While race is typically considered a fixed, naturalistic and fatal given, in my book [Synthesis of the Doctrine of Race] I argued a dynamic conception: new races can be formed, while other races may mutate or disappear as a result of internal, spiritual factors, or what I called the “internal race.” As an example, I pointed to the Jewish type, which isn’t derived from an original pure race, but was molded by a millennial tradition; and nowadays the Yankee type is emerging with fairly uniform and characteristic features out of the improbable ethnic hodgepodge thrown together under the influence of a particular civilization, or pseudo-civilization, the USA.
In our discussion Mussolini unconditionally approved this idea, as the basis of an “active racism” that would undertake formative tasks, corresponding to the highest aspirations of Fascism. The ideal was that through the action of internal factors, precise disciplines and a high ideal tension had to slowly form a new type of elite out of the heterogeneous substance of the Italian people. This would be “the race of Fascist man.” The Duce told me that he is convinced in the depths that processes of this type can reach; he mentioned that he himself was astonished to have encountered many times among the youth division Littorio and the blackshirt militias a new type, not just in terms of behavior, but even in terms of physical, bodily characteristics, almost as if it were the spontaneous result of a selection and formation in the sense of which I had spoken. These beginnings were, unfortunately, broken off. With the fall of Italy, it was not the new superior race, but the sub-race of our people that was destined to surface and bring us the glories of the “liberation” and the “second Risorgimento.”
Political and spiritual racism needs a “myth,” i.e., an idea-force, capable of crystallizing the energies of a particular collective. This was precisely the idea of a superior race. As is well known, in this regard, the Aryan “myth” had been given this role. The Aryan race is, if understood in the right terms, much more than a myth. Indeed, not only racists recognize that the ancient civilizations of India, Iran, Greece, and Rome, and then the Germanic one, had been derived from the root of a single, primordial, prehistoric race or super-race, called “Aryan” — in the same way that the respective languages, religions, legal concepts, and so on point to a common root. Naturally, German racism attempted to turn things pro domo sua, claiming that the northern Germanic tribes were the direct descendants of the pure primordial “Aryan” race, and placing the Nordic-Aryan idea at the center of political action and the National Socialist worldview. But this monopolistic claim lacks any serious foundation.
Using the same premise, I presented the Roman-Aryan idea as the central reference point for Fascist racism: it refers to the forces that, having differentiated from the same Aryan root, shaped the physiognomy of the original and virile Roman. The Roman-Aryan idea, while paralleling the Nordic-Aryan idea, preserved its autonomy and its own dignity, dispelling any suspicion of being subordinate to National Socialist concepts, without losing relevance with respect to the latter. On the contrary, it could overcome National Socialist racism by connecting with values and elements of style that belong to a much more august and universal tradition.
Mussolini told me that this part of my book had intrigued him in particular. On of his sayings had been: “We dream of a Roman Italy.” Now an opportunity presented itself to give this formula a more concrete form. To return to the Roman-Aryan idea not just rhetorically or as an object of academic study, but as a formative force — above all formative of a general view of life (“race of the spirit”), then of character and style of behavior (“race of soul”), and, finally, if possible, even of a new bodily, physical type (“race of body”), so that the outward appearance would be a worthy representation of the internal race; subordinating and correcting certain questionable elements of our people, rejecting “Mediterranean” promiscuity and “bastardized fraternizations” (Mussolini had already made such a comment, talking about the so called “latinità”), in spiritual harmony with the legacy of the Holy Roman Empire. This was the program of the active racism that Mussolini was prepared to accept.
In our conversation the Duce touched on certain technical problems, like that of heredity. Then we spoke of some practical initiatives. I will discuss those later. But one more thing has to be mentioned here. When speaking of racism some people understand only anti-Semitism, concentration camps, gas chambers, and other such things. Here it must be made clear that for serious racists, anti-Semitism is only a special and secondary question and not at all the primary one. In fact, there is no doubt that the Jewish threat exists, but it must be felt and defined more as a danger from within rather than from without. This was the primary point in the ideas formulated by me: it does little good to be “Aryan” and of “pure race” in body and blood, if in spirit and character one is a Jew, a Levantine, or something else of the same kind. Thus, to call oneself an “Aryan” is a great responsibility if this word is to be more than an empty and presumptuous designation. This was a chance to deal with racial issues without fanaticism or bias, looking to the essential, giving to each his own. By approving my formulations, Mussolini entered this sphere of ideas, one that would have distinguished Fascist racism from the extremist and superficial aspects of National Socialist racism.