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Asatru and Ethics
Part 1

William B. Fox
Orginally published in
Winter, (Runic Era) 2245 (1995) Vor Tru Magazine
under pen name "Thor Sannhet"

Ethics \'eth-iks\ n [ME ethik, fr. MF ethique, fr. L ethice, fr. Gk ethike, fr.ethikos] 1. pl but sing or pl in constr: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation 2a: a set of moral principles or values b: a theory or system of moral values <the present-day materialistic ethics> c pl but sing or pl in constr: the principles of conduct governing an individual or a group <professional ethics>

ONE OF THE MOST VALUABLE insights that I gained while attending a well known Eastern business school from 1983-84 was offered by a professor wno taught a business policy class. According to the good professor, all ethical justifications fall into one of three categories: duty-based, contractual, and utilitarian.
How right he was!! I have found this approach to be practical, useful, and true in everything that I have observed in the last ten years.
This insight not only helps me to quickly analyze complex ethical issues, but also helps me to understand the ethical behavior practiced by our Gods and heroes. As examples, Thor and Heimdall often show duty-based ethical behavior. Tyr and Freya provide good examples of contractual ethical behavior. Odin and Loki are strong on the utilitarian side.
The "punchline" is that all of the different ethical approaches have their place, and must be considered together. When an individual or society goes overboard by focusing on one ethical approach to the exclusion of the others (eg. a duty-based approach to the exclusion of the contractual and utilitarian viewpoints, or conversely a utilitarian viewpoint to the exclusion of the contractual and duty-based viewpoints), it typically leads to great evil.
The stories of our Gods and heroes illustrate how the three different modes of ethical decision making interconnect and overlap, much like the interlocking triangles of the Valknut. Another analogy might be to compare them to the three legs of a stool. When one is missing or is not in proper proportion, it is impossible to have a stable and balanced platform. To gain balance and wisdom, we have to learn how these three different ethical viewpoints can work together.
We should also note that Christians, Jews, Muslims, and other exotic religionists also practice some mixture of duty-based, contractual, and utilitarian ethics. It is just that we are more open, honest, and rational in how we go about it. We also tend to practice ethical decision making on a more decentralized and individualized level than Levantine slave god religionists.


"When the state is corrupt then the laws are most multiplied"
Tacitus (55?-120? AD), Roman historian, orator

An important reward for following the path of Asatru involves gaining a greater sense of normalcy, decency, and rootedness. To find these things, we must resist the forces of alienation, perversion, and radical liberalism rampant in our pluralistic, media-dominated, and plastic society. We must come to thoroughly understand the "folk soul" of our people that provides a baseline for the innate senses that shape our ethics.
We can find a good starting point by studying word derivation. The word "Aryan" means "noble one" in the ancient proto- Indo- European language, from which we get such place names as "Eire" for Ireland ("land of the Aryans") and "Iran" ("Aryan land"). The Aryan (or Indo-European or Nordic) peoples were noted for creating rationalistic and democratic institutions that weighed heavily in favor of the human rights of individual Indo-Europeans wherever they went (cf. "Democracy Ancient and Modern," by Alain Benoist, Conservative Review, Dec 91).
These peoples included not only the Viking founders of the ancient Althings of Scandinavia, or the Nordic Anglo-Saxons who developed England's Parliamentary traditions, but also the Nordic Sabines, Oscians, and other Germanic tribes who formed the Patrician class of the Roman Republic; and the Dorians, Achaeans, Aeolians, and other Nordic peoples who provided the racial leadership of the Grecian city state democracies of the Homeric, Heroic, and Classical eras. These peoples probably also included the Indo-European Sumerians who created the first major civilization in the Fertile Crescent. They certainly included the mostly Nordic/Anglo Saxon population that founded the United States in 1776.
Initially these hardy and robust Nordic peoples, whose original ancestors swept southward out of the harsh frost zones of central Eurasia, required relatively little in the way of formalized ethical codes and law to guide their behavior; they were so innately endowed with the level of character, intelligence, and common sense required to make it in a frost zone that they could act like "noble ones" without a lot of formal ethical instruction and legalistic constraints. Even in early American history, we see how Nordic/ Anglo-Saxon pioneers and community leaders such as Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett, and Sam Houston got along perfectly well without studying formal etiquette books. Nordic posses in the old West were able to dispense rough but effective justice and build viable, growing, and dynamic communities without the aid of a lot of legal study or formalized instruction in ethics.
In my article "Eternal Asatru and Counterfeit Christianity" (Spring 2242 Vor Tru) I reinforced this point by providing a quote made in 440 A.D. by a Christian priest named Salvian. He actually found our pagan "barbarian" ancestors of the North to be morally superior to tanned and sophisticated Christianized Romans. He noted that there were many who "seek Roman humanity among the barbarians, because they can not bear barbarian inhumanity among the Romans. "
Historically, ethical problems have begun to multiply during the maturation phase of civilizations built by Indo-Europeans. After alien groups are imported to provide a cheap labor force, the overall innate temperamental traits of the populations begin to changed markedly. Urbanized societies shelter the proliferation of weaklings, alien and mixed peoples, maladaptive mutants, and other unproductive citizens. (These "wretched refuse" of teeming cities never would have made it back in the original frost zone homelands of the Indo-Europeans). Thus, as cities become increasingly cacophonous and degenerate, it becomes increasingly necessary for their leaders to create extremely detailed laws and ethical philosophies to guide the growing swarms of people with bad, alien, or defective instincts.
Our common law, prior to its perversion by various forms of 19th and 20th century liberalism and alien infiltration, trusted in the good instincts and common sense of the Nordic folk above all else. This is why the highest legal decision-making source is the trial by jury of ones peers, rather than by legal specialists, agents of "divine right" rulers, or slave god priests.
It is no longer enough for us to simply feel good about ourselves and continue to act noble as an outgrowth of our indigenous Indo-European instincts. To defend ourselves, particularly in this age of alien-controlled and hostile national media, it has become increasingly important for us to be able to consciously explain and defend our values and system of ethics before others.
Many alien peoples falsely conclude that our relative absence of dogma is some kind of "license to be outrageous" and "anything goes." Men with bad instincts and little innate self-restraint typically interpret human freedom and liberty as license to be irresponsible.
Contrary to this, in the hands of northern folk who have good instincts, the relative absence of dogma in our tradition enables us to practice the highest kind of ethics and morality possible. This comes from our ability to take the counsel of the three major forms of ethical thinking simultaneously, without being a slave to any particular ethical system or to any particular slave gods, self-proclaimed messiahs, or dictatorial political leaders.
The first section of this article will cover each of the three major ethical systems in some detail (duty-based, contractual, and utilitarian). I will ,respond to such questions as: How do they relate to the behavior of our Gods? How can we tie them all together and make them work for us?
In the second section, I will discuss how scientific advances in the discipline of sociobiology give us important insights into the genetic side of our ethical behavior. I will explain why it is not possible to fully understand ethics until we fully understand the uniquely Indo¬European instinctive side of our behavior, which reflects a voice of our conscience and the calling of our Gods. I will also explain how certain scientists such as Dr. Raymond Cattell, author of A New Morality From Science: Beyondism and Beyondism: Religion From Science believe that we can deduce a higher morality from concepts in physics and behavioral genetics. This is the ultimate basis of a "common law" and "common sense" approach to ethics, which in turn falls under the duty-based "authority of instinct" category.
In the third section, I will explain why Asatru uses a "common law" and a "common sense" approach to ethics and morality as opposed to a "revealed" or dogmatic approach. This approach relates, in an abstract way, under the duty-based "authority of instinct" category that I cover in the first section.
In the fourth section, I will discuss preventative ethics. A major part of ethical behavior involves the ability to anticipate problems ahead of time and react to them. It also involves the ability to ally oneself with like-minded people of one's folk who can help to defend a particular ethical system against malefactors and predatory aliens. This is where our improved ability to think about ethics, which I hope will be the outcome of this article, may have its biggest payoff.



"He is best who is trained in the severest discipline"
--King Archidamus II of Sparta

"Wanderer, if you come to Sparta,
tell them there,
You have seen us lying here,
obedient to their laws. "

[Monument to Leonidas and his 300 hundred blond-haired Spartan comrades who fought to the death against the multiraciall/ethnic Persian "New World Order" invasion force at Thermopylae in 480 B.C.]

"It is legal because I wish it."
--King Louis XIV of France (1638-1715)

"The average man never really thinks from end to end of his life. The mental activity of such people is only a mouthing of cliches. What they mistake for thought is simply repetition of what they have heard. My guess is that well over 80% of the human race goes through life without having a single original thought. Whenever a new one appears the average man shows signs of dismay and resentment."
--H. L.Mencken (1880-1956)
American editor, writer from
Minority Report:
H. L. Mencken's Notebooks

In their most simple form, duty-based ethics are laid down by some kind of authority for people to follow. Examples include your mother who spanked you when you didn't behave as a child, the Biblical Ten Commandments allegedly laid down by the Jewish tribal deity Yahweh, and the morass of affirmative action and anti-States Rights laws and regulations laid down by an ever expanding, ever intrusive, and ever self-righteous Federal Government and its special interest wire-pullers.
On a more abstract level, duty-based ethics are subconsciously programmed into us by our surrounding culture or by peer pressure. Even if these behavioral expectations are never formally voiced or written down, the social fear that other people will judge us to commit a "faux pas" that makes us appear "weird," "offensive," or "not politically correct" is often enough to keep our behavior in line.
On an even more abstract level, duty-based ethics emanate from instinctive urges. These basic urges override our normal rational decision-making processes. As an example, a mother who rushes on impulse into a burning building to rescue her four infants, even when this action is certain to cost her life as she hands them out a window to safety, hardly does any conscious contractual or utilitarian reasoning. She is obeying a "duty to instinct."
The bottom line behind all of these duty-based approaches to ethics is that some kind of force overrides a person's normal careful deliberative conscious judgment and compels him or her to act a certain way. Duty-based ethics are long on obedience and emotionally charged values and short on reason. The "authority" of duty-based ethics can be a wide variety of forces that force us to act a certain way independently of how we might rationalize a situation in our cerebrums.

How do we acquire duty-based ethics?
Learning a duty-based ethical system is very similar to learning a language. Simply acquire a vocabulary of "approved behaviors" and learn the "grammar" for when they are considered appropriate, practice it, and you are there. It simply consists of internalizing long laundry lists of things that are considered "goodies" and "baddies," and on top of that memorizing thousands of situations to get a sense of "appropriateness."
Most ethical behavior of most people most of the time tends to be duty-based. It involves repeating cultural norms and habits of behavior that are acquired from childhood.

What kinds of people typically focus on duty-based ethics?
Adults who are in subordinate, dependent, or weak positions or who fill specialized roles in an organizational pyramid that restrict their ability to grasp the big picture and act on their own initiative. These roles include those of most bureaucrats, workers, and military personnel. Not surprisingly, duty-based ethics are also heavily associated with children.
Duty-based ethics are also associated with people who like to live "simple," straightforward, and even a somewhat naive lifestyles with a bias towards "direct action."

How do duty-based ethics relate to the Semitic slave god religions?
The Semitic slave god religions are very heavily duty-based in their approach to ethics. One of the most extreme examples in this regard is Christianity.
We all recollect the scenes in the New Testament in which Jesus publicly confronts the shallow morality of the Pharisees and Sadducees. For example in Matthew 15: 7-8, Jesus says: "You hypocrites, Isaiah rightly prophesied about you. This people honor me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me." In Matthew 23: 25 "Alas for you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; for you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of extortion and self indulgence. "
All right so far. This is a standard criticism of corrupt followers of any duty-based ethical system, namely that they often promote legalistic hair-splitting by interpreting rules as ends in themselves in order to create the appearance of public righteousness. At the same time they wantonly violate moral standards in secret or unscrupulously exploit legal loopholes for personal gain. This is similar to the mentality of a weasel who slips into a farmer's hen house at night to suck the yolk out of eggs while leaving the shells intact.
Some of the most extreme examples of this kind of legalistic hair-splitting in Semitic slave god religion are found in the Talmud, compiled in Babylonia in the 6th century A.D. Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, who has translated the complete Talmud, once admitted, "After you have learned the right passages in the Talmud, you have learned about every perversion in the greatest detail." The term "Talmudic" has become synonymous with any legalistic reasoning that becomes convoluted and picky to the point of absurdity.
Typically, the standard way to counter the excesses, hair-splitting, and absurdities in a duty-based ethical system is to shift the argument towards contractual and utilitarian ethical reasoning. This puts the spotlight on the big issues and counteracts the hair-splitting and "moralities piled on top of moralities."
But this is not what Jesus does when he attempts to combat the petty and hypocritical morality of the Pharisees and Sadducees. Instead, he goes in the opposite direction, and becomes even more duty-based and moralistic. Jesus not only condemns wrong behavior, but also "wrong" thoughts.
As an example, in Mark 9: 47-48, Jesus says: "If our eye causes you to stumble, tear it out: it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into hell, where their worm never ceases and the fire is not put out."
This is mind control! On a philosophical level, this simply takes us out of a duty-based frying pan and puts us into a duty-based volcano! This lunge into pure thought control is very alien to Indo-European legal traditions and common law that punish acts but not thoughts.
In order to make a rational decision, people have to access different viewpoints in order play with a full deck. In fact, one of the first steps of the scientific method, first developed by Nordic-descended Greeks in the 6th century B.C., is to access a broad data base of what is known regarding a certain problem to avoid "reinventing the wheel." The need for free thought is particularly great for contractual or utilitarian ethical reasoning. This is why we have First Amendment Freedom of Speech in America and recoil at the concept of punishing people for "thought crime." Our folk have always cherished the right to privately think any thoughts they want without outside meddling and mind control interventions.
Nowhere in the Gospels does Jesus advocate free thought, free speech, or contractual and utilitarian reasoning. Not surprisingly, nowhere in the Semitic scriptures do we find advocacy of the scientific method, republicanism, or democracy, all of which are philosophical systems developed by Nordic folk. To the contrary, Jesus explicitly advocates a purely childlike and duty-based approach to ethics that is so blindly moralistic as to be ridiculous.
All of this is one more indication that Christianity is a contrived religion that reflects an alien and viciously deceptive mentality. Christianity is a scam against the noble and rationalistic traditions of our folk.

How are duty-based ethics reflected in Asatru?
Thor often shows a duty-based ethical orientation. For starters, could you ever imagine him becoming disloyal to Odin and going over to Loki's side prior to Ragnarok? One could hardly imagine it. Thor is always faithful. He remains true right up to the end in which he dies battling the Midgard serpent.
Thor usually shows a strong gut feeling of what he considers right and wrong and good and bad. For starters, he hates frost giants. When he runs across one of them, there is no negotiation, accommodation, or rationalization. Thor unleashes his hammer Mjollnir and smashes the giant's face. A straightforward fighter with basic instincts, Thor goes for direct action and decisive results.
Heimdall also shows a strong sense of duty. You can always count on Him to guard the Bifrost Bridge. You can count on Him, as well as the warriors who fill Odin's hall to perform their duty right up to the very end at Ragnarok.

What are the advantages of duty-based ethics?
Duty-based ethics are usually very simple to understand, easy to pass on and practice, and can be universally applied within a large society. A society requires a certain amount of duty-based ethics simply to remain stable and operate efficiently. For starters, there simply is not enough time for people to always have to renegotiate or re-reason all of their ethical standards.
On a more abstract level, when we consider the "duty of instinct," we need to consider that there are some values that science or contractual or utilitarian reasoning can not answer for us. These are ultimate questions such as "Why go on living?" or "Why have children?" or "Why care about one's people?"
Science can answer the "how's" of life, but not the ultimate "why's." This is because life preservation urges are resident in our genes, and have survived as consequence of a very long evolutionary sculpturing process. As an example, the ancestors of our folk had such qualities as a strong will to live, technological ingenuity, a capacity for delayed gratification, and a strong exploratory drive. They were able to survive for hundreds of thousands of years in a frost zone. Those who lacked these traits tended to get killed off by the winters or from forms of scarcity and competition induced by the cruel winters. More on all of this later when I discuss how human behavior is more genetic than environmental in the third section of this article.
Because duty-based ethics run the entire gamut from simple imitative ethics to tendencies emanating from our deepest instincts, this area can paradoxically comprise both the most primitive and incongruous area and also the most necessary area of ethical decision making at the same time.

" ... there are some values that science or contractual or utilitarian reasoning can not answer for us."

What are some of the disadvantages of duty-based ethics?
Thomas Jefferson, in a letter to James Madison, 1789 hit the nail on the head when he said: "No society can make a perpetual constitution, or even a perpetual law."
The greatest disadvantage of duty-based ethics involves their rigidity. They are based upon obeying and feeling rather than upon thinking, and have all the disadvantages of any approach to life in which people are unable to rationally think for themselves or analyze contradictions in social standards, especially as situations change.
If the "authority" of a duty-based ethical system is some human leader, then the source is fallible and imperfect. The duty-based ethical actor is in big trouble when he hitches his fortunes to someone who is prone to human error and can turn out to be a loser. A good example is the Reverend Jim Jones, who led 912 members of the People's Temple to imbibe cyanide-spiked Kool-Aid in Jonestown, Guyana on November 18, 1978.
Even if the "authority" of a duty-based ethical system is something more abstract, such as the instinctive sensibilities of a folk, this area can pose problems in making interpretations. A basic problem is that humans are endowed with opposing instincts, much like opposing muscle groups that alternately contract or relax in order for someone to do a push up. We can love and also hate. We have instincts to dominate as well as subordinate ourselves.
It is true that just as different individuals work with different rhythms and motor coordination despite their opposing muscle groups, different human racial groups have different innate styles for resolving their collective instincts. They have different innate temperamental traits that have been sculptured by different evolutionary histories in different physical environments (eg. frost zones as compared to jungle areas). In order to get a handle on style, one has to get a detailed sense of a people's history and indigenous culture. As an example, compared to other racial groups, our folk are noted for their individualism, technological adaptiveness, need for physical and psychological territory (human rights), and exploratory and wanderlust urges. The "authority of instinct" gives us important clues and background knowledge, but is often too nebulous to provide definitive answers to very specific and concrete ethical problems we encounter in our daily lives. It is more valuable for addressing macro-ethical issues involving the kinds of institutions that best fit our overall society.
When the "authority" of a duty-based ethical system involves a folk culture and general social norms, this can also run into serious problems. For starters, many aspects of social norms tend to evolve in a slap-dash, incremental, and arbitrary way. Social norms often have numerous inconsistencies that are created by expediency or limited human experience.
A good example of contradictory behavior in a duty-based ethical system involved the behavior of Japanese Prisoners of War during World War II who had sworn loyalty to the stern warrior code of Bushido. Japanese soldiers were expected to fight to the death rather than fall into the hands of American "barbarians." Amazingly enough, numerous Japanese soldiers who tried to die in banzai or kamikaze attacks, but somehow survived grazing wounds and other near-fatal events, would suddenly become total collaborators with Americans! To the American mind, this was incomprehensible, since Americans correlated fighting spirit on the battlefield with the will to resist an enemy once captured.
The duty-based explanation behind this apparent contradiction was as follows: in Japanese society, duty to the Emperor and all other authority figures was everything. Since it was unimaginable that a soldier would fall into enemy hands alive, there were no instructions regarding proper P.O.W. behavior once captured; in fact, the soldier who wound up as a P.O.W. was assumed to have completely "lost face" and was effectively dead to his country. Hence, the captured Japanese soldier had nothing to lose by turning against his former countrymen. Furthermore he felt he could gain points by adopting General MacArthur and FDR as his new "Emperors," since the ability to show duty and obligation was everything. It was either total self-immolation or total allegiance to some new "Shogun" (in this case General MacArthur), with no middle ground addressed by the Code of Bushido.
Before we smile too much at the duty-based ethical peculiarities of World War II Japanese P.O.W.'s, we need to recollect former Japanese Prime Minister Nakasone's statement a few years ago that America was being held back by certain of its less intelligent minority groups. What he was referring to is the rate in which America's white population is falling into a minority status around the country, on the track towards becoming a minority in less than fifty years.
To the Japanese tribal way of thinking, loyalty and charity begin at home. There is nothing more important than for a people to retain control of their destiny as a people. (This ethic, which is incorporated in the Japanese indigenous ancestral faith of Shinto, is philosophically very similar to that of the Northern European ancestral faith of Asatru). To the Japanese, it is treasonous to turn over jobs and other influential positions in the strategic bases of ones society to aliens. The Japanese themselves have maintained steady economic growth since World War II despite their steadfast policy of preventing any form of immigration into their society by alien racial groups.
To the Japanese, it is absurd that Americans would make such a total war effort to resist their armed invasion at Pearl Harbor, and then silently acquiesce (or even actively aid through affirmative action and welfare programs) the silent invasion of their country through out-of-control Third World immigration or through aiding financial acquisitions by alien peoples of the highest corporate, banking, and media entities in America. White Americans who colloborate with alien interests that promote the decline of the white middle class into a minority status are doing far more permanent damage to America than turncoat Japanese P.O.W.'s who guided American bombing and artillery attacks against Japanese positions.
The duty-based ethical reason for the contradictory behavior of white Americans include programming by their liberal Christian churches and liberal national media. These sources claim that it is morally "wrong" ("paranoid," "xenophobic," "reactionary,"" crack-pot right wing", etc.) to compare various forms of silent invasion with armed invasion. "Diversity" is portrayed as an unqualified moral "good." People who are worried about the implications of a changing racial balance are portrayed as "racists," "neo-Nazi's," "fascists", "disturbed people" or other smear labels. In fact, America's liberal national media created such a stink over Nakasone's comments, that the Japanese Prime Minister felt compelled to back paddle in his public statements.
Hence, since duty-based ethical systems are based upon feeling and obeying rather than thinking, they can suffer from excessive rigidity in the face of changing situations as people fearfully hang on to their emotionally charged values. Since a major component of certain emotionally charged values can be shaped or maintained by clever propagandists for destructive purposes, these values are sometimes suspect as an absolute "authority" for duty-based ethics

Part II of Asatru and Ethics that addresses contractual and utilitarian ethics will appear in the Vor Tru #54.


* * * * * * *

William B. Fox is a former Marine Corps officer with experience in logistics, public affairs, and military intelligence. He is an honors graduate of the Harvard Business School and a Phi Beta Kappa graduate from the University of Southern California. He is also publisher of America First Books at


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