This was the theme of an introduction to Goethe’s Faust that I wrote some years ago, and also of an essay on Wagner and Shaw and a review of Professor Heller’s interesting but controversial book The Disinherited Mind, as well as some other writings not directly connected with politics. The idea of higher forms, of which I first wrote in 1947 in The Alternative, is dealt with in the last chapter of Europe: Faith and Plan (1958). Here it is mentioned briefly in the preface and in an answer on communism where I postulate that the discernible process of life is a movement from lower to higher forms. This concept has a basic simplicity but differs as completely from the main principle of current opinion as a tower does from a mine shaft.
In brief summary of this idea in relation to the coming situation, I believe that some definite concept of a higher form, for the next phase, is beginning to emerge from the turmoil of modern thought. It was slow in developing, like most ideas which matter. This particular stage of the process probably began with Goethe and the German Neo-Hellenists, was reflected in the English Neo-Hellenists and carried further by Nietzsche, and also in a new impulse to historical analysis by Spengler – from whom Toynbee in turn derives much – until in the continuous interaction of English and German thought, I hope and believe it may attain some culmination in the new English thinking. The whole process was vitalised from a new scientific source with the pervading influence of the English biologists. At all stages French thinking and the lucidity of the Latin mind have illuminated the path of Europe.
Is then some definite concept of a higher form yet discernible? How many books it would require in a calm sequestered from the dust of this arena. But if you think in terms of the eternal process of synthesis which is necessary to all really creative thinking, you may perhaps already dimly discern – rising from the clash of Hellenism and Christianity – a new synthesis at the point where the missing quality, compassion, was added to the values of the classic Greeks which remain the original and continuing inspiration of Europe. The seers and the prophets sense these things almost unconsciously long before others – Goethe with his “soul yearning for that Grecian land”, yet recoiling in horror before a glittering beauty which had no compassion, until he found his synthesis in the apotheosis of Faust, and with it his “Olympian” calm: Wagner in Parsifal when his Hellene learns compassion and weeps both for the death of beauty and for human pity, thus acquiring the synthesis which fits him for the highest achievement – but it is left for this age to attempt the bringing of a great new reality to consciousness, a higher form.