By Ramon Bau


Translated by Oregoncoug, June 2013





         “We (Wagner and Cosima) have done nothing but talk about you and your Essay since noon, when my husband came to tell me of the pleasure and interest he has found in reading Chapter Thirteen (The Inequality of Human Races), which has absorbed him since he began it.  Parsifal has been cornered into reading your books!!  I am not able to express how much we love and admire this masterpiece…”


                                                      Letter of Cosima to Gobineau                                                                from March 27, 1881



The friendship between Richard Wagner and Gobineau lasted for only a brief time, interrupted by his death, but it was intense, loyal, clean and profound.  And it has special characteristics, since it is almost the only case (with the also singular exception of Wagner’s relationship with the texts of Schopenhauer) in which Wagner turned to the writings of a friend much more than the latter did to Wagner’s own works.


The absolute majority of great personalities who knew Wagner were impressed by his artistic work and their relation was one of their admiration, criticism and support for his work, with two vital exceptions:


Without a doubt the most important was the knowledge of the works of Schopenhauer, that decisive and lasting influence on Wagner, and yet Schopenhauer never came to be personally seen with Wagner and his comments on Wagner were never in Wagner’s favour.


The second exception was Gobineau, whose writing did indeed become an obsession with Wagner only briefly (although intensely) due to the circumstance that although they first met in 1876 in Rome where Gobineau was travelling as the French ambassador to Sweden, they did not see one another again and not really thoroughly until 1880 and Gobineau died in 1882. 


When they again saw each other in Venice in 1880, thanks to Madame De La Tour, they spoke of Cervantes, whom Gobineau would not forgive for having mocked the Order of Knighthood, and who in turn fascinated Wagner, despite which they soon became friends, Gobineau having already written his complete works though still remaining perfectly unknown to the German public, his writings having just been published in French.


Gobineau’s work is divided into two main sections: Historical and travel, among which are:


Les Pléiades, a novel.


Nouvelles asiatiques


La renaissance


Trois ans en Asie (his experience of three years in Asia)


Les Religions et les Philosophies dans l’Asie central


And the works on the racial theme:


Essai sur I’inégalité des race humaines


Ottar Jarl


The poem Amadis


Histoire des Perses (that although historical has clear implications for his racial theories)


From 1880 to 1882 Gobineau and Cosima exchanged many letters and there was one directly from Wagner as well as visits, etc., all focused primarily on Gobineau’s books, especially the “Essay on the Inequality of Human Races,” that completely fascinated Wagner, causing him to interrupt the composition of Parsifal in order to meditate on and write “Heroism and Christianity.”  Each of these letters consists of the praises of Wagner and Cosima towards Gobineau, with never a criticism or problem among them.


Wagner hurled himself into reading Gobineau’s works steadily and fanatically.  During the first trimester of 1881 he read the earlier less racist works, but from March 1881 he began reading the racial works.   The first visit of Gobineau to Bayreuth found Wagner obsessed with the reading of his writings.


They hardly discussed them, praised much and this despite the fact that Wagner did not agree with every one of Gobineau’s ideas, as we shall see, but did agree with the ones most obvious and manifest, although the differences in the background were deep:  Wagner was not a hopeless pessimist but fully accepted the state of decay of humanity as indicated by Gobineau.  Wagner accepted the reality of human racial inequality and the supremacy of the Aryans, but not the total pessimism, and he gave a MORAL sense to race that did not exist in Gobineau.  Wagner did not want an exclusivist and aggressive racism.  For Wagner Man and the compassion and love for every human being is above race.


In the only direct letter from Wagner to Gobineau (the others were always sent through Cosima) Wagner berates himself to go see Gobineau and calls him his “dear and venerable friend” and offers Gobineau his own house as a permanent home.


Gobineau was then unknown to the public but not to the German intellectual elite.  Alexander Humboldt wrote a letter to Gobineau in 1854 praising the entire contents of the Essay on the Inequality of Human Races:  “I know of no book written in French to have so accurate a knowledge…”


Schopenhauer knew the works of Gobineau, and quoted them in his “Parerga and Paraliponema”:  “Man is the badly made animal par excellence.”  This phrase was much discussed by Wagner, as Cosima mentions in her Diary.  Wagner is interested in how Gobineau’s text sets out to achieve something that had been in his mind for some time, but that he had not able to make coherent:  Wagner was convinced of the superiority of the Aryan, but at the same time was convinced of the necessity of a human moral value, a Christian compassion not restricted to racial particularism.  How to combine the two themes, how to make racial difference consistent with Christian compassion and the human love of Christ is what preoccupied Wagner in those years during which he was composing “Parsifal,” the work on Compassion.  Pessimism, racial difference, Aryan excellence, compassion, humanity, Christ…  How to unify these themes coherently, since each of them were clear to Wagner?  Gobineau gave him the motive to analyse this theme in depth and write his conclusions in “Heroism and Christianity,” as we shall see.






Wagner entrusted the direction of the magazine that would present his ideas and diffuse his art, the Bayreuther Blätter, to one of his most loyal Wagnerians and friend, Hans von Wolzogen, where what was presented had always previously been studied very thoughtfully.  Until 1881 nothing was mentioned in this magazine except Wagnerian themes or themes directly related to Wagnerianism.


In a letter dated February 16, 1881, Cosima mentions to Gobineau the idea of publishing in the Bayreuther Blätter a text of his own:  “Could you not give us your ideas about race and racial history or about our times and its swaggering senility?  It would be most agreeable to me to translate this work myself.”


Of course Gobineau felt tremendously flattered.  Wagner was famous, the artist of the century, the genius of the new art, so he quickly sent his text that appeared in the May/June 1881 issue:  “A Judgment on the current events of the world,” with subtitle (“Ethnological Summary by the Count de Gobineau — Introduction by Richard Wagner”).


The idea of the text is to warn about Russia as the Eastern Gate for the invasion of Europe, the decline of the Eastern world thereby entering the Aryan world.


This text does not have excessive importance in itself but it is important as the first text published in the Bayreuther Blätter unrelated to Wagnerianism and because Wagner himself wrote an Introduction to this article.


The Introduction by Wagner is very important because in it Wagner highlights the need to include the political vision of the world together with the artistic.  In such a way that the Blätter must not only be devoted to artistic themes but also to a direct (political) vision of the real world.


For the first time Wagner decides to go on the offensive against the “political” opinion of the journalists and the most decadent media of the society of his time.


Wagner especially wants to fight people like the so-called progressives, outstanding among whom was a bitter enemy of Gobineau named August Pott, who were believers in democracy and economic progress as substitutes for human quality.  Cosima said in her Diary that Wagner was much irritated by Pott “for his ridiculous hatred against Gobineau, only because Gobineau believes in decadence and does not console himself with the existence of vapour trails.”


In this Introduction Wagner rejects seeing the world only through the “mirror of art,” and also asks art to have the value to directly analyse the world and advance our thinking about it.


Wagner says, “We have asked Count Gobineau, on returning from his long journeys through lands and peoples tired but rich in experiences, to expound what he thinks about the actual state of the world…  He has (referring here to the coincidence with Wagner’s own opinion) also examined the blood in the veins of present-day humanity and found it irremediably vicious.  Which his intuition has shown him to have the value of an opinion that our progressive intellectuals do not find agreeable.”


Following the news of the death of Gobineau on October 25, 1882, Wagner was very affected, and that night played the Funeral March of Siegfried in his honour.  Thus Wagner himself asked Cosima to write a text for publication in the Bayreuther Blätter that appeared in the issue of November/December 1882.


In this text Cosima, with the approbation of Wagner, emphasizes the two facets of Gobineau, his radical scorn for the equality of men and his goodness of heart.  Because in Gobineau the clarity of understanding the inequality of human races and persons combined with compassion before those who suffer, and thus we remember how on seeing an old woman weighed down beneath a heavy bundle Gobineau, very melancholy, had told Cosima:  “That we must see such things is what I most detest about life.”


The Blätter continued this battle against the materialist world, favouring Gobineau in every edition for many years after the deaths of Wagner and Gobineau.  There was scarcely a year until 1938 in which Gobineau did not appear in the pages of the Bayreuther Blätter.





“We cannot fail to recognize the truth of his opinion (that of Gobineau) that the human race is composed of unequal races, and that the most noble may dominate the lesser ones, and that their mixing will never enable the inferior races to become equal to the most noble, but on the contrary the noble will lose their nobility.”


                                             Wagner in “Heroism and Christianity”



Wagner had dealt with the theme of racial degeneration before he read Gobineau, addressing the decadence of humanity that he already clearly saw in the materialist capitalism that led the ruling classes of the people to a progressive abandonment of high ideals in exchange for pleasures and shows on a very low level, and that he also saw proven by the superiority of European (Aryan) culture in the face of African cultures.


In “Religion and Art” Wagner attempted to explain these facts through the extrapolation of his love for animals and his compassion for them, which he saw as a sign of moral elevation.  That idea, very correct morally, was assumed by Jean Antoine Gleizes in his “Thalysia or Human Health” as a supposedly scientific theory, which was obviously an extrapolation of the moral to the unfounded scientific, on the effects of intoxication and decadence that the consumption of animal meat provokes in humanity.  In “Religion and Art” Wagner raises this somewhat extravagant idea to the scientific level:  “The appetite for blood and death is transmitted through the human generations without a brake.”  Chamberlain already indicates this is more a poetic symbol on the horror of cruelty to animals that a scientific theme.  (Translator — To the contrary.  Contemporary dietary science in 2013 violently affirms the hypotheses of Gleizes!)


Gobineau did not attribute decadence to the consumption of meat but to the genetic decline of peoples.


The reading of Gobineau caused Wagner to change the emphasis of his theme, understanding the limitations of his previous theory, although with reason continuing to claim that cruelty to animals is a sign of decadence and lack of style and spiritual elevation in peoples.


Thus Wagner says:  “One of the most restless spirits of our time has also attributed this degeneration of the human race to a corruption of the blood (or race, since race was then called “blood”), but he did not take into account the theme of change in diet; he saw the mixing of races as the single origin that has made the most noble races degenerate without any advantage to the inferior races.”  (Heroism and Christianity)


Thus in 1881 Wagner left the composition of Parsifal aside and, immediately after having read the works of Gobineau during the first half of the year, came to write his conclusions, his answer to the initial question:  How to combine pessimism about the decadence of humanity, the evident racial difference, Aryan excellence, with compassion for the suffering of humanity such as Christ teaches us.  And in the end to give a solution of Redemption to this moral decadence of a degraded humanity.


Wagner finishes his “Heroism and Christianity” in September 1881, the direct result of his reading of Gobineau, and recognizes the latter, who is very grateful for that deference despite the differences shown between their two conceptions.  Immediately Wagner resumes Parsifal.  Only Schopenhauer and Gobineau have been worthy to interrupt the creative labour of Wagner and make him think and write to focus and centre his ideas.


The reading of “Heroism and Christianity” is truly vital to the understanding of Wagner on this theme, and is composed of three clearly differentiated parts:


  • In the first part of the text Wagner asserts the reality of race and racial inequality, the evidence for the spiritual and sensitive decadence of humanity due to the destruction of Aryan superiority in these matters and their change into degraded and crawling feelings.
  • The second part asks what is the quality that really matters in the “human,” and addresses the Moral superiority of the Aryan world.
  • In the third part Wagner indicates that Aryan moral superiority is based precisely in compassion, conscience in the face of human suffering and the acceptance of the moral as superior to any consideration of exploitation or contempt or lack of support for the pain of other peoples.  Christ brings together peoples who are different.


We shall look at each of these sections in more detail:



Part One: The Racism of Wagner


After reading Gobineau Wagner states in “Heroism and Christianity”: “We cannot fail to recognize the truth of his opinion (that of Gobineau) that the human race is composed of unequal races, and that the most noble may dominate the lesser ones, and that their mixing will never enable the inferior races to become equal to the most noble, but on the contrary the noble will lose their nobility.  This reality would in itself be sufficient to explain our decadence, and although this knowledge leaves us no hope we cannot contradict its conclusions.  It is in effect reasonable to conclude we are going forward to the certain destruction of the human race, that this is only a question of time and we need to get used to the idea that human feeling will one day die.”


As we see Wagner not only supports the racism of Gobineau in its general aspects but (following moreover Schopenhauer and Gobineau himself) marks a destiny:  The most noble races and elevated feeling is going to die if race-mixing continues, something seen as inevitable so that the result will be the death of this “nobility of feeling” and the arrival of a human era in which sensible lowering, greed, mere pleasure and vulgarity will be the norm.  The art of Wagner which marked a high point of art for sensitive beings and elevated views, would die at the hands of the tam-tam and tatty and scatological originality, sex and money…


To leave no doubt Wagner in “Heroism and Christianity” insists on his position:


“Clearly we would have no history of humanity if not for the movements, actions and creations of the white race.  This, being inferior in number to the lesser races, has been obligated to mix with them, which has been the cause of its corruption since, as we have said, so that thereby the white race has lost most of its features while the others have not gained or been able to ennoble their blood.”



Part Two:  Morality as Superior Quality


Despite being aware of the entirety of this Wagner does not now support the conclusions of Gobineau, an exclusionary and brutal racism, without hope or regard for other human beings.


Wagner knows everything that has been said, but also wants to present a human racial sense, “Wagnerian,” compassionate and comprehensive.


I believe this theme is essential in order to see the difference between xenophobic racism, selfish and cruel in the face of a racial sense of humanity, realistic yet compassionate and generous.


“A look at every race must not ignore their unity within the human race, in which the qualities in the noblest sense could be summarized as the capacity to suffer consciously, and we believe this is the one that has the best predisposition towards an elevated moral evolution.”


Wagner joins with Schopenhauer here:  The awareness of suffering and feeling the destiny of the human race in elevated form, thus softening the pain of the world through art and moral sensibility, is the quality superior to every other.


Then Wagner states where he sees the superiority of the white race:


“We should find this superiority as a sensibility in the will at once stronger and more tender, as a will that manifests itself in a rich organization and a more vigourous intelligence…  But a preponderance of the will, blind to its exigencies, over the intelligence denotes an inferior nature, given that we must then see the desires stimulated, not illuminated by the intelligence, but by the vulgar instincts of the senses.  Suffering, however hard its manifestation may be, will not give to those lesser natures anything but a faint awareness of the world, however strong their awareness of the essence of suffering may raise their awareness of the importance of the world.  We call heroic natures those that this sublime process develops and manifests.”


Pure Schopenhauer this, in which the races that base their cosmovision on desire and pleasure (the “will” according to the definition of Schopenhauer/Wagner for this word) are always inferior whereas the races that develop a philosophy of suffering and the world are those which carry an elevated moral conscience.  A race that gives us Schopenhauer, Socrates and the Stoics has made a decisive contribution to humanity.


The Hero is he who consciously struggles against suffering and Wagner gives us the example of Hercules who, with his labours and profound pain, heroically fights against suffering and from this struggle there surges forth the knowledge of his valour and tragedy.  Wagner sees this heroic type especially in the Aryan race.”


“This pride of the Germanic race is the soul of the sincere man, the freeman, even when in servile condition.  He knows no fear, only respect, the virtue that in this exact sense only exists in the language of the ancient Aryan peoples.”



Part Three:  Against racial exclusiveness and oppression


Wagner then investigates another religion (other than Christianity) of Aryan origin, Brahmanism.


“We consider the Brahmanical religion as the most astounding testimony of the knowledge and understanding of those early generations of Aryans that we find in history, and who basing themselves on the most fundamental knowledge of the world, built a religious monument not yet destroyed after so many thousands of years.”


Nevertheless Brahmanism has a flaw; it is a racial religion, or rather one that does not provide a compassion and salvation for the entire human race.  And Wagner criticizes this totally.


At this moment Wagner shows his most interesting aspect:  The reconciliation between racism and Aryan pride, between recognition of Aryan superiority in heroic and tragic consciousness, and at the same time compassion and redemption for the human race in general, such as he expounds in Parsifal as compassion for humanity in the voluntary sacrifice of Christ.  Thus he says:


“This blood of the Saviour falling on his head, from the wounds of the Cross, what sacrilege would ask whether it belongs to the white race or any other race?  If we call it divine, then we cannot find its source except in the faculty of suffering consciously.”


“If in the white race we find this ability to suffer with full consciousness on a particularly high level, we will recognize in the blood of the Saviour the sum of those consciously voluntary sufferings that shed forth beneath the form of divine compassion throughout the entire human race…”


Every man who suffers is worthy of redemption, so that the moral elevation of the Aryan must be in the service of that human compassion and not serve to increase the suffering of the others.


But beware, this understanding about the entire human race is in no way a call to or acceptance of equality and still less of miscegenation.  Thus Wagner immediately tells us:


“But we do not wish to call forth the monstrous hypothesis according to which the human race will be destined to accept a total unity, and we cannot but make of this unity a dreadful image, such as Gobineau shows us in his writings.”


Nothing is further from Wagner than race mixing and a single race in utopian equality, and likewise nothing further from him than xenophobia or scorn against every sufferer.


Wagner denies the morality of the dominion of one race above the others, despite the superiority of consciousness in the white race.


The only solution is a moral conscience that sees the human quality before the racial one, and that without destroying the races will not permit their exploitation or their being held in contempt.


Wagner believes there is no intellectual equality, nor equality of ability or culture, but there must be a common “human moral sense” that prevents exploitation and abuse, a feeling of love and compassion for everyone.  This morality in the face of suffering, this universal compassion is seen in Christ.


Thus the Hero in the service of Christ, the being aware of suffering, the superior being that fights for the Redemption of All Humanity without distinction in suffering and compassion… 




In some form the mission of the Aryan hero is to be conscious of the suffering of the world, and through heroic deeds (art and struggle) to redeem humanity in so far as possible.


We see the difference with respect to Carlyle (1795 – 1882) who also praises the hero against the mass but does not believe in a “sense of history” given by race mixing, but who sees in history a succession without meaning or pre-written path.  Whereas Wagner sees that the heroes in their struggle make the path.  Carlyle gives no moral sense to History, perhaps like Nietzsche…  History is cruel and nothing more, only suffering and struggle.



In “Heroism and Christianity” Wagner reveals himself to be profoundly anti-ecclesiastical; the “Semito-Latin Church” repels him, but at the same time he recognizes some special virtues in the Catholic Church, such as for example that she does not allow any to be priests except healthy individuals and makes congenital disease or grave mutilation one reason for exclusion (we suppose this election of the healthy would not at present be politically correct and would perhaps have been eliminated by Vatican II).  Wagner does not support a Church but Christ, the redeemer of suffering humanity.  He is not a theologian but instead “feels” the suffering of Christ on the Cross because he suffers consciously for the others.





“Every time I look at my husband I am convinced of the purity of his race.”


“I see the German world, like the Roman, rotten with Semitic elements and that bothers me tremendously.”


                           Cosima: Letter to Gobineau, January 16, 1881



The Wagnerian Movement never ceased to support Gobineau; indeed, Gobineau owes his fame to the Wagnerians.


After his death Gobineau even owes Wagnerianism a great favour:  To have created a group of sympathisers that worked to make him known and concretely encouraged Ludwig Schemann to promote the works of Gobineau.


Schemann was the founder of the Wagnerian Circle of Göttingen, forming a part of the intimate circle of Bayreuth.  Cosima Wagner urged him to devote himself to study the works of Gobineau, and put him in touch with the Countess de La Tour (the great muse of Gobineau throughout his life), with whom he formed the idea to create a Gobineau Circle in 1893.  The Gobineau Vereinigung (G.V.) founded by Schemann and Wolzogen (the great Wagnerian editor of the Bayreuther Blätter), also obtained the accession of H.S. Chamberlain from among the most direct Wagnerians.


Thanks to this he could translate the “Essays on the Inequality of Human Races” into German and extend the fame of Gobineau throughout Germany.


Cosima, Wolzogen, Schemann and Chamberlain were the propagators of the ideas and works of Gobineau, with some qualifications such as Wagner had indicated.


Gobineau was a pessimist Racist, with the mixing of races leading to human decadence, to the herd, and saw no solution to avoid it.  Nothing can be done, there is no remedy, racial mixing is inevitable and thus with the lowering of conscious feeling art must become a diversion and humanity will lose elevation.


Wagner assumes that possible destiny but attempts, perhaps with a sense of practical futility, through “moral necessity” to give a solution with a High Art, an Art for redemption.


Cosima will always assist Wagner, although she would have a much more pronounced and radical anti-Jewish sense.


“Nothing is certain in this contemptible world, not even the omnipotence of the Jews.”  (Letter of Cosima, February 26, 1881)


We can see this in countless passages of her Diaries, but sufficient to emphasize this letter to Gobineau of July 3, 1881:


“The word ‘flag’ reminds me of an anecdote told to me by Joukowsky (Note: A Jewish friend of Wagner, a painter who designed the first Temple of Parsifal), which I cannot resist the temptation to tell:  During the Franco-Prussian War an Israelite banker of Berlin promises a reward of 10,000 marks to the first Jewish soldier to snatch an enemy flag.  So one fine day a Jewish soldier arrives with every certificate and the enemy flag.  The banker says before the War Council that this is so, and then calls the soldier aside and says to him: ‘Good, now tell me the truth, because we are not the ones to seize an enemy flag.’  Then the German Jew soldier decides to become sincere and admits the French standard-bearer was also a Jew and they had reached an agreement to each share half the reward.”


The anecdote was by Joukowsky.  Cosima had no sympathy whatsoever for Judaism but she had many Jewish friends for whom she had great appreciation.  We recall Joseph Rubinstein, a Russian Jew and Wagnerian of the intimate circle since 1872, disturbed by the death of Wagner, then declaring his life pointless and committing suicide a year after Wagner died.


Chamberlain and Hans von Wolzogen would be members of the NSDAP of Hitler from the beginning and attempted to stop the decadence through a political revolution.  They believed in the possibility of regeneration through a politics of racial consciousness.


We cannot end without emphasizing once again the goodness of Wagner, his obsession with Love, Wagner who recalls Compassion and Love as the only justification of superiority, because superiority of intellect and feeling are weapons in the service of redeeming the suffering of the world, not weapons to generate more pain and then justify by using that superiority.












Published in: on June 2, 2013 at 11:33 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. “With this sign I banish all your magic; as the spear closes the wound which you dealt with it, in grief and ruin it destroys your deceptive display!” – Parsifal

    Wagner identified Modern Civilization as the oppressor of all Nature, regardless of class or race, “race”? He saw race as the race to the bottom, what does it matter if one race is falling a little slower than another? Does that make it better? No. The individualized Egotists look down on the common Rabble, smell the fumes of poverty laced only with intoxicants, and then the elite Egotists can only fumble for their own intoxicants to mask the unfamiliar fumes rising from the Rabble with their own more familiar fumes.

    If their is hope in Wagner it is the hope that one can see things as they truly are and banish all the deceptions that mask the truth.

  2. “And you shall know the Truth, and the Truth shall set you free.”

    (Gospel of John, 8:32)

    “Now the Führer is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Führer is, there is freedom.”

    (2 Corinthians 3:17)

  3. “Now all of us will be revealed, reflected in the Spirit of the Fuhrer, transformed into his Aryan likeness, the same light and glory as He our Lord Adolf Hitler. Therefore as we have recieved this message in favour, we give only to those we favour, likewise, and no coward shall recieve the message. But only those who have renounced all the secret shame of lies, dishonor and deceit, for only by noble truth that belongs to every Aryan man’s own conscience shall he be rewarded by God.” (2 Corinthians 3:18,4:1-2)

    Those ones who gave the Words in the beginning should know how to put them back in the right order.

    • Your translation rings true, Kamerad Delenda. Clearly you are seeing what the words actually say. This can only be done in Lucifer’s Light, in the Fuhrer’s Light! It seems the liberation of the White Aryan Race is at the same time the liberation of the Holy Aryan Bible. The Judaic similitudes that betray us are burned away in the fires of the Fuhrer’s Holy Ghost.

      There is no longer anything in this shattered world that can withstand the words of an Aryan Warrior spoken in Truth. We are now seeing this in the Holy Land. The words of our Aryan Holy Scriptures are true so that not even all the robots and weapons of Zion will prevail against us.

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