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Else Christensen Archive


September 1972
No.5

HALLOWEEN

In many countries of the West, Halloween, the eve of November 1, has been designated as a fun-night when children, dressed up in all kinds of costumes. from devils and witches to angels and toreros go from house to house, an evening when goblins and pixies expect their 'trick or treat'.
The earliest known celebrations of Halloween were held by the Druids in honour of Samhain, the God of the Dead. But even earlier than the Druids there was much superstition in connection with the dead; in very early beliefs the spirits of the deceased came back to earth once a year to haunt their old houses and to cast spells on those who did not honour their memory.
In many countries the houses on that particular day were decked out to welcome the spirits, food and drink were placed on tables and the families would light torches to help the souls, find their old homes; people would dress in their Sunday best in order to show their veneration.
Halloween was thus an established pagan celebration long before Christianity put it on its calendar as All Souls Day.
No doubt the date on which Halloween was celebrated varied from country to country but it was mostly held in the fall; the Celts for example considered November and the beginning of winter as their New Year, and the seasonal fading of flowers and trees might have been taken as an appropriate time for commemoration of the Dead.
In much of Northern Europe the people before Christian times were seagoing and every spring big parties went away on long voyages and expeditions; from these they did not return home until the Fall, and it was then they brought back the sad news about those who had died in foreign lands.
It was therefore natural to have a memorial service in the Fall for whomever a proper funeral could not be held; later the celebrations also came to include those who had died at home.
The ceremonies took various forms and shapes but the purpose was the same: The day was designed to honour deceased ancestors much in the same way as we now mark Armistice Day in honour of those who died in the two World Wars.
It is part of a people's cultural heritage to honour past generations who worked and toiled, fought and died to the good of their descendants. Something is radically wrong with a people when it 'forgets' the achievements of earlier times. A people who is afraid to honour and respect the Past, will never create a Future.

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MAN AND HIS GOD

1. modern man's search for a new God

Man is a creature rooted and bonded by the very laws about which life as physical reality was able to evolve. While he is the peak of all creation, he IS creation, neither intent nor design are of his making. Even if unwilling to admit the existence of a creator in any form, material or immaterial, facts compel him to admit that his own form was created by forces beyond his call or control, that its outlines are borderlines of limitation. The Godhood alone can be thought of as transcending all Being. It can be conceived as being IN all things. Man by contrast is OF all things. God is before all beginning, beyond all cause and effect. Man, as the final effect of the original cause, stands at the opposite end of all beginning. Though privileged far beyond his immediate antecedent, his intellect cannot cross the borderline that separates the non-causal area of the Godhood from causality within phenomenal existence. Therefore, whatever the degree of his intellect, it can not explain God in rational terms. What it perceives in the visible forms of. nature and the laws by which these are committed to the order of the universe, are not God but manifestations of God. Hence it lies beyond the range of human reason to "prove" the existence of God.
Yet, men have always "known" that God exists. How?
No doubt the road to this knowledge began with man's first dialogue with himself. His Question, "Who am I?" uttered now in despair and then in wonder, resounds through the ages and all the places whence men have come and gone. It led to other questions that could only be answered via God. But the answers all differ. For men have "known" God, each in a way no other man could, through a self-hood partly endowed by ancestral kin, partly personal-development. Nor has modern man ceased to ask. Indeed he is asking anew, with perhaps more fervour than any man before him. For never has he possessed greater knowledge, yet never felt so deprived. So alone. So confused.
On the one hand, he looks down disdainfully from his mountaintop of knowledge upon man's first attempts to find himself, to find God, to grasp and hold the world and its meaning. And as if analyzing a chemical substance, he dissembles the elements of primitive man's religion fear, superstition, ignorance. The sum total: a God that was an apology for the (as yet) unexplained. Proudly he has at various times proclaimed: "God is dead!" or: "Religion is opium."
On the other hand, God's burial did not bury man's preoccupation with God. His death today is pronounced with wooden lips, and fear and superstition have a new heyday amidst the splendours of an educated and supposedly enlightened mind. New religions spring up with all the paraphernalia of the old, including witches and satans. Men seek assurances of peace from men but cannot find it. Jesus becomes a Superstar. All the signs modern astronomers have read in an infinite universe, do not prevent the old zodiac signs of astrology from once more presuming to shape the fate of men and their events.
But the truly modern man, the man who disclaims the superstitious or mystical nonsense of earlier ages and persists in adhering to directives from a fully wakened and knowledgeable mind: MUST he become an atheist? Does it follow that. because his knowledge of phenomena is incompatible with specialized religious interpretations of God, that God is in fact non-existent? Is the acquisition of factual knowledge than the supreme attainment of human intelligence? And if so, why does it not automatically solve all human problems as easily as it appears to solve those of a technological nature? And why, although technological solutions appear perfectly sane in themselves, do they provoke insanity in the human area? Why the hysterical search for a god-substitute in drugs or alcohol apart from the atavistic cravings for idolatry and magic?
Or does it follow then that we must accept the existence of God as a given fact simply because all men of ages long past or those who have not evolved beyond them, have believed in God or still do?
No, at least Western man cannot and need not! Nor is the reverse true that the progress made by the West

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in any field of knowledge is to blame for the decay of Western culture because it has destroyed Christian beliefs as the moral backbone of Western culture.
This view completely overlooks the fast that although Christianity was imposed upon the Western mind by multiple forces of warfare, suppression and persecution, Western genius has never ceased to rebel against it, insistent on using its own reasoning powers and highly sensitive to the "God within". Of course the testimonials bearing out this fact are part of the silent history of the West, unrecorded in the textbooks of our schools.
No, let us not condemn the heroic and persevering efforts of our race whose curiosity and love of truth have unlocked the secrets of the universe! Let us look elsewhere rather for the understanding we seek. Turning once more to man's earliest recordings found on the walls of caves or in handicrafts recovered from dusty tombs, can we truly state that fear and ignorance alone have found their expressions here? Surely, there is in these signs a hint of something more: a recognition of beauty without and a response from within; a reaching out for something more than utility. Childlike and awkward though these designs are, they reflect an upward striving, a groping towards the light, a ray of which had touched a soul barely roused from the dark subconscious of the animal.
And the light grew and spread. Not equally in all souls by any means. But certainly in those whom we call our own of long ago, men who knew no fear, who circled an unknown globe, who built Greece and Rome and, discovering the mind laid the foundation to Western philosophy and science. Indeed, the history of the West is one continuous search for light. And the death of Christianity is due to one reason only: it can no longer withstand this the light of truth! The laws of biology, of physics and interrelated sciences have revealed a living universe that repudiates utterly and forever the biblical version, simply causing it to fold.
Not this is the tragedy that wracks the West, but that with Christianity falls also the belief in God, because too long has this concept been synonymous with Christian theology. Yet it is precisely the heights attained by the intellect of the West that mark the state of: maturity needed to dispense with the pseudo-divinity of Christianity, inculcated and maintained through artificially created fears in a nonexistent hell; ignorance deliberately bred by boarding up knowledge of earlier cultures; the invention of original sin to assure dependence on the priesthood as God's authority on earth; cruelties imposed on inquiring minds, and "humanistic" ideals contrary to the laws of nature.
No, not knowledge endangers Western culture. The causes of decay are not generated from the material-intellectual basis of our being. They arise from our neglect to explore with equal thoroughness and devotion the non-phenomenal reality of our existence anchored in the sphere of God-consciousness. It is these areas that generate the substance of human values as the material that structures a "high culture" such as our own.
No culture, whatever its significance, was ever created without the most powerful impetus inciting man to super-human action: the all-pervading surety of the existence of God. Conversely, the death of the gods has always preceded the decline and fall of a culture.
Modern man is caught in a precarious dilemma. He has progressed to a state where he cannot believe in any hypothesis not rooted in scientific fact. At the same time, his exhaustive knowledge also reveals that, while the exact sciences can investigate and define the mechanical functions of organic life-forces, their methods cannot be applied to the life-forces themselves. The reason for this is of course that the physical sciences represent the development of man's rational faculties which are forever restrained from entering non-physical terrain. This terrain is the reserve of the soul whose faculties complement those of the mind to make total comprehension possible of a universe that has physical AND non-physical properties which TOGETHER comprise what we call life. In other words, for modern man to obtain a total world-picture, the science of physics must be complemented with the science of metaphysics.
Hence, modern man in search of God, must investigate that term without sacrificing the truth established through scientific methods. He does not want to BELIEVE in God, he wants to KNOW. Thus is he in search of a concept that is in no wise contrary to the revelations of his scientific knowledge.
Is it possible for modern man to "find" this his God? A new God? And if so, how?
These questions and others from them will be discussed in a future issue of The Odinist.

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The Cultural Nationalist

by Rod


Before we deal with our subject matter let us briefly review what a culture is. According to Francis Parker Yockey a culture consists of a racially similar people who have originated a civilization that is peculiar to themselves. The key word here is 'originated'; architecture, music, religion, lifestyle and world outlook are all original and not borrowed from any other culture.
Examples of past High Cultures would be the ancient Egyptian, the Indian Punjab, the Chinese, Classical Greece and Rome. All of these cultures had their own distinctive religion, art, lifestyle etc., each original and unique. Western Culture also is unique, peculiar to Western man and therefore a High Culture.
Each culture reflects the temperament of the particular people who originated and sustained it, and this is the major reason why a person can only find inner peace and fulfillment within his own culture; its basic world outlook is also his basic world outlook. And whether he is aware of it or not, it is a fact that IF A PERSON DENIES HIS INSTINCTIVE CULTURE-SOUL, HE WILL DEGENERATE.
We can now explain what a cultural nationalist is. He is a person who has an awareness of and a pride in the High Culture to which he belongs. He therefore strives to make his fellow kinsmen aware of their cultural heritage, past and present, and works to insure the continuance of HIS particular culture.
Cultural nationalists are found in all lands, amongst all people. And while their skin color may be different, white, black or yellow, they all have a common goal: The preservation of their particular culture.
A cultural nationalist is not a bigot. He does not, hate or attack people who are not of his race-culture. He rather respects them and feels allied with cultural nationalists of other cultures; he can sympathize and identify with their struggles for existence. He realizes they all have a common enemy, namely the universalists, who seek to destroy all cultures; the universalists who espouse the One-World Idea and want all men to earn exactly the same, live and look exactly the same, and most important, think exactly the same. In short, a world where all men are a standardized product, stamped from the same production line mould, -- individual or group differences -- being the most terrible of crimes.
Aside from the fact that human standardization means mental sterility, it is precisely the variation of the different cultures that gives the human race its interesting beauty.
The cultural nationalist is aware that his culture was, in a sense, designed for him alone,and is the only one that suits his basic instincts; any other would therefore be alien to his nature.
Cultural nationalists of all race-cultures are witnessing a sudden increase in their ranks as more and more of their kin become aware that loss of identity means loss of self-respect and purpose; cultural awareness, on the other hand, gives a sense of pride and belonging, and the freedom to advance towards personal fulfillment.
And now a call to action: Let all cultural nationalists of all race-cultures together fight AGAINST the soul destroying universalists who seek to enslave us in a world collectivism, where our various race-cultures will disintegrate. Let us fight FOR the preservation of our unique cultures which alone can give all of us a sense of 'PLACE, PURPOSE AND DESTINY.'

 

THE CLANS


It is apparent that if the Western peoples and cultures are to survive the desperate assaults currently being launched against them by groups and individuals who never were and never can be considered a part of the Western organism, a unique social vehicle must be brought into play to counter these assaults -- a strong and unified body of Western people which, because of its self-awareness must be fully immune to all attempts at destroying the West from within.
It is certain that not one person in a thousand of our people is aware that the West has had an organized social unit peculiar to the life-style of the various European tribes which spread over the Continent several thousand years ago, and that this social unit, known variously as the Clan, Sept, Gens, or Kin, is still very much alive in parts of Europe, especially Scotland, Ireland, and until the communist takeover, even in Hungary and Armenia. Only in Scotland is it still re-

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cognized fully by law and in England and the Republic of Ireland the importance of the Family is given official recognizance through their procedures for "enoblement" or the granting or confirming of Armorial Gearings -- more commonly referred to as "coats of arms" -- to heads of Families (or clans) or to founders of a "new stock" the basic requirement for such distinction is that the petitioner be a person of upright character and able to trace his ancestry to the jurisdiction of the heraldic officer with whom the petition is lodged. Needless to say, along with the genealogical criteria it was -- and still is, necessary to possess the cultural and social qualities of a Gentleman. The fact that one person in every 45 in Scotland claims noble lineage is due to the Clan system, or extended-family organization, within which every true clansman is able to trace his lineage to the eponymous ancestor, the founder of the clan, through many generations of Chiefs, a position always held to be noble in the true sense of the word. Nobility, it ought to be mentioned, does not now and never did have anything to do with wealth per se.
The "proof of nobility" usually consisted of the production of the names, careers and arms of one's eight great-grandparents or sixteen great-great-grandparents; the latter is the well-known "Seize Quartiers" so highly regarded among the Continental aristocracy. The "Feudal System", therefore, which was based upon the clan concept, was not some brutal form of slavery as young people have been taught in schools and colleges but quite plainly a device for preserving the ancient aristocracy of Europe and closing their ranks to upstarts and revolutionaries.
As to whether it oppressed the true European peasantry,descended from the military followers of the ancient Aryan leaders, ask any Scottish clansman, who may be a humble farmer or tradesman yet bear coat-armor himself, what his opinion is of his Chief.
The same question might just as effectively be put to any Irish historical or genealogical scholar, or to a member of one of the senior lines of any of the great Irish families such as O'Connor, McCarthy Mor, O'Donoghue, etc., -- whose present representatives are referred to as Chiefs of Name.
Unfortunately, in Ireland, the clan concept did not develop in the same manner as in Scotland, due in large part to military intervention, with the result that many of the ancient families are unable, genealogically, to establish their Chiefship and the positions are therefore dormant. Yet, pride in ancestry has cemented both Irish and Scottish communities throughout the Western world. And it should be noted that they are especially resistant to the degeneracy characteristic of other ethnic groups which have failed to maintain cultural and familial ties with the country of their origin.
The present supreme authority in genealogical and heraldic matters in Scotland, Sir Thomas Innes of Learney, Lyon King of Arms, in his excellent book, Scots Heraldry, (2.ed.1956) states on page 192: "It is the duty of the father to encourage the estimation of the family and sense of duty; it pertains especially to the mother to bring up the children from the earliest years to love and honour their family and its traditions, which she should learn to impart to them along with her own -- for each alliance brings fresh inspiration and traditions to mingle with, and build up, the history and traditions of the paternal house."
He goes on to state: "The `Seize Quartiers', or 'Branches', are simply the application of the principles and systems of investigation which every farmer applies to his pedigree cattle, or every racing enthusiast to his blood-stock, adapted (in inspiring, dignified and interesting manner) to the requirements of the human race. The Continental aristocracy, when two families are about to intermarry, expects as a matter of course, that both parties will inform each other by an official certificate (Birthbrief), what sort of people the eight great-grandparents of the respective parties have been, and activities of each line of ancestry, to form a shrewd opinion of the prospects and desirability of the marriage, or suitability of an applicant for promotion in a foreign realm." Thus speaks the "Supreme Officer of Honour" of Scotland.
All of which brings us to the important question of why every family which yet retain some pride and traditional values should not preserve this priceless inheritance by the very same means employed by the Continental nobility; this certainly would not be a new undertaking for, as we have mentioned, the "clan system" has been practiced throughout Europe, in one form or another, until very recent times. Aside from some of its early military functions, the clan implies

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a close-knit family unit aware of its common origin and destiny. In discussing our European ancestors, W. E. Hearn, LLD, in his book (now quite scarce) The Aryan Household (London 1879) States: "The Household, not in its rudimentary stage, but in the advanced form that I have attempted to describe, existed in full force among them, but it was not the sole institution they possessed. It was the unit of a larger and more complex body. That body was the Gens, or Kin, or Clan."
The first essential step necessary to revitalize the organized Extended-Family as an essentially patriarchal and aristocratic system is, fortunately, something which most persons can do right now (immediately after reading this article). Simply take a plain piece of paper and write down the names of your parents, four grandparents, and as many of your eight great-grandparents as you know or can readily learn. Don't be dismayed if you don't know any of your great-grand-parents (although one should be somewhat embarrassed, at least), for few persons indeed can name all their four grandparents! No wonder our ancient Extended-Family concept has nearly succumbed, to be replaced by one-world humanism.
Once this is done, and as many dates of birth, marriage, death and places of residence as possible have been added, the information should be transferred to a five-generation family-tree (pedigree-chart), available from any genealogical society. This is the basic "Seize Quartiers" referred to above. Also, your own direct male-line should be recorded in tabular form, which will enable not only direct ancestors to be shown but also collateral relatives who descend from all of the brothers and sisters of each generation. This is a bit more difficult once you trace back more than a few generations, but a start at least must be made. For the clan concept, by definition involves an extended family. Once basic research has been completed and the findings recorded on paper, copies of the lineage must be distributed to every living member of the family; each should be informed by an accompanying letter, or in person, of your serious interest in preserving family ties and traditions. It will be necessary to establish at least a rudimentary communications network and whenever possible, periodic family gatherings ("Gathering of the Clan"); at such get-togethers, or through a simple family newsletter, members can be instilled with the necessity to maintain their ties and traditions in the face of "progressives" who would dissolve the family unit. At the same time, the family's cultural and ethnological history may be taught, especially to younger kin. And, the immense benefits to both present generations and to posterity by the intelligent selection of marriage partners and the application of the science of human eugenics may be stressed -- the latter science,unfortunately, is still retarded by the presence of deceptive one-worlders who would have us believe that "hybrid vigor" is the results of racial mixing! Our youth must understand clearly that although a child has no control over the selection of its parents, the parents certainly had control over the selection of each other; we need not worry whether "love is blind" or not, as long as our standards are firmly established in advance and maintained at a high level.
What is being called for is the resurgence of a "neo-aristocracy", combining the best features of the old with whatever additions may be necessary to meet the current challenge of the West. Therefore, one essential criterion must be a Spiritual Identity with the West.
Our task at the moment is nothing less than survival of our cultural heritage. In order to prevail in our own territory we must seek one another out, thus bringing about in our own families a resurgence of the ancient clan spirit, and organizing our families into revitalized "clans" with a new super-personal mission.
In conclusion it must be stressed that no matter how widespread such a concept might become, it would be useless without effective means of communications; a standing committee -- or "clan council" would be necessary to maintain lines of communications among widely separated clans, and it would be necessary to distribute the "family tree" and exploits of individual families so that kin might readily be identified.
The resurgence of the clan system would guarantee the survival, proliferation and immunization of some of the valuable elements of Western Civilization possessing those attributes we naturally associate with the best our Culture has produced in all fields of endeavor.

 

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WHAT IS RELIGION?

A teacher of religious history once defined religion as "a belief aimed at the conservation of that which is of value."
Byron Campbell refers to this definition in his book 'Race and Religion' and goes on to say that he considers this to be "profoundly true as well as enlightening"; he further says: "Those of us who find ourselves outside the older religious beliefs may wish to conserve what we consider proper human values, -- beliefs having to do with these become our religion. We find that religion understood by some men of great learning is sufficiently broad to encompass such a view."
Our early ancestors were concerned with just that: `to conserve that which they considered of value' - concepts of honour, courage, chivalry and loyalty were high on the list of their code of conduct; the possession of these personal properties were necessary in order to be accepted as one of the pillars of the community; wealth in dollars and cents was not nearly as important as was righteousness.
In the summer issue of THE AMERICAN MERCURY John Steinbacher published an article called "To Capture a Nation -- Change the Religion." Mr. Steinbacher is a devout Christian and we have the highest regard for his honesty and integrity, but he forgets that the religion of the Indo-European peoples, a thousand years or so ago, was changed from their noble pagan creed to the Christian faith.
The peoples of Europe were at that time adventurous and courageous, and honesty and fair play were the 'Golden Rule' by which they worked and played.
With the advent of Christianity they were introduced to the idea of Original Sin and the. 'need' to prepare for the here-after; the people were injected with the 'turn-the-other-cheek' concept and became obsessed with 'Fear of the Lord'; the result quickly became apparent they lost their confident self-reliance and their unconquerable spirit, thus passing slowly into the Dark Ages.
When Diderot (1713-1784) said that "Posterity is to the philosopher what 'the other world' is to the religious man" he meant exactly this to the philosopher it is important to preserve for Posterity those values which he finds essential, -- for a Christian the concern of 'saving' his soul for the next world becomes the important issue and he is therefore not mindful of the conditions in which he leaves this world to his descendants.
We do, however, fully agree with John Steinbacher that the 'values' -- or rather 'un-values' -- which the establishment is trying to force down the throats of our young as The Great Ideas of The Future, are aimed at degrading and stigmatizing everything dear to the heart of Western man, and if continued will impair his culture to such an extent that it may never rise again.
Unlike Mr. Steinbacher we are not concerned with holding on to the Christian idea of 'turning the other cheek'; we Odinists would like a return to the old Indo-European religious attitudes held in esteem by our forefathers a thousand years ago; then the old values of self-respect and human dignity, care for the family unit and loyalty to and preservation of our cultural heritage would again be in the High Seat.
Odinist religious philosophy aims for a society in which the individual is not intimidated because he fears the revenge of a God, but where he lives by his inborn 'Golden Rule' to preserve for posterity those assets in which abides the meaning of life itself.


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Throughout our whole life we are aware of being subjected to a higher power, the nature of which we shall never understand from the standpoint of the exact sciences, but which at the same time will not be ignored by anyone ,in the least inclined to think about it. For the reflective mind there are only two kinds of attitude from which to choose: either fear and hostile opposition or reverence and trusting devotion.

Max Planck
(renowned physicist)

 

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ON GOVERNMENT

 

Robert Welch says in one of his writings that "nowhere, outside of his religious meditations, has man bestowed more of his serious thought throughout his whole history than on the subject of government." I believe this to be a correct observation; from the beginning of recorded history Man has reflected on how to obtain The Perfect Society.
And even before that time, when Man first emerged from the dim Past, he engaged in forming systems by which he could more successfully combat the perils of Life. He formed loosely knit tribal systems, in which families lived and worked together for practical purposes; the tribes usually centered around a leader who, as a rule, was physically strong and a clever hunter, one who had the necessary qualities to best lead the tribe in their fight for survival, one who had courage, ingenuity and staying power, but who probably was not very eloquent -- you don't hunt the buffalo by making speeches!
As soon as the tribes grew bigger,the tribal system was often centered -- not around a single man, but around a council of the wisest and most courageous men of the tribe; and the tribes were still small enough to have direct rapport between the council and all members of the group.
At some point in man's development, when life had become less hazardous and not quite as cumbersome, Man changed his attitude and demanded more from the leader than just heading the hunting party. Man had come to value certain things which he wanted protected, he had arrived at certain ethical values which he wanted maintained, he had reached a technology which allowed him to plan ahead, and he wanted leadership with vision and purpose.
As life became more and more sophisticated and larger land areas were populated, the original system became organized in such a way that the head of the family elected the leaders once a year or so and apart from attending the big tribal meetings and festivals, the people were satisfied with letting all affairs be run by their elected representatives. The supreme power thus rested with the electorate, and was executed by their representatives; this was the origin of The Republic.
But of course, the West does not want to think that one of its most successful forms of government stems from our "barbarian" past. Classical Greece is considered the foundation upon which we have built our ideas and ideals in regard to law and government.
The Greeks are members of the Indo-European family of man, and it is only natural that, being of the same blood and spirit as we, their spiritual viewpoints excite and exalt us; Greek philosophy is closely woven into the fabric of our lives. Particularly to Odinists, their thinking is appealing, because the very foundation for their assumptions is a strong feeling of self-awareness, an unshakable belief that a man must be honored for his individual worth and treated with respect as a person in his own right.
The great statesman Pericles said "Each single one of our citizens in all the manifold aspects of life is able to show himself as the rightful lord and owner of his own person." A man claimed for himself the freedom to do all of which he was capable, to speak his mind, to go his own way, to fulfill his destiny with only the natural limitations imposed upon him by the rights of others to fulfill theirs. This was the Greek meaning of freedom, sustained by a deep respect for personal honor and an unwavering feeling of responsibility to family and country.
These feelings matured into a philosophy which is the basis for much of our thinking today and upon this ideology was formed a code for government, a set of laws which are purely Indo-European in origin and in full accord with Odinist thinking. Unfortunately ideals are one thing, reality something else.
There were governments of previous civilizations known to the Greeks, but those had mainly been designed to carry out the whimsical will of a monarch or a god. The Greeks intended their laws to be carried out by men, entirely for the purpose of enhancing life and protect what they considered valuable. All decisions were made by popular consent and could not be changed by the wish of a ruler -- only by approval of the people. The intention of the law was to secure life and property for all members of the society, not just for the aristocrats or priests.
"We are free and tolerant in our private lives, but in public affairs we keep to the law and we give obedience to

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those whom we have put in positions of authority," said one Greek statesman; and Solon, the well-known philosopher who formulated the first rules and regulations whereby men proposed to govern themselves put it this way: "It is a well-governed state when the people obey the rulers and the rulers obey the laws."
Clearly this concept is based on the idea that the law is stronger and above everybody and is evidence of the Greek abhorrence for corruption and tyranny. "If anybody rise against the people with a view to tyranny, whoever kills him shall be blameless," according to Greek law. Presidents and PMs of the West, thank your Gods you are not living in Classical Greece!
Solon, mentioned above, lived around 600 before our time reckoning and was the first who spelled out his ideas of government: All major decisions were arrived at by the Assembly of all citizens who usually met three times a month. Besides The Assembly, which was a little unwieldy, Solon formed first The Council of Four Hundred, 100 from each of the old tribes, but this was later expanded to 500 members, chosen by lot. -- This council met daily and took care of all general business. Solon thus invented the first two chamber system "on which the state rests as on anchors."
Solon had gained much of his wisdom from a group of traveling teachers, the Sophists, and we hardly find any problem which troubles us today that they did not discuss 2500 years ago.
Another Greek philosopher who had learned from the Sophists and Solon was Plato and you cannot discuss forms of government without quoting Plato at length; he wrote an extensive treatise on "good government" which he called The Republic. In it he discusses all angles of social living: Ethics, Politics, Theology etc., and the problems he puts forward are as relevant today as they were in his days.
Years before Pericles had said: "You know as well as we do that right, as the world goes, is only in question for equals in power; the strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must" which brings up the eternal question: what is justice?
"Justice" says Plato,"is a relation among individuals depending on social organization; and in consequence it can be studied better as part of a structure of a community than as a quality of personal conduct."
Plato proceeds to give his opinion on how a Perfect Society should be ruled; and he goes through all phases of political, psychological and ethical aspects. He answers the question, What is justice by saying there are only three things worthwhile in this world, justice, beauty and truth; and perhaps none can be defined; philosophers are still asking what is truth and nobody has yet defined what is beauty. About justice however, Plato says it is having and doing what is one's own.
What does this definition really mean? Simply that each man shall receive the equivalent of what he produces, and shall perform the function for which he is best fitted. A just man is a man in just the right place, doing his best and giving the full equivalent of what he receives. A society of just men would therefore be a highly harmonious and efficient group; for every element would be in place, fulfilling its-appropriate function like the various parts in a perfect orchestra. Justice in a society would be like that harmony of relationships whereby the planets are held together in their orderly movements. A society so organized is fit for survival and justice means effective co-ordination. Justice then is not mere strength, but harmonious strength -- it is not the right of the stronger but the effective harmony of the whole.
In his treatise of The Republic Plato concerns himself to a great extent with the fact that to him it is ridiculous that when you are sick, you call in a physician who is properly trained and can tell you what is the matter and how to remedy it, but when it comes to government which Plato rightly considers much more complex than even a major operation people are willing to call in just about anybody without a proper training, and he outlines in detail how such rulers should be educated; starting at age ten, Plato would let those selected go through a rigid training program and he believed that only when these persons had gone through testing after testing would they at the age of 50, be ready to govern.
Roman Law is considered another of the cornerstones of Western ideas about justice and government; but the Romans were clearly influenced by the Greeks, and as Plato called his big work about government The Republic, so the Romans estab-

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lished a republic as the frame in which their laws should be administered.
The word republic (res publica) means matters concerning the public or the group of people comprising the society. The Romans called their constitution "mixed" by which they meant that the interests of all classes of Roman society were taken into consideration; and whenever they instituted a law, they quickly thought up checks and balances to counteract abuses of the new law.
There have been in the history of the West, Republics with various types of government. The term has been defined as the state from where The Law is supreme; whether the head of the government is a president, a king or a small group of men does really not matter, just as long as the ruler(s) are limited in their power and obey the ancient laws of the land.
The only form for government all philosophers have constantly been opposed to, even warned consistently and vigorously against is democracy; there is no end to all the quotes one could bring forth against that particular form for government. And it is thought-provoking, to say the least, to speculate why almost all the countries of the West have ended up having democratic governments, and those who still haven't, are well on their way to getting one.
In most countries of the West constitutions have been built on traditions reaching centuries back in time. Only the United States was a new country not hampered by customs and conventions; the Founding Fathers were free from traditions and out of the possible forms of government they wisely chose the republic; the constitution they designed in such a way they thought that the country would remain "the Land of the Free" for ever and ever. It has turned out that even this carefully written Law has not been able to keep the country from swerving dangerously towards a democracy
"Its (democracy's) basic principle is the equal right of all to hold office and determine public policy," says Plato and he goes on to say: "this is at first glance a delightful arrangement, but it becomes disastrous because the people are not properly equipped by education to select the best rulers and the wisest courses. As to the people they don't have any understanding . . . -- to get a doctrine accepted or rejected, it is only necessary to have it praised or ridiculed in a popular play." -- Does it sound familiar?
History, as well as Plato and many other wise men, speak strongly against democratic government. One very obvious reason is that people are simply not well enough informed, so they too easily become susceptible for all kinds of demagogy.
IF already in the home and school children were taught to treasure the age-old values of "truth, beauty and justice;" -- IF they were informed about the mechanism of government so that they later would be able wisely to partake in decision-making, and IF they were instructed how to watch that their elected representatives obey the laws of the land; IF (contrary to what is taught now) this were done, we would have moved a large step towards better government.
A republic where the power structure is balanced in such a way that there can be only minimal abuse of the rights and freedom of its citizens, would, in our opinion, be the best form of government. But even that would not work satisfactorily if the population itself were not actively interested in making it work; this would mean participation by at least every 4th citizen who in the home and school would have learned about public affairs and would be able to supply the common sense we are so miserably missing in government today; serving on these "councils" should be a public duty similar to that of serving on the jury, persons to be chosen by lot to minimize corruption and dishonesty.
IF this could be accomplished, it would be a greater step forward for mankind than reaching the moon.

 

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Even though, Charlemagne adopted Christianity and by the sword 'converted' many people to that faith, it seems that he wasn't too sure about the omnipotence of his new God; among the instructions given by him for management of his great empire we find "that for protection from lightning every gardener should have above his home the 'Beard of Jupiter.'"
`Jupiter's plant', the sempervirum was mentioned by the Greek naturalist Theophrastus as early as year 372 before our time reckoning, and was supposed to protect the house from lightning.
I guess you can't blame the emperor for playing it safe!

 

 



Reenactment at the Centennial Pageant, Minneapolis, Minnesota, 1925,
photo taken from The Promise of America


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