Chapter 5


Crystallization of Values


                                                                   Ah, a man’s reach should exceed his grasp
or what’s a heaven for?

Robert Browning


So far we have discussed beliefs, myths and ideologies, among other dimensions of values. Now we will look at these same phenomena under a new light and from a different angle, with more emphasis on the value system characteristics. To be significant in the social context, values cannot be a haphazard collection of affectional behaviors, but a coherent system with hierarchy and order. Only then can they be identified, dealt with or opposed by other values and other value systems.


We frequently refer to value systems by different terms, such as beliefs, myths or ideologies, which are often used interchangeably.[1]  I do not propose a strict separation of these terms. All three and many others, such as religion, faith, superstition, mana, taboo, conviction or confession, lend themselves only with difficulty to rigid definitions, not only because of their indiscriminate application, but also because of their opinionated usage. One man’s religious belief or ideological conviction is another’s myth. Those who believe in the religious experience of man label ideologies “secular religions” or, depending on their interpretation of the particular ideologies, “pseudo religions of totalitarianism.”[2]  The term “myth” has more generally covered a wide spectrum from beliefs to ideologies, not only as a consequence of opinionated usage of the term across semantic borders, but also because the more pragmatic and empirical tendencies require that affirmations beyond scientific inquiry be treated as myths. For our political analysis, however, scrutiny of the different processes by which a society crystallizes values can prepare the grounds for later inquiries into the mechanism of government and conversion of power into authority. For example, we will be able to see the relationship between natural law and the divine right of kings, between the German Pflichterfullung and Hitler’s Fuhrer system of government, or between the dictatorship of the proletariat and Communist Party leadership and hegemony. Of course, even a gross delineation of beliefs, myths and ideologies will not be free from value judgments-scientific or otherwise. But while our examples are undoubtedly subject to our prejudices, our study can reveal different mechanisms which make values socially operative.


I. Beliefs


We are using “belief” to cover, grosso modo, religious experience, superstition, taboo, confession and supernatural faith: the infinite, the ultimate, the absolute, the beyond. It includes, then, mythological divinities in the supernatural sense which are not to be confused with the concept of myth to be discussed later. Sometimes the term “belief” has been coupled with “opinion.”[3]  The distinction we make here is that beliefs are the basis of opinions.


We have already mentioned the religious beliefs by which values are made socially operative. For example, man’s need for transcendental premises in both primeval and more complex societies is developed into anthropomorphic and metaphysical beliefs that help to validate social rules and structures. The totem pole, the mythological divinities and the almighty power of a religion crystallize values into social “oughtness.” These transcendental premises refer to a concept of the holy which is admittedly related to the unknown. It is in that sense—the Augustinian sense of believing prior to understanding—that we use “belief.”


Men do not always use their capacities to connect cause and effect, to store knowledge, or to memorize experience rationally within the limits of the known. Their inferences about phenomena carry them beyond their knowledge and their possibilities for factual research. There are effects whose causes escape human understanding. But men want to know the unknown—in order to appease their fear and curiosity. So when a number of inferences from observable facts point them beyond their reach, they may surmise an area of concordance and convergence beyond the sphere of their knowledge or understanding. The “beyond” eventually turns into an assumed fact, itself the fruit of an inductive process. Once fixed as an assumption, it becomes the source of deductions. For example, primeval men will relate, through their observations and experiences, crops to water, water to rain, rain to wind; and then, not knowing about the source of natural phenomena, they may attribute conscious behavior—a spirit—to the wind, conceiving it according to their own image—anthropomorphically. On that basis they may also connect certain coincidental actions or circumstances to the changes in the moods and humor of the spirit. Then, when the wind does not blow the rain-pregnant clouds, they will appeal to its spirit. They will try to appease the “beyond” according to their understanding of its likes and dislikes as manifested in the coincidence of events. For example, if visiting certain places or performing certain acts coincides with the wind’s bringing rain, they will, in the belief that they are pleasing the spirit, visit the places and perform the acts ritually every time they need rain. They may also have to appease or “buy” the deity through offerings. The deity created according to man’s image will have a value scale similar to man’s.[4]  As the deity becomes more important, men will sacrifice to him their more valuable possessions—calf, lamb, son or even themselves. The more this process of god-building is contemplative, the more abstract and metaphysical will the deity become. Men will dedicate and sacrifice to him their souls.


This affectional and nonrational process is, as discussed earlier, one of man’s basic drives. It is a dimension within men which needs fulfillment beyond observable facts, a proposition which may set the limits of the dimension at infinity or, as Hume would say:


Let men be once fully persuaded of these two principles that there is nothing in any object, considered in itself, which can afford us a reason for drawing a conclusion beyond it; and, that even after the observation of the frequent or constant conjunction of objects, we have no reason to draw any inference concerning any object beyond those of which we have had experience: I say, let men be once fully convinced of these two principles, and this will throw them so loose from all common systems, that they will make no difficulty of receiving any which may appear most extraordinary.[5]


Belief is an article of faith. Beyond being nonrational, it should be what James identified as living, forced (I would rather say forceful) and momentous.[6]  It should sit deep and vibrate the sensitive cords of man-therefore be living; it should be forced or forceful in that it offers only a one-way gain—to believe in its truth as the answer to the unknown; and finally it should be momentous in its ultimate and yet immanent impacts and impressions. Of course, different degrees of these conditions will be involved in different beliefs and within different believers. The example James gives us, that an appeal to a Christian to believe in Mahdi will leave him cold because it is a dead hypothesis within the Christian context, shows the relativity of religious beliefs.[7]  To embrace a belief does not necessarily imply unconscious surrender. A belief may serve as a conscious projection beyond the confines of understanding—what may be called conscious religiousness. Pascal, whose precocious scientific genius amazed the scientists of his time, became an ascetic mystic. His words of early existentialism, which I would like to quote at some length, best indicate this kind of religious experience:


Let man, then, contemplate entire nature in her height and full majesty; let him remove his view from the low objects which surround him; let him regard that shining luminary placed as an eternal lamp to give light to the universe; let him consider the earth as a point, in comparison with the vast circuit described by that star [sun]; let him learn with wonder that this vast circuit itself is but a very minute point when compared with that embraced by the stars which roll in the firmament. But if our view stops there, let the imagination pass beyond: it will sooner be wearied with conceiving than nature with supplying food for contemplation. All this visible world is but an imperceptible point in the ample bosom of nature. No idea approaches it. In vain we extend our conceptions beyond imaginable spaces: we bring forth but atoms, in comparison with the reality of things. It is an infinite sphere, of which the centre is everywhere, the circumference nowhere. In fine, it is the greatest discernible character of the omnipotence of God, that our imagination loses itself in this thought.


Let man, having returned to himself, consider what he is compared to what is; let him regard himself as a wanderer into this remote province of nature; and let him, from this narrow prison wherein he finds himself dwelling (I mean the universe), learn to estimate the earth, kingdoms, cities, and himself, at a proper value.


What is man in the midst of the infinite? But to show him another prodigy equally astonishing, let him seek in what he knows things the most minute; let a mite exhibit to him in the exceeding smallness of its body, parts incomparably smaller, limbs with joints, veins in these limbs, blood in these veins, humors in this blood, globules in these humors, gases in these globules; let him, still dividing these last objects, exhaust his powers of conception, and let the ultimate object at which he can arrive now be the subject of our discourse; he will think, perhaps, that this is the minutest atom of nature. I will show him therein a new abyss. I will picture to him not only the visible universe, but the conceivable immensity of nature, in the compass of this abbreviation of an atom. Let him view therein an infinity of worlds, each of which has its firmament, its planets, its earth, in the same proportion as the visible world; and on this earth animals, and in fine mites, in which he will find again what the first have given; and still finding in the others the same thing, without end, and without repose, let him lose himself in these wonders, as astonishing in their littleness as the others in their magnitude; for who will not marvel that our body, which just before was not perceptible in the universe, itself imperceptible in the bosom of the all, is now a colossus, a world, or rather an act, in comparison with the nothingness at which it is impossible to arrive?


Whoever shall thus consider himself, will be frightened at himself and observing himself suspended in the mass of matter allotted to him by nature, between these two abysses of infinity and nothingness, will tremble at the sight of these wonders; and I believe that, his curiosity being changed into admiration, he will be more disposed to contemplate them in silence, than to investigate them with presumption.


For, in fine, what is man in the midst of nature? A nothing in comparison with the infinite, an all in comparison with nothingness: a mean between nothing and all. Infinitely far from comprehending the extremes, the end of things and their principle are for him inevitably concealed in an impenetrable secret; equally incapable of seeing the nothingness whence he is derived, and the infinity in which he is swallowed up.


What can he do, then, but perceive some appearance in the midst of things, in eternal despair of knowing either their principle or their end? All things have sprung from nothingness, and are carried onward to the infinite. Who shall follow this astonishing procession of things? The Author of these wonders comprehends them; no other can.[8]


The premises of religious and supernatural beliefs can be based, then, on man’s cognitive awe of nature.


It is not, however, the sage’s or the mystic’s religious experience, which is personal and untransferable, that makes values socially operative. Rather, whatever is understood of the sage’s experience is molded and reinterpreted within the framework of a belief, and elaborated into a value system which supports the social structure and safeguards the various spheres of interest. The mystiques of Buddha and Jesus were adapted to social needs by their immediate apostles, and the Buddhist and Christian societies evolved with little relevance to the original experiences of their saints.[9]  Pascal also elaborated his “Religious Wager” to provide the flock of common men grounds to be faithful to the church. This “Religious Wager” amounts to an exhortation to play on the winning side in the gamble of belief and disbelief. (For you have nothing to lose if you believe. Therefore believe,)[10]  The wager is obviously a social tool which may not always be interpreted by the religious establishment in the light of Pascal’s earlier sublime preoccupations.


Beliefs, religious and superstitious, are then social dimensions of man’s inner drives to search and fear the unknown. Addressed mainly to the affectional and nonrational dimensions of man’s behavioral pattern, the supernatural appeal helps crystallize values to regulate the social functional structures. The following passages quoted by Berelson and Steiner make the point better than a long discourse on my part.[11]  I reproduce them in a sequence that emphasizes an evolution from primeval to complex societies:


An agricultural people inhabiting a cool and arid region needs, above all things, warmth and rain for the growth of its crops. It is understandable, consequently, that the Hopi should worship a Sky God who brings rain, an Earth Goddess who nourishes the seed, and a Sun God who matures the crops, as well as a special Corn Mother and a God of Growth or Germination.[12]


In ancient Egypt, the very early period, there were numerous deities, many of which were local gods, or patrons of little kingdoms. As the political unification of Egypt progressed, a few of the greater gods emerged as national deities. As the nation became more and more integrated under the rule of a powerful single head, there was a tendency for one god to become supreme. [Thus] the ascendance of Re, the sun-god.[13]


A specifically bourgeois economic ethic had grown up. With the consciousness of standing in the fullness of God’s grace and being visibly blessed by Him, the bourgeois businessman, as long as he remained within the bounds of formal correctness, as long as his moral conduct was spotless and the use to which he put his wealth was not objectionable, could follow his pecuniary interests as he would and feel that he was fulfilling a duty in doing so. The power of religious asceticism provided him in addition with sober, conscientious, and unusually industrious workmen, who clung to their work as to -a life purpose willed by God.[14]


We find in religious philosophy a reflection of the real world; the theology of a people will echo a dominant note in their terrestrial mode of life. A pastoral culture may find its image in a Good Shepherd and his flock; an era of cathedral building sees God as a Great Architect; an age of commerce finds Him with a ledger, jotting down moral debits and credits; emphasis upon the profit system and the high-pressure salesmanship that is required to make it function, picture Jesus as a super-salesman; and, in an age of science, God “is a god of law and order.”[15]


In a later chapter we shall examine the process by which beliefs and social and political structures transact and draw on each other.


II. Myths


It is not necessary to instill values into anthropomorphic or metaphysical beliefs. Besides, in the modern world of technology and scientism, it is difficult to do so. Mythology does not always need Krishna or Zeus because the basic premises for value-crystallization are not always godheads, but the vibrations of man’s nonrational and affectional cords. In order to become a myth, an explanation of phenomena has to go beyond the rational and the logical and provide an interpretation appealing to the nonrational dimension.


As we said earlier, the term “myth” has a general usage covering whatever relates to the nonrational. This broad application, overflowing other terms relating to value systems, somehow obscures the treatment and definition of myth in its own right. Although not exactly synonymous, myth and belief have the contiguous zone of mythological divinities. On the other hand, a myth does not emanate from the systematic rationalizations which are usually the origins of ideologies. Yet two modern political value-crystallization processes, Fascism and National Socialism, are nearly always classified as ideologies despite having the main characteristics of what we can, in the narrow sense, identify as myth.[16]


A myth is based on the folklore of a people. Folklore as the reflection of a way of life, customs and traditions can, under specific circumstances, provide for consolidation of group identity and, by receiving emphasis, be turned into a myth. As Pareto extensively elaborated, a myth is the deformation of historical and philosophical f acts.[17]  It is not, however, a deformation which remains factual. It has the attracting and orienting power and field we attributed to values in the last chapter. In the words of Erik Erikson:


A myth, old or modern, is not a lie. It is useless to try to show that it has no basis in fact; nor to claim that its fiction is fake and nonsense. A myth blends historical fact and significant fiction in such a way that it ‘rings true’ to an area or an era, causing pious wonderment and burning ambition.[18]


The myth-builders share some of the fervor of the preachers and some of the certainties of the ideologues. As Cassirer argues, “In mythical imagination there is always implied an act of belief. Without the belief in the reality of its object, myth would lose its grounds”; and further, “it seems to be possible and even indispensable to compare mythical with scientific thought.”[19]  Those who take part in the elaboration of myths cannot, however, be totally unaware of the distortion of facts in which they are involved.


Some indeed have deliberately used “myth” to define their particular style of value-system building. Sorel, for example, elaborated a myth of action for syndical socialists. This myth was to be based on a partisan and simplified presentation of historical facts and a utopian image of the future in order to move the masses. As a myth, this future image need not be achieved, but it should generate the force of conviction in its followers by magnifying and canalizing their feelings, tendencies and enthusiasm.[20] The significance of Sorel’s concept was its emphasis on action, which is, in the last analysis, the decisive factor for the existence and efficacy of a myth. Deformation of philosophical and historical facts does not necessarily bring about a myth unless the deformed facts ride on action. Without this dynamism, in so far as they are deformations of facts, myths either fall apart and are discredited or recede into folklore and mythology. To quote Cassirer again, “Myth is not a system of dogmatic creeds. It consists much more in actions than in mere images or representations.”[21] Although Sorel himself was more of a classical anarchist, his myth of action later served the myth-building purposes of Italian Fascism.




Although Fascism may, as statecraft, qualify as an ideology because of its rationale on the pre-eminence of the state, it has a stronger mythical dimension. Mussolini stated that he had no specific doctrine but that of action.[22]  In the particular conjuncture in which the Fascist movement found itself after World War I, Mussolini’s will to power could not be satisfied with and did not need an ideology or a belief. Italy was already full of them. Another ideology or a new religion?--it would have been just another shade in the spectrum of choices. Besides, the fact that a respected philosopher like Croce could find Fascism harmless because it was devoid of a doctrine was a great asset for Mussolini, helping him to attract allies of various beliefs and ideologies and making few enemies at the outset. All the political factions and parties contending for power were counting on using the Fascists for their different ends, assuming that the Fascists’ lack of a solid political platform would make them both useful and easily disposable. So Mussolini was building something else: a myth—a myth of action. But a myth based on action, to spur a movement, should not only provide a plan for the action it preaches, but also find means for action. Mussolini was not unaware of this. He made action pivotal, but it was to be complemented by factual deformations, according to the circumstances. In August 1921, in a letter to Michele Bianchi, he wrote:


If Fascism does not wish to die or, worse still, commit suicide, it must now provide itself with a doctrine. Yet this shall not and must not be a robe of Nessus clinging to us for all eternity, for tomorrow is something mysterious and unforeseen ....I do wish that during the two months which are still to elapse before our National Assembly meets, the philosophy of Fascism could be created ....


The new course taken by Fascist activity will in no way diminish the fighting spirit typical of Fascism ....Fascism takes for its own the twofold device of Mazzini: “Thought and Action.”[23]


Mussolini, while recognizing the need for a doctrine, immediately made clear that he did not want one which would cling to him for eternity. As was reflected throughout his political career, he preferred to supply his myth of action with doctrines which corresponded to situations as they arose. Philosophy itself, with which he wanted to arm Fascism, was needed only when issues did not lend themselves to action. The year after his letter to Bianchi, in the train which was taking him to Rome to become prime minister, he exclaimed, “Action has dug a grave for philosophy.”[24]  On October 24, 1922, he stated: “Our myth is the nation, our myth is the greatness of the nation.”[25]  That was seven days before he was summoned by the king to form a cabinet. Two years later, as head of the government, he declared: “We wish to unify the nation within the sovereign State, which is above everyone and can afford to be against everyone, since it represents the moral continuity of the nation in history. Without the State there is no nation.”[26]  He was no lover of the state in his days of journalism, but now he was the state. So in his speech at the Scala in Milan he coined the formula, “Everything in the State, nothing against the State, nothing outside the State.”


Through Sorel’s myth of action, Pareto’s concept of the elite, Renan’s definition of a nation, in which he recognized pre-Fascist institutions, and a particular interpretation of Hegel’s idea of the state, which Giovanni Gentile, the Italian Hegelian philosopher, provided for him, Mussolini injected the Fascist myth with vital force.[27]  Each of the original ideas was altered to fit the myth-building mold. Standing between beliefs and ideologies, the myth drew from both and rejected both. For example, on religion, he said: “All creators of the spirit—starting with those religious—are coming to the fore, and nobody dares keep up the attitude of anticlericalism which, for several decades, was a favorite with Democracy in the Western world. By saying that God is returning, we mean that spiritual values are returning.”[28]


But he also said:


Revealed truths we have torn to shreds, dogmas we have spat upon, we have rejected all theories of paradise, we have baffled charlatans—white, red, black charlatans who placed miraculous drugs on the market to give ‘happiness’ to mankind. We do not believe in programmes, in plans, in saints or apostles, above all use believe not in happiness, in salvation, in the promised land.[29]


And then again:


The Fascist State is not indifferent to religious phenomena in general nor does it maintain an attitude of indifference to Roman Catholicism, the special, positive religion of Italians. The State has not got a theology but it has a moral code. The Fascist State sees in religion one of the deepest of spiritual manifestations and for this reason it not only respects religion but defends and protects it.[30]


Authors who have covered the Fascist period in Italy have demonstrated, sometimes abundantly, the discrepancies between Mussolini’s statements and his versatile policies in many domains.[31]  There existed, however, a constant in the evolution of Fascism in Italy: Mussolini’s myth of action and violence-the latter as a need for the former. This myth of action had its source in a number of factors. There was, of course, Mussolini’s will to power, into which Pareto’s concept of elites and Sorel’s myth of action and violence, with some transformations, fitted well. But there were also the historical, social and environmental conditions of Italy. Over half a century before Mussolini’s march on Rome, Cavour had said, “We have made Italy, now we have to make Italians.” The operation was still in process. The immediate past history of Italy contained the memories of risorgimento and the imposing, sometimes dictatorial images of Mazzini and Garibaldi.[32]  Mussolini set himself to finish the operation that Cavour had started by taking inspiration from some of the methods used by Mazzini and Garibaldi. For him, to make Italians progress in unison, the country had to be on the move. The direction did not matter. It would be dictated by the circumstances. Action would bring clashes and violence, which Mussolini indeed welcomed. He had said in 1920:


Struggle is at the origin of all things, for life is full of contrasts; there is love and hatred, white and black, day and night, good and evil; and until these contrasts achieve balance, struggle fatefully remains at the root of human nature. However, it is good for it to be so. Today we can indulge in wars, economic battles, conflicts of ideas, but if a day came to pass when struggle ceased to exist, that day would be tinged with melancholy; it would be a day of ruin, the day of ending.[33]


And in his “Dottrina del fascismo” in 1932, he reaffirmed that “war alone keys up all human energies to their maximum tension and sets a seal of nobility on those peoples who have the courage to face it.”


Action and violence through Mussolini’s will to power within a totalitarian state was the road to building Italy as an empire and Italians into a nation. This was a myth of power rather than an ideal. To complete Pareto’s definition of the myth as the deformation and distortion of philosophical and historical facts, besides toying with philosophic ideas in support of the myth, Fascism proceeded to reinterpret Roman and world history and to revive imperial folklore and rituals. Rocco, the nationalist theoretician who became minister of justice in 1925, called for a full-fledged reassessment of history and a reinterpretation of philosophic and political thoughts of eminent Italians in order to align them to the Fascist doctrine and to show the genius of the Latin mind.[34]  Under the direction of De Vecchi a program to control and revise historical textbooks was undertaken to bring the facts of history into line with the Fascist myths. A Fascist academy was created to purify the language of foreign influence and to preserve the national character and the genius of Italian tradition and culture. Rites and ceremonies of the old Roman Empire were imitated. A vast archeological program to dig out the vestiges of the Roman Empire was started—notably in the Forum Romanum—sometimes at the expense of medieval historical monuments. So Il Duce could exclaim, “We have created the United State of Italy-remember that since the Empire Italy had not been a united State!”[35] and, on the fall of Addis Ababa in 1936 call upon the Italians to “greet after an absence of fifteen centuries the appearance of the Empire over the fateful hills of Rome.”[36]


National Socialism


But compared to the myth that grew in Germany, Mussolini’s distortions of philosophical and historical facts were rather mild. For Hitler had a more potent myth in a more potent environment. In discussing Hitler’s National Socialism we should make the distinction between the distortions of facts in which Hitler “believed” and the distortions he “made believe.” His racial prejudices and nationalistic feelings, were surely deep-rooted. He remained true to his hatred for the Jews to the catastrophic end. To some extent because of Marx’s Jewish ancestry, Hitler’s early negative trade union experiences and the Jewish background of many Social Democrat and Communist leaders, his hate for Social Democrats and Communists coincided with his anti-Semitism.[37]  He also connected the Jews to the international finance and speculative stock exchange operation as another source of German misery. The indiscriminate mixture of Jews, Marxists, Social Democrats and international finance was a hodgepodge which he labeled “the international Marxist Jewish stock exchange parties.”[38]  This, however, was a conscious lump-summing of the target for myth-building purposes:


...It belongs to the genius of a great leader to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right.


Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right.[39]


But part of Hitler’s distortions was in his misconception of historical and economic facts. Relating the impact he received from Gottfried Feder’s lectures on economy, which he had attended in 1919,[40] he says:


I began to study again, and now for the first time really achieved an understanding of the content of the Jew Karl Marx’s life effort. Only now did his Kapital become really intelligible to me, and also the struggle of the Social Democracy against the national economy, which aims only to prepare the ground for the domination of truly international finance and stock exchange capital.[41]


He saw as victims to these plagues the Aryan people of Germany, who deserved a better lot because:


All the human culture, all the results of art, science and technology that we see before us today, are almost exclusively the creative product of the Aryan. This very fact admits of the not unfounded inference that he alone was the founder of all higher humanity, therefore representing the prototype of all that we understand by the word ‘man’.[42]


This concept of man obviously denies a great many historical facts, yet it did work towards molding the awesome Third Reich. Its focal point was Volkstum—that is, “peopleness,” if one may say so. Volkstum was more than a simple concept of the folk or a structured concept of a nation-state. It was the convergence of race, language, culture, nation and state, thus going beyond nationhood, providing for the extreme of militant nationalism. Its precept was the purification of the Aryan race, returning it to its original qualities as the Teutonic, heroic super-race of the world—a goal which all ideas, doctrines and knowledge were to serve.[43]  Hitler knew, however, that the raw material—the people—he was to work with was not the finished product he dreamed about. From experience, he had learned about the shortcomings of the people. In observing the tactics of Social Democrats and trade unions in pre-World War I Vienna, he had noticed that:


The psyche of the great masses is not receptive to anything that is halfhearted and weak.


Like the woman, whose psychic state is determined less by grounds of abstract reason than by an indefinable emotional longing for a force which will complement her nature, and who, consequently, would rather bow to a strong man than dominate a weakling, likewise the masses love a commander more than a petitioner and feel inwardly more satisfied by a doctrine, tolerating no other beside itself, than by the granting of liberalistic freedom with which, as a rule, they can do little, and are prone to feel that they have been abandoned. They are equally unaware of their shameless spiritual terrorization and the hideous abuse of their human freedom, for they absolutely fail to suspect the inner insanity of the whole doctrine. All they see is the ruthless force and brutality of its calculated manifestations, to which they always submit in the end.[44]


Analyzing the Allied World War I propaganda, he had concluded that:


The receptivity of the great masses is very limited, their intelligence is small, but their power of forgetting is enormous. In consequence of these facts, all effective propaganda must be limited to a very few points and must harp on these in slogans until the last member of the public understands what you want him to understand by your slogan.[45]


To this he added that the task of propaganda was “not to make an objective study of the truth.”[46]  Pondering the Kaiser’s leniency towards Social Democracy in 1914, he had also noted that the treacherous opponents of a regime should be ruthlessly exterminated.[47]  Although there are conditions to be met in the use of brutal force:


Only in the steady and constant application of force lies the very first prerequisite for success. This persistence, however, can always and only arise from a definite spiritual conviction. Any violence which does not spring from a firm, spiritual base, will be wavering and uncertain. It lacks the stability which can only rest in a fanatical outlook.[48]


Armed with this knowledge he had drawn up a 25-point program as early as 1919, which was approved by the mass meeting of the National Socialist German Workers Party in February 1920. It reflected in essence Hitler’s myths, convictions and prejudices—his Weltanschauung. It demanded the union of all German people in a Great Germany. It emphasized one’s recognition as German through .German blood and denied German nationality to the Jews. It declared war on the parliamentary system. It also contained Hitler’s ideas to cultivate and train the German people’s physical and spiritual gifts through social and educational programs carried out by the state. The program’s economic aspects reflected Feder’s influence on Hitler and the latter’s lack of knowledge and interest in that domain. In a powerful slogan it suggested the breaking of interest slavery, the collection of all war profits, and nationalization of trusts. This measure, however, was directed against the speculative stock exchange capital and not against privately owned industries. Hitler was in favor of private capital but wanted to purify it from speculation and hence “nationalize” it, i.e., leave it in the hands of German nationals.[49]  Economics for him was a means to an end. His social programs were not socialist in the economic sense, but were means to attract mass support before the Nazi seizure of power and to mobilize the country for war after he took hold of the government. It was therefore quite within Hitler’s rationale later to draw closer to the industrialists who ended up supporting his movement and had started their program for rearmament long before the Fuhrer came to power.[50]  The National Socialist program was not a functional plan for social reconstruction. It had as its goal the purification and enthronement of the Germanic people as the master race. In keeping with Hitler’s observation of the small intelligence and short memory of the masses, the myth was to be inculcated into the people by persistent and simple propaganda, creating the fanaticism which was needed for the brutal extermination of all obstacles on the road to the final goal. While the myth was being nurtured, the achievement of its goals had to wait for more appropriate circumstances, which did not fail to arise with the great depression of 1929 and the consequent economic crises. In the chaos which engulfed Germany the National Socialist party, with its uniformed SA (Sturmabteilung: storm troop) marching to martial music under floating banners and its fine-tuned propaganda claiming the ability to provide bread and honor, became a tantalizing solution. In the September 14, 1930, elections to the Reichstag, the number of National Socialist seats jumped from 12 to 107.[51]


It was unfortunate that Hitler was so right about so many traits of Parliamentarians, the bourgeoisie and the masses. After the arm-twisting of 1932 for wrestling power from Hindenburg, and the appointment of Hitler as Chancellor in January, 1933, the National Socialists organized new elections in a mixture of police state and revolutionary atmosphere of myth and brutality, securing control of the government. By a masterful staging of the “day of Potsdam” on March 21, 1933, commemorating the first Reichstag under Bismarck, Hitler played on the German myth to appease the conservatives and the bourgeoisie, thus preparing favorable grounds for obtaining the “Enabling Act” two days later, which gave Hitler the carte blanche to bring about the Third Reich.[52]  Hitler and National Socialism were much more totalitarian and ruthless than Italian Fascism. In Germany there were no dissenters like Gaetano Salvemini or Benedetto Croce who, years after Mussolini took power, could still raise their voices in Italy. Hitler eliminated not only his active opponents, but even those who had withdrawn from the political arena.


In some sectors slowly, in others more rapidly, but everywhere surely, all the machinery of the state was geared to the service of the Aryan myth. Among other things, immediately in March 1933, Hitler created a new Ministry for Popular Enlightenment and Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels which, within a few months, controlled all mass media. Nazification was equally drastic and quick in revamping the educational system from kindergarten to universities. The latter lost their autonomy to the Ministry of Education and introduced courses on race science and National Socialist philosophy. Parallel to educational establishments were the “Hitler Youth” and the National Socialist Students Federation, which indoctrinated the new generation into Nazi thought and used them in turn to indoctrinate and check on their families.


As for the racial purification program, the first steps were taken as early as April 1933, when Reich Minister Goebbels declared that German Jewry will be annihilated.[53]  A law of April 7, 1933, provided for the pensioning off of civil servants of non-Aryan descent. Another law, passed on July 14, 1933, concerned the revocation of naturalization and the annulment of German nationality. Still another law for the protection of German blood and German honor provided sanction against sexual intercourse between persons of mixed blood. These and similar laws aiming at the purification of the Aryan race were at times rigorously applied and at other times relaxed for economic or political reasons. But by 1939 their overall application had made the situation of the Jews in Germany worse than what they had suffered in the middle ages when they were at least allowed to participate in economic and intellectual activities. As Nolte rightly points out, at that stage the extermination of the Jews was a matter of course.


The Protestant churches, misinterpreting Article 24 of Hitler’s 25-point program, were also off guard too long. Although that article did say that the National Socialist party “promoted the freedom of all religious confessions within the State,” it added, “in so far as they do not endanger the existence of the State or offend the ethical and moral feelings of the German race.” It was then in line with the ethical and moral feelings of the German race to declare that Jesus Christ was Nordic and that the New Testament had been falsified by “rabbi St. Paul.” However, the German Christian Faith Movement which was supported by the Nazis and proclaimed these theses did not succeed in taking hold of the Protestant churches altogether, and finally Hitler had to isolate the Protestant churches and combat them from the outside. The Catholics had the political instrument of the Center Party which had come into existence to fight Bismarck’s Kulturkampf in the nineteenth century and resisted Hitler until his accession to power.[54]  But after Hitler became head of government, the Catholic Center Party was dissolved. The Catholic faith and the activities of its church in Germany were protected by a Concordat signed in 1933 between the National Socialist government and the Vatican. There again, Hitler’s intentions were misinterpreted. For him, an international agreement was worthy only in so far as it helped him towards the final goal of his myth of Aryan supremacy. In 1933, he created a Reich Church Ministry to supervise the activities of the churches. In 1934, Hitler appointed his Nazi philosopher Alfred Rosenberg as his plenipotentiary to bring about the total spiritual and philosophical education of National Socialism. From then on the part y and the Nazi government officially promoted the Germanic pagan traditions.[55]  Hitler, however, had no intention of replacing the Christian faith with pagan rites in the supernatural sense. While he could not help believing in some supernatural providence as the promoter of his destiny, he believed that, in the age of science, knowledge of the awesome universe would give man a sense of religion without need for churches, priests or even a religious character for his own movement.[56]  It is, however, also true that it takes time to make a religion out of a myth—provided it has the right ingredients. In order to make a myth socially functional one has to keep the masses intoxicated by the myth and moving to it. Otherwise, its distortions of historical and philosophical facts fall apart. The whole of the Nazi programs and propaganda served that end. As Fest puts it, it was irrelevant whether Nazism had a strong ideology or not; within its grandiose orchestrations, fanfare and impressive monumental displays it provided “collective warmth: crowds, heated faces, shouts of approval, marches, arms raised in salute.”[57]  Leni Riefenstahl’s film, Triumph of the Will covering the Nazis’ Sixth Party Congress in Nuremberg in 1934, remains a testimonial document.[58]  What was appalling in all this, what made it a fantastic case of crystallization of values through myth, was the magnitude of its process, of how, under favorable social, economic, and political circumstances, lingering ethnocentric German values and prejudices distilled within one man could grow into a thunderous catastrophe.


Hitler discovered himself an orator and an actor, but as time went by and success followed success, he became more and more convinced of his providential mission and the righteousness of his myth.[59]  This conviction eventually narrowed his vision of realities and made him believe in the infallibility of his fate. As Bullock puts it:


..the baffling problem about this strange figure is to determine the degree to which he was swept along by a genuine belief in his own inspiration and the degree to which he deliberately exploited the irrational side of human nature, both in himself and others, with a shrewd calculation. For it is salutary to recall, before accepting the Hitler Myth at anything like its face value, that it was Hitler who invented the myth, assiduously cultivating and manipulating it for his own ends. So long as he did this he was brilliantly successful; it was when he began to believe in his own magic, and accept the myth of himself as true, that his flair faltered.[60]


For twelve years Hitler made Germany the reality of German mythology from Rheingold to Gotterdammerung. He played Siegfried and Wotan at the same time, but he finally turned out Brecht’s Arturo Ui.[61]


Hitler and Mussolini acutely demonstrated the fertilizing properties of myths for state and nation. In more or less attenuated doses, myths have always been basic ingredients for states and nations. The concept of the greatness of the empire was much older than Mussolini, and Hitler did not invent the myth of Aryan superiority. Writers like Arthur de Gobineau had developed such theories long before to explain the miracles of European expansion and civilization.[62]  Indeed, ethnocentric myths conducive to nationalist feelings are widespread even among peoples whose political culture may not show such tendencies. “La culture civilisatrice francaise” is a historical reality for the French and was used to justify a policy of grandeur. “The white man’s burden,” “Rule, Britannia, rule,” “Manifest destiny” and “the American dream” are all myth-building premises.[63]  Nor is the phenomenon exclusive to the Western world. The Chinese developed the concept of the “Middle Kingdom” long before Western ethnocentrism.


III. Ideology


Besides using man’s fear and search of the unknown to form religious and superstitious beliefs or intoxicating him by energized and deformed facts turned into myths, values may be crystallized through man’s capacity to think and to rationalize. The Cartesian rationale, logical positivism, objective relativism and dialectical materialism can equally generate a sense of values.[64] Of course, the more beliefs are anchored in the beyond, the more absolute they will tend to be: the anthropomorphic and metaphysical structures of belief are so constructed as to lie outside the confines of reason. Values based on rational logic should hold together within the thinking process. In the latter case the conditioning of the thinking process becomes more directly the modus operandi of the value system. The early Mohammedan soldiers who fanatically charged the materially superior Roman and Persian armies believed that dying for their faith would bring them to heaven. The militant revolutionaries who die under the torture of Gestapo-like police forces also believe—not in heaven, but in the righteousness of their cause and its final triumph. The cause which, without promising heaven, may claim the ultimate sacrifice is based on a rationally concluded and structured system of values.


In 1795, Destutt de Tracy coined a term which later evolved to cover this kind of a value constellation. He used his term—“ideology”—to refer to a systematic and rationally concluded body of ideas organized on the basis of scientific application of knowledge and experience—hence the “science of ideas.”[65]  Marx used “ideology” to refer to the complex of legal, political, religious, aesthetic and philosophic dimensions, which reflected the social conditions, upheld a given social class structure—notably the bourgeoisie-and conditioned men’s thinking process or, in his words, their consciousness.[66] The semantics of the term, however, have evolved since Marx to include his own philosophy. Lenin wrote: “Marx was the genius who continued and completed the three main ideological currents of the nineteenth century, belonging to the three most advanced countries of mankind: classical German philosophy, classical English political economy, and French Socialism together with French revolutionary doctrines in general.”[67]  And according to Althusser: “ the present state of Marxist theory strictly conceived, it is not conceivable that communism, a new mode of production implying determinate forces of production and relations of production, could do without a social organization of production, and corresponding ideological forms.”[68]


Today the term generally covers both the systematic and the systemic dimensions, and depending on who is using it where and when, can have different emphasis.[69]  In its systemic connotation, referring to the factors that condition a society into its particular shape, ideology can be used to encompass the whole of value-crystallizing processes. When Althusser says that “Human societies secrete ideology as the very element and atmosphere indispensable to their historical respiration and life,”[70] he is covering the entire value-crystallizing spectrum. And Santiago Carrillo makes the point by identifying the church as an ideological machinery of the capitalist state in Spain.[71]  While the term is closely related to Marxist philosophy, its systemic use is widespread. McClosky discerns a tendency among contemporary writers to regard ideologies as systems of belief “that are elaborate, integrated, and coherent, that justify the exercise of power, explain and judge historical events, identify political right and wrong, set forth the interconnections (causal and moral) between politics and other spheres of activity, and furnish guides for action.”[72]


Referring to the systemic nature of ideology Marx says:


In the social production which men carry on they enter into definite relations that are indispensable and independent of their will; these relations of production correspond to a definite stage of development of their material forces of production. The sum total of these relations of production constitutes the economic structure of society—the real foundation, on which rises a legal and political superstructure and to which correspond definite forms of social consciousness. The mode of production in material life determines the social, political, and intellectual life process in general. It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but, on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness.[73]


According to Marx, ideology’s power to condition consciousness is at its peak when it corresponds to the relations of production among the different classes of society. Relations of production are themselves conditioned by the combination of economic, technical and scientific bases—the means and forces-of production. When these change, there will be need for change in relations of production among the social classes, and this change will sooner or later weaken the prevailing ideology and make way for a new one.


When effective, ideology gives texture to the prevailing system and justifies its values—its sense of good and bad and its moral and social codes. It provides for the society a sense of identity which upholds it, warding off alien incursions dangerous to its existence. Thus, for example, capitalism, which may have been a functional economic process of production and distribution pragmatically based on the mechanisms of competitive enterprise and the laws of supply and demand, becomes a value-laden system—an ideology—in opposition to another value-laden economic concept such as communism.[74]


Capitalism and communism have become not merely economic methods for production and distribution of man’s material needs but value systems providing pattern and direction for his psychological and sociological drives. Affectionally upheld, they are no longer functionally analyzable. The capitalist or the communist cannot coldly scrutinize his ideology and, concluding that it is not workable, discard it. If he did, he would lose his identity. The proposition applies not only to those of each group who have privileges and reap the fruits of their ideology, such as the industrial tycoon in the West or the party official in the East. The average man in the capitalist regime would not welcome a system that denied him the hope that he may one day become rich under competitive free enterprise, which he has come to conceive as the ideal of freedom; and the average Soviet citizen is apprehensive about a system which does not provide a planned economy wherein he is fitted. An ideology works when it is embraced by the masses and prevails as the value-crystallizing channel for the society.


So far, our discussion of ideology has not sharply distinguished it from other value-crystallization processes. We need to examine more closely the relationship between the systemic and the systematic characteristics of ideology to identify its proper domain and its areas of overlap with beliefs and myths. At the systematic level, we said, ideology draws its arguments from rational and scientific premises. That requires, of course, consciousness of all the aspects of the subject under consideration, including their contradictions; objectivity and abstention from dogmatism in theory; rigor and presentation of conclusions by verifiable facts in practice. To gain insight as to how scientific consciousness leads to conditioned consciousness, we can start by looking into the components of the systematic dimension of ideology.


To arrive at his statement quoted earlier about the conditioned consciousness of the masses, Marx had to make a conscious effort to observe social phenomena. This fact that he could surmount his own conditioned consciousness in itself contradicted his statement and permitted him to discover the inherent contradictions within the social structure. In other words, his scientific method was dialectical. Dialectics was not new. Ever since Zeno, it had connoted a method of study, recognizing the interrelatedness of phenomena, their flux and their inherent contradictions.[75]  More recently, Hegel—in his method, but not in his conclusions—had followed this pattern to which he had added, in his treatment of measure, the relationship of quantity and quality.[76]  But Hegelian dialectics had strong metaphysical flavor. Hegel elaborated historical dialectics as a theory of logic to demonstrate rationally the relationship between reality and values. He postulated that this relationship could be grasped through an understanding of the relationship between the ideas of phenomena and the phenomena themselves and their evolution. This would ultimately demonstrate, through the reasoning process, the relationship of reason to Absolute Reason.


While using the Hegelian dialectical method for historical analysis, Marx and Engels replaced his idealism, which to them was the mystification of the real, with materialism. In that sense the Marxian dialectic method was the inversion of the Hegelian.[77] It was not by logically analyzing the idea of things that one could understand reality and its relation to value, Marx said, but by examining the reality itself.[78] Reality is material, i.e., made of matter. Consequently, materialism maintains that matter is primary and thought and idea are secondary.[79]  That is, thought is a product of the brain, which is made of matter:[80]  “Mind itself is merely the highest product of matter.”[81]  Since nature’s process is dialectical and not metaphysical,[82] and since mind is the highest material product, “dialectical materialism ‘no longer needs any philosophy standing above the other sciences,”’[83] for “there are no things in the world which are unknowable, but only things which are still not known, but which will be disclosed and made known by the efforts of science and practice.”[84]


Science and practice, however, cannot be uttered in the same breath without qualifications, especially in relation to social and political phenomena. Scientific inquiry—search for and grasp of abstract knowledge, theorizing-often calls for a different kind of temperament than does practical endeavor. Some feel more comfortable having a conditioned consciousness with established goals and values rather than having a conscious mind groping with dialectics of contradictions. This is a social reality which some consider changeable; i.e., they believe it is possible to make every member of society enjoy dialectical consciousness. Without getting involved in biological, ethological or psychological debate on this issue, we may reasonably assume that to achieve that goal scientific knowledge should be applied in practice. That is where, in general socio-political terms, difficulties arise, because scientific knowledge is not always socially operational.


We can, of course, start at the stage where scientific knowledge and conscious minds are the attributes of a certain segment of the society whose vested interest is to keep things as they are. That is, the masses have imbibed the ideology at its systemic level while the privileged class may be conscious of its contradictions at the systematic level but keeps mystifying the masses. The taxi driver lauds the capitalist system because he is his own boss, yet tie works twelve hours a day six days a week to pay the bank, the insurance company and taxes which go for government contracts and appeasement of the downtrodden through handouts. However, as we said earlier, classes are not tightly confined compartments. When changes in the relationship of production become more and more flagrant, in the course of repeated practice, as Mao Tse-Tung puts it, a change takes place in the brain in the process of cognition, and concepts are formed.[85]  Within the masses a consciousness of contradictions can begin to grow. This consciousness, however, may not be “scientific” in analyzing the overall contradictions but systemic in that it may lead to the knowledge of manipulating the rules within the system. Lenin was concerned about this:


We have said that there could not yet be Social-Democratic consciousness among the workers. It could only be brought to them from without. The history of all countries shows that the working class, exclusively by its own effort, is able to develop only trade union consciousness, i.e., the conviction that. it is necessary to combine in unions, fight the employers and strive to compel the government to pass necessary labor legislation ....


Social-Democracy leads the struggle of the working class not only for better terms for the sale of labour power, but also for the abolition of the social system which compels the propertyless to sell themselves to the rich. Social-Democracy represents the working class not in the latter’s relation to only a given group o f employers, but in its relation to all classes of modern society, to the state as an organized political force ....


Working-class consciousness cannot be genuinely political consciousness unless the workers are trained to respond to all cases, without exception, of tyranny, oppression, violence and abuse, no matter what class is affected. Moreover, to respond from a Social-Democratic, and not from any other point of view.[86]


Scientific theory can thus supersede what in narrow practice may seem an appropriate course of action. But at this stage too, looking closer, we find the conscious mind of the Communist (Social-Democratic) Party leading the conditioned consciousness of the proletariat. In terms of dialectics, of course, this amounts to party control in the systemic sense of ideology. Evidence to this effect are developments in the Soviet Union and other socialist states on which we are now getting first-hand critical analysis.[87]  The process corresponds to the general concepts relating to group dynamics and the need for a value system discussed earlier. Sartre points out: “As an institution, a party has an institutionalized mode of thought—meaning something which deviates from reality—and comes essentially to reflect no more than its own organization, in effect ideological thought.”[88] Thus, as the party gains control, rational knowledge is conditioned by the ultimate goals and practices of the party and of the state controlled by it. In the name of the systematics of ideology a party may modify its guiding principles and reject dogmatism which could encumber it and threaten its continuity (such as the Marxian proposition that the state will wither away). And in order to perpetuate the systemics of ideology keeping it in control, it may reject scientific empiricism which, if practiced widely among the masses, would void the value connotations of its theories and leave no ladder by which the party could claim ascendance over individual consciousness. In his analysis of Soviet Marxism, Marcuse elaborates on the magical and ritualized character of the official language in the Soviet Union and the rigidly canonized statements by the Soviets on their society “which are obviously false—both by Marxian and non-Marxian criteria,” but which in the context of Soviet political practice are aimed at historical processes, which will bring about the desired facts.[89]  This is ideology in the systemic sense, fading into myth-building. When a scientific theory such as Marxism is fixed as a goal—as it is in the Soviet Union—and when in its name dialectical contradictions to state practice are suppressed, the dialectical flexibility of the complex for synthesis is reduced, opening the door to deviations from the original theory. The systematic is turned into systemics of ideology—rational thinking into rationalization. Ideology, having thus become the instrument to perpetuate a given social structure and social stratum (the party), will, in the purest Marxian dialectics, nurture within its womb a new current, represented in the Soviet Union by a line of dissidents such as Pasternak, Daniel, Sinyavsky, Solzhenitsyn, Amalrik, Sakharov, or Shcharansky, whose consciousness of contradictions underscores the conditioning of consciousness of the masses.


IV. The Belief-Myth-Ideology Spectrum


At the beginning of this chapter we set out to unravel some of the particularities of the major social processes of value-crystallization. This we did despite the fact—as we pointed out—that often one of the terms is broadly applied for the whole spectrum of value systems. We hope that while showing the particular characteristics of beliefs, myths and ideologies, we have also provided enough clues to demonstrate why the terms are interchanged. In discussing each process, we distinguished it from the others mainly at its essential origin, or original essence. We saw that the supernatural, religious and metaphysical premises of a belief are generally based on mystic experience, but also that at its pure stage, the mystic experience is personal and not transferable. Bodhidharma said,


Enlightenment is naught to be obtained,

And he that gains it does not say he knows.


A mystic experience, to be made socially operational in support of a value system, must be adapted and transformed. You will notice how great are the chances that an experience which is not transferable in the first place can be distorted as it is adapted and transformed. The more the mystic origin of a belief is voluntarily distorted for social action and organization, the more it falls into the realm of myths which, as we saw, were brought about by conscious and systematic distortion of historical and philosophical facts.


Similarly, purely scientific conclusions based on rational and dialectic observations and research, as we saw, are not in essence supposed to have any value charge. In the words of Mannheim:


The term ‘ideology’ in the sociology of knowledge has no moral or denunciatory intent. It points rather to a research interest which leads to the raising of the question when and where social structures come to express themselves in the structure of assertions, and in what sense the former concretely determine the latter.[90]


Adam Smith did not establish sanctity for private enterprise, rent, interest and commercial profit. Indeed, he pointed out that “in this [original] state of things, the whole produce of labor belongs to the laborer,” but that the incentive which private ownership of capital and commercial gain provides for the accumulation of wealth, needed for economic development, justifies capitalism and free enterprise.[91]  Nor do the historical fact of class antagonisms combined with the rationale of “from each according to his capacity, to each according to his work,” lead to the conclusion that each should or will give according to his capacity and receive according to his need. Here again, to bridge the gap, some ideological acrobatics are needed. To serve the value-crystallization purposes of a particular social order, an ideology has to indulge in half-conscious and unwitting disguises or-conscious lies[92]--a process which will move ideology toward myth.


We thus have a spectrum with at one extreme the detached and socially non-operative mystic experience of the sage or saint—the pure “value”—and at the other the “value-free” empirical and scientific rationale. As their adaptation for purposes of social organization is undertaken—on one side through religious beliefs, on the other through ideologies—the two are modified, transformed and distorted to provide value systems for social order. The more religions and ideologies transform and distort their original mystic and rational premises respectively, the more they approach the middle of the spectrum, where lie the myths with the greatest distortion of historical and philosophical facts.



Fig. 5.01


Our spectrum further reveals—or rather reiterates—the two interacting social and individual dimensions of the value-crystallization process and the relative doses of each under different conditions. Nearer to the individual mystic or rational dimensions, where the beliefs and ideological premises of individual group members are more likely to emanate from inner convictions, social action for value-crystallization may be less apparent for creating predictable and uniform behavior among group members. Not that social action has not already conditioned and continues to reinforce the members to believe or rationalize as they do, but that the process and its effects are latent enough to make values sink into each individual’s complex of action. Where the individual group members, rather than believing or rationalizing, should be intoxicated to follow a myth as the basis for the value system, social action needs to be dramatized and engrossed to the saturation point.


All these circumstances refer, of course, to situations where, whether through the individual convictions of group members or social action in a monolithic context, a potent value system gives the group a particular social texture. But what happens to social cohesion if a monolithic value pattern cannot be maintained, because the heterogeneity of a society provides alternatives, resistance and contradictions to the value-crystallization process? Our question leads us into the thick of the socio-political complex because, while beliefs, myths and ideologies are the sources of social and political organization, they do not often constitute, in any pure state, the blueprint for that organization. And if that may be so, in order not to take our assumptions as facts, we will need to look more closely at the realities of value systems within the social context.


This is one of those occasions where the writer wishes he could, like the painter, simultaneously impress upon his audience all of the intertwining filaments stretching out of what has been developed so far. At this point in our inquiry, to answer the question we have posed, we are faced all at once with such problems as: How are the interaction and transformation of individual and social dimensions in the value-crystallization process made possible? (which leads us to a very basic inquiry into the communications process and its ingredients—signs, symbols and rituals). How are the inter­action of individual and social dimensions in the context of value systems made socially functional? (which leads us to social norms). By what agencies are values and social norms formed in the social context? And how do those agencies and the members of the society fit together within the social pattern? Alas, we cannot study all of these questions at once. But while discussing each, let us keep the others in mind.


[1] MacIver, in his treatment of myth, includes the whole spectrum, from God (p. 40) to ideology (p. 54): Robert H. Maclver, The Web of Government (New York: Macmillan, 1947). So does Raymond Aron in his The Opium of the Intellectuals (New York: Norton, 1962). Parsons uses the term "ideology" to cover general systems of beliefs: Talcott Parsons, The Social System (Glencoe, I11.: Free Press, 1951), p. 349. For a treatment segregating the terms see Carl J. Friedrich, Man and His Government (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1963), notably Chs. 4, 5 and 6.

[2] See Friedrich, Man and His Government, p. 106. In order to place Friedrich's terminology within the context of his philosophy, see also his treatment of early Confucian philosophy as a religion (p. 108) and his statement about the existence of a divine being (p. 117).

[3] See, for example, David Hume's treatment of beliefs and opinions in his Treatise of Human Nature, notably Bk. I, Part III, Sec. 7; and Berelson and Steiner, Human Behavior, Ch. 14.

[4] William J. Goode, "Contemporary Thinking About Primitive Religion," Sociologus, 5:122-131 (1955), notably p. 127.

[5] David Hume, Treatise of Human Nature, Bk. I, Part III, Sec. 12

[6] William James, "The Will to Believe," New World, June 1896. See also his The Varieties of Religious Experience (New York: Longmans, Green, 1902).

[7] Mahdi is the name of the twelfth Imam of the Shiite sect in Islam who is hidden and expected to arise. It was also the title claimed by the Sudanese Moslem religious leader, Mohammed Ahmed, 1844-1885.

[8] Blaise Pascal (1623-1662), Thoughts, "Disproportion of Man."

[9] See notably John Hicks, ed., The Myth of God Incarnate (London: Westminster, 1977).

[10] Pascal, Thoughts, "Infinite--Nothing."

[11] See Berelson and Steiner, Human Behavior, p. 391.

[12] George P. Murdock, Our Primitive Contemporaries (New York: Macmillan, 1934), p. 348.

[13] Leslie A. White, "Ikhnaton: The Great Man vs. The Culture Process," Journal of the American Oriental Society, 68:101 (1948).

[14] Max Weber, The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (New York: Scribner's, 1930), pp. 176-177.

[15] White, "Ikhnaton," p. 101.

[16] In order to justify my rather distinctive treatment of myth as an identifiable domain for the crystallization of values, I propose to go into some detail in the discussion of two myth-building processes of modern times, namely Fascism and Nazism. The extensive discussions which follow are, then, essentially case studies intended to elucidate the role of myth in value-formation. All case studies, of course, while providing particular instances, are also abstractable to a general hypothesis: here, that politicians can and do use myth to establish values and a sense of group identity to buttress their leadership, to build power structures, and often to play large-scale games of power politics.

[17] Vilfredo Pareto, The Mind and Society: A Treatise on General Sociology (New York: Dover, 1935). See especially paras. 575 and 643-797, pp. 345 and 398-480.

[18] Erik Erikson, Childhood and Society, 2nd ed. (New York: Norton, 1963), pp. 327-328.

[19] Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1944), p. 75.

[20] George Sorel, Reflections on Violence (Glencoe, I11.: Free Press, 1950; originally published Ernst Cassirer, An Essay on Man: An Introduction to a Philosophy of Human Culture (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press, 1944), p. French in 1907), pp. 142-147.

[21] Cassirer, An Essay on Man, p. 79.

[22] Benito Mussolini's "La dottrina del fascismo" originally appeared in Enciclopedia Italiana di scienze, lettre, ed arti, Vol. XIV (1932). It was published in English in Rome by Ardita in 1935, and as "The Political and Social Doctrine of Fascism" in International Conciliation, No. 306 (January 1935).

[23] Letter to Michele Bianchi, August 27, 1921, in Benito Mussolini, Fascism: Doctrine and Institutions (New York: Howard Fertig, 1968), pp. 33-34.

[24] Quoted by A. Rossi in The Rise of Italian Fascism (London: Methuen, 1938), p. 355.

[25] Speech at the Fascist Congress in Naples in Discorsi della Revoluzione, (Milan: Alpes, 1928), p. 103.

[26] Speech before the National Council of the Fascist Party, August 8, 1924, quoted in Mussolini, Fascism, p. 42.

[27] Mussolini received the impact of Pareto's teachings during his stay in Lausanne in his youth. See Benito Mussolini, My Autobiography (New York: Scribner's, 1928), p. 14. He received the influence of Sorel notably when he reviewed Sorel's Reflections on Violence for Popolo d'Italia in 191,9. See also Ernst Renan, Quest-ce qu'une nation? (1882). Mussolini refers to Renan in his "La dottrina del fascismo."

[28] "Da che parte va il mondo," in Tempi della Rivoluzione Fascista (Milan: Alpes, 1930), p. 34.

[29] Diuturna (Milan: Alpes, 1930), p. 223.

[30] Mussolini, "La dottrina del fascismo," Fascism, p. 30.

[31] See notably Rossi, The Rise of Italian Fascism; William Ebenstein, Fascist Italy (New York: American Book Co., 1939); Dennis Mack Smith, Italy: A Modern History (Ann Arbor: Univ. of Michigan Press, 1959); Herman Finer, Mussolini's Italy (London: Gollancz, 1935); S. William Halperin, ed., Mussolini and Italian Fascism (Princeton: Van Nostrand, 1964); Federico Chabod, A History of Italian Fascism (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1963).

[32] Risorgimento—literally “rebirth” or “resurrection”—refers to the nineteenth-century political reunification into a national state of the mosaic of states in the Italian peninsula. It involved, on both the national and international scenes, adventurous, heroic and picturesque episodes which were enhanced by Italian political leaders such as Count Camillio Benso di Cavour, journalist, founder of the newspaper Il Risorgimento (1847), diplomat and prime minister (1852-1861); Giuseppe Garibaldi, the temperamental freedom fighter and patriot; and Giuseppe Mazzini, the republican revolutionary who fought for his cause both within Italy and from abroad.

[33] Speech at the Politeama Rossetti, Trieste, September 20, 1920, in Mussolini, Fascism, pp. 35-36.

[34] Alfredo Rocco, The Political Doctrine of Fascism, International Conciliation, No. 223 (1926).

[35] Speech before the Chamber of Deputies, May 26, 1926, in Mussolini, Fascism, p. 40.

[36] Quoted in Roland Sarti, ed., The Ax. Within: Italian Fascism in Action (New York: New Viewpoints, 1974), p. 164.

[37] Hitler, Mein Kampf (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1943; originally published in German in 1925), pp. 37-65. For an early analysis of Mein Kampf, see Kenneth Burke, "The Rhetoric of Hitler's 'Battle,"' in his The Philosophy of Literary Form: Studies in Symbolic Action, rev. ed. (New York: Knopf, 1957).

[38] Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 357.

[39] Ibid., p. 118.

[40] Gottfried Feder was lecturing in a course organized for the armed forces. He became a member of the National Socialist party and in 1924 was elected to the Reichstag on that party’s ticket. Up to 1932 he was in charge of the party’s economic organization and policies, which were directed toward socialization of the economy. In 1932, Hitler abandoned many of the party’s socialist policies in order to appease the industrialists.

[41] Ibid., p. 215.

[42] Ibid., p. 290. Alfred Rosenberg, the Nazi philosopher, elaborated extensively on this theme of superiority of the Aryan race in his Der Mythus des 20 Jahrhundert (Munich: Hoheneichen, 1930).

[43] Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 214.

[44] Ibid., pp. 42-43. The insane doctrine he is referring to is, of course,

the communism of the Social Democrats..

[45] Ibid., pp. 180-181.

[46] Ibid., p. 182.

[47] Ibid., p. 169.

[48] Ibid., p . 171.

[49] Ibid., pp. 209-213, 233-236 and 443.

[50] William Manchester, in his The Arms of Krupp relates Krupp’s secret preparations for rearmament as early as 1920. He also records Goering’s invitation to top German industrialists in February, 1933, to finance the last elections to bring the National Socialists into full power, where Krupp made a contribution of one million marks and the other industrialists another two million.  William Manchester, The Arms of Krupp (Boston: Little, Brown, 1968), pp. 383 ff. and 346-347.

[51] See Hajo Holborn, A History of Modern Germany, 1840-1945 (New York: Knopf, 1969), notably pp. 811-814, where the causes for Hitler's rise are discussed.

[52] The “Enabling Act” was passed by the newly elected Reichstag, overwhelmingly dominated by the Nazis. It literally took away from the Reichstag and the president their legislative roles and gave the cabinet, headed by Hitler, the power to make laws even beyond and against the existing Weimar constitution.

[53] Reported by Ernst Nolte in his Three Faces of Fascism (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1965), p. 376. Nolte provides an elaborate examination of the Nazi program to exterminate the Jews.

[54] In 1871 the Catholic political factions, which ever since the mid-nineteenth century had distinguished themselves as a particular political dimension in German politics, organized as the Center Party to defend the Catholic interests in the struggles which came to be known as Kulturkampf, between the Prussian government and the Catholic church. The Prussians, headed by Bismarck, were seeking hegemony over all political and social organizations within the newly born German empire; and the Catholic church was upholding the “dogma of papal infallibility” proclaimed by the Vatican Council in 1870, which asserted the pope’s infallibility when speaking ex cathedra and his supremacy over secular states and political domains in matters of faith and morals.

[55] See Holborn, History of Modern Germany, pp. 735 and 739-744.

[56] See Alan Bullock, Hitler, A Study in Tyranny, rev. ed. (New York: Harper and Row, 1962), chapter on "The Dictator."

[57] Joachim C. Fest, Hitler (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1974).

[58] On Hitler's grandiose designs, see also Albert Speer, Inside the Third Reich: Memoirs (New York: Macmillan, 1970).

[59] To his audience in Wurtzburg in 1937, he said: “I go the way that providence dictates with the assurance of a sleepwalker.” Yet in 1925, he had himself photographed by his photographer Heinrich Hoffmann while his recorded speeches were played, and mimed different postures in order to study them and see which one was the most appropriate and effective for public speaking.  Der Spiegel, 8 August 1966, p. 47.

[60] Bullock, Hitler, p. 375.

[61] In Bertolt Brecht’s play, “The Ascension of Arturo Ui,” which depicts the adventures of a gangster, the story of Hitler transpires.

[62] Comte Joseph Arthur de Gobineau, Essai sur l'Inégalité des Races Humaines, 4 vols. (Paris, 1853-1855).

[63] On this latter myth, see William J. Wolf, The Religion of Abraham Lincoln, rev. ed. (New York: Seabury, 1963).

[64] See, for example, Rene Descartes' Méditations, notably the second meditation; Ralph Barton Perry's General Theory of Value; and Gustave Bergman's "Ideology" in The Metaphysics of Logical Positivism, 2nd ed. (Madison: Univ. of Wisconsin Press, 1967).

[65] Antoine Destutt de Tracy, Les Elemens d'Idéologie, 5 vols. (Paris, 18011815). For a concise historical treatment of this topic, see George Lichtheim, "The Concept of Ideology," History and Theory, 4:164-195 (1965).

[66] See Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto; also Marx, A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy, notably the preface.

[67] V. I. Lenin, The Teachings of Karl Marx (New York: International Publishers, 1964; originally published in 1914), p. 13.

[68] Louis Althusser, For Marx (New York: Vintage, 1970), p. 232.

[69] On the two dimensions of ideology see, for example, M. Seliger, Ideology and Politics (New York: Free Press, 1976), notably Ch. III.

[70] Althusser, p. 232.

[71] Santiago Carrillo, "Eurocomunismo" y Estado (Barcelona: Editorial Critica, 1977), pp. 35-42.

[72] Herbert McClosky, "Consensus and Ideology in American Politics," APSR, 58:362 (1964). See also Robert McCloskey, "The American Ideology," in Marian Irish, ed., Continuing Crisis in American Politics (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1963), pp. 10-25; Samuel Huntington, "Conservatism as an Ideology," APSR, 51:454-471 (1952); Edward Shils, "Ideology and Civility: On the Politics of the Intellectual," Sewanee Review, 66:450-480 (1958); and Daniel Bell, The End of Ideology, rev. ed. (New York: Free Press, 1962), pp. 393-407.

[73] Karl Marx, Preface to A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy (1859).

[74] For further thoughts on capitalism, see Thurman Arnold, The Folklore of Capitalism (New Haven: Yale Univ. Press (1937); John R. Commons, Legal Foundations of Capitalism (New York: Macmillan, 1924); Oliver C. Cox, Capitalism as a System (New York: Monthly Review, 1964); John Kenneth Galbraith, American Capitalism (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1956); Robert Lane, Political Ideology: Why the Common Man Believes What He Does (New York: Free Press, 1962); Raymond Aron, The Industrial Society: Three Essays on ideology and Development (New York: Praeger, 1967); and James P. Young, The Politics of Affluence: Ideology in the United States Since World War II, (San Francisco: Chandler, 1968).

[75] Some attribute the elaboration of dialectical methods to Heraclitus of Ephesus. Heraclitus, however, only developed the concept of motion and change, apparently influenced by the Mazdean doctrine of duality and contradiction of Ahurmazda and Ahriman. This philosophy was opposed by that of Parmenides, who conceived of the undifferentiated, unchanging whole, the one. It was left to Zeno to develop the dialectical method of logic in order to relate the philosophies of Heraclitus and Parmenides through their examination as thesis and antithesis. Later Plato made this into an elaborate method of logic.

[76] Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Science of Logic (New York: Macmillan, 1929; first published in German, 1812-1816), I, 345 ff.

[77] See Marx, Capital, Vol. I, Preface to the Second Edition.

[78] See notably Friedrich Engels, Herren Eugen Dührings Umwalzung der Wissensehaft (known as "Anti-Dühring," 1878), English translation by E. Burns as Herr Eugen Duhring's Revolution in Science (New York, 1939); also Engels' Ludwig Feuerbach and der Ausgang der Deutschen Philosophie (1888), translated into English as Ludwig Feuerbach and the End of Classical German Philosophy (New York: International Publishers, 1935).

[79] Marx, Capital; and Lenin, Materialism and Empirio-Criticism (New York: International Publishers, 1927, 1970; originally published in 1908).

[80] Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, p. 16.

[81] Engels, Ludwig Feuerbach, p. 25.

[82] Friedrich Engels, Socialism: Utopian and Scientific (New York: International Publishers, 1935), p. 48.

[83] V. I. Lenin, The Teachings of Karl Marx (New York: International Publishers, 1964; originally published in 1913), p. 17.

[84] Stalin, Dialectical and Historical Materialism, p. 17.

[85] Mao Tse-Tung, Four Essays on Philosophy (Peking: Foreign Languages Press, 1968). See notably "On Practice" and "On Contradiction."

[86] Lenin used the term “Social-Democracy” because the book was written in 1902, before the 1903 Bolshevik-Menshevik split, the October Revolution and the installation of the Soviet Communist Party.  V. I. Lenin, What Is to Be Done? Burning Questions of Our Movement (Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1950), pp. 51, 94, 114.

[87] For a critical analysis of statism in the Communist countries, see Svetozar Stojanovic, Between Ideals and Reality: A Critique of Socialism and Its Future (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1973); and Rudolf Bahro, Die Alternative: Zur Kritik des real existierenden Sozialismus (Cologne: Europäische Verlagsanstalt, 1977).

[88] Jean-Paul Sartre, Between Existentialism and Marxism (New York: William Morrow, 1974), p. 121.

[89] Herbert Marcuse, Soviet Marxism: A Critical Analysis (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1958), pp. 87-89.

[90] Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia: An Introduction to the Sociology of Knowledge (New York: Harcourt, 1936), p. 266.

[91] Adam Smith, Wealth of Nations (1776), Bk. I, Ch. vi.

[92] Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, pp. 55-56.