Peter Staudenmaier: Über Massimo Scaligero
I think most anthroposophists are still unaware of Scaligero's racial writings. Even Italian anthroposophists, who have ready access to the texts themselves. Scaligero denied his own racism in his autobiography (in fact he cast his racial writings from the Fascist era as anti-racist), and lots of anthroposophists have simply taken this at face value. What is a little more surprising is that anthroposophists seem entirely unaware of the existing scholarship on the history of Fascist race policy, which discusses not only Scaligero's role in the racist campaign, but that of other Fascist anthroposophists as well, such as Ettore Martinoli and Aniceto Del Massa. In any case, Scaligero's racist publications are not hard to find in Italy. I think it would be good if anthroposophical admirers of Scaligero would familiarize themselves with this aspect of his work.
Several Listmates are familiar with the work of Massimo Scaligero (1906-1980), the foremost Italian anthroposophist in the latter half of the twentieth century and a celebrated figure among anthroposophists around thw world today. A number of Scaligero's post-1945 books are available in English translation from the Anthroposophic Press, which describes Scaligero as "a contemporary Italian spiritual master who has drunk deep from Western and Eastern traditions" and is "equally at home by direct experience with Western philosophy and psychology, Western esotericism (Rosicrucianism, Templarism, and Anthroposophy) and Eastern meditative practices (Zen and Tibetan Buddhism)". His works are even more widely available in German translation. His Italian followers, meanwhile, are notably proud of his impact on anthroposophy and on western esotericism more generally.
In December 2006, the Italian Anthroposophical Society held a conference in Trieste in honor of Scaligero on the occasion of the hundredth anniversary of his birth, celebrating his life and work. On this email list, anthroposophists from various backgrounds have repeatedly championed Scaligero and his spiritual insights over the years. He is, in short, a major anthroposophical celebrity far beyond his native Italy.
What anthroposophists do not mention is that Scaligero played a prominent role in promoting the racist campaign of the Fascist regime between 1938 and 1943, despite the fact that Scaligero's participation in the racist campaign is discussed in dozens of historical studies of the period. Scaligero was a major spokesman for what he termed "spiritual racism." While several other anthroposophists served as active functionaries in the Fascist racial bureaucracy, Scaligero's chief position was that of publicist, calling for an intensified application of the race laws in nearly a hundred articles on race, as well as a 275 page book on race, which he produced between the introduction of the Fascist racial legislation in 1938 and the fall of Mussolini's first regime in 1943. At the heart of Scaligero's racial theory was an implacable antisemitism, and much of his most aggressively racist writing was directed against the Jews.
In the past four years I have posted extensive excerpts from Scaligero's racist writings here, particularly his arguments for "spiritual racism." What I have not previously posted, largely because I hadn't gotten around to translating them, were passages from his numerous articles in the periodical La Difesa della Razza between 1938 and 1943. Many of Scaligero’s most substantive racial texts appeared in the pages of this infamous Fascist periodical, whose title means The
Defense of the Race. The journal has been the subject of several very good historical studies; in English see
-Sandro Servi, “Building a Racial State: Images of the Jew in the Illustrated Fascist Magazine, La Difesa della Razza, 1938-1943” in Joshua Zimmerman, ed., Jews in Italy under Fascist and Nazi Rule, 1922-1945 (Cambridge University Press, 2005), 114-57; there are also three book-length analyses of the journal in Italian:
-Valentina Pisanty, Educare all’odio: ‘La Difesa della razza’ (1938-1943) (Rome: Motta, 2004);
-Valentina Pisanty, ed., La difesa della razza: Antologia 1938-1943 (Milan: Bompiani, 2006);
-Francesco Cassata, “La Difesa della razza”: Politica, ideologia e immagine del razzismo fascista (Turin: Einaudi, 2008).
A lavishly illustrated large-format biweekly, the magazine La Difesa della Razza featured contributions from various factions within the Fascist racist camp, from biological racists to spiritual racists, and carried some of the most graphic expressions of racist and antisemitic sentiment to be found in Fascist Italy. In 1941 and 1942 Scaligero was one of its most frequent authors. He had the lead article in several issues, and many of his writings were decorated with
fasces and swastikas.
Scaligero's essays in 'The Defense of the Race' posit a millennia-long “Nordic-Mediterranean racial harmony” that bequeathed to the Italian race the finest Aryan traits and inspired its struggle against Luciferic and Ahrimanic forces. The Nordic and Mediterranean peoples, according to Scaligero, are two especially close branches of the original Aryans, bound by “racial affinity.” Rebuffing the notion that the Mediterranean race is contaminated with African elements, he insists that the “authentic Mediterraneans” have always maintained their racial heritage intact and avoided mixture with the “Negroid races,” the “Semitic races,” and other “inferior types.” Indeed the Mediterranean race has been the primary bulwark against “Asiatic-Semitic contamination,” and by withstanding “Negroid and Semitic admixture” has made the rise of European civilization possible.
(Massimo Scaligero, “Il volto autentico della civiltà mediterranea” La Difesa della Razza, July 20, 1942, 14-16.)
In Scaligero's portrayal, it was “the Nordic racial element” within the ancient Italian population, the “Italo-Nordic Aryans,” who rebuffed “the invasion of the Italian peninsula by the Semitic ethnic element” and prevented “the Asiatic and Semitic races” from destroying Europe. Even before World War II began, Scaligero’s articles for La Difesa della Razza consistently struck a militarist tone. In an issue from June 1939, “dedicated to the two races of the Axis,” he declared that the rightful role of the “Aryan peoples” is “world conquest and the consolidation of colonial hegemony.” The article is accompanied by copious photographs of Nazi military paraphernalia.
(Massimo Scaligero, “Omogeneità e continuità della razza italiana” La Difesa della Razza, June 5, 1939, 38-40)
The opening paragraph reads:
“When the ethnographers and the historians rediscover at the origins of Rome different peoples and races, when they tell us of Ligurians who come from the north, of Sicilians who display Mediterranean ethnic characteristics and traditions, of Etruscans and Pelasgians and Italics, of Aryan peoples encountering Mediterranean peoples, it is impossible not to recognize in these ethnic branches an individuality of the ‘Aryan’ type, produced by the absolute absence of Semitic contamination, let alone Jewish contamination. This is fundamental for the history of the Aryan occidental race. What is needed today is an understanding of the profound difference that separates Mediterranean man (Minoan-Mycenaean-Hellenic-Italic) from Semitic man (Phoenician-Chaldean-Assyrian-Hebraic). They were in struggle for centuries in the ancient Mediterranean with various weapons. Mediterranean man recapitulates in himself the hero and the priest, he bears the ‘Apollonian’ spirit, the classic, ‘solar’ spirit; while Semitic man is the merchant, the nomad, the invader, bearer of obscure ‘Telluric’ cults and of a sensualistic-individualistic religion.”
The closing paragraph reads: “It is these Italian racial values with their perennial character, whether in the sense of civilization or in a strict biological sense, that have resurfaced in the heroic spiritual climate of the Great War and the Fascist Revolution: Today, through the new racist campaign, they provide impulses toward the fertile union of the Aryan sub-races for the unified and integral reconstitution of the ancient inextinguishable ‘solar’ race.”
In July 1941, Scaligero announced that the coming defeat of England would bring to Europe a “racial equilibrium based on hierarchy.” The victory of Germany and Italy in the war will transform the current racist campaign into “the first phase of a totalitarian Aryan universalism” based on “affinity of blood” and will unite peoples who have preserved their racial heritage. This new “Roman-Germanic world” will create “harmony among peoples” on the basis of “spiritual values” and “a universality of the hierarchical type.” Democracy and egalitarianism have “suffocated the spirit” and must be superseded by “the totalitarian principle of Fascism and National Socialism” so that spiritual rejuvenation can begin.
(Massimo Scaligero, “Verso un supernazionalismo razziale” La Difesa della Razza July 20, 1941, 6-9)
Along with attention to military matters, Scaligero’s articles discuss the proper approach to racial policy. Depicting “the Italian race” as a paragon of “Aryan virtue,” he harshly criticizes other proponents of “spiritual racism” for neglecting to take the concrete physical aspects of race seriously enough. “Blood is the living symbol of the spirit within the human being,” thus “racial consciousness can only be achieved through conscious communion with the blood.”
(Massimo Scaligero, “Sangue e spirito” La Difesa della Razza, October 20, 1941, 13-15)
Scaligero also uses Steiner’s term “science of the spirit” here, and designates racism as a “science” which can transcend both psychology and biology.
In the lead article for La Difesa della Razza in August 1942, Scaligero says that the “essential objective of racist doctrine” must include not only “eugenic and sanitary regulations” but also the promotion of “racist consciousness” so that “people do not merely welcome the results of the racist campaign passively, but become conscious collaborators in this campaign.” Genuine racism combines “cosmic” and “biological” elements, and a “totalitarian racist praxis” must integrate the somatic and the spiritual. Citing Nazi race theorists as a model, he endorses racial “selection” in far-reaching terms, a selection which conjoins “the purification of the hereditary protoplasm” with purification of the spirit. “To acquire consciousness of the blood is to live true spirituality and sense the primordial grandeur of one’s own race.” For Scaligero, “authentic spirituality” meant uniting the spiritual and the bodily components of race. “One cannot truly understand what racism is without achieving consciousness of the blood.”
(Massimo Scaligero, “Coscienza del sangue” La Difesa della Razza August 20, 1942, 4-6)
This is not an exhaustive survey of Scaligero's articles for La Difesa della Razza. In addition to the texts examined here, Scaligero's contributions to 'The Defense of the Race' included
Massimo Scaligero, “I caratteri dominanti della nostra razza” La Difesa della Razza, April 5, 1941, 9-11;
Scaligero, “La razza italiana: La nascita della lingua” La Difesa della Razza, August 20, 1941, 14-15;
Scaligero, “Dalla razza di Roma alla razza italiana” La Difesa della Razza, September 20, 1941, 13-15;
Scaligero, “La razza italiana dall’Impero Carolingio al feudalesimo” La Difesa della Razza, December 5, 1941, 13-15;
Scaligero, “La razza e l’esperienza del dolore” La Difesa della Razza, December
20, 1941, 21-23;
Scaligero, “Uomini bianchi, anime negre” La Difesa della Razza, February 5, 1942, 52-55; Scaligero, “Nuclei della nostra razza nell’era feudale” La Difesa della Razza, February 20, 1942, 26-29;
Scaligero, “Continuità storica della razza italiana” La Difesa della Razza, April 20, 1942, 15-16.