National Socialism a Danger to Western Civilization? (1931)
In this moment Europe is going through its fatal hours. The battle rages around this question: whether the vital powers that hitherto have dominated the West and led to its magnificent flowering of civilization should continue to dominate or not. There are still many people living in the cycle of Western civilization who remain faithful to the ancient values of life: chaos in the conception of the world naturally and necessarily gives birth to political and social chaos. Europe, discordant and disintegrated within itself, is in danger of being crushed between two giants: Russia and America. Europe would become a physical and spiritual graveyard, a cultural desert, if the hundred-headed hydra of Bolshevism triumphed. And in light of sub specie æternitatis, it certainly would not be much better if the spirit, or rather the non-spirit, of America came to dominate the old continent. We are unfortunately on our way to becoming more and more similar to the American man-machine, attracted only to gross and graspable things, obedient to power and gold. There can be no doubt that the final victory of America would mean the most crude and brutal barbarism; Europe would become subjected to the exploitative economic imperialism of the Yankees. No westerner who clearly observes this can deny the frightening and threatening status of this our situation. However, in the majority of those countries which have contributed most to the formation of Western civilization, there has begun a cultural and political reaction, an awakening of consciousness, and there has developed a will to conserve and push forward the values of this civilization. From the political point of view, Fascism in Italy has so far been the strongest and most effective among the reactions focused on the renewal of destiny in a world which is wavering and undecided. Even if in the initial stages there could perhaps be some uncertainty on the deeper meaning and on the intimate essence of the new movement, ultimately Fascism has clearly and consciously reconnected to the grandest cultural idea of the West, to the idea of Rome spiritualized by Christianity, to the concept of a spiritual orbis romanus (world of Rome). Precisely in this connection to the best traditions of the Italian people, which consequently was to lead to the peace treaty and to collaboration with the Church, was the magnitude of the statesman Mussolini manifested very clearly, (and at the same time demonstrates the fundamental difference between him and the leader of German Hitlerism!). Also from this reunification, Italian Fascism drew the energy needed to overcome the modern forces of dissolution, which opposes the values of tradition, authority, and firmness of institutions. All the internal policies of Fascist Italy clearly demonstrates, and in Italy it is affirmed without reservation, that the force of Christianity is a prerequisite to the recovery of the Nation. I do not need to explain to Italians what Italian Fascism means in other fields. In any case, we agree on the fact that the essence of Fascism does not end in its external institutions, but higher, much higher, because it is the spirit which has created them. Institutions of any kind can not save a people with their outward efficiency; everything depends on the spirit in which they live. Kemalist Turkey could copy the whole social system of Fascism and imitate its social and statal construction, but it would be an insult to the sons of Italy to say that for this reason alone they are entitled to be called Fascist. Italian Fascism is an essentially western construction. Any movement or system which rejects or fights the moral and spiritual foundations of Western civilization can never be considered Fascist. This seems precisely to be the case with German pseudo-Fascism, i.e. Hitlerism. Clarifications The March edition of Antieuropa published my open letter to Asvero Gravelli. With that letter I intended to show to my Italian and Fascist friends that the essence of National Socialism is hostile to Christianity and therefore also hostile to the West. It was, for me, well known from the outset that my warnings would not remain undisputed by the National Socialists, who always refer to Fascism as their Italian equivalent, in order that they may gain a few crumbs of prestige from the table. The National Socialist response to my cry of alarm did not take long, and in the April edition of Antieuropa there immediately appeared responses from seven eminent representatives of National Socialism. Of these responses I can basically rejoice, because everything I have said against National Socialism is confirmed by the statements made by the National Socialists themselves. Despite all attempts to veil the truth, the National Socialists abandon their mask in a very significant way. Before I delve into this and contradict the Hitlerites (who try to express themselves in such a way that they do not compromise themselves, in order to not offend the Italian magazine readers who granted their hospitality) with quotations taken from their own demonstrations, I would like to clarify my basic observations against Hitlerism, to which in my short open letter I had to hint, but which now deserves a more thorough explanation. Hitlerism is anti-Western In the discussion, the National Socialists touched upon many fundamental issues, such as the Romanity or non-Romanity of Western civilization, the Latins and the Germanics, the West and Catholicism, the State and the Church, etc. In polemics written in journals, it is difficult to express a complete and definitive thought on all these points of such high importance. My personal views are already known to the readers of Antieuropa, through my extended dissertation: "Roma e l'Occidente. Pensieri sul passato e sull'avvenire della nostra civiltà" (Antieuropa, November 1929), and through my polemic against Ernest Glaeser: "Gli Stati Uniti d'Europa contro l'Occidente novello. Chiose critiche ad una intervista delle 'Nouvelles Littéraires'" (Antieuropa, February 1930), as well as through the reprinting of various articles which appeared in the Augsburger Postzeitung and in the Allg. Rundschau. My letter and also the response of the Hitlerlites was given the title: "È il Fascismo tedesco antiromano?". The attentive reader will have already realized that this title did not come from me. For me, the Hitlerian party is not Fascism at all; granting them this title would be too great of an honour. What I wanted to emphasize is precisely the fact that Hitler's party has not the slightest resemblance to the spirit of Italian Fascism. The character of German pseudo-Fascism is anti-Christian and anti-Western. To render possible the clarification of the attitudes that here appear to conflict, I would formulate the question in these terms: "Is National Socialism a danger to Christianity and Western civilization, or not?". In this more general formula is already included the specific issue of the anti-Romanism of the Hitler movement. Rome, life of the West The western culture which still today, despite all the shocks, dominates Europe can be considered a Christian continuation of ancient culture. Under the influence of Christianity the Germanic tribes and populations of Northern Europe grew in this civilization. The early Germans did possess their own simple culture and religion, and were not barbarians as is commonly believed, but this does not prevent us (contrary to Rosenberg) from recognizing that the Romans of the South, the ancient cultural world of the Mediterranean, are the ones who taught the Germanics of the North. But only by the intertwining between South and North, by the religious and cultural unity of the Latin and Germanic peoples of the West, arose the occidens romanus. However, the contribution of the Germans absolutely must be recognized, and our civilization, both inwardly and outwardly, without the Germans, would not have become what it is. The symbolic expression of this cultural unity of the West, which embraced Latins and Germans, a unity which in the Middle Ages was still compact and powerful, was Rome: Rome, both as a religious center of the Catholic Church, and as the home of the greatest cultural traditions which the world knows. It is idle to ask if there are two ideas of Rome: a pagan and a Christian, or a religious and a political. Ever since Christianity existed, this Christianity has had its center in Rome, and there is no longer any idea of Rome that can be separated from Christianity. The difference between a Christian and a non-Christian Rome is distinctio pure sine mentalis fundamento in re. If I think of my friend Harry, I can consider him in a special way, i.e. the Harry who obtained Christian baptism; I can also, however, consider him as a representative of this or that profession; but he is, in any case, always the same Harry. Rome without Christianity, which has been its center for thousands of years, would not be Rome. There no longer exists today a pagan Rome: ever since the Battle of the Milvian Bridge, Rome has been baptized. It is not possible to conceive the idea of a Rome that is purely political or only cultural. If you want define it, you would always find that it is Christian. There was once a pagan Rome, two thousand and more years ago; today it lives on only in the convoluted minds of old solitary philologists and mediocre professors (and indeed there are many in Germany); pagan Rome in its exclusivity formally died just as Babylon and Tiahanuaco and Uxmal. Any time Italy today recalls the depths of its past, she can not be conceived as anything other than a Christian people. The episodic character in the decades before the war, of a Liberal-Masonic Italy, hostile to the Church, is but a momentary chapter in the grand scheme of history. Those who love the ruins and monuments of ancient Rome, but scorn the Rome of today, does not like the real Rome. Those who declare themselves "friends of the Eternal City", but do not hear the pulsing beat of the heart of the capital of the Christian West, have a superficial view of reality. A Christian city already for 1700 years, Rome is today the political and spiritual center of the great modern civilized people of Italy, a Roman Catholic-Christian people, who can never be anything else without repudiating their entire history. It must be said to Jelusich that, just like the Vatican Hill, all the hills of Rome are today Christian. The Rome of antiquity is one of the greatest glories of Italian history, but it is not the center of the vital Italy of today; it is perpetuated in the Italy of today and especially in the West of today only because its legacy continues to live on in baptized Rome and in the Christian West. It is well to specify that only in this sense is ancient Rome still living, and it is distinguished from the other cities of ancient civilizations. Rome, even ancient Rome, Capitoline Rome, is for the Italians of today something very different from what Babylon or Ur can be for the inhabitants of modern Iraq. And this is true not only for the Italians, but also for the Irish, Portuguese, Polish, Germans, and generally for every Westerner, and this only for the fact that Rome became Christian. Because it became Christian, it is, as the City of Peter and his successors, the symbol of the spiritual bond which extends above all ethnic and racial inequalities. It is precisely this Rome which was served by Michelangelo, Raphael, Bernini, and all those greats who created the world as it appears today.