PACT OF STEEL (CONFERENCE 2016) – ARISTOCRACY OF THE SPIRIT AND THE GREAT EUROPEAN RECONQUISTA
The first international “Pact of Steel” conference was successfully held in Kiev on December 17, 2016, the day prior to the Asgardsrei V fest. A fruitful synthesis between arts and metapolitics, the conference laid the foundation for future studies of the ideocratic, worldview-shaping potential of Black Metal in response to the sociocultural challenges of today. A large audience from Western and Eastern Europe united by a passion for extreme arts attended the following presentations:
ARISTOCRACY OF THE SPIRIT AND THE GREAT EUROPEAN RECONQUISTA
I greet everyone on the occasion of this historical event. I have always dreamt to combine BM, intellectual reflection and social action, if not approved then at least understood by artists who, in fact, shaped our worldview.
Quite naturally, today our event brought together two kinds of audience, Black Metal fans and nationalists, both to some extent originating from an epoch of Romanticism as a revolt against Enlightenment in terms of ideas and (Neo-)Classicism in terms of aesthetics, the revolt preceded by the disillusionment in the cause of the Great French Revolution. That’s why it is especially symbolic that a present here legendary French Black Metal band supported aspirations of the Ukrainian Reconquista, more precisely, European Reconquista born out of the spark of international solidarity with Ukraine fighting for its national identity.
As a new literary style and artistic movement, since its inception, though, Romanticism was meant to be a universal worldview merging art and science, history and religion, myth and politics, the individual and the unconscious. “Roman,” “Romantic” was interpreted by movement founders as a genre-transcending notion culminating in a novel (we call it “roman” in Ukrainian) just like ancient poetry culminated in epic. Its all-encompassing impulse may be compared to the quest for philosophia perennis in the Renaissance period and remains unparalleled with the modern and avant-garde art which partially resembles the Black Metal aesthetics. Not incidentally, among the two iconic Norwegian artists, Edvard Munch, known for his expressionist painting “The Scream,” and Theodor Kittelsen, an illustrator of Scandinavian mythology and fairy tales, the latter seems to be more influential with regard to an early Black Metal scene (as far as you remember the album covers of Burzum, Carpathian Forest, Wongraven, and more). The romantic nostalgia for Middle Ages, bridged up to modernity by the masterminds of the symbolist movement like Charles Baudelaire, survived the horrors of the first industrial war and, in the 90-s, continued haunting the European imagination.
Moreover, followed by its rediscovery in the 20th century, the Romantic soul obtained the “Faustian wheels” – technology, and thus the capacity to turn a mere “romantic rebellion” against “the Age of Reason” into “heroic realism,” speaking in Ernst Jünger’s terms, this acclaimed “seismograph of the epoch” and a prophet of the 21st century who defined himself as a grand-grandson of an idealistic, grandson of a romantic and a son of a materialistic generation. A tragic Byronic hero, John Milton’s Lucifer from “Paradise Lost” in particular, acquired the features of Friedrich Nietzsche’s active nihilist – a Superman conducting the consistent transvaluation of all values and “philosophizing with a hammer” rather than indulging in fragmentary and imaginary romantic dreams. The First World War, in turn, melted the singularities of young national spirits and ethnographic traditions into a design of reunited Europe resting on a new aristocracy which, like a salamander, was forged in the hell of the trenches, when, according to multiple confessions of future Pan-Europeanists, a noble and decisive enemy was closer than a cowardly and pacifist compatriot. Since then, the worldview of the reborn spiritual elite was captured in the paradoxical combinations like “reactionary modernism,” “conservative revolution,” “revolution from the right,” etc.
The awakening of the archetype of Wotan in interwar Germany, as described by Carl Gustav Jung, was one of the strongest ever attacks on a rational, humanistic, “Christianomorphic” world order that denies the war, the organic, the danger, and the elemental. After this wind gust, “scattering the nations before it like dry leaves,” calmed down, the pan-European idea exemplified in the “last knights of Europe” (Italian Julius Evola, French Germanophile Pierre Drieu la Rochelle and, later, Dominique Venner, German francophone Ernst Jünger, British supporter of “a united Ireland in a united Europe” Oswald Mosley, Belgian Leon Degrelle, all authors of their own Pan-European doctrines) was reborn in the purgatory of war, this time WW2, again. The only difference is that this time the enemy of these “heroic realists” was not the cult of reason but its twin brother – passive nihilism, diagnosed by Friedrich Nietzsche, and the goal of their struggle – not the exploration and affirmation of the dark, creative, irrational side of reality but the grand re-enchantment of the world as a whole.
Still, a term “the aristocracy of the spirit,” as everything that stems from Romanticism, might seem pretentious and hermetic in our nihilistic age of mass anti-culture, although in the 19th century it was an absolutely revolutionary concept. And you could fairly remark that the “spiritual aristocrats,” be it Black Metal elitists or right-wing intellectuals, can initiate only no less spiritual “Reconquista” that will never go beyond metapolitical conferences and extreme concert venues. Actually, in a positive sense “the nobility of the spirit” does correspond with the conception of Europe as an ideal, cultural, metaphysical realm, a kind of sanctuary that embodies a unique European respect both for the individuality and the higher values, its creative “heretic” spirit and a transhistorical dynamic understanding of tradition defined by its content, not form. But it does not mean that the Great European Reconquista is purely “metaphysical.”
Quite remarkably, this term was coined by a Norwegian-born scientist, poet and writer Henrik Steffens who introduced German romanticist ideas to a Danish public. He used it to describe an intellectual milieu of August Schlegel, cofounder of German Romanticism along with his younger brother Friedrich. As a critical essayist and a brilliant translator, August Schlegel made classic translations of William Shakespeare’s plays, having popularized him both in Germany and England. Besides, he was the first continental professor of Sanskrit and translator of the Kshatriyan “bible” – “Bhagavad Gita.” The huge impact of this “spiritual aristocracy” is eloquently proven by the fact that it was brothers Schlegel who were the pioneers of the Indo-European studies both in comparative linguistics and racial studies and popularized the term “Aryan” designating the tribes of a superior culture that, according to a famous hypothesis, later migrated to Iran and northern India. Friedrich Schlegel, though, considered namely India “Urheimat” (prehomeland) of Germans and Europeans. Norwegian-born disciple of August Schlegel, Indo-Iranist Christian Lassen suggested the term “Aryan” as a common designator for all branches of the Indo-Germanic language tree. Etymologically, Friedrich Schlegel interpreted “Aryan” as “honorable,” “noble,” “excellent,” and compared found both in Hindu “Rig Veda” and Iranian “Zend-Avesta” root “Ary(i)” to a German word “Ehre” (honor), considering his ancestors “warlike” and “heroic.” Both brothers searched for “the highest romanticism” in the Indo-European Orient as a means to invigorate the dying Europe.
A stepping stone to reach the post-nihilistic “other side of the river” mentioned by Nietzsche’s Zarathustra (“I love the great despisers, for they are the great venerators and arrows of longing for the other bank”) consists in what we call today “meritocratic values,” be it a set of classic antique virtues, a “new human type” (for the readers of Jünger) or, for the Evolaists, “a metaphysical race.” Partially romanticists were also children of Enlightenment and brought by it emancipation; they were not counterrevolutionaries and advocates of the monarchist restauration. Their frequent democratic and republican sympathies were perfectly in tune with the discovery of a national, folkish principle and the power of the collective unconscious. However, an organic understanding of the nation, in a German case, common for rationalists, idealists and romanticists, drew a strict demarcation line between them and adherents of unlimited egalitarianism and globalization. “Natural aristocrats,” “secret aristocrats” not by birth, but by “mysterious inner alchemy,” as Dominique Venner said in reference to Jünger, or “spiritual nobles” – terms like that met a growing demand to separate the aristocratic ethos from social heredity, thus making it immune to the external factors.
Julius Evola, commenting on the ideological and tactical limitations of conservatism, counter-revolution and reaction as compared to conservative revolution, expressed this demand as follows: “The efficacy of this tactic was due to the fact that yesterday’s conservatives (not unlike the contemporary ones, even though the former were of an undeniably higher caliber) limited themselves to defending their sociopolitical positions and the material interests of a given class, of a given caste, instead of committing themselves to a stout defense of a higher right, dignity, and impersonal legacy of values, ideas, and principles.” Later Jünger’s concept of the Anarch or Evola’s model of the right-wing anarchist who reject the external world not out of nihilism but because it does not meet the ideals, whereas these Anarchs “know what might be offered,” illustrate this idea quite well. They have preserved Europe within themselves, and today Jünger’s “retreat into the (metaphoric) Forest” again transforms into an affirmative action – CR and the subsequent Reconquista. A spontaneous splash of elitism in the Black Metal movement definitely sprouts from the same determination to preserve aristocratic virtues in a relativistic and degraded world.
In this context it is hard to refrain from quoting a person of a completely different ideological background – Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, doctor of theology and dissident who fairly observed the following: “We are witnessing the leveling down of all ranks of society, and at the same time the birth of a new sense of nobility, which is binding together a circle of men from all former social classes. […] From start to finish it demands a recovery of a lost sense of quality and of a social order based upon quality. Quality is the bitterest enemy of conceit in all its forms.” Ernst Jünger’s understanding of a new aristocracy, born in the trenches, which is endowed by a new, neither acquired, nor inherited sense of hierarchy, is quite similar and echoes thoughts of Edgar Julius Jung, an author of the conservative-revolutionary classic “The Rule of the Inferior.” The only difference is that in Jünger’s case a sense of hierarchy rested not on a substantial “quality” but on an “energetic” concept of the race.
The “new sense of nobility” was glorified as early as in 1917-18 by a renowned German poet, translator, admirer of French symbolists and a charismatic leader of his own circle of disciples Stefan George. For him, this sense was so intense that he referred to the circle of followers as “the Secret Germany” and “the New Reich,” which is also a title of George’s celebrated poetry collection. Subsequently, these concepts have become key ideologemes for all directions of German Conservative Revolution. The poem entitled “The Star of the Covenant” from an earlier poetry collection was a true hymn of the new aristocracy:
“New nobility you wanted
Does not hail from crown or scutcheon!
Men of whatsoever level
Show their lust in venial glances,
Show their greeds in ribald glances…
Scions rare of rank intrinsic
Grow from matter, not from peerage,
And you will detect your kindred
By the light within their eyes.”
Later, the term “aristocracy of the spirit” has become associated with a famous German novelist and essayist Thomas Mann who stood at the origins of the conservative-revolutionary movement, albeit later changed his views to the more moderate. His collection of essays published in 1945 bore the title “Nobility of the Spirit” (Adel des Geistes) and contained quite important insights into Nietzscheism as a search for the new religiosity of Europe, a synthesis of conservatism and revolution, faith and enlightenment. Thus he made it clear that the nobility of the spirit and the nobility of Europe, or a new Pan-European aristocracy carrying its own messianic mission, was largely the same. Austrian poet, dramatist and polyglot Hugo von Hofmannsthal in his famous lecture at the University of Munich in 1927 “Literature as the Spiritual Space of the Nation,” in turn, has already outlined the transition from Conservative Revolution to Reconquista as its logical extension: “I am speaking of the process in whose midst we are, a synthesis as slow and grandiose, were one capable of observing it from without, as it is ominous and searching to one dwelling within it. We are quite justified in terming it long and grandiose when we consider that even the lengthy period of development from the first flickers of the age of enlightenment to our own constitutes no more than a moment within it, when we consider that it, in fact, has arisen as a countermovement to the spiritual upheaval of the nineteenth century, which we are accustomed to calling, in its two aspects, renaissance and reformation. The process which I am speaking is nothing other than a conservative revolution of a scope unknown to European history.”
Yet the Pan-European aristocracy was born far before the age of Romanticism, Friedrich Nietzsche’s “aristocratic individualism” (“For even if I should be a bad German – in any case I am a very good European”) or the First World War that gave birth to Freikorps and right-wing “interbrigades” of General Francisco Franko, the defenders of Europe against the communist expansion, – the cause partially exemplified in the growingly multinational, including non-Europeans, Waffen-SS volunteer movement at the final stage of the Second World War. Speaking about the Great European Reconquista as a vocation of the new aristocracy of the spirit, one cannot help referring to Julius Evola who traced back the latest most powerful manifestation of the Pan-European idea to the supranational institute of the knighthood. Besides, it was him who considered in an inseparable unity the idea of the nobility of the spirit, Imperium Europa and Reconquista against the Islamization of Europe: “Chivalry was like a “race of the spirit” in which the purity of blood played an important role as well; the Northern-Aryan element present in it was purified until it reached a universal type and ideal in terms that corresponded to what the civis romanus had originally been in the world. During the Crusades, for the first and only time in post-Roman Europe, the ideal of the unity of nations (represented in peacetime by the Empire) was achieved on the plane of action in the wake of a wonderful elan, and as if in a mysterious reenactment of the great prehistoric movement from North to South and from West to East.” […]
The origin of the Pan-European aristocracy and, let us say, the First European Reconquista, according to this well-known “samurai of Europe,” is indisputably Kshatriyan: “Therefore, in the Crusades we find the recurrence of the main meanings of expressions such as: “Paradise lies under the shade of the swords,’ and ‘The blood of the heroes is closer to God than the ink of the philosophers and the prayers of the faithful’ as well as the view of the seat of immortality as the “island of heroes,” (or Valhalla) and as the “court of heroes.” What occurs again is the same spirit that animated the warrior in Zoroastrian dualism. By virtue of this spirit, the followers of Mithras assimilated the exercise of their cult to the military profession; the neophytes swore by an oath (sacramentum) similar to that required of the recruits in the army; and once a man joined the ranks of the initiates, he became part of the “sacred militia of the invincible god of light.”
Moreover, it must be emphasized that during the Crusades the realization of universality and of supernationalism through asceticism was eventually achieved. Leaders and nobles from all lands converged into the same sacred enterprise, above and beyond their particular interests and political divisions, to forge a European solidarity informed by the same ecumenical ideal of the Holy Roman Empire. The main strength of the Crusades, was supplied by chivalry, which as I have already remarked, was a supernational institution whose members had no homeland because they would go anywhere they could to fight for those principles to which they swore unconditional faithfulness.” These lengthy quotes are taken from another conservative-revolutionary classic – “Revolt Against the Modern World” by Evola.
Not incidentally, the core of European Reconquista has become the volunteers from all over Europe serving in the ranks of the Ukrainian nationalist AZOV Movement. Not only Europe, though: all of you know that M8L8TH band performing tomorrow on stage is from Russia, and now is both a spiritual beacon and an iron fist of not only Ukrainian but all-European nationalist movement. A preceding speaker, Ivan Mikheev, is a representative of Russian Center – a heart of Russian nationalist emigration in Kiev which ruins the myth of Ukrainian Russophobia and obsession with fanatic Ukrainization. The chances for the overthrow of the regime in Putin’s Russian Federation are still quite low, though, that is why the reborn Rus’ so far remains a spiritual ideal determining a probable logic of our geopolitical reconquest. “Today Ukraine, tomorrow Rus’ and the whole of Europe!” has become the slogan of nationalists seeing Ukraine as a springboard for a new Europe beyond a fake choice between the EU and neo-Soviet Putin’s Russia.
Many present today listeners already take an active part in our geopolitical strategy of Reconquista: from Intermarium, be it Baltic-Black Sea union or a broader Adriatic-Baltic-Black Sea alliance, to Pan-Europa. This event is a chance to make these ties stronger and turn into a systematic cooperation, as it is already the case with Eastern European nationalists. The rise of the right in Western Europe, as a logical response to the refugee influx and terror, finally gives a hope of the long anticipated “pact steel” between Eastern and Western nationalists. At this stage, our strategic task is to show the Western European nationalists that Putin’s Russia is no alternative of the EU and even not a “lesser evil”: the only ally is an alternative axis of European integration taking shape in Ukraine and Central-Eastern Europe after the Brexit.
Many of us are divided by old historical conflicts (Poles and Ukrainians, Poles and Lithuanians, Ukrainians and Russians, Serbs and Croats, Germans and Poles, Greeks and Bulgarians, Hungarians “and all around”), so in order to build a lasting Pan-European unity, we need a great act of oblivion advocated by Oswald Mosley. What we need instead, is the great act of reviving a sense a new aristocratic unity engaged in defense and reconquest of our common homeland – metaphysical and real.
In order to show you that our Reconquista is far from sole metaphysics, we prepared a printed production which you can acquire in the conference hall, as well as a short presentation of achievements of the AZOV movement (by Lycurgus). Still, I urge to view it, above all, as a spiritual armament at our pan-European disposal. I am grateful to all present here and especially to the honorable participants of the event, BM bands, who support the cause of Ukrainian nationalism and its Pan-European aspirations. You are genuine nobles of the spirit I am talking about.
Hail the New Reconquista!