The Aryan race was a racial grouping term used in the period of the late 19th century to the mid-20th century to describe multiple peoples. It has been variously used to describe all Indo-Europeans in general (spanning from India to Europe), the original Aryan people specifically in Persia and India, and most controversially through Nazi misinterpretation, the Nordic or Germanic peoples. The term derives from the Aryan people, from Persia and India, who spoke a language similar to those that have been found in Europe.
- Origin of the term
- 19th century physical anthropology
- Italian Fascism
- Neo Nazism
While originally meant simply as a neutral ethno-linguistic classification, from the late 19th century onwards the term Aryan race has been used by people who promoted ideas about racial hierarchy, like the Nazis, who thought that the Germanic peoples were, in comparison to other peoples in the world, predominately descended from an ancient master race, whom they called "Aryan". Aryanism developed as a racial ideology based on this idea.
Origin of the term
The term Aryan originates from the Sanskrit word ārya (Devanāgarī: आर्य), in origin an ethnic self-designation, in Classical Sanskrit meaning "honourable, respectable, noble".
In the 18th century, the most ancient known Indo-European languages were those of the ancient Indo-Iranians. The word Aryan was therefore adopted to refer not only to the Indo-Iranian peoples, but also to native Indo-European speakers as a whole, including the Romans, Greeks, and the Germans. It was soon recognised that Balts, Celts, and Slavs also belonged to the same group. It was argued that all of these languages originated from a common root—now known as Proto-Indo-European—spoken by an ancient people who were thought of as ancestors of the European, Iranian, and Indo-Aryan peoples. The ethnic group composed of the Proto-Indo-Europeans and their modern descendants was termed the "Aryans".
This usage was common among knowledgeable authors writing in the late 19th and early 20th century. An example of this usage appears in The Outline of History, a bestselling 1920 work by H. G. Wells. In that influential volume, Wells used the term in the plural ("the Aryan peoples"), but he was a staunch opponent of the racist and politically motivated exploitation of the singular term ("the Aryan people") by earlier authors like Houston Stewart Chamberlain (see below) and was careful either to avoid the generic singular, though he did refer now and again in the singular to some specific "Aryan people" (e.g., the Scythians). In 1922, in A Short History of the World, Wells depicted a highly diverse group of various "Aryan peoples" learning "methods of civilization" and then, by means of different uncoordinated movements that Wells believed were part of a larger dialectical rhythm of conflict between settled civilizations and nomadic invaders that also encompassed Aegean and Mongol peoples inter alia, "subjugat[ing]"—"in form" but not in "ideas and methods"—"the whole ancient world, Semitic, Aegean and Egyptian alike".
However, in a climate of burgeoning racism it proved difficult to maintain such nuanced distinctions. Even Max Mueller, a linguist who wrote in 1888 that "an ethnologist who speaks of Aryan race, Aryan blood, Aryan eyes and hair, is as great a sinner as a linguist who speaks of a dolichocephalic dictionary or a brachycephalic grammar," was on occasion guilty of using the term "Aryan race." So it was that despite the injunctions of writers like Wells, the notion of an Aryan race took root in mainstream culture.
Thus, in the 1944 edition of Rand McNally's World Atlas, the Aryan race is depicted as one of the ten major racial groupings of mankind. The science fiction author Poul Anderson (1926–2001), an anti-racist libertarian of Scandinavian ancestry, in his many novels, novellas, and short stories, consistently used the term Aryan as a synonym for Indo-Europeans.
Today the use of "Aryan" as a synonym for "Indo-European" or to a lesser extent for "Indo-Iranian" both in academia and in popular culture is obsolete, ideologically suspect, and politically incorrect. But the term may still occasionally appear in material that is based on older scholarship or written by persons accustomed to older usage. Thus in a 1989 article in Scientific American, Colin Renfrew uses the term "Aryan" as a synonym for "Indo-European".
The term Indo-Aryan is still commonly used to describe the Indic half of the Indo-Iranian languages, i.e., the family that includes Sanskrit and modern languages such as Hindi, Urdu and Bengali.
19th-century physical anthropology
In the context of 19th century physical anthropology and scientific racism, the term "Aryan race" has been misapplied to all people descended from the Proto-Indo-Europeans – a subgroup of the Europidor "Caucasian" race, in addition to the Indo-Iranians (who are the only people known to have used Arya as an endonym in ancient times). This usage was considered to include most modern inhabitants of Australasia, the Caucasus, Central Asia, Europe, Latin America, North America, Siberia, South Asia, Southern Africa, and West Asia. Such claims became increasingly common during the early 19th century, when it was commonly believed that the Aryans originated in the south-west Eurasian steppes (present-day Russia and Ukraine).
Max Müller is often identified as the first writer to mention an "Aryan race" in English. In his Lectures on the Science of Language (1861), Muller referred to Aryans as a "race of people". At the time, the term race had the meaning of "a group of tribes or peoples, an ethnic group". Müller's concept of Aryan was later construed to imply a biologically distinct sub-group of humanity, by writers such as Arthur de Gobineau, who argued that the Aryans represented a superior branch of humanity. Müller objected to the mixing of linguistics and anthropology. "The Science of Language and the Science of Man cannot be kept too much asunder ... I must repeat what I have said many times before, it would be wrong to speak of Aryan blood as of dolichocephalic grammar". He restated his opposition to this method in 1888 in his essay Biographies of words and the home of the Aryas.
By the late 19th century the steppe theory of Indo-European origins was challenged by a view that the Indo-Europeans originated in ancient Germany or Scandinavia – or at least that in those countries the original Indo-European ethnicity had been preserved. The word Aryan was consequently used even more restrictively – and even less in keeping with its Indo-Iranian origins – to mean "Germanic", "Nordic" or Northern Europeans. This implied division of Caucasoids into Aryans, Semites and Hamites was also based on linguistics, rather than based on physical anthropology; it paralleled an archaic tripartite division in anthropology between "Nordic", "Alpine" and "Mediterranean" races.
A number of later writers, such as the French anthropologist Vacher de Lapouge in his book L'Aryen, argued that this superior branch could be identified biologically by using the cephalic index (a measure of head shape) and other indicators. He argued that the long-headed "dolichocephalic-blond" Europeans, characteristically found in northern Europe, were natural leaders, destined to rule over more "brachiocephalic" (short headed) peoples.
The German origin of the Aryans was especially promoted by the archaeologist Gustaf Kossinna, who claimed that the Proto-Indo-European peoples were identical to the Corded Ware culture of Neolithic Germany. This idea was widely circulated in both intellectual and popular culture by the early twentieth century, and is reflected in the concept of "Corded-Nordics" in Carleton S. Coon's 1939 The Races of Europe.
Other anthropologists contested such claims. In Germany, Rudolf Virchow launched a study of craniometry, which prompted him to denounce "Nordic mysticism" in the 1885 Anthropology Congress in Karlsruhe, while Josef Kollmann, a collaborator of Virchow, stated in the same congress that the people of Europe, be they English, German, French, and Spaniard belonged to a "mixture of various races," furthermore declaring that the "results of craniology...[are] against any theory concerning the superiority of this or that European race" to others.
Virchow's contribution to the debate sparked a controversy. Houston Stewart Chamberlain, a strong supporter of the theory of a superior Aryan race or Germanic race, attacked Josef Kollmann arguments in detail. While the "Aryan race" theory remained popular, particularly in Germany, some authors defended Virchow's perspective, in particular Otto Schrader, Rudolph von Jhering and the ethnologist Robert Hartmann (1831–1893), who proposed to ban the notion of "Aryan" from anthropology.
The Theosophical movement, founded by Helena Blavatsky and Henry Olcott at the end of the nineteenth century, took inspiration from Indian culture, in this case, perhaps, from the Hindu reform movement the Arya Samaj founded by Swami Dayananda. Blavatsky argued that humanity had descended from a series of "Root Races", naming the fifth root race (out of seven) the Aryan Race. She thought that the Aryans originally came from Atlantis and described the Aryan races with the following words:"The Aryan races, for instance, now varying from dark brown, almost black, red-brown-yellow, down to the whitest creamy colour, are yet all of one and the same stock -- the Fifth Root-Race -- and spring from one single progenitor, (...) who is said to have lived over 18,000,000 years ago, and also 850,000 years ago -- at the time of the sinking of the last remnants of the great continent of Atlantis."
Blavatsky used "Root Race" as a technical term to describe human evolution over the large time periods in her cosmology. However, she also claimed that there were modern non-Aryan peoples who were inferior to Aryans. She regularly contrasts "Aryan" with "Semitic" culture, to the detriment of the latter, asserting that Semitic peoples are an offshoot of Aryans who have become "degenerate in spirituality and perfected in materiality." She also states that some peoples are "semi-animal creatures". These latter include "the Tasmanians, a portion of the Australians and a mountain tribe in China." There are also "considerable numbers of the mixed Lemuro-Atlantean peoples produced by various crossings with such semi-human stocks -- e.g., the wild men of Borneo, the Veddhas of Ceylon, most of the remaining Australians, Bushmen, Negritos, Andaman Islanders, etc."
Despite this, Blavatsky's admirers claim that her thinking was not connected to fascist or racialist ideas, asserting that she believed in a Universal Brotherhood of humanity and wrote that "all men have spiritually and physically the same origin" and that "mankind is essentially of one and the same essence". On the other hand, in The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky states: "Verily mankind is 'of one blood,' but not of the same essence."
Blavatsky connects physical race with spiritual attributes constantly throughout her works:"Esoteric history teaches that idols and their worship died out with the Fourth Race, until the survivors of the hybrid races of the latter (Chinamen, African Negroes, &c.) gradually brought the worship back. The Vedas countenance no idols; all the modern Hindu writings do"."The intellectual difference between the Aryan and other civilized nations and such savages as the South Sea Islanders, is inexplicable on any other grounds. No amount of culture, nor generations of training amid civilization, could raise such human specimens as the Bushmen, the Veddhas of Ceylon, and some African tribes, to the same intellectual level as the Aryans, the Semites, and the Turanians so called. The 'sacred spark' is missing in them and it is they who are the only inferior races on the globe, now happily -- owing to the wise adjustment of nature which ever works in that direction -- fast dying out. Verily mankind is 'of one blood,' but not of the same essence. We are the hot-house, artificially quickened plants in nature, having in us a spark, which in them is latent."
According to Blavatsky, "the MONADS of the lowest specimens of humanity (the "narrow-brained" savage South-Sea Islander, the African, the Australian) had no Karma to work out when first born as men, as their more favoured brethren in intelligence had".
She also prophesies of the destruction of the racial "failures of nature" as the future "higher race" ascends:"Thus will mankind, race after race, perform its appointed cycle-pilgrimage. Climates will, and have already begun, to change, each tropical year after the other dropping one sub-race, but only to beget another higher race on the ascending cycle; while a series of other less favoured groups -- the failures of nature -- will, like some individual men, vanish from the human family without even leaving a trace behind".
The second subrace of the Fifth or Aryan root race, the Arabian, is regarded by Theosophists as one of the Aryan subraces. It is believed by Theosophists that the Arabians, although asserted in traditional Theosophy to be of Aryan (i.e., Indo-European) ancestry, adopted the Semitic language of the people around them who had migrated earlier from Atlantis (the fifth or (original) Semite subrace of the Atlantean root race). Theosophists assert that the Jews originated as an offshoot of the Arabian subrace in what is now Yemen about 30,000 BC. They migrated first to Somalia and then later to Egypt, where they lived until the time of Moses. Thus, according to the teachings of Theosophy, the Jews are part of the Aryan race.
Guido von List (and his followers such as Lanz von Liebenfels) later took up some of Blavatsky's ideas, mixing her ideology with nationalistic and fascist ideas; this system of thought became known as Ariosophy. It was believed in Ariosophy that the Teutonics were superior to all other peoples because according to Theosophy the Teutonics or Nordics were the most recent subrace of the Aryan root race to have evolved. Such views also fed into the development of Nazi ideology. Theosophical publications such as The Aryan Path were strongly opposed to the Nazi usage, attacking racialism.
The ideology of Nazism was based upon the conception of the ancient Aryan race being a master race and that the Germanic peoples were the most racially pure existing peoples of Aryan stock. The Nazi conception of the Aryan race arose from earlier proponents of a supremacist conception of the race as described by racial theorist figures such as Arthur de Gobineau and Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
Nazi racial theorist Hans F. K. Günther identified the European race as having five subtype races: Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Alpine, and East Baltic. Günther applied a Nordicist conception that Nordics were the highest in the racial hierarchy amongst these five European subtype races. In his book Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (1922) ("Racial Science of the German People"), Günther recognized Germans as being composed of all five European subtypes, but emphasized the strong Nordic heritage amongst Germans. He defined each racial subtype according to general physical appearance and their psychological qualities including their "racial soul" - referring to their emotional traits and religious beliefs, and provided detailed information on their hair, eye, and skin colours, facial structure. He provided photographs of Germans identified as Nordic in places like Bedan, Stuttgart, Salzburg, and Schwaben; and provided photographs of Germans he identified as Alpine and Mediterranean types, especially in Vorarlberg, Bavaria, and the Black Forest region of Baden. Nazi Führer Adolf Hitler read Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes that influenced his racial policy, and with Nazi backing, Günther attained a position in the anthropology department at the University of Jena in 1932 where Hitler attended Günther's inaugural lecture.
Günther distinguished Aryans from Jews, and identified Jews as descending from non-European races, particularly from what he classified as the Near Asian race (Vorderasiatische) more commonly known as the Armenoid race, and said that such origins rendered Jews fundamentally different from and incompatible with Germans and most Europeans. This association of Jews with the Armenoid type had been utilized by Zionist Jews who claimed that Jews were a group within that type. He claimed that the Near Eastern race descended from the Caucasus in the fifth and fourth millennia BC, and that it had expanded into Asia Minor and Mesopotamia and eventually to the west coast of the Eastern Mediterranean Sea. Aside from ascribing Armenians and Jews as having Near Eastern characteristics, he ascribed them to several other contemporary peoples, including: Greeks, Turks, Syrians, and Iranians. In his work Racial Characteristics of the Jewish People, he defined the racial soul of the Near Eastern race as emphasizing a "commercial spirit" (Handelgeist), and described them as "artful traders" - a term that Gunther ascribed as being used by Jewish racial theorist Samuel Weissenberg to describe contemporary Armenians, Greeks, and Jews. Günther added to that description of the Near Eastern type as being composed primarily of commercially spirited and artful traders, by claiming that the type held strong psychological manipulation skills that aided them in trade. He claimed that the Near Eastern race had been "bred not so much for the conquest and exploitation of nature as it was for the conquest and exploitation of people".
Hitler's conception of the Aryan Herrenvolk ("Aryan master race") explicitly excluded the vast majority of Slavs, regarding the Slavs as having dangerous Jewish and Asiatic influences. The Nazis because of this declared Slavs to be untermenschen (subhumans). Exceptions were made for a small percentage of Slavs who were seen by the Nazis to be descended from German settlers and therefore fit to be Germanised to be considered part of the Aryan master race. Hitler described Slavs as "a mass of born slaves who feel the need of a master". Hitler declared that because Slavs were subhumans that the Geneva Conventions were not applicable to them, and German soldiers in World War II were thus permitted to ignore the Geneva Conventions in regards to Slavs. Hitler called Slavs "a rabbit family" meaning they were intrinsically idle and disorganized. Nazi Germany's propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels had media speak of Slavs as primitive animals who were from the Siberian tundra who were like a "dark wave of filth". The Nazi notion of Slavs being inferior was part of the agenda for creating Lebensraum ("living space") for Germans and other Germanic people in eastern Europe that was initiated during World War II under Generalplan Ost, millions of Germans and other Germanic settlers would be moved into conquered territories of Eastern Europe, while the original Slavic inhabitants were to be annihilated, removed, or enslaved. Nazi Germany's ally the Independent State of Croatia rejected the common conception that Croats were primarily a Slavic people and claimed that Croats were primarily the descendents of the Germanic Goths. However the Nazi regime continued to classify Croats as "subhuman" in spite of the alliance. Nazi Germany's policy changed towards Slavs in response to military manpower shortages, in which it accepted Slavs to serve in its armed forces within occupied territories, in spite of them being considered subhuman, as a pragmatic means to resolve such manpower shortages.
Hitler often doubted whether Czechs were Aryan or not, he said in his table talk "It is enough for a Czech to grow a moustache for anyone to see, from the way the thing droops, that his origin is Mongoloian." The question of whether Italians were Aryan enough was questioned by the Nazi racial theorists. Hitler viewed northern Italians as strongly Aryan, but not southern Italians. The Nazis viewed the downfall of the Roman Empire as being the result of the pollution of blood from racial intermixing, claiming that Italians were a hybrid of races, including black African races. Hitler even mentioned his view of the presence of Negroid blood in the Mediterranean peoples during his first meeting with Mussolini in 1934.
In 1933, the German Interior Ministry official Albert Gorter drafted an official definition of the "Aryan race" for the new Civil Service Law that included European Aryans and Asian Aryans of the subtype race known as Irano-Afghan; this definition was unacceptable by the Nazis. However, Achim Gerke revised Gorter's draft of the Civil Service Law by removing non-Europeans from the definition of the Aryan race, as they were considered too foreign to be connected with the Aryan race in Europe. The Nuremberg race laws of 1935 classified as "racially acceptable" people with "German or related blood" all persons wishing to be a citizen of the Reich had to provide proof of their Aryan ancestry by acquiring an Aryan certificate. The definition of "Aryan" remained in constant flux to such an extent that the Nazis questioned whether European ethnic groups such as Finns or Hungarians were to be classified as "Aryans".
The idea of the Northern origins of the Aryans was particularly influential in Germany. It was widely believed that the "Vedic Aryans" were ethnically identical to the Goths, Vandals and other ancient Germanic peoples of the Völkerwanderung. This idea was often intertwined with antisemitic ideas. The distinctions between the "Aryan" and "Semitic" peoples were based on the aforementioned linguistic and ethnic history. A complete, highly speculative theory of Aryan and anti-Semitic history can be found in Alfred Rosenberg's major work, The Myth of the Twentieth Century. Rosenberg's account of ancient history, melded with his racial speculations, proved to be very effective in spreading racialism among German intellectuals in the early twentieth century, especially after the First World War.
Semitic peoples came to be seen as a foreign presence within Aryan societies, and the Semitic peoples were often pointed to as the cause of conversion and destruction of social order and values leading to culture and civilization's downfall by proto-Nazi theorists such as Houston Stewart Chamberlain.
These and other ideas evolved into the Nazi use of the term "Aryan race" to refer to what they saw as being a master race, which was narrowly defined by the Nazis as being identical with the Nordic race, followed by other sub-races of the Aryan race. They worked to maintain the purity of this race through eugenics programs (including anti-miscegenation legislation, compulsory sterilization of the mentally ill and the mentally deficient, the execution of the institutionalized mentally ill as part of a euthanasia program).
Heinrich Himmler (the Reichsführer of the SS), the person ordered by Adolf Hitler to implement the Final Solution, or the Holocaust, told his personal masseur Felix Kersten that he always carried with him a copy of the ancient Aryan scripture, the Bhagavad Gita because it relieved him of guilt about what he was doing – he felt that like the warrior Arjuna, he was simply doing his duty without attachment to his actions.
In a 1921 speech in Bologna, Mussolini stated that "Fascism was born... out of a profound, perennial need of this our Aryan and Mediterranean race". In this speech Mussolini was referring to Italians as being the Mediterranean branch of the Aryan Race, Aryan in the meaning of people of an Indo-European language and culture. Italian Fascism emphasized that race was bound by spiritual and cultural foundations, and identified a racial hierarchy based on spiritual and cultural factors. While Italian Fascism based its conception of race on spiritual and cultural factors, Mussolini explicitly rejected notions that biologically "pure" races existed though biology was still considered a relevant factor in race.
Italian Fascism strongly rejected the common Nordicist conception of the Aryan Race that idealized "pure" Aryans as having certain physical traits that were defined as Nordic such as blond hair and blue eyes. The antipathy by Mussolini and other Italian Fascists to Nordicism was over the existence of what they viewed as the Mediterranean inferiority complex that they claimed had been instilled into Mediterraneans by the propagation of such theories by German and Anglo-Saxon Nordicists who viewed Mediterranean peoples as racially degenerate and thus in their view inferior. Mussolini refused to allow Italy to return again to this inferiority complex, initially rejecting Nordicism. However traditional Nordicist claims of Mediterraneans being degenerate due to having a darker colour of skin than Nordics had long been rebuked in anthropology through the depigmentation theory that claimed that lighter-skinned peoples had been dipigmented from a darker skin, this theory has since become a widely accepted view in anthropology. Anthropologist Carleton S. Coon in his work The races of Europe (1939) subscribed to depigmentation theory that claimed that the Nordic race's light-coloured skin was the result of depigmentation from their ancestors of the Mediterranean race.
In the early 1930s, with the rise to power of the Nazi Party in Germany with Führer Adolf Hitler's emphasis on a Nordicist conception of the Aryan Race, strong tensions arose between the Fascists and the Nazis over racial issues. In 1934, in the aftermath of Austrian Nazis killing Austrian Chancellor Engelbert Dollfuss, an ally of Italy, Mussolini became enraged and responded by angrily denouncing Nazism. Mussolini rebuked Nazism's Nordicism, claiming that the Nazis' emphasizing of a common Nordic "Germanic race" was absurd, saying "a Germanic race does not exist. ... We repeat. Does not exist. Scientists say so. Hitler says so." The fact that Germans were not purely Nordic was indeed acknowledged by prominent Nazi racial theorist Hans F. K. Günther in his book Rassenkunde des deutschen Volkes (1922) ("Racial Science of the German People"), where Günther recognized Germans as being composed of five Aryan subtype races: Nordic, Mediterranean, Dinaric, Alpine, and East Baltic while asserting that the Nordics were the highest in a racial hierarchy of the five subtypes.
By 1936, the tensions between Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany reduced and relations became more amicable. In 1936, Mussolini decided to launch a racial programme in Italy, and was interested in the racial studies being conducted by Giulio Cogni. Cogni was a Nordicist but did not equate Nordic identity with Germanic identity as was commonly done by German Nordicists. Cogni had travelled to Germany where he had become impressed by Nazi racial theory and sought to create his own version of racial theory. On 11 September 1936, Cogni sent Mussolini a copy of his newly published book Il Razzismo (1936). Cogni declared the racial affinity of the Mediterranean and Nordic racial subtypes of the Aryan race and claimed that the intermixing of Nordic Aryans and Mediterranean Aryans in Italy produced a superior synthesis of Aryan Italians. Cogni addressed the issue of racial differences between northern and southern Italians, declaring southern Italians were mixed between Aryan and non-Aryan races, that he claimed was most likely due to infiltration by Asiatic peoples in Roman times and later Arab invasions. As such, Cogni viewed Southern Italian Mediterraneans as being polluted with orientalizing tendencies. He would later change his idea and claim that Nordics and Southern Italians were closely related groups both racially and spiritually. His opinion was that they were generally responsible for what is the best in European civilization. Initially Mussolini was not impressed with Cogni's work, however Cogni's ideas entered into the official Fascist racial policy several years later.
In 1938 Mussolini was concerned that if Italian Fascism did not recognize Nordic heritage within Italians, that the Mediterranean inferiority complex would return to Italian society. Therefore, in summer 1938, the Fascist government officially recognized Italians as having Nordic heritage and being of Nordic-Mediterranean descent and in a meeting with PNF members, and in June 1938 in a meeting with PNF members, Mussolini identified himself as Nordic and declared that previous policy of focus on Mediterraneanism was to be replaced by a focus on Aryanism.
The Fascist regime began publication of the racialist magazine La Difesa della Razza in 1938. The Nordicist racial theorist Guido Landra took a major role in the early work of La Difesa, and published the Manifesto of Racial Scientists in the magazine in 1938. The Manifesto received substantial criticism, including its assertion of Italians being a "pure race", as it was viewed as absurd. La Difesa published other theories that described long-term Nordic Aryan amongst Italians, such as the theory that in the Eneolithic age Nordic Aryans arrived to Italy. Many of the writers took up the traditional Nordicist claim that the decline and fall of the Roman Empire was due to the arrival of Semitic immigrants. La Difesa's writers were divided on their claims that described how Italians extricated themselves from Semitic influence.
The Nordicist direction of Fascist racial policy was challenged in 1938 by a resurgence of the Mediterraneanist faction in the PNF. By 1939, the Mediterraneanists' advocacy of a nativist racial theory that rejected ascribing the achievements of the Italian people to Nordic peoples. This nativist racial policy was prominently promoted by Ugo Rellini. Rellini rejected the notion of large-scale invasions of Italy by Nordic Aryans in the Eneolithic age, and claimed that Italians were an indigenous people descended from the Cro-Magnons. Rellini claimed that Mediterranean and Nordic peoples arrived later and peacefully intermixed in small numbers with the indigenous Italian population.
In 1941 the PNF's Mediterraneanists through the influence of Giacomo Acerbo put forward a comprehensive definition of the Italian race. However these efforts were challenged by Mussolini's endorsement of Nordicist figures with the appointment of staunch spiritual Nordicist Alberto Luchini as head of Italy's Racial Office in May 1941, as well as with Mussolini becoming interested in Julius Evola's spiritual Nordicism in late 1941. Acerbo and the Mediterraneanists in his High Council on Demography and Race sought to bring the regime back to supporting Mediterraneanism by thoroughly denouncing the pro-Nordicist Manifesto of the Racial Scientists. The Council recognized Aryans as being a linguistic-based group, and condemned the Manifesto for denying the influence of pre-Aryan civilization on modern Italy, saying that the Manifesto "constitutes an unjustifiable and undemonstrable negation of the anthropological, ethnological, and archaeological discoveries that have occurred and are occurring in our country". Furthermore, the Council denounced the Manifesto for "implicitly" crediting Germanic invaders of Italy in the guise of the Lombards for having "a formative influence on the Italian race in a disproportional degree to the number of invaders and to their biological predominance". The Council claimed that the obvious superiority of the ancient Greeks and Romans in comparison with the ancient Germanic tribes made it inconceivable that Italian culture owed a debt to ancient Aryan Germans. The Council denounced the Manifesto's Nordicist attitude towards Mediterraneans that it claimed was "considering them as slaves" and was "a repudiation of the entire Italian civilization".
Since the military defeat of Nazi Germany by the Allies in 1945, some neo-Nazis have developed a more inclusive definition of "Aryan", claiming that the peoples of Western Europe are the closest descendants of the ancient Aryans, with Nordic and Germanic peoples being the most "racially pure."
According to Nicholas Goodrick-Clarke, many neo-Nazis want to establish an autocratic state modeled after Nazi Germany to be called the Western Imperium. It is believed that this proposed state would be able to attain world domination by combining the nuclear arsenals of the four major Aryan world powers, the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Russia under a single military command.
This proposed state would be led by a Führer-like figure called the Vindex, and would include all areas inhabited by the "Aryan race", as conceived by Neo-Nazis. Only those of the Aryan race would be full citizens of the state. The "Western Imperium" would embark on a vigorous and dynamic program of space exploration, followed by the creation by genetic engineering of a super race called Homo Galactica. The concept of the "Western Imperium" as outlined in the previous three sentences is based on the original concept of the Imperium as outlined in the 1947 book Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics by Francis Parker Yockey as further updated, extended and refined in the early 1990s in pamphlets published by David Myatt.