Tag Archives: Lucian Tudor

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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Practices of Ethnic Separatism – Tudor

Practices of Separatism

(Excerpt from “The Philosophy of Identity”)

By Lucian Tudor

 

Introductory Note: The following text is an excerpt from a larger essay titled “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” While this discussion of types of separatism can stand on its own, we believe it is important for readers to have some awareness of the context in order to not have misunderstandings. In earlier parts of “The Philosophy of Identity,” Lucian Tudor discussed the forms and importance of ethno-cultural identity, the necessity of having ethno-cultural groups live in distinct areas in order to maintain their cultural integrity and traditionality (thus rejecting “multiculturalism” and the “melting pot”), and why doing so is not in and of itself “racist” or “xenophobic.”

It is important to realize, in this regard, that the term “separatism” here is used in a very general sense, referring to any form of systematic or structural separation of ethnic and racial groups. It does not necessarily imply any form cultural or ethnic isolationism, for Tudor had already discussed the importance of inter-cultural dialogue and contact, and we can add to that also that foreigners visiting one’s country and having areas of inter-ethnic contact are acceptable as well. What really counts in the case of separatism is that there is no massive mixing which will threaten the existence of distinct ethno-cultural groups, that the various ethno-cultural groups have their own territory to exist in – which is the exact opposite of the Western-style multicultural system.

Finally, we can say that Tudor’s discussion of types of separatism is useful in understanding why the New Right rejects old-fashioned nationalism in favor of the imperial or federalistic model of separatism. While nationalists claim that their model is the only valid way to maintain ethno-cultural integrity, there have been many successful examples of the imperial-federalist model throughout history where multiple ethnic groups lived in the same country in relative harmony or were able to cooperate. Even in the present day, one can see successful examples of multi-ethnic states using the ethno-federalist or ethno-regionalist (also communitarian in many localities) structure in Switzerland, Kazakhstan, Russia, and China. – Daniel Macek (Editor of the “New European Conservative”)

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1. The Class and Caste System

Evidently, racial and ethnic separatism has taken on a variety of forms throughout history. The first and commonly recognized form of separatism is the creation of a class or caste system, where a social order composed of multiple races or ethnic groups separates the population into different classes or castes. Belonging to a class or caste is determined in such societies by racial, ethnic, or cultural background. Class systems based only on ethnocultural background can be seen frequently in history wherever one people conquers others, although of course it should not be assumed here that conquest necessarily results in a hierarchical class system.

A class or caste structure of racial separation, likewise being typically the result of conquest, can be seen in Greco-Roman civilization, in certain ancient Near Eastern civilizations (such as Egypt or Persia), and in many parts of Central and South America after European colonization. Similar systems have also been developed in apartheid states during and after the Colonial Era. [38] Such class or caste systems are often seen as being essentially negative because they involve domination and the subjugation of one or more races by another. However, they also had the positive effect of preserving the racial types which have formed, even after miscegenation (the new, mixed racial types; mulattos and mestizos), due to the fact that they discouraged race mixing by class separation.

It should also be mentioned here that another very well-known example of a caste system which included racial separation into its principles is the one established in ancient India. However, in the case of India, it is interesting to note that Alain Daniélou has argued that its caste system cannot be seen as “racist” (involving unfair subjugation), but rather that it is a natural and just racial ordering; thus the racial aspect of the Indian caste system is not racist because, unlike racist systems, it is not based on subjugation and supremacism but on a harmonious and organized coexistence which involves separation.[39]

2. Nationalism

Another form of separatism is what is commonly recognized as ethnic “nationalism,” which has its primary basis in ethnocultural identity, although it is often accompanied by racial identity where interracial contact exists. Nationalism is defined, in the most simple terms, as the belief that ethnic groups or nationalities (in the cultural sense) are the key category of human beings and that they should live under their own independent states. It implies complete and total separation of ethnic groups into separate nations. Nationalism is often associated with ethnic chauvinism, inter-ethnic hostility, imperialism, and irredentism, although it is important to remember that there have been certain select forms of nationalism throughout history that were not at all chauvinistic and imperialistic, so it is erroneous to assume that it always takes on these negative features.

Concerning the issue of “ethno-nationalism,” one must be careful to distinguish between “racial nationalism,” on the one hand, and actual ethnic nationalism, in which race plays a role but in which it is not the primary element. For some theories of racial nationalism, the biological race is seen as the foundation of the nation, and any ethnocultural factors are regarded as being mere emanations of the race or as being secondary and unimportant when compared with the racial factor (thus it commits the biological reductionist or determinist error; more specifically, it can be said to be racial reductionist). [40] Ethnic nationalism in the proper sense, on the other hand, regards the ethnocultural factor as primary, but still acknowledges that the ethnic group’s identity is linked to race to some extent, and that thus the racial type must be maintained if the ethnos is to survive.[41]

However, we should note that “nationalism” is a problematic term because it has been defined in different and sometimes contradictory ways. In one, very generic sense, nationalism means simply the desire of a people to live separately from others, under its own state and by rule of leaders of its own ethnic background—in essence, a basic ethnic separatism and desire for independence. In this sense, nationalism is a very ancient idea and practice, since all across history one can find many cases where a people of one particular ethnic background desired to be independent from the rule of another different people and fought for this independence.

This is not, however, the way nationalism is always defined, and aside from the fact that it is sometimes defined as being necessarily chauvinistic, it is also often defined in a certain manner that makes it particularly an early modern phenomenon.

In particular, many Identitarian (or New Right) as well as Traditionalist authors have defined nationalism as a form of state in which the “nation” is politically or culturally absolutized, at the expense of smaller local or regional cultural differences, and regarding other nations as completely foreign and of lesser value. This form of “nationalism” is exemplified by the Jacobin nation-state and form of sovereignty (since the French Revolution was a key force in initiating the rise of this state form), and is identified by the elimination of sub-ethnic differences within its borders and the regard for differences with other peoples or nationalities as absolute. Naturally, this form of nationalism has the consequence of creating hostility and conflict between nations because of these ideological and political features. [42] Thus, Benoist, in a statement which summarizes the Identitarian position on this matter, rejects nationalism and proposes in its place a view which reconciles patriotism with the idea of a right to difference: “The identity of others is no longer in principle a threat to mine. I am ready to defend my identity because this defense is a general principle, whose legitimacy I also recognize for others. In other words, if I defend my ‘tribe,’ it is also because I am ready to defend those of others.” [43]

3. Traditionalist Imperial Federalism

The Perennial Traditionalists propose a form of ethnic separatism based on the model of the traditional imperial state, which has manifested itself numerous times across history, including well-known examples such as the Roman Empire, the Holy Roman Empire, and the Russian Empire. In the imperial system, peoples and ethnic groups (“nationalities”) are generally organized in a federation in which each people lives in its own region within the empire. The traditional empire is therefore incompatible with nationalism because it is organized as a supranational federalistic union with a central spiritual authority.

Furthermore, the empire in the traditional sense must not be assumed to be imperialistic, for the traditional empire unified peoples without destroying their particular cultures and ethnic characters. [44] According to Evola,

The scheme of an empire in a true and organic sense (which must clearly be distinguished from every imperialism, a phenomenon that should be regarded as a deplorable extension of nationalism) . . . safeguarded the principles of both unity and multiplicity. In this world, individual States have the character of partial organic units, gravitating around . . . a principle of unity, authority, and sovereignty of a different nature from that which is proper to each particular State . . . due to its super-ordained nature, would be such as to leave wide room for nationalities according to their natural and historical individuality. [45]

In the imperial state, which Evola asserts is the true traditional model of the state, ethnic or national groups are thus separated federally; different peoples live under the same state and serve the same ultimate monarchical authority, but they live in separate parts of the kingdom or empire. To quote one of his key works: “The Middle Ages [and also certain ancient civilizations] knew nationalities but not nationalisms. Nationality is a natural factor that encompasses a certain group of common elementary characteristics that are retained both in the hierarchical differentiation and in the hierarchical participation, which they do not oppose.” [46]

It is worth noting that many Perennial Traditionalist authors such as Julius Evola and Frithjof Schuon reject nationalism as an anomaly—a deviation from valid state forms—not only because they are proponents of the imperial model, but also because they regard ethnicity and race (in the biological sense) as secondary qualities in human beings. [47] That is to say, although they are still acknowledged as having some level of importance, they are insignificant when compared to the values of religious type, elitism, aristocracy, or caste (in its spiritual sense; the racial aspect is still acknowledged but regarded as secondary). Furthermore, Evola has argued that “the notions of nation, fatherland, and people, despite their romantic and idealistic halo, essentially belong to the naturalistic and biological plane and not the political one; they lead back to the ‘maternal’ and physical dimension of a given collectivity.” [48]

However, it should be noted here that many ethnically and racially conscious authors have argued that some conservative scholars have pointed out that race, nationality, and people were regarded in many ancient and traditional societies as possessing a character which surpassed the material plane. According to the studies of conservative scholars of religion such as Mircea Eliade, the religious view of archaic and traditional societies often endowed ethnicity and culture with a spiritual (in the religious sense), mythical, and transcendent dimension. [49] Thus, the traditional view in general cannot be confined to that of well-known Traditionalists such as Evola, Guénon, or Schuon.

4. Identitarian Separatism

The New Right and the Identitarian movement is influenced by Perennial Traditionalist thought, especially in regards to the idea of empire in the traditional sense; Identitarians, for the most part, also support the idea of a federalist empire as their primary model of the state and of ethnic separatism. However, there are a number of key differences between the two groups. First, Identitarians naturally regard the depreciation of ethnic identity by certain Traditionalists such as Evola to be an error. Identitarianism regards ethnic, racial, and cultural identity to be an important part of human existence, not only on the material plane (which is not as demeaned by them to the extent we see among Traditionalists), but also—in accord with Eliade and other conservative religious scholars—on the mythical and spiritual plane.[50]

Of course, there are various other philosophical issues on which there are disagreements—particularly in regards to religious doctrine, the structure and form of polity, and the importance of feminine values—but this is no place to discuss those in depth. [51] The most important point of disagreement which we must recognize here is with the particular construction of the imperial federalist state, which becomes evident when we look at the details of the Identitarian ideal in this regard.

The concept of federalism in Identitarian thought proposes the idea of a federation or confederation which is based upon the principle of subsidiarity, whereby decision-making power is granted to the lowest authorities. In this system, local and regional political structures hold the power that is due to them, while the central authority rules primarily when decisions affecting the whole state must be made. This form of state and sovereignty “implies plurality, autonomy, and the interlacing of levels of power and authority.” [52] Of course, the Traditionalist concept of the empire also involves the practices of subsidiarity and allowing decisions to be made at lower levels. However, for Traditionalists, subsidiarity is more limited in practice, and their concept of sovereignty leads them to assert the importance of the ultimate authority of the sovereign (the central ruler) far more.

The Identitarian conception of the federal state is accompanied by the juridical element of the “right of the peoples.” Hence the fact that, according to this conception, ethnocultural groups of all levels and types have the right to live with freedom and separately from others in different states and territories in the federation. Thus, while the traditional imperial state is used as a reference for the ideal political organization of peoples, in this scheme it is also accepted that “each nation or region, in conserving its freedom, has the right to leave the Federation at any moment.” [53] Furthermore, the Identitarian vision of the empire can also be said to be a “democratic empire” because it involves practicing what is known as organic democracy.

Notes:

[38] On the matter of historical examples, see Isaac, The Invention of Racism in Classical Antiquity and Elav-Feldon, Isaac, and Ziegler, The Origins of Racism in the West. On the race-based caste and class systems in Central and South America, one classic mainstream resource is Magnus Mörner, Race Mixture in the History of Latin America (Boston: Little, Brown, 1967).

[39] See Alain Daniélou, India: A Civilization of Differences. The Ancient Tradition of Universal Tolerance (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2003). On race in the Indian caste system, see also the preface to Arvind Sharma, Classical Hindu Thought: An Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000).

[40] See, for example, the commentaries on race and biological breed in William Gayley Simpson, Which Way Western Man? (Costa Mesa, CA: Noontide Press, 1986).

[41] For a commentary on this matter, see for example Tomislav Sunic, “Culture: The Missing Link in Euro-American Nationalism,” The Occidental Observer, July 20, 2009, http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2009/07/sunic-euro-american-nationalism/.

[42] See Alain de Benoist, “Nationalism: Phenomenology and Critique,” Counter-Currents Publishing, May 16, 2012, http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/05/nationalism-phenomenology-and-critique; Michael O’Meara, New Culture, New Right, 228ff.; Edgar Julius Jung, “People, Race, Reich,” in Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940, ed. and trans. Alexander Jacob (Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2002). See also the overview of Evola’s position in the chapter “Nations, Nationalism, Empire and Europe” in Paul Furlong, Social and Political Thought of Julius Evola (Abingdon and New York: Routledge, 2011).

[43] Benoist, “Nationalism.”

[44] See Alain de Benoist, “The Idea of Empire,” Telos, no. 98–99 (December 1993): 81–98.

[45] Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Post-War Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2002), 277.

[46] Evola, Revolt Against the Modern World, 338–39.

[47] See Frithjof Schuon, Castes and Races (Bedfont, Middlesex, UK: Perennial Books, 1982).

[48] Evola, Men Among the Ruins, 127.

[49] See for example Mircea Eliade, The Sacred and the Profane (Orlando, FL: Harcourt, 1987); The Myth of the Eternal Return (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2005); Myth and Reality (Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press, 1998). Other scholars who could be mentioned in this regard are Georges Dumézil, Rudolf Otto, Gilbert Durand, and Alexander Dugin.

[50] See for example Alain de Benoist, On Being a Pagan (Atlanta: Ultra, 2004), and the entry “Paganism” in Faye, Why We Fight, 205ff. Of course, it should be noted here that not all Identitarians are pagans; there are, in fact, many Christians with similar views among the Identitarians. Furthermore, many Identitarians recognize that Christianity and paganism can in fact be reconciled; they are not necessarily in complete conflict. These facts have been pointed out, for example, in the discussion of the New Right’s position on religion in Rodrigo Agulló, Disidencia Perfecta: La Nueva Derecha y la batalla de las ideas (Barcelona and Madrid: Áltera, 2011). In this regard, we can also mention that there have been historical examples of pagan ideas and values being reconciled with Christianity, as has been shown in many scholars’ works, including Eliade’s.

[51] For an in-depth critique from the Identitarian perspective of Radical Traditionalist thought, specifically that of Julius Evola, see especially Alain de Benoist, “Julius Evola, Reaccionario Radical y Metafísico Comprometido: Análisis crítico de su pensamiento político,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea, no. 16 (June 2011): 25ff. http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__16. In this analytical work, Benoist establishes that he agrees with some of Evola’s ideas, such as his critique of nationalism, the support of the imperial idea, the basic anti-egalitarian idea, and certain ethical principles. However, Benoist also criticizes and rejects a number of other ideas and attitudes in Evola’s thought, including many (although not all) of his metaphysical and religious principles, his rigid elitism, his contempt for social and popular principles, his rejection of the value of collective identities (such as ethnicity), his lack of true organicism and rejection of the value of community solidarity (in the anti-individualist sense), and his hostility to feminine values. (Benoist, like other Identitarians, advocates a gender differentialism, as opposed to Evola’s position, which can truly be described as sexist.) Benoist acknowledges Evola as an intellectual worthy of study, but emphasizes that his thought must be examined critically.

[52] Alain de Benoist, “What is Sovereignty?,” Telos, no. 116 (Summer 1999): 114. Benoist has also explicated his views on these matters in “The Idea of Empire” and “The First Federalist: Johannes Althusius,” Telos, no. 118 (Winter 2000): 25–58. Other notable studies of sovereignty and federalism from the Identitarian perspective can be found in the following works: the entries “Empire” and “Sovereignty” in Faye, Why We Fight, 130–32 and 247; the chapter “Imperium” in O’Meara, New Culture, New Right; the articles in Sebastian J. Lorenz, ed., Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea, no. 37, “Federalismo Poliárquico Neoalthusiano” (November 2012). http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__37_federalismo.

[53] Faye, Why We Fight, 131.

 

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Excerpt from: Tudor, Lucian. “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 99-106. This essay was also republished in Lucian Tudor’s book, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

See also: The other excerpts from Lucian Tudor’s essay titled “Identity and Politics: Organic Democracy” and “The Vision of a Multipolar World.”

 

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Critical Analysis of Evola’s Thought – Benoist

“Julius Evola, Radical Reactionary and Committed Metaphysician” by Alain de Benoist (PDF – 366 KB):

Julius Evola, Radical Reactionary and Committed Metaphysician

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De Benoist, Alain. “Julius Evola, Radical Reactionary and Committed Metaphysician: A Critical Analysis of the Political Thought of Julius Evola.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 15, No. 1 (Spring 2015), pp. 17-62. Document retrieved from: <http://files.alaindebenoist.com/alaindebenoist/pdf/julius_evola_radical_reactionary.pdf >.

 

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Interview on Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner – Grannenfeld

Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner’s Work and Thought

An Interview with Martin J. Grannenfeld by Lucian Tudor

 

Introductory Note: Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner (1939-2011) was an Austrian Catholic Traditionalist philosopher who was influential among conservatives and traditionalists in the Germanophone world. He is particularly well-known for his extensive corpus of works dealing with conservative, traditionalist, and religious theories and portraits of numerous thinkers involved in these philosophies. However, his works and thought are, unfortunately, not well-known in the Anglophone world. In order to help introduce Kaltenbrunner to the English-speaking world and to encourage further studies and translations, we have chosen to interview Martin Johannes Grannenfeld – a German Catholic Conservative and editor of the website Geistbraus – who is among those who have studied Kaltenbrunner’s works in depth and has been inspired by them.

Lucian Tudor: How did you first become acquainted with Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner and his work?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: It happened by mere chance. Around 2003, I read about the mythological figure of Prester John, a mighty oriental Christian priest-king during the Middle Ages, who was prepared to help the crusaders with a great army. I was somewhat fascinated by this figure, thus I looked for literature about him – and in the Bavarian State Library in Munich I found a book named Johannes ist sein Name. Priesterkönig, Gralshüter, Traumgestalt by an author I didn’t know then – Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner. From the very first sentence I was thrilled. Unlike many other scholars, Kaltenbrunner didn’t demystify the legend. Quite on the contrary, he revealed its metahistorical core, and outlined a fascinating, rich, and deeply symbolic cosmos of ways to see our world and the beyond. I understood immediately that I had found an author whose writings were different from everything I had read before, and who would certainly keep me occupied for quite a while.

Lucian Tudor: Kaltenbrunner has written extensive studies on Dionysius the Areopagite, Prester John, and Anne Catherine Emmerich. Can you tell us about these figures and what you found most significant about them in Kaltenbrunner’s books on them?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner wrote two large books about Dionysius and Prester John. His work about Anne Catherine Emmerich is much shorter and less complex. He intended to write another extensive study about Melchizedek, the mysterious priest-king from the Old Testament, but there exist only drafts of this work.

His book about Prester John was written in 1989 and published in 1993. Its first sentence, “Prester John has never lived and is nonetheless one of the most influential figures of the Middle Ages,” can be regarded as a motto: the mystical, invisible world can be more real than the visible everyday life. Subsequently Kaltenbrunner drafted a complex picture of this metahistorical “John” – comprising not only Prester John himself, but also his spiritual ancestors John the Evangelist, his disciple John the Presbyter, and the esoteric school of “Johannides” – which is not primarily meant as a historical fact, but rather as a “Johannide,” i.e. a mythologic-symbolic way of thinking. In the second half of his book, Kaltenbrunner linked Prester John with the other great myth of the High Middle Ages: the Holy Grail – and interpreted some of the Grail epics against the background of the Johannide philosophy.

The other book, Dionysius vom Areopag. Das Unergründliche, die Engel und das Eine, was published in 1996. It is even more voluminous, comprising more than 1000 pages. Like the book about John, it focuses on one figure – Dionysius the Areopagite – and draws a specific theology out of this encounter. Like John, the figure “Dionysius” is composed from several single persons by the same name: a) Dionysius the Areopagite from the Bible, b) the author of the famous writings, c) the bishop of Paris from the 3rd century, d) the Greek God Dionysos, to whom the name Dionysius is dedicated. Starting with multifarious reflections on the Greek and Christian spiritual background of these figures, Kaltenbrunner finally sketches – inspired by Dionysius’ negative theology – a great picture of a hierarchical world, which comprises everything from the ugliest scarab up to the nine spheres of angels, and above all, the inexpressible and incomprehensible God – the “One,” as Dionysius calls Him.

Lucian Tudor: From your reading, what are the most important principles of Kaltenbrunner’s religious philosophy?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: 1. The Invisible is real. 2. History is full of symbolic meaning. 3. Legends, myths and tradition are important keys to the Eternal. 4. The esoteric core of all religions converges.

Lucian Tudor: How does Kaltenbrunner believe we should understand the Sacred and the mystical experience?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner is strongly influenced by negative theology and Platonism. God only discloses Himself through the hierarchy – the great Jacob’s Ladder where the angels descend and ascend, and our knowledge of the Eternal with them. We can ascend the Ladder, but we can never reach God: the inner core of His essence is beyond our thinking and our language. Kaltenbrunner insists that Buddha, Lao-Tse, Shankara, and Meister Eckhart would have been able to communicate, because they were very far in their hierarchical way of understanding the divine mysteries.

Lucian Tudor: Kaltenbrunner appears to have been very knowledgeable about a variety of religious beliefs and sects; what led him, in particular, to Catholic religiosity?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner, born 1939 in Vienna, was raised as a Catholic. However, after he grew up, his belief took a back seat, and his interest in politics, history and culture became more important. Catholic thinkers like Franz von Baader remained important for him, but it was only in the mid-nineties – after the publication of his Johannes and before his Dionysius – that he rediscovered his faith. Father Georg Alois Oblinger, a Catholic priest who accompanied Kaltenbrunner during his last years, told that one day, while strolling in his garden, Kaltenbrunner suddenly understood that God really existed. He had always had sympathy for the Catholic Church (at least in its traditional form, since he didn’t like the modern liturgy and the Popes Paul VI and John Paul II) – but he had looked to it simply in a cultural way, not in the way of a believer. His Dionysius is a striking testimony of his newly discovered faith: For example (inspired by the Old Testament story of Balaam’s donkey), he asks in all naivety if some sudden, irritated movement of our domestic animals might be caused by sudden encounters with angels, invisible for humans…?

Lucian Tudor: We often encounter nowadays people who ask for “scientific proof” that God and the supernatural exist. How does Kaltenbrunner address this kind of mentality?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Mostly he ignores it. His Dionysius, the only major book he wrote after he became a believer himself, is obviously addressed towards an empathic, traditionalist reader. Kaltenbrunner’s concern was not primarily apologetics, but the conveyance of his spiritual insights to like-minded persons.

Lucian Tudor: Kaltenbrunner discussed in his works a vast variety of philosophers with differing viewpoints, some of them not even Christian. How did he reconcile his Catholic beliefs with his interest in the works of “Pagan” intellectuals such as Ludwig Klages and Julius Evola?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner had an exceptional knowledge of Occidental thinkers, writers, and artists – some famous, some less known, some virtually forgotten. He wrote several hundred essay-portraits about them, most of which have been collected in his six “Europe” volumes, consisting of two series: Europa. Seine geistigen Quellen in Portraits aus zwei Jahrtausenden (three volumes, 1981-85) and Vom Geist Europas (three volumes, 1987-92). Kaltenbrunner had always pled for an “inspired Christianity” (“geistdurchwehtes Christentum”) without any ideological blinders. This explains why even after his rediscovery of faith he continued to be interested in all the different thinkers he had known and portrayed before. However, Julius Evola and the “Traditionalist” school founded by Rene Guenon held an exceptional position in Kaltenbrunner’s philosophy. Their concept of Integral Tradition, the Sacred, kingship, and priesthood was very close to Kaltenbrunner’s own views. Leopold Ziegler, the Catholic exponent of the Traditionalist school, was especially influential to Kaltenbrunner. His book about Prester John can in fact be read as a transformation of Guenon’s and Evola’s philosophy into the spiritual cosmos of Christianity.

Lucian Tudor: What are essential principles of Kaltenbrunner’s theory of Conservatism?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner pointed out that conservatism cannot be a synonym for intellectual idleness. Referring to a poem by Goethe on breathing in and breathing out, he described conservatism as a sophisticated balance between things that stay and things that change. He thought that the real conservative has to be un-conservative in some matters, open to new solutions in order to prevent destruction of human culture and society as a whole. For example, nowadays, with war and poverty being absent from Europe, the contemporary conservative has to develop new ways of struggle, battle, heroism, and asceticism.

Lucian Tudor: How does Kaltenbrunner understand Tradition, specifically, and how does he believe that traditional values can be revived in the modern world?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: The concept of “Tradition” became important for Kaltenbrunner in the 80’s. As mentioned before, he got more and more influenced by Integral Traditionalism as taught by Guenon and his followers. Parallel to the shift from “conservatism” to “traditionalism,” Kaltenbrunner’s concern in changing today’s world declined. He focused more and more on the single, remote individual, who preserves Tradition during the “spiritual winter” – a human network scattered through space and time, but unified in spirit. During the last fifteen years of his life, he took the most radical consequence of this world-view, becoming a hermit, living on his own in the countryside, without a telephone, without even a door bell, just with his books and his large garden.

Lucian Tudor: Traditionalists are often associated with a “cyclical” view of history in which the world goes through lengthy stages, beginning with a Golden Age and ending in a Dark Age. This is opposed to the “linear” and “progressive” views of history, although there are arguably other perspectives. Considering his Traditionalist influences, could you tell us if Kaltenbrunner held the cyclical view of history or did he offer another view?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner certainly never held the cyclical view in a strictly “pagan” or “Indian” sense that after a huge fire everything starts again. Nevertheless, Kaltenbrunner was a cultural pessimist – his favourite centuries lay a long time in the past: the Greek antiquity, the High Middle Ages, the Baroque Period or the days of Goethe. Unlike Guénon and Evola, however, he was not very interested in speculation about a prehistoric “Golden Age.” As a literary person, an era without written documents did not concern him too much – with the only exception of the first chapters of Genesis, especially about the Nephilim and Melchizedek, with whom he dealt in his Dionysius.

Lucian Tudor: What are the fundaments of Kaltenbrunner’s theory of culture?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Kaltenbrunner never sketched an explicit theory of culture. Culture meant for him rather a never-ending dialogue with thinkers and poets from all times. He did not approach thinkers from a modern, patronizing, “enlightened” position, but as equals, at eye level, no matter how ancient and strange they may be. In the beginning of his Dionysius he even wrote a personal letter to his hero. Kaltenbrunner is certainly more attracted by non-mainstream authors, individuals, and often forgotten thinkers, but he also adored well-known and famous writers like Goethe, Novalis, and Angelus Silesius.

Lucian Tudor: What did Kaltenbrunner say about social ethics, the individual’s role, and holism?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: A common topos in Kaltenbrunner’s philosophy is, as abovementioned, the remote individual preserving knowledge for the society. Kaltenbrunner often mentioned that the world as a whole is threatened by nuclear, ecological, and spiritual destruction, and that the effort of an elite is required to prevent or at least attenuate the upcoming catastrophe. Hence his sympathy for ascetics, hermits, mystics, monks, thinkers and writers in general. Particularly, the ecological concern is quite special for Kaltenbrunner and distinguishes him from many fellow conservatives, who abandoned environmental issues after the political left took possession of this complex in the late 80s. In his last years, living in harmony with nature became more and more important for Kaltenbrunner – he grew ecological food in his own garden and did not even possess a car. But all this was not condensed into a theory (he did not longer write texts during his last 15 years), but mere practical exercise.

Lucian Tudor: What did Kaltenbrunner conclude about the problem of secret societies and conspiracy theories?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: Frankly speaking, Kaltenbrunner did not see secret societies as a “problem” at all, but as an important means for the conservation of ideas rejected by the mainstream. He wrote a short text on the matter in 1986, entitled “Geheimgesellschaften als exemplarische Eliten” (“Secret Societies as Exemplary Elites”), which was included into the second edition of his book Elite. Erziehung für den Ernstfall. In this sketch, he did not only describe Freemasonry, Rosicrucianism, the Illuminati, etc., but also secret societies which managed to grow large and usurp a whole state – like the Bolsheviks in Russia, or formerly the Jesuits in Paraguay. However, he pointed out that this can be a possible escape from the typical loyalty conflict between the secret society and the state which every member has to face; his true sympathies lie without any doubt with the small, hidden groups without any political power. Kaltenbrunner’s text about secret societies could be regarded as a link between his earlier “conservative” and his later “traditional” views: getting less and less interested in changing the world in respect to the political, and more and more concerned about its spiritual renewal.

Lucian Tudor: Can you please summarize Kaltenbrunner’s position on political forms (monarchy, republic, democracy, etc.)? What political form did he see as ideal and did he believe that political corruption could be minimized in a certain system?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: In his heart of hearts, Kaltenbrunner was an aristocrat. Although he was sceptical about a restoration of the traditional nobility, he felt the necessity of a skilled elite in government, culture, and warfare. He did not directly reject democracy, but warned of the mediocrity which often accompanies it. In his early works, no specific sympathy for republic or monarchy is visible – aristocratic republics like Venice are approved by him as well. In the 80s, however, culminating in his Johannes, he is more and more absorbed by the idea of a universal Christian monarchy, with a supra-national emperor exercising spiritual-metapolitical leadership over the occidental Christianity – like it used to be in the best times of the Middle Ages, e.g. under the rule of Frederick Barbarossa or Emperor Charles IV.

Lucian Tudor: We are aware that very little of Kaltenbrunner’s work is available in English and he is not well-known in the Anglophone world. In your opinion, what is the best starting point from Kaltenbrunner’s works? Also, what would you suggest is the best book to translate first out of works?

Martin J. Grannenfeld: I would suggest the same book which happened to be my first one: Johannes ist sein Name – Kaltenbrunner’s great essay about Prester John. This is in my opinion his best written and most inspiring book, comprising everything that makes Kaltenbrunner so unique. It is shorter, more concise and also more optimistic than his later opus magnum Dionysius vom Areopag, and yet more intriguing and unconventional than his earlier political and cultural writings. I really hope that one day an English translation of this work (and of other works by Kaltenbrunner) will be available! This will be a big step to make this great thinker of our time better known.

Lucian Tudor: Thank you very much for the interview.

 

——————

Grannenfeld, Martin Johannes. “Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner’s Work and Thought: An Interview with Martin J. Grannenfeld.” Interview by Lucian Tudor. Traditional Britain Group, 19 March 2015. <http://traditionalbritain.org/blog/gerd-klaus-kaltenbrunners-work-and-thought-an-interview-with-martin-j-grannenfeld/ >.

 

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Conservative Critique of Spengler – Tudor

The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler

By Lucian Tudor

Oswald Spengler is by now well-known as one of the major thinkers of the German Conservative Revolution of the early 20th Century. In fact, he is frequently cited as having been one of the most determining intellectual influences on German Conservatism of the interwar period – along with Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Ernst Jünger – to the point where his cultural pessimist philosophy is seen to be representative of Revolutionary Conservative views in general (although in reality most Revolutionary Conservatives held more optimistic views).[1]

To begin our discussion, we shall provide a brief overview of the major themes of Oswald Spengler’s philosophy.[2] 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. 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.[3]

There is an important distinction in this theory between Kultur (“Culture”) and Zivilisation (“Civilization”). Kultur refers to the beginning phase of a High Culture which is marked by rural life, religiosity, vitality, will-to-power, and ascendant instincts, while Zivilisation refers to the later phase which is marked by urbanization, irreligion, purely rational intellect, mechanized life, and decadence. Although he acknowledged other High Cultures, Spengler focused particularly on three High Cultures which he distinguished and made comparisons between: the Magian, the Classical (Greco-Roman), and the present Western High Culture. He held the view that the West, which was in its later Zivilisation 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.[4]

Perhaps Spengler’s most important contribution to the Conservative Revolution, however, was his theory of “Prussian Socialism,” which formed the basis of his view that conservatives and socialists should unite. In his work 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. 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.[5]

Oswald Spengler’s theories of predictable culture cycles, of the separation between Kultur and Zivilisation, of the Western High Culture as being in a state of decline, and of a non-Marxist form of socialism, have all received a great deal of attention in early 20th Century Germany, and there is no doubt that they had influenced Right-wing thought at the time. However, it is often forgotten just how divergent the views of many Revolutionary Conservatives were from Spengler’s, even if they did study and draw from his theories, just as an overemphasis on Spenglerian theory in the Conservative Revolution has led many scholars to overlook the variety of other important influences on the German Right. Ironically, those who were influenced the most by Spengler – not only the German Revolutionary Conservatives, but also later the Traditionalists and the New Rightists – have mixed appreciation with critique. It is this reality which needs to be emphasized: the majority of Conservative intellectuals who have appreciated Spengler have simultaneously delivered the very significant message that Spengler’s philosophy needs to be viewed critically, and that as a whole it is not acceptable.

The most important critique of Spengler among the Revolutionary Conservative intellectuals was that made by Arthur Moeller van den Bruck.[6] Moeller agreed with certain basic ideas in Spengler’s work, including the division between Kultur and Zivilisation, with the idea of the decline of the Western Culture, and with his concept of socialism, which Moeller had already expressed in an earlier and somewhat different form in Der Preussische Stil (“The Prussian Style,” 1916).[7] However, Moeller resolutely rejected Spengler’s deterministic and fatalistic view of history, as well as the notion of destined culture cycles. Moeller asserted that history was essentially unpredictable and unfixed: “There is always a beginning (…) History is the story of that which is not calculated.”[8] Furthermore, he argued that history should not be seen as a “circle” (in Spengler’s manner) but rather a “spiral,” and a nation in decline could actually reverse its decline if certain psychological changes and events could take place within it.[9]

The most radical contradiction with Spengler made by Moeller van den Bruck was the rejection of Spengler’s cultural morphology, since Moeller believed that Germany could not even be classified as part of the “West,” but rather that it represented a distinct culture in its own right, one which even had more in common in spirit with Russia than with the “West,” and which was destined to rise while France and England fell.[10] However, we must note here that the notion that Germany is non-Western was not unique to Moeller, for Werner Sombart, Edgar Julius Jung, and Othmar Spann have all argued that Germans belonged to a very different cultural type from that of the Western nations, especially from the culture of the Anglo-Saxon world. For these authors, Germany represented a culture which was more oriented towards community, spirituality, and heroism, while the modern “West” was more oriented towards individualism, materialism, and capitalistic ethics. They further argued that any presence of Western characteristics in modern Germany was due to a recent poisoning of German culture by the West which the German people had a duty to overcome through sociocultural revolution.[11]

Another key intellectual of the German Conservative Revolution, Hans Freyer, also presented a critical analysis of Spenglerian philosophy.[12] Due to his view that that there is no certain and determined progress in history, Freyer agreed with Spengler’s rejection of the linear view of progress. Freyer’s philosophy of culture also emphasized cultural particularism and the disparity between peoples and cultures, which was why he agreed with Spengler in terms of the basic conception of cultures possessing a vital center and with the idea of each culture marking a particular kind of human being. Being a proponent of a community-oriented state socialism, Freyer found Spengler’s anti-individualist “Prussian socialism” to be agreeable. Throughout his works, Freyer had also discussed many of the same themes as Spengler – including the integrative function of war, hierarchies in society, the challenges of technological developments, cultural form and unity – but in a distinct manner oriented towards social theory.[13]

However, Freyer argued that the idea of historical (cultural) types and that cultures were the product of an essence which grew over time were already expressed in different forms long before Spengler in the works of Karl Lamprecht, Wilhelm Dilthey, and Hegel. It is also noteworthy that Freyer’s own sociology of cultural categories differed from Spengler’s morphology. In his earlier works, Freyer focused primarily on the nature of the cultures of particular peoples (Völker) rather than the broad High Cultures, whereas in his later works he stressed the interrelatedness of all the various European cultures across the millennia. Rejecting Spengler’s notion of cultures as being incommensurable, Freyer’s “history regarded modern Europe as composed of ‘layers’ of culture from the past, and Freyer was at pains to show that major historical cultures had grown by drawing upon the legacy of past cultures.”[14] Finally, rejecting Spengler’s historical determinism, Freyer had “warned his readers not to be ensnared by the powerful organic metaphors of the book [Der Untergang des Abendlandes] … The demands of the present and of the future could not be ‘deduced’ from insights into the patterns of culture … but were ultimately based on ‘the wager of action’ (das Wagnis der Tat).”[15]

Yet another important Conservative critique of Spengler was made by the Italian Perennial Traditionalist philosopher Julius Evola, who was himself influenced by the Conservative Revolution but developed a very distinct line of thought. In his The Path of Cinnabar, Evola showed appreciation for Spengler’s philosophy, particularly in regards to the criticism of the modern rationalist and mechanized Zivilisation of the “West” and with the complete rejection of the idea of progress.[16] Some scholars, such as H.T. Hansen, stress the influence of Spengler’s thought on Evola’s thought, but it is important to remember that Evola’s cultural views differed significantly from Spengler’s due to Evola’s focus on what he viewed as the shifting role of a metaphysical Perennial Tradition across history as opposed to historically determined cultures.[17]

In his critique, Evola pointed out that one of the major flaws in Spengler’s thought was that he “lacked any understanding of metaphysics and transcendence, which embody the essence of each genuine Kultur.”[18] Spengler could analyze the nature of Zivilisation very well, but his irreligious views caused him to have little understanding of the higher spiritual forces which deeply affected human life and the nature of cultures, without which one cannot clearly grasp the defining characteristic of Kultur. As Robert Steuckers has pointed out, Evola also found Spengler’s analysis of Classical and Eastern cultures to be very flawed, particularly as a result of the “irrationalist” philosophical influences on Spengler: “Evola thinks this vitalism leads Spengler to say ‘things that make one blush’ about Buddhism, Taoism, Stoicism, and Greco-Roman civilization (which, for Spengler, is merely a civilization of ‘corporeity’).”[19] Also problematic for Evola was “Spengler’s valorization of ‘Faustian man,’ a figure born in the Age of Discovery, the Renaissance and humanism; by this temporal determination, Faustian man is carried towards horizontality rather than towards verticality.”[20]

Finally, we must make a note of the more recent reception of Spenglerian philosophy in the European New Right and Identitarianism: Oswald Spengler’s works have been studied and critiqued by nearly all major New Right and Identitarian intellectuals, including especially Alain de Benoist, Dominique Venner, Pierre Krebs, Guillaume Faye, Julien Freund, and Tomislav Sunic. The New Right view of Spenglerian theory is unique, but is also very much reminiscent of Revolutionary Conservative critiques of Moeller van den Bruck and Hans Freyer. Like Spengler and many other thinkers, New Right intellectuals also critique the “ideology of progress,” although it is significant that, unlike Spengler, they do not do this to accept a notion of rigid cycles in history nor to reject the existence of any progress. Rather, the New Right critique aims to repudiate the unbalanced notion of linear and inevitable progress which depreciates all past culture in favor of the present, while still recognizing that some positive progress does exist, which it advocates reconciling with traditional culture to achieve a more balanced cultural order.[21] Furthermore, addressing Spengler’s historical determinism, Alain de Benoist has written that “from Eduard Spranger to Theodor W. Adorno, the principal reproach directed at Spengler evidently refers to his ‘fatalism’ and to his ‘determinism.’ The question is to know up to what point man is prisoner of his own history. Up to what point can one no longer change his course?”[22]

Like their Revolutionary Conservative precursors, New Rightists reject any fatalist and determinist notion of history, and do not believe that any people is doomed to inevitable decline; “Decadence is therefore not an inescapable phenomenon, as Spengler wrongly thought,” wrote Pierre Krebs, echoing the thoughts of other authors.[23] While the New Rightists accept Spengler’s idea of Western decline, they have posed Europe and the West as two antagonistic entities. According to this new cultural philosophy, the genuine European culture is represented by numerous traditions rooted in the most ancient European cultures, and must be posed as incompatible with the modern “West,” which is the cultural emanation of early modern liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism.

The New Right may agree with Spengler that the “West” is undergoing decline, “but this original pessimism does not overshadow the purpose of the New Right: The West has encountered the ultimate phase of decadence, consequently we must definitively break with the Western civilization and recover the memory of a Europe liberated from the egalitarianisms…”[24] Thus, from the Identitarian perspective, the “West” is identified as a globalist and universalist entity which had harmed the identities of European and non-European peoples alike. In the same way that Revolutionary Conservatives had called for Germans to assert the rights and identity of their people in their time period, New Rightists call for the overcoming of the liberal, cosmopolitan Western Civilization to reassert the more profound cultural and spiritual identity of Europeans, based on the “regeneration of history” and a reference to their multi-form and multi-millennial heritage.

Notes

[1] An example of such an assertion regarding cultural pessimism can be seen in “Part III. Three Major Expressions of Neo-Conservatism” in Klemens von Klemperer, Germany’s New Conservatism: Its History and Dilemma in the Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968).

[2] To supplement our short summary of Spenglerian philosophy, we would like to note that one the best overviews of Spengler’s philosophy in English is Stephen M. Borthwick, “Historian of the Future: An Introduction to Oswald Spengler’s Life and Works for the Curious Passer-by and the Interested Student,” Institute for Oswald Spengler Studies, 2011, <https://sites.google.com/site/spenglerinstitute/Biography>.

[3] Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West Vol. 1: Form and Actuality (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926), p. 106.

[4] Ibid.

[5] See “Prussianism and Socialism” in Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays (Chicago: Gateway/Henry Regnery, 1967).

[6] For a good overview of Moeller’s thought, see Lucian Tudor, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man & His Thought,” Counter-Currents Publishing, 17 August 2012, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-the-man-and-his-thought/>.

[7] See Fritz Stern, The Politics of Cultural Despair (Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1974), pp. 238-239, and Alain de Benoist, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea No. 15 (11 June 2011), p. 30, 40-42. <http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__15>.

[8] Arthur Moeller van den Bruck as quoted in Benoist, “Arthur Moeller van den Bruck,” p. 41.

[9] Ibid., p. 41.

[10] Ibid., pp. 41-43.

[11] See Fritz K. Ringer, The Decline of the German Mandarins: The German Academic Community, 1890–1933 (Hanover: University Press of New England, 1990), pp. 183 ff.; John J. Haag, Othmar Spann and the Politics of “Totality”: Corporatism in Theory and Practice (Ph.D. Thesis, Rice University, 1969), pp. 24-26, 78, 111.; Alexander Jacob’s introduction and “Part I: The Intellectual Foundations of Politics” in Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, Vol. 1 (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1995).

[12] For a brief introduction to Freyer’s philosophy, see Lucian Tudor, “Hans Freyer: The Quest for Collective Meaning,” Counter-Currents Publishing, 22 February 2013, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/02/hans-freyer-the-quest-for-collective-meaning/>.

[13] See Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God That Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1987), pp. 78-79, 120-121.

[14] Ibid., p. 335.

[15] Ibid., p. 79.

[16] See Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), pp. 203-204.

[17] See H.T. Hansen, “Julius Evola’s Political Endeavors,” in Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002), pp. 15-17.

[18] Evola, Path of Cinnabar, p. 204.

[19] Robert Steuckers, “Evola & Spengler”, Counter-Currents Publishing, 20 September 2010, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/09/evola-spengler/> .

[20] Ibid.

[21] In a description that applies as much to the New Right as to the Eurasianists, Alexander Dugin wrote of a vision in which “the formal opposition between tradition and modernity is removed… the realities superseded by the period of Enlightenment obtain a legitimate place – these are religion, ethnos, empire, cult, legend, etc. In the same time, a technological breakthrough, economical development, social fairness, labour liberation, etc. are taken from the Modern” (See Alexander Dugin, “Multipolarism as an Open Project,” Journal of Eurasian Affairs Vol. 1, No. 1 (September 2013), pp. 12-13).

[22] Alain de Benoist, “Oswald Spengler,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea No. 10 (15 April 2011), p. 13.<http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n__10&gt;.

[23] Pierre Krebs, Fighting for the Essence (London: Arktos, 2012), p. 34.

[24] Sebastian J. Lorenz, “El Decadentismo Occidental, desde la Konservative Revolution a la Nouvelle Droite,”Elementos No. 10, p. 5.

 

—————

Tudor, Lucian. “The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler.” Tankesmedjan Motpol, 7 November 2014. <http://www.motpol.nu/english/2014/11/07/the-revolutionary-conservative-critique-of-oswald-spengler/ >.

Note: See also the mentions of various other Right-wing critiques of Spengler which are discussed by Karlheinz Weißmann in the editorial on Oswald Spengler in Sezession im Netz (May 2005): <http://www.sezession.de/wp-content/uploads/alte_nummern/sezession_spengler.pdf > (See alt. link).

Additional Note: This essay was also republished in Lucian Tudor’s From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

 

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Vision of a Multipolar World – Tudor

The Vision of a Multipolar World

(Excerpt from “The Philosophy of Identity”)

By Lucian Tudor

 

The theory of a multipolar world has been increasingly popularized in recent times by Alexander Dugin, to whom it is widely attributed.[61] However, it should be remembered that this concept has a longer history, and can be found not only in the thought of other Russian thinkers, but also explicitly in the works of Carl Schmitt and Alain de Benoist, and more implicitly in the works of certain Identitarians such as Pierre Krebs.[62]

The theory of a multipolar world is grounded, in great part, in Carl Schmitt’s ideas in The Nomos of the Earth. In this work, the first nomos refers to the pre-colonial order which was marked by the isolation of nations from each other. The second nomos was the global order of sovereign nation-states established upon the Age of Discovery. The third nomos was the “bipolar” order established after World War II, where the world was divided into two poles (Communist or Soviet and Western or American). With the end of the Cold War, the “unipolar moment” occurred in history, where the United States became the only dominating superpower, and in which the “Western” liberal model spread its influence across the entire Earth. The fourth nomos has not yet developed: it is an open question where, increasingly, the options become either the hegemony of a single power and model (currently the Western one) or the creation of a multipolar world.[63]

The theory of the multipolar world is marked by a rejection of the “West,” which, it must be emphasized, is not a reference to Western European civilization as a whole, but a specific formulation of Western European civilization founded upon liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism. Alexander Dugin and the present-day Eurasianists, in a manner almost identical to that of the Identitarians, distinguish the liberal “West” from true European culture, posing Europe and the West as two antagonistic entities.[64] Due to globalism and Western cultural imperialism, the system of the liberal “West,” in contrast to traditional European culture, has increasingly harmed not only the identities of European peoples, but also numerous non-European peoples: “The crisis of identity . . . has scrapped all previous identities—civilizational, historical, national, political, ethnic, religious, cultural, in favor of a universal planetary Western-style identity—with its concept of individualism, secularism, representative democracy, economic and political liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the ideology of human rights.”[65] Thus, both the Western European Identitarians and Eurasianists advocate the idea of a genuine Europe which allies with non-Europeans to combat the “Western” system:

Both the French New Right as well as the Russian one advocate a decentralized federal Europe (to a Europe of a hundred flags) and, beyond the Westernized idea of Europe, for a Eurasian Empire formed by ethnocultural regions, putting a view on countries of the Third World which supposedly embody the primitive and original communities, traditional and rooted, which are ultimately conceived as natural allies against the New World Order homogenizer of the universal, egalitarian, and totalitarian liberalism.[66]

The vision of the multipolar world means combating and putting an end to the ideological hegemony of liberalism (as well as its concomitants, individualism, egalitarianism, universalism, and globalism) and to the economic and political hegemony of the West. Multipolarity means that each country and civilization is given the right and freedom to choose its own destiny, to affirm its own unique cultural and ethnic identity, to choose its own form of politics and economics, and to possess its own sovereign existence, free from the hegemony of others. This means that in the multipolar world, each nation has the right to determine their own policies and to join or remain independent from a federalist or imperial state, just as it also means that larger and more powerful states (superpowers) do not have the right to interfere in the affairs of other countries and civilizations.

According to Dugin, “Multi-polarity should be based on the principle of equity among the different kinds of political, social and economic organisations of these nations and states. Technological progress and a growing openness of countries should promote dialogue amongst, and the prosperity of, all peoples and nations. But at the same time it shouldn’t endanger their respective identities.”[67] Part of multipolar theory is the importance of a process called “modernization without Westernization,” whereby the various non-Western peoples of the world scientifically and technologically advance without combining progress with the adoption of the cosmopolitan liberal Western model and without losing their unique cultural identity. Thus, the values of traditional society can be reconciled with what is positive in modern progress to create a new social and cultural order where the basically negative “modernity” is overcome, thus achieving the envisioned “postmodernity.” This model is, of course, also offered to Western European nations as well.[68]

In the multipolar scheme, the true Europe (grounded in the heritage of Celtic, Germanic, Greek, Latin, Slavic, and other traditions) rises to take its place among the other cultures of the world. Each culture will overcome the individualist, cosmopolitan, and universalist West, reassert its own identity, and establish a secure world order where each respects the identity of the other; the universum will be vanquished to create a pluriversum. At its foundation, the theory of the multipolar world means the restoration and defense of ethnocultural identities in the world and defending the values of tradition, ethnos, spirituality, and community.

Therefore, it implies allowing different peoples (ethnic groups, cultures, races) to live autonomously in their own territories and to resist mixing. This further means encouraging the cooperation between all peoples to achieve this world order and to resolve the problems caused by the liberal-egalitarian and globalist system (such as the problems of immigration and “multiculturalism”) in the most practical and humane way. For that reason, the theory of the multipolar world is not only compatible with Identitarianism, it is an essential part of it; Multipolarism and Identitarianism are two sides of the same coin. The ultimate international mission of the Identitarian movement is the creation of a multipolar world order—a world in which, as Alain de Benoist and Charles Champetier declared, we will see “the appearance of thousands of auroras, i.e., the birth of sovereign spaces liberated from the domination of the modern.”[69]

Notes:

[61] Alexander Dugin’s most famous work in this regard is Теория многополярного мира (Мoscow: Евразийское движение, 2012). We should note that this work is currently more accessible to a Western European audience through its French translation: Pour une théorie du monde multipolaire (Nantes: Éditions Ars Magna, 2013). Explanations of the theory of the multipolar world can also be found in German in Dugin, Konflikte der Zukunft: Die Rückkehr der Geopolitik (Kiel: Arndt-Verlag, 2014), and in Spanish in ¿Qué es el eurasismo? Una conversación de Alain de Benoist con Alexander Dugin (Tarragona: Ediciones Fides, 2014), which is the Spanish translation of L’appel de l’Eurasie (Paris: Avatar Éditions, 2013).

[62] See for example Alain de Benoist, Carl Schmitt Today: Terrorism, “Just” War, and the State of Emergency (London: Arktos, 2013), 104, and Krebs, Fighting for the Essence, 20–30. Concerning other Russian thinkers, see Leonid Savin’s comments on multipolar theory in the interview with Robert Steuckers’s Euro-Synergies: “Establish a Multipolar World Order: Interview with Mr. Leonid Savin of the International Eurasian Movement,” Euro-Synergies, March 25, 2013, http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com/archive/2013/03/22/interview-with-mr-leonid-savin.html.

[63] See Carl Schmitt, The Nomos of the Earth in the International Law of the Jus Publicum Europaeum (New York: Telos, 2003).

[64] Concerning the views of the Identitarians, see: Alain de Benoist, “The ‘West’ Should Be Forgotten,” The Occidental Observer, April 21, 2011, http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2011/04/the-%e2%80%9cwest%e2%80%9d-should-be-forgotten/; Guillaume Faye, “Cosmopolis: The West As Nowhere,” Counter-Currents Publishing, July 6, 2012, http://www.counter-currents.com/2010/07/cosmopolis/; Tomislav Sunic, “The West against Europe,” The Occidental Observer, June 2, 2013, http://www.theoccidentalobserver.net/2013/06/the-west-against-europe/; Krebs, Fighting for the Essence, 31ff. Concerning Dugin’s views in particular, see his approving reference to Benoist’s distinction between Europe and the West in “Counter-Hegemony in Theory of Multi-Polar World,” The Fourth Political Theory, n.d., http://www.4pt.su/en/content/counter-hegemony-theory-multi-polar-world.

[65] Alexander Dugin, “Civilization as Political Concept: Interview with Alexander Dugin by Natella Speranskaya,” Euro-Synergies, June 13, 2012, http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com/archive/2012/06/09/civilization-as-political-concept.html.

[66] Jesús J. Sebastián, “Alexander Dugin: la Nueva Derecha Rusa, entre el Neo-Eurasianismo y la Cuarta Teoría Política,” Elementos: Revista de Metapolítica para una Civilización Europea, no. 70 (May 2014): 7. http://issuu.com/sebastianjlorenz/docs/elementos_n___70._dugin.

[67] Alexander Dugin, “The Greater Europe Project,” Open Revolt, December 24, 2011, http://openrevolt.info/2011/12/24/the-greater-europe-project/.

[68] A good overview of the theory of the multipolar world can be found in English in Alexander Dugin, “The Multipolar World and the Postmodern,” Journal of Eurasian Affairs 2, no. 1 (2014): 8–12, and “Multipolarism as an Open Project,” Journal of Eurasian Affairs 1, no. 1 (2013): 5–14. This journal is issued online at http://www.eurasianaffairs.net/.

[69] Benoist and Champetier, Manifesto for a European Renaissance, 14.

 

—————

Excerpt from: Tudor, Lucian. “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 108-112.  This essay was also republished in Lucian Tudor’s book, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

 

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Organic Democracy – Tudor

Identity and Politics: Organic Democracy

(Excerpt from “The Philosophy of Identity”)

By Lucian Tudor

 

Translations: Ελληνικά

Identitarians distinguish between different forms of democracy, some of which can be said to be more validly democratic than others. Alain de Benoist has distinguished between three forms of democracy corresponding to the French Revolutionary motto “Liberty, Equality, Fraternity.” The first, “liberal democracy,” is based on liberal, egalitarian, and individualist ideology; it is focused on the individual as a self-interested being, is inseparable from the individualist ideology of human rights, and is characterized by the principle of “one person, one vote.” The second form is “egalitarian democracy” or “popular democracy,” based on the principle of equality and manifested itself in the totalitarian regimes of the nationalist or socialist (particularly Marxist) type. The third form of democracy is based on the principle of fraternity and is known as “organic democracy,” which, as we shall see, is regarded by Identitarians as being the only true democracy.

Organic democracy is primarily defined not by fraternity as a “universal brotherhood” (which is impossible and is based on a false, egalitarian notion of humanity), but on fraternity in the sense of ethnic solidarity and a sense of collective meaning grounded in a shared heritage: “The only ‘families’ in which genuinely ‘fraternal’ relations may be entertained are cultures, peoples and nations. Fraternity, therefore, can serve as the basis for both solidarity and social justice, for both patriotism and democratic participation.”[54] Because true democracy is essentially non-totalitarian and is based on respecting the principle of liberty, it is also, in a sense, pluralistic, allowing the existence of groups representing differing opinions and ideas. However, as Benoist points out, this does not at all justify the notion of establishing a “pluralist” society in the ethnic sense (the liberal multiculturalists’ conclusion):

The way in which the political rights assigned as a guarantee to the opposition are commonly assimilated to the rights from which social minorities wish to benefit is itself problematic: for political categories cannot always be transposed on a social level. This may lead to a serious failure to distinguish between citizen minorities and non-citizen groups installed—whether temporarily or not—in the same land as the former. “Pluralism” may here be used as a rather specious argument to justify the establishment of a “multicultural” society that severely threatens national and folk identity, while stripping the notion of the people of its essential meaning.[55]

Alongside the foundation in ethnic community, organic democracy is also defined by participation: “Democracy is a people’s [Volkes] participation in its own destiny,” to reference Arthur Moeller van den Bruck’s words.[56] For that reason, a purely representative democracy is regarded as an incomplete democracy: only a participatory democracy in which the entire citizenry can take part in decision-making is a true democracy. Finally, addressing the anti-democratic arguments made by most Traditionalists, Benoist has also pointed out that democracy does not necessarily reject hierarchy. Political equality among citizens of a state does not mean regarding each of them as equal in any other sense, and organic democracy, at its essence, is perfectly reconcilable with the values of hierarchy, aristocracy, and authority, although in a unique manner differing from absolute monarchies.[57]

To support their advocacy of democracy and to counter the claim that democracy is a modern invention, a common theme in Identitarian and New Right works is the reference to ancient democracy, which has taken on participatory, representative, and various mixed forms. It is typical for Identitarians to reference examples of democracy specifically from Western European history, such as that of the ancient Germans or Greeks, although historical examples could also be found in many Eastern societies, even in entirely non-European societies (ancient Asiatic, Native American, etc.). Democracy clearly has a solid historical basis, for, to quote Benoist once more,

Democratic regimes or tendencies can be found throughout history. . . . Whether in Rome, in the Iliad, in Vedic India or among the Hittites, already at a very early date we find the existence of popular assemblies for both military and civil organisation. Moreover, in Indo-European society the King was generally elected.[58]

Alexander Dugin has also cited the history of organic democracy in Russian and “Eurasian” history, including the examples of the ancient Slavic Veche (equivalent to the Germanic Thing) and Orthodox priestly democracy.[59] Whatever the example, ancient democracy has almost always taken on organic forms based on respect for ethnic differences. Thus, Benoist rightly denounces liberal and egalitarian democracies as being only pseudo-democratic or entirely undemocratic:

Democracy means the power of the people, which is to say the power of an organic community that has historically developed in the context of one or more given political structures—for instance a city, nation, or empire. . . . Every political system which requires the disintegration or levelling of peoples in order to operate—or the erosion of individuals’ awareness of belonging to an organic folk community—is to be regarded as undemocratic.[60]

Notes:

[54] Alain de Benoist, The Problem of Democracy (London: Arktos, 2011), 99.

[55] Ibid., 66.

[56] See Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany’s Third Empire (London: Arktos, 2012), 15.

[57] See Benoist, The Problem of Democracy, 17. See also the chapter “A Defence of Democracy” in this same work.

[58] Ibid., 14–15.

[59] See the chapter “Органическая демократия” in Alexander Dugin, Консервативная революция (Moscow: Арктогея, 1994). We have especially relied on the online version for this research, published at Арктогея, December 1, 2002 (http://www.arcto.ru/article/38; accessed September 1, 2014). We could add to these examples the democratic practices of many of the ancient peoples of the Baltic, including the Scythians, the Sarmatians, and the Dacians (in modern-day Romania); see Ion Grumeza, Dacia: Land of Transylvania, Cornerstone of Ancient Eastern Europe (Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books, 2009), 46, 129, 132.

[60] Benoist, The Problem of Democracy, 103.

 

—————

Excerpt from: Tudor, Lucian. “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 106-108. This essay was also republished in Lucian Tudor’s book, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

 

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The Real Dugin – Tudor

The Real Dugin: Alexander Dugin’s Political Theories and his Relevance to the New Right

By Lucian Tudor

 

Translations: Čeština, Español, Português

Alexander Dugin is by now well-known in “Right-wing” circles of all sorts across the world—whether we are speaking of nationalists, Fascists, traditionalists, cultural or national conservatives, or New Rightists (also known as Identitarians). Upon the translation of his book The Fourth Political Theory in 2012, Dugin has received a significant amount of international attention from anyone interested in Right-wing or Conservative theory. Since then, a number of other essays by Dugin on the topics of Eurasianism (also spelled “Eurasism”) and also the Theory of the Multipolar World (both of which are interconnected with each other and with what he calls the Fourth Political Theory) have been translated into English, among other languages, allowing us a better view into his thought.

There is no need to discuss Dugin’s theories in any depth here, since his own essays achieve that sufficiently. However, a problem has arisen among Right-wingers in the West in regards to Dugin: while many have appreciated his works, a large number have completely dismissed or attacked him and his theories largely on the basis of misunderstandings or propaganda from Dugin’s political enemies. The situation is certainly not helped by the fact that well-known Identitarian writers such as Greg Johnson, Michael O’Meara, Domitius Corbulo, and some others in Europe have denounced Dugin with reasoning based upon such misunderstandings. Personally, I had once considered these critiques as being essentially valid, but upon a more thorough investigation of Dugin’s writings and thought, I concluded that these critiques were based on flawed premises and assumptions. My intention here is to point out what the most common reasons for denouncing Dugin have been and why they are based on misconceptions and propaganda rather than reality.

Position on Race

First, one of the most difficult issues is the claim that Alexander Dugin believes that race has no substantial reality, that it is a “social construct” and must be completely abandoned as a harmful product of modern Western society. Certainly, he critiques racialist theory, but this is not the same as rejecting race entirely (since one can assert the importance of race without resorting to “racism.” See my essay “Ethnic and Racial Relations”). It must be admitted that Dugin has not taken a clear stance on the matter of race, and occasionally makes statements which imply a dismissal of race (although it is significant that, for the most part, he leaves it an open question). On the other hand, he has also made statements implying an appreciation for racial identity to some extent, such as when he wrote the following:

Being White and Indo-European myself, I recognize the differences of other ethnic groups as being a natural thing, and do not believe in any hierarchy among peoples, because there is not and cannot be any common, universal measure by which to measure and compare the various forms of ethnic societies or their value systems. I am proud to be Russian exactly as Americans, Africans, Arabs or Chinese are proud to be what they are. It is our right and our dignity to affirm our identity, not in opposition to each other but such as it is: without resentment against others or feelings of self-pity. (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”)

However, let us assume, for the sake of argument, that Dugin truly does believe that race is a “social construct”, as some have assumed. Would this be enough reason to declare Dugin a subversive intellectual in the Right? If this was the case, it would follow by the same reasoning that any past Right-wing intellectual who did not believe in the importance of race (or at least the biological form of race) must also be denounced. This would include such notable thinkers as Oswald Spengler, Francis Parker Yockey, Othmar Spann, José Antonio Primo de Rivera, Oswald Mosley, and numerous other Fascist or nationalist intellectuals and leaders who did not place much importance upon physical race. Yet, paradoxically, many of those we see denouncing Dugin today would not do the same for such thinkers. This is not to imply that previous Fascist or nationalist intellectuals are entirely agreeable for us today (in fact, most New Rightists reject Fascism and old-fashioned nationalism), it is only to point out the self-contradiction which has gone unnoticed.

Furthermore, it is important to remember that Dugin clearly believes in the importance of ethnicity and culture and advocates ethnic separatism. Similarly to German Revolutionary Conservative and Völkisch thinkers, Dugin has unmistakably placed the Volk or ethnos as one of the highest values of his philosophy: “The subject of this theory [the Fourth Political Theory], in its simple version, is the concept ‘narod,’roughly, ‘Volk’ or ‘people,’ in the sense of ‘peoplehood’ and ‘peoples,’ not ‘masses’” (quoted from “The Fourth Estate: The History and Meaning of the Middle Class”). Thus, it is clear that even if he does not value race, Dugin certainly does value ethno-cultural identity. Of course, this is not to say that rejecting the reality of race is not at all problematic, only that it is not enough to denounce a philosopher. However, those who like to claim that Dugin dismisses race as a “social construct” are reminiscent of those who say the same thing about Alain de Benoist, whereas it is clear that Benoist asserts the reality of race and advocates racial separatism–specifically from a non-racist standpoint–in many of his writings, one of the most notable in English being “What is Racism?”.

Empire vs. Imperialism

The second problematic notion about Dugin is that he is an advocate of a type of Russian imperialism, usually suggested being of a Stalinist and Soviet type. However, this claim has no basis in fact, since he has renounced Soviet imperialism and has also distinguished between true empire and imperialism (which also made by Julius Evola and many other Traditionalist and New Right authors). In his essay “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy,” Dugin has asserted that there are three basic types of policy in modern Russia: Soviet, pro-Western (liberal), and Eurasist. He criticizes the Soviet and Liberal types while advocating the Eurasist policy: “Eurasism, in this way, is an original ‘patriotic pragmatism’, free from any dogmatics – be it Soviet or liberal… The Soviet pattern operates with obsolete political, economic and social realities, it exploits nostalgia and inertness, it lacks a sober analysis of the new international situation and the real development of world economic trends.” It should be clear from Dugin’s analysis of different forms of political approaches that his own viewpoint is not based on the USSR model, which he explicitly rejects and critiques.

Moreover, it is often overlooked that when Dugin advocates a Eurasian empire or union, there is a distinction between a true empire—in the traditionalist sense—and imperialism, and thus an empire is not necessarily an imperialistic state (for a good overview of this concept, see Alain de Benoist’s “The Idea of Empire”). Unlike domineering and imperialistic states, the Eurasian Union envisioned by Dugin grants a partial level of self-government to regions within a federalist system:

The undoubted strategic unity in Eurasist federalism is accompanied by ethnic plurality, by the emphasis on the juridical element of the “rights of the peoples”. The strategic control of the space of the Eurasian Union is ensured by the unity of management and federal strategic districts, in whose composition various formations can enter – from ethno-cultural to territorial. The immediate differentiation of territories into several levels will add flexibility, adaptability and plurality to the system of administrative management in combination with rigid centralism in the strategic sphere. (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”)

Of course, it must also be remembered that Dugin’s vision needs to be differentiated from the policies of the present Russian state, which, at this time, cannot be said to adequately represent the Eurasists’ goals (despite the influence of Eurasism on certain politicians). Furthermore, it should be mentioned that while Dugin currently supports president Putin, it is clear that he does not uncritically accept all of the policies of Putin’s government. Therefore, a sound analysis of Dugin’s proposed policies will not equate them with those of the Russian government, as some of his critics have erroneously done.

The “West” as the Enemy

Another common misconception is that Dugin is hostile to Western European civilization and even advocates its complete destruction. It is important to recognize that Dugin’s conception of the “West” is similar to that advocated by the European New Right (in the works of Pierre Krebs, Alain de Benoist, Guillaume Faye, Tomislav Sunic, etc.). The “West” is not a reference to all of Western-European civilization, but rather to the specific formulation of Western-European civilization founded upon liberalism, egalitarianism, and individualism: “The crisis of identity […] has scrapped all previous identities–civilizational, historical, national, political, ethnic, religious, cultural, in favor of a universal planetary Western-style identity–with its concept of individualism, secularism, representative democracy, economic and political liberalism, cosmopolitanism and the ideology of human rights.” (quoted from the interview with Dugin, “Civilization as Political Concept”).

Thus, Dugin, like the New Right, asserts that the “West” is actually foreign to true European culture—that it is in fact the enemy of Europe: “Atlanticism, liberalism, and individualism are all forms of absolute evil for the Indo-European identity, since they are incompatible with it” (quoted from “Alexander Dugin on ‘White Nationalism’ & Other Potential Allies in the Global Revolution”). Likewise, in his approving citation of Alain de Benoist’s cultural philosophy, he wrote the following:

A. de Benoist was building his political philosophy on radical rejection of liberal and bourgeois values, denying capitalism, individualism, modernism, geopolitical atlanticism and western eurocentrism. Furthermore, he opposed “Europe” and “West” as two antagonistic concepts: “Europe” for him is a field of deployment of a special cultural Logos, coming from the Greeks and actively interacting with the richness of Celtic, Germanic, Latin, Slavic, and other European traditions, and the “West” is the equivalent of the mechanistic, materialistic, rationalist civilization based on the predominance of the technology above everything. After O. Spengler Alain de Benoist understood “the West” as the “decline of the West” and together with Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger was convinced of the necessity of overcoming modernity as nihilism and “the abandonment of the world by Being (Sein)” (Seinsverlassenheit). West in this understanding was identical to liberalism, capitalism, and bourgeois society – all that “New Right” claimed to overcome. (quoted from “Counter-hegemony in Theory of Multi-polar World”)

While Dugin attacks the “West” as modern liberal civilization, he simultaneously advocates the resurrection of Europe in his vision of the multipolar world: “We imagine this Greater Europe as a sovereign geopolitical power, with its own strong cultural identity, with its own social and political options…” (quoted from “The Greater Europe Project”). Similarly to the previous statements which we have quoted, he asserts here that European culture has multiple ideological elements and possible pathways in its history which are different from the liberal model: “Liberal democracy and the free market theory account for only part of the European historical heritage and that there have been other options proposed and issues dealt with by great European thinkers, scientists, politicians, ideologists and artists.”

Domitius Corbulo has argued, based on statements Dugin made in The Fourth Political Theory that liberalism and universalism are elements which run throughout Western civilization, that Dugin condemns Western-European culture in its entirety. However, it is important to recognize that these arguments are largely borrowed from Western-European authors such as Spengler, Heidegger, and Evola. These authors also recognized that anti-universalist, anti-liberal, and anti-materialist elements also exist in Western-European culture, and thus that there have always been other paths for the destiny of this culture. It is evident that Dugin would assert the same fact from his essays which we have cited here (as well as books not yet available in English, such as ¿Qué es el eurasismo?, Pour une théorie du monde multipolaire, or in Russian in Четвертый Путь, among others). It is important to remember here that The Fourth Political Theory is not a complete and perfect statement of Dugin’s thought, and that what he says there must be balanced with what he says in his other works.

It is often assumed that, considering his hostility to the liberal “West,” Dugin also advocates a complete destruction of the United States of America, which is seen as the epitome of the “West.” However, the very essence of his theory of the multipolar world is the idea that each civilization and nation must be granted the right to live and to determine its own destiny, political form, and way of life. For this reason, Dugin advocates the global combating of American cultural and economic imperialism, which denatures non-Western cultures. However, in the multipolar scheme, the United States also has the right to exist and to choose its own path, which means allowing the American people the right to continue the liberal model in the future, should they desire to do so. Of course, the liberal model would naturally be discouraged from abroad and be limited in its influence. This position can be drawn from Dugin’s key essays explicating the Theory of the Multipolar World: “The Multipolar World and the Postmodern” and “Multipolarism as an Open Project”.

The Fourth Political Theory vs. Reactionary Traditionalism

Some writers, such as Kenneth Anderson (“Speculating on future political and religious alliances”), have interpreted Alexander Dugin’s thought as a form of Radical Traditionalism (following Julius Evola and Rene Guenon) which is completely reactionary in nature, rejecting everything in the modern world–including all technological and scientific development–as something negative which needs to be eventually undone. This interpretation can be easily revealed to be incorrect when one examines Dugin’s statements on Traditionalism and modernity more closely. It is true that Dugin acknowledges Traditionalist thinkers such as Evola and Guenon among his influences, but it is also clear that he is not in full agreement with their views and advocates his own form of conservatism, which is much more similar to German Revolutionary Conservatism (see The Fourth Political Theory, pp. 86 ff.).

Unlike some Traditionalists, Dugin does not reject scientific and social progress, and thus it can also be said that he does not reject the Enlightenment in toto. When Dugin criticizes Enlightenment philosophy (the ideology of progress, individualism, etc.), it is not so much in the manner of the Radical Traditionalists as it is in the manner of the Conservative Revolution and the New Right, as was also done by Alain de Benoist, Armin Mohler, etc. In this regard, it can be mentioned that critiquing the ideology of progress is, of course, very different from rejecting progress itself. For the most part, he does not advocate the overcoming of the “modern world” in the Traditionalist sense, but in the New Rightist sense, which means eliminating what is bad in the present modern world to create a new cultural order (“postmodernity”) which reconciles what is good in modern society with traditional society. Thus Dugin asserts that one of the most essential ideas of the Eurasist philosophy is the creation of societies which restore traditional and spiritual values without surrendering scientific progress:

The philosophy of Eurasianism proceeds from priority of values of the traditional society, acknowledges the imperative of technical and social modernization (but without breaking off cultural roots), and strives to adapt its ideal program to the situation of a post-industrial, information society called “postmodern”. The formal opposition between tradition and modernity is removed in postmodern. However, postmodernism in the atlantist aspect levels them from the position of indifference and exhaustiveness of contents. The Eurasian postmodern, on the contrary, considers the possibility for an alliance of tradition with modernity to be a creative, optimistic energetic impulse that induces imagination and development. (quote from Eurasian Mission, cited in Dugin, “Multipolarism as an Open Project”)

It should be evident from these statements that Dugin is not a reactionary, despite his sympathy to Radical Traditionalism. In this regard, it is worth mentioning that Dugin also supports a “Third Positionist” form of socialism as well as a non-liberal form of democracy. In regards to socialism, he has written that the “confusion of mankind into the single global proletariat is not a way to a better future, but an incidental and absolutely negative aspect of the global capitalism, which does not open any new prospects and only leads to degradation of cultures, societies, and traditions. If peoples do have a chance to organize effective resistance to the global capitalism, it is only where Socialist ideas are combined with elements of a traditional society…” (from “Multipolarism as an Open Project”). Whereas some have accused Dugin of being anti-democratic, he has plainly advocated the idea of a “democratic empire”: “The political system of the Eurasian Union in the most logical way is founded on the ‘democracy of participation’ (the ‘demotia’ of the classical Eurasists), the accent being not on the quantitative, but on the qualitative aspect of representation” (quoted from “Main Principles of Eurasist Policy”; see also the comments on democracy in his “Milestones of Eurasism”).

References to Leftists and Cultural Marxists

Finally, one of the most recent attacks on Alexander Dugin is based on his reference to Cultural Marxist and “Leftist” philosophers, which is seen by some as an indicator that Dugin himself is sympathetic to Cultural Marxism (see Domitius Corbulo’s “Alexander Dugin’s 4th Political Theory is for the Russian Empire, not for European Ethno-Nationalists”). However, Dugin has clearly pointed out that while he uses ideas from Marxist and “Leftist” theorists, he rejects their ideologies as a whole: “The second and third political theories [Fascism and Marxism] must be reconsidered, selecting in them that which must be discarded and that which has value in itself. As complete ideologies… they are entirely useless, either theoretically or practically.” (quoted from The Fourth Political Theory, p. 24).

If one notes that Dugin occasionally makes use of Marxist thinkers, then it should not be overlooked that he places even more importance on Right-wing thinkers, who clearly form the greater influence on him; the intellectuals of the Conservative Revolution (Heidegger, Schmitt, Moeller van den Bruck, etc.), the Traditionalist School (Evola, Guenon, Schuon, etc.), the New Right (Benoist, Freund, Steuckers, etc.), and the conservative religious scholars (Eliade, Durand, etc.). Furthermore, Corbulo objects to Dugin’s use of Claude Levi-Strauss’s work, yet respected New Right thinkers like Alain de Benoist and Dominique Venner (see Robert Steuckers, “En souvenir de Dominique Venner”, citing Venner’s Le siècle de 1914) have also referenced the ideas of Levi-Strauss on matters of culture and ethnicity, among other authors that Dugin uses, such as Jean Baudrillard.

In a recent interview, Dugin has clearly agreed with the European Right’s position on immigration (which advocates the restriction of non-European immigration), mentioning the threat that liberal cosmopolitanism brings to European culture: “The immigration changes the structure of European society. The Islamic people have very strong cultural identity. The European people weaken their own identity more and more in conscious manner. It is human right and civil society individualistic ideological dogma. So Europe is socially endangered and is on the eve to lose it identity” (quoted from “The West should be rejected”). Thus, when we take a less biased view of Dugin’s writings and statements, it is clear that his overall position is very far from that of the Cultural Marxists and the New Left.

From our examination thus far, it should be obvious that there are too many misconceptions about Alexander Dugin’s thought being circulated among Right-wingers. These misconceptions are being used to dismiss the value of his work and deceive members of Right-wing groups into believing that Dugin is a subversive intellectual who must be rejected as an enemy. Many other important Right-wing intellectuals have been similarly dismissed among certain circles, due to practices of a kind of in-group gleichschaltung, closing off any thinker who is not seen as readily agreeable. It is important to overcome such tendencies and support an intellectual expansion of the Right, which is the only way to overcome the present liberal-egalitarian hegemony. People need to take a more careful and unbiased look at Dugin’s works and ideas, as with other controversial thinkers. Of course, Dugin is not without flaws and imperfections (nor is any other thinker), but these flaws can be overcome when his thought is balanced with that of other intellectuals, especially the Revolutionary Conservatives and the New Rightists.

 

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Tudor, Lucian. “The Real Dugin: Alexander Dugin’s Political Theories and his Relevance to the New Right.” Radix Journal, 30 August 2014. <http://www.radixjournal.com/journal/2014/8/30/the-real-dugin >.

Note: On the issue of bias and hostility towards Dugin and Russia in general, see Michael McGregor’s “Bipolar Russophobia”: <http://www.radixjournal.com/blog/2014/9/13/bipolar-russophobia >.

For an overview of the vision of a Multipolar World from an Identitarian perspective, see also Lucian Tudor, “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought,” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 83-112.

 

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Othmar Spann – Tudor

Othmar Spann: A Catholic Radical Traditionalist

By Lucian Tudor

 

Translations: Português

Othmar Spann was an Austrian philosopher who was a key influence on German conservative and traditionalist thought in the period after World War I, and he is thus considered a representative of the intellectual movement known as the “Conservative Revolution.” Spann was a professor of economics and sociology at the University of Vienna, where he taught not only scientific social and economic theories, but also influenced many students with the presentation of his worldview in his lectures. As a result of this he formed a large group of followers known as the Spannkreis (“Spann Circle”). This circle of intellectuals attempted to influence politicians who would be sympathetic to “Spannian” philosophy in order to actualize its goals.[1]

Othmar Spann himself was influenced by a variety of philosophers across history, including Plato, Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, J. G. Fichte, Franz von Baader, and most notably the German Romantic thought of Adam Müller. Spann called his own worldview “Universalism,” a term which should not be confused with “universalism” in the vernacular sense; for the former is nationalistic and values particularity while the latter refers to cosmopolitan or non-particularist (even anti-particularist) ideas. Spann’s term is derived from the root word “universality,” which is in this case synonymous with related terms such as collectivity, totality, or whole.[2] Spann’s Universalism was expounded in a number of books, most notably in Der wahre Staat (“The True State”), and essentially taught the value of nationality, of the social whole over the individual, of religious (specifically Catholic) values over materialistic values, and advocated the model of a non-democratic, hierarchical, and corporatist state as the only truly valid political constitution.

Social Theory

Othmar Spann declared: “It is the fundamental truth of all social science . . . that not individuals 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.”[3] This concept, which is at the core of Spann’s sociology, is not a denial of the existence of the individual person, but a complete denial of individualism; individualism being that ideology which denies the existence and importance of supra-individual realities. Classical liberal theory, which was individualist, held an “atomistic” view of individuals and regarded only individuals as truly real; individuals which it believed were essentially disconnected and independent from each other. It also held that society only exists as an instrumental association as a result of a “social contract.” On the other hand, sociological studies have disproven this theory, showing that the whole (society) is never merely the sum of its parts (individuals) and that individuals naturally have psychological bonds with each other. This was Othmar Spann’s position, but he had his own unique way of formulating it.[4]

While the theory of individualism appears, superficially, to be correct to many people, an investigation into the matter shows that it is entirely fallacious. Individuals never act entirely independently because their behavior is always at least in part determined by the society in which they live, and by their organic, non-instrumental (and thus also non-contractual) bonds with other people in their society. Spann wrote, “according to this view, the individual is no longer self-determined and self-created, and is no longer based exclusively and entirely on its own egoicity.”[5] Spann conceived of the social order, of the whole, as an organic society (a community) in which all individuals belonging to it have a pre-existing spiritual unity. The individual person emerges as such from the social whole to which he was born and from which he is never really separated, and “thus the individual is that which is derivative.”[6]

Therefore, society is not merely a mechanical aggregate of fundamentally disparate individuals, but a whole, a community, which precedes its parts, the individuals. “Universalists contend that the mental or spiritual associative tie between individuals exists as an independent entity . . .”[7] However, Spann clarified that this does not mean that the individual has “no mental self-sufficiency,” but rather that he actualizes his personal being only as a member of the whole: “he is only able to form himself, is only able to build up his personality, when in close touch with others like unto himself; he can only sustain himself as a being endowed with mentality or spirituality, when he enjoys intimate and multiform communion with other beings similarly endowed.”[8] Therefore,

All spiritual reality present in the individual is only there and only comes into being as something that has been awakened . . . the spirituality that comes into being in an individual (whether directly or mediated) is always in some sense a reverberation of that which another spirit has called out to the individual. This means that human spirituality exists only in community, never in spiritual isolation. . . . We can say that individual spirituality only exists in community or better, in ‘spiritual community’ [Gezweiung]. All spiritual essence and reality exists as ‘spiritual community’ and only in ‘communal spirituality’ [Gezweitheit]. [9]

It is also important to clarify that Spann’s concept of society did not conceive of society as having no other spiritual bodies within it that were separate from each other. On the contrary, he recognized the importance of the various sub-groups, referred to by him as “partial wholes,” as constituent parts and elements which are different yet related, and which are harmonized by the whole under which they exist. Therefore, the whole or the totality can be understood as the unity of individuals and “partial wholes.” To reference a symbolic image, “Totality [the Whole] is analogous to white light before it is refracted by a prism into many colors,” in which the white light is the supra-temporal totality, while the prism is cosmic time which “refracts the totality into the differentiated and individuated temporal reality.”[10]

Nationality and Racial Style

Volk (“people” or “nation”), which signifies “nationality” in the cultural and ethnic sense, is an entirely different entity and subject matter from society or the whole, but for Spann the two had an important connection. Spann was a nationalist and, defining Volk in terms of belonging to a “spiritual community” with a shared culture, believed that a social whole is under normal conditions only made up of a single ethnic type. Only when people shared the same cultural background could the deep bonds which were present in earlier societies truly exist. He thus upheld the “concept of the concrete cultural community, the idea of the nation – as contrasted with the idea of unrestricted, cosmopolitan, intercourse between individuals.”[11]

Spann advocated the separation of ethnic groups under different states and was also a supporter of pan-Germanism because he believed that the German people should unite under a single Reich. Because he also believed that the German nation was intellectually superior to all other nations (a notion which can be considered as the unfortunate result of a personal bias), Spann also believed that Germans had a duty to lead Europe out of the crisis of liberal modernity and to a healthier order similar to that which had existed in the Middle Ages.[12]

Concerning the issue of race, Spann attempted to formulate a view of race which was in accordance with the Christian conception of the human being, which took into account not only his biology but also his psychological and spiritual being. This is why Spann rejected the common conception of race as a biological entity, for he did not believe that racial types were derived from biological inheritance, just as he did not believe an individual person’s character was set into place by heredity. Rather what race truly was for Spann was a cultural and spiritual character or type, so a person’s “racial purity” is determined not by biological purity but by how much his character and style of behavior conforms to a specific spiritual quality. In his comparison of the race theories of Spann and Ludwig Ferdinand Clauss (an influential race psychologist), Eric Voegelin had concluded:

In Spann’s race theory and in the studies of Clauss we find race as the idea of a total being: for these two scholars racial purity or blood purity is not a property of the genetic material in the biological sense, but rather the stylistic purity of the human form in all its parts, the possession of a mental stamp recognizably the same in its physical and psychological expression. [13]

However, it should be noted that while Ludwig Clauss (like Spann) did not believe that spiritual character was merely a product of genetics, he did in fact emphasize that physical race had importance because the bodily racial form must be essentially in accord with the psychical racial form with which it is associated, and with which it is always linked. As Clauss wrote,

The style of the psyche expresses itself in its arena, the animate body. But in order for this to be possible, this arena itself must be governed by a style, which in turn must stand in a structured relationship to the style of the psyche: all the features of the somatic structure are, as it were, pathways for the expression of the psyche. The racially constituted (that is, stylistically determined) psyche thus acquires a racially constituted animate body in order to express the racially constituted style of its experience in a consummate and pure manner. The psyche’s expressive style is inhibited if the style of its body does not conform perfectly with it.[14]

Likewise Julius Evola, whose thought was influenced by both Spann and Clauss, and who expanded Clauss’s race psychology to include religious matters, also affirmed that the body had a certain level of importance.[15]

On the other hand, the negative aspect of Othmar Spann’s theory of race is that it ends up dismissing the role of physical racial type entirely, and indeed many of Spann’s major works do not even mention the issue of race. A consequence of this was also the fact that Spann tolerated and even approved of critiques made by his students of National Socialist theories of race which emphasized the role of biology; an issue which would later compromise his relationship with that movement even though he was one of its supporters.[16]

The True State

Othmar Spann’s Universalism was in essence a Catholic form of “Radical Traditionalism”; he believed that there existed eternal principles upon which every social, economic, and political order should be constructed. Whereas the principles of the French Revolution – of liberalism, democracy, and socialism – were contingent upon historical circumstances, bound by world history, there are certain principles upon which most ancient and medieval states were founded which are eternally valid, derived from the Divine order. While specific past state forms which were based on these principles cannot be revived exactly as they were because they held many characteristics which are outdated and historical, the principles upon which they were built and therefore the general model which they provide are timeless and must reinstituted in the modern world, for the systems derived from the French Revolution are invalid and harmful.[17] This timeless model was the Wahre Staat or “True State” – a corporative, monarchical, and elitist state – which was central to Universalist philosophy.

1. Economics

In terms of economics, Spann, like Adam Müller, rejected both capitalism and socialism, advocating a corporatist system relatable to that of the guild system and the landed estates of the Middle Ages; a system in which fields of work and production would be organized into corporations and would be subordinated in service to the state and to the nation, and economic activity would therefore be directed by administrators rather than left solely to itself. The value of each good or commodity produced in this system was determined not by the amount of labor put into it (the labor theory of value of Marx and Smith), but by its “organic use” or “social utility,” which means its usefulness to the social whole and to the state.[18]

Spann’s major reason for rejecting capitalism was because it was individualistic, and thus had a tendency to create disharmony and weaken the spiritual bonds between individuals in the social whole. Although Spann did not believe in eliminating competition from economic life, he pointed out that the extreme competition glorified by capitalists created a market system in which there occurred a “battle of all against all” and in which undertakings were not done in service to the whole and the state but in service to self-centered interests. Universalist economics aimed to create harmony in society and economics, and therefore valued “the vitalising energy of the personal interdependence of all the members of the community . . .”[19]

Furthermore, Spann recognized that capitalism also did result in an unfair treatment by capitalists of those underneath them. Thus while he believed Marx’s theories to be theoretically flawed, Spann also mentioned that “Marx nevertheless did good service by drawing attention to the inequality of the treatment meted out to worker and to entrepreneur respectively in the individualist order of society.”[20] Spann, however, rejected socialist systems in general because while socialism seemed superficially Universalistic, it was in fact a mixture of Universalist and individualist elements. It did not recognize the primacy of the State over individuals and also held that all individuals in society should hold the same position, eliminating all class distinctions, and should receive the same amount of goods. “True universalism looks for an organic multiplicity, for inequality,” and thus recognizes differences even if it works to establish harmony between the parts.[21]

2. Politics

Spann asserted that all democratic political systems were an inversion of the truly valuable political order, which was of even greater importance than the economic system. A major problem of democracy was that it allowed, firstly, the manipulation of the government by wealthy capitalists and financiers whose moral character was usually questionable and whose goals were almost never in accord with the good of the community; and secondly, democracy allowed the triumph of self-interested demagogues who could manipulate the masses. However, even the theoretical base of democracy was flawed, according to Spann, because human beings were essentially unequal, for individuals are always in reality differentiated in their qualities and thus are suited for different positions in the social order. Democracy thus, by allowing a mass of people to decide governmental matters, meant excluding the right of superior individuals to determine the destiny of the State, for “setting the majority in the saddle means that the lower rule over the higher.”[22]

Finally, Spann noted that “demands for democracy and liberty are, once more, wholly individualistic.”[23] In the Universalist True State, the individual would subordinate his will to the whole and would be guided by a sense of selfless duty in service to the State, as opposed to asserting his individual will against all other wills. Furthermore, the individual did not possess rights because of his “rational” character and simply because of being human, as many Enlightenment thinkers asserted, but these rights were derived from the ethics of the particular social whole to which he belonged and from the laws of the State.[24] Universalism also acknowledged the inherent inequalities in human beings and supported a hierarchical organization of the political order, where there would be only “equality among equals” and the “subordination of the intellectually inferior under their intellectual betters.”[25]

In the True State, individuals who demonstrated their leadership skills, their superior nature, and the right ethical character would rise among the levels of the hierarchy. The state would be led by a powerful elite whose members would be selected from the upper levels of the hierarchy based on their merit; it was essentially a meritocratic aristocracy. Those in inferior positions would be taught to accept their role in society and respect their superiors, although all parts of the system are “nevertheless indispensable for its survival and development.”[26] Therefore, “the source of the governing power is not the sovereignty of the people, but the sovereignty of the content.”[27]

Othmar Spann, in accordance with his Catholic religious background, believed in the existence of a supra-sensual, metaphysical, and spiritual reality which existed separately from and above the material reality, and of which the material realm was its imperfect reflection. He asserted that the True State must be animated by Christian spirituality, and that its leaders must be guided by their devotion to Divine laws; the True State was thus essentially theocratic. However, the leadership of the state would receive its legitimacy not only from its religious character, but also by possessing “valid spiritual content,” which “precedes power as it is represented in law and the state.”[28] Thus Spann concluded that “history teaches us that it is the validity of spiritual values that constitutes the spiritual bond. They cannot be replaced by fire and sword, nor by any other form of force. All governance that endures, and all the order that society has thus achieved, is the result of inner domination.”[29]

The state which Spann aimed to restore was also federalistic in nature, uniting all “partial wholes” – corporate bodies and local regions which would have a certain level of local self-governance – with respect to the higher Authority. As Julius Evola wrote, in a description that is in accord with Spann’s views, “the true state exists as an organic whole comprised of distinct elements, and, embracing partial unities [wholes], each possesses a hierarchically ordered life of its own.”[30] All throughout world history the hierarchical, corporative True State appears and reappears; in the ancient states of Sparta, Rome, Persia, Medieval Europe, and so on. The structures of the states of these times “had given the members of these societies a profound feeling of security. These great civilizations had been characterized by their harmony and stability.”[31]

Liberal modernity had created a crisis in which the harmony of older societies was damaged by capitalism and in which social bonds were weakened (even if not eliminated) by individualism. However, Spann asserted that all forms of liberalism and individualism are a sickness which could never succeed in fully eliminating the original, primal reality. He predicted that in the era after World War I, the German people would reassert its rights and would create revolution restoring the True State, would recreate that “community tying man to the eternal and absolute forces present in the universe,”[32] and whose revolution would subsequently resonate all across Europe, resurrecting in modern political life the immortal principles of Universalism.

Spann’s Influence and Reception

Othmar Spann and his circle held influence largely in Germany and Austria, and it was in the latter country that their influence was the greatest. Spann’s philosophy became the basis of the ideology of the Austrian Heimwehr (“Home Guard”) which was led by Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg. Leaders of the so-called “Austro-fascist state,” including Engelbert Dollfuss and Kurt Schuschnigg, were also partially influenced by Spann’s thought and by members of the “Spann circle.”[33] However, despite the fact that this state was the only one which truly attempted to actualize his ideas, Spann did not support “Austro-fascism” because he was a pan-Germanist and wanted the German people unified under a single state, which is why he joined Hitler’s National Socialist movement, which he believed would pave the way to the True State.

Despite repeated attempts to influence National Socialist ideology and the leaders of the NSDAP, Spann and his circle were rejected by most National Socialists. Alfred Rosenberg, Robert Ley, and various other authors associated with the SS made a number of attacks on Spann’s school. Rosenberg was annoyed both by Spann’s denial of the importance of blood and by his Catholic theocratic position; he wrote that “the Universalist school of Othmar Spann has successfully refuted idiotic materialist individualism . . . [but] Spann asserted against traditional Greek wisdom, and claimed that god is the measure of all things and that true religion is found only in the Catholic Church.”[34]

Aside from insisting on the reality of biological laws, other National Socialists also criticized Spann’s political proposals. They asserted that his hierarchical state would create a destructive divide between the people and their elite because it insisted on their absolute separateness; it would destroy the unity they had established between the leadership and the common folk. Although National Socialism itself had elements of elitism it was also populist, and thus they further argued that every German had the potential to take on a leadership role, and that therefore, if improved within in the Volksgemeinschaft (“Folk-Community”), the German people were thus not necessarily divisible in the strict view of superior elites and inferior masses.[35]

As was to be expected, Spann’s liberal critics complained that his anti-individualist position was supposedly too extreme, and the social democrats and Marxists argued that his corporatist state would take away the rights of the workers and grant rulership to the bourgeois leaders. Both accused Spann of being an unrealistic reactionary who wanted to revive the Middle Ages.[36] However, here we should note here that Edgar Julius Jung, who was himself basically a type of Universalist and was heavily inspired by Spann’s work, had mentioned that:

We are reproached for proceeding alongside or behind active political forces, for being romantics who fail to see reality and who indulge in dreams of an ideology of the Reich that turns toward the past. But form and formlessness represent eternal social principles, like the struggle between the microcosm and the macrocosm endures in the eternal swing of the pendulum. The phenomenal forms that mature in time are always new, but the great principles of order (mechanical or organic) always remain the same. Therefore if we look to the Middle Ages for guidance, finding there the great form, we are not only not mistaking the present time but apprehending it more concretely as an age that is itself incapable of seeing behind the scenes. [37]

Edgar Jung, who was one of Hitler’s most prominent radical Conservative opponents, expounded a philosophy which was remarkably similar to Spann’s, although there are some differences we would like to point out. Jung believed that neither Fascism nor National Socialism were precursors to the reestablishment of the True State but rather “simply another manifestation of the liberal, individualistic, and secular tradition that had emerged from the French Revolution.”[38] Fascism and National Socialism were not guided by a reference to a Divine power and were still infected with individualism, which he believed showed itself in the fact that their leaders were guided by their own ambitions and not a duty to God or a power higher than themselves.

Edgar Jung also rejected nationalism in the strict sense, although he simultaneously upheld the value of Volk and the love of fatherland, and advocated the reorganization of the European continent on a federalist basis with Germany being the leading nation of the federation. Also in contrast to Spann’s views, Jung believed that genetic inheritance did play a role in the character of human beings, although he believed this role was secondary to cultural and spiritual factors and criticized common scientific racialism for its “biological materialism.”

Jung asserted that what he saw as superior racial elements in a population should be strengthened and the inferior elements decreased: “Measures for the raising of racially valuable components of the German people and for the prevention of inferior currents must however be found today rather than tomorrow.”[39] Jung also believed that the elites of the Reich, while they should be open to accepting members of lower levels of the hierarchy who showed leadership qualities, should marry only within the elite class, for in this way a new nobility possessing leadership qualities strengthened both genetically and spiritually would be developed.[40]

Whereas Jung constantly combatted National Socialism to his life’s end, up until the Anschluss Othmar Spann had remained an enthusiastic supporter of National Socialism, always believing he could eventually influence the Third Reich leadership to adopt his philosophy. This illusion was maintained in his mind until the takeover of Austria by Germany in 1938, soon after which Spann was arrested and imprisoned because he was deemed an ideological threat, and although he was released after a few months, he was forcibly confined to his rural home.[41] After World War II he could never regain any political influence, but he left his mark in the philosophical realm. Spann had a partial influence on Eric Voegelin and also on many Neue Rechte (“New Right”) intellectuals such as Armin Mohler and Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner.[42] He has also had an influence on Radical Traditionalist thought, most notably on Julius Evola, who wrote that Spann “followed a similar line to my own,”[43] although there are obviously certain marked differences between the two thinkers. Spann’s philosophy thus, despite its flaws and limitations, has not been entirely lacking in usefulness and interest.

Notes

1. More detailed information on Othmar Spann’s life than provided in this essay can be found in John J. Haag, Othmar Spann and the Politics of “Totality”: Corporatism in Theory and Practice (Ph.D. Thesis, Rice University, 1969).

2. See Othmar Spann, Types of Economic Theory (London: George Allen and Unwin, 1930), p. 61. We should note to the reader that this book is the only major work by Spann to have been published in English and has also been published under an alternative title as History of Economics.

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

4. For a more in-depth and scientific overview of Spann’s studies of society, see Barth Landheer, “Othmar Spann’s Social Theories.” Journal of Political Economy, Vol. 39, No. 2 (April, 1931), pp. 239–48. We should also note to our readers that Othmar Spann’s anti-individualist social theories are more similar to those of other “far Right” sociologists such as Hans Freyer and Werner Sombart. However, it should be remembered that sociologists from nearly all political positions are opposed to individualism to some extent, whether they are of the “moderate Center” or of the “far Left.” Furthermore, anti-individualism is a typical position among many mainstream sociologists today, who recognize that individualistic attitudes – which are, of course, still an issue in societies today just as they were an issue a hundred years ago – have a harmful effect on society as a whole.

5. Othmar Spann, Der wahre Staat (Leipzig: Verlag von Quelle und Meyer, 1921), p. 29. Quoted in Eric Voegelin, Theory of Governance and Other Miscellaneous Papers, 1921–1938 (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003), p. 68.

6. Spann, Der wahre Staat, p. 29. Quoted in Voegelin, Theory of Governance, p. 69.

7. Spann, Types of Economic Theory, pp. 60–61.

8. Ibid., p. 61.

9. Spann, Der wahre Staat, pp. 29 & 34. Quoted in Voegelin, Theory of Governance, pp. 70–71.

10. J. Glenn Friesen, “Dooyeweerd, Spann, and the Philosophy of Totality,” Philosophia Reformata, 70 (2005), p. 6. Available online here: http://members.shaw.ca/hermandooyeweerd/Totality.pdf.

11. Spann, Types of Economic Theory, p. 199.

12. See Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality,” p. 48.

13. Eric Voegelin, Race and State (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1997), pp. 117–18.

14. Ludwig F. Clauss, Rasse und Seele (Munich: J. F. Lehmann, 1926), pp. 20–21. Quoted in Richard T. Gray, About Face: German Physiognomic Thought from Lavater to Auschwitz (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2004), p. 307.

15. For an overview of Evola’s theory of race, see Michael Bell, “Julius Evola’s Concept of Race: A Racism of Three Degrees.” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 9, No. 4 (Winter 2009–2010), pp. 101–12. Available online here: http://toqonline.com/archives/v9n2/TOQv9n2Bell.pdf. For a closer comparison between the Evola’s theories and Clauss’s, see Julius Evola’s The Elements of Racial Education (Thompkins & Cariou, 2005).

16. See Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality, p. 136.

17. A more in-depth explanation of “Radical Traditionalism” can be found in Chapter 1: Revolution – Counterrevolution – Tradition” in Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins: Postwar Reflections of a Radical Traditionalist, trans. Guido Stucco, ed. Michael Moynihan (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002).

18. See Spann, Types of Economic Theory, pp. 162–64.

19. Ibid., p. 162.

20. Ibid., p. 226.

21. Ibid., p. 230.

22. Spann, Der wahre Staat, p. 111. Quoted in Janek Wasserman, Black Vienna, Red Vienna: The Struggle for Intellectual and Political Hegemony in Interwar Vienna, 1918–1938 (Ph.D. Dissertion, Washington University, 2010), p. 80.

23. Spann, Types of Economic Theory, pp. 212.

24. For a commentary on individual natural rights theory, see Ibid., pp.53 ff.

25. Spann, Der wahre Staat, p. 185. Quoted in Wassermann, Black Vienna, Red Vienna, p. 82.

26. Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality,” p. 32.

27. Othmar Spann, Kurzgefasstes System der Gesellschaftslehre (Berlin: Quelle und Meyer, 1914), p. 429. Quoted in Voegelin, Theory of Governance, p. 301.

28. Spann, Gesellschaftslehre, p. 241. Quoted in Voegelin, Theory of Governance, p. 297.

29. Spann, Gesellschaftslehre, p. 495. Quoted in Voegelin, Theory of Governance, p. 299.

30. Julius Evola, The Path of Cinnabar (London: Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009), p. 190.

31. Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality, p. 39.

32. Ibid., pp. 40–41.

33. See Günter Bischof, Anton Pelinka, Alexander Lassner, The Dollfuss/Schuschnigg Era in Austria: A Reassessment (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 2003), pp. 16, 32, & 125 ff.

34. Alfred Rosenberg, The Myth of the Twentieth Century (Sussex, England: Historical Review Press, 2004), pp. 458–59.

35. See Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality, pp. 127–29.

36. See Ibid., pp. 66 ff.

37. Edgar Julius Jung, “Germany and the Conservative Revolution,” in: The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1995), p. 354.

38. 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, No. 02 (1988), p. 163.

39. Edgar Julius Jung, “People, Race, Reich,” in: Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870–1940, edited by Alexander Jacob (Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, 2002), p. 101.

40. For a more in-depth overview of Jung’s life and thought, see Walter Struve, Elites Against Democracy: Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890–1933 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1973), pp. 317 ff. See also Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, 2 vols. (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellon Press, 1995).

41. Haag, Spann and the Politics of “Totality, pp. 154–55.

42. See our previous citations of Voegelin’s Theory of Governance and Race and State; Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932 (Stuttgart: Friedrich Vorwerk Verlag, 1950); “Othmar Spann” in Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner, Vom Geist Europas, Vol. 1 (Asendorf: Muth-Verlag, 1987).

43. Evola, Path of Cinnabar, p. 155.

 

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Tudor, Lucian. “Othmar Spann: A Catholic Radical Traditionalist.” Counter-Currents Publishing, 19 March 2013. <http://www.counter-currents.com/2013/03/othmar-spann-a-catholic-radical-traditionalist/>.

Note: This essay was also republished in updated form in Lucian Tudor’s From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right: A Collection of Essays on Identitarian Philosophy (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).

 

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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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