renounce their past allegiances, he remained loyal without regard to his personal safety. This was brought home most clearly after the official announcement of Hitler's death, when, with the German Army in Norway packing up and preparing to leave, Hamsun wrote a necrology for Hitler which was published in a leading newspaper:
Adolf Hitler: I am not worthy to speak his name out loud. Nor do his life and his deeds warrant any kind of sentimental discussion. He was a warrior, a warrior for mankind, and a prophet of the gospel for all nations. He was a reforming nature of the highest order, and his fate was to arise in a time of unparalleled barbarism, which finally felled him. Thus might the average western European regard Adolf Hitler. We, his closest supporters, now bow our heads at his death.
This was a tremendously brave thing for Hamsun to do, as the following day the war in Norway was over and Quisling was arrested. Membership in Quisling's movement after April 8, 1940, had been made a criminal offense retroactively by the new Norwegian government, and the mass roundups of around 40,000 Nasjonal Samling members now began in earnest. Hamsun's sons Tore and Arild were picked up within a week, and on May 26 Hamsun and his wife were placed under house arrest. Committed to hospital because of his failing health, Hamsun was subject to months of interrogation designed to wear down and confuse him. As with Ezra Pound in the United States, the aim was to bring about a situation where Hamsun's sanity could be questioned: a much easier option for the Norwegian authorities than the public prosecution of an 85-year-old literary legend.
Unfortunately for them, Hamsun refused to crack and was more than a match for his interrogators. So, while his wife was handed a vicious three-year hard-labor sentence for her National Socialist activities, and his son Arild got four years for having the temerity to volunteer to fight Bolshevism on the Eastern Front, Hamsun received a 500,000-kroner fine and the censorship of his books. Even this did not stop him, however, and he continued to write, regretting nothing and making no apologies. Not until 1952, in his 92nd year, did he pass away, leaving us a wonderful legacy with which to carry on the fight which he so bravely fought to the end.

National Vanguard, 116 (1996), 23-25.

Return to Main Index
Return to Racialist Authors

Oswald Spengler: The Organic View of History

The Organic View of History

Oswald Spengler

Oswald SpenglerIt is a quite indefensible method of presenting world-history to begin by giving rein to one's own religious, political or social convictions and endowing the sacrosanct three-phase system [i.e. ancient> medieval> modern] with tendencies that will bring it exactly to one's own standpoint. This is, in effect, making of some formula -- say, the "Age of Reason," Humanity, the greatest happiness of the greatest number, enlightenment, economic progress, national freedom, the conquest of nature or world-peace -- a criterion whereby to judge whole millennia of history. And so we judge that they were ignorant of the "true path," or that they failed to follow it, when the fact is simply that their will and purposes were not the same as ours. Goethe's saying "What is important in life is life and not a result of life" is the answer to any and every senseless attempt to solve the riddle of historical form by means of aprogramme. [Image: Oswald Spengler.]It is the same picture that we find when we turn to the historians of each special art or science (and those of national economics and philosophy as well). We find:
"Painting" from the Egyptians (or the cave-men) to the Impressionists, or 
"Music" from Homer to Bayreuth and beyond, or 
"Social Organization" from Lake Dwellings to Socialism, as the case may be,
presented as a linear graph which steadily rises in conformity with the values of the (selected) arguments. No one has seriously considered the possibility that arts may have an allotted span of life and may be attached as forms of self-expression to particular regions and particular types of mankind, and that therefore the total history of an art may be merely an additive compilation of separate developments, of special arts, with no bond of union save the name and some details of craft-technique.We know it to be true of every organism that the rhythm, form and duration of its life, and all the expression-details of that life as well, are determined by the properties of its species. No one, looking at the oak, with its millennial life, dare say that it is at this moment, now, about to start on its true and proper course. No one as he sees a caterpillar grow day by day expects that it will go on doing so for two or three years. In these cases we feel, with an unqualified certainty, a limit, and this sense of the limit is identical with our sense of the inward form. In the case of higher human history, on the contrary, we take our ideas as to the course of the future from an unbridled optimism that sets at naught all historical, i.e. organic, experience, and everyone therefore sets himself to discover in the accidental present terms that he can expand into some striking progression-series, the existence of which rests not on scientific proof but on predilection.
"Mankind," however, has no aim, no idea, no plan, any more than the family of butterflies or orchids. "Mankind" is a zoological expression, or an empty word. But conjure away the phantom, break the magic circle, and at once there emerges an astonishing wealth of actual forms -- the Living with all its immense fullness, depth and movement -- hitherto veiled by a catchword, a dry-as-dust scheme and a set of personal "ideals."
I see, in place of that empty figment of one linear history which can be kept up only by shutting one's eyes to the overwhelming multitude of the facts, the drama of a number of mighty Cultures, each springing with primitive strength from the soil of a mother-region to which it remains firmly bound throughout its whole life-cycle; each stamping its material, its mankind, in its own image; each having its own idea, its ownpassions, its own life, will and feeling, its own death. Here indeed are colours, lights, movements, that no intellectual eye has yet discovered. Here the Cultures, peoples, languages, truths, gods, landscapes bloom and age as the oaks and the pines, the blossoms, twigs and leaves -- but there is no aging "Mankind." Each Culture has its own new possibilities of self-expression which arise, ripen, decay and never return. There is not one sculpture, one painting, one mathematics, one physics, but many, each in its deepest essence different from the others, each limited in duration and self-contained, just as each species of plant has its peculiar blossom or fruit, its special type of growth and decline. These Cultures, sublimated life-essences, grow with the same superb aimlessness as the flowers of the field. They belong, like the plants and the animals, to the living Nature of Goethe, and not to the dead Nature of Newton. I see world-history as a picture of endless formations and transformations, of the marvellous waxing and waning of organic forms. The professional historian, on the contrary, sees it as a sort of tapeworm industriously adding onto itself one epoch after another.
But the series "ancient-mediaeval-modern history" has at last exhausted its usefulness. Angular, narrow, shallow though it was as a scientific foundation, still we possessed no other form that was not wholly unphilosophical in which our data could be arranged, and world-history (as hitherto understood) has to thank it for filtering our classifiable solid residues. But the number of centuries that the scheme can by any stretch be made to cover has long since been exceeded, and with the rapid increase in the volume of our historical material -- especially of material that cannot possibly be brought under the scheme -- the picture is beginning to dissolve into a chaotic blur.
When Plato speaks of humanity, he means the Hellenes in contrast to the barbarians, which is entirely consonant with the ahistoric mode of the Classical life and thought, and his premisses take him to conclusions that for Greeks were complete and significant. When, however, Kant philosophizes, say on ethical ideas, he maintains the validity of his theses for men of all times and places. He does not say this in so many words, for, for himself and his readers, it is something that goes without saying. In his aesthetics he formulates the principles, not of Phidias' art, or Rembrandt's art, but of Art generally. But what he poses as necessary forms of thought are in reality only necessary forms of Western thought, though a glance at Aristotle and his essentially different conclusions should have sufficed to show that Aristotle's intellect, not less penetrating than his own, was of different structure from it.
It is this that is lacking to the Western thinker, the very thinker in whom we might have expected to find it -- insight into the historically relative character of his data, which are expressions of one specific existence and one only; knowledge of the necessary limits of their validity; the conviction that his "unshakable" truths and "eternal" views are simply true for him and eternal for his world-view; the duty of looking beyond them to find out what the men of other Cultures have with equal certainty evolved out of themselves. That and nothing else will impart completeness to the philosophy of the future, and only through an understanding of the living world shall we understand the symbolism of history. Here there is nothing constant, nothing universal. We must cease to speak of the forms of "Thought," the principles of "Tragedy," the mission of "the State." Universal validity involves always the fallacy of arguing from particular to particular.
But something much more disquieting than a logical fallacy begins to appear when the centre of gravity of philosophy shifts from the abstract-systematic to the practical-ethical and our Western thinkers from Schopenhauer onward turn from the problem of cognition to the problem of life (the will to life, to power, to action). Here it is not the ideal abstract "man" of Kant that is subjected to examination, but actual man as he has inhabited the earth during historical time, grouped, whether primitive or advanced, by peoples; and it is more than ever futile to define the structure of his highest ideas in terms of the "ancient-mediaeval-modern" scheme with its local limitations. But it is done, nevertheless.
Consider the historical horizon of Nietzsche. His conceptions of decadence, militarism, the transvaluation of all values, the will to power, lie deep in the essence of Western civilization and are for the analysis of that civilization of decisive importance. But what, do we find, was the foundation on which he built up his creation? Romans and Greeks, Renaissance and European present, with a fleeting and uncomprehending side-glance at Indian philosophy -- in short "ancient, mediaeval and modern" history. Strictly speaking, he never once moved outside the scheme, nor did any other thinker of his time. And is the thought-range of Schopenhauer, Comte, Feuerbach, Hebbel or Strindberg any wider? Is not their whole psychology, for all its intention of world-wide validity, one of purely West European significance?
What the West has said and thought, hitherto, on the problems of space, time, motion, number, will, marriage, property, tragedy, science, has remained narrow and dubious, because men were always looking for thesolution of the question. It was never seen that many questioners implies many answers, that any philosophical question is really a veiled desire to get an explicit affirmation of what is implicit in the question itself, that the great questions of any period are fluid beyond all conception, and that therefore it is only by obtaining a group of historically limited solutions and measuring it by utterly impersonal criteria that the final secrets can be reached. In other Cultures the phenomenon talks a different language, for other men there are different truths. Thethinker must admit the validity of all, or of none. How greatly, then, Western world-criticism can be widened and deepened! How immensely far beyond the innocent relativism of Nietzsche and his generation one must look -- how fine one's sense for form and one's psychological insight must become -- how completely one must free oneself from limitations of self, of practical interests, of horizon -- before one dare assert the pretension to understand world-history, the world-as-history.
In opposition to all these arbitrary and narrow schemes, derived from tradition or personal choice, into which history is forced, I put forward the natural, the "Copernican," form of the historical process which lies deep in the essence of that process and reveals itself only to an eye perfectly free from prepossessions.
Such an eye was Goethe's. That which Goethe called Living Nature is exactly that which we are calling here world-history, world-as-history. Goethe, who as artist portrayed the life and development, always the life and development, of his figures, the thing-becoming and not the thing-become (Wilhelm Meister and Dichtung und Wahrheit), hated Mathematics. For him, the world-as-mechanism stood opposed to the world-as-organism, dead nature to living nature, law to form. As naturalist, every line he wrote was meant to display the image of a thing-becoming, the "impressed form" living and developing. Sympathy, observation, comparison, immediate and inward certainty, intellectualflair -- these were the means whereby he was enabled to approach the secrets of the phenomenal world in motion. Now these are the means of historical research -- precisely these and no others. It was this godlikeinsight that prompted him to say at the bivouac fire on the evening of the Battle of Valmy: "Here and now begins a new epoch of world history, and you, gentlemen, can say that you 'were there.'" No general, no diplomat, let alone the philosophers, ever so directly felt history "becoming." It is the deepest judgment that any man ever uttered about a great historical act in the moment of its accomplishment.
And just as he followed out the development of the plant-form from the leaf, the birth of the vertebrate type, the process of the geological strata - the Destiny in nature and not the Causality -- so here we shall develop the form-language of human history, its periodic structure, its organic logic, out of the profusion of all the challenging details.
In other aspects, mankind is habitually, and rightly, reckoned as one of the organisms of the earth's surface. Its physical structure, its natural functions, the whole phenomenal conception of it, all belong to a more comprehensive unity. Only in this aspect is it treated otherwise, despite that deeply felt relationship of plant destiny and human destiny which is an eternal theme of all lyrical poetry, and despite that similarity of human history to that of any other of the higher life-groups which is the refrain of endless beast-legends, sagas and fables. But only bring analogy to bear on this aspect as on the rest, letting the world of human Cultures intimately and unreservedly work upon the imagination instead of forcing it into a ready-made scheme. Let the words "youth," "growth," "maturity," "decay" -- hitherto, and today more than ever, used to express subjective valuations and entirely personal preferences in sociology, ethics and aesthetics -- be taken at last as objective descriptions of organic states. Set forth the Classical Culture as a self-contained phenomenon embodying and expressing the Classical soul, put it beside the Egyptian, the Indian, the Babylonian, the Chinese and the Western, and determine for each of these higher individuals what is typical in their surgings and what is necessary in the riot of incident. And then at last will unfold itself the picture of world-history that is natural to us, men of the West, and to us alone.

The preceding text is excerpted from the opening chapter of Spengler'sDecline of the West (1918-1923). The title is editorial.

Return to Main IndexReturn to Racialist Authors

Spengler: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas

Spengler: An Introduction to His Life and Ideas

Keith Stimely

Oswald SpenglerOswald Spengler was born in Blankenburg (Harz) in central Germany in 1880, the eldest of four children, and the only boy. His mother's side of the family was quite artistically bent. His father, who had originally been a mining technician and came from a long line of mineworkers, was an official in the German postal bureaucracy, and he provided his family with a simple but comfortable middle class home. [Image: Oswald Spengler.]The young Oswald never enjoyed the best of health, and suffered from migraine headaches that were to plague him all his life. He also had an anxiety complex, though he was not without grandiose thoughts -- which because of his frail constitution had to be acted out in daydreams only.
When he was ten the family moved to the university city of Halle. Here Spengler received a classical Gymnasium education, studying Greek, Latin, mathematics and natural sciences. Here too he developed his strong affinity for the arts -- especially poetry, drama, and music. He tried his hand at some youthful artistic creations of his own, a few of which have survived -- they are indicative of a tremendous enthusiasm but not much else. At this time also he came under the influence of Goethe and Nietzsche, two figures whose importance to Spengler the youth and the man cannot be overestimated.
After his father's death in 1901, Spengler at 21 entered the University of Munich. In accordance with German student-custom of the time, after a year he proceeded to other universities, first Berlin and then Halle. His main courses of study were in the classical cultures, mathematics, and the physical sciences. His university education was financed in large part by a legacy from a deceased aunt.
His doctoral dissertation at Halle was on Heraclitus, the "dark philosopher" of ancient Greece whose most memorable line was "War is the Father of all things." He failed to pass his first examination because of "insufficient references" -- a characteristic of all his later writings that some critics took a great delight in pointing out. However, he passed a second examination in 1904, and then set to writing the secondary dissertation necessary to qualify as a high school teacher. This becameThe Development of the Organ of Sight in the Higher Realms of the Animal Kingdom. It was approved, and Spengler received his teaching certificate.
His first post was at a school in Saarbrücken. Then he moved to Düsseldorf and, finally, Hamburg. He taught mathematics, physical sciences, history, and German literature, and by all accounts was a good and conscientious instructor. But his heart was not really in it, and when in 1911 the opportunity presented itself for him to "go his own way" (his mother had died and left him an inheritance that guaranteed him a measure of financial independence), he took it, and left the teaching profession for good.

Historical Explanation of Current Trends

He settled in Munich, there to live the life of an independent scholar/philosopher. He began the writing of a book of observations on contemporary politics whose idea had preoccupied him for some time. Originally to be titled Conservative and Liberal, it was planned as an exposition and explanation of the current trends in Europe -- an accelerating arms race, Entente "encirclement" of Germany, a succession of international crises, increasing polarity of the nations -- and where they were leading. However in late 1911 he was suddenly struck by the notion that the events of the day could only be interpreted in "global" and "total-cultural" terms. He saw Europe as marching off to suicide, a first step toward the final demise of European culture in the world and in history.The Great War of 1914-1918 only confirmed in his mind the validity of a thesis already developed. His planned work kept increasing in scope far, far beyond the original bounds.
Spengler had tied up most of his money in foreign investments, but the war had largely invalidated them, and he was forced to live out the war years in conditions of genuine poverty. Nevertheless he kept at his work, often writing by candle-light, and in 1917 was ready to publish. He encountered great difficulty in finding a publisher, partly because of the nature of the work, partly because of the chaotic conditions prevailing at the time. However in the summer of 1918, coincident with the German collapse, finally appeared the first volume of The Decline of the West, subtitled "Form and Actuality."

Publishing Success

To no little surprise on the part of both Spengler and his publisher, the book was an immediate and unprecedented success. It offered a rational explanation for the great European disaster, explaining it as part of an inevitable world-historic process. German readers especially took it to heart, but the work soon proved popular throughout Europe and was quickly translated into other languages. Nineteen-nineteen was "Spengler's year," and his name was on many tongues.Professional historians, however, took great umbrage at this pretentious work by an amateur (Spengler was not a trained historian), and their criticisms -- particularly of numerous errors of fact and the unique and unapologetic "non-scientific" approach of the author -- filled many pages. It is easier now than it was then to dispose of this line of rejection-criticism. Anyway, with regard to the validity of his postulate of rapid Western decline, the contemporary Spenglerian need only say to these critics: Look about you. What do you see?
In 1922 Spengler issued a revised edition of the first volume containing minor corrections and revisions, and the year after saw the appearance of the second volume, subtitled Perspectives of World History. He thereafter remained satisfied with the work, and all his later writings and pronouncements are only enlargements upon the theme he laid out in Decline.

A Direct Approach

The basic idea and essential components of The Decline of the West are not difficult to understand or delineate. (In fact, it is the work's very simplicity that was too much for his professional critics.) First, though, a proper understanding requires a recognition of Spengler's special approach to history. He himself called it the "physiogmatic" approach -- looking things directly in the face or heart, intuitively, rather than strictly scientifically. Too often the real meaning of things is obscured by a mask of scientific-mechanistic "facts." Hence the blindness of the professional "scientist-type" historians, who in a grand lack of imagination see only the visible.Utilizing his physiogmatic approach, Spengler was confident of his ability to decipher the riddle of History -- even, as he states in Decline's very first sentence, to predetermine history.
The following are his basic postulates:
1. The "linear" view of history must be rejected, in favor of the cyclical. Heretofore history, especially Western history, had been viewed as a "linear" progression from lower to higher, like rungs on a ladder -- an unlimited evolution upward. Western history is thus viewed as developing progressively: Greek >Roman >Medieval >Renaissance >Modern, or, Ancient > Medieval >Modern. This concept, Spengler insisted, is only a product of Western man's ego -- as if everything in the past pointed to him, existed so that he might exist as a yet-more perfected form.
This "incredibly jejune and meaningless scheme" can at last be replaced by one now discernible from the vantage-point of years and a greater and more fundamental knowledge of the past: the notion of History as moving in definite, observable, and -- except in minor ways -- unrelated cycles.

'High Cultures'

2. The cyclical movements of history are not those of mere nations, states, races, or events, but of High Cultures. Recorded history gives us eight such "high cultures": the Indian, the Babylonian, the Egyptian, the Chinese, the Mexican (Mayan-Aztec), the Arabian (or "Magian"), the Classical (Greece and Rome), and the European-Western.AthenaEach High Culture has as a distinguishing feature a "prime symbol." The Egyptian symbol, for example, was the "Way" or "Path," which can be seen in the ancient Egyptians' preoccupation -- in religion, art, and architecture (the pyramids) -- with the sequential passages of the soul. The prime symbol of the Classical culture was the "point-present" concern, that is, the fascination with the nearby, the small, the "space" of immediate and logical visibility: note here Euclidean geometry, the two-dimensional style of Classical painting and relief-sculpture (you will never see a vanishing point in the background, that is, where there is a background at all), and especially: the lack of facial expression of Grecian busts and statues, signifying nothing behind or beyond the outward. [Image: Atlas Bringing Heracles the Golden Apples in the presence of Athena, a metope illustrating Heracles' Eleventh Labor, with Athena helping Heracles hold up the sky. From the Temple of Zeus in Olympia, c. 460 BC.]
Amiens, France (1220-1269)The prime symbol of Western culture is the "Faustian Soul" (from the tale of Doctor Faustus), symbolizing the upward reaching for nothing less than the "Infinite." This is basically a tragic symbol, for it reaches for what even the reacher knows is unreachable. It is exemplified, for instance, by Gothic architecture (especially the interiors of Gothic cathedrals, with their vertical lines and seeming "ceilinglessness"). [Image: Amiens choir.]
The "prime symbol" effects everything in the Culture, manifesting itself in art, science, technics and politics. Each Culture's symbol-soul expresses itself especially in its art, and each Culture has an art form that is most representative of its own symbol. In the Classical, they were sculpture and drama. In Western culture, after architecture in the Gothic era, the great representative form was music -- actually the pluperfect expression of the Faustian soul, transcending as it does the limits of sight for the "limitless" world of sound.

'Organic' Development

3. High Cultures are "living" things -- organic in nature -- and must pass through the stages of birth-development-fulfillment-decay-death. Hence a "morphology" of history. All previous cultures have passed through these distinct stages, and Western culture can be no exception. In fact, its present stage in the organic development-process can be pinpointed.The high-water mark of a High Culture is its phase of fulfillment -- called the "culture" phase. The beginning of decline and decay in a Culture is the transition point between its "culture" phase and the "civilization" phase that inevitably follows.
The "civilization" phase witnesses drastic social upheavals, mass movements of peoples, continual wars and constant crises. All this takes place along with the growth of the great "megalopolis" -- huge urban and suburban centers that sap the surrounding countrysides of their vitality, intellect, strength, and soul. The inhabitants of these urban conglomerations -- now the bulk of the populace -- are a rootless, soulless, godless, and materialistic mass, who love nothing more than their panem et circenses. From these come the subhuman "fellaheen" -- fitting participants in the dying-out of a culture.
With the civilization phase comes the rule of Money and its twin tools, Democracy and the Press. Money rules over the chaos, and only Money profits by it. But the true bearers of the culture -- the men whose souls are still one with the culture-soul -- are disgusted and repelled by the Money-power and its fellaheen, and act to break it, as they are compelled to do so -- and as the mass culture-soul compels finally the end of the dictatorship of money. Thus the civilization phase concludes with the Age of Caesarism, in which great power come into the hands of great men, helped in this by the chaos of late Money-rule. The advent of the Caesars marks the return of Authority and Duty, of Honor and "Blood," and the end of democracy.
With this arrives the "imperialistic" stage of civilization, in which the Caesars with their bands of followers battle each other for control of the earth. The great masses are uncomprehending and uncaring; the megalopoli slowly depopulate, and the masses gradually "return to the land," to busy themselves there with the same soil-tasks as their ancestors centuries before. The turmoil of events goes on above their heads. Now, amidst all the chaos of the times, there comes a "second religiosity"; a longing return to the old symbols of the faith of the culture. Fortified thus, the masses in a kind of resigned contentment bury their souls and their efforts into the soil from which they and their culture sprang, and against this background the dying of the Culture and the civilization it created is played out.

Predictable Life Cycles

Every Culture's life-span can be seen to last about a thousand years: The Classical existed from 900 BC to 100 AD; the Arabian (Hebraic-semitic Christian-Islamic) from 100 BC to 900 AD; the Western from 1000 AD to 2000 AD. However, this span is the ideal, in the sense that a man's ideal life-span is 70 years, though he may never reach that age, or may live well beyond it. The death of a Culture may in fact be played out over hundreds of years, or it may occur instantaneously because of outer forces -- as in the sudden end of the Mexican Culture.Also, though every culture has its unique Soul and is in essence a special and separate entity, the development of the life cycle is paralleled in all of them: For each phase of the cycle in a given Culture, and for all great events affecting its course, there is a counterpart in the history of every other culture. Thus, Napoleon, who ushered in the civilization phase of the Western, finds his counterpart in Alexander of Macedon, who did the same for the Classical. Hence the "contemporaneousness" of all high cultures.
In barest outline these are the essential components of Spengler's theory of historical Culture-cycles. In a few sentences it might be summed up:
Human history is the cyclical record of the rise and fall of unrelated High Cultures. These Cultures are in reality super life-forms, that is, they are organic in nature, and like all organisms must pass through the phases of birth-life-death. Though separate entities in themselves, all High Cultures experience parallel development, and events and phases in any one find their corresponding events and phases in the others. It is possible from the vantage point of the twentieth century to glean from the past the meaning of cyclic history, and thus to predict the decline and fall of the West.
Needless to say, such a theory -- though somewhat heralded in the work of Giambattista Vico and the 19th-century Russian Nikolai Danilevsky, as well as in Nietzsche -- was destined to shake the foundations of the intellectual and semi-intellectual world. It did so in short order, partly owing to its felicitous timing, and partly to the brilliance (though not unflawed) with which Spengler presented it.

Polemic Style

There are easier books to read than Decline -- there are also harder -- but a big reason for its unprecedented (for such a work) popular success was the same reason for its by-and-large dismissal by the learned critics: its style. Scorning the type of "learnedness" that demanded only cautionary and judicious statements -- every one backed by a footnote -- Spengler gave freewheeling vent to his opinions and judgments. Many passages are in the style of a polemic, from which no disagreement can be brooked.To be sure, the two volumes of Decline, no matter the opinionated style and unconventional methodology, are essentially a comprehensive justification of the ideas presented, drawn from the histories of the different High Cultures. He used the comparative method which, of course, is appropriate if indeed all the phases of a High Culture are contemporaneous with those of any other. No one man could possibly have an equally comprehensive knowledge of all the Cultures surveyed, hence Spengler's treatment is uneven, and he spends relatively little time on the Mexican, Indian, Egyptian, Babylonian, and Chinese -- concentrating on the Arabian, Classical, and Western, especially these last two. The most valuable portion of the work, as even his critics acknowledge, is his comparative delineation of the parallel developments of the Classical and Western cultures.
Spengler's vast knowledge of the arts allowed him to place learned emphasis on their importance to the symbolism and inner meaning of a Culture, and the passages on art forms are generally regarded as being among the more thought-provoking. Also eyebrow-raising is a chapter (the very first, in fact, after the Introduction) on "The Meaning of Numbers," in which he asserted that even mathematics -- supposedly the one certain "universal" field of knowledge -- has a different meaning in different cultures: numbers are relative to the people who use them.
"Truth" is likewise relative, and Spengler conceded that what was true for him might not be true for another -- even another wholly of the same culture and era. Thus Spengler's greatest breakthrough may perhaps be his postulation of the non-universality of things, the "differentness" or distinctiveness of different people and cultures (despite their fated common end -- an idea that is beginning to take hold in the modern West, which started this century supremely confident of the wisdom and possibility of making the world over in its image.

Age of Caesars

But is was his placing of the current West into his historical scheme that aroused the most interest and the most controversy. Spengler, as the title of his work suggests, saw the West as doomed to the same eventual extinction that all the other High Cultures had faced. The West, he said, was now in the middle of its "civilization" phase, which had begun, roughly, with Napoleon. The coming of the Caesars (of which Napoleon was only a foreshadowing) was perhaps only decades away. Yet Spengler did not counsel any kind of sighing resignation to fate, or blithe acceptance of coming defeat and death. In a later essay, "Pessimism?" (1922), he wrote that the men of the West must still be men, and do all they could to realize the immense possibilities still open to them. Above all, they must embrace the one absolute imperative: The destruction of Money and democracy, especially in the field of politics, that grand and all-encompassing field of endeavor.

'Prussian' Socialism

After the publication of the first volume of Decline, Spengler's thoughts turned increasingly to contemporary politics in Germany. After experiencing the Bavarian revolution and its short-lived Soviet republic, he wrote a slender volume titled Prussianism and Socialism. Its theme was that a tragic misunderstanding of the concepts was at work: Conservatives and socialists, instead of being at loggerheads, should united under the banner of a true socialism. This was not the Marxist-materialist abomination, he said, but essentially the same thing as Prussianism: a socialism of the German community, based on its unique work ethic, discipline, and organic rank instead of "money." This "Prussian" socialism he sharply contrasted both to the capitalistic ethic of England and the "socialism" of Marx (!), whose theories amounted to "capitalism for the proletariat."In his corporate state proposals Spengler anticipated the Fascists, although he never was one, and his "socialism" was essentially that of the National Socialists (but without the folkish racialism). His early appraisal of a corporation for which the State would have directional control but not ownership of or direct responsibility for the various private segments of the economy sounded much like Werner Sombart's later favorable review of National Socialist economics in his A New Social Philosophy [Princeton Univ. Press, 1937; translation of Deutscher Sozialismus (1934)].
Prussianism and Socialism did not meet with a favorable reaction from the critics or the public -- eager though the public had been, at first, to learn his views. The book's message was considered to "visionary" and eccentric -- it cut across too many party lines. The years 1920-23 saw Spengler retreat into a preoccupation with the revision of the first volume of Decline, and the completion of the second. He did occasionally give lectures, and wrote some essays, only a few of which have survived.

Political Involvement

In 1924, following the social-economic upheaval of the terrible inflation, Spengler entered the political fray in an effort to bring Reichswehr general Hans von Seekt to power as the country's leader. But the effort came to naught. Spengler proved totally ineffective in practical politics. It was the old story of the would-be "philosopher-king," who was more philosopher than king (or king-maker).After 1925, at the start of Weimar Germany's all-too-brief period of relative stability, Spengler devoted most of his time to his research and writing. He was particularly concerned that he had left an important gap in his great work -- that of the pre-history of man. In Decline he had written that prehistoric man was basically without a history, but he revised that opinion. His work on the subject was only fragmentary, but 30 years after his death a compilation was published under the titleEarly Period of World History.
His main task as he saw it, however, was a grand and all-encompassing work on his metaphysics -- of which Decline had only given hints. He never did finish this, though Fundamental Questions, in the main a collection of aphorisms on the subject, was published in 1965.
In 1931 he published Man and Technics, a book that reflected his fascination with the development and usage, past and future, of the technical. The development of advanced technology is unique to the West, and he predicted where it would lead. Man and Technics is a racialist book, though not in a narrow "Germanic" sense. Rather it warns the European or white races of the pressing danger from the outer Colored races. It predicts a time when the Colored peoples of the earth will use the very technology of the West to destroy the West.

Reservations About Hitler

There is much in Spengler's thinking that permits one to characterize him as a kind of "proto-Nazi": his call for a return to Authority, his hatred of "decadent" democracy, his exaltation of the spirit of "Prussianism," his idea of war as essential to life. However, he never joined the National Socialist party, despite the repeated entreaties of such NS luminaries as Gregor Strasser and Ernst Hanfstängl. He regarded the National Socialists as immature, fascinated with marching bands and patriotic slogans, playing with the bauble of power but not realizing the philosophical significance and new imperatives of the age. Of Hitler he supposed to have said that what Germany needed was a hero, not a heroic tenor. Still, he did vote for Hitler against Hindenburg in the 1932 election. He met Hitler in person only once, in July 1933, but Spengler came away unimpressed from their lengthy discussion.His views about the National Socialists and the direction Germany should properly be taking surfaced in late 1933, in his book The Hour of Decision [translation of Die Jahre der Entscheidung]. He began it by stating that no one could have looked forward to the National Socialist revolution with greater longing than he. In the course of the work, though, he expressed (sometimes in veiled form) his reservations about the new regime. Germanophile though he certainly was, nevertheless he viewed the National Socialists as too narrowly German in character, and not sufficiently European.
Although he continued the racialist tone of Man and Technics, Spengler belittled what he regarded as the exclusiveness of the National Socialist concept of race. In the face of the outer danger, what should be emphasized is the unity of the various European races, not their fragmentation. Beyond a matter-of-fact recognition of the "colored peril" and the superiority of white civilization, Spengler repeated his own "non-materialist" concept of race (which he had already expressed in Decline): Certain men -- of whatever ancestry -- have "race" (a kind of will-to-power), and these are the makers of history.
Predicting a second world war, Spengler warned in Hour of Decisionthat the National Socialists were not sufficiently watchful of the powerful hostile forces outside the country that would mobilize to destroy them, and Germany. His most direct criticism was phrased in this way: "And the National Socialists believe that they can afford to ignore the world or oppose it, and build their castles-in-the-air without creating a possibly silent, but very palpable reaction from abroad." Finally, but after it had already achieved a wide circulation, the authorities prohibited the book's further distribution.
Oswald Spengler, shortly after predicting that in a decade there would no longer be a German Reich, died of a heart attack on May 8, 1936, in his Munich apartment. He went to his death convinced that he had been right, and that events were unfolding in fulfillment of what he had written in The Decline of the West. He was certain that he lived in the twilight period of his Culture -- which, despite his foreboding and gloomy pronouncements, he loved and cared for deeply to the very end.

Journal of Historical Review, 17/2 (March/April 1998), 2-7. The illustrations, with the exception of the Spengler photo, do not appear in the original article.

Return to Main Index

Envy And Aristocide

Envy And Aristocide

By Nathaniel Weyl

Originally published in The Eugenics Bulletin, Winter 1984
In this article, I shall advance the hypothesis that envy of non-achievers against creative minorities is the mainspring of modern revolutionary movements, that this envy is incited and exploited by alienated intellectuals, and that the result is aristocide--the murder of productive, gifted and high-achieving people--along with consequent genetic decline.
By aristocide, I do not mean destruction of artificial aristocracies of pedigree and status. I use the term to denote the extermination of what Thomas Jefferson called "the natural aristocracy among men" grounded on "virtues and talents," and constituting "the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society" (Jefferson, 1813). Jefferson believed that the preservation of this elite was of cardinal importance. The "natural aristocracy" possess not only high intelligence, but also "virtue"--in more modern terms, character and humanity.
Envy should be distinguished from ambition. Envy is not the desire to excel, but the spiteful urge to pull down the more gifted. Christopher Marlowe wrote in Dr. Faustus: "I am Envy. I cannot reade, and therefore wish all books were burnt." In his brilliant and thought-provoking study of the role of envy in human societies, Shoeck (1972) defined it as the resentment inferiors feel at the higher status and greater rewards of their superiors, and quoted Davidson's apt description (p. 15):

Envy is an emotion that is essentially both selfish and malevolent. It...implies dislike of one who possesses what the envious man himself covets or desires, and a wish to harm him. Graspingness for self and ill will lie at the base of it. There is in it also a consciousness of inferiority to the person envied, and a chafing under this consciousness....
Since envy cannot be extirpated, the great religions have sought to control it and deflect it into comparatively harmless channels. Christianity offered hope to the virtuous poor by promising that the meek would inherit the earth (Matthew 5:5), as did Judaism (Psalms 37:11). The poor were assured that it is "easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God" (Mark 10:25).
It remained for the messianic totalitarian movements of our century--Nazism and Communism--to exploit envy on a massive scale as a vehicle for attaining power. Propaganda of both movements depicted the envied people as bestial and unfit to live. Nazi ideology stressed the extermination of the Jewish people on the grounds that they were "sub-human."
The Jew was shown as a hideous lecher in the Nazi press. Red artists made capitalists appear comparably odious and despicable. The enemy must be made to seem vile so that his future murderers (who may possess remnants of decency and morality) can feel justified in their crimes.
Alienated Intellectuals as Catalysts
The leadership element of revolutions is rarely composed of indignant peasants or enraged lupenproletarians. It generally consists of frustrated, alienated and misguided intellectuals, without whom the envy of the masses would remain directionless, nothing more than sullen and silent resentment. Alienated intellectuals serve as catalysts, inciting and actuating the prevalent sentiment of envy, providing it with a seemingly legitimate target, even gracing it with an ideology and a meretricious sort of moral justification. Yet many converts to totalitarian movements themselves come from the upper and middle classes. They belong not to the ranks of the enviers, but to those of the envied. How does one explain this paradox?
I would suggest that, in many cases, their original motivations are benevolent: sympathy for the poor and passionate hatred of social injustice. However, to rise up in the ranks of the movement, pity for the downtrodden must gradually be supplanted by hatred of their supposed oppressors. The envy of the masses is the revolutionaries' most potent weapon to overthrow the social order, and the best method of exploiting it is to offer a tangible, living object of hatred (Weyl, 1974). Those who don't adequately grasp this fact tend to drop by the wayside. Clearly, a revolutionary who proclaims to the crowd that their poverty is due to sparse natural resources, overpopulation, and their own shortcomings is not destined to lead the revolution. Explanations of this sort fail to provide the enormous psychological satisfaction of Marxist ideology that poverty is caused by class exploitation. Marxist ideology also offers a wonderfully direct and instantaneous "solution"-- liquidation of the exploiters--which is far more appealing to mob mentality than the dreary prospect of a lifetime of patience, hard work and sacrifice.
Nazi Aristocide
That the Jews were envied in Europe scarcely needs to be argued. Except in those countries where they were deprived of even a semblance of equal opportunity, as a group they excelled in almost every index of achievement: education, wealth, scientific and cultural accomplishments, business and political leadership. In these respects, their status was similar to that of the European upper classes. Yet they were more vulnerable to attack because of their internationalism, and because their religious, linguistic, cultural and physical differences from the majority made them easily identifiable objects of popular distrust (Weyl, 1967).
The extermination of nearly twelve million Jews and Christians by the Nazis is no doubt one of the supreme examples of aristocide in history. It should be added that political prisoners in Nazi concentration camps for the most part were intellectuals who had spoken out against the Nazis or tried to overthrow them; hostages who were seized and shot in occupied countries were generally the most respected and successful members of their communities. Both Nazis and Communists shared a hostility toward the elite. They were at war not only with established institutions and morality, but with the upper classes themselves who were the guardians of these "degenerate" institutions (Well, 1967).
Communist Aristocide in the Soviet Union
The Soviet objective under Lenin and Stalin was the "liquidation of the bourgeoisie," which meant no less than the physical extermination of the propertied classes and all their auxiliaries. The Revolution and ensuing Civil War destroyed or dispersed vast numbers of the nobility, the bureaucracy, the officer corps, the priesthood and the intelligensia. During the Red Terror, launched shortly after the seizure of power in 1917, the criteria for being judged an enemy of the people were simple. "Don't look for evidence or proof showing that this or that person, either by word or deed, acted against the interests of the Soviet power," secret police chief Latsis instructed his agents. "The first questions you should put to the arrested person are: To what class does he belong? What is his origin? What was his education and what is his profession? These should determine the fate of the accused" (Shub, 1948, p. 325). When Gorky protested to Lenin about the death of so many highly gifted people, Lenin sternly ordered him "not to waste energy whimpering over rotten intellectuals" (Solzhenitsyn, 1973, pp. 31-32).
During the rising spiral of purges which took place during Stalin's bloody reign, an estimated 20 to 30 million people were put to death (Conquest, 1968, p. 532), approximately one-eighth of the Soviet population. The proportion among the elite was much higher. About three-fourths of the generals and senior military leaders of the Red Army were killed prior to World War II. All of the naval commanders with the rank of Flagman (admiral) perished. Comparable losses were sustained in the civilian bureaucracy, science and literature.
Dynamics of Totalitarianism
Why is it that modern revolutions involve selective decimation of their most capable citizens? The evidence consistently indicates that aristocide is too deeply embedded in the dynamics of totalitarianism to be an accidental or incidental feature. It becomes a practical necessity for consolidating and maintaining power in the new state, because those with something to lose by the leveling of society, and those with the psychological resources to launch a successful counter movement against a repressive regime do, in fact, pose a very real threat to it. Continued aristocide in the form of purges (which have taken place in Russia, China and elsewhere) may become expedient when the government is unable to deliver on its promises and needs scapegoats. Even more important to the understanding of this phenomenon is the fact that totalitarianism requires obedient subjects who accept authority unquestioningly. Intelligent people tend to be individualists (as well as being, almost by definition, more capable) and as such they will always constitute a potential threat to repressive totalitarian governments.
Aristocide Today
Aristocide is most virulent in the revolutionary phase of seizure and consolidation of power. At present, the foci are in the Third World, where forces of discontent seek to uproot the social order and annihilate the minority with education and ability. A conspicuous recent example is Cambodia between 1975 and 1979. Nearly the entire middleclass--every person with more than a rudimentary education or who didn't work with his hands--was murdered, beaten, starved or worked to death. Estimates of the Cambodian necrology run above a million human beings, more than one seventh of the population.
Free, pluralistic societies seem immune to aristocide. If the Soviet Union and China evolve into stable, authoritarian bureaucracies, the danger there should continue to recede. The real threat today lies in underdeveloped countries swept by revolutionary ferment and religious fanaticism. However, aristocide in these countries, horrible as it is, cannot compare in its magnitude with the havoc wreaked on the genetic heritage of humankind by Hitler, Lenin and Stalin.
Nathaniel Weyl is author of The Creative Elite in America and (with Stephan Possony) The Geography of Intellect.

Conquest, Tober, 1968, The Great Terror, MacMillan: New York
Jefferson, Thomas, 1813, dated October 18, 1813 in a letter to John Adams
Schoeck, Helmut, 1970, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior, Harcourt, Brace and World: New York
Shub, David, 1948, Lenin, Doubleday: Garden City
Solzhenitsyn, Alexsandr I., 1973, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956, I-II, Harper and Row: New York (quoting vol. 51, p. 47 of the Russian edition of Lenin's collected works)
Weyl, Nathaniel, 1967, Aristocide as a force in history, Intercollegiate Review, June, p. 127-245
Weyl, Nathaniel, 1974, Envy and aristocide underdeveloped countries, Modern Age, Winter, p. 39-52

The Limited Plasticity Of Human Intelligence

The Limited Plasticity Of Human Intelligence

by Arthur R. Jensen

Originally published in The Eugenics Bulletin, Fall 1982
As societies become increasingly technological, the demand for superior intelligence begins to exceed the supply, and the demand for sheer physical labor begins to decline Increased leisure, early retirement, and a lengthened life-span all raise the premium on intelligence for the social and moral well-being of society. With the eradication of malnutrition and infectious childhood diseases, and as universal public education and the amenities of our technological civilization become more widespread, the improvement of human intelligence, if it is to come about at all, will depend increasingly upon eugenic means.
We are now gradually emerging from a period of over-optimism regarding the supposed plasticity of intelligence, and the hope of appreciably raising the IQ of those with below-average intelligence through strictly psychological and educational methods. This hope is probably as old as humanity itself. Widespread faith in its practical implementation originated in the 1920's with the radical behaviorism espoused by John B. Watson. Watson's behavioristic conception of intelligence has pervaded psychology even to this day, although it has lost favor among the new generation of researchers in experimental cognitive psychology and psychometrics.
In the behavioristic view, intelligence became equated with learning. Man's "original nature", psychologically, consisted only of an undifferentiated, general capability for learning. All that developed throughout the course of evolution was an ever-increasing plasticity of the brain for being shaped by the physical and cultural environment. Human mental capabilities were viewed as wholly a product of learning. The wide range of individual differences (except those resulting from some form of brain damage) was attributed to differences in opportunities for learning, or to differences in the content of learning. It was believed that these differences became socially salient merely due to the fact that some forms of knowledge and skills are more highly valued than others in a particular society. Accordingly, what Western industrial societies recognize as "intelligence" and measure by means of standard IQ tests was viewed only as a specialized collection of particular bits of acquired knowledge and skills which happen to be valued within a specific cultural context.
Given the view of intelligence as essentially a product of learning, it was reasonable to expect that intelligence itself could be taught much the same way one teaches reading or arithmetic. It led to the optimistic expectation that the intelligence of children in the bottom half of the IQ distribution could be dramatically raised by providing them with early learning opportunities like those enjoyed by children in the top half of the distribution. The well-established correlation between children's IQs and their parents' socioeconomic status (SES) was accorded an erroneous causal significance: Low SES children were believed to have lower IQ's and to achieve less well in school because they lacked the cultural advantages and learning opportunities enjoyed by children from higher SES backgrounds.
Over the past three decades, hundreds of experiments, many carried out on a massive scale, have sought to prove that intelligence can be substantially raised. In a few studies, subjects were given intensive training over a period of several years. No other field of psychological or educational research has commanded such vast funds nor marshalled such concerted efforts on such a grand scale. The truly remarkable finding is not the few points gain in IQ or scholastic achievement occasionally reported, but the fact that gains are so seldom found, and, when they are found, that they are so very small. The theoretical implication of this finding is that the behaviorist view of intelligence as synonymous with learning (or the products of learning) is seriously in error. Predictions based on this view have repeatedly failed to materialize under the prescribed conditions.
When gains in test performance have occurred as a result of educational treatments, they have displayed one or more of the following characteristics: (1) they have been small, rarely more than five or ten IQ points; (2) they have been of short duration, fading out within a year or so after the training has been completed; (3) they have been restricted to tasks or tests which closely resemble the actual training procedures themselves, and have failed to generalize to a broader range of mental tests.
Although I have scoured the research literature, I have yet to find a bona fide empirical demonstration that any psychological or educational techniques have succeeded in significantly raising children intelligence. Scores on one particular test or another, or achievement in particular scholastic subjects, may have been raised, usually only temporarily. But these gains are not reflected across a wide variety of tests or school subjects, as would be the case if it were g itself (the general intelligence factor) that had been improved. This conclusion is reinforced by evidence reported in a recent book which summarizes much of the best research and thinking in this field (Detterman and Sternberg, 1982).
The limited plasticity of intelligence can be more easily understood in terms of the newly ascending view of intelligence as comprising a small number of elementary information-processing capabilities which are closely dependent upon properties of the central nervous system. Learning itself is only one of many manifestations of these elemental processes involving stimulus encoding, discrimination, comparison, short-term memory capacity, speed of transfer of information from short- and long-term memory, and the like. The fact that ordinary IQ tests measure something more fundamental than acquired knowledge is demonstrated by the correlation of IQ with performance on laboratory tacks, such as reaction time, which have have virtually no intellectual content whatsoever, but which directly measure elemental information-processing capacities (Jensen, 1980, 1982a, 1982b). That these information-processing capabilities are closely linked to brain functions is shown by correlation of both IQ and reaction time measures with brain-wave measurements (termed average evoked potentials) (Hendrickson and Hendrickson, 1980; Jensen, Schafer, and Crinella, 1981).
It is now generally accepted that individual differences in IQ and information-processing capacity are strongly influences by hereditary factors, with genetic variance constituting about 70% of the total population variance in IQ (Jensen, 1981). There is also evidence that the genes for superior intelligence tend to be dominant, which is what would be theoretically expected if intelligence is a fitness character in the Darwinian sense, and if it had been subject to natural selection through the course of human evolution (Jensen, 1983).
The genetic and evolutionary view of human intelligence affords a possible explanation for its quite limited plasticity. If intelligence has evolved as an instrumentality for the survival of Homo Sapiens, it could well be that its biological basis has a built-in stabilizing mechanism, such an that of a gyroscope. Some degree of homeostatic autonomy in the ontogeny of mental ability would safeguard the individual's capacity for coping with the exigencies of survival. Mental development then would not be wholly at the mercy of often-erratic environmental happenstance. A too-plastic malleability would give the organism little protection against the vagaries of its environment. Hence, there may have evolved homeostatic processes to buffer the semi-autonomous ontogeny of human intelligence, protecting it from being pushed too far in one direction or the other, either by adventitiously harmful or by intentionally benevolent environmental forces.
Arthur R. Jensen is Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley, California 94720. Reprints of any of his articles listed below may be obtained from Dr. Jensen.

Detterman, D.K., and Sternberg, R.J. (Eds.) 1982, How and How Much Can Intelligence be Increased? Norwood, NJ: ABLEX Publishing Corporation
Hendrickson, D.A. and Hendrickson, A.E. 1980, The biological basis of individual differences in intelligence, Personality and Individual Differences, 1: 3-33
Jensen, Arthur R. 1980, Chronometric analysis of intelligence, Journal of Social and Biological Structures, 3: 103-122
Jensen, Arthur R. 1981, Straight Talk About Mental Tests, New York: The Free Press
Jensen, Arthur R. 1982a, The chronometry of intelligence, in R.J. Sternberg (Ed.) Advances in the Psychology of Human Intelligence (vol. 1) Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbau.
Jensen, Arthur R. 1982b Reaction time and psychometric A, in Hans J. Eysenck (Ed., A Model for Intelligence New York: Springer-Verlag
Jensen, Arthur R 1983, The effects of inbreeding on mental ability factors, Personality and Individual Differences, 4: 71-87
Jensen, A.R., Schafer, E.W. and Crinella, F.M. 1981, Reaction time, evoked brain potentials, and psychometric in the severely retarded, Intelligence, 5: 179-197

Reviiew: ''IQ and the Wealth of Nations''

Special Book Review by
J. Philippe Rushton,
Department of Psychology,
University of Western Ontario,
London, Ontario, N6A 5C2 Canada
In press, 22 October 2001, in Elsevier Science journal
Personality and Individual Differences

The Bigger Bell Curve: Intelligence, National Achievement, and The Global

IQ and the Wealth of Nations, Richard Lynn and Tatu Vanhanen, Westport,
CT: Praeger (2002), 256 pp., U.S. $64.95 (Hdbk.) ISBN 0-275-97510-X

This is a book that social scientists, policy experts, and global investment analysts cannot afford to ignore. It is one of the most brilliantly clarifying books this reviewer has ever read. IQ and the Wealth of Nations does for the study of human diversity and achievement among nations what The Bell Curve did for IQ and achievement in the USA. The central thesis is that the IQs of populations play a decisive role in the economic destinies of nations. With concise logic, Richard Lynn (professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland), and Tatu Vanhanen (professor emeritus of political science at the University of Tampere in Finland), systematically document their stunningly straightforward and yet greatly overlooked hypothesis.

IQ and the Wealth of Nations analyses the relation between national IQ scores and measures of economic performance. In one analysis of 81 countries for which direct evidence on national IQs is available, mean national IQ correlates 0.71 with per capita Gross National Product (GNP) for 1998, and 0.76 with per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP) for 1998. Other analyses consistently demonstrate national IQs predict both long term (1820-1922) and short term (1950-90; 1976-1998) economic growth rates measured variously by per capita GNP and GDP (mean rs ~ 0.60). Regression analyses of the 81 countries, and then of 185 countries, including 104 whose national IQs are estimated by averaging those from adjoining countries, shows the national differences in wealth are explained first, by the intelligence levels of the populations; second, by whether the countries have market or socialist economies; and finally, by unique circumstances such as, in the case of Qatar, by the possession of valuable natural resources like oil.

The book has a lucid, expository style. Chapter 1 reviews the various theories advanced over the last 250 years to explain why some countries are rich while others are poor. These include climate theories (temperate zones are said to be best), geographic theories (an East-West Axis is said to be best), modernization theories (urbanization and division of labor are said to be good), dependency theories (exploitation and peripheralization of poor nations are said to be bad), neoliberal theories (market economies are said to be good), and psychological theories (cultural values like thriftiness, the Protestant Ethic, and motivation for achievement are said to be good). While some of these theories almost certainly account for some of the disparities between countries, IQ scores turn out to be the single best predictor.

Chapters 2 to 4 discuss the nature of general intelligence, defined as a single unitary construct underlying performance on many specific cognitive tasks. A review of the literature shows that an individual's intelligence is an important determinant of his or her educational attainment, earnings, economic success, and other significant life outcomes. In the United States and Britain, the correlation between IQ and earnings is approximately 0.35, an association the authors argue is causal because: IQs predate earnings, are moderately heritable, are stable from 5 years of age onwards, and predict not only the earnings obtained in adulthood, but educational level and many other positive outcomes along the way. It makes sense that intelligence determines earnings because more intelligent people learn more quickly, solve problems more effectively, can be trained to acquire more complex skills, and work more productively and efficiently. Nations whose populations have high IQ levels also have high educational attainment and relatively large numbers of individuals who make significant contributions to national life, including the social infrastructure conducive to economic development. Conversely, nations with low levels of intelligence have low levels of educational attainment and relatively few individuals who make significant positive contributions to the social infrastructure. Low intelligence leads to a number of unfavorable social outcomes including crime, unemployment, welfare dependency, and single motherhood.

Chapter 5, the "Sociology of Intelligence," provides the first analyses of IQ at the group level, analyzing sub-divisions within nations such as those of cities, districts within cities, and regions. For example, studies carried out using the 310 administrative districts of New York City in the 1930s, found correlations of 0.40 to 0.70 between average IQ scores (gained from tests administered to children in schools) and measures of per capita income, educational attainment, welfare dependency, juvenile delinquency, mortality, and infant mortality. Similar studies carried out in regions of the British Isles, France, and Spain in the 1970s corroborate these relationships.

Chapters 6 to 8 (and their appendices) provide the critical core of the authors' analyses. These chapters describe in detail the variables and procedures by which the very testable hypotheses are tested and confirmed. The main IQ data are those published from 81 countries in the scientific literature over the previous 70 years. These are standardized to a British mean IQ of 100 with a standard deviation of 15, along with adjustments made for the secular increases in IQ which average 2.5 points a decade since the 1930s. The IQ data turn out to be highly reliable and valid. For example, in 45 countries for which there are two or more IQ measures, the inter-correlation is 0.94; in 38 countries for which there are data from international studies of achievement in mathematics and science, the correlation with IQ scores is 0.87.

The widespread though rarely stated assumption of economists and political scientists that the peoples of all nations have the same average level of intelligence turns out to be seriously incorrect. To the contrary, the evidence clearly reveals that there are considerable national differences in average intelligence level. The highest average IQs are found among the Oriental nations of North East Asia (IQ = 104), followed in descending order by the European nations of Europe (IQ = 98), the nations of North America and Australasia (IQ = 98), the nations of South and Southwest Asia from the Middle East through Turkey to India and Malaysia (IQ = 87), the nations of South East Asia and the Pacific Islands (IQ = 86), the nations of Latin America and the Caribbean (IQ = 85), and finally by the nations of Africa (IQ = 70).

One of the most surprising aspects of these data is how few nations have IQs as high as the British average of 100 (only 15 out of the 81, or less than 20%) and how many nations have IQs of 90 or less (40 out of the 81, almost 50%). The mean IQ of the 81 nations based on averaging the 7 regional IQs listed above is 90, a serious problem if the book's conclusion is correct that IQ = 90 is the threshold for having a technological economy. However, even if all the IQs turn out to be underestimates, it is likely that the rank-order among the nations will remain highly similar.

The range of IQs can be considerable within a geographic or political boundary. For example, in Latin America and the Caribbean, IQs range from 72 in Jamaica to 96 in Argentina and Uruguay and appear to be determined by the racial and ethnic make-up of the populations. Some racially mixed countries were assigned IQs proportionate to the IQs known for the various groups that make up the country. Thus, the national IQ for South Africa is given as 72 based on the weighted average for Whites, Blacks, Coloreds, and Indians (e.g., Owen, 1992).

For some (not all) analyses, 104 of the countries had their IQs estimated by averaging those from the most appropriate neighboring countries. For example, Afghanistan's IQ was estimated by averaging those from neighboring India (IQ = 81) and Iran (IQ = 84) to give an IQ of 83. The tables provided in IQ and the Wealth of Nations will be invaluable for researchers wishing to analyze subsets of the data or to extend them with additional data. Of course, the authors are aware that their data on both national IQs and economic indicators are only estimates and will contain errors. Their stunning results, however, leave little doubt that the margins of error were small enough to make the exercise meaningful. Error variance is typically randomly distributed and so works to diminish the strength of the associations between variables.

Although the correlations between IQs and economic performance are high, some countries had higher or lower per capita incomes than expected from their national IQs. These results are also informative. An analysis of those countries that deviate most from a regression line shows that a major additional factor for economic success consists of whether countries have market or socialist economies. A third contribution to wealth is the unique circumstances a country finds itself in.

Some of the countries with a large positive residual, and therefore a higher per capita income than would be predicted from their IQs, are Australia, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Ireland, Qatar, Singapore, South Africa, Switzerland, and the U.S. With the exception of Qatar, South Africa, and Barbados all of these are technologically highly developed market economies and their higher than predicted incomes could be attributed principally to this form of economic organization. Qatar's exceptionally high per capita income is principally due to its revenue from oil exporting, which is actually managed and controlled by corporations and people from European and North American countries. South Africa's much higher than expected per capita income derives from the high performance of the industries established and managed by the country's European minority. Similarly, Barbados's high positive residual can be traced to its well-established tourist industry and financial services, which are owned, controlled and managed by American and European countries.

Some of the countries with a large negative residual are Bulgaria, China, Hungary, Iraq, South Korea, the Philippines, Poland, Romania, Russia, Thailand, and Uruguay. Some of these are present or former socialist countries. Iraq has suffered from losing the Gulf War and a decade of UN trade sanctions. The Philippines have had a large amount of ethnic conflict, which other studies show results in decreased growth (across countries, a 1 SD increase in ethnic conflict is associated with a 0.30 SD decrease in growth rate; Easterly & Levine, 1997).

Chapter 9 contrasts IQ theory with its competitors, explains anomalies, and provides historical accounts of particular nations and regions. For example, two significant exceptions to the view that a tropical climate is detrimental to wealth are Singapore and Hong Kong, which lie in the tropical zone but are among the richest countries in the world. Two exceptions to the view that a temperate climate is beneficial are Lesotho and Swaziland, which lie slightly south of the Tropic of Capricorn, but are among the poorest countries in the world. The explanation for these differences can be understood in terms of intelligence theory: the people of Singapore and Hong Kong belong to the ethnic group with the highest IQs, while the people of Lesotho and Swaziland belong to the ethnic group with the lowest IQs. Historical vignettes are presented to explain how geographical isolation in central Asia (e.g., Tajikistan) may hinder economic development, and how economic fluctuations in Britain, Germany, and India have coincided with their governments' commitments to a market economy.

Modernization theories, according to which all nations would evolve from subsistence agriculture through to various stages of urbanization and industrialization, have worked for Western Europe and the Pacific Rim but have failed for the four remaining groups of nations (South Asia, the Pacific Islands, Latin America, and sub-Saharan Africa). IQ and the Wealth of Nations proposes that modernization theories worked for Western Europe and the Pacific Rim because these nations have appreciably the same or somewhat higher IQs than in the United States but they did not work for the other four groups of nations because these have lower IQs than those in the United States.

One of the most perplexing problems for the general theory is why the peoples of East Asia with their high IQs lagged behind the European peoples in economic growth and development until the second half of the 20th Century. China's science and technology were generally more advanced than Europe's for around two thousand years, from about 500 B.C. up to around 1500 A.D. In engineering, for example, China had canal systems, including canal locks, centuries ahead of Europe. In agricultural technology, the Chinese were the first to invent the collar and harness for horses (250 B.C.), and the chain pump for lifting water for irrigation (80 A.D.). They also invented the wheel barrow (240 B.C.), which did not appear in Europe until 1250 A.D. In printing and paper making, the Chinese invented making paper from bark (105 A.D.), printing from engraved wooden blocks (650 A.D.), printing with movable type (1040 A.D.), and color printing for paper money (1100 A.D.). In military technology, the Chinese invented the stirrup (475 A.D.) enabling soldiers on horseback to sit securely in the saddle and attack enemies with swords and lances, gunpowder (1044 A.D.), rockets (1200 A.D.), bombs producing shrapnel (1230 A.D.), small firearms shooting bullets from bamboo and metal tubes (1260 A.D.), and cannons (1280 A.D.). In Europe, gunpowder wasn't used until the 1300s. In marine technology, the Chinese built ships with rudders (2000 B.C.), and the magnetic compass for navigation at sea (1100 A.D.). Still other Chinese inventions included: cast iron (300 B.C.), iron chain supported suspension bridges (580 A.D.), spinning wheels (1035 A.D.), water powered mechanical clocks (1080 A.D.), and porcelain (840 A.D.). In mathematics, the Chinese invented the decimal point (1350 B.C.), and negative numbers (100 B.C.). In the 15th century Chinese inventiveness in science and technology came to an end and from that time on virtually all the important advances were made by Europeans, first in Europe and later in the U.S., perhaps because while Europeans developed the market economy, the Chinese stagnated through authoritarian bureaucracy and central planning.

The failure of Japan to develop economically until the late 19th century is largely attributed to a regulated economy and isolation from the rest of the world. By 1867-68 a revolution occurred and the new rulers embarked on a program to modernize Japan by adopting Western education and technology, and by freeing up the economy by transforming state monopolies into private corporations. Much of the Japanese economic success in the 20th century was built by adopting inventions made in the West, improving them, and selling them more competitively in world markets. Japan thereby built up its motorcycle, automobile, shipbuilding, and electronics industries. Although it is sometimes asserted that the Japanese have not made any significant scientific and technological innovations of their own, this underestimates their technological achievements. Philip's Science and Technology Encyclopedia (1998) lists a number of important discoveries and technological innovations made by the Japanese: the fiber-tipped pen (1960), "bullet" trains traveling at 210 km per hour, much faster than any Western trains (1964), laser radar (1966), quartz watches (1967), VHS video home systems (1976), flat screen televisions using liquid crystal display (1979), video discs (1980), CD-ROM (read only memory) disks (1985), digital audio tape (1987), and digital networks for sending signals along coaxial cables and optical fibers (1988).

African nations are at the other extreme to China and Japan in levels of national IQ and this may explain why they are such a major anomaly for modernization theory. The low rate of economic growth of African countries following their independence from colonial rule in the 1960s is one of the major problems in developmental economics. During the years 1976-98, the average rate of economic growth per capita GNP of the 41 nations of sub-Saharan Africa for which data are available is much lower than in the rest of the world. Many of the African countries even suffered negative per capita growth rate since 1960 (see also Easterly & Levine, 1997). Several economists have quantified all possible factors such as climate, ethnic diversity, geography, mismanagement, unemployment and the like and compared the situation to elsewhere in the world, especially Asia, and have concluded that these factors do not provide a complete explanation and that there is some "missing element." Some have identified the low level of "social capital," i.e., the widespread corruption and lack of trust in commercial relationships, poor roads and railways, unreliable telephones and electricity supplies, and the prevalence of tropical diseases such as malaria. IQ and the Wealth of Nations suggests that the missing link is IQ, and that some of the factors identified by economists as contributing to the low economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa are themselves attributable to a low level of intelligence in the populations. For example, the poor telephone services and electricity supplies, the low agricultural yields, and the poor advice given by government advisory boards are themselves due to the low average levels of IQ. With a cognitive capacity of IQ = 70, the populations of Africa cannot be expected to match the rates of economic growth achieved elsewhere in the world.

In chapter 10, the final chapter, various predictions are made. One clear prediction is that future growth is most likely in those countries with the largest negative residuals, that is, whose national IQ scores are high but whose present economic performance is weak. The countries of the former Communist Blocs -- such as Russia, Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania, and the People's Republic of China, and Vietnam -- are obvious possibilities. This chapter also lists some of the factors (both environmental and genetic) that might raise IQ scores, and so alleviate the problem. These include better nutrition, education, and health, and also ending the dysgenic fertility wherein the lowest IQ people produce the most children. For example, fertility figures from countries such as Brazil, the Dominican Republic, and Nicaragua show that among parents with secondary education in the late 1990s, the average number of children produced lies between 1.8 and 2.2, while among women with the least education, it lies between 5.0 and 6.1. Thus the least educated are having two to three times the number of children of the most educated. Since educational levels in these countries are to some degree correlated with intelligence, their demographic trend is strongly dysgenic.

The final conclusion of IQ and the Wealth of Nations is that national differences in IQ are here to stay, as is the gap between rich and poor nations. Hitherto, theories of economic development have been based on the presumption that the gaps between rich and poor countries are only temporary, and that they are due to various environmental conditions that could be changed by aid from rich countries to poor countries, and by poor countries adopting appropriate institutions and policies. It has been assumed that all human populations have equal mental abilities to adopt modern technologies and to achieve equal levels of economic development. The authors call for the recognition of the existence of the evolved diversity of human populations.


Easterly, W. & Levine, R. (1997). Africa's growth tragedy: policies and ethnic divisions. Quarterly Journal of Economics, 112, 1203-1250.

Owen, K. (1992). The suitability of Raven's Standard Progressive Matrices for various groups in South Africa. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 149-159.

Philip's Science and Technology Encyclopedia (1998). London: Philip.