Spirit Is Where You Find It
by Revilo P. Oliver
I AM SOMETIMES reproached with ignoring spiritual values. I certainly do not intend to do so, although I may not always mention them where they are to be taken for granted. By ‘spirit,’ however, I understand, not the ghosts and spooks so dear to the religious imagination, but the psyche, as defined by Aristotle, that is, the force that gives life to a biological organism and makes it function. And we recognize spirit at the point where an organism’s automatic response to material stimulus is superseded by what we may properly call a higher power.
I would begin a notice of spiritual values with a commonly observed phenomenon. An ornithologist can give you a list of the species of birds in which a nesting female will, at the approach of a predator, leave her nest and flutter along the ground, risking and sometimes losing her life in an effort to draw the predator away from her chicks. She must therefore overcome her instinct of self-preservation for the sake of preserving her offspring. You will argue that since she is incapable of conscious thought, she is merely obeying a second instinct developed in the females of her species to ensure its continuance. Very well.
Let us now consider a band of baboons. You may deny them the power of conscious thought, but you must recognize in them the capacity to observe the behavior of farmers in South Africa and devise means of outwitting them that are commonly successful, despite the great odds on the side of the human being. You must also give them credit for an emotion that seems similar to one that our species feels and regards as poetic. At sunset a band of baboons cease the monkeyshines and chatter of animal merriment they exhibit in the daytime, and become silent and, we may imagine, melancholy in the gathering dusk, but resume their activity when darkness has fallen and until they are ready to retire for the night. They may even have religious tendencies. Eugène Marais in My Friends, the Baboons (London, Methuen, 1947) reports an incident in which a tribe of baboons, which had learned to accept the humans who were observing them as superior but not hostile beings, evidently hoped that the men with their magic powers could resurrect the dead.
A tribe of baboons is led and governed by an oligarchy of the elder and stronger males, who direct its movements and whose accumulated wisdom enables the band to survive. When the band is suddenly menaced by a leopard, one of the oligarchs gives his life for his people by attacking the leopard, against whose teeth and claws a baboon has no chance whatsoever, thus giving the rest of the band time to escape. The heroes and saviors celebrated in many mythologies could do no more, and I submit if we are going to talk rationally about spiritual values, we had better begin by recognizing them in baboons.
There can be no sacrifice greater than that of giving one’s life for others, and in our species we can identify no spiritual value higher than that which, so long as our species is viable, makes our young men willing to give their lives for the defense of their nation or for the extension of its territory and power. All spiritual values are instinctive, a product of what Jung rightly identifies as the racial soul, but they do become more remarkable when the instinct to act for the tribal or national entity has to overcome not only the individual’s instinct of self-preservation but also his ability to reason and to calculate how he may safely shirk his duty and leave to others sacrifice for the whole of which he is a part.
There are, of course, many other spiritual values. The enduring bond between male and female, found in many species of mammals, including wolves and baboons, is not merely a matter of sexual intercourse, as our psittacine intellectuals have been taught to tell us, and it is worthy of note that in our own race it takes a special form, producing a chivalric attitude toward our women such as is unknown to other races. Our race has its own instinctive sense of beauty and pleasure in it, which Jews seem to find particularly odious, since they incessantly strive to pervert and destroy it, and which all other races find more or less unnatural by their own instinctive standards. Another spiritual characteristic of our race, part of what Spengler termed the Faustian mentality, is the need for fantasy that transcends reality. “Remembering speechlessly we seek the great forgotten language, the lost lane-end into heaven, a stone, a leaf, an unfound door.” That need, inexplicable perhaps but part of us, and so often debased into vulgar superstitions, is innate in our racial psyche, perhaps needed to make endurable our twenty thousand days under the sun, and certainly one of our most precious spiritual values, to be repudiated only at risk to our sanity.
I shall not expatiate on this subject. My point here is simply that our spiritual values are instinctive and racial, and whether or not they have counterparts in other species of mammals, including other human races, they assume for us forms that are peculiar to our racial psyche, and they wither and die when we separate ourselves from the race from which we sprang. That is a fact well known to all intelligent beings who, for purposes of their own, intend to exterminate us.
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There is a connection, both obvious and obscure, between religion, which is belief in imaginary gods, and the power of imagination that enables us to endue the world with beauty, transcend its bleak reality aesthetically, and, in Wordsworth’s illustration
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea,
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathèd horn.
The illustration is apt because it reminds us that the Classical mythology which has entered so deeply into our culture represents poetic imagination, not religious faith, although there was a certain overlapping of uncertain extent.
Lucretius obviously did not believe in the existence of the Venus whom he invokes in the magnificent exordium (Aeneadum genetrix, hominum divomque voluptas, e.q.s.) that so powerfully stirs our blood and souls. Neither Vergil nor his readers ever believed that Venus had actually appeared to Aeneas near Carthage, although some of them may have believed in the existence of such a goddess or, at least, in the reality of supernatural beings.
Belief in the supernatural, in turn, need not, and often does not, include belief in personal immortality, which provides the consolation that is the only remaining function of a religion of the supernatural. I qualify the word ‘religion’ because it may also be used to designate what we may call a natural religion, one which is not inconsistent with ascertained reality, being a perception of the biologically necessary solidarity of our race and a faith in our race’s power to impose itself on the real world and subdue its enemies — a faith without which we are doomed.
A crucial question, to which I do not know the answer, is whether a natural religion can replace, for the majority of our people, an emotional and irrational belief in the supernatural. Does that majority need to console themselves for the ineluctable straitness of human life by imagining they will exist after death and that loved ones who have died have “gone home”? Traditional Christianity, as modified and adapted to the Western spirit, did, despite all its defects and concealed dangers, provide the consoling prospect of a life after death, but it was easily converted into a powerful weapon for the destruction of our civilization and culture, and is now a deadly bane, a lethal poison for our people. I hope that an illusion of immortality is not requisite, for I see no way of creating or reviving a religion of the supernatural that would supply it, with the possible and dubious exception of some belief in metempsychosis.
Theoretically, there is no reason why a natural religion of race would not be for us (as it is for intelligent Jews) a more than adequate replacement for an outworn and obsolete superstition, but as a practical matter we must recognize that it is extremely difficult for persons who have become addicted to hallucinatory drugs to emancipate themselves from them. Persons who have become addicted to an expectation of immortality are like alcoholics, who can seldom deprive themselves of their wonted escape from reality even after they are convinced that it is deleterious to themselves, and not infrequently can wean themselves from alcohol only by becoming addicted to some other drug. It is a matter of common observation that persons who have broken their blind faith in traditional Christianity often become enthusiastic votaries of some succedaneous superstition, from Theosophy to Marxism. The latter is, of course, the cult commonly selected by clergymen, though often for business reasons rather than from an appetite for a faith.
What is clear is that the religion the Jews invented for the goyim they despise and hate has now been stripped of the Western veneer that made it tolerable as a religion concerned only with the “next world” and consolation for the woes of life. It has become an hallucinatory drug that incites our race to suicide, and it will destroy us if we do not find a way of breaking the addiction to it that induces delirium tremens in so large a part of our people.
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