Alfred Rosenberg – “The Myth of the Twentieth Century”

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 The Myth of the 20th Century

The Myth of the Twentieth Century: An Evaluation of the Spiritual-Intellectual Confrontations of Our Age or The Myth of the 20th Century (translation from Der Mythus des zwanzigsten Jahrhunderts) is a 450 page book by the German National Socialist philosopher Alfred Rosenberg, translated and introduced by James Whisker. [1] This book, his magnum opus, was first published in 1930 and contains his philosophical teachings about race, race soul, politics, art, culture, and religion. It also attempts to provide a cultural-economic-political program for the Third Reich and is often considered an essential National Socialist text along with Hitler’s Mein Kampf, although it is questionable to what extent Rosenberg’s suggestions were actually taken up (some important NSDAP members never read the whole thing). However, despite the fact that the book makes statements about “the coming Reich,” Rosenberg emphasized at the beginning that it was a completely personal philosophical work, not intended to be taken as National Socialist ideological doctrine. Intellectuals like Alfred Baeumler who used The Myth as a building block for their own theories used it further than Rosenberg originally intended.

General Racial and Religous Ideas

Rosenberg was the NSDAP’s chief racial theorist and built upon the works of Arthur de Gobineau, Houston Stewart Chamberlain, and Madison Grant. However, unlike his precursors he added a metaphysical element to race in his philosophical teachings, arguing that physical race was linked with a Race Soul. “Soul means race seen from within,” Rosenberg wrote in The Myth of the 20th Century, “and conversely, race is the external side of a soul.” He asserted that every race had its own soul which could be awakened once a race’s members recognized their highest values. His goal was that this would be done for the Aryan race, which he felt was more valuable than other races.

Each race has its own tendencies and character, which has a relationship to the general essence of the cultures it produces (although he did recognize cultural diversity within a race). Art was particularly important for Rosenberg, as he believed it to be not only the expression of the individual soul creating but also an expression of the racial soul, an exposition of its ideals in imagry (which is why he felt that modern art was intolerable, since it was a corrupt form of art produced by untalented and degenerate minds). The mixing of races causes incompatible types to be merged and characters destroyed, thus also affecting cultural production. Race-mixing was looked on as being very destructive and negative by Rosenberg, and he believed that Jews and their character were the result of it. He wrote, denouncing miscegenation: “It is through this desecration of the blood that personality, people, race and culture perish. None who have disregarded the religion of the blood have escaped this nemesis  –  neither the Indians nor the Persians, neither the Greeks nor the Romans. Nor will Nordic Europe escape if it does not call a halt, turning away from bloodless absolutes and spiritually empty delusions, and begin to hearken trustingly once again to the subtle welling up of the ancient sap of life and values.”

Rosenberg also argued for a new “religion of the blood,” based on the innate promptings of the Nordic soul to defend its noble character against racial and cultural degeneration. Rosenberg declared that “Today a new faith is awakening — the Myth of the blood; the belief that to defend the blood is also to defend the divine nature of man in general. It is a belief, effulgent with the brightest knowledge, that Nordic blood represents that Mysterium which has overcome and replaced the older sacraments.” Of course, the phrase “religion of the blood” does not mean that normal religion (such as Christianity or Paganism) would be completely replaced by some kind of race-religion. It simply referred to the idea that guarding racial purity is a sacred practice, and this was explicitly supposed to be merged with normal religion, which is why he wrote “alongside the mythos of the eternal free soul stands the Myth, the religion of the blood.” Rosenberg desired the creation of a united German Folkish Church in which Christian and Pagan texts would both be studied and the individual member could decide what he wanted to believe in without being persecuted. This German Folkish Church was to “cultivate the values of honour, pride, inward freedom, aristocracy of soul, and faith in the indestructibility of the soul of man.”

He believed that this had been embodied in early Indo-European religions, notably ancient European (Celtic, Germanic, Baltic, Roman) paganism, Zoroastrianism and Vedic Hinduism. Following the ideas of Chamberlain, he condemned what he called “negative Christianity,” the dogmatic orthodox beliefs of Protestant and Catholic churches, arguing instead for a “positive Christianity” based on Chamberlain’s claim that Jesus was a member of a Nordic enclave resident in ancient Galilee who struggled against Judaism. For Rosenberg religious doctrine was not important, what mattered was that a belief should advance the spirituality of the Nordic peoples.

Quotes

 – “Today a new faith is awakening — the Myth of the blood; the belief that to defend the blood is also to defend the divine nature of man in general. It is a belief, effulgent with the brightest knowledge, that Nordic blood represents that Mysterium which has overcome and replaced the older sacraments.”

 – “Alongside the mythos of the eternal free soul stands the Myth, the religion of the blood.”

 – “Racial history is therefore natural history and the mysticism of the soul at one and the same time; but the history of the religion of the blood, conversely, is the great world story of the rise and downfall of peoples, their heroes and thinkers, their inventors and artists.”

 – “Heroism is basic to the character of the Nordic peoples. This heroism of the ancient mythic period—and this is what is decisive—has never been lost, despite reverses of fortune, so long as the Nordic blood was still alive. Heroism, in fact, took many forms, from the warrior nobility of Siegfried or Hercules to the intellectual nobility of Copernicus and Leonardo, the religious nobility of Eckehart and Lagarde, or the political nobility of Frederick the Great and Bismarck, and its substance has remained the same.”

 – “In heroic conduct, whether of warriors, philosophers or scientists, we see what is of essential nature, and we know that all heroism groups itself around a supreme value. This has always been the idea of honour, spiritual and mental. But the idea of honour, like its corporeal representatives, was and is involved in a war of soul and spirit against the values represented by alien races or the miscegenated offspring of racial chaos.”

 – “However, the values of the racial soul, which stand as driving forces behind this new image of the world, have not yet become a living consciousness. Soul means race seen from within. And, conversely, race is the external side of a soul. To awaken the racial soul to life means to recognise its highest value, and, under its dominance, to allot to other values their organic position in the State, in art, and in religion. That is the task of our century; to create a new human type out of a new view of life. And for this, courage is needed; courage of each single individual, courage of the entire generation growing up, indeed of many following generations. For chaos has never been mastered by those without courage, and a world has never been built by cowards. Whoever wishes to go forward, must therefore also burn bridges behind him. Whoever sets out on a great journey, must leave old household goods behind. Whoever strives for what is highest, must turn his back on what is lesser. And to all doubts and questions the new man of the coming great German Reich knows only one answer: I alone will triumph!”

 – “We wish to determine the necessity of our spiritual Being as such, just as Meister Eckehart once strove to do. But Being of this kind has as its essence the racially linked soul with its necessary supreme values of honour and freedom. These supreme values determine the structure of the other, lesser values. This race soul lives and unfolds itself in nature. It awakens certain qualities and suppresses others. These forces of race, soul and nature are the eternal prerequisites of existence and life, from which culture, belief, art, and so on, result as spiritual being. This is the final inward withdrawal, the new awakening Myth of our life.”

 – “Cultures are not, in fact, things which descend from the empyrean, for no known reason, as formal culture cycles upon one then another region of the earth. They are full blooded creations which are each in their own way (rational and irrational) metaphysically rooted, grouped about an intangible centre, related to a highest value. All possess, even if later distorted, an element of life enhancing truth. Every race has its soul and every soul its race—its own unique internal and external architectonic shape, its characteristic form of appearance and demeanour of lifestyle, and a unique relationship between its forces of will and reason. Every race cultivates its own highest ideal. If, by the massive infiltration of alien blood and alien ideas, this is changed or overthrown, the result of this inner metamorphosis is chaos and, by epochs, catastrophe. For a highest value demands a specific nexus of other precepts of life which are subject to it; that is, it determines the style of existence of a race, a people or a group of peoples within a nation. Its elimination therefore involves the dissolution of the entire inner tension necessary for organic creation.”

Contents

 Preface
    Introduction to English Edition
    Author’s Introduction
    Book One: The Conflict of Values
Chapter I. Race and Race Soul
Chapter II. Love and Honour
Chapter III. Mysticism and Action
  Book Two: Nature of Germanic Art
Chapter I. Racial Aesthetics
Chapter II. Will And Instinct
Chapter III. Personality And Style
Chapter IV. The Aesthetic Will
Book Three: The Coming Reich
Chapter I. Myth And Type
Chapter II. The State And The Sexes
Chapter III. Folk And State
Chapter IV. Nordic German Law
Chapter V. Church And School
Chapter VI. A New System Of State
Chapter VII. The Essential Unity

3 comments on “Alfred Rosenberg – “The Myth of the Twentieth Century”

  1. Cj aka Elderofzyklons Blog says:

    Reblogged this on ElderofZyklon's Blog!.

  2. Senatssekretär Freistaat Danzig says:

    Reblogged this on behindertvertriebentessarzblog.

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