Whilst the modern world appears to be in a state of great disarray, the perpetual relevance of Nature both as a guide and a source of inspiration continues to invite our utmost respect and admiration. Sadly, however, the vast majority of people have become alienated from their origins, detached from their racial and cultural heritage, and cut off from their roots.
Even as far back as 1833, Wiliam Cobbett had rightly announced to the world that English folk had become 'deserters from the plough'. As if by magic, the smoking chimneys and windowless factories of the Industrial Revolution had arrived to force people away from the fields and into the expanding towns. Meanwhile, however, as Howard Newby suggests, even today the countryside offers its stubborn resistance to 'reassure us that everything these days is superficial and transitory; that some things remain stable, permanent and enduring'. Indeed, the glory of rural life sanctions the status quo. Not the status quo of the Establishment or the bland sterility of modernism, on the contrary, the great tenacity our our forests, clifftops and dales are a lasting reminder that man can return to his ancestral sanctuary whenever the futile quest for scientific infallibility has run its inevitable course and he has finally begun to withdraw from the hedonistic negativity of the burgeoning metropolis. So what is meant by blood and soil, and why is it so vital in the shift towards a decentralised proliferation of small village communities?
The term originated in Germany during the early-1920s and was first coined by August Winnig, an ex-Social Democrat who had resigned from the centre-left SPD due to its obsession with internationalism. In 1927, the Transylvanian exile, Georg Kenstler, launched his 'Blood and Soil' magazine as a means of safeguarding the 'integral link between the tribe and the land, to be defended by blood, if necessary.' For rural Germans, therefore, blood and soil became 'a code word implying the protection of a real personality. It stressed the kinship element, and the peasant's demographic role. City-dwellers did not breed - peasants did. They were the life-blood of the nation in a literal sense as well as its spiritual and cultural basis.' But the very notion that a race is somehow rooted to a territory which has been drenched in the pioneering blood of its ancestors, is something that goes far beyond the terminological inventiveness of Weimar Germany. In a similar vein, it would be extremely unwise to dismiss blood and soil as a phenomenon which simply accompanied the emergence of National-Socialism, or even to suggest that twentieth-century romantics like the German Youth Movement and various nudist colonies had merely revived the medieval spirit of Aryan yeomanry for their own amusement. Not so! In fact the image of the heroic farmer and his devoted spouse extends far beyond the trappings of Teutonic legend, and blood and soil each represent inextricable components of the natural order and should not be estimated in historical terms alone. To those who aspired to such an ideal, it became a living testimony to the Nordic soul, an 'unwritten history of Europe, a history unconnected with trade, the banditry of the aristocracy, and the infinite duplicity of church and monarchy.' Indeed, throughout the centuries the growth of materialism has become enshrined within a capitalist-marxian axis, leading to an inexhaustible plethora of ideological variants which come and go like empires founded upon sand. Meanwhile, of course, the self-appointed lords of the manor have forcibly extracted their financial dues from the sweating brow of many a broken and bitter serf.
Revolutionary Nationalism, on the other hand, or what in some circles is described as National-Anarchism, is more than a political ideology. It is able to recognise and understand that the relationship between a community and the land is something both immeasurable and spiritual. But, as Dr. Anna Bramwell has explained, blood and soil 'is implicit rather than explicit' and, in practical terms, can often be seen today in 'European nations such as Greece and France, and several states in the United States of America, [where] farm purchase by non-nationals is either forbidden or tangled up with so many booby-traps as to be made extremely difficult. The position in the Third World is much more exclusivist and racialist.' In short, to fully appreciate blood and soil one must come to terms with the fact that it is far more than just a political concept. As long as future attempts to initiate a blood and soil renaissance take this fact into account, however, the process will remain as natural and organic as possible.
Few people would doubt that Hitler's Reichsbauernfuhrer, R. Walther Darre, was primarily a political animal, but he was also intelligent enough to realise that if Germany was to retain her fine rural tradition the incoming National-Socialist government had to ensure that the existence of the peasantry was not in any way undermined. Indeed, Darre did not wish to see the vocational heritage of the country's agricultural backbone reduced to a fleeting plaything of the urban escapist or become the profitable sideline of exploitative fatcats. But Darre was an idealist, and never likely to be taken seriously by an opportunist and a politician like Hitler.
On March 6th, 1930, the National-Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP) published its 'Official Party Manifesto on the Position of the NSDAP with Regard to the Farming Population and Agriculture'. This document claimed that the 'Maintenance of an efficient agricultural class, increasing in numbers as the general population increases, is a central plank in the National-Socialist platform'. Furthermore, the Partly rightly acknowledged that the German peasantry was under attack from several quarters, namely 'the Jewish world money market - which really controls parliamentary democracy in Germany . . . the competition of foreign agriculturalists, who work under more favourable conditions . . . the extravagant profits made by the large wholesale middlemen, who thrust themselves in between producer and consumer . . . [and] . . . the oppressive rates the farmer has to pay for electric power and artificial manures to concerns mainly run by Jews.' In place of this exploitation the NSDAP proposed that, amongst other things, land ownership be exclusively available to German citizens, that such land be made inheritable property (enabling peasants to become rooted to the soil), and that large areas be set aside for colonisation by an expanding German population. But whilst such policies were understandably attractive to ordinary peasants and back-to-the-land enthusiasts alike, when the Hitler government finally came to power in 1933 they were never put into practice. In 1940 Otto Strasser attacked the regime's Patrimonial Farm Law for the simple reason that it extended only to a portion of the peasantry and 'created three kinds of agricultural entrepreneur: peasants whose holdings were so small as to be unviable; middle and great peasants who are tenant-farmers; and great landowners who run their estates on purely capitalist lines.'
Meanwhile, Walther Darre (who did not actually join the Party until 1930) had acquired a reputation as a man of great principle after resigning from his post in the East Prussian Trakhener Stud (Warm Blood Society), an animal breeding centre where he had come into direct conflict with his superiors. In 1926, Darre had writen an article condemning those who were seeking to revive plans for a colonial German empire, regarding the idea as 'inimical and destructive to the concept of a German homeland.' Darre, therefore, seemed an unlikely figure for a Party which unashamedly advocated the forcible colonisation of occupied land for German settlement. Several years later, when Hitler ordered the seizure of Moravia and Bohemia from the Czechs, Darre recorded an entry in his diary claiming that, by creating an empire at the expense of her own national interests, Germany was repeating the errors made by England. Nevertheless, when Hitler had realised that Darre's immense popularity could provide him with the rural vote the NSDAP needed in order to obtain power, the latter rose to the challenge and vowed to use his new position in the government to defend the interests of his beloved peasants.
Modern ecologists would do well to emulate the honesty and integrity of men like Walther Darre. Sadly, however, unlike their National-Socialist predecessor most of them are too frightened to accept that Race has a great part to play in the restoration of the natural order. As far as Darre was concerned, the peasantry constituted 'a homogenous racial group of Nordic antecedents, who formed the racial and cultural core of the German nation.' In 1929 Darre published 'The Peasantry as the Key to Understanding the Nordic Race', in which he concluded that 'kind providence laid a gift in the cradle of the Nordic race out of which grew perhaps its most significant characteristic. It is to the innermost need of the Nordic to place his life at the service of a cause and to develop inner moral principles for himself out of the necessities which determine this work'.
Initially, Darre did little more tha reduce peasant interest rates to a maximum of 2% on farm loans and ensure that rural families retained their ancient right of hereditary ownership. However, once Hitler had made it perfectly clear that he had no real intention of honouring the original agricultural principles outlined in the 'Twenty-Five Points of the NSDAP', Darre realised that he had to use his time as constructively as possible in order to stave off the rising challenge of his closest rival, arch-technocrat and Hitlerian sycophant Herbert Backe. At Goslar, an ancient medieval town in the Harz Mountains, Darre established a 'peasants capital' and launched a series of measures designed to regenerate German agriculture by encouraging organic farming and replanting techniques. His 'dream was to make Goslar the centre of a new peasants' international; a green union of the northern European peoples. Here he made speeches condemning the fuhrer-princip and attacking imperial expansion. Visitors flocked to him. Organic farming enthusiasts from England welcomed Darre's plans and admired the hereditary tenure legislation. Representatives from Norwegian and Danish peasant movements joined the conferences on blood and soil.' But Darre's overall strategy was even more radical, and he intended to abolish industrial society altogether and replace it with a series of purely peasant-based communities. In his view, '[c]apitalism and industry would soon wither away (a view held by many people in the Depression era) and with it the age of mass urbanisation and mechanisation. an urbanised society was incapable of survival. As it collapsed - helped by farmers blockading the cities - it would be replaced by a new society formed from a core of healthy, sound peasants'. Darre realised, therefore, the extent to which cities have to rely upon extracting their sustenance from the rural periphery. He knew, in other words, that by encouraging German peasants to deprive the country's blood-sucking industrial regions of their agrarian lifesource, it was possible to hasten the self-destructive process of capitalism itself.
Needless to say, the leaders of the NSDAP were eager to claim these magnificent achievements for themselves and, by August 1937, Darre became completely disgusted with a statement made by Hermann Goering at the International Dairy Conference, during which the overweight usurper had declared that '[n]o country can withdraw today from the world economic system. No country can ever say again, we decline the world economy and are going to live and produce for ourselves alone.' By April 1939, Goering's Four-Year Plan for the industrialisation of Germany in accordance with a total war economy had taken young people away from the land and into cramped munitions factories in the cities. This led to Darre attacking the Nazi regime for its 'economic imperialism, which makes one anxious for blood and soil ideals'. In 1942, Darre was demoted from his ministerial position and inevitably replaced by the odious and far less dangerous Herbert Backe. From that moment on he had no doubt whatsoever that Hitler had cruelly betrayed the German peasantry. In the words of the aforementioned Dr. Bramwell: 'Hitler found Darre a useful theorist and organiser for a period of crisis, but when he kept faith with his vision he was, like many other revolutionary ideologues, discarded.' More importantly, however, whilst Darre was far too modest to concede the fact, the Fuhrer had deprived Germany of her finest ecological pioneer; a man who is truly the patriarch of the modern Greens.
But Darre was not the only radical in the NSDAP. On the contrary, he was just one of many disaffected anti-capitalists who attempted to make the Party more radical by working from within. In this sense, at least, Darre surpassed most of them because the likes of 'Feder and Strasser did not see their ideas carried into effect.' But, despite his agrarian radicalism, Darre never fully realised the futility of his association with the NSDAP until it was too late. On the other hand, if Darre had not been appointed Agricultural Minister in the first place he would not have been able to implement his blood and soil policies at all. This does not validate the gradualist strategy of those who continue to put their trust in the System, however, it merely demonstrates that - despite the legacy passed down to us by Darre and his closest followers - it is only possible to achieve a certain amount within the context of the existing governmental framework. Indeed, by 1942 Darre would have said the same thing himself, believing, as he did, that only a Green Revolution can sweep away the old Establishment and pave the way for a New Agrarian Order.
Darre's concern for the environment was also shared by Corneliu Codreanu and the Romanian Legionary Movement (Iron Guard), mainly due to the fact that prior to the Second World War the Romanian peasantry made up some 90% of the total population. The defiant streak of anti-urbanism which characterised the green-shirted fighters of Europe's most spiritual bastion of National Revolutionary struggle to date, is epitomised by the slogan 'up above, we will defend the life of the trees and the mountains from further devastation. Down below [in the towns], we will spread death and mercy.' This view obviously concords with those in contemporary National-Anarchist circles and their commitment to destroy capitalism from within whilst creating a brand new order from without. Codreanu was a man who often sought release from the tortures of self-doubt by wandering into the wilderness, eagerly savouring the comfort and solace offered by the beautiful Romanian mountains. In his moving and emotional autobiography, 'For My Legionaries', Codreanu describes his self-imposed experience of solitude thus: 'It was getting dark. Not one living soul around. Only trees with vultures shrieking around the barren cliffs. I only had with me my heavy coat and a loaf of bread. I ate some bread and drank some water springing from among the rocks.' Codreanu undoubtedly appreciated the spiritual realities of his ancestral homeland. Another example of the vast importance the Iron Guard attributed to the notion of blood and soil can be found in the Legion's symbolic commitment to Romania in terms of the country's physical and spiritual immortality. In 1927, twenty-seven legionaries made a solemn vow to defend their fatherland by distributing between themselves small leather sacks conatining Romanian earth. But whilst some may view this ceremony as a purely theatrical affair, as Codreanu himself rightly notes, such earth was representative of the very soul of the nation, which, in turn, means 'not only all Romanians living in the same territory, sharing the same past and the same future, the same dress, but all Romanians, alive and dead who have lived on this land from the beginning of history and will live here in the future.'
In Spain, however, the concept of blood and soil was not at all shared by Jose Antonio Primo de Rivera's Falange. In fact the Nationalist leader 'stringently attacked the blood and soil gut patriotism typical of Romanian and German National-Socialism, together with Romantic Nationalism and its emphasis on the pull of the land'. According to Hugh Thomas, '[p]atriotism had to be anchored, not in the heart, but in the mind'. But despite the worthy idealism of the Falange prior to its involvement with self-important reactionaries like General Franco in the 1936 Civil War, the Movement's attitude towards agrarian issues was woefully inadequate. Jose Antonio wanted his country to dominate the world stage and, therefore, failed to appreciate the fact that a naturally-rooted peasantry is far from 'backward' or 'anachronistic'. Unfortunately, many of his 'economic and social policies followed the modernising path of Mussolini and the aims of Mosley.' On the other hand, the Spanish leader was extremely critical of those who wallowed in the contaminating decadence of city life: 'Our place is in the fresh air, under the cloudless heavens, weapons in our hands, with the stars above us. Let the others go on with their merrymaking. We outside, in tense, fervent, and certain vigilance, already feel the dawn breaking in the joy of our hearts.'
But whilst capitalism is chiefly responsible for the destruction of the natural world, Marxism does not even take it into consideration. As one of the great modern pioneers of organic farming and self-sufficiency, John Seymour, has explained: 'Karl Marx, who spent most of his life in the reading room of the British Museum Library, probably came as little into contact with nature as it was possible to do and still stay alive. The result was that his philosophy ignored everything not human absolutely completely. He was aware (just) that food came from the country. He was aware that there must be some people out there somewhere who grew it. It was his object to rescue these imaginary people from what he called 'the idiocy of rural life'. What is that to the idiocy of spending all your life in the British Museum Library?'. Since then, of course, the practical implementation of this individual's philosophy in Eastern Europe has proved beyond any doubt that Marxism is opposed to ecological order. One ridiculous consequence of Soviet agrarianism led to Russia - the greatest continuous wheat-growing area in the world - being forced to import its grain from abroad. If this is an example of Marxist state-planning in action, it is hardly surprising, therefore, to learn that Stalin eventually condemned millions of peasants to misery, squalor and mass starvation. The Red dictator's agricultural incompetence was soon hurriedly obscured by diverting the world's attention towards the steady industrialisation of Russia. Marxism, it seems, relies far more upon blood than soil.
Returning to the present, until those involved in ecological struggle can learn to appreciate the spiritual reality which binds man to his environment, reactionaries, liberals and leftists alike will continue to delay the replenishment of the natural order. We revolutionaries can only revitalise and reclaim the natural world from the clutches of capitalism once we have discovered that which lies within ourselves. It is vital for us to come to terms with the fact that, by springing from the very soil of which we have always been a part, we are inevitably destined to return to it at the end of our brief sojourn upon this earth. This is summed up very beautifully by Knut Hamsun, the great Norwegian storyteller who, in a poem entitled 'My Grave', wrote the following emotive words:
Oh Lord, I pray thee do not let me die
In a bed with sheets and blankets piled upon
And with dripping noses about me.
Nay, smite me someday without warning,
That headlong I fall into the forest some place
Where no one will come around nosing.
I well know the forest, I am its son,
It will not deny my humble request
To die on its cranberry bog.
Thus will I give back without word of complaint
My mighty cadaver to its creatures all,
To the crows, the rats and the flies.
So without a recognition of our inherent racial qualities and the ancestral territory that determines our nationhood, we will remain as much a threatened species as the white rhino, the giant panda and the large blue butterfly. As Europe and North America struggles to cope with the catastrophic results of inner-city habitation and suicidal race-mixing, National Revolutionaries must never forget that we humans are the natural guardians of the soil and our extinction would be possibly the greatest ecological disaster of all. This is why we must seek to re-establish ourselves in the heart of the rural countryside, so that one day we can proudly declare that, in the words of Walther Darre: 'Here is anchored the eternalness of a racial stock of unique character.'
William Cobbett, quoted in Alun Hawkins' 'Deserters From The Plough' in 'History Today' magazine (1993), #February, Volume 43, p.32. [Back]
Howard Newby, quoted in David Lowenthal's 'Heritage And The English Landscape' in 'History Today' magazine (1991), #September, Volume 41, p.10. [Back]
Anna Bramwell, 'Blood And Soil: Walther Darre And Hitler's Green Party' (The Kensal Press, 1985), p.55. [Back]
Anna Bramwell, 'Ecology In The 20th Century: A History' (Yale University Press, 1989), p.191. [Back]
R.W. Darre, 'The Peasantry As The Key To Understanding The Nordic Race' in Barbara Miller Lane & Leila J. Rupp (Ed.) 'Nazi Ideology Before 1933: A Documentation' (Manchester University Press, 1978), p.105. [Back]