The Myth of Blood and Soil

According to Karl Popper, writing in his The Open Society and its Enemies, The Myth of Blood and Soil was originated by Plato and detailed in The Republic. Plato freely admits that the myth is a lie. It was a propaganda ploy used to bolster his idea of the ideal state which is totalitarian in nature ruled by a philosopher king and a racially pure elite.


The Myth of Blood and Soil is based on two ideas: 1. In order to strengthen the defense of the mother country men are born of the earth of their country which is their mother.  2. Racialism: “God has put gold into those who are capable of ruling, silver into the auxiliaries, and iron and copper into the peasants and other producer classes.” These metals are racial characteristics. Any admixture of one of these base metals must be excluded from the higher classes. In other words, only those with racial purity may rule. Plato goes on to say that any mixing of the metals will lead to the fall of man. “Iron will mingle with silver and bronze with gold, and from this admixture variation will be born and absurd irregularity; and whenever these are born they will they will beget struggle and hostility; the city (state) must perish when guarded by iron and copper” and lead to the degradation and the fall of man. Remember, Plato admits that the Myth of Blood and Soil is a propaganda lie useful in persuading his rulers to follow his racial policies.


Fast forward to Germany in the late 19th century where the phrase Blood and Soil was appropriated by the Germans to signify and glorify racialism and nationalism. The German translation reads: “Blut und Boden.” Rural life was idealized and combined with the ideas of racism and anti-Semitism. “Blood and Soil” became a key phrase of Nazi ideology.


This phrase has been taken up and by neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups here in the United States as a rallying cry.  Nazis could be heard chanting the phrase, “Blood and Soil” on the streets of Charlottesville as they marched carrying their torches.



A City Upon a Hill


It seems the phrase, “a city upon a hill” has been misappropriated all over the place.  It was most recently ascribed to Ronald Reagan who used it to describe America. He probably got it from his speech writer Peggy Noonan who has lifted other memorable quotes from the pages of history. She likely got it from John F. Kennedy who also used it to describe America. It was first used in America in 1630 by a former Governor of Massachusetts, John Winthrop, in a speech wherein he describes American exceptionalism based on the concept of manifest destiny.

The actual origin of the phrase is biblical, Mathew 5:14: “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” I believe the origin to be even earlier found in Plato’s Republic. Plato describes the City-State as the perfect form of government and a philosopher-king as the perfect ruler. Plato uses Athens as an example describing it as “city set upon a hill.”

So you see, there is really nothing new under the sun. Everyone steals from everyone else.