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WAGNER'S RING - A Modern Tragedy

ANDREW BRONS

IT IS CUSTOMARY for people to dwell on the part played in their difficulties by those they identify as their enemies, rather than on the part played by their own shortcomings. So it is with Racial Nationalists who read the superficial rather than the deeper message of The Ring.

Richard Wagner

The long association between The Ring and Racial Nationalists is well known. Richard Wagner was himself a Racial Nationalist and so too was his patron and protector, Ludwig II of Bavaria. Wagner's daughter married the British Racial Nationalist author of The Foundations of the Nineteenth Century, Houston Stewart Chamberlain. The patronage of Wagner's works by the Third Reich and by Adolf Hitler in particular (something for which Wagner is illogically condemned) is too well known to need recounting.

Racial Nationalists have correctly identified the parts played by Marxists, International Capitalists and some Zionist (and non-Zionist) Jews in the downfall of the nations of Europe. However, they have understated the much larger contribution of the weakness and capacity for self-delusion and self-imposed thralldom of our own people — particularly the people charged with our governance. Some Racial Nationalists have pointed to Loge as the archetypal 'court Jew' and to Alberich and Mime as less well placed and resentful Jews. They may well have read one of Wagner's messages accurately — but only the most obvious and least useful of his messages.

BETRAY INSTINCTS

The central allegory enacted in The Ring is to be found not in the parts of the villains but in the part played by its heroes, weak as well as strong. The tragedy of The Ring is not to be found in villains acting villainously, but good men (or Gods) acting against their natures. Causes are lost not because knaves follow evil instincts but because good but weak and foolish men (and Gods) are prepared to betray their best instincts.

The nations of Europe have allowed themselves to be cajoled and shamed into imposing on what they do think and feel that which they have been persuaded to believe they ought to think and feel. They instinctively value their nations and their race but they have allowed themselves to be convinced that they do not exist, have no value or ought not to exist.

They have allowed their instinctive feelings and intellectual judgements to be superceded by conclusions that they are encouraged to regard as inescapable, morally and intellectually. They have denied what they know and feel and they have accepted instead that which they have been persuaded they ought to think and feel.

That is the tragedy of The Ring and the moral and intellectual dilemma of its participants. The Gods — Wotan in particular — were torn between what they admitted to wanting and what they thought they ought to want! They allowed themselves to be deflected from their true wishes.

The real hero of The Ring is neither Wotan nor Seigfried. The real hero is not a hero at all but a heroine: Brunnhilde.

Wotan surrendered his judgement to that of the half-God Loge, when he accepted the bargain to give Fricka's sister, Freya, to Fasholt and Fafner in return for the building of Valhalla. He admitted to Brunnhilde:

"Unwittingly, I acted dishonourably. I made treaties that concealed lies, Loge's cunning tempted me."

He surrendered his will to that of Fricka, his wife, when he ordered Brunnhilde:

"I am caught in my own trap, least free of all - disgraced and humiliated, the despair of the
ods."

He surrenders his will to the contracts engraved on his spear when he forbore from helping Siegfried to kill Fafner and regain the Rhinegold. Wotan agonised: "But I made a Treaty with him and so I can't openly attack him. I am powerless, bound. I, who rule by treaties, am now their slave."

Nevertheless, Wotan was too shrewd not to appreciate the trap into which he had been lured. He longed for others, who were not bound as he was, to fulfil his wishes. His desperate and tormented interview with his wife exemplifies his dilemma. He tried, in vain, to allow Brunnhilde to fulfil his purpose in his stead: "The Valkyrie is free to choose", he replied to Fricka's demands.

But in the end he submitted his will to that of his wife. He raised no objection when Fricka explained imperiously to Brunnhilde: "Warfather waits to tell you of his (sic) plans". The irony lies in Fricka's ploy to appeal to Wotan's pride in his power and his freedom of action:

"We'll become powerless - mocked by men - unless she (Brunnhilde) upholds my rights today."

Fricka was not, of course, motivated by concern for the position of the Gods but by her desire to destroy the Volsungs, the living proof of Wotan's infidelity. Her professed concern for the marriage vows of Hunding and Sieglinde was merely cosmetic and secondary to her desire for personal revenge.

Undeterred, Brunnhilde, Wotan's Wish Maiden, tried to direct him to be true to his own wishes:

"You speak to Wotan's Will if you tell me. Who am I if not your Will?"

However, when Brunnhilde disobeyed Wotan's commands by her loyalty to his wishes, he reproached her bitterly:

"So you did what I dearly wanted to do but by necessity was forbidden from doing. When in burning grief I had to range against love in my heart, I had turned in torment against myself and made my dreadful decision."

Brunnhilde's reply was poignant, if insufficiently persuasive:

"One thing I knew to love that you loved. Must you split half of you from yourself?"

Wotan's longing for somebody to be true to his will in his stead was concentrated on Siegfried:

"One alone can do what I cannot - a hero whom I have not helped - A stranger to the Gods - free and unprompted - acting freely with his own weapons to do the deed that I must not do. This friendly foe of the Gods would fight for me. Where will I find him?"

FEARLESS HERO

But was Siegfried worthy of Wotan's hopes? He was certainly the fearless hero who slew Fafner, the giant in the guise of a dragon, and won back the ring and the Rhinegold. He understood well the motives of his false and cringing guardian, Mime. Nevertheless, he allowed himself to be tricked into betraying Brunnhilde and becoming ensnared by the malicious and vengeful Hagen and the desperate and cowardly Gunther.

He may have shown his courage and freedom from constraints by killing Fafner, by defying Wotan and shattering his spear and by threatening to cut the strands spun by the Norns and thereby change destiny. However, he was foolish enough to ignore the warnings about the curse placed on the ring. In the words of the Rhine maidens:

"The hero thinks he's wise and strong but he's bound and blind .... he knows the runes and ignores them."

Only Brunnhilde was true to herself and to the will (Wotan's) of which hers was the truest representation. As the Rhine maidens predicted to Siegfried:

"A proud woman will become your heir today."

Brunnhilde was not the arrogant God represented by the behaviour of Wotan but neither was she weak and constrained as he was. Moreover, she unlike him, was true to the will they shared. She, unlike Siegfried, was true to their mutual vows and, on Siegfried's death, knew what was to be done with the ring. Of greater importance is that she was careless of her own life — she risked the wrath of Wotan by trying to save Siegmund and eventually threw herself into the flames of Valhalla — but careful about being true to her own will.

The Gods of the 'Ring' – human, all-too-human?

CONSCIENCE

Our political masters — and not a few who would describe themselves as Racial Nationalists — place their own preservation and that of their positions and superficial reputations before their own will — their conscience.

The Nation needs people with the quiet and humble courage and loyalty of Brunnhilde. It does not need a Wotan torn by indecision who allows his will to be supplanted by that of another and then reacts aggressively and jealously towards those who remind him of his weakness, by obeying his true wishes and disobeying his commands

We have a surfeit of Wotans at all levels in the Nation and not least in the Party. Nor do we need a Siegfried who is so sure of his own courage that he is blind to the disastrous consequences of his actions.

The Tory Party is full of physically courageous ex-military men who are as unbending as they are unthinking — who regard themselves as the paragons of patriotism but whose efforts are placed unswervingly at the service of the Nation's enemies.

We need people with the qualities of Brunnhilde who are obedient to the will of themselves and of those whom they are a part but who do not allow themselves to be distracted by vanity, personal whim, blind confidence in their own infallibility or the deceptions of the capricious and malevolent. We need people who are prepared to sacrifice themselves and even their own pride to prevent tragedy for all. Before the Party can cleanse the Nation of its ills, it must ensure that it is true to its collective will. We must identify the malevolent manipulators as well as the gullible manipulated ones. We must identify those so greedy for office that they are prepared to sacrifice the Cause for which we have all fought. We must identify those who are prepared to pervert the course of the Party to satisfy personal hatreds and vendettas. And we must identify those who are prepared to surrender their power to decide to others because they have no ideas of their own.

I have depicted the characters. It is for the reader to identify the cast.