Was Hitler right?  Are Germans a Herrenvolk?

My heading above is of course exceptionally and deliberately provocative so I think I had better go into damage-control mode straight away. 

Anybody who shows any awareness of racial, ethnic or national differences is normally excoriated by the Left as a "white supremacist".  So I think I should point out that I am in fact a N.E. Asian supremacist.  We now have an abundance of evidence that the N.E. Asians (Japan, Korea, China) are on average roughly a third of a standard deviation more intelligent than the average European.  And a third of a standard deviation is a lot, particularly at the upper end of the distribution.  See here for full details on that.

And we don't need IQ scores to conclude that this century will be the century of China.  The economic strides they have already made in recent decades make that an obvious inference, I think.

And although my own ancestry is wholly British, I am quite happy about all that. I see N.E. Asians as patient, hard-working family-oriented people who already have a huge influence on the world so we can know pretty well what the world will be like once they realize their full potential.  I am even prepared to concede to China their nine-dash line. I would object if a N.E. Asian nation showed signs of wanting to conquer some other nation but I think that the dreadful events of WWII have convincingly shown both Europeans and Asians the great folly in that.

With that bit of throat-clearing, I think I can now go on to what I initially wanted to say here.

There is here an extensive article accompanied by a profusion of maps which locates the main sources of economic, cultural, scientific and technological advances in recent centuries.  And it shows something that every schoolkid once knew: That the evolution of modern industrial civilization traces back to innovations made in N.W. Europe, principally in  Britain and Germany.  Other European nations have contributed -- France, Italy and Russia -- but their influence has been nothing like the influence of N.W. Europe.

The article I refer to above is from an anonymous author on an anonymous site.  And you can see why.  N.W. Europe is in fact a euphemism.  What is in fact being referred to is the Germanic countries.  The author has shown not that the Germans are a master race but that the Germanic people generally are a master race of sorts.  They have given us the modern world and the rest of the world has hastened to follow in their steps.

Hitler's term Herrenvolk is  not ideally translated as "master race".  A "race of masters" or a race of Lords would be  better translations.  And that is what Hitler had in mind -- a people who lorded it over a great mass of inferior people.  Each German would be the master of an estate worked by inferior races.  And as a libertarian, that whole idea is anathema to me.  

But in English, "master" has another meaning -- meaning someone who is very good at something, a master craftsman, for instance.  And I think it is very clear that Germans, broadly speaking, continue to be master innovators.  There is actually more German ancestry among Americans than there is British ancestry so the combination of those two Germanic nationalities makes the USA still a largely Germanic nation despite the large movement of other peoples into the USA. And the fact that Yiddish is a German dialect is evidence of how strongly Jews have been absorbed into Germanic culture and continue to participate in it. 

And that makes Israel a Germanic country too -- bitter though that thought may be. And Israel is not only Germanic culturally but to an important extent also ancestrally.  You don't have to walk for long among the Ashkenazim to see a lot of people who look distinctly Northern European. Ever since Ruth, Jews have always been only weakly endogamous, much to the grief of many a Yiddisher Momma in NYC.  The tendency of Irvings and Sheldons to get into bed with "shicksas" is often deplored by the mothers of the Irvings and Sheldons concerned.  The strength of the feelings involved may perhaps be revealed if I disclose something not normally disclosed:  The literal German meaning of "shicksa".  It means "prostitute".

So I reject Hitler's claim that Germans ("Deutschen") are a master race.  But I think a similar-sounding claim is true:  That Germanic people ("die Germanischen") are master innovators. And combine a Germanic culture with the high IQ of the Ashkenazim and it becomes plain why Israel is a hugely innovative society in scientific and technological matters.

I think that everything I have said so far is entirely factual but no doubt some Leftist will find in it some reason to call me a racist. They called a sentimental Christian gentleman named George W. Bush a Nazi so they live in a world of the borderline insane.  The classic test of insanity is loss of reality contact and that seems pervasive in the words of the American Left.

Now we come to the interesting part, the speculative part:  WHY are Germans innovative? The anonymous author I refer to above has an elaborate answer to that but I think I can give a much simpler answer.  But to do that I think we first have to look at some history.  We have to go back to the time when the Saxons  were a South Baltic people.  They were a very hardy people who normally won their battles with the Scandinavians -- and the Scandinavians were no pushover.  Vikings anyone?  So the Scandinavians got the less hospitable lands North of the Baltic while the Saxons and their allies got the more hospitable and promising land South of the Baltic.

But the Baltic Germans, the Saxons, were restless. Germans always were.  They struck South right down into Italy even during the days of the Roman Republic.  And the Romans had the Devil of a job repelling them. The expansion of the Roman empire stopped at the Rhine. Strikes across the Rhine ended in disaster.

But the Romans had a sort of revenge on the Germans.  They civilized them. The only way the Empire could effectively guard its borders was to co-opt the German tribes adjacent to those borders.  The Romans made Germans into "limitanei", border guards.  And they incentivized that by giving the Germans land for farming.  So Roman ideas spread gradually North to the extent that most Germans took up farming and abandoned their previous lifestyles as hunter-gatherers. 

And note that the great Roman defeat at the Teutoburger Wald was at the hands of German tribes led by a ROMANIZED German. Arminius was actually a Roman citizen.  So there had long been a Roman influence on Germans near the borders of the empire.

But the further North and East you went, the less was the civilizing effect.  And when you got to the Baltic, the Germans there, the Saxons, were the genuine originals, not at all softened by civilization. And, like other Germans before them, they too got itchy feet.

So they moved  into lands already occupied by others.  To the South were lands occupied by a mix of Celts and "softened" Germans and to the West was Britannia, the land of the Romanized Celts which we now know as England.  And they came to dominate both those places.  To this day we speak of the predominant people of England as "Anglo-Saxons" and a large and rich part of central Germany today is Saxony. Many people reading this are probably descendants of Saxons. I am.

So it is striking that the two great fountainheads of modern civilization, modern Germany and Britain, both came to be dominated by South Baltic German tribes.  It is to those original South Baltic Germans that we have to look if we want to understand the rise of modern civilization.  It was their descendants who created modern day civilization.

At this point however we can only move into speculation.  We can prove nothing.  Arguments can be more or less plausible only.  So I offer an argument that is much simpler than the one offered by our anonymous friend above.  And under Occams razor that argument has preference.

I think the starting point for an explanation is that the Saxons remained primitive culturally for thousands of years after the beginnings of civilization in the near East.  The ancient civilizations of the Near East required a high degree of group effort for the purposes of irrigation and that fostered a very group-oriented civilization.  And that was copied by others. The Indo-Europeans were originally hunter gatherers but gradually adopted a Near Eastern lifestyle.  

But that near-Eastern lifestyle had very important political consequences.  We need to understand what was lost by that. The hunter-gatherer lifestyle was one that did NOT require much co-operation for survival.  The hunter fed himself and his family without being accountable to anyone.  It fostered a very independent frame of mind.  There were occasional needs for co-operation but getting such people to co-operate could not successfully be done except by consultation and agreement. Hence among such people there were frequent consultative assemblies where decisions were made by consensus. It was democracy, in short.

The tribe was governed as much by a "witangemot" or assembly as by a king.  If there was a king he could even be deposed, usually without bloodshed.  Ultimate authority resided in the whole people, as led by their elders.  We do much the same today.

Interestingly, though, sparks of the old hunter-gatherer lifestyle did survive in Europe for a while.  The various city states of ancient Greece and the early Roman republic were substantially democratic, which means that ultimate respect was given to the whole of the people, not to a king-emperor.  

So the whole of the European people were originally hunter gatherers with a democratic method of government.  But the Eastern model of government gradually encroached to cover much of Europe, with even the holdouts of democracy in Greece and Rome eventually coming under the control of tyrants.

But up near the Baltic the Near East is not so near and the Saxons were among the few representatives of the old way. The personal independence fostered by a hunter-gatherer lifestyle lived on there.  But the fact that it survived there suggests that the South Baltic was a sort of "goldilocks" environment for supporting the old ways.  It was midway between the crushing winters of Scandinavia and Russia but not lush enough for an agricultural lifestyle.  There were enough juicy animals to hunt and kill for food but never enough for much of a surplus.  The hunt had to be almost daily but it was enough.

So we come to an independence of mind as the key feature of the Saxons.  The whole of Europe had it once but it never succumbed in them.  They were the last survivors of the old ways but it was enough to give rise to something remarkable under the right circumstances.

And what those circumstances were is not very mysterious.  They moved to rich agricultural lands and the easier lifestyle that implies. And being the fierce warriors that they were, nobody could either resist them or push them out.  So they retained their old culture of respect for the individual and the independence of mind that comes from that.  And because they were now prosperous they had time to think. And independent thinking has enormous potential, as we see from that time on.  

The process of asserting independence was however hampered by the attractions of civilization.  City life had much to entice one and from top to bottom Europe gradually became civilized. But civilizations has its burdens too -- particularly the need for some form of permanent government.  So the Saxons and other Germans did accept the rule of Kings but it was not to their liking.  Something that helped such acceptance was the church.  The church was itself a heavily centralized institution and it supported the rule of Europe's kings and emperors.

So along comes Luther.  Luther was not the first man to lead a movement hostile to the church.  Predecessors such as John Huss, Giordano Bruno and Savonarola come to mind.  But all the European rebels before Luther were eventually put to death and their movements erased.  So how come Luther survived?  He survived -- wait for it -- because he was a Saxon.  The people of Saxony loved his message of independence.  Even the King was on his side. And that was crucial.  When the whole of Europe was out for Luther's head King Frederick "The Wise" of Saxony hid Luther in his remote Wartburg castle.

So the Germanic spirit of independence emerged in a form of Christianity that suited Northern Germans, a form that put power and responsibility for salvation right back on to the individual, with no intervening priest needed.  We call it Protestantism.  The emergence of Protestantism is proof that the old Germanic independence of mind survived into relatively modern times -- initially in Saxony and fairly rapidly in all the Northern German lands.

And something similar happened in England, that other  great home of Saxon genes.  I refer of course to Wycliffe and the Lollards.  Wycliffe was over a century before Luther in fact. Luther wrote his "Ninety-five Theses" in 1517 whereas Wycliffe  was officially condemned in 1377 by Pope Gregory XI.  Wycliffe  was a great critic of the church and advocated most of the things that we would now recognize as Protestantism.  But he never left the church.  He wanted to reform the church not destroy it.  But his criticisms were swingeing and the church hated him for it. They would have loved to have killed him.  But, again, it was the people and their king who mattered.  Wycliffe was very popular not only with the common people but even with the King and his court.  So Wycliffe survived.  He eventually collapsed in church while saying a mass and died a couple of days later.

Wycliffe did not give rise to a movement that long survived him but he had awakened the old rebellious spirit and that spirit was the principal support for the actions of King Henry VIII.  When Henry dispossessed the priests, the people loved him for it.  They supported their King, not their priests.  Wycliffe had lit a slow-burning fuse that eventually gave rise to an explosion. And that fuse kept burning for so long because it was founded on a Saxon independence of mind among the people.  Wycliffe died in 1384, Henry became king in 1509.

I have more or less come to the end of my tale here.  The next question is why was there a considerable latency between the Protestant reformation and the Industrial revolution?  Why did not one lead directly into the other?  There is much to be said on that topic but I will have to leave that for another day.

But it seems clear that independence of mind, not only in the individual but also in the society as a whole, is the major precondition for continuing innovation. So the respect for the individual that has always been part and parcel of that is both a normal part of daily life and an instinctive driver of political thinking among Germanic people  -- still to this day most noticeably in Britain, Germany and the USA.

The centralizing tendencies that characterize most of the rest of the world are always there too and ready to horn in but it seems unlikely that they will eventually take over.

My big article on Anglo-Saxon conservatism includes an extensive history of respect for the individual, starting with my notes about Disraeli -- JR

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