While France and England gave materialistic, anti-traditional expressions to the concept of “the people” that was taking shape since the French Revolution, German Idealism was a return to a spiritual, metaphysical direction. The German Revolution moved in a volkish direction, where the volk was seen as the basis of the state, and the notion of a volk-soul that guided the formation and development of nations became a predominant theme that came into conflict with the French bourgeois liberal-democratic ideals derived from Jacobinism. Fichte had laid the foundations of a German nationalism in 1807-1808 with his Addresses to the German Nation. Although like possibly all revolutionaries or radicals of the time, beginning under the impress of the French Revolution, by the time he had delivered his addresses to the German nation, he had already rejected Jacobinism. Johann Heder had previously sought to establish the concept of the volk-soul, and of each nation being guided by a spirit. This was a metaphysical conception of race, or more accurately volk, that preceded the biological arguments of the Frenchman Count Arthur de Gobineau. Herder stated that the volk is the only class, and includes both King and peasant, and that “the people” are not the same as the rabble that are championed by Jacobinism and later Marxism.
French and English racism was introduced to Germany by the Englishman Houston Stewart Chamberlain who had a seminal influence on Hitlerism. English Darwinism, a manifestation of the materialistic Zeitgeist that dominated England, was brought to Germany by Ernst Haeckel; although Blumenbach had already begun to classify race according to cranial measurements during the 18th century. Nonetheless, biological racism reflects the English Zeitgeist of materialism. It provided primary materialistic doctrines to dethrone Tradition. Its application to economics also provided a scientific justification for the “class struggle” of both the capitalistic and socialistic varieties. Hitlerism was an attempt to synthesis the English eugenics of Galton and the evolution of Darwin with the metaphysis of German Idealism. Italian Traditionalist Julius Evola attempted to counter the later influence of Hitlerian racism on Italian Fascism by developing a “metaphysical racism,” and the concept of the “race of the spirit,” which has its parallels in Spengler, whose approach to race is in the Traditionalist mode of the German Idealists.
Because the Right, the custodian of Tradition within the epoch of decay, has been infected by the spirit of materialism, there is often a focus on secondary symptoms of culture disease, such as in particular immigration, rather than primary symptoms such as usury and plutocracy. “Race” becomes a matter of skull measuring, rather than spirit, élan and character. Hence the character of a civilisation and of a people is discerned via the types of bone and skull found amidst the ruins. History then becomes a matter of counting and measuring and statistics. How feeble such attempts remain is demonstrated by the years of controversy surrounding the racial identity of Kennewick Man in North America, having first thought to have been a Caucasian, and now concluded to have been of Ainu/Polynesian descent. The Traditionalist does not discount “race”. Rather it plays a central role. How “race” is defined is another matter.