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LUDWIG KLAGES

 

Ludwig Klages is considered one of the intellectual founders of the modern environmental movement.  However, his views are far harsher and more radical than most modern environmentalists, particularly those in America. He saw modern society as a basically evil force in the world.  He saw Christianity as an enormous spiritual poison in the soul of the world.

He warned of a terror to come if radical reforms were not made, not only in the physical world but in the world of the spirit.  For example, he believed that the natural landscape was an essential part of human identity. He claimed that thousands of years of folk traditions were rooted to the trees, wells, and springs of the Earth. What happens to this cultural identity when the landscape is destroyed? In his Man and Earth speech made in 1913, he explains that the roll call of the dead would far exceed the list of fallen animals. The destruction of the surrounding landscape had resulted in the death of a cultural identity. "Where is now the intricate richness of traditional costume, in which every folk could express its own nature, on its own landscape? (Klages, Man and Earth)."

Klages was arguing that these ancient traditions are a core part of our being. Without nature or tradition, man becomes a source of global evil. 

Klages was talking about a culture of life versus a culture of death. The ancient cultures tied to the land venerated and respected life. They understood that their own destiny was connected to the Earth. For example, if the Greeks wanted to construct a bridge, they would beg the river deity to pardon this deed and then offered a sacrificial libation of wine. In ancient German lands, it was an offense to shed the bark of a living tree. This offense was often matched by the shedding of the offender's blood. Yet in the Modern world, man sees these traditions as a childish superstition. "[Man] forgets that the interpreting of apparitions was a way of scattering blooms around the tree of an inner life, which shelters a deeper knowledge than all of science. (Klages, Man and Earth)."

THE SPIRITUAL POISON OF CHRISTIANITY

Klages believed that the destructive aspect of modern culture was rooted to the teachings of the Old Testament. "For the devout Christian, only man has a right to live (Klages, Man and Earth)." In the Abrahamic traditions, all of the Earth is created as a possession for mankind to own, "Then God said, 'Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” (Genesis 1:26).

A millennium of Christianity in the Westernized World convinced man that he could use nature as he pleased without consideration for the consequences. Klages argued that the hostility towards images enforced in the Middle Ages helped sever the bond between man and the soul of the Earth. Therefore it is fitting that the industrial revolution emerged in the Christianized, Western World. It was here that the inventions were accumulated and the Scientific Method was developed to perfection. And it was in this world that the method of perpetual imperialism, the slaughter of non-Christian races and the conquest of the whole of nature began to take place.

Klages believed that Christianity resulted in a "terrifying megalomania" that allowed the bloodiest offenses against life to be permitted by God's chosen - even commanded! The Old Testament itself demanded the people of Israel to kill all non-believers in their path. "When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations...then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them and show them no mercy." (Deuteronomy 7:1-2, NIV. 1). "Do not leave alive anything that breaths. Completely destroy them...as the Lord your God has commanded you..." (Deuteronomy 20:16, NIV. 1).

 

Therefore it was fitting that the culmination of Christianity was the Industrial Revolution. Klages argued that the modernized, industrial world was not a departure from Christianity. It was an extension of the Christian World. Much like Christianity, the ideals of the industrial world permitted people to exterminate any life that got in the way of "progress." This attitude has resulted in a mass genocide of indigenous peoples, as well as non-human life. "From time immemorial, the 'love' of the Christian has never prevented him from persecuting religious pagans with a murderous hatred; and this same 'love' doesn’t prevent him even now from abolishing the sacred rituals of conquered tribal cultures." (Klages, Man and Earth). According to Klages, "Christian Love" was the love of only "God's Chosen" - to the expense of everything else.

In addition to subverting and destroying the lives of the indigenous people around the world, the death toll of non-human life is unfathomable. Much nature was already disappearing in Klage's time. One was privileged to hear the call of the quail, even though these birds once numbered in the many thousands. The call of the quail lived in the songs of the common people as well as many Germanic Poets. Yet now this call, as well as the songs of many other species, was coming to an end.

The
Industrial period of history has presided over the greatest destruction of life seen since the Permian Extinction 250 million years ago. There is absolutely no way that this period can be considered a good period or even a productive one. This is a bloody time in history, that has an even bloodier price tag ahead.


THE TERROR TO COME


Of course, the superficial errors in all of these systems, sects, and tendencies will not be with us for very much longer ~ Ludwig Klages

We live in a world order that has strayed far from the natural order. We are like a spring that has been pulled all the way back. As a result, we will snap completely in the other direction. This civilization will be flung into a dissent of chaos. Klages foresaw disastrous results for this Modern Age mentality. In Klages's "Man and Earth" speech, he made predictions of impending doom. Perhaps this doom was a reference to the millions slaughtered in World War II. Or perhaps it was predicting an even greater massacre ahead, the results of the criminal destruction of life on the planet. Klages made the point that the preservation of nature is necessary for the survival of human life. In the wake of such great environmental destruction, one can predict a blood bath as the results of "progress."

A brutal reassertion of primeval values will be a part of the revolt against the Christian, Industrial World Order. Part of living in "civilization" requires the civilized to suppress their natural and primitive desires, to banish these feelings to the subconscious mind. Yet Klages states as the current world falls apart, the masks of "civilized" society will fall off, and the brutal passions of suppressed desire will spring to the forefront. A burning frenzy will burst with flaming torch held high into the pandemonium, as if the inferno itself had been loosed upon the world (Klages, Man and Earth).

Klages predicted that an ancient sun would shine through the destruction. From the death of the old world, a new one would emerge. Yet as civilization falls apart, the reorganization of what is to come after will not be a peaceful affair. Man thought he could correct the volatility of nature with the cold precision and logic of machinery. Yet industrialization has been responsible for destroying and poisoning many of the natural resources we depend upon as humans to live. When there is very little nature left to sustain life, people will realize that they need to respect the Earth in order to survive - just as our ancestors did. The Old Ways will return to wash away the Synthetic Values of the current world order. But only after the bloody transition period that Klages predicted.