Tag Archives: Ernst Jünger

From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right – Tudor

“From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right” by Lucian Tudor (PDF – 261 KB):

From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right – Tudor

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Tudor, Lucian. “From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right.” In: Lucian Tudor, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy, pp. 136-165. Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015.

Note: This essay has the same title as the book in which it was published and should not be confused with the book itself. It is, however, the most defining and comprehensive essay in Tudor’s book.

 

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Secret Aristocracies – Venner

Secret Aristocracies

By Dominique Venner

Translated by Greg Johnson

 

Jean-Paul Sartre once said of Ernst Jünger: “I hate him, not as a German, but as an aristocrat . . .”

Sartre had some grave defects. In his political impulses, he was mistaken with a rare obstinacy. Fairly cowardly during the Occupation, he turned into an Ayatollah of denunciations once the danger had passed, castigating his colleagues who did not commit themselves with all necessary blindness to Stalin, Mao, or Pol Pot. Along with an infallible instinct for error, he had a keen sense for any elevation of spirit, which horrified him, and, conversely, for any baseness, which attracted him.

He was not wrong about Jünger: “I hate him, not as a German, but as an aristocrat . . .” Jünger was not an aristocrat by birth. His family belonged to the cultivated middle-class of Northern Germany. If he was an “aristocrat”—in other words, if he continually showed nobility and poise, moral and physical—it was not because he was born with a “von,” for that alone does not shelter one from baseness in one’s heart or deeds. If he was an “aristocrat,” it was not a matter of rank, but of nature.

Heroic warrior in his youth, sensational writer of the “conservative revolution,” who then became a contemplative sage of sorts, Jünger had an exceptional life, traversing all the dangers of a dark century and remaining free of any stain. If he is a model, it is because of his constant “poise.” But his physical poise did nothing more than manifest a spiritual poise. To have poise is to hold oneself apart. Apart from base passions and the baseness of passion. What was superior in him always repelled the sordid, infamous, or mediocre. His transformation at the time of On the Marble Cliffs might be surprising, but there is nothing vile about it. Later, the warrior-botanist reinvented himself, writing in his Treatise on the Rebel that the age required recourse other than the schools of yoga. These are the sweet temptations that he now kept at bay.

I have just written that Jünger was not an aristocrat by birth. I was wrong. He was. Not by family origin, but by a mysterious inner alchemy. In the manner of the little girl and the concierge in Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog (L’élégance du hérisson, Gallimard, 2006). Or in the manner of Martin Eden in Jack London’s novel of the same name. Born in the depths of poverty, Martin Eden had a noble nature. Mere chance puts any young person in a refined and cultivated milieu. He fell in love with a young woman who belonged to that world. The discovery of literature awoke in him the vocation of writer and a fantastic will to overcome himself, to completely leave his past behind, which he accomplished through tremendous ordeals. Having become a famous writer, he discovered simultaneously the vanity of success and the mediocrity of the young bourgeois woman whom he thought he loved. Thus he committed suicide. But that does not affect my point. There are Martin Edens who survive their disillusionment, and there always will be. They are noble, energetic, and “aristocratic” souls. But for such souls to “break out of the pack,” as one says of good hunting dogs, and rise to the top, role models are absolutely necessary. Living exemplars of inner heroism and authentic nobility down through the ages constitute a kind of secret knighthood, a hidden Order. Hector of Troy was their forerunner. Ernst Jünger was an incarnation in our time. Sartre was not wrong about that.

 

From Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire, no. 45

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Venner, Dominique. “Secret Aristocracies.” The Occidental Quarterly Online, 5 November 2009. <http://www.toqonline.com/blog/secret-aristocracies/ >.

 

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Otto Strasser & National Socialism – Gottfried

“Otto Strasser and National Socialism” by Paul Gottfried (PDF – 714 KB):

Otto Strasser and National Socialism

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Gottfried, Paul. “Otto Strasser and National Socialism.” Modern Age, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Spring 1969), pp. 142-151. Retrieved from:  <http://www.mmisi.org/ma/13_02/gottfried.pdf >.

 

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Jünger the Pious – Svensson

Jünger the Pious

By Lennart Svensson

 

Author’s Note (November 2014): The Australian imprint Manticore Press has published an Ernst Jünger biography that I’ve written. Ernst Jünger — A Portrait is the name of the book. This post from earlier this year is a chapter of that book. 

Throughout his life Ernst Jünger (1895-1998) was inspired by religion. He was a pious esotericist in his own right, a stout free-thinker and at the same time drawn to the power of organized religion. Maybe the motto extra ecclesiam nulla salus – “without the church no salvation” – affected him. However, with or without organized religion, Jünger above all warned against atheism. And in this he was rather unique as a 20th century author.

The Impression of Brazilian Monks

In the 1930s, Jünger went to Brazil. He wrote about it all and eventually, after the war, published it as Atlantische Fahrt. A central episode in the book is a visit to German monks in a Benedictine abbey, the brethren impressing the visitor with their joy in spite of having relinquished life and all its pleasures. Strange indeed – isn’t the cloister life supposed to be about hardships and suffering…?

Jünger is amazed. At the same time he can relate to it like in the subservience, with monks obeying the monastic rules like a soldier obeying his orders, the monk life becoming a sort of spiritual body-building and the abbey a training camp for the inner mind. There’s order and joy here, what more to ask for…?

At this stage in life Jünger himself had moved away from titanism and militarism, areas where order was ever present but joy in a lesser degree, so this rendezvous with religion was rather significant. His conversion would take another 60 years. But that event in itself isn’t so important in my book. What’s more important is the Jünger preoccupation with spiritual attitudes that sometimes touch upon those of conventional religion: he was a free-thinker and an esotericist, playing the role of prophet and catalyst, along with and sometimes in opposition to organized religion.

Eumeswil

The chief contribution by Jünger in the discussion at hand is this: his warning against atheism. In the novel Eumeswil (1977) and the late diary he is crystal clear on this issue. Atheism is a vice, a mental sickness. One may object and say that faith in God and/or gods isn’t everything in the esoteric realm, with for instance Taoism and Buddhism being somewhat atheistic in nature. The answer to that is: no they aren’t, they don’t deny the existence of gods. Buddhism, in putting the emphasis on the personal spiritual development, doesn’t state that gods for that matter are totally non-existent. Gods exist on a higher level than we, however still subjected to the laws of karma. That’s the Buddhist theology in nuce [“in a nutshell”].

Of course, everything isn’t solved by automatically starting to worship gods. That’s not what Jünger means. But he means that the central ontological foundation of Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism, Islam and shamanism is true. The existence of God is an ontological reality, there are gods out and about, the divine presence in reality is real. The atheist, on the other hand, is like a ship without anchor, the mind of him (and the current culture as a whole) being the victim of a kind of cross-section paralysis, a total lethargy of the intellect leading out into a sterile desert.

That’s Jünger’s basic message as I see it. Then it’s not so important if he himself was or wasn’t the epitome of piousness, faith and charity. He understood like no one else the ills of our culture. And by not being steeped in the common parochial and sanctified language his message came across more pregnantly.

Start the Day By Praying

The hero of Eumeswil, Manuel Venator, warns against atheism. And he himself, without being a Bible beater or a church goer, lives his life with some pious foundations. Like when he talks about his starting the day by praying, remarking that it’s a central human incentive, even stronger than the sex drive. Both have to be cultivated and released, not suppressed, because if suppressed horrifying things will ensue. Jünger here comes forth as a strong advocate for the pious life, stronger than any latter-day church person I’ve met.

Jünger-Venator is an Anarch. And there is something religious about this, something esoteric, something meditative and in a state of trance, something like saying I AM like the Christ of St. John’s Gospel (“I am the true vine,” “I am the door,” “I am the light of the world,” etc.). Alright, the “I am” dictum isn’t mentioned in the novel. But Uwe Wolf (in Figal and Schwilk’s Magie der Heiterkeit: Ernst Jünger zum Hundertsten, Wolf’s chapter being called ”Dichten, danken, beten”) calls the condition of this Anarch Gottesunmittelbar, i.e., “in direct connection with God.” And that’s a central Christian idea, advocated by St. Paul and Martin Luther as well as Christ himself, the idea of man not needing a priest as mediator between himself and God, not any more than reason or other systematic means are needed. They can’t do the trick here. You meet God by wanting to do so, by realizing your freedom (and limitations) as a man and by letting your intuition guide you. That’s being Gottesunmittelbar, and the Jünger speaking as Manuel Venator to me seems to embody that life form.

Wolf moreover has a keen eye for Jünger’s role as a spiritual author. Wolf states that churches and priests are needed as vehicles for the Word and for Tradition, for continuity and for keeping the flame burning, but additionally we need desert prophets and free spirits to come with impulses, new interpretations and reminiscences of forgotten usages. Jünger, spending most of his author life as an agent free from ties to any organisation, in Wolf’s eye played this role. And I agree with that. Jünger to me represents the eminent free-thinker, a pious but independent prophet helping us to see the religious concepts in a new light.

Bibliography:

Jünger, Ernst: Atlantische Fahrt. Verlag der Arche, Zürich 1947.
Jünger, Ernst: Eumeswil. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1977 (in English on Marsilio Publishers, 1993).
Wolf, Uwe in Schwilk, Heimo och Figal, Günther (eds.): Magie der Heiterkeit: Ernst Jünger zum Hundertsten: “Dichten, danken, beten”. Klett-Cotta, Stuttgart 1995.

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Svensson, Lennart. “Jünger the Pious.” Svenssongalaxen, 7 April 2014. < http://lennart-svensson.blogspot.se/2014/04/in-english-junger-pious.html >.

 

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Jünger: Figure of the Worker Between Gods & Titans – Benoist

Ernst Jünger: The Figure of the Worker Between the Gods & the Titans

By Alain de Benoist

Translated by Greg Johnson

 

Armin Mohler, author of the classic Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1933, wrote regarding Ernst Jünger’s The Worker (Der Arbeiter) and the first edition of The Adventurous Heart: “To this day, my hand cannot take up these works without trembling.” Elsewhere, describing The Worker as an “erratic bloc” in the midst of Jünger’s works, he states: “The Worker is more than philosophy, it is a work of poetry.”[1] The word is apt, above all if we admit that that all true poetry is foundational, that it simultaneously captures the world and unveils the divine.

A “metallic” book—one is tempted to use the expression “storm of steel” to describe it—The Worker indeed possesses a genuinely metaphysical quality that takes it well beyond the historical and especially political context in which it was born. Not only has its publication marked an important day in the history of ideas, but it provides a theme of reflection that runs like a hidden thread throughout Jünger’s long life.

I.

Ernst Jünger was born on March 28th, 1895 in Heidelberg.[2] Jünger went to school in Hannover and Schwarzenberg, in the Erzgebirge, then in Brunswick and finally in Hannover again, as well as the Scharnhorst Realschule in Wunstorf. In 1911 he joined the Wunstdorf section of the Wandervogel.[3] That same year published his first poem, “Unser Leben,” in their local journal. In 1913 at the age of 16, he left home. His escapade ended in Verdun, where he joined the French Foreign Legion. A few months later, after a brief sojourn in Algeria, where his training began at Siddi bel Abbes, his father was able to persuade him to return to Germany. He resumed his studies at the Hannover Guild Institute, where he became familiar with the works of Nietzsche.

The First World War broke out on August 1st, 1914. Jünger volunteered on the first day. Assigned to the 73rd regiment of fusiliers, he received his marching orders on October 6th. On December 27th, he left for the front in Champagne. He fought at Dorfes-les-Epargnes, at Douchy, at Moncy. He became squad leader in August 1915, sub-lieutenant in November, and from April 1916 underwent officer training at Croisilles. Two months later, he took part in the engagements on the Somme, where he was twice wounded. Upon his return to the front in November, with the rank of lieutenant, he was wounded again near Saint-Pierre-Vaast. On December 16th he received the Iron Cross First Class. In February 1917, he became Stosstruppfuehrer (leader of an assault battalion). This is when the war bogged down while the human costs became terrifyingly immense. The French prepared Nivelle’s bloody and useless offensive on the Chemin des Dames. At the head of his men, Jünger fought hand to hand in the trenches. Endless battles, new wounds: in July on the front in Flanders, and also in December. Jünger was decorated with the Knight’s Cross of the Oder of the Hohenzollerns. During the offense of March 1918, he again led assault troops. He was wounded. In August, another wound, this time near Cambrai. He ended the war in a military hospital, having been wounded fourteen times! That earned him the Cross Pour le merite, the highest award in the German army. Only twelve subaltern officers of the ground forces, one the future Marshal Rommel, received this decoration during the whole First World War.

“One lived for the Idea alone.”

Between 1918 and 1923, in the barracks at Hannover, Jünger began to write his first books, inspired by his experiences at the front. In Storms of Steel (In Stahlgewittern), first published in 1919 by the author and in a new edition in 1922, was an immediate success. There followed Battle as Inner Experience (Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis) (1922), Copse 125: A Chronicle from the Trench Warfare of 1918 (Das Wäldchen 125) (1924), and Fire and Blood (Feur und Blut) (1925). Very quickly, Jünger was recognized as one of the most brilliant writers of his generation, even though, as Henri Plard points out in “The Career of Ernst Jünger, 1920–1929,” in Germanic Studies, April–June 1978), he first became known primarily as a specialist in military problems thanks to articles on modern warfare published in Militär-Wochenblatt.

But Jünger did not feel at home in a peacetime army. It no longer offered adventure of the Freikorps. In 1923 he left the Reichswehr and entered Leipzig University to study biology, zoology, and philosophy. On August 3rd, 1925 he married the 19 year old Gretha von Jeinsen. She gave him two children: Ernst in 1926 and Alexander in 1934.

At same time, his political ideas matured thanks to the veritable cauldron of agitation among the factions of German public opinion: the disastrous Treaty of Versailles, which the Weimar Republic had accepted without batting an eye at any of its clauses, was everywhere felt to be an unbearable Diktat. In the space of a few months Jünger had become one of the principal representatives of the national-revolutionary movement, an important part of the Conservative Revolution which extended to the “left” with the National Bolshevik movement rallying primarily around Ernst Niekisch.

Jünger’s political writings appeared during the central period of the Republic (the “Stresemann era”), a provisional period of respite and apparent calm which ended in 1929. He would later say: “One lived for the Idea alone.”[4]

Initially, his ideas were expressed in journals. In September 1925, a former Freikorps leader, Helmut Franke, who has just published a book entitled Staat im Staate (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1924), launched the journal Die Standarte which set out to “contribute towards a spiritual deepening of the thought of the Front.” Jünger was on the editorial board, along with another representative of “soldatic nationalism,” the writer Franz Schauwecker, born in 1890. Initially published as a supplement of the weekly magazine Der Stahlhelm, the organ of the association of war veterans also called Stahlhelm,[5] directed by Wilhelm Kleinau, Die Standarte had a considerable circulation: approximately 170,000 readers. Between September 1925 and March 1926, Jünger published nineteen articles there. Helmut Franke signed his contributions with the pseudonym “Gracchus.” The whole anti-revolutionary young right published there: Werner Beumelburg, Franz Schauwecker, Hans Henning von Grote, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, Goetz Otto Stoffregen, etc.

In Die Standarte Jünger immediately adopted a quite radical tone, very different from that of most Stahlhelm members. In an article published in October 1925, he criticized the theory of the “stab in the back” (Dolchstoss), which was accepted by almost all nationalists, namely that the German army was not defeated at the front but by a “stab in the back” at home. Jünger also emphasized that certain revolutionaries of the far left had fought with distinction in the war.[6] Remarks of this kind caused a violent uproar. Quickly, the leaders of Stahlhelm moved to distance themselves from the young writer who had agitated their side.

In March 1926 Die Standarte was closed. But it was revived a month later under the abridged name Standarte with Jünger, Schauwecker, Kleinau, and Franke as co-editors. At this time, the ties with Stahlhelm were not entirely severed: the old soldiers continued to indirectly finance Standarte. Jünger and his friends reaffirmed their revolutionary calling. On June 3rd, 1926, Jünger published an appeal to all former front soldiers to unite for the creation of a “nationalist workers’ republic,” a call that found no echo.[7]

In August, at the urging of Otto Hörsing, co-founder of the Reichsbanner Schwarz-Rot Gold, the Social Democrats’ security force, the government, using the pretext of an article about Walther Rathenau, banned Standarte for five months. Because of this, Franz Seldte the leader of Stahlhelm “decommissioned” its chief editor, Helmut Franke. In solidarity, Jünger quit, and in November the two, along with Wilhelm Weiss, became the editors of another journal, Arminius. (Standarte, under different editorship, continued until 1929.)

En 1927, Jünger left Leipzig for Berlin, where he formed close ties with former Freikorps members and with the young “bündisch” movement. The latter, oscillating between military discipline and a very firm esprit de corps, tried to reconcile the adventurous romanticism of the Wandervogel with a more hierarchical, communitarian mode of organization. In particular, Jünger was closely connected to Wer­ner Lass, born in Berlin in 1902, who in 1924 had been the founder, with the old leader of the Rossbach Freikorps unit, of the Schilljugend (a youth movement named for major Schill, who was killed during the struggle for liberation against Napoleon’s occupation). In 1927, Lass left Rossbach and lauched Frei­schar Schill, a bündisch group of which Jünger rapidly became the mentor (Schirmherr). From October 1927 to March 1928, Lass and Jünger collaborated to publish the journal Der Vormarsch, created in June 1927 by another famous Freikorps leader, captain Ehrhardt.

“Losing the War to Win the Nation”

During this time Jünger had a number of literary and philosophical influences. During the war, the experience of the front enabled him to resolve the triple influence of such late 19th century French writers as Huysmans and Léon Bloy, of a kind of expressionism that still shows up clearly in Battle as Inner Experience and especially in the first version of The Adventurous Heart, and of a kind of Baudelairian dandyism clearly present in Sturm, an early novel recently published.[8]

Armin Mohler likens the young Jünger to the Barrès of Roman de l’Energie nationale: for the author of the Battle as Inner Experience, as for that of Scenes et doctrines du nationalisme, nationalism, a substitute religion, a mode of enlarging and strengthening the soul, results above all from a deliberate choice, the decisionist aspect of this orientation rising from the collapse of standards after the outbreak of the First World War.

The influence of Spengler and Nietzsche is also evident. In 1929, in an interview given to an English journalist, Jünger defined himself as a “disciple of Nietzsche,” stressing that Nietzsche was the first to challenge the fiction of an abstract universal man, “sundering” this fiction into two concrete, diametrically opposed types: the strong and the weak. In 1922 Jünger passionately read the first volume of The Decline of the West, then the second volume as soon as it was released in December of the same year, when he wrote Sturm.

However, as we shall see, Jünger was no passive disciple. He was far from following Nietzsche and Spengler in the totality of their positions. The decline of the west in his eyes was not an inescapable fate; there were other alternatives than simply acquiescing to the reign of “Caesars.” In the same way, if Jünger adopts Nietzsche’s questioning, it was first and foremost to bring it to an end.

Ultimately, the war represented the strongest influence. Jünger initially drew the lesson of agonism from it. The war must cause passion, but not hatred: the soldier on the other side of the trenches is not an incarnation of evil, but a simple figure of momentary adversity. It is because there is no absolute enemy (Feind), but only an adversary (Gegner), that “combat is always something holy.” Another lesson is that life is nourished by death and vice-versa: “The most precious knowledge that one acquired from the school of the war,” Jünger would write, “is that life, in its most secret heart, is indestructible” (Das Reich, I, October 1, 1930, 3).

Granted, the war had been lost. But in virtue of the principle of the equivalence of contraries, this defeat also demanded a positive analysis. First, defeat or victory is not the most important issue of the war. Fundamentally activistic, the national revolutionist ideology professes a certain contempt of goals. One does not fight to attain victory, one fights to make war. Moreover, Jünger claimed, “the war is less a war between nations, than a war between different kinds of men. In all the nations that took part in that war, there are both victors and vanquished” (Battle as Inner Experience).

Better yet, defeat can become the ferment of a victory. It represents the very condition of this victory. As the epigraph of his book Aufbruch der Nation (Berlin: Frundsberg, 1930), Franz Schauwecker used this stunning phrase: “It was necessary for us to lose the war to win the nation.” Perhaps remembering the words of Léon Bloy, “All that happens is worthy,” Jünger also says: “Germany was vanquished, but this defeat was salutary because it contributed to the destruction of the old Germany. . . . It was necessary to lose the war to win the nation.”

Defeated by the allied coalition, Germany will be able to return to herself and change in a revolutionary way. The defeat must be accepted as a means of transmutation: in a quasi-alchemical way, the experience of the front must be “transmuted” in a new experience of the life of the nation. Such is the base of “soldatic nationalism.”

It was in the war, Jünger continues, that German youth acquired “the assurance that the old paths no longer lead anywhere, and that it is necessary to blaze new ones.” An irreversible rupture (Umbruch), the war abolished all old values. Any reactionary attitude, any desire to retrogress, became impossible. The energy that had been unleashed in a specific fight of and for the fatherland, can from now on serve the fatherland in another form. The war, in other words, furnished the model for the peace. In The Worker, one reads: “The battle front and the Labor front are identical” (p. 109).

The central idea is that the war, superficially meaningless though it may appear, actually has a deep meaning. This cannot be grasped by rational investigation but only by feeling (ahnen). The positive interpretation that Jünger gives war is not, contrary to what is too often asserted, primarily dependent on the exaltation of “warrior values.” It proceeded from a political concern to find a purpose for which the sacrifice of the dead soldiers could no longer be considered “useless.”

From 1926 onwards, Jünger called tirelessly for the formation of an united front of nationalist groups and movements. At the same time, he sought—without notable success—to change them. For Jünger too, nationalism must be alchemically “transmuted.” It must be freed of any sentimental attachment to the old right and become revolutionary. It must take note of the decline of the bourgeois world apparent in the novels of Thomas Mann (Die Buddenbrooks) or Alfred Kubin (Die andere Seite).

From this point of view, what is essential is the fight against liberalism. In Arminius and Der Vormarsch, Jünger attacks the liberal order symbolized by the literati, the humanistic intellectuals who support an “anemic” society, the cynical internationalists whom Spengler sees as the true authors of the November Revolution and who claimed that the millions who perished in the Great War died for nothing.

But at the same time, he stigmatizes the “bourgeois tradition” invoked by the nationalists and the members of the Stahlhelm, these “petit bourgeois (Spiessbürger) who, because of the war, slipped into a lion’s skin” (Der Vormarsch, December 1927). Tirelessly, he took on the Wilhelmine spirit, the worship of the past, the taste of the pan-Germanists for “museology” (musealer Betrieb). In March 1926, he coined the term “neonationalism,” which he opposed to the “grandfather nationalism” (Altvaternationalismus).

Jünger defended Germany, but for him the nation is much more than a country. It is an idea: Germany is everywhere that this idea inflames the spirit. In April 1927, in Arminius Jünger takes an implicitly nominalist position: he states that he no longer believes in any general truths, any universal morals, any notion of “mankind” as a collective being everywhere sharing the the same conscience and the same rights. “We believe,” he says, “in the value of the particular” (Wir glauben an den Wert des Besonde­ren).

At a time when the traditional right preached individualism against collectivism, when the völkisch groups were enthralled with the return to the earth and the mystique of “nature,” Jünger exalted technology and condemned the individual. Born from bourgeois rationality, he explains, in Arminius, all-powerful technology has now turned against those who engendered it. The more technological the world becomes, the more the individual disappears; neonationalism must be the first to learn this lesson. Moreover, it is in the great cities “that the nation will be won”: for the national-revolutionists, “the city is a front.”

Around Jünger a “Berlin group” soon formed, where representatives of various currents of the Conservative Revolution met: Franz Schauwecker and Helmut Franke; the writer Ernst von Solomon; the Nietzschean anti-Christian Friedrich Hielscher, editor of Das Reich; the neoconservatives August Winnig (whom Jünger first met in the autumn of 1927 via the philosopher Alfred Baeumler) and Albrecht Erich Günther, co-editor with Wilhelm Stapel of Deutsches Volkstum; the national-Bolsheviks Ernst Niekisch and Karl O. Paetel; and of course Friedrich Georg Jünger, Ernst Jünger’s younger brother, who was also a recognized theorist.

Friedrich Georg Jünger, whose own development is of great importance to that of his elder brother, was born in Hanover on September 1, 1898. His career closely paralleled his brother’s. He too volunteered for the Great War; in 1916 he saw combat on the Somme and became the leader of his squad. In 1917 he was seriously wounded on the front in Flanders and spent several months in military hospitals. He returned to Hanover at the end of the hostilities, and after a brief period as a lieutenant in the Reichswehr, in 1920 he decided to study law, defending his doctoral dissertation in 1924.

From 1926 on, he regularly contributed articles to the journals in which his brother collaborated: Die Standarte, Arminius, Der Vormarsch, etc., and published in the collection Der Aufmarsch, edited by Ernst Jünger, a short essay entitled “Aufmarsch des Nationalismus” (Der Aufmarsch, Foreword by Ernst Jünger, Berlin, 1926; 2nd ed., Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928). He was influenced by Nietzsche, Sorel, Klages, Stefan George, and Rilke, whom he frequently quoted and to whom he dedicated a volume of his own poetry. The first study published on him, Franz Josef Schöningh, “Friedrich Georg Jünger und der preussische Stil,” in Hochland, February 1935, 476–77, connects him to the “Prussian style.”

In April 1928, Ernst Jünger entrusted the editorship of Der Vormarsch to his friend Friedrich Hielscher. Hielscher edited Der Vormarsch for a few months, after which the journal, published by Fritz Söhlmann, came under the control of the Jungdeutscher Orden (Jungdo) and took a completely different direction. On Hielscher, to whom he was very attached (and whom he called “Bodo” or “Bogo” in its notebooks), Jünger once said that he presented a curious “mixture of rationalism and naïveté.”

Born on May 31st, 1902 in Guben, after the Great War he joined the Freikorps, then he became involved in the bündisch movement, in particular the Freischar Schill of Werner Lass. In 1928, he published a doctoral thesis, Die Selbstherrlichkeit [Self-glory] (Berlin: Vormarsch, 1928), in which he sought to define the foundations of a German right based on Nietzsche, Spengler, and Max Weber. Moreover, he was, along with his friend Gerhard von Tevenar, passionate about “European social-regionalism” and sought to coordinate the actions of regionalist and separatist movements to create a “Europe of the fatherlands” on a federal model. Also influenced by the thought of Eriugena, Meister Eckart, Luther, Shakespeare, and Goethe, he wrote a “political theology of the Empire” entitled Das Reich (Berlin: Das Reich, 1931) and founded a small neopagan church that sometimes brought him closer to the völkisch movement.

Under the Third Reich, Hielscher played a directing role in the research services of the Ahnenerbe, while he and his students maintained close contact with the “inner emigration.” The Hitlerian regime reproached him in particular for “philosemitism” (cf. Das Reich, p. 332), ordering his arrest in September 1944. Thrown in prison, Hielscher escaped death only because of the intervention of Wolfram Sievers. After the war Hielscher published his autobiography Funfzig Jahre unter Deutschen [Fifty Years under Germans] (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1954), but the majority of its writings (the “liturgy” of his neopagan church, a verse version of the Nibelungenlied, etc.) remain unpublished. On its role in resistance against Hitler, see Rolf Kluth, “Die Widerstandgruppe Hielscher” [“The Hielscher Resistance Group”], Puis, December 7, 1980, 22–27.

A few months later, in January 1930, Jünger became co-editor with Werner Lass of Die Kommenden [The Coming], the weekly newspaper founded five years before by the writer Wilhelm Kotzde, who then had a great influence over the bündisch youth movement, particularly the tendency that had evolved toward National Bolshevism, with Hans Ebeling and especially Karl O. Paetel, who simultaneously collaborated on Die Kommenden, as well as Die sozialistische Nation [The Socialistic Nation] and Antifaschistische Briefe [Anti-Fascist Letters].

Regarded as one of the principal representatives, with Ernst Niekisch, of German National Bolshevism, Karl O. Paetel was born in Berlin on November 23rd, 1906. Bündisch, then national revolutionary, he adopted National Bolshevism about 1930. From 1928 to 1930 he edited the monthly magazine Das junge Volk [The Young People]. From 1931 to 1933 he published the journal Die sozialistische Nation.

Imprisoned several times after Hitler’s rise to power, in 1935 Paetel went to Prague, then Scandinavia. In 1939, he was stripped of his German nationality and condemned to death in absentia. Interned in French concentration camps between January and June 1940, he escaped, reached Portugal, and finally settled in New York in January 1941.

In the United States, he publishes from 1946 on the newspaper Deutsche Blatter [German Pages]. The same year, with Carl Zuckmayer and Dorothy Thompson, published a collection of documents on the “inner emigration”: Deutsche innere Emigration. Dokumente und Beitrage. Anti­nationalsozialistische Zeugnisse aus Deutschland [German Inner Emigration. Documents and Contributions. Anti-National Socialist Testimonies from Germany] (New York: Friedrich Krause, 1946).

He also devoted several essays to Jünger: Ernst Jünger. Die Wandlung eines deutschen Dichters und Patrio­ten [Ernst Jünger: The Transformation of a German Poet and Patriot] (New York: Friedrich Krause, 1946); Ernst Jünger. Weg und Wirkung. Eine Einfuhrung [Ernst Jünger: Way and Influence. An Introduction] (Stutt­gart, 1949); Ernst Jünger. Eine Bibliographie [Ernst Jünger: A Bibliography] (Stuttgart: Lutz and Meyer, 1953); Ernst Jünger in Selbst­zeugnissen und Bilddokumenten [Ernst Jünger in his Own Words and Pictures] (Reinbek near Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1962).

After having launched a new newspaper, Deutsche Gegenwart [Geman Present] (1947–1948), Paetel returned to Germany in 1949 and continued to publish a great number of works. Decorated in 1968 with the Bundesverdienstkreuz [Federal Service Cross], he died on May 4th, 1975. His personal papers are today in part in the archives of the Jugendbewegung (Burg Ludwigstein, Witzenhausen) and in part in the “Karl O. Paetel Collection” of the State University of New York, Albany. On Paetel, see his history of National Bolshevism: Versuchung oder Chance? Zur Geschichte of the deutschen Nationalbolschewismus [Temptation or Chance? Toward a History of German National Bolshevism] (Göttingen: Musterschmid, 1965) and his posthumous autobiography, published by Wolfgang D. Elfe and John M. Spalek: Reise ohne Urzeit. Autobiography [Journey without Beginning: Autobiography] (London: World of Books and Worms: Georg Heintz, 1982).

Jünger also collaborated on the journal Widerstand [Resistance] founded and edited by Niekisch since July 1926. The two men met in the autumn of 1927, and a true friendship is quickly rose between them. Jünger wrote: “If one wants to put the program that Niekisch developed in Widerstand in terms of stark alternatives, it would be something like this: against the bourgeois for the worker, against the western world for the east.” Indeed, National Bolshevism, which has multiple tendencies and varieties, joins the idea of class struggle to a communitarian, if not collectivist, idea of the nation. “Collectivization,” affirms Niekisch, “is the social form that the organic will must adopt if it is to affirm itself vis-à-vis the fatal effects of technology” (“Menschenfressende Technik” [“Man-Eating Technology”] in Widerstand, 4, 1931). According to Niekisch, in the final analysis, the national movement and the communist movement have the same adversary, as the fight against the occupation of the Ruhr appeared to demonstrate, and this is why the two “proletarian nations” of Germany and Russia must strive for an understanding. “The liberal democratic parliamentarian flees from decision,” declared Niekisch. “He does not want to fight, but to talk. . . . The Communist wants a decision. . . . In his roughness, there is something of the hardness of the military camp; in him there is more Prussian hardness than he knows, even more than in a Prussian bourgeois” (“Entscheidung” [“Decision”], Widerstand, Berlin, 1930, p. 134). These ideas influenced a considerable portion of the national revolutionary movement. Jünger himself, as seen by Louis Dupeux, was “fascinated by the problems of Bolshevism”—but was never a National Bolshevik in the strict sense.

In July of 1931, Werner Lass and Jünger withdrew from Die Kommenden. In September, Lass founded the journal Der Umsturz [Overthrow], which he made the organ of the Freischar Schill and which, until its disappearance in February 1933, openly promoted National Bolshevism. But Jünger was in a very different frame of mind. In the space of a few years, using a whole series of journals as so many walls for sticking up posters—it was, as he would write, a milk train, “that one gets on and gets off along the way”—he traversed the whole field of his properly political evolution. The watchwords he had formulated did not have the success that he hoped for; his calls for unity were not heard. For some time, Jünger felt estranged from all political currents. He had no more sympathy for the rising National Socialism than for the traditional national leagues. All the national movements, he explained in an article of Suddeutsche Monatshefte [South German Monthly] (September 1930, 843–45), be they traditionalist, legitimist, economist, reactionary, or National Socialist, draw their inspiration from the past, and, in this respect, are “liberal” and “bourgeois.” Divided between the neoconservatives and the National Bolsheviks, the national revolutionary groups no longer commanded respect. In fact, Jünger no longer believed in the possibility of collective action. (In the first version of The Adventurous Heart, Jünger wrote: “Today one can no longer make collective efforts for Germany” [p. 153]). As Niekisch was to emphasize in his autobiography (Erinerrungen eines deutschen Revolutionärs [Memories of a German Revolutionary] [Cologne: Wissenschaft u. Politik, 1974, vol. I, p. 191), Jünger intended to trace a more personal and interior way of dealing with the current situation. “Jünger, this perfect Prussian officer who subjects himself to the hardest discipline,” wrote Marcel Decombis, “would never again be able to fit in a collectivity” (Ernst Jünger [Sapwood-Montaigne, 1943]). His brother, who had abandoned his legal career in 1928, evolved in the same direction. He wrote on Greek poetry, the American novel, Kant, Dostoyevsky. The two brothers undertook a series of voyages: Sicily (1929), the Balearic Islands (1931), Dalmatia (1932), the Aegean Sea.

Ernst and Friedrich Georg Jünger continued, certainly, to publish some articles, particularly in Widerstand. (In total, Ernst Jünger published eleven articles in Standarte, twenty-eight in Arminius, twelve in Der Vormarsch, and eighteen in Widerstand. Like his brother, he collaborated on Widerstand until its prohibition, in December 1934.) But the properly journalistic period of their engagement was over. Between 1929 and 1932, Ernst Jünger concentrated all his efforts on new books, starting with the first version of Das abenteuerliche Herz (The Adventurous Heart, 1929), then the essay “Die totale Mobilmachung” (“Total Mobilization,” 1931), and finally Der Arbeiter. Herrschaft und Gestalt (The Worker: Domination and Figure), published in 1932 in Hamburg by the Hanseatische Ver­lagsanstalt of Benno Ziegler and reprinted many times before 1945.

Notes

  1. Preface to Marcel Decombis, Ernst Jünger et la “Konservative Revolution” (GRECE, 1975), 8.
  2. The son of Ernst Georg Jünger (1868–1943), a chemist and assistant to research chemist Viktor Meyer. He had one sister and five brothers, two of whom died very young.
  3. In 1901, a right-wing student named Karl Fischer organized the students at the gymnasium of Steglitz, near Berlin, into a movement of young protesters with idealistic and romantic tendencies, to whom he gave the name “Wandervogel” (“birds of passage”). This movement, subsequently divided into many currents, gave birth to the Jugendbewegung (Youth Movement) and became widely known. In October 1913, the same year Jünger joined, the Youth Movement organized (alongside the commemoration of the hundredth birthday of the “Battle of the Nations” near Leipzig) a great meeting at Hohen Meissner, close to Kassel. There several thousand young “Wandervogel” discussed the problems of the movement, which was pacifist, nationalist, and populist in orientation. On the eve of the First World War, the Jugendbewegung counted approximately 25,000 members. After 1918, the movement could not regain its old cohesion, but its influence remained undeniable. On the Wandervogel, cf. epecially Hans Bliiher, Wandervogel. Geschichte einer Jugendbewegung, 2 vol. (Berlin-Tempelhof: Bernhard Weise, 1912–1913); Fr. W. Foerster, Jugendseele, Jugendbewegung, Jugendziel (München-Leipzig: Rotapfel, 1923); Theo Herrle, Die deutsche Jugendbewegung in ihren kulturellen Zusammenhängen (Gotha-Stuttgart: Friedrich Andreas Perthes, 1924); Heinrich Ahrens, Die deutsche Wandervogelbewegung von den Anfängen bis zum Weltkrieg (Hamburg: Hansischer Gildenverlag, 1939); Werner Kindt, ed., Grundschrif­ten der deutschen Jugendbewegung (Dusseldorf-Köln: Eugen Diederichs, 1963); Bernhard Schnei­der, Daten zur Geschichte der Jugendbewegung (Bad Godesberg: Voggenreiter, 1965); Walter Laqueur, Die deutsche Jugendbewegung. Eine historische Studie (Köln: Wissenschaft und Politik, 1978); Otto Neuloh and Wilhelm Zilius, Die Wandervogel. Eine empirisch-soziologische Untersuchung der frühen deutschen Jugendbewegung (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1982).
  4. Journal, vol. 2, April 20th, 1943.
  5. The Stalhelm association had been founded at the end of 1918 by Franz Seldte, born in Magdeburg in 1882, in reaction to the November revolution. His orientation to the right was intensified the moment the Treaty of Versailles was signed in June of 1919. After the assassinnation of Walther Rathenau, in 1922, Stahl­helm was dissolved in Prussia but the ban was lifted the following year. In 1925, it had around 260,000 members. In 1933, Seldte was named Minister of Labor in Hitler’s first cabinet. The National Socialist regime went on to force Stahlhelm’s integration into the Natio­nalsozialistischer Deutscher Frontkampferbund (NSDFB). Theodor Duesterberg, Seldte’s assistant since 1924, who had immediately abandoned his functions, was arrested and imprisoned in June 1934. In 1935, the “liquidation” of Stahlhelm was complete. Cf. on this subject: Wilhelm Kleinau, Sol­daten der Nation. Die geschichtliche Sendung des Stahlhelm (Berlin: Stahlhelm, 1933); Franz Seldte, ed., Der NSDFB (Stahlhelm). Geschichte, Wesen und Aufgabe des Frontsoldatenbundes (Berlin: Frei­heitsverlag, 1935); Theodor Duesterberg, Der Stahlhelm und Hitler (Wolfenbüttel-Hannover: Wolfenbütteler Verlags­anstalt, 1949); and Volker R. Berghahn, Der Stahlhelm-Bund der Frontsol­daten (Düsseldorf: Droste, 1966).
  6. Ernst Jünger, “Die Revolution,” Die Standarte, 1, October 18, 1925.
  7. Cf. Louis Dupeux, Strategie communiste et dynamique conservatrice. Essai sur les difjerents sens de l’expression «national-bolchevisme» en Allemagne, sous la Republique de Weimar, 1919–1933 (Honore Champion, 1976), p. 313.
  8. Cf. Henri Plard, “Une oeuvre retrouvée d’Ernst Jünger: Sturm (1923),” Etudes germaniques, October-December 1968, 600–615.

 

Source: Alain de Benoist, “Ernst Jünger: La Figure du Travailleur entre les Dieux et les Titans,” Nouvelle Ecole No. 40 (Autumn 1983): 1161.

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De Benoist, Alain. “Ernst Jünger: The Figure of The Worker Between the Gods & the Titans.” Originally published in three parts at Counter-Currents Publishing. Part 1: 6 April 2011. Part 2: 13 April 2011. Part 3: 26 July 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-junger-the-figure-of-the-worker-part-1/ >; < http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/04/ernst-junger-figure-of-the-worker-part-2/ >; < http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/07/ernst-junger-the-figure-of-the-worker-between-the-gods-the-titans-part-3/ >.

 

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Intro to Ernst Jünger – Benoist

Soldier, Worker, Rebel, Anarch: Types & Figures in Ernst Jünger’s Writings

By Alain de Benoist

Translated by Greg Johnson

 

In Jünger’s writings, four great Figures appear successively, each corresponding to a quite distinct period of the author’s life. They are, chronologically, the Front Soldier, the Worker, the Rebel, and the Anarch. Through these Figures one can divine the passionate interest Jünger has always held toward the world of forms. Forms, for him, cannot result from chance occurrences in the sensible world. Rather, forms guide, on various levels, the ways sensible beings express themselves: the “history” of the world is above all morphogenesis. As an entomologist, moreover, Jünger was naturally inclined to classifications. Beyond the individual, he identifies the species or the kind. One can see here a subtle sort of challenge to individualism: “The unique and the typical exclude one another,” he writes. Thus, as Jünger sees it, the universe is one where Figures give epochs their metaphysical significance. In this brief esposition, I would like to compare and contrast the great Figures identified by Jünger.

* * *

The Front Soldier (Frontsoldat) is first of all a witness to the end of classical wars: wars that gave priority to the chivalrous gesture, that were organized around the concepts of glory and honor, that generally spared civilians, and that distinguished clearly between the Front and the Rear. “Though once we crouched in bomb craters, we still believed,” Jünger said, “that man was stronger than material. That proved to be an error.” Indeed, from then on, the “material” counted more than the human factor. This material factor signifies the irruption and dominion of technology. Technology imposes its own law, the law of impersonality and total war—a war simultaneously massive and abstract in its cruelty. At the same time, the Soldier becomes an impersonal actor. His very heroism is impersonal, because what counts most for him is no longer the goal or outcome of combat. It is not to win or lose, live or die. What counts is the spiritual disposition that leads him to accept his anonymous sacrifice. In this sense, the Front Soldier is by definition an Unknown Soldier, who forms a body, in all senses of the term, with the unit to which he belongs, like a tree which is not only a part but an exemplary incarnation of the forest.

The same applies to the Worker, who appears in 1932, in the famous book of that name, whose subtitle is: “Dominion and Figure.”[1] The common element of the Soldier and Worker is active impersonnality. They too are children of technology. Because the same technology that transformed war into monotonous “work,” drowning the chivalrous spirit in the mud of the trenches, has also transformed the world into a vast workshop where man is henceforth completely enthralled[2] by the imperatives of productivity. Soldier and Worker, finally, have the same enemy: the contemptible bourgeois liberal, the “last man” announced by Nietzsche, who venerates moral order, utility, and profit. Also the Worker and the Soldier back from the Front both want to destroy in order to create, to give up the last shreds of individualism in order to found a new world on the ruins of the old “petrified form of life.”

However, while the Soldier was only the passive object of the reign of technology, the Worker aims actively to identify himself with it. Far from being its object, or submitting to its manifestations, the Worker, on the contrary, seeks in all conscience to endorse the power of technology that he thinks will abolish the differences between the classes, as well as between peace and war, civilian and military. The Worker is no longer one who is “sacrificed to carry the burdens in the great deserts of fire,” as Jünger still put it in the The Forest Path,[3] but a being entirely devoted to “total mobilization.”[4] Thus the Figure of the Worker goes far beyond the Type of the Front Soldier. For the Worker—who dreams all the while of a Spartan, Prussian, or Bolshevik life, where the individual would be definitively outclassed by the Type—the Great War was only the anvil where another way of being in the world was forged. The Front Soldier limited himself in order to embody new norms of collective existence. The Worker, for his part, intends to transplant them into civilian life, to make them the law of the whole society.

The Worker is thus not merely the man who works (the most common meaning), any more than he is the man of a social class, i.e., of a given economic category (the historical meaning). He is the Worker in a metaphysical sense: the one who reveals Work as the general law of a world that devotes itself entirely to efficiency and productivity, even in leisure and rest.

The elements of Jünger’s worldview—his aesthetic and voluntarist conception of technology, his decisionism of every moment, the opposition of the Worker to the bourgeois, the Nietzschean will “to transvalue all values” which already underlay Jünger’s “soldatic nationalism” of the Twenties—are sometimes summarized with the phrase “heroic realism.” However, under the influence of events, Jünger’s reflection would soon undergo a decisive inflection, which took it in another direction.

The turn corresponds to the novel On the Marble Cliffs,[5] published in 1939. The heroes of the story, two brothers, herbalists from the Great Marina who recoil in horror at the inexorable outcome of the Great Forester’s enterprise, discover that there are weapons stronger than those that pierce and kill. Jünger, at that time, was not only informed by the rise of Nazism, he was influenced by his brother, Friedrich Georg Jünger, who in a famous book[6] was one of the first to work out a radical critique of the technological framework.[7] As children of technology, the Soldier and especially the Worker were on the side of the Titans. Yet Ernst Jünger came to see that the Titanic reign of the elemental leads straight to nihilism. He understood that the world should be neither interpreted nor changed, but viewed as the very source of the unveiling of truth (aletheia). He understood that technology is not necessarily antagonistic to bourgeois values, and that it transforms the world only by globalizing the desert. He understood that, behind history, timelessness returns to more essential categories, and that human time, marked off by the wheels of the watch, is an “imaginary time,” founded on an artifice that made men forgetful of their belonging to the world, a time that fixes the nature of their projects instead of being fixed by them, unlike the hourglass, the “elementary clock” whose flow obeys natural laws—a cyclic not a linear time. Jünger, in other words, realized that the outburst of the Titans is first and foremost a revolt against the gods. This is why he dismissed Prometheus. The collective Figures were succeeded by personal ones.

Against totalitarian despotism, the heroes of On the Marble Cliffs chose withdrawal, taking a distance. By this, they already announced the attitude of the Rebel, of whom Jünger would write: “The Rebel is . . . whoever the law of his nature puts in relation to freedom, a relation that in time brings him to a revolt against automatism and a refusal to accept its ethical consequence, fatalism.”

One sees by this that the Figure of the Rebel is directly connected to a meditation on freedom—and also on exclusion, since the Rebel is equally an outlaw. The Rebel is still a combatant, like the Front Soldier, but he is a combatant who repudiates active impersonnality, because he intends to preserve his freedom with respect to the cause he defends. In this sense, the Rebel cannot be identified with one system or another, even the one for which he fights. He is not at ease in any them. If the Rebel chooses marginalization, it is above all to guard against the forces of destruction, to break the encirclement, one might say, using a military metaphor that Jünger himself employs when he writes: “The incredible encirclement of man was prepared long ago by the theories that aim at giving a flawless logical explanation of the world and that march in lockstep with the development of technology.”

“The mysterious way goes towards the interior,” said Novalis. The Rebel is an emigrant to the interior, who seeks to preserve his freedom in the heart of the forests where “paths that go nowhere” intersect. This refuge, however, is ambiguous, because this sanctuary of organic life not yet absorbed by the mechanization of the world, represents—to the precise extent that it constitutes a universe foreign to human norms—the “great house of death, the very seat of the destructive danger.” Hence the position of the Rebel can only be provisional.

The last Figure, whom Jünger calls the Anarch, first appeared in 1977 in Eumeswil,[8] a “postmodern” novel intended as a sequel to Heliopolis[9] and set in the third millennium. Venator, the hero, no longer needs to resort to the forest to remain untouched by the ambient nihilism. It is enough for him to have reached an elevation that allows him to observe everything from a distance without needing to move away. Typical in this respect is his attitude toward power. Whereas the anarchist wants to abolish power, the Anarch is content to break all ties to it. The Anarch is not the enemy of power or authority, but he does not seek them, because he does not need them to become who he is. The Anarch is sovereign of himself—which amounts to saying that he shows the distance that exists between sovereignty, which does not require power, and power, which never confers sovereignty. “The Anarch,” Jünger writes, “is not the partner of the monarch, but his antipode, the man that power cannot grasp but is also dangerous to it. He is not the adversary of the monarch, but his opposite.” A true chameleon, the Anarch adapts to all things, because nothing reaches him. He is in service of history while being beyond it. He lives in all times at once, present, past, and future. Having crossed “the wall of time,” he is in the position of the pole star, which remains fixed while the whole starry vault turns around it, the central axis or hub, the “center of the wheel where time is abolished.” Thus, he can watch over the “clearing” which represents the place and occasion for the return of the gods. From this, one can see, as Claude Lavaud writes regarding Heidegger, that salvation lies “in hanging back, rather than crossing over; in contemplation, not in calculation; in the commemorative piety that opens thought to the revealing and concealing that together are the essence of aletheia.”[10]

What distinguishes the Rebel from the Anarch, is thus the quality of their voluntary marginalization: horizontal withdrawal for the first, vertical withdrawal for the second. The Rebel needs to take refuge in the forest, because he is a man without power or sovereignty, and because it is only there that he retains the conditions of his freedom. The Anarch himself is also without power, but it is precisely because he is without power that he is sovereign. The Rebel is still in revolt, while the Anarch is beyond revolt. The Rebel carries on in secret—he hides in the shadows—while the Anarch remains in plain sight. Finally, whereas the Rebel is banished by society, the Anarch banishes himself. He is not excluded; he is emancipated.

* * *

The advent of the Rebel and Anarch relegated the memory of the Front Soldier to the background, but it did not end the reign of the Worker. Admittedly, Jünger changed his opinion of what we should expect, but the conviction that this Figure really dominates today’s world was never abandoned. The Worker, defined as the “chief Titan who traverses the scene of our time,” is really the son of the Earth, the child of Prometheus. He incarnates this “telluric” power of which modern technology is the instrument. He is also a metaphysical Figure, because modern technology is nothing other than the realized essence of a metaphysics that sets man up as the master of a world transformed into an object. And with man, the Worker maintains a dialectic of possession: the Worker possesses man to the very extent that man believes he possesses the world by identifying himself with the Worker.

However, to the precise extent that they are the representatives of the elementary and telluric powers, the Titans continue to carry a message whose meaning orders our existence. Jünger no longer regards them as allies, but neither does he regard them as enemies. As is his habit, Jünger is a seismograph: he has a presentiment that the reign of the Titans announces the return of the gods, and that nihilism is a necessary part of the passage towards the regeneration of the world. To finish with nihilism, we must live it to its end—“passing the line” which corresponds to the “meridian zero”—because, as Heidegger says, the technological framework[11] (Ge-stell) is still a mode of being, not merely of its oblivion. This is why, if Jünger sees the Worker as a danger, he also says that this danger can be our salvation, because it is by it and through it, that it will be possible to exhaust the danger.

* * *

It is easy to see what differentiates the two couples formed, on the one hand, by the Front Soldier and the Worker, and on the other, by the Rebel and the Anarch. But one would be wrong to conclude from this that the “second Jünger,” of On the Marble Cliffs, is the antithesis of the first. Rather, this “second Jünger” actually represents a development, which was given a free course, of an inclination present from the beginning but obscured by the work of the writer-soldier and the nationalist polemicist. In Jünger’s first books, as well as in Battle as Inner Experience [12] and Storm,[13] one actually sees, between the lines of the narrative, an undeniable tendency toward the vita contemplativa. From the beginning, Jünger expresses a yearning for meditative reflection that descriptions of combat or calls to action cannot mask. This yearning is particularly evident in the first version of The Adventurous Heart,[14] where one can read not only a concern for a certain literary poetry, but also a reflection—that one could describe as both mineral and crystalline—on the immutability of things and on that which, in the very heart of the present, raises us up to cosmic signs and a recognition of the infinite, thus nurturing the “stereoscopic vision” in which two flat images merge into a single image to reveal the dimension of depth.

There is thus no contradiction between the four Figures, but only a progressive deepening, a kind of increasingly fine sketch that led Jünger, initially an actor of his time, then a judge and critic of his time, to place himself finally above his time in order to testify to what came before his century and what will come after him.

In The Worker, one already reads: “The more we dedicate ourselves to change, the more we must be intimately persuaded that behind it hides a calm being.” Throughout his life, Jünger never ceased approaching this “calm being.” While passing from manifest action to apparent non-action—while going, one might say, from beings to Being—he achieved an existential progression that finally allowed him to occupy the place of the Anarch, the unmoving center, the “central point of the turning wheel” from which all movement proceeds.

Appendix: On Type and Figure [15]

In 1963, in his book entitled Type—Name—Figure,[16] Jünger writes: “Figure and Type are higher forms of vision. The conception of Figures confers a metaphysical power, the apprehension of Types an intellectual power.” We will reconsider this distinction between Figure and Type. But let us note immediately that Jünger connects the ability to distinguish them with a higher form of vision, i.e., with a vision that goes beyond immediate appearances to seek and identify archetypes. Moreover, he implies that this higher form of vision merges with its object, i.e., with the Figure and the Type. Furthermore, he specifies: “The Type does not appear in nature, or the Figure in the universe. Both must be deciphered in the phenomena, like a force in its effects or a text in its characters.” Finally, he affirms that there exists a “typifying power of the universe,” which “seeks to pierce through the undifferentiated,” and which “acts directly on vision,” causing an “ineffable knowledge: intuition,” then conferring a name: “The things do not bear a name, names are conferred upon them.”

This concern with transcending immediate appearances should not be misinterpreted. Jünger does not offer us a new version of the Platonic myth of the cave. He does not suggest seeking the traces of another world in this world. On the contrary, in The Worker, he already denounced “the dualism of the world and its systems.” Likewise, in his Paris Diaries,[17] he wrote: “The visible contains all the signs that lead to the invisible. And the existence of the latter must be demonstrable in the visible model.” Thus for Jünger, there is transcendence only in immanence. And when he intends to seek the “things that are behind things,” to use the expression he employs in his “Letter to the Man in the Moon,” it is while being convinced, like Novalis, that “the real is just as magical as the magical is real.”[18]

One would also err gravely by comparing the Type to a “concept” and the Figure to an “idea.” “A Type,” Jünger writes, “is always stronger than an idea, even more so than a concept.” Indeed, the Type is apprehended by vision, i.e., as image, whereas the concept can be grasped only by thought. Thus to apprehend the Figure or the Type is not to leave the sensible world for some other world that constitutes its first cause, but to seek in the sensible world the invisible dimension that constitutes the “typifying power”: “We recognize individuals: the Type acts as the matrix of our vision. . . . That really shows that it is not so much the Type that we perceive but, in it and behind it, the power of the typifying source.”

The German word for Figure is Gestalt, which one generally trans­lates as “form.”[19] The nuance is not unimportant, because it confirms that the Figure is anchored in the world of forms, i.e., in the sensible world, instead of being a Platonic idea, which would find in this world only its mediocre and deformed reflection. Goethe, in his time, was dismayed to learn that Schiller thought that his Ur-Plant (Urpflanze) (archetype) was an idea. The Figure is often misunder­stood in the very same way, as Jünger himself emphasized. The Figure is on the side of vision as it is on the side of Being, which is consub­stantial with the world. It is not on the side of verum, but of certum.

Let us now see what distinguishes the Figure and the Type. Compared to the Figure, which is more inclusive but also fuzzier, the Type is more limited. Its contours are relatively neat, which makes it a kind of intermediary between the phenomenon and the Figure: “It is,” says Jünger, “the model image of the phenomenon and the guarantor image of the Figure.” The Figure has a greater extension than the Type. It exceeds the Type, as the matrix that gives the form exceeds the form. In addition, if the Type qualifies a group, the Figure tends rather to qualify a reign or an epoch. Different Types can coexist alongside each other in the same time and place, but there is room for only one Figure. From this point of view, the relationship between the Figure and the Type is comparable to that of the One and the many. (This is why Jünger writes: “Monotheism can know, strictly speaking, only one Figure. That is why it demotes the gods to the rank of Types.”) That amounts to saying that the Figure is not only a more extensive Type, but that there is also a difference in nature between the Figure and the Type. The Figure can also give rise to Types, assigning them a mission and a meaning. Jünger gives the example of the ocean as an expanse distinct from all the specific seas: “The Ocean is formative of Types; it does not have a Type, it is a Figure.”

Can man set up a Figure like he does a Type? Jünger says that there is no single answer to this question, but nevertheless he tends to the negative. “The Figure,” he writes, “can be sustained, but not set up.” This means that the Figure can be neither conjured by words nor confined by thought. Whereas man can easily name Types, it is much more difficult to do anything with a Figure: “The risk is more singificant, because one approaches the undifferentiated to a greater extent than in naming Types.” The Type depends on man, who adapts it by naming it, whereas the Figure cannot be made our own. “The naming of Types,” Jünger stresses, “depends on man taking possession. On the other hand, when a Figure is named, we are right to suppose that it first takes possession of man.” Man has no access to the “homeland of Figures”: “What is conceived as a Figure is already configured.”

Insofar as it is of the metaphysical order, a Figure appears suddenly. It gives man a sign, leaving him free to ignore or recognize it. But man cannot grasp it by intuition alone. To know or to recognize a Figure implies a more profound contact, comparable to the grasp of kinship. Jünger does not hesitate here to speak about “divination.” A Figure is unveiled, released from oblivion, in the Heideggerian sense—released from the deepest levels of the undifferentiated, says Jünger—by the presence of Being. But at the same time, as it reveals itself, as it rises to appearance and effective power, it “loses its essence”—like a god who chooses to incarnate himself in human form. Only this “devaluation” of its ontological status makes it possible for man to know what connects him to a Figure that he cannot grasp by thought or by name. Thus the Figure is the “highest representation that man can make of the ineffable and its power.”

In light of the preceeding, can one say that the four Jüngerian Figures are really Figures and not Types? In all rigor, only the Worker fully answers the definition of a Figure insofar as he describes an epoch. The Soldier, the Rebel, and the Anarch would instead be Types.

Jünger writes that, for man, the ability to set up Types proceeds from a “magic power.” He also notes that nowadays this human aptitude is declining and suggests that we are seeing the rise of the undifferentiated, i.e., a “deterioration of Types,” the most visible sign that the old world is giving way to a new one, whose Types have not yet appeared and thus still cannot be named. “To manage to conceive new Types,” he writes, “the spirit must melt the old ones. . . . It is only in the glimmer of the dawn that the undifferentiated can receive new names.” This is why, in the end, he wants to be confident: “It is foreseeable that man will recover his aptitude to set up Types and will thus return to his supreme competence.”

Notes

  1. Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter: Herrschaft und Gestalt [The Worker: Dominion and Figure] (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1932).
  2. The French is “arraisonne.” Here the verb arraisonner has the sense of “to enthrall,” with the dual sense of “to capture” and “to captivate.” Later in this essay, Benoist uses “arraisonnement” as equivalent to Heidegger’s “Gestell” or “Ge-stell,” which is usually translated into English as “enframing.” According to Heidegger, the Gestell is the view of the world as a stockpile (Bestand) of resources for human manipulation. Heidegger calls the Gestell the “essence” of technology, because it is the worldview that makes modern technological civilization possible. See Martin Heidegger, “The Question Concerning Technology,” trans. William Lovitt, in Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell, 2nd ed. (New York: Harper, 1993)—Ed.
  3. Ernst Jünger, Der Waldgang [The Forest Path] (Frankfurt am Main: Vittorio Klostermann, 1951)—Ed.
  4. Ernst Jünger, Die totale Mobilmachung (Berlin: Verlag der Zeitkritik, 1931); English translation: “Total Mobilization,” trans. Joel Golb and Richard Wolin, in Richard Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991)—Ed.
  5. Ernst Jünger, Auf den Marmorklippen (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1939); English translation: On the Marble Cliffs: A Novel, trans. Stuart Hood (London: John Lehman, 1947).
  6. Friedrich Georg Jünger, Die Perfektion der Technik [The Perfection of Technology] (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1946); English translation: The Failure of Technology: Perfection Without Purpose, trans. F. D. Wieck (Hinsdale, Ill.: Henry Regnery, 1949).
  7. “l’arraisonnement technicien”—Ed.
  8. Ernst Jünger, Eumeswil (Stuttgart: Klett-Cotta, 1977); English translation: Eumeswil, trans. Joachim Neugroschel (New York: Marsilio, 1993).
  9. Ernst Jünger, Heliopolis: Rückblick auf eine Stadt [Heliopolis: Review of a City] (Tübingen: Heliopolis, 1949)—Ed.
  10. “‘Über die Linie’: Penser l’être dans l’ombre du nihilisme” [“‘Over the Line’: Thinking of Being in the Shadow of Nihilism”], in Les Carnets Ernst Jünger 1 (1996), 49.
  11. “l’arraisonnement”—Ed.
  12. Ernst Jünger, Der Kampf als inneres Erlebnis [Battle as Inner Experience] (Berlin: Mittler, 1922)—Ed.
  13. Ernst Jünger, Sturm [Storm] (written 1923) (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett, 1978)—Ed.
  14. Ernst Jünger, Das Abenteuerliche Herz: Aufzeichnungen bei Tag und Nacht [The Adventurous Heart: Sketches by Day and Night] (Berlin: Frundsberg, 1929).
  15. The following Appendix is section one of the original lecture, followed by the last paragraph of section three—Ed.
  16. Ernst Jünger, Typus—Name—Gestalt (Stuttgart: Ernst Klett, 1963).
  17. In Ernst Jünger, Strahlungen [Emanations] (Tübingen: Heliopolis, 1949). In English: The Paris Diaries: 19411942, trans. M. Hulse (London: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1992)—Ed.
  18. Ernst Jünger, “Sizilischer Brief an den Mann im Mond” [“Sicilian Letter to the Man in the Moon”], in Blätter und Steine [Leaves and Stones] (Hamburg: Hanseatische Verlagsanstalt, 1934).
  19. The first volume of Oswald Spengler’s Decline of the West (1916) already bore the subtitle: Gestalt und Wirklichkeit [Form and Reality]. “Gestalt,” writes Gilbert Merlio, “is the Form of forms, what ‘informs’ reality in the manner of the Aristotelian entelechy; it is the morphological unity that one perceives beneath the diversity of historical reality, the formative idea (or Urpflanze!) that gives it coherence and direction” (“Les images du guerrier chez Ernst Jünger” [“The Images of the Warrior in Ernst Jünger”], in Danièle Beltran-Vidal, ed., Images d’Ernst Jünger [Images of Ernst Jünger] [Berne: Peter Lang, 1996], 35).

 

Source: “Types et figures dans l’oeuvre d’Ernst Jünger: Le Soldat du front, le Travailleur, le Rebelle et l’Anarque,” was originally presented as a lecture in Rome in May 1997.

—————

De Benoist, Alain. “Soldier, Worker, Rebel, Anarch: Types & Figures in Ernst Jünger’s Writings.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 29 March 2011. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2011/03/soldier-worker-rebel-anarch/ >.

 

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German Conservative Revolution – Tudor

The German Conservative Revolution & its Legacy

By Lucian Tudor

 

Translations: Suomi, Română

During the years between World War I and the establishment of the Third Reich, the political, economic, and social crises which Germany suddenly experienced as a result of its defeat in the First World War gave rise to a movement known as the “Conservative Revolution,” which is also commonly referred to as the “Conservative Revolutionary Movement,” with its members sometimes called “Revolutionary Conservatives” or even “Neoconservatives.”

The phrase “Conservative Revolution” itself was popularized as a result of a speech in 1927 by the famous poet Hugo von Hofmannsthal, who was a Catholic cultural conservative and monarchist.[1] Here Hofmannsthal declared, “The process of which I am speaking is nothing less than a conservative revolution on such a scale as the history of Europe has never known. Its object is form, a new German reality, in which the whole nation will share.”[2]

Although these phrases give the impression that the Conservative Revolution was composed of people who shared the same worldview, this was in fact not the case because the thinkers and leaders of the Conservative Revolution often had disagreements. Furthermore, despite the fact that the philosophical ideas produced by this “new conservatism” influenced German National Socialism and also had links to Fascism, it is incorrect to assume that the people belonging to it are either Fascist or “proto-Nazi.” Although some Revolutionary Conservatives praised Italian Fascism and some also eventually joined the National Socialist Movement (although many did not), overall their worldviews were distinct from both of these political groups.

It is difficult to adequately summarize the views held by the Revolutionary Conservatives due to the fact that many of them held views that stood in contradistinction to certain views held by others in the same movement. What they generally had in common was an awareness of the importance of Volk (this term may be translated as “folk,” “nation,” “ethnicity,” or “people”) and culture, the idea of Volksgemeinschaft (“folk-community”), and a rejection of Marxism, liberalism, and democracy (particularly parliamentary democracy). Ideas that also were common among them was a rejection of the linear concept of history in favor of the cyclical concept, a conservative and non-Marxist form of socialism, and the establishment of an authoritarian elite. [3]

In brief, the movement was made of Germans who had conservative tendencies of some sort but who were disappointed with the state into which Germany had been put by its loss of World War I and sought to advance ideas that were both conservative and revolutionary in nature.

In order to obtain an adequate idea as to the nature of the Conservative Revolution and its outlook, it is best to examine the major intellectuals and their thought. The following sections will provide a brief overview of the most important Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals and their key philosophical contributions.

The Visionaries of a New Reich

The most noteworthy Germans who had an optimistic vision of the establishment of a “Third Reich” were Stefan George, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Edgar Julius Jung. Stefan George, unlike the other two, was not a typical intellectual but a poet. George expressed his Revolutionary Conservative vision of the “new Reich” largely in poetry, and this poetry did in fact reach and affect many young German nationalists and even intellectuals; and for this he is historically notable.[4] But on the intellectual level, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (who popularized the term “Third Reich”) and Edgar Julius Jung had a deeper philosophical impact.

1. Arthur Moeller van den Bruck

Moeller van den Bruck was a cultural historian who became politically active at the end of the First World War. He was a founding member of the conservative “June Club,” of which he became the ideological leader.[5] In Der preussische Stil (“The Prussian Style”) he described what he believed to be the Prussian character, whose key characteristic was the “will to the state,” and in Das Recht der jungen Volker (“The Right of Young Peoples”) he presented the idea of “young peoples” (including Germany, Russia, and America) and “old peoples” (including England and France), advocating an alliance between the “younger” nations with more vitality to defeat the hegemony of Britain and France.[6]

In 1922, he contributed, along with Heinrich von Gleichen and Max Hildebert Boehm, to the book Die neue Front (“The New Front”), a manifesto of the Jungkonservativen (“Young-conservatives”).[7] A year later, Moeller van den Bruck produced his most famous work which contained a comprehensive exposition of his worldview, Das Dritte Reich, translated into English as Germany’s Third Empire.[8]

In Germany’s Third Empire, Moeller made a division between four political stances: Revolutionary, Liberal, Reactionary, and Conservative. Revolutionaries, which especially included Communists, were unrealistic in the sense that they believed they could totally brush aside all past values and traditions. Liberalism was criticized for its radical individualism, which essentially amounts to egotism and disintegrates nations and traditions. Reactionaries, on the other hand, were criticized for having the unrealistic position of desiring a complete revival of past forms, believing that everything in past society was positive. The Conservative, Moeller argued, was superior to the former three because “Conservatism seeks to preserve a nation’s values, both by conserving traditional values, as far as these still possess the power of growth, and by assimilating all new values which increase a nation’s vitality.”[9] Moeller’s “Conservative” was essentially a Revolutionary Conservative.

Moeller rejected Marxism because of its rationalism and materialism, which he argued were flawed ideologies that failed to understand the better side of human societies and life. “Socialism begins where Marxism ends,” he declared.[10] Moeller advocated a corporatist German socialism which recognized the importance of nationality and refused class warfare.

In terms of politics, Moeller rejected republicanism and asserted that true democracy was about the people taking a share in determining its destiny. He rejected monarchy as outdated and anticipated a new form of government in which a strong leader who was connected to the people would emerge. “We need leaders who feel themselves at one with the nation, who identify the nation’s fate with their own.” [11] This leader would establish a “Third Empire, a new and final Empire,” which would solve Germany’s political problems (especially its population problem).

2. Edgar Julius Jung

Another great vision of a Third Reich came from Edgar Julius Jung, a politically active intellectual who wrote the large book Die Herrschaft der Minderwertigen, translated into English as The Rule of the Inferiour,[12] which has sometimes been called the “bible of neo-conservatism.”[13] This book presented a devastating critique of liberalism and combined ideas from Spann, Schmitt, Pareto, and other thinkers.

Liberal democracy was rejected by Jung as the rule of masses which were manipulated by demagogues and also the rule of money because it had inherent tendencies towards plutocracy. The French Revolutionary ideas of “liberty, equality, fraternity” were all rejected as corrosive influences harmful to society and sources of individualism, which Jung viewed as a key cause of decay. Jung also rejected Marxism as a corrupt product of the French Revolution. [14] The Conservative Revolution for Jung was, in his words, the

Restoration of all those elementary laws and values without which man loses his ties with nature and God and without which he is incapable of building up a true order. In the place of equality there will be inherent standards, in the place of social consciousness a just integration into the hierarchical society, in the place of mechanical election an organic elite, in the place of bureaucratic leveling the inner responsibility of genuine self-government, in the place of mass prosperity the rights of a proud people. [15]

In the place of liberal and Marxist forms, Jung envisioned the establishment of a New Reich which would use corporatist economics (related to the medieval guild system), would be organized on a federalist basis, would be animated by Christian spirituality and the power of the Church, and would be led by an authoritarian monarchy and an elite composed of selected qualified members. In Jung’s words, “The state as the highest order of organic community must be an aristocracy; in the last and highest sense: the rule of the best. Even democracy was founded with this claim.”[16]

He also critiqued the materialistic concept of race as “biological materialism” and asserted instead the primacy of the cultural-spiritual entity (it was on this basis, rather than on biology, that the Jewish Problem was to be dealt with). Furthermore, he rejected nationalism in the normal sense of the term, supporting the concept of a federalist, supra-national, pan-European Empire, while still recognizing the reality and importance of Volk and the separateness of ethnic groups. In fact, Jung believed that the new Reich should be formed on “an indestructible volkisch foundation from which the volkisch struggle can take form.”[17]

Edgar Jung, however, was not content with merely writing about his ideas; he had great political ambitions and actively worked with parties and conservatives who agreed with him in the 1920s up until 1934.[18] The necessity of battle was already part of Jung’s philosophy: “If the German people see that, among them, combatants still live, then they become aware also of combat as the highest form of existence. The German destiny calls for men who master it. For, world-history makes the man.” [19]

During his political activity, he came to dislike the National Socialist movement due to a personal dislike for Hitler as well as his view that National Socialism was a product of modernity and was ideologically linked with Marxism and liberalism. Jung was highly active in his opposition to the NSDAP and was eventually responsible for writing Papen’s Marburg address which criticized Hitler’s government in 1934, which resulted in Jung’s death on the Night of the Long Knives.[20]

Theorists of Decline: Spengler and Klages

1. Oswald Spengler

The most famous theorist of decline is Oswald Spengler, the “doctor-prophet” who predicted the fall of the Western High Culture in his magnum opus, The Decline of the West. According to Spengler, every High Culture has its own “soul” (this refers to the essential character of a Culture) and goes through predictable cycles of birth, growth, fulfillment, decline, and demise which resemble that of the life of a plant.[21] To quote Spengler:

A Culture is born in the moment when a great soul awakens out of the proto-spirituality of ever-childish humanity, and detaches itself, a form from the formless, a bounded and mortal thing from the boundless and enduring. It blooms on the soil of an exactly-definable landscape, to which plant-wise it remains bound. It dies when the soul has actualized the full sum of its possibilities in the shape of peoples, languages, dogmas, arts, states, sciences, and reverts into the proto-soul. [22]

There is an important distinction in this theory between Kultur (“Culture”) and Zivilisation (“Civilization”). Culture refers to the beginning phase of a High Culture which is marked by rural life, religiosity, vitality, will-to-power, and ascendant instincts, while Civilization refers to the later phase which is marked by urbanization, irreligion, purely rational intellect, mechanized life, and decadence. Spengler particularly focused on three High Cultures which he made comparisons between: the Magian, the Classical, and the present Western High Culture. He held the view that the West, which was in its later Civilization phase, would soon enter a final imperialistic and “Caesarist” stage – a stage which, according to Spengler, marks the final flash before the end of a High Culture.[23]

Perhaps Spengler’s most important contribution to the Conservative Revolution, however, is his theory of “Prussian Socialism” which he expressed in Prussianism and Socialism, and which formed the basis of his view that conservatives and socialists should unite. In this short book he argued that the Prussian character, which was the German character par excellence, was essentially socialist. For Spengler, true socialism was primarily a matter of ethics rather than economics.[24]

This ethical, Prussian socialism meant the development and practice of work ethic, discipline, obedience, a sense of duty to the greater good and the state, self-sacrifice, and the possibility of attaining any rank by talent. Prussian socialism was differentiated from Marxism and liberalism. Marxism was not true socialism because it was materialistic and based on class conflict, which stood in contrast with the Prussian ethics of the state. Also in contrast to Prussian socialism was liberalism and capitalism, which negated the idea of duty, practiced a “piracy principle,” and created the rule of money.[25]

2. Ludwig Klages

Ludwig Klages was a less influential, although still noteworthy, theorist of decline who focused not on High Cultures, but on the decline of Life (which stands in contrast to mere Existence). Klages’s theory, named “Biocentrism,” posited a dichotomy between Seele (“Soul”) and Geist (“Spirit”); two forces in human life that were in a psychological battle with each other. Soul may be understood as pure Life, vital impulse, and feeling, while Spirit may be understood as abstract intellect, mechanical and conceptual thought, reason, and Will.[26]

According to Biocentric theory, in primordial pre-historic times, man’s Soul and body were united and thus humans lived ecstatically in accordance to the principle of Life. Over time, human Life was interfered with by Spirit, which caused humans to use conceptual (as opposed to symbolic) thought and rational intellect, thus beginning the severing of body and Soul. In this theory, the more human history progresses, the more Life is limited and ruined by the Spirit in a long but ultimately unstoppable process which ends in completely mechanized, over-civilized, and soul-less people. “Already, the machine has liberated itself from man’s control,” wrote Klages, “it is no longer man’s servant: in reality, man himself is now being enslaved by the machine.”[27]

This final stage is marked by such things as a complete disconnection from Nature, the destruction of the natural environment, massive race-mixing, and a lack of true Life, which is predicted to finally end in the death of mankind due to damage to the natural world. Klages declared, “. . . the ultimate destruction of all seems to be a foregone conclusion.”[28]

Spann and the Unified State

Othmar Spann was, from 1919 to 1938, a professor at the University of Vienna in Austria who was influential but who, despite his enthusiastic support for National Socialism, was removed by the Third Reich government due to a few ideological disagreements.[29] He was the exponent of a theory known as “Universalism” (which is entirely different from universalism in the normal sense of the term). His Universalist view of economics, politics, society, and science was expounded in numerous books, the most important of which was his most memorable work, Der wahre Staat (“The True State”).[30]

Spann’s Universalism was a corporatist theory which rejected individualism. To understand Spann’s rejection of individualism it is necessary to understand what “individualism” is because different and even contradictory definitions are given to that term; individualism here refers to the concept that the individual is absolute and no supra-individual reality exists (and therefore, society is nothing more than a collection of atoms). The reader must be aware that Spann did not make a complete denial of the individual, but rather a complete denial of individualist ideology.[31]

According to Universalist theory, the individual exists only within a particular community or society; the whole (the totality of society) precedes the parts (individuals) because the parts do not truly exist independent from the whole.[32] Spann wrote, “It is the fundamental truth of all social science . . . that it is not the individuals that are the truly real, but the whole, and that the individuals have reality and existence only so far as they are members of the whole.”[33]

Furthermore, society and the State were not entirely separable, because from the State comes the rights of the individual, family, and other groups. Liberalism, capitalism, democracy, and Marxian socialism were all rejected by Spann as individualist or materialist and corrupt products of French Revolutionary ideas. Whereas in past societies the individual was integrated into community, modern life with its liberalism had atomized society. According to Spann, “Mankind can reconcile itself to poverty because it will be and remain poor forever. But to the loss of estate, existential insecurity, uprootedness, and nothingness, the masses of affected people can never reconcile themselves.”[34] As a solution to modern decay, Spann envisioned the formation of a religious Christian, corporatist, hierarchical, and authoritarian state similar to the First Reich (the Holy Roman Empire).[35]

A lesser-known Revolutionary Conservative academic, Hans Freyer, also held similar views to Spann and challenged the ideas and results of the “Enlightenment,” particularly secularism, the idea of universal reason, the concept of a universal humanity, urbanization, and democratization. Against modern society corrupted by these things, Freyer posed the idea of a “totally integrated society” which would be completed by a powerful, non-democratic state. Culture, Volk, race, and religion would form the basis of society and state in order to restore a sense of community and common values. Freyer also joined the National Socialists believing that the movement would realize his aims but later became disappointed with it because of what he saw as its repressive nature during the Third Reich.[36]

Zehrer and Elitist Theory

Hans Zehrer was a notable contributor to and editor of the “neoconservative” magazine Die Tat, and thus eventually also a founding member of a group of intellectuals known as the Tat-Kreis (“Tat-Circle”). Zehrer held the view that “all movements began as intellectual movements of intelligent, well-qualified minorities which, because of the discrepancy between that which is and that which should be, seized the initiative.”[37] His theory was somewhat related to Vilfredo Pareto’s concept of a “circulation of elites” in that he believed that intellectuals, in most cases gifted and intelligent men emerging from any social class, were crucial in determining the succeeding social order and its ideas.

In Germany at that time, the middle class, which made up a large segment of society and of which Zehrer was a member, was facing a number of economic problems. It was Zehrer’s dream that a new political order could be established by young intellectuals of the middle class which he attempted to reach. This new order would result in the abolishment of the insecure Weimar republic and the establishment of an authoritarian elite made up largely of such intellectuals. This elite would not be subject to control by the masses and would choose its own members based on the criterion of personal quality and ability without regard to social class or wealth.[38]

Zehrer’s vision was not fulfilled due to a series of failures to establish a new state by a “revolution from above” as well because of the rise of the NSDAP, which he attempted to influence in the early 1930s despite his disdain for party rule and, after being unsuccessful, retreated from political activity. However, although most Revolutionary Conservative thinkers did not envision an elite composed almost solely of intellectuals, it is notable that they shared with Zehrer the view that an authoritarian elite should have its membership open to qualified individuals of all classes and ranks.[39]

Sombart and Conservative Socialism

Socialists with nationalist and conservative leanings such as Paul Lensch, Johann Plenge, Werner Sombart, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, and Oswald Spengler to the rise of a new, national, conservative socialism. Of course, it should be remembered that non-Marxist socialism already had a long history in Germany, including such people as the Kathedersozialisten (“socialists of the chair”), Adolf Stöcker, and Ferdinand Tönnies.[40] Werner Sombart himself began as a Marxist, but later became disillusioned with Marxist theory, which he realized was destructive of the human spirit and organic community much in the same way capitalism was.

Sombart is for the most part remembered for his work on the nature of capitalism, especially his works linking the materialistic character of the Jews with capitalism. The obsession with profit, ruthless business practices, indifference to quality, and “the merely rationalizing and abstracting characteristics of the trader” which were key products of capitalism, destroy any “community of labor” and disintegrate bonds between people which were more common in medieval society.[41] Sombart wrote, “Before capitalism could develop, the natural man had to be changed out of all recognition, and a rationalistically minded mechanism introduced in his stead. There had to be a transvaluation of all economic values.”[42]

Sombart’s major objections to Marxism consisted of the fact that Marxism aimed to suppress all religious feelings as well as national feelings and the values of rooted, indigenous culture; Marxism aimed not at a higher mankind but mere base “happiness.” In contrast to Marxism and capitalism, Sombart advocated a German Socialism in which economic policies would be “directed in a corporative manner,” exploitation would be ended, and hierarchy and the welfare of the whole state would be upheld.[43]

Radicalism and Nationalism: Jünger and Niekisch

1. Ernst Jünger

Ernst Jünger is well-known for his work on what he saw as the positive effects of warfare and battle, with himself having experienced these in World War I. Jünger rejected the bourgeois civilization of comfort and security, which he saw as weak and dying, in favor of the hardening and “magnificent” experience of action and adventure in war, which would transform a man of the bourgeois world into a “warrior.” The warrior type battled “against the eternal Utopia of peace, the pursuit of happiness, and perfection.”[44] Jünger believed that the crisis and restlessness of Germans after the World War was essentially a good thing.

In his book Der Arbeiter, the “warrior” was followed by the “worker,” a new type which would become dominant after the end of the bourgeois order. Jünger had realized that modern technology was changing the world; the individual man was losing his individuality and freedom in a mechanized world. Thus he anticipated a society in which people would accept anonymity in the masses and obedient service to the state; the population would undergo “total mobilization.”[45] To quote Jünger:

Total Mobilization is far less consummated than it consummates itself; in war and peace, it expresses the secret and inexorable claim to which our life in the age of masses and machines subjects us. It thus turns out that each individual life becomes, ever more unambiguously, the life of a worker; and that, following the wars of knights, kings, and citizens, we now have wars of workers. The first great twentieth-century conflict has offered us a presentiment of both their rational structure and their mercilessness.[46]

Ernst Jünger’s acceptance of technology in the “worker” stage stands somewhat in contrast to the position taken by his brother, Friedrich Georg Jünger, who wrote critiques of modern technological civilization (although Ernst would later in life agree with this view).[47] Ernst Jünger later changed in his attitudes during World War II, and afterwards nearly inverted his entire worldview, praising peace and individualism; a change which had not come without criticism from the Right.[48]

2. Ernst Niekisch

Another notable radical nationalist in the Conservative Revolution was Ernst Niekisch, who began as a Communist but eventually turned to a seemingly paradoxical mixture of German nationalism and Russian communism: National Bolshevism. In accordance with this new doctrine, Niekisch advocated an alliance between Soviet Russia and Germany in order to overcome the Versailles Treaty as well as to counter the power of the capitalist and anti-nationalist Western nations. However, this deviant faction, in competition with both Communists and anti-Communist nationalists, remained an unsuccessful minority.[49]

Political Theory: Schmitt and Haushofer

1. Carl Schmitt

Carl Schmitt was a notable Catholic philosopher of politics and jurist who was a major influence on political thought and who also supported the Third Reich government after its formation. His most famous book was The Concept of the Political, although he is also the author of numerous other works, including Political Theology and The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy.

The “political,” for Schmitt, was a concept distinct from politics in the normal sense of the term, and was based on the distinction between “friend” and “enemy.” The political exists wherever there exists an enemy, a group which is different and holds different interests, and with whom there is a possibility of conflict. This criterion includes both groups outside of the state as well as within the state, and therefore both inter-state war as well as civil war is taken into account. A population can be unified and mobilized through the political act, in which an enemy is identified and battled.[50]

Schmitt also defended the practice of dictatorship, which he distinguished from “tyranny.” Dictatorship is a form of government which is established when a “state of exception” or emergency exists in which it is necessary to bypass slow parliamentary processes in order to defend the law. According to Schmitt, dictatorial power is present in any case in which a state or leader exercises power independently of the approval of majorities, regardless of whether or not this state is “democratic.” Sovereignty is the power to decide the state of exception, and thus, “sovereign is he who decides on the exception.”[51]

Schmitt further criticized parliamentary or liberal democracy by arguing that the original basis of parliamentarism — which held that the separation of powers and open and rational dialogue between parties would result in a well-functioning state — was in fact negated by the reality of party politics, in which party leaders, coalitions, and interest groups make decisions on policies without a discussion. Another notable argument made by Schmitt was that true democracy is not liberal democracy, in which a plurality of groups are treated equally under a single state, but a unified, homogenous state in which leaders’ decisions express the will of the unified people. In Schmitt’s words, “Every actual democracy rests on the principle that not only are equals equal but unequals will not be treated equally. Democracy requires, therefore, first homogeneity and second – if the need arises elimination or eradication of heterogeneity.”[52]

2. Karl Haushofer

Karl Haushofer was another philosopher of politics who is well-known for his theoretical work on “geopolitics” which aimed to advance Germany’s understanding of international politics and geography. Haushofer asserted that nations not only had the right to defend their land, but also to expand and colonize new lands, especially when experiencing over-population. Germany was one nation in such a position, and was thus entitled to Lebensraum (“living-space”) for its excess population. In order to overcome the domination of the Anglo-American power structure, Haushofer advocated a new system of alliances which particularly involved a German-Russian alliance (thus Haushofer can be viewed as a “Eurasianist”). Haushofer joined the National Socialists but his ideas were eventually rejected by Third Reich geopoliticians because of their hostility to Russia.[53]

The Influences of the Conservative Revolution

The thinkers of the Conservative Revolution had not only an immediate influence in Germany during the early 20th Century, but also a deep and lasting impact on right-wing (and in some cases even left-wing) thought up to the present day. Aside from the obvious influence on National Socialism, and if we assume that Otto Strasser cannot be included as part of the Conservative Revolution, then Strasserism was still clearly influenced by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Oswald Spengler.[54]

Francis Parker Yockey, the author of Imperium, also revealed influence from Spengler, Schmitt, Sombart, and Haushofer.[55] Julius Evola, the famous Italian traditionalist, is yet another writer who was affected by Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals, as is clear in such major works as Men Among the Ruins[56] and The Path of Cinnabar.[57]

More recently, the European New Right shows a great amount of inspiration from Revolutionary Conservatives. Armin Mohler, who may himself be considered a part of Germany’s Conservative Revolution as well as the New Right, is well-known for his seminal work Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932.[58] In addition, Tomislav Sunic also draws many intellectual concepts from Revolutionary Conservatives in his highly important book, Against Democracy and Equality, including Schmitt, Spengler, and to a lesser extent Spann and Sombart. [59]

Yet another intellectual in league with the New Right, Alexander Jacob, is the translator of Jung’s The Rule of the Inferiour and is also responsible for multiple works on various Revolutionary Conservatives.[60] When one considers these facts, it becomes apparent that much can be learned by studying the history and ideas of the German Conservative Revolution. It is a source of philosophical richness which can advance the Conservative position and which leaves its mark on the thought of the Right even today.

 

Notes

[1] On Hofmannsthal’s political views, see Paul Gottfried, “Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Interwar European Right.” Modern Age, Vol. 49, No. 4 (Fall 2007), pp. 508–19.

[2] Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Das Schrifttum als geistiger Raum der Nation (Munich, 1927). Quoted in Klemens von Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism; Its History And Dilemma In The Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968), p. 9.

[3] Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932 (Stuttgart: Friedrich Vorwerk Verlag, 1950).

[4] Robert Edward Norton, Secret Germany: Stefan George and his Circle (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2002).

[5] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 102–111.

[6] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 156–159.

[7] Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, p. 329.

[8] Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany’s Third Empire (New York: Howard Fertig, 1971).

[9] Ibid. p. 76.

[10] Ibid. p. 245.

[11] Ibid. p. 227.

[12] Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, trans. Alexander Jacob (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1995).

[13] Larry Eugene Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung: The Conservative Revolution in Theory and Practice,” Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association, vol. 21, Issue 02 (June 1988), p. 142.

[14] Ibid.

[15] Edgar J. Jung, Deutsche uber Deutschland (Munich, 1932), p. 380. Quoted in Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 121–22.

[16] Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, p. 138.

[17] Jung, “Sinndeutung der konservativen Revolution in Deutschland.” Quoted inJones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” p. 167. For an overview of Jung’s philosophy, see: Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 144–47, 149; Walter Struve, Elites Against Democracy; Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890-1933 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1973), pp. 317–52; Alexander Jacob’s introduction to Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940 (Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, 2002), pp. 10–16.

[18] Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 145–48.

[19] Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, p. 368.

[20] Jones, “Edgar Julius Jung,” pp. 147–73.

[21] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West Vol. 1: Form and Actuality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926).

[22] Ibid. p. 106.

[23] Ibid. For a good overview of Spengler’s theory, see Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right (Third Edition. London: Arktos, 2010), pp. 91–98.

[24] Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays (Chicago: Gateway/Henry Regnery, 1967).

[25] Ibid.

[26] See: Joe Pryce, “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages,” Revilo-Oliver.com, 2001, http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/Ludwig_Klages.html, and Lydia Baer, “The Literary Criticism of Ludwig Klages and the Klages School: An Introduction to Biocentric Thought.” The Journal of English and Germanic Philology, Vol. 40, No. 1 (Jan., 1941), pp. 91–138.

[27] Ludwig Klages, Cosmogonic Reflections, trans. Joe Pryce, 14 May 2001, http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/515.html, 453.

[28] Ibid., http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/100.html, 2.

[29] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 204–5.

[30] Othmar Spann, Der Wahre Staat (Leipzig: Verlag von Quelle und Meyer, 1921).

[31] Barth Landheer, “Othmar Spann’s Social Theories.” Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 39, No. 2 (Apr., 1931), pp. 239–48.

[32] Ibid.

[33] Spann, quoted in Ernest Mort, “Christian Corporatism.” Modern Age, Vol. 3, No. 3 (Summer 1959), p. 249. http://www.mmisi.org/ma/03_03/mort.pdf.

[34] Spann, Der wahre Staat, p. 120. Quoted in Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality, pp. 163–64.

[35] Janek Wasserman, Black Vienna, Red Vienna: The Struggle for Intellectual and Political Hegemony in Interwar Vienna, 19181938 (Saint Louis, Missouri: Washington University, 2010), pp. 73–85.

[36] Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God that Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988). The single book by Hans Freyer to be translated into English is Theory of Objective Mind, trans. Steven Grosby (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1998).

[37] Hans Zehrer, “Die Revolution der Intelligenz,” Tat, XXI (Oct. I929), 488. Quoted in Walter Struve, “Hans Zehrer as a Neoconservative Elite Theorist,” The American Historical Review, Vol. 70, No. 4 (Jul., 1965), p. 1035.

[38] Struve, “Hans Zehrer as a Neoconservative Elite Theorist.”

[39] Ibid.

[40] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 57–58. On Tönnies, see Christopher Adair-Toteff, “Ferdinand Tonnies: Utopian Visionary,” Sociological Theory, Vol. 13, No. 1 (Mar., 1995), pp. 58-65.

[41] Alexander Jacob, “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism,” The Scorpion, Issue 21. http://thescorp.multics.org/21spengler.html.

[42] Werner Sombart, Economic Life in the Modern Age (New Brunswick, NJ, and London: Transaction Publishers, 2001), p. 129.

[43] Jacob, “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism.”

[44] Ernst Jünger, ed., Krieg und Krieger (Berlin, 1930), 59. Quoted in Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, p. 183. See also Ernst Jünger’s Storm of Steel, trans. Basil Greighton (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929) and Copse 125 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930).

[45] Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism, pp. 185–88.

[46] Ernst Jünger, “Total Mobilization,” trans. Joel Golb, in The Heidegger Controversy (Boston: MIT Press, 1992), p. 129. http://anarchistwithoutcontent.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/junger-total-mobilization-booklet.pdf.

[47] Alain de Benoist, “Soldier Worker, Rebel, Anarch: An Introduction to Ernst Jünger,” trans. Greg Johnson, The Occidental Quarterly, vol. 8, no. 3 (Fall 2008), p. 52.

[48] Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), pp. 216–21.

[49] Klemens von Klemperer, “Towards a Fourth Reich? The History of National Bolshevism in Germany,” The Review of Politics, Vol. 13, No. 2 (Apr., 1951), pp. 191–210.

[50] Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, expanded edition, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

[51] Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005), p. 1.

[52] Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985), p. 9.

[53] Andrew Gyorgy, “The Geopolitics of War: Total War and Geostrategy.” The Journal of Politics, Vol. 5, No. 4 (Nov., 1943), pp. 347–62. See also Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland, p. 474.

[54] Otto Strasser, Hitler and I (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1940), pp. 38–39.

[55] Francis Parker Yockey, Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics (Sausalito, Cal.: Noontide Press, 1962).

[56] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins (Rochester, Vt.: Inner Traditions, 2002).

[57] Evola, The Path of Cinnabar, pp. 150–55.

[58] See note #3.

[59] See Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality, pp. 75–98, 159–64.

[60] See Jacob, Europa; “German Socialism as an Alternative to Marxism”; Introduction to Political Ideals by Houston Stewart Chamberlain (Lanham, Md.: University Press of America, 2005).

 

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Tudor, Lucian. “The Conservative Revolution of Germany & its Legacy.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 14 August 2012. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/the-german-conservative-revolution-and-its-legacy/ >.

 

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Interview with Steuckers

Interview with Robert Steuckers by Troy Southgate

 

Troy Southgate: When and why did you decide to become involved in politics?

Robert Steuckers: I was never actually involved in politics, as I was never a member of a political party. Nevertheless I am a citizen interested in political questions but of course not in the usual plain and trivial way, as I have no intention to become a candidate, council deputy or Member of Parliament.

For me “politics” means to maintain continuities or, if you prefer, traditions. But traditions that are embedded in the actual history of a particular human community. I started to read historical and political books at the tender age of 14. This lead to a rejection of established ideologies or non-values.

From the age of 15 onwards, with the help of a secondary school history teacher, a certain Mr. Kennof, I realized that people should grasp the main trends of history in keys and always make use of historical atlasses (I have collected them ever since) in order to understand in one glimpse the main forces animating the world scene at a precise moment of time. Maps are very important for politics at a high level (diplomacy, for instance).

The principal idea I acquired at this young age was that all ideologies, thoughts or blue prints which wanted to get rid of the past, to sever the links people have with their historical continuities, were fundamentally wrong. As a consequence, all political actions should aim at preserving and strengthening historical and political continuities, even when futurist (pro-active) actions are often necessary to save a community from a sterile repetition of obsolete habits and customs.

The discourses of most ideologies, including the various expressions of the so-called far right, were in my eyes artificial in the Western World just as communism was an abstraction in front of the whole of Russian history in the East or an abstraction obliterating the genuine historical patterns of the East-European peoples submitted to Soviet rule after 1945. The rupture of continuities or the repetition of dead past “forms” leads to the political-ideological confusion we know nowadays, where conservatives aren’t conservative and socialists aren’t socialists anymore, and so on.

Fundamental political ideas are better served in my eyes by “Orders” than by political parties. Orders provide a continuous education of the affiliated and stress the notion of service. They feel reluctant in front of the mere politicians’ petty ambitions. Such Orders are the Chivalric Orders of the Middle Ages or the Renaissance in Europe, the notion of fatwa in the Persian Islamic world as well as later experiments, including in the 20th Century (The Legion of Michael the Archangel Michael in Romania, the Verdinaso in Flanders, etc.).

Troy Southgate: Please explain what you mean by the term “Conservative Revolution” and, if possible, provide us with an outline of some of its chief ideologues.

Robert Steuckers: When the phrase “Conservative Revolution” is used in Europe, it is mostly in the sense given to it by Armin Mohler in his famous book Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1932. Mohler listed a long list of authors who rejected the pseudo-values of 1789 (dismissed by Edmund Burke as mere “blue prints”), stressed the role of the Germanic in the evolution of European thought and received the influence of Nietzsche. Mohler avoided, for instance, purely religious “conservatives,” be they Catholics or Protestants.

For Mohler the main brandmark of “Conservative Revolution” is a non-linear vision of history. But he doesn’t simply take over the cyclical vision of traditionalism. After Nietzsche, Mohler believes in a spherical conception of history. What does that mean? It means that history is neither simply a repetition of the same patterns at regular intervals nor a linear path leading to happiness — to the end of history, to a Paradise on Earth, to felicity, etc. — but is a sphere that can run (or be pushed) in every direction according to the impulsion it receives from strong charismatic personalities. Such charismatic personalities bend the course of history towards some very particular ways, ways that were never previously foreseen by any kind of Providence.

Mohler in this sense never believes in universalistic political receipts or doctrines but always in particular and personal trends. Like Jünger, he wants to struggle against everything that is “general” and to support everything that is “particular”. Further, Mohler expressed his vision of the dynamic particularities by using the some awkward terminology of “nominalism.” For him “nominalism” was indeed the word that expressed at best the will of strong personalities to cut for themselves and their followers an original and never used path through the jungle of existence.

The main figures of the movement were Spengler, Moeller van den Bruck, and Ernst Jünger (and his brother Friedrich-Georg). We can add to these triumviri Ludwig Klages and Ernst Niekisch. Carl Schmitt, as a Catholic lawyer and constitutionalist, represents another important aspect of the so-called “Conservative Revolution”.

Spengler remains the author of a brilliant fresco of the world civilizations that inspired the British philosopher Arnold Toynbee. Spengler spoke of Europe as a Faustian civilization, at best expressed by the Gothic cathedrals, the interaction of light and colors in the glass-works, the stormy skies with white and gray clouds in most of the Dutch, English, and German paintings. This civilization is an aspiration of the human soul towards light and towards self-commitment.

Another important idea of Spengler is the idea of “pseudo-morphosis”: a civilization never disappears completely after a decay or a violent conquest. Its elements pass into the new civilization that takes its succession and bends it towards original paths.

Moeller van den Bruck was the first German translator of Dostoevsky. He was deeply influenced by Dostoevsky’s diary, containing some severe judgments on the West. In the German context after 1918, Moeller van den Bruck advocated, on the basis of Dostoevsky’s arguments, a German-Russian alliance against the West.

How could the respectable German gentleman, with an immense artist’s culture, plea in favor of an alliance with the Bolsheviks? His arguments were the following: in the whole diplomatic tradition of the 19th century, Russia was considered as the shield of reaction against all the repercussions of the French Revolution and of the revolutionist mind and moods. Dostoevsky, as a former Russian revolutionist who admitted later that his revolutionist options were wrong and mere blue prints, considered more or less that Russia’s mission in the world was to wipe out of Europe the tracks of the ideas of 1789.

For Moeller van den Bruck, the October Revolution of 1917 in Russia was only a changing of ideological clothe Russia remained, despite the Bolshevik discourse, the antidote to the Western liberal mind. So defeated Germany should ally to this fortress of anti-revolutionism to oppose the West, which in the eyes of Moeller van den Bruck is the incarnation of liberalism. Liberalism, stated Moeller van den Bruck, is always the final disease of a people. After some decades of liberalism, a people will ineluctably enter into a terminal phase of decay.

The path followed by Ernst Jünger is known enough to everyone. He started as an ardent and gallant young soldier in the First World War, leaving the trenches with no gun, simply with a hand grenade under his arm, worn with elegance like the stick of a typical British officer. For Jünger the First World War was the end of the petty bourgeois world of the 19th Century and the “Belle Epoque,” where everyone had to be “as it should be,” i.e. behave according to said patterns pre-cut by borrowing teachers or priests, exactly as we all today have to behave according to the self-proclaimed rules of “political correctness.”

Under the “storms of steel,” the soldier could state his nothingness, his mere fragile biological being, but this statement couldn’t in his eyes lead to an inept pessimism, to fear and desperation. Having experimented the most cruel destiny in the trenches and under the shelling of thousands of artillery guns, shaking the earth thoroughly, reducing everything to the “elemental,” the infantrymen knew better of cruel human destiny on the surface of this planet. All artificiality of civilised urban life appeared to them as mere fake.

After the first World War Ernst Jünger and his brother Friedrich-Georg turned out to be the best national-revolutionist journalists and writers.

Ernst evolved to a kind of cynical, soft, ironical, and serene observer of humanity and the facts of life. During a carpet bombing raid on a Parisian suburb, where factories were producing war material for the German army during WWII, Jünger was terrified by the unnatural straight air path taken by the American flying fortresses. The linearity of the planes’ path in the air above Paris was the negation of all the curves and sinuosities of organic life. Modern war implied the crushing of those winding and serpentine organicities. Ernst Jünger started his career as a writer by being an apologist of war. After having observed the irresistible lines thrust forward by the American B-17s, he became totally disgusted by the unchivalrousness of the pure technical way of running a war.

After WWII, his brother Friedrich-Georg wrote a first theoretical work leading to the development of the new German critical and ecological thinking, Die Perfektion der Technik (The Perfection of Technics). The main idea of this book, in my eyes, is the critique of “connection.” The modern world is a process trying to connect human communities and individuals to big structures. This process of connection ruins the principle of liberty. You are a poor chained prole if you are “connected” to a big structure, even if you earn £3000 or more in one month. You are a free man if you are totally disconnected from those big iron heels. In a certain way, Friedrich-Georg developed the theory that Kerouac experimented untheoretically by choosing to drop out and travel, becoming a singing tramp.

Ludwig Klages was another philosopher of organic life against abstract thinking. For him the main dichotomy was between Life and Spirit (Leben und Geist). Life is crushed by abstract spirit. Klages was born in Northern Germany but migrated as a student to Munich, where he spent his free time in the pubs of Schwabing, the district in which artists and poets met (and still meet today). He became a friend of the poet Stefan Georg and a student of the most original figure of Schwabing, the philosopher Alfred Schuler, who believed himself to be the reincarnation of an ancient Roman settler in the German Rhineland.

Schuler had a genuine sense of theater. He disguised himself in the toga of a Roman Emperor, admired Nero, and set up plays remembering the audience of the ancient Greek or Roman world. But beyond his lively fantasy, Schuler acquired a cardinal importance in philosophy by stressing for instance the idea of “Entlichtung,” i.e. the gradual disappearance of Light since the time of the Ancient City-State of Greece and Roman Italy. There is no progress in history: On the contrary, Light is vanishing as well as the freedom of the free citizen to shape his own destiny.

Hannah Arendt and Walter Benjamin, on the left or conservative-liberal side, were inspired by this idea and adapted it for different audiences. The modern world is the world of complete darkness, with little hope of finding “be-lighted” periods again, unless charismatic personalities, like Nero, dedicated to art and Dionysian lifestyle, wedge in a new era of splendor which would only last for the blessed time of one spring.

Klages developed the ideas of Schuler, who never wrote a complete book, after he died in 1923 due to an ill-prepared operation. Klages, just before WW1, pronounced a famous speech on the Horer Meissner Hill in Central Germany, in front of the assembled youth movements (Wandervogel). This speech bore the title of “Man and Earth” and can be seen as the first organic manifesto of ecology, with a clear and understandable but nevertheless solid philosophical background.

Carl Schmitt started his career as a law teacher in 1912 but lived till the respectable age of 97. He wrote his last essay at 91. I cannot enumerate all the important points of Carl Schmitt’s work in the frame of this modest interview. Let us summarize by saying that Schmitt developed two main idea the idea of decision in political life and the idea of “Great Space.”

The art of shaping politics or a good policy lays in decision, not in discussion. The leader has to decide in order to lead, protect, and develop the political community he is in charge of. Decision is not dictatorship as many liberals would say nowadays in our era of “political correctness.” On the contrary: a personalisation of power is more democratic, in the sense that a king, an emperor, or a charismatic leader is always a mortal person. The system he eventually imposes is not eternal, as he is doomed to die like any human being. A nomocratic system, on the contrary, aims at remaining eternal, even if current events and innovations contradict the norms or principles.

Second big topic in Schmitt’s work the idea of a European Grand Space (Grossraum). “Out-of-Space” powers should be prevented to intervene within the frame of this Great Space. Schmitt wanted to apply to Europe the same simple principle that animated US President Monroe. America for the Americans. OK, said Schmitt, but let us apply “Europe to the Europeans.” Schmitt can be compared to the North-American “continentalists,” who criticised Roosevelt’s interventions in Europe and Asia. Latin Americans also developed similar continentalist ideas as well as Japanese imperialists. Schmitt gave to this idea of “Greater Space” a strong juridical base.

Ernst Niekisch is a fascinating figure in the sense that he started his career as a Communist leader of the “Councils’ Republic of Bavaria” of 1918-19, that was crushed down by the Free Corps of von Epp, von Lettow-Vorbeck, etc. Obviously, Niekisch was disappointed by the absence of a historical vision among the Bolshevik trio in revolutionist Munich (Lewin, Leviné, Axelrod).

Niekisch developed a Eurasian vision, based on an alliance between the Soviet Union, Germany, India, and China. The ideal figure who was supposed to be the human motor of this alliance was the peasant, the adversary of the Western bourgeoisie. A certain parallel with Mao Tse-Tung is obvious here. In the journals that Niekisch edited, we discover all the German tentatives to support anti-British or anti-French movements in the colonial empires or in Europe (Ireland against England, Flanders against a Frenchified Belgium, Indian nationalists against Britain, etc.).

I hope I have explained in a nutshell the main trends of the so-called conservative revolution in Germany between 1918 and 1933. May those who know this pluri-stratified movement of ideas forgive my schematic introduction.

Troy Southgate: Do you have a “spiritual angle”?

Robert Steuckers: By answering this question, I risk being too succinct. Among the group of friends who exchanged political and cultural ideas at the end of the Seventies, we concentrated of course on Evola’s Revolt Against the Modern World. Some of us rejected totally the spiritual bias, because it lead to sterile speculation: they preferred to read Popper, Lorenz, etc. I accepted many of their criticisms, and I still dislike the uttermost Evolian speculations, alleging a spiritual world of Tradition beyond all reality. The real world being disregarded as mere triviality. But this is of course a cult of Tradition mainly supported by young people “feeling ill in their own skin,” as we say. The dream to live like beings in fairy tales is a form of refusing to accept reality.

In Chapter 7 of Revolt Against the Modern World, Evola, on the contrary, stresses the importance of the “numena“, the forces acting within things, natural phenomena or powers. The initial Roman mythology laid the accent more on the numena than on the personalised divinities. This bias is mine. Beyond the people and the gods of the usual religions (be they Pagan or Christian), there are acting forces and man should be in concordance with them in order to be successful in his earthly actions.

My religious/spiritual orientation is more mystical than dogmatic, in the sense that the mystical tradition of Flanders and Rhineland (Ruusbroec, Meister Eckhart), as well as the mystical tradition of Ibn Arabî in the Muslim area or of Sohrawardî in the Persian realm, admire and worship the total splendor of Life and the World. In these traditions, there is no clear-cut dichotomy between the godly, the sacred, and the holy on the one side and the worldly, the profane, and the simple on the other. Mystical tradition means omni-compenetration and synergy of all the forces yeasting in the world.

Troy Southgate: Please explain to our readers why you place such importance on concepts like geopolitics and Eurasianism.

Robert Steuckers: Geopolitics is a mixture of history and geography. In other words of time and space. Geopolitics is a set of disciplines (not a single discipline) leading to a good governance of time and space. Geopolitics is a mixture of history and geography. No serious power can survive without continuity, be it an institutional or historical continuity. No serious power can survive without a domination and a yielding of land and space.

All traditional empires first organized the land by building roads (Rome) or by mastering the big rivers (Egypt, Mesopotamia, China), then lead on to the emergence of a long history, to the sense of a continuity, to the birth of the first practical sciences (astronomy, meteorology, geography, mathematics) under the protection of well structured armies with a code of honor, especially codified in Persia, the womb of Chivalry.

The Roman Empire, the first empire on European soil, was focussed on the Mediterranean Sea. The Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation couldn’t find a proper core as well coordinated as the Mediterranean. The waterways of Central Europe lead to the North Sea, the Baltic Sea, or the Black Sea, but without any link between them. This was the true tragedy of German and European history. The country was torn between centrifugal forces. The Emperor Frederick II Hohenstaufen tried to restore the Mediterranean realm, with Sicily as the central geographical piece.

His attempt was a tragic failure. It is only now that the emergence of a renewed imperial form (even under a modern ideology) is possible in Europe: after the opening of the canal between the Rhine-Main system and the Danube river system. There is a single waterway now between the North Sea, including the Thames system in Britain, and the Black Sea, allowing the economical and cultural forces of Central Europe to reach all the shores of the Black Sea and the Caucasian countries.

Those who have a good historical memory, not blinded by the usual ideological blue-prints of modernism, will remember the role of the Black Sea shores in the spiritual history of Europe: in Crimea, many old traditions, be they Pagan or Byzantine, were preserved in caves by monks. The influences of Persia, especially the values of the oldest (Zoroastrian) Chivalry in world history, could influence the development of similar spiritual forces in Central and Western Europe. Without those influences, Europe is spiritually mutilated.

Therefore the Mediterranean area, the Rhine (also coupled to the Rhone) and the Danube, the Russian rivers, the Black Sea and the Caucasus should constitute a single civilization area, defended by a unified military force, based on a spirituality inherited from Ancient Persia. This, in my eyes, means Eurasia. My position is slightly different than that of Dughin but both positions are not incompatible.

When the Ottomans gained complete control over the Balkan Peninsula in the 15th Century, the land routes were cut for all Europeans. Moreover, with the help of the North African sea rovers assembled by the Turkish-born Barbarossa based in Algiers, the Mediterranean was closed to peaceful European commercial expansion towards India and China. The Muslim world worked as a bolt to contain Europe and Moscovy, core of the future Russian Empire.

All together, Europeans and Russians joined their efforts to destroy the Ottoman bolt. The Portuguese, Spaniards, English and Dutch tried the sea routes and circumvented the African and Asian land mass, ruining first the Moroccan kingdom, which drew gold from subtropical Western African mines and claims in order to build an army to conquer again the Iberian Peninsula. By landing in Western Africa, the Portuguese got the gold more easily for themselves and the Moroccan kingdom was reduced to a mere residual superpower. The Portuguese passed around the African continent and entered the Indian Ocean, circumventing definitively the Ottoman bolt, and giving for the first time a real Eurasian dimension to European history.

At the same time, Russia repelled the Tartars, took the City of Kazan, and destroyed the Tartar shackle of the Muslim bolt. This was the starting point of the continental Russian Eurasian geopolitical perspective.

The aim of American global strategy, developed by a man like Zbigniew Bzrzezinski, is to recreate artificially the Muslim bolt by supporting Turkish militarism and Panturanism. In this perspective, they support tacitly and still secretly the Moroccan claims on the Canary Isles and use Pakistan to prevent any land link between India and Russia. Hence the double necessity today for Europe and Russia to remember the counter-strategy elaborated by ALL European people in the 15th and 16th Century.

European history has always been conceived as petty nationalist visions. It is time to reconsider European history by stressing the common alliances and convergencies. The Portuguese seaborne and the Russian landborne actions are such convergencies and are naturally Eurasian. The Battle of Lepanto, where the Venetian, Genoan, and Spanish fleets joined their efforts to master the East Mediterranean area under the command of Don Juan of Austria, is also a historical model to meditate upon and to remember.

But the most important Eurasian alliance was without any doubt the Holy Alliance lead by Eugene of Savoy at the end of the 17th Century, which compelled the Ottomans to retrocede 400,000 sq. km of land in the Balkans and Southern Russia. This victory allowed the Russian Tsars of the 18th Century, especially Catherine II, to win decisive battles once more.

My Eurasianism (and of course my whole geopolitical thought) is a clear answer to Bzrzezinski’s strategy and is deeply rooted in European history. It is absolutely not to be compared with the silly postures of some pseudo-national-revolutionist crackpots or with the poor aesthetic blueprints of new rightist would-be philosophers. Besides, one last remark concerning geopolitics and Eurasianism: my main sources of inspiration are English. I mean the historical atlas of Colin McEvedy, the books of Peter Hopkirk about the secret service in the Caucasus, in Central Asia, along the Silk Road and in Tibet, the reflections of Sir Arnold Toynbee in the twelve volumes of A Study of History.

Troy Southgate: What is your view of the State? Is it really essential to have systems or infrastructure as a means of socio-political organization, or do you think a decentralized form of tribalism and ethnic identity would be a better solution?

Robert Steuckers: Your question needs a whole book to be properly and completely answered. Firstly, I would say that it is impossible to have A view of THE State, as there are many forms of States throughout the world. I make of course the distinction between a State, which is still a genuine and efficient instrument to promote the will of a people and also to protect its citizens against all evils be they machinated by external, internal or natural foes (calamities, floods, starvation, etc.).

The State should also be carved for one population living on a specific land. I am critical, of course, of all artificial States like those that were imposed as so-called universal patterns. Such States are pure machines to crush or to exploit a population for an oligarchy or foreign masters. An organization of the peoples, according to ethnic criteria, could be an ideal solution, but unfortunately as the events in the Balkans show us the ebbs and flows of populations in European, African, or Asian history have very often spread ethnical groups beyond natural boarders or settled them within territories which were formerly controlled by others. Homogeneous States cannot be built in such situations. This is the source of many tragedies, especially in Middle and Eastern Europe. Therefore the only perspective today is to think in terms of Civilizations as Samuel Huntington taught us in his famous article and book, The Clash of Civilizations, first written in 1993.

Troy Southgate: In 1986, you said “the Third Way exists in Europe at the level of theory. What it needs is militants.” [“Europe: A New Perspective” in The Scorpion, Issue #9, p.6] Is this is still the case, or have things developed since then?

Robert Steuckers: Indeed, the situation is still the same. Or even worse because, growing older, I state that the level of classical education is vanishing. Our way of thinking is in a certain way Spenglerian, as it encompasses the complete history of the human kind.

Guy Debord, leader of the French Situationnists from the end of the Fifties until the Eighties, could observe and deplore that the “society of the spectacle” or the “show society” has as its main purpose to destroy all thinking and thought in terms of history and replace them by artificial and constructed blueprints or simple lies. The eradication of historical perspectives in the heads of pupils, students, and citizens, through the diluting work of the mass-media, is the big manipulation, leading us to an Orwellian world without any memory. In such a situation, we all risk becoming isolated. No fresh troops of volunteers are ready to take over the struggle.

Finally, tell us about your involvement with Synergies and your long-term plans for the future.

“Synergies” was created in order to bring people together, especially those who publish magazines, in order to spread more quickly the messages our authors had to deliver. But the knowledge of languages is also undergoing a set-back. Being plurilingual, as you certainly know, I have always been puzzled by the repetition of the same arguments at each national level. Marc Lüdders from Synergon-Germany agrees with me. It’s a pity for instance that the tremendous amount of work performed in Italy is not known in France or in Germany. And vice-versa. In order to keep this short: my main wish is to see such an exchange of texts realized in a swift manner within the next twenty years.

 

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Steuckers, Robert. “Interview with Robert Steuckers.” Interview by Troy Southgate. Synthesis, 2001. <http://www.rosenoire.org/interviews/steuckers.php>.

Note: See also Robert Steucker’s website Euro-Synergies: <http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com >.

Notes on further reading: Armin Mohler’s book Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918-1933 (Graz & Stuttgart: Ares-Verlag, 2005), mentioned in this interview, is one of the most important works concerning the Conservative Revolution. It has been translated into French as La Révolution conservatrice en Allemagne: 1918-1932 (Puiseaux, Loiret: Pardès, 1993).  Also worth noting is Mohler’s Von Rechts Gesehen (Stuttgart: Seewald Verlag, 1974).

On Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, one of the founding intellectuals of the Conservative Revolution, an excellent overview of his thought in English is Lucian Tudor’s “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man & His Thought” (originally published online: Counter-Currents.com, 17 August 2012), available on our website here: <https://neweuropeanconservative.wordpress.com/2014/03/21/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-tudor/ >.

For a good overview of Carl Schmitt’s works and philosophy in English, see Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).

For an overview of Ludwig Klages’s works and philosophy, see Joe Pryce, “On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages,” Revilo-Oliver.com, 2001, <http://www.revilo-oliver.com/Writers/Klages/Ludwig_Klages.html > (this essay was republished in print as an introduction to Klages anthology, The Biocentric Worldview [London: Arktos, 2013]). (See this essay in PDF format here: On the Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages).

 

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