David Myatt - Concerning T he Folk, Race, and Empathy

Some Questions Concerning The Folk, Race, and Empathy

According to several of your writings - for instance, the recent Empathy and The Immoral Abstraction of Race - you regard both race and folk as abstractions. Does this means you are against existing cultures and folk communities, and see the foundation of new folk communities as unethical? Race is most certainly, according to The Numinous Way, an unethical abstraction - as are folk communities if (and I stress if) a certain ethnic exclusively is made the raison d'être for maintaining and/or founding such communities. There is thus some distinction here, between race and between a living folk which is part of a living tradition, which certainly requires further clarification, since such a living folk is itself not an unethical static abstraction, but rather a type of living, changing, being. In respect of the concept race, this one ideation is, by its very large and abstractive nature, tied to either, or to both, of the concepts of The State and the modern Nation - that is, such a State or such a Nation is regarded or comes to be regarded, due to its size and nature, as the necessary condition for the survival, and betterment, of a particular race or of what is regarded as a category within a particular race, what is sometimes regarded as a sub-species. Such a proposed ethnic nation-State most often - in theory as in practice - becomes centralized and so does away with, or strives to do away with, regional, local, authority, placing an idealized, supra-personal, duty and
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loyalty to the nation-State (and to some idealized National people) before regional and personal duty and loyalty. Similarly, the resources of regions are harnessed to National goals, with some centralized authority given authority to control such regions and make and implement plans based on some abstract goal or goals. This is, for example, what NS Germany saught to do, with race defined according to certain criteria, with some traits (of character, personality, or of genetics) regarded as desirable, and others as undesirable, with planning, programmes and policies, and laws, designed and implemented and enforced (if necessary by force) to nurture or produce the desirable, and remove or exclude the undesirable. In addition, personal sacrifice and suffering - by the people of the nation-State and often of great magnitude - are to be expected and even endured, in the service of that nation-State, and in order for some future goals, such as the survival of the race and/or of the Nation that is said to be or which could be representative of that race, that people. Similarly, suffering inflicted on others - not of one's people - is also to be expected, and regarded as sometimes necessary, for such goals to be achieved in some future. Similarly, war - the employment of large armed forces, equipped with technological, impersonal weapons - is regarded as sometimes necessary, if not of itself desirable. Now, given the personal nature of empathy, the desire to cease to cause suffering arising from such empathy, and the personal nature of honour itself, as defined by The Numinous Way, it should be clear as to how and why such a nation-State is incompatible with The Numinous Way. For instance, for The Numinous Way, loyalty and duty can only be to individuals that one personally knows and respects, and not to some abstract, remote authority or some abstract entity such as a Nation, ethnic or otherwise. Also, no abstraction - strived for or believed in - justifies inflicting suffering on others, with the ethics of empathy allowing only for personal, familial, self-defence (including the use of lethal force) in personal situations - that is, for inflicting suffering (and retribution) upon another human being only according to the guidelines of personal honour. According to honour, impersonal war - of large armies using impersonal destructive weapons and the killing of people who, personally, have done nothing dishonourable to one's own person or to one's extended family - is dishonourable, as are laws, enforced by the use of force and imprisonment, which are or which may be applied to others based on some abstract criteria (such as perceived ethnicity or life-style) and not upon what those others have actually dishonourably done. That is, for numinous law - based on the axiom of personal honour and applicable only to small communities - there are only
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honourable and dishonourable deeds, with only actual dishonourable personal deeds done, against another person or persons, regarded as being contrary to such numinous law [1].

In respect of the folk, its essence lies in a personal knowing, due to its smallness and localized nature, and due to the relation one has to the people of that folk, either ancestrally or developed by and through marriage and longevity of shared work. That is, the criteria for a folk is locality of dwelling and of work, and a community that one is part of by virtue of being related to members of that community or having worked and lived within that community for an extended period of time and thus become related to the community most often by ties of marriage but occasionally by ties of personal loyalty and duty. Thus, a folk is a living, naturally changing, entity, born out of shared personal experiences and shared personal relationships, and nurtured by such relationships, by a belonging to a particular area, and by the sharing of new personal experiences. Thus evolves a particular attitude, ethos - a very localized weltanschauung - and also, over long periods of causal time, two interesting things; first, a certain balance, a mutual respect often deriving from a mutual need and familial relations and personal knowing, and often involving the necessary communal use of local resources; and, second, a feeling of belonging to and pride in one's community, and thus a mostly friendly rivalry and sometimes competition with other nearby communities, but a rivalry and competition that tends, over causal time, not to beyond the due bounds (and thus become destructive of such communities), if there is maintained within such community a sense and knowing of the numinous itself, developed as this sense and knowing is by the accumulated patheimathos (the wisdom) of the ancestors of those of the community, and which wisdom often in the past gave rise to local customs and to beliefs concerning Nature (the land, the living beings of Nature), how the individual relates to Nature, and what occurs beyond death. If this local and localized wisdom - founded from the accumulated personal and practical experience of one's ancestors - is lost, or if there is an intrusion into such a community of abstractions (often, in the past in the form of some dogmatic religion) or the emergence of a Tyrannos, then the folk becomes undermined and more often than not wanes and dies, because the natural balance is not restored. This upsetting of the natural balance by, for example, a Tyrannos or some dishonourable personal deed or deeds, is the subject of the works of Aeschylus and Sophocles - and also a theme in both The Iliad and The Odyssey.
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Oedipus is the classic example of a Tyrannos - who upsets the natural balance and brings misfortune (upon himself and others - upon his folk, his polis) by his killing of his father and his insatiable desire, against advice, to uncover his own identity and that of the killer. Creon - in Antigone - is another such example, who scorns the ancient wisdom by his decree forbidding the burial of Polynices. Agamemnon is another example of someone upsetting the natural balance and bringing misfortune: by his sacrifice of his daughter Iphigenia, by his rape of Cassandra, and by his insult (to his wife, Clytaemnestra) of bringing Cassandra into his home. The unwise deeds of these individuals their hubris, their insolence against the natural balance of Life - leads to tragedy. But the greatest tragedy to befall a folk is and has been the importation of abstractions - from some dogmatic religion, born in some foreign land, to the horrid abstraction of "progress" [2] to the ideation of The Nation and The State [3]. The criteria for a folk is thus not one of consciously striving to be of some abstract ethnicity, or of such ethnicity of itself being desirable and regarded as a necessary qualification to join such a folk community.

But in order to try and further elucidate this, and the folk itself, I shall digress into the personal. As an individual, I feel myself to be English. Or rather, and more accurately, I still feel myself to be English despite all my peregrinations and my pathei-mathos. This feeling means two things for me. First, that I had and have an affinity with rural England, both innate, and due to personal experience: an affinity to how and to where I have worked in the past. Second, I can trace my English ancestry back to at least Elizabethan times, with many of those ancestors of mine toiling on the land, for their families, and with some having fought for or worked hard on behalf of England, and the Empire, in times of peace and of war - my father, for instance, was in the armed forces during the Second World War, as were other relatives, while my mother endured The Blitz. Thus, and if I may be excused the clichés, my roots are in the land of England, despite a childhood abroad during the time of a still existing if then fading Empire - a land, a place, where I feel at home, a place whose rural landscape I love, from the small fields of rural South Shropshire, Herefordshire, Devon, Somerset, Kent (and elsewhere) to the Dales of Yorkshire, to the Fells of Cumbria, to the vistas and waters of old Fenland [4], to the North Norfolk coast. In these places - especially among small villages, hamlets, farms - I have
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my being, as I seem to share something with the people in such places, as if they are distant almost forgotten relatives of mine. And it is not only that we speak the same language, but also seem to share something wordless: a way of living, of viewing the world, an instinct about life, about work, about values and goals. This sharing is of the real culture, the world, of my ancestors: the world so beautifully recalled in the writings of Flora Thompson and Thomas Hardy and Laurie Lee (and also to some extent by Mary Webb and others), and recounted by William Cobbett - but a world, a culture, a way of life, that sadly is being lost, and has all but vanished in many parts of England, replaced by large cities and large towns, unnecessary industries, and rapid un-numinous means of communication. Indeed, in many ways such rapid communications, and the convenience of rapid and easy travel, are products of hubris un-numinous by their very nature - and thus antithetical to the folk. For every Tyrannos, every supra-personal Empire, every Caesar, every dogmatic and organized religion, and now every State, always makes such rapid communications, and such ease of travel a priority (if only at first to convey their armed forces, their tax-collectors or, in the case of religion, their missionaries) and it is by such means that destructive abstractions are spread, to the detriment of folk communities everywhere, so that some kind of material prosperity, or progress and the scrabble toward it, comes to regarded as more important and more desirable than a life wisely lived in balance.

My feeling of being English thus means that I have an affinity for such small, rural, English folk communities as existed, for generation after generation, for my ancestors, and which still - if only just - survive in parts of England. An affinity with my ancestral past. But what does this affinity that I feel imply, in a practical way? It implies that I have a desire to live and work and end my days in such places; that I would like to see such places - their way of living, the very land itself - survive by having my descendants, or some of my family or some of my friends, treasure them, husband them, in that slow rural almost acausal way that is germane to such places where modern abstractions are an intrusion, out-ofplace, or destructive. At the very least it means that one hopes that some of one's descendants, or someone perhaps inspired by such an affinity to such places and such ways, can establish and so live in similar folk communities as exist here or elsewhere. Yet does this mean such new folk communities as may be established, or old ones, husbanded and maintained, have to consist of people of English descent of Angle, Saxon, Norman, Celtic [5] blood? Is that what being English means? Or does it mean a particular ethos, a particular and local weltanschaaung. Or both such ancestry, such blood, and such an ethos?
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To me, it means a certain way of life - a dwelling in a certain type of rural place, a certain way and type of work - as well as a certain ethos, a particular outlook on life. This outlook on life is the archetypal English way of fair-play, of sportsmanship, of humour in adversity, of thrift, modesty, of the dignity of work, and respect for both land, duty, and traditional customs - an outlook evident, for example, in many of the characters portrayed by Flora Thompson, Thomas Hardy, and Jane Austen, and others. In, for example, the characters of Queenie and Alf Arless of Lark Rise; in the character of Colonel Brandon in Sense and Sensibility; in the character of Gabriel Oak in Far from the Madding Crowd; in the character of Peggotty in David Copperfield. This way of life, and such communities, were formed by combinations of circumstances, and by a diversity of peoples who, though initially of differing tribal descent (Angles, Saxons and native Celts, for instance) were ethnically and to an extent culturally similar enough (for example, in respect of manners) to assimilate reasonably well without under conflict. Thus, in early English villages, the criteria of acceptance was not whether someone had blue eyes or blond hair (and thus seemed to fit some abstract criteria), but personal knowledge of them developed over a period of time, possession of necessary or required skills (in terms of work, for example) and a certain similarity of both life-style and outer appearance - not so different, in terms of attitude, beliefs, manners, or appearance, as to appear some outlandish (and possibly dangerous, disruptive) foreigner, and yet also not necessary identical to the villagers themselves. There was thus a natural balance - between the instinctive (and necessary) clannish wariness of strangers, and hospitality and fairness towards newcomers. For myself, I would love to see the old unique English way of life - and the English folk of rural England - survive in a natural way somewhere or in many places by such folk valuing that rural way of life, abandoning modern abstractions, and returning to a more numinous type of spirituality. In a similar way, there is nothing un-numinous, nothing un-ethical - nothing inherently contrary to The Numinous Way - in European folk in other lands (such as Wales, Scotland, Ireland, Scandinavia, Germany, Serbia, Russia, and so on) desiring this for themselves and their own, small, still existent, folk communities with their own still living and still numinous traditions, just as there is nothing un-numinous, nothing un-ethical - nothing inherently contrary to The Numinous Way - in folk on other continents doing likewise for their own living communities.

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But this does not mean - and should not mean - that one sets any abstract criteria for belonging to or becoming part of such communities, in terms of race. Instead, one simply tries to live in a certain numinous way, sans abstractions, and sans any desire to impose abstractions upon one's self and others. Which leads us onto to the basis of new folk communities, and how to establish them, and which will explain what is meant here. A new clan essentially begins with a family - with, for instance, two people who desire to live together and loyally and honourably share their lives, who both possess the same numinous ethos, or who desire to develope the same ethos, and who thus also seek to separate themselves in some or many ways from The State, and from enervating abstractions, and who seek to raise a family in a numinous way. What distinguishes a clan from an ordinary family is the loyal and honourable bond between them, and a desire or the need to live numinously, that is, in an ethical manner and without the need to be reliant upon The State. Of course, to do this might take some duration of causal Time, as it could possibly involve more than two people (and their children, if any) initially. What is important here is that the choice of partners - and of friends - is entirely a matter for individuals. A question of love, of loyalty, of honour, of what feels is natural for one, and not a question of something called "race" or ethnicity. A question of Life working as Life works, in a natural manner in its species of time, with no abstractions imposed; no ideology followed or formulated, no dogmatic rules for individuals to try to or have to conform to. The best illustration here is falling in love. To fall in love is natural, human indeed possibly one of the most human things to do. If we happen to fall in love with someone similar to ourselves, in outward appearance or whatever, fine. If we happen to fall in love with someone different from ourselves, in outward appearance or whatever, fine. The flow of Life within and exterior to us naturally decides. What matters is the love; the returning of love. The wu-wei of love. The numinosity of love. The loyal and honourable sharing. The experience of life together. That is the foundation on which a clan, and from it a new folk, comes-into-being - and should come-into-being: not some abstract criteria we impose upon ourselves or upon others, and which imposition is or can be the beginning of suffering. Not some dogmatic belief in some idealized race and the need to try and "preserve" that race. Not the rejection of empathy and love for the sake of such an abstraction, such dogma.

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Thus, if one is happy living among one's own kind in a village of one's kind and treasures their traditions and ways and wants to hand them onto to one's own children - fine. If one falls in love with someone of one's own kind, and is happy, fine, and thus may begin a new folk of similar people. If one falls in love with someone different from one's self and one's own ancestors, fine. And so on. It is the numinosity of love, of living numinously, that is important that is ethical. It is the imposition of some abstraction one's self, on others judging others by some abstraction - that is immoral, wrong, contrary to The Numinous Way. It is, simply expressed, a question of the natural balance of Life; of using empathy and honour to find and feel and appreciate and try to live that balance.

But how does the folk relate to clans and tribes, and is there a difference between a clan and a tribe? The folk communities such as I have outlined can form the basis for those new clans and tribes which will offer people an alternative way of living to the now ubiquitous, un-numinous, tyrannical, de-evolutionary State. Exactly how and where such new clans and tribes can be formed, is a matter for individuals to decide. A new clan really begins - comes-into-being - when a family decide to live in a certain, more numinous, manner, especially if this living is rural and isolates them from The State and its abstractions, and they do not have to depend on The State to provide them with all the necessities of living. To be technical, I consider a clan to be an extended family, bound by ties of kinship and loyalty, and thus somewhat small, whereas a tribe can be said to be a small collection of clans living or dwelling together in the same locality or adjacent localities who initially are bound by ties of loyalty and often by a common need to cooperate (for reasons of food, or survival, or the sharing of natural resources, for instance) but who later on also become bound together by ties of kinship. Thus, clans can evolve to become tribes which becomes a new folk. In the terms of old England, a clan is akin to a farm, home to many generations of the same family, who may expand to become a hamlet, while the tribe is akin to a small, rural, self-sufficient village of many families, where there is some specialization of work, for instance a farrier, a wheelwright, a miller.

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Given your explanation above of the finer differences between a folk and a race, why didn't you include this in your earlier essays about race and the folk? There seems to be some confusion, here.

In many ways, my Philosophy of The Numen (The Numinous Way) is a work in progress, which I refine, and extend, and hopefully better express in words over the months and years, as experience and insight is gained. For quite some time - for nearly a decade, in truth [6] - I have felt the essence of this Way within me, growing, and attempted to outline it, in essays and letters to friends; sometimes perhaps not very well, as in the contentious matter of the folk, and how, if at all, this relates to the concept of race, and if such a folk, such a communities, is or can be numinous. Sometimes - to be honest - I was myself confused about certain matters, as shown for instance by the fact that I still clung onto Al-Islam, out of a now understood misplaced sense of duty, even when I was developing this Way, and which Way I inwardly felt throughout all the years of the past decade was an expression of my own beliefs, my own true inner nature. In this period of almost a decade, many of these attempts, by me, to outline and explain this Way have been published, and possibly led others to become confused about not only my intentions, and beliefs (and possibly even become annoyed at me personally), but also about what this Numinous Way of mine actually was and is. Perhaps I should not have published all this material, and waited until I had everything neatly, precisely, formulated and so could write my magnum opus - a weighty tome about which there hopefully would not be any misunderstanding and which would not cause confusion about the intent of its author. But my excuses are that the very act of so writing - and of occasionally receiving comments and criticisms from others - was for me a necessary part of the creative process, and enabled and entailed further and deeper reflexion upon certain matters; and that I was never overly concerned about what people thought about my intentions, or beliefs, trusting that the perspicacious among the readers of such missives would understand at least something of the essence of what I was attempting, albeit so imperfectly, to communicate.

Regarding empathy - which you have described as the essence, the foundation of your numinous way - would you not agree that not all people possess it, so how can this be the basis for a general ethics?

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As I have mentioned in several other of my writings, I regard empathy a natural human faculty, as an extension of the other senses by which we perceive the world and by means of which we can try and understand the world and other human beings. In many it is a dormant faculty. In others, it is more developed. In some others, it is an important part of their lives, a necessary means by which they live and interact with other human beings and with the other living beings with which we share this planet. As a natural human faculty, it can - and in my view should - be developed and used. How can it be developed? By an appreciation of the numinous, by cultivating compassion, and by striving to live in a honourable way, according to a code of personal honour, for honour is a practical manifestation of empathy. An appreciation of the numinous, for instance, is one of the functions of a living culture, a living tradition, of all numinous works of Art, of all numinous music, literature, of the transmitted pathei-mathos of our ancestors and that of others. So, there is nothing mysterious or difficult about empathy and its cultivation and development.

David Myatt January 2011 CE

Notes [1] Refer to the essay The Principles of Numinous Law [2] For the destructive nature of the idea of progress see, for example the essay Homo Hubris and the Disruption of The Numinous. One can almost feel the disruption of this abstraction, "progress", in the Lark Rise trilogy of Flora Thompson. [3] I have outlined the true nature of these two abstractions in several essays, including The Failure and Immoral Nature of The State. [4] I remember hearing tales in my youth, when resident in the area and while working part-time on a farm, of how the local people in many places fiercely
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resisted attempts over long periods of time - by the distant national government and by wealthy landowners - to alter the ancient drainage system and pattern of drainage, and how such pumps to do such unnecessary drainage were occasionally sabotaged. However, as almost always, the "foreigners" in Westminster and the wealthy landowners (both of course bleating about "progress") got their way, resulting in more wealth for such landowners, and the beginning of that monoculture (and that demand for better and better yields per acre) that has destroyed traditional husbandry of the soil, to the detriment of Nature and a lot of local folk. [5] By Celtic I refer here to the indigenous, the native, peoples of the lands now known as England before the later settlement of the Angles, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans. These were the people referred to, for example, by Julius Caesar and a few other Roman writers, and it may be from among these early Britons came many of the individuals of Arthurian legend - such as Vortigen, Mordred, Morgana, Arthur, and Merlin. [6] Since when I left the Malvern area in 2001 CE to live, briefly, again in Shropshire, before early the following year moving to live as a wanderer (again) in a tent in the hills and fells of Cumbria, before finally settling to live and work (again) for many years on a farm.

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