Body Fascism & Monism

Love the excerpt:

The version of monism most pertinent to the present discussion originated with Ernst Haeckel, a romantic-minded German zoologist who spent a large portion of his career ardently promoting the work of Charles Darwin. “Rooted in pre-Darwinian romanticism,” writes Daniel Gasman in Haeckel’s Monism and the Birth of Fascist Ideology, “Haeckelian Monism [draws] upon the one of the oldest if not the oldest tradition in philosophy—the belief that all different phenomena are bound into unity by one common ‘sacred’ force.”

For Haeckel, the goal of life is to get back in touch with a “wholly other” substance found in the world. Achievement of this goal demands the rejection of several intertwined legacies: the Judeo-Christian tradition of transcendence (or dualism, as Haeckel would say); that tradition’s claim on the West’s many cultural and intellectual achievements; faith in human equality; and, for good measure, the movements stemming from that faith. (Examples of such movements include, most notably, the Enlightenment and the French Revolution.) In place of this tradition, men must embrace the monist secular faith that nature provides the basis for all social laws, which science will uncover sooner or later. Science, as a reflection of the laws of nature, ought to provide the foundation for all sociological, religious, political, and philosophical thought.

You could say that the bodybuilder fascism has within it some element that is inherently contrary to Christian civilization if it is going towards this end... Unless, of course, this monism is reinterpretable, where the "mon" that unites all can be thought of as a reflection of the Holy Spirit. I am not so sure how elegant that is, but it might work.

The movement certainly sounds fascinating, though, and it isn't hard to see the parallels with the modern body fascists:

In practice, monism manifested as an “intense feeling of responsibility” toward elevating humankind through “unceasing endeavor toward refinement and perfection.” (Here we find a clear instance of Haeckel’s obsession with Darwinism.) Despite encompassing the whole of human striving, however, monism pursued refinement and perfection chiefly through the body. Haeckel thus partnered in 1906 with Wilhelm Ostwald, a Nobel Prize-winning chemist. Together the two men founded the German Monist League. Dedicated to investigations into monist thought, as well as dispensing advice on health, hygiene, and similar matters, the league advised its members to “regulate” their lives so that the “prosperity of the community and of mankind is assured.” This was to be done through “keeping the individual in a healthy and vigorous condition.” The goal was to reveal the world as a “vast, living, striving, conscious organism,” as the league put it, of which humans are an integral part and through which they can realize the “kingdom of heaven” during their life on earth.

Here is also where the rubber meets the road for Christians:

Haeckel saw himself as leader of a scientific movement that aimed to free science from the bonds of metaphysics, irrationality, and a “dualistic” Christianity.

Also very fascinating to see its diverse influences:

Haeckelian monism found its way into politics, too. It was championed by Marxists and fascists alike, the groups giving it their signature twist. It was an integral part of the “revolutionary method” of the Italian scientific socialists, who saw the struggles of the working class as reflective of the natural evolutionary struggles of all life, and inspired the murky mysticism of German National Socialists, who sought to destroy the cultural and religious underpinnings of Western civilization and replace them with a fantastic and perverse interpretation of natural law.
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