The Roots of the Western Man, Part II
Indo-European characteristics and the destiny of Western Man.
The first part of this article described the distinctive characteristics of the ancient Indo-Europeans, which clearly prefigure those of contemporary Western Man. Mr. Clark noted there are three central traits of the Aryans that continue to shape Western Civilization. The first is a sense of an immutable Cosmic Order, which probably gave rise to the concepts of fate and universal morality, and also prompted scientific inquiry. The second is the restless dynamism that resulted in conquest, empire-building, and the principles of individual liberty. In this concluding section, Mr. Clark sets forth another fundamental Indo-European trait, and describes how these ancient characteristics must be put to the service of contemporary European man.
The third important characteristic is individuality. Indo-Europeans from their earliest history show signs of greater variation, in both physical appearance and individual behavior, than most other races. Some physical anthropologists have noted that there is more variety among Europeans than among Asiatics and Negroes. Whites exhibit more variation in skin pigmentation, hair and eye color, height, and facial features than Mongolians or Negroes, and this physical differentiation is paralleled and perhaps causally related to their behavioral differentiation as individuals, a trait that is closely related to their dynamism as a race.
Individuality or individuation in the sense I am using it is very different from “individualism,” a modern ideology that may have been encouraged by racial individuation but is not the same thing. Individualism as an ideology is the belief that the individual is sovereign, that the individual man is self-sufficient, exists only for himself and his interests, and has claims against the group (society, the race, the nation, class, religion, etc.) This ideology is in fact subversive of group loyalty and especially of racial consciousness and allegiances, and while people with a high degree of individuality may find it attractive, they need to remember that they, like every other human being, exist because of and within a group — the family and the community, as well as larger groups like nation, cult, class, and race.
Early Aryans, despite their tendency to individuate, were highly conscious of themselves as a distinct group. Both the Greeks and the Romans looked upon everyone else as “barbarians,” and we have already seen the high degree of racial consciousness that pertained among the Indo-Aryans. Aryans were also closely attached to family units, not only the nuclear family but also the clans in which their society was organized, and clan warfare in Ireland and Scotland, family-based political factionalism among the Romans, and conflicts among the many independent city-states of ancient Greece were notorious as forces that tended to keep these populations divided. It was groups like race, nationality, clan, community, class, and family that established the social fabric of early Aryan life, and individualism in the modern sense of a John Stuart Mill or Ayn Rand — as a belief that justifies the individual neglecting or betraying his social bonds — did not exist.
|European man has an ineradicable tendency to individualize himself through a singular personality, achievements, and thoughts.|
Nevertheless, the Aryans exhibited a high degree of individuation, and this is reflected in their mythology as well as in their art. The gods and heroes of the Greeks and the Norsemen have far more distinctive personalities than such Egyptian deities as Isis and Osiris, and the stories the Greeks and Norsemen told about their gods and heroes — the embittered and wrathful Achilles and the wily Odysseus, the imperious Zeus and the dashing Apollo, the angry Ares and the comic lame god Hephaestus, the jealous Hera and the lascivious Aphrodite — are far richer than the thin tales of Egypt and Babylonia. There is also a greater emotional and narrative range — adventure, humor, love, revenge, divine punishment, and even tragic failure — in the Greek myths than in the stories of the Old Testament, which mainly illustrate man’s obedience or disobedience to God and His laws.
With few exceptions, this range is also reflected in the art of the early Aryans in Europe — in the highly individuated and expressive statuary of the Greeks, as compared to the colossal but blank-faced images of the Egyptian pharaohs and Middle Eastern potentates — as well as in the highly developed literary and art forms of the later Europeans. European art and literature, far more than those of other peoples, give us the character, the individually distinctive human being, full of contradictory impulses but driven by some more than by others, characters we see in Greek drama, Homeric epic, Shakespearean plays, and the modern novel. Portraiture as well as statuary, dwelling on the individual external features to reveal the internal individual character, reflect much of the same trait, unlike the art forms of other races. Moreover, only in Western cultures has the lone hero become an ideal figure — not only the adventurer like Hercules or Theseus but also the lone explorer, the lone scientist, the lone scholar, thinker, poet, writer, often battling against daunting odds, persecution, or neglect. When Europeans invent things, they usually remember and honor the individuals who did it — the inventors who made the Industrial Revolution possible and those like Samuel Morse, Alexander Graham Bell, Thomas Edison, the Wright brothers, and Henry Ford, who created the basic technologies of modern civilization working alone in their attics and basements.
Even the modern comic book and film and television heroes of popular culture reveal this inherent Aryan tendency to go it alone, in the Lone Ranger, Superman and Batman, the heroes created by John Wayne and Gary Cooper, as do the myths of the American West, whether fictional, in James Fenimore Cooper’s Natty Bumppo, or real in Daniel Boone, David Crockett, Wild Bill Hickock, and Wyatt Earp. The lone Aryan hero, like Walt Disney’s Davy Crockett, lives by the motto, “Be sure you’re right, then go ahead,” a counsel of individuality, and then proceeds to fight legions of dark-looking badmen (whose black hats may symbolize non-Aryan origins), Indians, accented foreigners, or other suspiciously non-Aryan types. His ancestors Siegfried and Theseus fought and conquered the Nibelungs and the Minotaur of non-Aryan Crete in the same way.
But the Aryan hero also pays a price for his heroic individuality. He stands as the perpetual outsider, whose distinctiveness usually forbids him from enjoying a normal life with wife and children or living to a ripe old age, and eventually, in the authentic myths as opposed to TV drama, he is slain, usually by treachery. The moral of Aryan individuality is that there is no escape from the laws of the Cosmic Order, even for heroes, whose heroic transcendence of the norms that bind more mediocre men does not exempt them from the iron regularities of the universe. Individuality is not for everybody, an important distinction between the Aryan ideal and that of modern universalist individualism, and only exceptional beings can excel despite the demands it imposes on them.
Aryan individuality, then, was supposed to be a supplement to, not an adversary of, the racial and social bond, and even then it was constrained by the price that those who developed it to its highest levels would have to pay. It was never supposed to be the kind of intellectual crutch for economic greed, social inadequacy, and personal alienation and resentment that modern individualism is. But the ineradicable tendency of Aryans to individualize themselves through singular personalities, achievements, thoughts, and expressions in art and literature no doubt lies at the root of modern individualism, despite the socially pathological and destructive forms the ideology has taken, and it is in part because of his innate proclivity to individuation and individual achievement and creativity that European Man has given birth to his distinctive and successful civilization.
Describing the contours of ancient history, the great American Egyptologist James Henry Breasted saw the ancient world in terms of an epochal struggle between “our ancestors,” the Indo-Europeans of Europe, Persia, and India, on the one hand, and the Semitic peoples of Mesopotamia, Phoenicia, the Hebrews and Assyrians, and Carthage, on the other.
“The history of the ancient world, as we are now to follow it, was largely made up of the struggle between this southern Semitic line, which issued from the southern grasslands, and the northern Indo-European line, which came forth from the northern grasslands to confront the older civilizations represented in the southern line. Thus … we see the two great races facing each other across the Mediterranean like two vast armies stretching from Western Asia westward to the Atlantic. The later wars between Rome and Carthage represent some of the operations on the Semitic left wing, while the triumph of Persia over Chaldea is a similar outcome on the Semitic right wing.
|European man can survive today only if he begins to recognize that victory through honorable combat is not enough.|
“The result of the long conflict was the complete triumph of our ancestors (the Indo-European line), who conquered along the center and both wings and finally, as represented by the Greeks and Romans, gained unchallenged supremacy throughout the Mediterranean world. This triumph was accompanied by a long struggle for mastery between the members of the northern line themselves. Among them the victory moved from the east end to the west end of the northern line, as first the Persians, then the Greeks, and finally the Romans gained control of the Mediterranean and oriental world.”1
In this passage, Breasted captured the grand sweep of the saga of European Man and his seemingly victorious, millennial conflict with his rivals. But what he does not say, and what perhaps was not apparent to him when he wrote in the early 20th century, was that the conflict is far from over. The Roman political and military victory was not the end of the story, because the very success of Roman imperialism made possible and perhaps inevitable the eventual inundation of their people and culture by those whom they had conquered. The importation of masses of alien slaves into Italy, their eventual emancipation, and the massive immigration of foreigners from the Asiatic parts of the empire meant that the Indo-European racial and cultural base of Rome would eventually die.
The Roman poet Juvenal’s famous line that “the Orontes [the main river of ancient Syria] empties its garbage into the Tiber” expresses what was happening (it is noteworthy he did not say the Rhine or the Thames empties its garbage into the Tiber). Not only the peoples but also the religions and the political forms of the non-Aryan East crept over the Aryan imperium. Eventually, then, the non-Aryan rivals and enemies of the Aryans triumphed through a backdoor attack that is comparable to the backhandedness by which non-Aryans overcome Aryan heroes in the old myths.
Today, despite the conquest of virtually the entire planet by Indo-Europeans by the end of the 19th century, the same fate appears to face modern European Man. Only the European nations of the United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and Europe itself face hordes of non-white immigrants who threaten to engulf us and our civilization. Having conquered them through military combat and technological and economic progress, we nevertheless face racial and cultural extinction as the perversion of our strengths into weaknesses is exploited against us and our rivals seek victory through our back doors. European Man can survive today only if he begins to recognize that victory through honorable combat is not enough; he must also be prepared to meet the challenges on the level of cultural combat, and the only way he can do so is through recovery of his racial heritage, the roots of who we are and where we come from as a people.
The Aryan Legacy
Throughout this essay, I have emphasized the ancient, archaic, and prehistoric expressions of the Indo-European peoples for two reasons. In the first place, examining the ancient patterns of behavior and thought among Aryans helps to exclude influences on them from more modern forces that have been acquired through the historical environment or are perhaps less “natural” — forces such as Christianity, philosophical and ethical systems, capitalism, and the modern ideologies of romanticism, individualism, socialism, capitalism, and liberalism. Secondly, by looking at the patterns of thought and behavior that seem to have been common to all or most of the early Aryan peoples, we can find what whites have in common and what distinguishes them from other races. When Aryans in medieval Ireland exhibit myths and beliefs very similar to those of ancient India, when Greek poets express ideas similar to those of Viking sea rovers, we are transcending the extraneous influences of other cultures and races, those acquired from the social and historical environment, and the physical environment, and are coming close to fundamental racial characteristics.
This survey of the ancient Aryans may seem as though it merely recounts cultural ideas and practices rather than racial characteristics, but as Jared Taylor noted in his own essay, “there is increasing evidence that personality traits … are under genetic control,” and therefore we should expect to find that the deep cultural beliefs and practices that are common to members of a particular population that is descended from the same ancestors derive from genes carried by those ancestors. This claim cannot be proved, mainly because we obviously cannot conduct genetic analyses of ancient Aryans, but given what we now know and are increasingly learning about the role of genetic forces (and therefore race) in shaping personality (and therefore culture), it seems to follow.
In the light of what we know of the early history of the Aryan peoples, then, we should be able to distinguish between those traits that are characteristic of our race and those that are not, between those that contribute or have contributed to our success as a population and as a people and those that have been destructive, and between those that continue to serve our identity and destiny, our consciousness as a people acting in history, and those that have been distorted or exploited to thwart our identity and destiny.
In his essay, Mr. Taylor identified by my count about 15 distinct traits that he believes constitute or derive from “a common thread to the modern characteristics of European man.” In the light of what we know of early Aryan man, some of the characteristics that Mr. Taylor attributes to whites are valid, some are distortions of valid traits, and some, I believe, are merely acquisitions deriving from other forces (which is not to say that they are necessarily undesirable). But what is important is that any trait that is really a characteristic of whites must have existed long before modern culture and independently of cultural, historical, or local influences on white behavior.
Thus, several of the characteristics that Mr. Taylor attributes to whites appear to have their origin in the archaic, natural impulses of the early Aryan peoples, but it is highly misleading to say that the modern and especially American manifestations of these characteristics are distinctively Aryan, Indo-European, or white. Mr. Taylor is certainly correct that whites exhibit “an abiding sense of reciprocity, a conviction that others have rights that must be respected,” but the modern expression of this trait in such institutions as democracy, free speech, and the rule of law are grotesquely distorted or exaggerated versions of the original and natural impulses.
The “sense of reciprocity” as well as the rule of law are no doubt reflections of the Aryan concept of Cosmic Order, a view of the universe that holds that both nature and man behave according to universal, perpetual laws or regular patterns and in which rights and duties are in balance. But the concept of Cosmic Order did not imply an egalitarian or homogeneous social order in which everyone is equal and there are no distinctions between groups, classes, sexes, races, and nations. Indeed, early Aryan society was hierarchical, organic, and aristocratic; the natural form of Aryan government was an aristocratic republic in which distinct classes and social groups participated and expressed their views and interests freely, and a high level of political participation was necessary for such dynamic and restless populations of independent, armed free men as the early Aryans.
The mass democracies and homogenized, produce-and-consume cultures of modern times may ultimately derive from this Aryan social and political model, but they deviate from it in important ways. Free speech, for example, certainly seems to have pertained in the tribal assemblies, and it is doubtful if the early Aryans were such bluenoses as their Victorian descendants or such totalitarians as late 20th century academics. But free speech did not include the right to commit sacrilege, subversion, or obscenity and was circumscribed by custom and the high courtesy that is universal among warrior peoples.
As noted earlier, the Aryan concept of Cosmic Order accounts for the European mental habits of universalism and objectivity. While these habits help explain European successes in science, mathematics, philosophy, ethics, and the rule of law, they also, in a misapplied and degenerate form, suggest why Europeans have shown a tendency to neglect their own racial interests and why they find developing their own racial consciousness so difficult. As Jared Taylor noted in his essay, every other race tends to think in terms of its own race and group, and “Only whites pretend that pluralism and displacement are good things and that the measures necessary to ensure group survival may be immoral.” We tend to think that way because we are naturally prone to transcend subjective and particular interests and to idealize what is objective and universal. But this misapplication of a natural and healthy Aryan instinct is not in itself natural but rather the result of ethical and philosophical confusions that have arisen in modern times.
Mr. Taylor is also correct in his remarks about sportsmanship, noblesse oblige, respect for foes in war, and respect for women, all of which derive from Aryan ideas about the Cosmic Order and from the warlike and heroic character of the early Aryans. All these traits reflect the nature of early Aryan warcraft — the single combat of individual champions, the unwritten and commonly understood rules of conflict, and acceptance of the terms of defeat have deep roots in the ways Aryans waged war. The comparative absence of needless brutality in Western warfare, until the advent of 20th century democracy, may be thought to derive from Christian ethics, but long before Christianity pagan conquerors like Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar showed far less brutality in their warfare than such paladins of non-Aryan combat as Tamerlane, Genghis Khan, the Assyrians, the Huns, or even the ancient Hebrews, for whom genocide was a regular practice.
In Aryan society women have always enjoyed more respect, more freedom, and more individuality than in non-Aryan society, and this probably from the structure of their society. The relative independence and freedom that characterized the structured Aryan society would have meant that women could not simply be captured and enslaved but had to be bargained for or won, if not as individuals then as the daughters of other competing warriors. Disrespect for or cruelty to a woman, like discourtesy or injury to a free man, could result in endless blood feuds. Women and goddesses in Greek and Norse myths and legends have far more personality and a far more important social role than in most non-Aryan mythologies. Certainly such practices as foot-binding, clitoridectomy, and suttee, as well as polygamy and the harem, are rare or unknown among the early Aryans. (The word “harem” has entered Western languages because Westerners lack their own word for it.)
But the natural Aryan respect for women does not mean that modern feminism is consistent with ancient Aryan views of womanhood, and despite the honor that Aryans have always paid women, they never confused honor with equality or sameness. The assumption of the Aryan honoring of women is that women are different from men and require or deserve different treatment. It is for that very reason that modern feminists, wedded to the illusion of sexual egalitarianism, despise, ridicule, and try to abolish the expressions of male chivalry, even though, like most egalitarians, they also like to have it both ways — to abolish inequality when it offers an impediment but to insist on it when it serves their interests.
Similarly, respect for animals no doubt derives from the reliance of the Aryans on hunting and war animals, especially dogs and horses. Horses play a central role in Aryan myth, and the Indo-Europeans apparently were the first to domesticate horses and develop their use in war. There are sacred horses, horse sacrifices, horse gods, and horse burials among the Indo-European peoples. Similarly, dogs and wolves play a major role in Aryan myth, from Cerberus the three-headed dog of Hades (one for each social class perhaps) to the wolves of Odin. The individuation of Aryans may lead them to personify their animals and invest them with personalities, names, and special attributes in a way that no other race usually does.
I do not see that such traits as missionary activity, the passion to improve or change the world, the elimination of hereditary class differences, competition according to individual ability, or concern for the natural environment are particularly characteristic of Aryans, however. Some of these may be desirable traits, though they have obviously gone far beyond what was really characteristic of early Aryans and what can be useful for white racial survival. Nevertheless, some of them, like missionary activities and crusading to change or reform society, may well ultimately derive from Aryan dynamism and expansionism, while competition according to individual merit may be a modern form of single combat and a reflection of Aryan individuality. The modern demand to eliminate hereditary class distinctions may be an exaggerated but not very healthy version of this instinct.
|Aryans seem to be especially prone to misapplications of their most ennobling traits.|
What is important to understand, however, is that Aryans, because of their Faustian dynamism and individuality, seem to be especially prone to misapplications of their most ennobling traits, and when the modern ideologies of egalitarianism, leveling, feminism, and universalism are joined to forces like modern capitalism and technology, the danger of losing contact with and understanding of the natural propensities of our own racial character and of misunderstanding their limits and proper functions is great.
I do not think there is any great mystery as to how this perversion of the Aryan legacy occurred. Aryans eventually constructed societies far more complex in their economies, technologies, and ideas than any other race, and the very complexity of their societies tended to confuse and derail traditional expressions of Aryan impulses. Ambitious leaders, Aryan or not, have often exploited these complexities, and the confusions that result, for their own advantage, and the disruptions of wars, revolutions, depressions, and new technologies and social organizations that periodically afflict Western society have added to the alienation of modern European Man from his natural inclinations and ancient heritage.
It ought to be obvious that we cannot expect to restore the warrior cultures of the early Aryans, their archaic religions and mythologies, and their social and political customs. But we can work to correct the misapplications of our talents and traits, to eradicate the confusions and degenerations of modern mass democracy and culture, and eventually to restore or create anew a social, political, and cultural order that incorporates and reflects the healthy and natural instincts of our race. What we can do is learn from these ancient and noble warriors and their courage, their irrepressible restlessness and dynamism, and their heroically relentless realism; from them we can remember who we are and where we come from, what our most natural inclinations are and how those inclinations can help us or harm us, and, most of all, how we can make the enduring characteristics of our race serve us again in our endless quest to meet the destiny of European Man.
1James Henry Breasted, The Conquest of Civilization (New York: Literary Guild of America, 1938), 200-202.
Edwin Clark is an Indo-European writer living in Washington, D.C.