Folk and Land: The Revitalization of Our Culture
The soil is the foundation of our European Culture, both in terms of practical sustenance and spiritually. The land has a mystical quality to which the Folk is rooted by ties of Family–of Blood–for generation upon generation. This is the meaning of that misunderstood and slandered concept Blood & Soil.
The Village emerges to fill the social and economic needs of an expanding rural population, to both sell produce and facilitate social communication. This is the beginnings of a culture. As the Culture gives way to Civilization, the symbols are no longer the land and its Family/Blood rootedness, nor the Village; but the Town becoming City, and ultimately (at the last, ‘Winter’ phase of a Civilization) the Megalopolis, drawing the rural population into its embrace, submerging the citydweller into a nebulous, alienated mass of proletarians and merchants without ties of land or blood and with at most a precarious notion of family. Above it all stand the new lords and masters: the Bankers, with their democratic political demagogues.
The philosopher-historian Oswald Spengler writes of this disintegration in The Decline of The West: “The megalopolis – skeptical, practical, artificial – alone represents Civilization today. The soil-peasantry before its gates does not count. The ‘People’ means the city-people, an inorganic mass, something fluctuating.”
The Rootedness of the Peasantry
The peasant/farmer is rooted to the soil in a numinous, mystical manner. His land provides him with more than food or an income; it is here that the generations of his family live and die, where their sweat, blood and tears and laughter consecrate the earth in the most personal way. Where is there such connectedness to one’s environment in the City, where all is in a state of flux and transience: where impersonality is supreme. Spengler continues:
“He who digs and ploughs is seeking not to plunder, but to alter Nature. To plant implies not to take something, but to produce something. BUT WITH THIS, MAN HIMSELF BECOMES PLANT–namely, as peasant. He roots in the earth that he tends, the soul of man discovers a soul in the countryside, and a new earthboundness of being, a new feeling pronounces itself. Hostile Nature becomes the friend, earth becomes MOTHER Earth. Between sowing and begetting, harvest and death, and child and the grain, a profound affinity is set up…” The symbol of this youthful Culture, this ‘Springtime’ is the farmhouse, “The great symbol of settledness… It is PROPERTY in the most sacred sense of the word.”
It is the Civilization in its Late or “Winter” phase with the City and the city dweller dominant that has man returning to a spiritually nomadic, rootless condition. He is no longer settled; there are no real, deep – inner – ties to property in the profound sense, not even among those who own their city dwellings. The City epitomized by the Megalopolis in Late Civilization (for ancient Rome and modern New York, London or Paris) draws the races of the world to it; no longer only the rural population of its own Folk. The Megalopolis is bloodless, money-based, desiring capital and labor regardless of the racial and cultural sources. The great melting-pot is upheld as the ideal. America symbolizes perfectly the Western Civilization’s Late phase, and whoever seeks to predict the future of his own society needs only to look first at what unfolds in America.
Urban Drift / Urban Sprawl
One of the most transparent signs of the crisis of the Western Civilization is both the depopulation of the countryside and urban sprawl.
In New Zealand a majority was still rural until 1906 at about 52%. By 1945 about a quarter of the population was still rural. However by 1980 the proportion had shrunk to 15% where it stands today. By 1990 68% lived in “main urban areas” defined as cities of at least 30,000 (NZ Official Yearbook 1995).
Simultaneously, urban centres are increasingly encroaching on surrounding countryside. Houses spring up on former farmland, even bordering wildlife reserves.
This is the inexorable process of a Civilization in decay. It follows the same phases as other Civilizations such as Rome, as Spengler showed. However, Western Man has the advantage of historical perspective, of an historical sense more finely tuned than any other Civilization. He can look back ore the past, on the Cycles of Civilization, and see the whence of his doing. He has an historical conscious that separates him from those of other Civilizations in a manner similar to the way humans are separated from other animals by their self-conscious. THE QUESTION REMAINS WHETHER THERE ARE SUFFICIENT NUMBERS WITH THE WILL AND THE SPIRITUAL ESSENCE LEFT NOT ONLY TO LEARN FROM THE PAST BUT TO PUT THOSE LESSONS INTO EFFECT BY FIGHTING FOR A REBIRTH OF THE WESTERN SOUL.
The tragedy is that those who did try to fight for a spiritual rebirth were defeated in 1945 and many of them were killed. It could well be this was the last chance we had; a tragedy from which we might not recover.
Nevertheless any revival of the European spirit MUST proceed from the concept of Blood & Soil. It must also take account of how the traditional and spiritual attributes of the European can be synthesized with our science and technology which are themselves products of the European soul: of that yearning for knowledge and exploration Spengler referred to as “Faustian.”
Indeed since science itself is but an unfolding of the laws of Nature, it seems logical that science and technology should work FOR the spirit of Blood & Soil, and not as they are now doing AGAINST. The problem is not with technology itself, or the unique Faustian soul that gives it shape; it is with the manner by which it is utilized to ravage Nature and dehumanize Man for the benefit of industrial capitalism and the small coteries of plutocrats who control it. The elimination of plutocracy is therefore a prerequisite for the rebirth of our Folk and Culture.
NS Germany: An Experiment in Western Rebirth
NS-Germany was the only major modern effort to address the decline of the Western Civilization, and to attempt an answer to the question of how to maintain a progressive, technological State yet return the Folk to the “Springtime” of its youth. Whatever mistakes, atrocities or excesses be attached to the NS experiment, the crisis of our time requires that we look at that experiment dispassionately to see what lessons might be learned from both its mistakes and successes. For the NS Reich was a conscious effort to return our Folk to the peasant values which alone can give health to our culture.
Dr. Anna Bramwell of Oxford has undertaken such an objective examination in her study of the Reich Peasant Leader and Minister of Agriculture, Walther Darre. (Blood & Soil: Walther Darre & Hitler’s Green Party, Kensal Press, Britain, 1985). Dr. Bramwell shows that Darre was a major pioneer of today’s ecological movement, and that many of his ideas filtered through to that movement. From 1934 he launched an organic farming programme. After the war he continued to write about problems of soil erosion, the dangers of artificial fertilizers, and the need to maintain biomass, until his death in 1953.
The real Germany was for Darre and his supporters within the National Socialist party not the Germany of merchants, feudal lords, cardinals, of Teutonic Knights bringing the mercantile spirit back from their Crusades in the Levant. It was the Germany of the peasant, and of the Peasant Revolt of 1525 which had sought to replace Roman, feudal law with a return to the old, customary German law under which they had been free.
Darre adopted certain of the views of Rudolf Steiner despite the latter’s opposition to NS. He opposed the industrialization of the farmer, artificial fertilizer, mass-produced grain, and insecticides. Goslar, a medieval town, became a new peasant capital, which Darre envisaged as the center for the formation of a Northern European peasant community. Festivals and farmers’ rallies were held here. Conferences on Blood & Soil were attended by representatives of Norwegian and Danish peasant movements.
Practical measures included large-scale land reclamation and harvest work undertaken by the youth of the Labor Service, where all classes of the young worked together. By the end of 1934 over half a million children from the cities and industrial areas had been sent on holidays to the country through State health programs.
“They saw, often for the first time, cattle grazing in the meadows, they felt the charm of the countryside, of the mountains, lakes and the sea. They had the unique experience of coming into contact with the customs of the peasantry, rural customs and festivities and with the peaceful charm of Nature, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of city life. Above all, it was the work of the farmer that turned out most impressive to the mind of the city child. The spirit of the city child struck roots, as it were, once again in the soil of its forefathers…” (Werner Reher, Social Welfare in Germany, Berlin, 1938).
The manner by which a progressive State could adjust itself to ecological need was expressed for e.g. in the huge autobahns that were constructed to be “embedded in the landscape organically,” under the direction of landscape architect and passionate ecologist Alwin Seifert. Only local materials were used in the construction.
Under NS the principal demands of the 1525 Peasant Revolt were at last fulfilled, returning old German law which assured the security of the peasant on his land against death, duty and foreclosure.
The Reich Agricultural Estate was founded as a self-governing corporation, after the manner of the corporations the peasants had prior to feudalism. The Estate was enacted in 1933 to combine all Germans associated with agriculture, from farmer to wholesaler and retailer of produce. As in the old guilds, the Estate ensured both the quality of the products and the social, economic and cultural welfare of its members. The Estate was divided into regional, district and local associations to account for local conditions and custom. It ensured both the production and marketing of produce in a national economic plan.
The basis of the peasant revival was the Hereditary Farms Act. “The law takes the farm as a living cell in the folk organism.” The law ensured that indebtedness was reduced, and that farmland could not be confiscated. The law “takes fields, farm homesteads and cattle as a natural unit in the center of which stands the farmer himself. The union is regarded as a permanent one. Therefore the farm shall remain to the descendants or relatives as an inheritance in the hands of free German peasants.” Hereditary farms were defined as those no larger than 300 acres and capable of supporting a family of several children, so that “as large a number as possible of medium and small farms shall be spread over the whole country.”
An Act of June 1, 1933, in seeking to reduce farm debt and protect the farmer, ensured repayment would be from the yield without endangering the farmer’s livelihood. Property could not be confiscated by creditors, nor auctioned. (Erich Schinnerer, German Law & Legislation, Berlin 1938).
The revitalization of the European spirit and of Pan-Europa necessarily means a return to rustic, Heathen values and institutions, those that are organic above and beyond the artificiality and rootlessness of Late Civilization and its City basis.
The NS experiment provides ample lessons, as do the insights of both Rudolf Steiner and the ecological movement. However, as we’ve shown, the prerequisite for our revival is the demolition of plutocracy and the debt-banking system upon which it rests. Again, this requires a return to custom, to tradition which in the field of economics means BARTER. In a modern context this barter would take the form of credit and money issued as a non-usurious means of exchanging goods and services; not as at present as an interest-bearing debt for the profit of a few plutocrats. It means the socialization of banking. Details of such monetary reform are outside the scope of this study; suffice it to say that with usury-free people’s credit agriculture, and indeed all honest, productive work, would benefit; debt and tax would be enormously reduced. It is here pertinent to comment that NZ was established on debt by plutocrats and speculators, who charged an exorbitant 10% to 15% interest on loans for small holdings during the 1850’s. Today interest on rural debt accounts for the LARGEST single item of farm expenditure.
An e.g. of how modern technology and a rustic revival can not only co-exist but act as mutual stimuli is the potential for ethanol as a fuel that is non-toxic to the point of being drinkable and has no pollutants. Ethanol is produced from a large variety of vegetation. The cultivation of such crops for ethanol production would alone provide a huge incentive for rural expansion.
Like the Reich Agricultural Estate and the Labor Front of NS Germany, new forms of representation are needed to replace the old liberal parliaments that merely act as a facade for plutocracy. Occupational and professional franchise can replace the election of party candidates as a more direct and competent form of representation. Such elections could easily be undertaken via the unions and professional organizations, which themselves could be reformed as Guilds and Corporations in the Medieval manner, not only representing their members at national and local assemblies, but also being responsible for their social, economic and cultural welfare and education. Once again, a detailed examination of the mechanism of the Corporate State is beyond the scope of this paper.
Cheap, efficient public transport could be developed as the alternative to cars, and certainly there should be frequent “car-free” days, and perhaps a limitation on the number of cars per family. No doubt at first the necessity to walk to one’s local shop up the street instead of driving would be a great inconvenience and burden to some!
Parks, reserves and gardens need to be developed on a large scale and within urban areas. There must be limits on the rush to build houses on every piece of available land; and certainly – if only for aesthetic reasons – a house should not be constructed within sight of a wildlife reserve! There should be an end to multi-layered apartment buildings, whether public or private, and all dwellings should have at least minimal land for cultivation.
All primary and secondary schools should have a significant portion of property devoted to cultivating vegetables, such work being part of every student’s curriculum, and the products themselves being consumed for school lunches.
The rustic spirit that lurks repressed within the European Folk can again be raised to consciousness by the celebration of the Seasons, National and local festivals, agricultural fairs, and mobile rural exhibitions as features of the life of every city and town.
Excursions between rural and urban areas should be regular features in the education of youth, including extended visits on farms… A Youth Service should be established where the sons of all classes work side-by-side, and this should certainly include the establishment of Youth Camps in rural areas, and regular farmwork.
Our artists and musicians might lend their creativity to this spiritual rebirth by celebrating the numinosity of Blood & Soil, Folk & Land in their art, and should be patronized by the State and guilds to do so.