Dr. Benny Peiser13.05.2012 12:54
Daniel Gasman’s The Scientific Origins of National Socialism (1971) exposed German zoologist Ernst Haeckel’s role in the rise of Nazism. His sequel, Haeckel’s Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology (1991), discusses Haeckel’s contribution to fascism elsewhere in Europe. For the sequel Gasman visited Jena’s Haeckel Haus library, which became accessible after the fall of the Berlin Wall. He discovered a trove of letters to Haeckel from proto-fascist intellectuals.
Gasman’s thesis is that fascism was a coherent intellectual doctrine advocating a scientist-led social transformation. The biological sciences were key factors in fascism’s birth and development. Haeckel provided scientific legitimization for this movement. Fascist intellectual doctrine crystalized before 1919 in a process inseparable from the widespread Haeckelian cultural reformation. Monism, Haeckel’s religion, was a common denominator among various national fascisms. There was obvious Monist content in the thought of Mussolini, Hitler, and Norway’s Quisling and Britain’s Oswald Mosley.
Gasman concludes his introductory chapter with:
“…Fascist ideology was largely a consequence of the direct and specific transformation of a widely held, popular scientific system… This scientifically based ideology, in turn, proved powerful enough to generate a political movement that was able to gain influence and ascendancy in a number of unstable political and social environments, and hence to play a predominant, though not exclusive role in the origins of Fascism. The ideology in question was the evolutionary Monist science and philosophy of the German zoologist Ernst Haeckel…”
Gasman concludes his book thusly:
“Fascism emerged as an expression of the intellectual and cultural forces that had been unleashed by the Monist movement in the decades around the turn of the 20th century… Fascism and its glorification of the power of evil immanence, was only a variation on Haeckelian Monism’s most essential philosophical axioms and scientific, political and religious beliefs.”
Full essay here
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