3 Sep 2011
From Aristocracy and Dynasty to Racism
“Human groupings have one main purpose: to assert everyone’s right to be different, to be special, to think, feel and live in his or her own way. People join together in order to win or defend this right. But this is where a terrible, fateful error is born: the belief that these groupings in the name of a race, a God, a party or a State are the very purpose of life and not simply a means to an end. No! The only true and lasting meaning of the struggle for life lies in the individual, in his modest peculiarities and in his right to these peculiarities.”
~ Vasily Grossman, Life and Fate
In the previous post we asked why so many royal families stuck to their house laws. Was it somehow associated with their rights to exist or was there some other reason? A prominent example for a house with own “house laws” is the House of Hohenzollern. The picture on the left shows the coat of arms from one family branch. The family had and still has special house laws which determined the succession to a throne and the rights to marry: only equally born aristocrats who belong to royal or ruling houses. Sons and daughters who married the wrong persons were completely excluded from the family. It looks as if the houses indeed thought they were special, and tried to preserve their “royal species”. In a larger context, this belief leads to the worst forms of facism and racism.
Here’s why: paradoxically the same thing which makes us human, the unique connection between body and mind, is utterly devastating in a larger context, and ends up in the worst form of inhuman racism. The connection between body and mind on the next larger scale is for example a “royal species”. A group of bodies (the royal family or dynasty) is connected to a bundle of ideas (the customs and traditions of the family, the rules of the house law, etc). Together this connection resembles a “royal species”. The aristocrats indeed try to form some kind of royal species through their house laws. After the middle ages, Europe was ruled for a long time by a small group of aristocrats, who considered themselves as a superior royal race. The aristocratic ruling class consisted of the different royal or ruling houses, for instance..
- The House of Hohenzollern ruled Prussia and Germany
- The House of Windsor ruled England and the Commonwealth
- The House of Habsburg ruled Austria, Hungary, and the Austrian Empire
- The House of Romanov ruled Russia
This form of reign through imperial or royal dynasties may work for a certain time for chiefdoms and kingdoms, but leads to dictatorship and tyranny for larger kingdoms and whole countries. Already the son of a successful king may be a total loser with a completely different character. And an unjust, incompetent ruler will automatically and involuntary trigger protests, which in turn can result in dictatorship and tyranny. There is no justification for a “royal species”. Endogamy – the practice of marrying within a specific ethnic group, class, or social group, rejecting others on such basis as being unsuitable for marriage or other close personal relationships – is very questionable.
If we take the idea of a “royal species” a bit further, we arrive at the idea of a “superior race”, which is defined and secured by race laws. The Nazi party indeed tried to define such laws, the Nuremberg race laws. These laws contributed directly to the Holocaust. There is certainly no superior “race”, as history has shown, for instance a superior “white race” as opposed to a “black race”. This wrong assumption led to slavery in the Southern states of the USA, racial segregation and the American civil war, and it led to racial segregation in South Africa under Apartheid. Racism is the belief that there are inherent differences in people’s traits and capacities that are entirely due to their race, however defined, and that, as a consequence, racial discrimination (i.e. different treatment of those people, both socially and legally) is justified. It has been a motivating factor in social discrimination, racial segregation, and violence against whole groups of people (such as pogroms, genocides and ethnic cleansing).
|human, harmless||Human||Body – Mind, Traditions|
|questionable||Dynasty||Family – Traditions and House Laws|
|inhuman, dangerous||“Race”||“Race” – Ideology and Race Laws|
The idea of a superior races violates basic human rights, such as equality and freedom. There is a straight path from aristocracy and royal dynasties to racism, which hopefully will never be followed again. It is strange and paradoxical that the same thing which makes us human, the connection between body and mind, is devastating in a larger context, and ends up in the worst form of inhuman behavior: racial segregation, racism and holocaust.
(the picture of the coat of arms from the House of Hohenzollern is from Wikipedia)