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The Biopolitics of Souls: Racism, Nazism, and Plato Author(s): Simona Forti Source: Political Theory, Vol.

34, No. 1 (Feb., 2006), pp. 9-32 Published by: Sage Publications, Inc. Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20452432 Accessed: 04/06/2010 17:26
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The Biopolitics of Soulspepub.com

Racism, Nazism, and Plato Simona Forti
Universita del Piemonte Orientale, Alessandria, Italy

Februar0 2006 9-32 ? 2006Sage Publications 10. 1710005970580526



This essay focuses on the relationship between biopolitics and race theory. Starting from Foucault, many authors have considered totalitarian anti-Semi tism as a depravity of biologism. This essay would like to challenge this all too-simple positivist, materialist, and evolutionist picture of biopolitics in the Third Reich. It examines another "tradition" of racial theories, central to National Socialism, much closer to the revered Western philosophical tradition thanDarwinism ever was. This kind of racism presents itself as the authentic heir of that "Metaphysics of Form," which traces its roots back to classical antiquity, in particular toPlato's work. Through the analysis of some Platonist and racist texts the essay tries to point out the ambivalences that connect some of the assumptions of our philosophical tradition toNazi totalitarianism. biopolitics; race theory; totalitarianism; Nazism; Platonism; Keywords: Western philosophical tradition; relationship of body-soul

this essay is intended to be an oxymoron.' The term is generally used to describe a "politics of the body" or, to be precise, politics for the entire body of the population. The transformation of political power into biopower has often been accompanied by the dis "biopolitics" courses on race, which, from themiddle of the nineteenth century, had begun to acquire a scientific standing. Nazi totalitarianism is often considered the extreme and emblematic example of a biopolitics that legitimizes itself on the


title of

intimately connected to the "new sciences" of like to challenge this all-too-simple positivist, in the Third Reich. My materialist, and evolutionist picture of biopolitics challenge emerges out of a reexamination of some "exemplary" texts of basis of racial assumptions, life. In this essay, I would "Nazi philosophical man's anthropology." While it is true that racism redefines identity through a system of biological propositions, reaching out to a total control over life, it is also true that race is not always, or simply, identi fied with a biological and genetic heritage. Perhaps because of an anxious ness to reassuringly bracket totalitarianism as an exception of pathology and




of irrationality, research has focused almost exclusively

in the direction of an

aberrant political outcome of evolutionism. Insufficient attention has been paid to another "tradition" of racial theories, less intimately connected to Darwinism. This was a theory present at the beginning of the twentieth cen tury in Germany Socialism. and in France, and it was absolutely closer central to National philo This theory was also much to the revered Western

sophical tradition than Darwinism ever was. Itwas built around the relation ship between body and soul in amanner that throws into disarray the simple assumptions of evolutionism. a simple depravity of biologism: of form" that traces is not the same as view according gen as a nec to Plato's work. Shedding This kind of racism cannot be considered its roots back to classical light on the "idealistic" antiquity, and Platonic

It presents itself as the authentic heir of that "metaphysics in particular aspects of Nazism

stating that Plato is totalitarian. I do not share the Popperian erally, I am not interpreting totalitarianism,

towhich Plato's political program is in itself a totalitarian project. More and first of all Nazism,

tradition. My argument is that essary outcome of theWestern philosophical any attempt to establish some continuity between "our" culture and the Nazi Regime needs to be presented in amore careful and complex manner. But I will also question the thesis that Nazism constitutes a sudden break in the noble history of philosophy, according towhich it simply meant the collapse of philosophical values, such as universalism, humanism, and rationalism. Through the analysis of certain Platonist and racist texts Iwill elucidate cer tain ambivalences that connect some of the assumptions of our philosophical tradition to Nazi totalitarianism.

I. Biopolitics

and Totalitarianism

In themid- 1970s, Michel Foucault introduced into his analysis of power a new concept, that of biopolitics.' Through this concept he intended to desig nate a new configuration of relations of domination. From the end of the eighteenth distinguish sibility for the population, took over respon century onward, political power progressively as a "living mass." Biopower therefore started to itself from "traditional" sovereign power not just because of its

all-inclusive nature; it also addressed directly the "productivity" of life. It no longer concentrated on the individual and his property, through the power of the law; rather it affects directly, and in a "positive" way, the biological pro thus began to address (as an cesses of the entire population. Biopolitics object of power) life itself: birth, reproduction, illness, and death. Through

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demographic Over

statistics, and through the various techniques of population control, the life of all and one is, so to speak, "invested through and through." the last decades many authors have skillfully "managed" the heri tage of Foucault's always made thought.3 The premise of his thoughts (which were not texts) were to be sought in a explicit in his most well-known

radical reexamination of what has survived of totalitarianism in our world.4 I believe that inmany respects biopolitics, as it is understood by Foucault, rep resents one of the most disturbing aspects of the heritage of totalitarianism and political today. The relationship between human life, including its biological aspects, life has become so paradoxical that it can no longer be seen in a "neutral" and "innocent" way. We need to understand the various implica tions of the homogenizing tendency of biopolitical strategies. This tendency that would

does not involve an actual plan, something

imply the intention ality of an independent subject and the texture of power relationships, but it is clear that biopolitics turns out to be more effective than "traditional" sover

eignty in producing a unified and compact body politic. According to Foucault and many of his followers,5 the theory of race in its evolutionist ver sions has functioned as an effective vector for a "naturalization" and "biologization" of the object of power. In the name of the preservation and healing of life, power becomes cal valorization "state doctrine," it also becomes capable of carrying out an immediately politi of biology. When racism turns into and a functionalization

the theoretical point of reference for a prac tice that (tomake life "productive") is able to organize in a hierarchical man ner and differentiate, to include and exclude beings from the human field, making the death of one a necessity for the life of all. The politics of race, no less than the Stalinist politics of classes, assigned some to extinction;6 it rep resents, for Foucault, the extreme and "exemplary" way in which power manages to carry out a colossal enterprise of regimentation and killing, while talking of the "law of life" and of "humanity reborn." Foucault (who had been preceded in this aspect by Hannah Arendt) is undoubtedly responsible for refining the topoi of the critical literature on racism.7 Racism is not simply a body of ideas accepted by intellectuals, to a greater or lesser extent in bad faith, to satisfy their need for "reaction" and for scientific positivization. The problem of racist ideology should not be analyzed in terms of its doctrinal content, but rather in terms of the strength that the assumptions of race have in activating themechanisms of power, in generating a device for producing collective identification, and in eliminating a form of alterity that has often provided by the body and by biological life is in fact an extremely powerful identitarian identification, more powerful than any other kind of communitarian rhetoric. been created-ad hoc. The identitarian construction





therefore represents

in the first place

the instrument

that power live

(having taken over the management

of life) uses to separate what must

from what must die. Through racism, power can deal with a population as a mixture of races; it can divide the species into subgroups. It can, in other words, become fragment, create caesurae in the biological continuum that has its new object. It can also carry out, in a new and "biological" way, imperative: "if you want to live someone must die." "When you in and racism is the indispens society, you have a power that is, at least superficially, that allows someone

the warlike

have a normalizing able precondition Once murderous

the first instance, or in the first line, a biopower, the state functions

to kill, that allows others to be killed. in the biopower mode, racism alone can justify the

function of the State."8

II. The Soul of Race

By concentrating on the modalities of its functioning, Foucault does not analytically deal with the issue of why the idea of race is so effective in exalt ing differences and conflict, on one hand, and in nailing the individual to his collective identity, on the other. Foucault and many of his followers are inter ested in the impact of the new sciences on anthropological and political per spectives, but they neglect the identifying force in racial theories that the images (or the forms) implied by these theories have. It is undoubtedly cor rect to conclude that the "discourse" on race is a rhetoric of supremacy and conflict that redesigns the contours of belonging and order. And it is abso lutely true that all theories of race are rigid in their formal definitions, and the possibilities of flexible in their contents, because flexibility multiplies race theo However, the relationship between biopolitics, and totalitarianism may be dealt with from an additional perspective. In ries, themultiform archipelago of racial theories that has been on the scene since their utilization. the end of the nineteenth "morphological" century, one finds, next to evolutionary racism, a racism, as itwere. This is a form of racism that aims to tran scend the limitations of biologism. It ismuch more the result of a metaphys ics ofform, rather than one of the many rivulets of social Darwinism. Both

forms of racism can elaborate justifications for the domination of one race over another, and both can be anti-Semitic. To simplify drastically, we can say that evolutionist racism uses race as an instrument for the naturalization of social and political history, so as to give to divisions and struggles between pure and impure human groups the force law. It asserts itself, as is well known, with the of an inevitable biological development of positivistic anthropology and with the knowledge of Mende

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lian laws that are, in turn, connected with a teleological view of history (either progressive or regressive).9 The "naturalization" of the enemy allows one to oppose him with the strength of a natural necessity, just as one carries out sanitary disinfections. In France, Georges Vacher de Lapouge represents evolutionary racism in its strictest and most exemplary form.10 In his writ ings, race, as a biological datum, is considered the determining factor of peo ples and therefore of individuals. The entire range of human history is seen as a conflictual expression of these characteristics. "Spirit" itself and moral aptitudes are all interpreted as the result of a given racial heritage. It therefore turns out to be a sort of materialistic monism whose classifications must remain ductile, so as to guarantee the continuing tion of part of the demos into a ghenos and changing transforma and to transform ghenos into (descent)

One of the "truth effects" of this evolutionary racism, which classifies along a continuous grading the different degrees of humanity, is that of allowing the transformation of the enemy into an animal, transforming biopolitics into zoological politics.'1 Race, which expresses itself in somatic features, is therefore an indicator of the animal nature of man. In other words, it enables classification of the different degrees of humanity along a spec by the trum that includes animals and human beings. This is accompanied

erosion of the "classical" representation of the enemy as a barbarian or sav age beast, and itmarks the emergence of a new kind of rhetoric, based on the scientific discourses of medicine, biology, demography, criminology, and psychopathology. The images of the parasite and of the infective agent there fore take the place of the traditional metaphors of ferocity. In other words, the struggle concerns not so much wolves and lions (bearers of a powerful and no less "dignified" enmity) but rather fleas, cockroaches, leeches, and bacte ria.While the enemy as ferum (wild beast) must be captured or killed, the enemy as a parasite or infective agent requires instead amethodical, aseptic, and cold disinfection. While "animalization" is beastlike and emotional, is detached and scientific. Persecution can therefore be orga biologization nized as a planned and systematic enterprise to heal the political body. We know that the Nazi imagination is peopled by cold images inwhich extermi nation is presented as amatter of prophylaxis. Outside thismedical-scientific and post-Foucaultian context, according to Foucaultian logic, genocide remains unportrayable and impracticable. It is only the biologistic formula tion that makes acceptable, in the name of the struggle for life and for sur the separation between pure blood and infected blood, between the species to be protected and strengthened and those on the way to extinction. From this perspective, the theory of race fits in perfectly with the thousand vival,





theme of the Jew as a parasite, the emphasis might

thus becoming

first and foremost an of the human to theories that

However, biologization on the totalitarian functionality inadvertently appear to provide comfort

interpret totalitarianism, marked by biologistic tive aspects, a hermeneutical

racism, as a sudden break in its interesting and produc on evolution

European culture and its spiritual values. 12 Despite

approach that focuses exclusively

ary theory leaves some problems unsolved. For example, there is the problem of why, if the "struggle for life" is a natural and historical law, one should need to intervene in any outcome. Furthermore, an excessive concentration on the ideological role of biological laws has led to neglecting (if not exactly ignoring) an alternative interpretative approach that is equally important. This approach concentrates analyzes on the "morphological" theories of race, and it especially the soul-body relationship that these theories assume. This last issue is one that dominates pre-Nazi and Nazi theory and thatman ages to influence Evola. There race and which, some figures of "heretical" Italian fascism, that emerges such as Julius is therefore another vector from the theories of

together with the other one, drives twentieth-century politics at least as far as National Socialism to its extreme consequences, is con This is a racism that derives from a "metaphysics of form"; a theory cerned. that refers much more to Plato than to the laws of genetics; that believes much more in the strength of a self-conscious myth than in scientific discourse; that is, a theory that knows perfectly well that the effectiveness of race lies in its mythical and "transfiguring" force. There is no shortage of pre-Nazi and Nazi ideologues who manage to the picture of the relations between biopolitics, racism, and total this point.'3 Houston itarianism. But not many scholars have recognized had already made a point of stressing that race was not Stewart Chamberlain complicate an object of scientific knowledge, but rather an essence that could be reached through the power of intuition. "Those who belong to a totally pure race feel it continuously."' 4 Alfred Rosenberg will express a similar position, both in

Der Mythus

des XX: Jahrhunderts and Gestalten der Idee." In this form of is subordinated to a sort of Platonic idealism. racism, positivist materialism The subordination is provided by the concept of Weltanschauung, which In a fierce attack does not mean "theory," but rather "image-intuition-idea."

on Christianity, Rosenberg refuses the traditional dualism between spirit and matter, which for him is identical to the dualism between soul and body, and affirms rather a kind of monism in which soul and race are in an iron bond, from each other. If "the soul is race seen from almost undistinguishable inside," "race is the soul seen from the outside."'6


/ The Biopolitics

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The supreme spiritual value for a race is to achieve the perfect form of its somatic features, because this shape is nothing other that the expression of the realization of the truth of the idea, of the type, of the soul of the people. The concept of idea, of type, and of soul all relate to a notion of myth. Myth differs from a narrative reconstruction temporal beginning. Rosenberg of origins in that the latter projects a to denounce the naivety of never ceases

"The those who believe they can return to the origins of German mythology. religion of Wotan is dead and must die.""7The strength of myth lies in carry ing out a "shaping of the form": an identification that opposes the abstract and universal, the disembodied limits"; in other words, phy. In Rosenberg's man myth, beginning never managed power of myth consists identify. The absolute identity of what he calls "absolutes without the divinities of religions and the subjects of philoso

view, Germany

"today" is drawing upon the true Ger to "dream its own dreams." "Up to now," the Volk has identity, a true and proper "form." The "of a dream image" with which we in the projection

to achieve amythical

is not outside of us; rather it is the dream inwhich we see ourselves. Myth must therefore manage to provide identity through a fig ure, a type. Myth, soul, type, and dream are indissolubly connected. Type is in fact the realization of "incarnated" identity that has reached its form and been delin eated by the dream: The type is simultaneously themodel and the realization, the "idea" and the "formation" of identity. The soul, in opposition to Chris tian dualism, finds its freedom in the "Gestalt," in the figure, in the form; that is, in an incarnated configuration. In other words, the soul is free if itman ages to carry, organize, and make concrete a form; if itmanages to circum scribe, set a perimeter around the indeterminate in a figure, and make it visi ble. To adopt a more familiar philosophical lexicon, one might say in this context that the type, the soul, has the transcendental function of making a body visible, of allowing it to present itself in time and space. In the same horizon, race is the external form of a given soul. Language, by itself, despite its specificity, is insufficient to generate an identity: That pertains to logos. Myth, if it is not to remain something abstract, must be nourished by blood and soil, by matter and by nature. But one must note that in this case nature and matter are not the objects of a discourse that aspires to a scientific status (that is, taken as data ascertained through the objectivity of observation). Nature is now a mythical power, an Idea, a sort of impersonal force that dreams itself according to its types. The Aryans of antiquity are the Greeks, the people who have given form to their soul, who have produced the Darstellung (representation) or the Gestaltung (configuration) of their race in the absolute delimitation of artis art does not, however, have an aes tic form. For Rosenberg's Greek-Aryans

16 Political Theory

thetic value, an end in itself: "it is an organic art that generates life."'8 Ger many must repeat the Greek achievement of giving life to the political body, to the people, as awork of art, as a fully achieved form of theGerman an identification people realizes itself by incorporating the race." As him) the opportunity for amythical soul, as and realization of the racial Type. The soul of the German itself in the Type, in the blood, and in offer Rosenberg (but not only

it happens, Plato and his philosophy


of Germany with the great

est culture that ever existed. Through the ideas of Plato one may experience the Type, which Plato himself did not succeed in creating and carrying out to its extreme consequences. with thematerial Plato provides themythical power of an idea of a not only political body that is achieved the material in a living work of art, to be composed

offered by language,

traditions, and customs, but also with

provided by blood and soil.

III. Plato as Guardian

of the Race

This form of Platonism undoubtedly runs through the political culture of but one should keep in mind the role assigned to German Romanticism, education by one of the greatest scholars of classical Greek philosophical culture of all time, Werner Jaeger.20 Although he was eventually forced to leave Nazi Germany, we find in his monumental work, Paideia, sinister affin ities with the pre-Nazi and Nazi Platonic interpretation. In the introduction to the first edition of this book, we can find statements that emphasize the value of Platonic philosophy not as a "set of abstract ideas," but rather as a work whose goal is living reality; more specifically, "the formation of a superior humanity ... that can succeed in preserving and propagating its physical and moral This kind of Platonic heritage is perfected in a "nationalistic" type.",21 in the context of Stefan George-Kreis. One may refer, for example, to the way work of Kurt Hildebrandt, Platon: Der Kampf des Geistes um die Macht (1933).22 Other authors of that period, such as Bannes and Gabler, go so far as Third Reich.23 With and explicitly the ideal of the Platonic state with the the exception of Hildebrandt's work, these are propagan dist books devoid of any scholarly value, but they are extremely interesting as examples of the way inwhich a philosophical outline can be transformed and deformed so as to become a sort of "catechism" and an incentive to action. There is one author in particular who provides us with an exemplary identifying directly of theWestern philo instance of the way inwhich some conceptualizations I am referring here sophical tradition were used by Nazi pseudometaphysics. to Hans F. K. Gunther. Some of Gunther's books (by no means as brutally

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and mechanically

propagandizing managed

as the books of Bannes

and Gabler, nor as in the immedi

esoteric as Rosenberg's)

to acquire awide audience

ately pre-Nazi and Nazi periods, providing a vast public with an introduction to racial theory.24Texts such as Gunther's are valuable, because they seem to address the crucial question: What is human for the Third Reich? The answer provided is much simpler than those put forward by Rosenberg. with any classification that merely humanity clarifying posits Gunther is too, that also dissatisfied at a horizontal for participa

level, so to speak, gradations between argues in a "transcendental" manner, tion in the ideal, in the Type, almost any good National tively, Humanitas tioned, and his modem

and nonhumanity. He, the conditions two books of Gunther

in the soul. The

Socialist would have owned were entitled, respec is barely men

and Platon als Hiiter des Lebens.25 Darwin

auctoritates-Vacher de Lapouge, Ammon, Galton, and Gobineau-are adapted to a peculiar "eugenic" requirement that is pre sented as being totally derived from Plato. The classification of European peoples into races is not very original, and the vulgate of the period, influenced by lain. The main races are Nordic, Western, Oriental, These are unions of specific somatic and psychic of course, ismarked by a strong individuality, by abilities it follows the taxonomy of Chamber Dinaric, Baltic, and Salic. features. The Nordic man, loyalty to his group, by his

as a doer and producer, by the qualities of his judgment, by his Fuihrergeist, and by his warrior virtues. These features assume their full rele vance when contrasted with theOriental Mediterranean race. This race-and first of all the Jewish race-is lacking in a deep and profound creativity, since it shuns work and effort; it expresses only the excitability that leads it to transgression and to lying. Once again, we find the idea that the ancient Hel lenes represented the highest example of the "Nordic character," which was later corrupted through a widespread interbreeding of peoples. Plato must now act as a warning toGermany, so that itwill not repeat the errors that led to the decadence of the great Greek civilization. The German people must revive, indeed bring back to life in a "still more authentic" form, the Greek original potentiality of true European culture; itmust finally give shape to Platonic anthropology, politics, and philosophy.26 In Gunther and in these other authors (who do not match the anti-Chris tian violence of Rosenberg's writings), there is a clear desire to separate their to being from the more formalistically dualist Plato (susceptible "Christianised"), who does not make any concessions to those "earthly bod ies" inwhich the soul has themisfortune of landing, as narrated in Phaedro. For Gunther the textual references to Plato are especially to Book V of The Republic, The Statesman, and The Laws. For the Nazi anthropologist (as we Plato shall see) the Platonic ideal that coincides with the perfect exemplar of

18 Political Theory

human being is attainable, and at the same time "operative," if spiritual puri fication coincides with a biological selection, with the choice of an elite that becomes "transparently Nordic," and in which the blond image of divinity (that is, the Greek ideal of the in which may be reflected.27 Beauty inextricable connection and goodness are part of truth once they become

real or "embodied." This is the Kalokagathia between the Third Reich must cess of selection.

being good and being beautiful)

take the step from idea to reality, transmitting the ideal into a humanity made pure and perfect by the pro

of individual perfection

These preliminary points show already how easily one may dispose of the polarities of the so-called posttotalitarian humanitarianism, these polarities that oppose, in a clear-cut way, "enlightened" rationalism and consoling "chthonic" irrationalism, idealism and nihilism, spiritualism and material and biologistic attitudes very easily drift into ism. In fact, pseudoscientific idealism, grotesque as that may be. This racial idealism presents itself as a "metaphysics of form", of the Gestalt, soul. In other words, "Hellenophile" view-goes well beyond Darwinism of the perfect racism-by identity of body and no means a minority of the

to achieve a "monistic ontology"

perfect identity of ideas and reality, of form and matter, to use the "classical" formulation. Race is in fact not assumed, naively or instrumentally, to be a biological and factual datum, but rather a Platonic idea that gives shape and brings order to the chaotic world of appearances. Race thus becomes a phe nomenon perceived by our senses as an expression of the soul that, according to the words of Phaedo, is related to "the divine, immortal, rational, uniform, indissoluble and always identical to itself."28 Returning toGunther's 1928 book on Plato, we find that everything con firms the "Nordic essence" effectively in the political of the Greek philosopher. unlike the thought of Sophists, which Athens is oriented toward action. Itwants Indeed, his thought, to intervene

crisis brought about by the Peloponnesian War, in and Sparta had lost the flower of their Nordic youth. True phi losophy is therefore thatwhich reestablishes order in the chaotic, democratic city and gives form once again towhat is shapeless, selects purity out of the of races that is the true cause of decadence. cannot be taught; it is a matter of race.29 The Nazi Plato knows that virtue


Plato's work

is very attentive in selecting the passages from anthropologist that justify his own thesis, according to which Plato's "knowl edge and experience have assisted him in all his educational and political projects, so in practice he has promoted all that nowadays represents the ker

nel of knowledge about genetics, of the science of race and racial hygiene."30 Plato, in fact, was not concerned with the life of the individual, but rather with the superior value of racial identity achieved through a process of purifi

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from a process of cation that, in Gunther's philosophy, is indistinguishable cleansing.3' To allow the best to prosper and to suppress the worst is already legislation.32 Guinther supports his claims with a long sequence of quotations that allows him to make explicit what he takes to be the Platonic political project, by playing on the two meanings both synonyms of theGerman of the Greek termAuslese (election and selection), which are ekloghe. He can therefore conclude that the consists in the good and virtuous manage and protect it from threats it vigorous for Plato the criterion thatmust guide political

"ethical" objective of the politeia ment of the people's

life, which makes

to its purity. But what is life for Plato, according longer distinguish perspective between

toGunther? To clarify this, one can no the life of the immortal soul and the life of the

mortal body. It cannot be denied that The Republic

seems to offer a change of compared to some of the earlier dialogues, where the soul-body dualism placed true life in the soul that, through philosophical askesis, pro gressively eliminated the links that connected it to the tomb-body. interpretation of this change is less simplistic than itmay at first appear; that is, as amere eugenic reading of Plato's work. Their read ing is not entirely unconnected with the letter of Plato's text. Let us try atten tively to follow Gunther here. If-as Phaedo admits-the soul, being deter Nazi Platonists'


by the idea of life, must be immortal, and if, according to Nazi anthropological monism, the body, at least the Aryan body, is not to be tran scended, but rather becomes the external, phenomenal, expression of interi ority, of a noumenon,33 of the soul, and if, according to Plato, the polis is "man written in capital letters," the body to be preserved will not be the indi vidual body, but the body of the ghenos, the body of the race, or more pre cisely, the expression of the eternal soul of the race. We may start by observ ing that the emphasis on Plato's "monism" is used by Gunther as ameans of canceling, in common with all Nazi anthropology, the difference between, on one hand, the (individual body's) health-medicine connection and, on the connection. Justice and health are no longer con other, the justice-politics nected in a metaphorical sense; rather their relationship becomes a literal identity: Justice is the health of the ghenos, and attaining the state of health is the expression of the truth of justice. As Kallipolis implies health, so politics implies medicine, and medicine expresses itself politically as the ability to a people just through selection. True politics is therefore eugenics: of the regulation, the treatment of infants, and the elimination



abnormal and deformed. Gunther's monism is built on a system of dual separations and oppositions that reestablish and start a selective mechanism and that transform the selec tion into a true dialectical process of askesis, necessary for reaching the One.




Life is the firm union of body and soul, which and grow," and which ghenos can achieve (the race) prospers, maintains in a univocal

"must prosper, maintain other words,

itself if the

its full expression itself and grows-in

only if the life of the

life of the Type prospers. The form here fixes the features of the soul and the somatic characteristics system of correspondences. datum, a given, the race Far from being amaterial, natural, and biological

as a Type is an achievement, carried out through the selection that promotes the process of adaptation to the Idea, to "true life." to the eternal life of the soul, which, purification as a normative ideal, extends the movement of approximation toward an infinite duration. "Plato advocates tests, because is always directed for his people all they allow the separation of the healthy from to totality, to descendents are as yet unborn: that imperturbability of the that we to thus Plato,

kinds of selective

the unworthy. The glance future, to the masses unconcerned with

of young people who of nature. Similar

individual cases, acquires

attribute to the necessity

to nature: so accommodating

Measured against the the ideal Type and so uncaring of the individual life."34 "total psycho-physical ideal," whatever appears to be bad must be elimi nated. This is an elimination that has the value of an ethical duty. Plato him us not to feel any pity in killing "a reassures us-encourages self-Gunther soul which is naturally bad and incorrigible," a soul which can express itself only, given its defective nature, in a weak, rotten body, because it is lustful and devoured by insatiable passions. The death sentence is therefore related to the purification of the race and to the health of the polis: a conception "that adheres to Greek thought as it does to Roman and Germanic thought."35 Plato's heritage may therefore be picked up (through a blood contiguity which also is a contiguity of the spirit) only by Germany, which knows that the distinction between noble and nonnoble is not a social, educational, or class issue, but rather an opposition of pure and impure, and therefore an ontological issue.36 There is no escape from the soul of the race, because nobody can escape from his own body, which is, precisely, an expression of the Type. "For the Hellenes there was nothing spiritual which did not affect the body, nothing corporeal which did not also affect the soul. This is the

spirit of theNordic race. The medieval Church has dangerously inculcated in Western man the idea that the body belongs to the domain of sin. This is the race."37 is a problem that comes to complicate the perfect corre At this point there spondence between soul, body, and type: It is that of the tall, blond, and falsely distinguished Jew. Gunther refers to this issue, in this book and else where,38 but it is dealt with more extensively by a dear friend and colleague, L. F. Clauss, who, in his Seele und Rasse,39 tries to clarify the confused exas peration of those who all too often come across human beings whose somatic spirit of the Levantine

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls


features seem to belong part of the Nordic

to theNordic

racial type, while

in reality are not at all racism is therefore

soul. The

theory of morphological

forced to introduce an incongruent element into itsmetaphysics: The Jewish and uncon that is often unconscious an oscillation race ranges-with being the bodily expression of a low, cowardly, and often trolled-between evil soul, and being amere simulacrum, amere appearance that does not cor respond to any idea (in short, it does not have a soul of its own). But the in either case will be the same. Once again Plato "operative" consequences shows us that "once one starts to propose a physical and spiritual model for one's own people, one chooses, in the racial amalgam from which this Volk has emerged, a certain form of life and spiritual conduct to which it corre in the sponds. By and large one will have to choose the human type-present represents, for all healthy, well-ori of that people-that ented spirits, what ismost noble, in life as in art, in past history as in the pres racial composition ent."40Every education proceeds through a form of selection. culture finally become authentic the The superior values of Hellenic cannot be moment they are "embodied." So the ideal of the Kalokagathia lowered to the level of a norm of individual behavior. National Socialist Ger many will live to the end its original and authentic meaning. This is because only selection will enable "the beautiful and the good, to assume a bodily 4' form, to become true." It is the duty of the Nordic spirit, "nowadays" incar nated by the German people, to suppress, once and for all, the contradictions

between body and soul, between race and people, between people and nation, to finally realize the truth of the Idea, of the Type, of theOne and Eter nal Soul.42 This is how a Volk is created, Gunther seems to conclude. Thanks to Plato, the only state that will be able to call itself "good" will be the state that, not content with being the guardian of laws and borders, education, and prosperity, will also become guardian and creator of an increase in superior life. The life that can appropriately and finally define itself as "human," because it participates in the idea of man, has such superior value. Hence one need not oppose oneself to humanism, as some proponents of "provincial National Socialism believe," but rather achieve its original meaning.

IV.Becoming Human
Humanitas is the title of a booklet published in 1937 thatwas to become a sort of Bible or basic text of the theoretical circle inside the SS. It proposed European Union on a racial basis. This text obsessively returns to the theme of German-Hellene brotherhood, based on a common origin from Nordic stock, located in Central Europe in the Neolithic age.43 The human greatness




that has developed, "thanks to an uninterrupted process of selection,"44 start ing from exemplary families inGreece and Rome is, and will always be, the ideal representative of the Nordic race. The value of humanitas lies in this greatness, Roman made true and fortified by racial selection. spirituality "In the Hellenic directs itself once value of humanitas, Indogermanic

again towards the racial ideal of the strong, noble and beautiful man."45 Stoicism tries to give Humanism a direction opposed to the laws of life, by pursuing high moral goals that pertain to the single, isolated man; ferent to the health of the ghenos. Hellenism tion," of decadence, world humanitas that is increasingly is progressively concept in general and of racial interbreeding: it is indif is a culture of "reac

a reaction to a surrounding

de-Nordified and degenerate.46 Authentic eroded in its noble meaning of a hymn to life by (Entnordung) and degeneration. The Helle It demands the victory of man over

the process of de-Nordification nistic-Germanic

is aristocratic:

any lowly tendency that is in him, over any physical or hedonistic slackening. It demands firmness, contempt for utilitarian values, a sense of measure, and a sense of reserve. And to this inner dignity and nobility there corresponds a brave and proud body: theNordic upright, a high and wide type with blue eyes and blond hair, tall and forehead with a frank and straight glance.47

Humanitas is therefore the ideal of a Nordic purity that can always be improved; it is the Platonic ideal, and it becomes at some points inGunther's philosophy a Kantian noumenon. But Nazism-unlike philosophies of the these absolutes, of the historical possibility of "embodying" past-offers them. Beyond all the monstrous philosophical and philo phenomenalizing logical simplifications that regularly come out of Gunther's writings, there is a stringent logic in the discourse on Humanitas as Kalokagathia to be renewed. "The idea of humanitas corresponds to the same Indogermanic ideal of the noble man who inHellas, in amore strictly selective context, pro duced the two conceptions when it is transformed correspondence of eugeneia and kalokagathia." This value is lost into an ideal of individual perfection. The Platonic

between man, soul, and polis is perverted and is debased as in an empty humanistic ideal, which exalts the individual in his mediocrity, took his isolation, and in his abstractness. "The falsification of Humanism place in the epoch of the Late Roman world: the immigrant Levantines, espe cially Jews, who pretended to be Hellenes and Romans, to avoid the ancient contempt of foreigners, in fact tried to pervert humanism into a doctrine of brotherhood and equality, in the name of the abstract man who does not exist."48The German people have the duty to return to theGerman context the idea of Humanitas, whose values, just as those of the original Indogermans, if analyzed attentively, prove to be those of life itself, of the life which wants to assert itself and grow. True Humanitas "is a duty to carry out, a model to be

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls


reached ... an ideal of racial and marital selection, because only a conception that distinguishes between the best and theworst can preserve true ethics and ideals, an aristocratic conception ... a conception which is the knowledge of the best blood thatmust be increased and of the worst blood for which one cannot wish many descendants."49 The lesson (Lektion) of Humanism is selection Humanitas (Selektion). ends with Gunther's small, but very widely read, treatise on the following statement: "Mihi natura dedit leges a

sanguine ductas (Nature gave me laws driven by blood). These are words to be written on the tombstone of the Greek and Roman worlds; and from them meaning arises for us, as descendents of those Germanic peoples who belonged to the same race of the Hellenes."50 In other words, not all individuals are born human. One has to be part of true humanity: the Idea, the Soul, and the Type. True humanity does not con cern all and sundry. One may be part of it through purification, striving for

perfection, through selection; in short, the Platonic process of ascending toward the idea. But it is not the path that each individual soul, if provided with a rational part, can achieve in relation to the individual "body of earth" inwhich it has ended up. It is not the "still Socratic" Plato who appeals to the Nazis of Gestalt metaphysics. It is the Plato who appears to reduce the soul are in fact passages, such as inBook V of The Republic, body dualism. There in The Laws, and in The Statesman, that seem to fit in well with the idea of the inside and the outside, that together determine the Type, the Idea.5"Solidly connected, enclosed in a rigid and inevitable system of correspondences, man is in other words the expres sion of the soul of the race, intended Platonically as "Man written in capital letters." This is theMacroanthropos who will start the ascending path of the synagoghe, the process of approximation and of conforming to the idea, which is at the same time always and already the return to the One. This will happen through the selection of the material through which the people are made and through the purging of those bodies that are the expression of an evil soul, or of those bodies that only simulate the Type and that try to falsely insinuate themselves into the limbs of the great body of the race. And this is the point: Jews are by and large simulacra, that is to say impure bodies because deprived of a soul, or at best unable to participate in a soul of their own, in the soul of the ghenos. Jews are not simply a different Type, a differ ent soul, of an inferior race: They are the anti-Type par excellence. It is difficult to read without emotion what Emmanuel Levinas was writ ing in the same years in which the members of the new Humanitas were invoking the ideal of Aufnordnung, Nordification. For him, Nazism is pagan, because paganism does not consist so much in the negation of the spirit or in the ignorance of the one God. It consists more in the Stimmung (spiritual dis soul and body as the two sides, respectively




position, mood) world which Levinas

of being enclosed, is apparently

in situating the soul and the Gods to itself.52 Judaism is provisional, in one God, but because

in that

sufficient it believes

is antipaganism, the Jew can is differ of what

tells us, not because

not fail to see everywhere

the traces of what

in L'essence ent from himself.53 Or once again, spirituelle de 1 'antisemitisme, 54 he tries to point out the paradox of Hitlerism for having put Jewish conscience in a situation that is absurd and without precedent for it. Levinas does not mention it, probably This is not because of exterminationhe does not yet imagine it-but for having forced the Jew, used to the disquiet of never being at home with himself, used to always escaping somewhere else, to "nail himself' body and soul to Judaism. Hitlerism had therefore transformed the destiny of being-a-Jew, of the spirit that feels itself to be always somewhere else, into a fatality from which one cannot escape. The Jew is trapped in his own Judaism through his own body. This is a paradoxical situation, and not only for Levinas, if one thinks of the treatises and a thousand-year-old wandering iconography that portray the Jew as the individual by definition, he who, from the Roman poet Martial to Woody Allen, is portrayed as the changeable being par excellence. But he is "nailed" by National Socialist "idealism" precisely on this aspect: He is changeable because he ismimetic, and he ismimetic because he is duplici tous, untrustworthy, a liar, someone who takes advantage of everyone. He assumes the features of others to insinuate himself in the bodies and in the nations towhich he does not belong. Here is the stereotype of the parasite as as to better undermine Nordic humanity, to erode it bacteria or as a virus-so from the inside. The supporters of the new and "original" humanitas make clear the reasons for this mimesis and for the nomadic existence of the spirit and of the body. The Jew is, often Platonically, a simulacrum. He is not only the expression of a corrupt, composite, impure, and lowly soul. He is the one who he is Seelenlos He has no is Gestaltlos because (Soulless). that is why he becomes the man of the universal abstract. He Seelengestalt; has no soul or form of his own; his body is not part of the Idea, and it is amere In a speech that was not intended for public circulation, appearance. exhorted the SS to carry out their duty until the end. He exhorted them to fortify their soul, getting it used to the sight of dead bodies. Because these dead bodies, in reality, have always been dead bodies. They have finally reached their ontological truth.55 carries out a systematic enterprise of redefining human Nazi "idealism"


ity, partially through Plato's texts, and it is facilitated in this by a literature of treatises that, from the French in the nineteenth century onwards had achieved high levels of rhetorical violence. The new concept of humanitas thus decrees the inability of a part of humanity to reach the level of being part

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls



of the idea; in other words, to achieve reality. This iswhat a propaganda text in 1942 by the SS says about the Jews: "The sub-human being, this creature of nature, with his hands, his feet, his kind of brain, with his eyes and his mouth, a creature which appears to be of the same species as the human species. But in fact he belongs to another, quite different species: a horrible

creature, the semblance of a man who has features similar to those of a man, but who is situated, because of his spirit, of his soul, below the level of an ani mal. Within this creature there is a chaos of savage, unbridled passions: an unlimited will to destroy, carried out by the most primitive appetites, a

shameless infamy."56

V. Conclusion
this true heart of totalitarianism, or at least of the Nazi totalitarian system? One might describe it as a form of poli tics dominated by thewill to transform individual lives into one single life. If, But what then is this biopolitics, as required by the metaphysics of form (ametaphysics not only present in a current of SS thought, but which came originally from further afield, and which perhaps is still with us), bodies are the mirror of the soul; and if true souls participate in a single great soul, then bodies must, through a process of and purification, become one single body. It will not be approximation enough, therefore, to transform the impure enemy into a dead body, or even to prove that that body has always been a soma, a tomb, a container for a life less soul, never present. To ensure that the body is finally fully participating in the soul of the race-the Nordic idea that sweeps through history with its will be necessary to reach the eternal Aryan body, mythical strength-it which expresses an eternal soul. So, on one side, there is a dead body that finally expresses itself as such, that comes to terms with its lack of essence, with its being Seelenlos and Gestaltlos. On the other side, there is a great uncorrupted body that expresses a pure soul, whose health and justice imply victory over every agent of pathology and corruption. But the transcendental aspect of any corruption is change; that is to say, time. Even the glorious body of the soul of race, to be eternal, would have had to renounce change and time. In a word, itwould have had to transform itself, according to the idea of the eternal life of an immortal Nordic soul, into a great and glorious corpse, finally, and only in this way, a universal body. totalitarianism, and I am not alleging in the least that twentieth-century National Socialism in particular, sums up the essence of theWest, nor even of the relationship between body and that of one of its conceptualizations




soul does

this. But I do believe (and with

that it is all too comforting

to believe

that it)


it the racial theory that supports and strengthens

is an aberrant pathology

civilization, man's land from which it emerged. An analysis of Nazism certainly cannot be conceived merely as a list of accusations against our tradition of thought, but it can be conceived of as a fragment of a general deconstructive operation on our history. This history, which in some form continues today, includes a relationship between body and soul that derives from (and at the same time is the purpose of) a metaphysics this, to think "against ourselves" tury has done. And we must aspects, of form. We must have the courage as the best philosophy avoid any comforting to admit that of the twentieth cen view, recognizing

that, after having threatened the survival of Western loses entirely its viral character and disappears forever in the no

trajectories, segments of our tradition have been taken to extremes,

"parodied", raped, and actually used by totalitarianism. They have therefore it is only those had, to use Foucaultian terms, truth effects. Undoubtedly thinkers who put themselves knowingly at the service of this strategy who are for these consequences. Plato is not responsible, nor isGerman philosophy as a whole. But Gunther certainly is. responsible

1. A preliminary Filosofia Platonic Francesco politica fessor Giuseppe version of this essay was published as "Biopolitica Adriana delle anime" Pro on to in in

3, 2003. 1 would Cambiano,

like to thank, among others, Professor Vegetti about this new version. Socialist


and Professor Mario

(some of the leading Italian scholars I am greatly racism. Iwould indebted

philosophy) Ingravalle

for their suggestions for an exchange allowed me

of ideas on National

also like to

thank him for having

to have access

to some texts that are in practice


most libraries.
2. See M. Foucault, Histoire [The History Macey, France, College of sexuality, volume la societe" 1976) de la sexualite,, 1: La volonte'de savoir(Paris: Gallimard, I:An Introduction, trans. R. Hurley (New York: Viking, 1978)]; (Paris: Gallimard, Idem, Securite, 2004); 1997) [Society must be defended, de la biopolitique. 1994) was trans. D. de au Cours territoire, population. Cours au College

Idem, "II faut defendre (London: Allen 1977-1978 de France,

Lane, 2003)];

(Paris: Gallimard, 1978-1979

Idem, Naissance 2004).

(Paris: Gallimard,

3. F. Feh6r and A. Heller, Biopolitics contributions connecting Among sacer Le XXe that readdressed it to the heritage The Politics of Hannah

(Vienna: European



the first and

the issue of biopolitics, Arendt. See of the Body, Race

taking Foucault also A. Heller,

as a starting point, S. Puntscher

Riekmann 1996). Homo l'ennemi. University 2002);

(Eds.), Biopolitics. IIpotere siecle

and Nature

(Wien: European


the many who have dealt with biopolitics sovrano et les camps (Paris: Albin (Mayenne: J. Butler Immunitas.

from this perspective, 1995); A. Brossat, 1996); 1998), Idem,

see G. Agamben, L'epreuve Le corps de

e la nuda vita (Torino: Einaudi, Michel, La fabrique,

du desastre. immunitaire

Hyperviolence Press,

et democratie 2003);

Idem, La democratie (Stanford: Stanford

(Paris: La Dispute,

The Psychic Protezione

Life of Power e negazione

1997); R. Esposito,

della vita (Torino: Einaudi,

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls


D. J. Haraway, Discourse

The Biopolitics in Haraway,

of Postmodern Simians, Essais



of Self in Immune System of nature (New et biopolitique



and women:

The reinvention

York: Routledge, 1999); Press, P. Lecorps tions ENSP, 1995). bridge, MA:

1991); G. Hottois, V. Shiva,

de philosophie (eds.), Biopolitics


(Paris: Vrin, (Rennes: Empire L'eta Edi (Cam della

J.-B. Paturet, Sante publique. I. Moser Press, the references

Du biopouvoir inM. Hardt

a la democratie and A. Negri, Destini



Indiana University personali.

See also

to biopolitics 2000)

Harvard University emphasized

and in R. Bodei,

colonizzazionedelle coscienze (Milano:Feltrinelli, 2002).

4. Foucault were Nazism on various occasions that the "so-called research program totalitarian on power. experiences" Starting from the "problem" and Stalinism, that had started off his entire Foucault

states, it has been demonstrated "La securit6 et l'Etat," in Foucault, of his research was,


any shadow of doubt" control to

that political

power has a totalitarian vocation; (M. Foucault, 2001, 383]). The direction of the possibility to penetrate

that is, it tends to have a total and precise Dits et in other words, totality,

over everything [Paris: Gallimard,

ncrits II, 1976-1988, to continue in the sense of all power, political interesting Dits et in its and inter ncrits II, 2004). in P. della and A.

reflect on the conditions

of a power

that may address

and each of us. Totalitarianism different forms, has managed thought should Foucault philosophical view which 5. See Costa,

has in fact demonstrated therefore address

once and for all that political See the extremely in Foucault,

life from side to side. Contemporary this heritage. et savoir" (1977), difronte all'estremo

gave to S. Hasumi


p. 399. On this topic see S. Forti, (ed.), Lafilosofia in particular A. Brossat, della cittadinanza 3. La civilta in Europa. Il discorso

(Torino: Einaudi,

Le corps de l'ennemi, e la teoria della liberale (Roma-Bari:

and the extremely razza,

lucid chapter Storia

in Idem, Civitas. 2001), storico,

cittadinanza Burgio,


pp. 405-456,



razze. Studi su razzismo

e revisionismo

(Roma: Manifesto takes the term On the use 2001 and to

Libri, 1998).
6. Foucault, while distancing himself from liberal theories of totalitarianism, that is common toNazism and Stalinism. Laterza, to refer to the paradox and on the history of total domination

of the concept, The Origins

see S. Forti, In totalitarismo (1951),


7. H. Arendt, Anti-Semitism. would past two decades antiracism, Taguieff, Taguieff, writings which of Totalitarianism devoted and in particular the part devoted is extremely intensely its topoi. The bibliography to theories of race and to racism who has been working reproduces 1995), which conceptual Press, vast. I over the See P.-A.

like to refer at least to the work of P.-A. Taguieff, on the deconstruction in its simple polar opposition

of the commonplaces to racism

of racism, but also those of a facile (Paris: Gallimard, discussion, 1987); P.-A. see also the The (ed.),

La force du prejuge'. Essai Les fins de l'antiracisme of K. A. Appiah contained

sur le racisme et ses doubles (Paris: Edition Michalon, inK. A. Appiah Princeton S. Cook University

include comprehen

sive bibliographies Political Morality Race,

on the topic. For a strictly philosophical of Race (Princeton: University (ed.), Race

and A. Gutmann

(eds.) Color Conscious. 1996); R. Bemasconi

(Malden, MA:


2001); B. Boxill,

and Racism, and A.

(New York: Oxford Philoso et

University phy,

Press, 2001); R. Bemasconi, IN: Indiana Essai de philosophie

(eds.), Race andRacism Press, 2003);

inContinental David, 2001).

(Bloomington, 8. Foucault,


antisemitisme. more whole, more abnormal

sur l'envers des concepts the fewer degenerates

(Paris: Ellipses,

"Society Must individuals I-as Iwill

be Defended,"

p. 256: "The more

inferior species live, the stronger "Society must

die out, the as a Iwill

are eliminated, a species

there will be in the species

and the more vigorous

rather than individual-can (Foucault,

be, the

be. Iwill

be able to proliferate"

be defended,"

p. 255).




9. A. de Gobineau, Human Races


de l'inegalite

des races humaines


(The Inequality it anticipates reflections. were

of His

[New York: H. Fertig,

1999]), remains a very particular and the decline of superior

case because civilizations,

the future theories of race, but only on the basis of historical pessimistic conclusions, on the regression that will Origin rapidly "overtaken" by an attitude

and archaeological

to be

see in the struggle of races the possibility (1858) became anthropology an essential

of a triumph

of the fitter races. Darwin's and social sciences. theory of evolution. the Final Solution: Race. The History

of Species

text for the biological

Late nineteenth-century

of races takes it as its starting point the study by G. L. Mosse, Wilson Center Toward Press, in racial (1887)

For a history of racial theories, a History of European Racism of an Idea in the West to some extent, was de Lapouge,

see the classic

(New York: H. Fertig, DC: The Woodrow "rediscovered" Cours

1985) and I.Hannaford,

(Washington, instead

1996). Gobineau,

by the other "current" libre de science politique

10. G. Vacher Les selections the best-known Idem, Rasse 1875), Wagner, sociales. authors

(Paris:Fontemoing, 1896); Idem,L'Aryen.Son role social (1899) (Bologna:Forni, 1977). In

German-language Sociologie Staatenbildung Untersuchungen F. A. Brockhaus, countries 1926); (Wien: Manz, (Innsbruck: are Ludwig Gumplowicz, Rassenkampf: Grundriss der der (Innsbruck: und Staat. Eine Untersuchung later as Der Idem, Die uiber das Gesetz Staatsidee

reprinted 1909); Positive

Soziologische (Graz:


Leuschner& Lubensky, 1892);Gustav Ratzenhofer,Die soziologische Erkenntnis, (Leipzig:

1898); Idem, Soziologie. Lehre von menschlichen Wechselbeziehungen

(Leipzig:Brockhaus, 1907);LudwigWoltmann, PolitischeAnthropologie: eine Untersuchung der uberderEinflussderDescendenztheorieaufdie LehrevorderpolitischeEntwicklung Volker (Eisenach-Leipzig: Thuiringische Verl.-Anst., 1903).
11. See, 12. On for example, the various Brossat, Le corps de l'ennemi, especially pp. 32-138. of European cul interpretations of racist totalitarianism as the collapse

ture, see the final chapter Destruction recognizes minor (New York, approach mythe Labarthe, politique. of Reason

in Forti, Il totalitarismo. Press, 1980], chapter VII, part iv (on H. S. Chamberlain) the theory of evolution and Fascist origins Perceptions of National Socialism. played of Reality For an Le a

13.For example,G. Lukacs,DerZerstorung der Vernuft(Berlin: Aufbau-Verlag,1954) (The

[London: Merlin Masses analysis, Editions the fact that in the strands 1980), especially to my that end up in Nazism, and Man. Nationalist see especially, de l'Aube,

role. See G. L. Mosse, that is close L'imitation Heideggeri

the chapter on the mythical

P. Lacoue-Labarthe

and J.-L. Nancy,

nazi (La Tour-d'aigues:

1991), but also the earlier book by P. Lacoue 1985), and Idem, Lafiction 1988). (1899) (Muinchen: was born in the nation in to a du

des modernes

(Paris: Aubier-Flammarion, (Paris: C. Bourgeois, Die Grundlagen Chamberlain,

l'art et la politique

14. Houston Bruckmann, Britain,

Stewart Chamberlain,

des 19. Jahrhunderts who was Wagner's

1940), vol. I, pp.271-72.


but lived for much

of his life in Germany. rather than to Darwin. For him it is impossible the single individualities allows to separate and that is exalted Belonging

He refers to Gobineau the figure of the hero, who

from the race. The race is the force that animates expresses race is a fact that is incontestably roots, that puts the individual ence is not indispensable, need to have scientific tiny that is all the more race to which ancient Indo-Europeans.

the best racial characteristics through intuition, which forces

of a people.



to see one's identity. Sci there is no a des the of to a pure race link with

in contact with

the deep

that forge collective

but intuition

is. If race can be recognized Race is a destiny of "today"

through intuition,

proof and complicated relationship. The Nordic They must perceptible,

forms of reasoning: Men who belong from which immediate are called is the original to revive

never lose sight of this blood he belongs.

one cannot escape,

the purer and more peoples oppose "Asiatic"

the heritage

racial promiscuity,

first of all the promis

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls


cuity that Judaism has brought. The main em, is, in fact, the Jewish people. threat to European 15. See Hoheneichen A. Verlag, civilization. Rosenberg, 1933 Der


of Indo-European


ancient and mod they represent II (Mtinchen: and Blut und a

Jews are not as passive Mythus des XX.

and inept as Negroes; Volume

Jahrhunderts, Hoheneichen NSDAP

[1930]), which

states that the soul is "race seen from the inside," p. 22. Verlag, 1936), statements can be found in Ernst

See also Rosenberg's Ehre


der Idee (Miinchen: Verlag, 1934). Official

(Munchen: Hoheneichen in Hitler's Mein 1971)

Krieck,Volkisch-politischeAnthropologie (Leipzig: Armanen-Verlag,1936).Similarpremises

can be found Calman-Levy, Kampf. On the Aryan myth, L. Poliakov, [London: Le mythe aryen (Paris: (The Aryan Myth, p. 6. quotations from pp. who recognize 14, 219. J.-L. Nancy in genetic and P. Lacoue con Der Mythus, trans. E. Howard 1974]) is essential.

16. Rosenberg, 17. Rosenberg, Labarthe are among

Der Mythus,

the rare "philosophers" Socialist

the importance creates

of this nonbiologistic and naturalistic

version of National Lacoue-Labarthe with the absence 19. For "National

racism that is interested not so much Hellas, political Kampf as in a copy identity (Munchen: the that finally throughout Lehemans and rightly stress that this obsession

trol, but rather in reproducing and Nancy of a German

the truth of the original. a type is connected thinlers. states: image, of

for incarnating

the lifetime of its modem

18.Rosenberg,Der Mythus, p. 448.

that matter Mein Socialism Verlag, realization to which 1938 of [1925-28]) its own is [seen] (p. 680); the Aryan. formation.... formation of a world


it is the creation

according struggle

the idea of the cre in a world

ator of form is precisely domination: and exploited must incarnate 20. W. it is aworld by Aryans:

"The weltanschauunlich

is not just any enterprise The Weltanschauung of the entire public (Berlin: W. Press, und Campe,

The Aryan will have to be much more that has become Aryan. requires a total overturning (p. 506). Menschen

subjected life

itwill have to be a world it therefore Formung

itself absolutely; Die


to its points

of view, of its Anschauungen"

Jaeger, Paideia.

des griechischen

de Gruyter, see also 1977.) 1933). to the und

1934) (Paideia: V. Losemann,

The Ideas of Greek Culture Nationalsozialismus pp. 1-20. Platon. Der Kampf

[New York: Oxford University (Hamburg: Hoffmann um die Macht which


und Antike

21. Jaeger, Paideia, 22. K. Hildebrandt, 23. Between National J. Bannes, Platons Leipzig: della Socialist Hitler

des Geistes

(Berlin: Bondi, philosophy include

1932 and 1934 movement. und Platon

there are many writings de Gruyter,

link Plato's circulated

The most widely (Berlin-Leipzig: de Gruyter,

read and widely

the following: Kampf (Berlin itwas di as the

1933) and Idem, Hitlers Platon und Der by Julius Evola, giustizia Evola Sintesi

Staat(Berlin-Leipzig: de Gruyter, followed 1934). razza (Milano: Hoepli,

1933); A. Gabler,

Fuhrer 1942);

In Italy this strand is followed

di dottrina

1938) and Idem, Inmito del sangue Lo Stato secondo di Ar, 2001). Also (Padova: Edizioni

(Milano: Hoepli, sees

subsequently Ar, 1996);

up by F. Freda, Platone.

(Padua: Edizioni the body

I lupi azzurri

phenomenological (stirpe). For Evola, its "spiritual" understand appears most

expression aspect

of the soul; not of the individual coincide). Keeping polemic. of Plato in mind

soul, but of the soul of the race form of its somatic this Aryanized features and of Plato, one may (1945) as the in a

the supreme value for the race is the perfect (which must anti-Platonic

better Karl Popper's

His Open Society

and its Enemies

to take seriously theoretician organism

the interpretation

that these authors gave. Romualdi (and even earlier, by Evola) century, as he who would He have reforged success

24. Hans K. F. Guinther was defined important solid doctrinal often the early

by Adriano

of race in the twentieth were many

theories of Gobienau.

is, indeed, one of the most widely to have extensive and were des deutschen

read authors of the Nazi reprinted.

era, and his works he published


In the 1920s,

treaties on race: Rassenkunde





(Muinchen: Lehemanns was present



reprinted households

16 times

in more

than 100,000 version,

copies the

(and which

in almost

all German

in an abbreviated


Volksguinther; RassenkundeEuropas (Mtinchen: LehemannsVerlag, 1928);Rassenkundedes

Jtidischen Volk (Muinchen: Lehemanns work was already at Berlin University. Rasse see P. Weindling, Verlag, an organic 1929). On the eve of the National component of the movement. in the "philosophy Politics Socialist He rise to power, Gunther's anthropology of eugenics, taught social Social

On the role of Gunther

of National

ism", see E. Voegelin,

und Staat Health,

(Tuibingen: J. C. B. Mohr, Race and German

1933). On his role in the history Between National Unification 1928); respec

andNazism (1870-1945) (Cambridge: CambridgeUniversity Press, 1989).

25. H. K. F. Gunther, Idem, Humanitas Platon als Hiuter des Lebens Verlag, (Muinchen: Lehemanns two books were copies. Verlag, reprinted, (Munchen: Lehmanns 1937). These than 120,000 pp. 3-29. p. 30. pp. 22-28. translates both ghenos quoted by Gunther

tively, 17 and 20 times, with 26. Giunther, Platon 27. Guinther, Platon 28. Plato, Phaedo, 29. Gunther, nos always 30. Gunther, Platon Platon as Rasse.

print runs of more des Lebens, des Lebens,

als Hiiter als Hiiter 78c-80c.

als Huiter des Lebens, als Hiiter Republic, iswhy des Lebens,


and eth to support

p. 29. The passages

his thesis are especially in the city. But when were be auxiliaries, Most

415: "'You are all brothers,' they are themost

our story will

tell them, all of you of those of you who to

god made

you, he used amixture

of gold in the creation

fit to be rulers, which

valuable. He used silver for those who were but because important

and iron and bronze

for the farmers and the rest of the skilled workers. of the same type as yourselves, you are parent, or a golden child from a instruction If

of the time you will

father children

all related, occasionally god gives

a silver child may be borm from a golden

silver parent, and likewise should keep their most

any type from any other type. The first and most of these metals

the rulers is that the thing that they should be is the best guardians careful eye on, is the compound amixture in society recognition, is borm with of bronze or iron in him, his nature deserves, and promoted they must

of, the thing they

in the souls of children.

their own child workers

feel no kind of pity for born with a mixture of or to iron

him, but give him the position or farmers. On gold or silver should be given that of auxiliary. There or bronze becomes University of "races" differing deal with extent individuals Press, 2000).

driving him out to join the skilled to the position of guardian come when

the other hand, any children is a prophecy, These

from those groups either

god tells them, that the end of the city will trans. T. Griffith, calamity ... One confirm for Gunther

its guardian"

(Plato, The Republic, passages to be the worst


Cambridge the mixture

how Plato considered for a people "Because the toughest, should

in inherited values p. 535, the most but men

and for a polis. He bastards must bravest not and, to the to seeking that corre legit also

then takes up Republic, it [philosophy], it is possible,

translating beautiful

it in the following should


of pure ancestry

should be chosen.

limit oneself

of a noble and virile character,

but also those who have the natural qualities translation the bravest philosophers taking it [philosophy] steadfast, look for noble

spond to the human imate philosophers" ble the best-looking. need people with Gunther trained Levantine Greekness should philosophise! nature died"

type we require." The current English-language (535b); a natural "We must choose the most

reads as follows: and as far as possi p. 244. of pure blood men of a

"We didn't want bastard, or illegitimate, In addition,

up. We wanted

not only must we

and virile character; we "only men

talent for this kind of education" on this passage have acquired to accept the power als Hitter of have in the following in some way the Hellenic

(535a) Plato,Republic, way: the awareness spirit, while

then comments

Plato must have

of a reality which we, the Sophists the Nordic soul of

in racial research,

as true: the fact that through des Lebens, p. 36).


(Gunther, Platon

Forti / The Biopolitics

of Souls


31. According cratic chaos

to Gunther

and other "Nazi Platonists," due to unregulated theWest, breeding.


and Plato

faced the demo

that was ultimately dominates

This was

the same lack of regula to the forms that of so

tion that "nowadays" of government, much

that attaches systems, This


to the economy,

to social and educational qualities of peoples. Socrates they were

to "all sorts of points of view," except Plato was absolutely one species spoke of animals to distinguish

truth: the hereditary best manner,

is a truth of which


so that in the Republic but in reality

and Glaucon

and how to breed them in the from another

talking of how Gunther's

among human beings. 32. The passages Republic, whereas p. 459-460: used to demonstrate "the best men thesis include especially the best women those contained as often as possible, should bring up the in should have sex with

for the worst men

and the worst women

it should be the reverse. We

children of the best, but not the children we can make

of the worst,

if the quality of our herd is to be as high as species the

it ... The children of inferior parents, on the other hand, or of any deformed pp. 157-58). And also Laws, p. 735b-c: "In dealing with

born to the other group, will be removed (Plato, Republic, shepherd or cowherd, it until he first applied

from sight into some secret and hidden place, as is right" a flock any kind, is to separate never attempt to look after the

or the keeper of horse or any such animals, will to each group of animals and the well-bred the appropriate


sound from the unsound, herds, while keeping if itwere

from the ill-bred, and to send off the latter to other that his labour could be fruit to and souls that nature and ill-nurture have combined is sound and clean both in habit and body-whatever in the existing Gunther herd" (Plato, Laws, ed. R. G. a neo Pardes,

the former under his own care; for he reckons spent on bodies

less and unending

ruin, and that bring ruin on a stock which the class of beast-unless 33. In addition Kantian.

a thorough purge be made himself a Platonist,

Bury [London: Heinemann, 1951], vol. I, pp. 348-351.

to proclaiming also proclaimed (Puiseaux: in the original). of humanitas: of himself Editions See H. F. K. Gunther, Mon Temoignage sur Adolf Hitler,

of 1990;French translation Mein EindruckvonAdolfHitler,1968).Thiswas his last work before

his death, on September remarked human mattered in swaying situation: dignity of 25, 1968 (to my knowledge, betrayed human values unpublished In this book he "'Classical' lan longer interested though that after 1933, Hitler fundamental Indeed, is expressed the true Hellenic cherished values

by peoples

Indo-European He was


in self-assurance, Iwould

a sense of measure

and of reflection-no in contempt. fanaticism. Even

for Hitler.

say that he held these values

crowds; he expressed

himself with a burning,

almost oriental

he may have been appropriate had inflamed?" 34. Gunther, 35. Gunther, 36. Gunther, 37. Gunther, Rassenkunde (Gunther, Mon Platon Platon Platon Platon

for the present Temoignage

situation of urbanised masses, people from the mass p. 40) added). sur Adolf Hitler, p. 70 (italics p. 72. pp. 40, ff. p. 56. race, with a Levantine

he had to adapt to this fanaticism that Lenin

how else could he have saved the German als Hiuter des Lebens, als Hater als Huter als Hater analysis Rasse of des Lebens, des Lebens, des Lebens, the Jewish

38. For a detailed 39. L. F. Clauss,


see Gunther, Gestalt

des Juidischen Volk. und Seele, eine Einfuerhrung in den Sinn der leiblichen

LehmannsVerlag, 1933). (Mtinchen:

40. Gunther, Platon als Hater des Lebens, p. 80. to us that it is necessary us. Precisely "a selection to practice a selec

41. Ibidem.
42. Plato was precisely so, even Plato's if their bodily the one to have suggested appearance may mislead tion between men who may be part of the Idea or archetype, thought has been a thought of selection: and men who will never be able to be as an "idealist and educator," mixture, that prevents unregulated

32 Political Theory

but allows with

the expression

of the idea of the complete is an expression Platon


inwhich p. 88.

body and soul are one thing." up an ethical order in harmony

The "pure conforming" the cosmos.

of that virtue

that makes

See Gunther,

als Hiuter des Lebens, iswell known, of Gunther's

43. Gunther, Humanitas, ing that period

pp. 10, ff. As

this is a thesis that iswidely

shared dur

and that returns inmany the Rhine

other books. This

is the mythic-historical around 2000 B.C., These peoples populations to Greek, in Greece of the race of

of Indo-Europeans Indogermans Aryans), originatingfrom (or or reconstruction Indo-European:

a region between who moved course and the Vistula valley and extending north up to Oslo and Anatolia. through the Danube and into Italy, Greece, caste


themselves From

as the dominating this emerged with Asian

in relation

to the indigenous language:

of the invaded countries. from Germanic to ancient

the Indo-European

from Latin

Indian, all related

to one another. Then,

over the centuries,

and Italy, through interbreeding population was by the beginning increasingly

and African Empire)

slaves (who represented the Indo-European types, which


of the Roman by Mediterranean of Greece p. 24. p. 24. was

stock of Northern represent


and Levantine

the greater

part of the current population 44. Gunther, Humanitas, 45. Gunther, Humanitas, 46. "When world, many

and Italy

the idea of humanitas in theMiddle p. 30. p. 30. p. 18. p. 37.

coupled, remained

in Rome, celibate


the Stoic


of the and his of

this gave rise to the rigid scholar who Ages hereditary, vital and brave energies."

to preserve p. 22.

his seriousness

severity, an ideal which

and in theModern

age contributed

to the extinction

Gunther, Humanitas,

47. Gunther, Humanitas, 48. Gunther, Humanitas,

49. Gunther, Humanitas, 50. Gunther, Humanitas, 51. These P. Sloterdijk, mesure interpretations Regeln

appear to be discussed (Paris: Vrin, de Maimonide"


no less than ironically), 1999)

both by La

fur den Menschenpark selon Platon "L'actualite

(Frankfurt: 2002). (1935),

Suhrkamp, now

and J. Laurent,

de i'humain inwhich

52. E. Levinas, pp. 97-100, the pagan

in Levinas,


vol. V (1982),

we read: "In this world-which de Maimonide, spirituelle L'Allemagne p. 28. L'Allemagne p. 99


to itself, which

is self-sufficient

is trapped." "L'actualit6 L'essence de l'antisemitisme et le genocide. (1938), Plans now in Levinas, nazis Traces, vol.

53. Levinas, 54. E. Levinas, V (1982), Editions 55. Quoted

pp. 109-111. in J. Billig, 1950), in Billig, et realisations (Paris: Paris du Centre,

56. Text quoted

et le genocide,

p. 31 (italics


Simona ment political Arendt Laterza,


is a full professor

of history of political Orientale,


in the political research


depart Hannah and of

at the Universita philosophy. tra filosofia 2001, 2003). works

del Piemonte

Italy. Her main 1996)

area is contemporary

Her main publications e politica (Feltrinelli

include Vita della mente

e tempo dellapolis:

(Milan, Franco Angeli, Editore, Milan),

and II totalitarismo of the Coordinating on The Politics

(Roma-Bari, published and History International Politica

She is also editor of the Italian edition of Hannah Arendt's a member Network Science Foundation

unpublished Committee European

of the European Democratisation, Newsletter.


and coeditor

of the political-philosophical

journal Filosofia

and of Arendt's