By William Walter Kay Originally published on December 12, 2013
Few scholars have influenced culture as much as Prussian-born Professor Ernst Haeckel (1834-1919). In the 1860s he hatched the scientific discipline of “Ecology” and the philosophical doctrine of “Monism.” In 1906 Haeckel launched the Monist League, which within a few years recruited several thousand members including many prominent intellectuals.
By 1914, within German-speaking academia, Monists dominated the biological, zoological, and anthropological faculties. In addition to an impressive involvement in the life sciences, Monism shared other similarities with modern environmentalism.
Monists believed their superior knowledge of nature and evolutionary biology afforded them unique insights into social problems.
Monists disparaged “Western Civilization” for the inflated importance it extended to humanity and for invidiously separating Man from Nature.
Monists romanticised primitive cultures and disparaged urban-industrial society.
While Monists cannot be considered leftist, they did oppose capitalism and were particularly militant in their desire to rid the land-use system of the “scourge of capitalist speculation.”
Monists fixated on an elitist and racist population-control/eugenics agenda. While posturing as hard-headed scientists, Monists described “Nature” in mystical, pantheistic terms. They attributed living qualities, even souls, to inanimate objects and to the world itself. Phrases like “Mother Earth” and “World Soul” appear ubiquitously in their writings.
Believing Christianity to be both an antiquated religion and an impediment to their political agenda, Monists sought to replace it with forms of neo-pagan Nature worship.
Professor Gasman is adamant that:
The modern theory of the totalitarian fascist state was adumbrated by the political and social ideology advanced by Haeckel and his followers. Its (Monism’s) major assumptions and proposals were in all important respects identical with the political and social program of later 20th century National Socialism.
The Scientific Origins of National Socialism came out in 1971 and was re-issued in 2004 with a lengthy new introduction. The original text was written without Gasman, having access to the Haeckel Archives. Two trips to these archives in 1991 to peruse hitherto unseen materials reinforced the connection between Haeckel and fascist ideology and provided grist for a separate text (Haeckel’s Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology). Gasman recommends the two texts be studied together.
A condensation of the latter book has already been posted on this website (book review number 31). What follows is a condensation of the 2004 re-issue of the earlier book........To Read More....