Tag Archives: Ernst Niekisch

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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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.

—————

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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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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