On the History of the “Landvolkbewegung” – The Black Flags of the Peasant Movement (1929 – 1931) – Jan Ackermeier – zur Zeit n°11 – 2014


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The peasant revolt movement that shook Schleswig-Holstein between 1928 and 1932 arose from an unprecedented agricultural crisis. It was initiated by Claus Heim, “the peasant general,” who took leadership of it and staged many demonstrations and explosive attacks. However the questions he posed largely surpassed the framework of Schleswig-Holstein’s economic history. Its development actually coincided with period of the National Socialist party’s formidable progress in the rural milieus of this province, which would be, in July 1932, the first region in Germany to vote with an absolute majority for the NSDAP. What historic originality can this farmer’s revolt represent?

After the first world war, the majority of German peasants were confronted with enormous economic difficulties. In order to be able to somehow supply the population with food, German agriculture, from the start of the Weimar Republic and until 1922, had been forced to accept a constraining, managed policy, willingly or not. This policy aroused a general rejection of the young Republic in the large strata of the peasantry who traditionally voted for liberal or conservative groupings.

This negative tendency was further accentuated during the years of heavy inflation (1922 and 1923). At first, the peasants, as owners of land and tangible goods, profited from the devaluation of Germany currency. Later however, with the introduction of the “Rentenmark” in 1923, they were forced to endure heavy economic sacrifices. Above all when it became necessary to back the new currency through mortgages imposed by public authorities on landholdings in the agricultural sector the rejection of the Republic became widespread: this policy was perceived as a terrible injustice, as a special sacrifice demanded from the peasantry alone.

Towards the middle of the 1920s, the peasants had to confront a dilemma: buy agricultural machinery in order to consolidate their hitherto little mechanized enterprises, in order to be able to produce more and compensate for the deficits caused by the increase in the prices of industrial goods. During the years of inflation, the peasants practically had nothing to capitalize on: they consequently saw themselves forced to take out credit on very disadvantageous conditions in order to finance the necessary new investments. But, from 1927, they could foresee the global economic crisis where prices, in agricultural markets, fell on the international scale; moreover, disastrous harvests in 1927, due to deplorable climactic conditions, lead many peasants to bankruptcy.


In 1931, the peasant dissidents opted for the black flag of peasant revolt, hoisted in the revolts of the 16th century. The black flag was “the flag of earth and misery, the German night and the state of emergency.”

It was especially in rural Schleswig-Holstein, with a sector largely dominated by livestock and livestock speculation, that numerous peasants were threatened. They could no longer pay taxes or interest. Bankruptcy was waiting for them. This critical situation lead the peasants of the region to rally in a protest movement because traditional peasant associations, the government of the Reich (rendered incapable of acting because of its heterogeneous composition) or the established parties couldn’t help them. This protest movement didn’t present clear organizational structures but instead was characterized by a sort of spontaneity, where some determined peasants rapidly mobilized their counterparts in order to organize formidable mass demonstrations.

In January 1928, Schleswig-Holstein was the theater of numerous peaceful mass demonstrations, where sometimes more than 100,000 peasants descended into the streets. The representatives of the peasantry then asked the government of the Reich to establish an emergency aid program. The peasantry radicalized and within it ever more numerous voices rose to demand the dissolution of the “Weimar sytem.” The leaders of the movement had always been moderate: they limited themselves to demanding timely measures in the domains of agriculture and livestock alone. Faced with incomprehension by the Reich’s authorities, these moderate men were quickly replaced by more politicized activists who henceforth demanded that the entire “Weimar system” be abolished and destroyed in order to replace it with a form of popular (folkish) state, whose contours were poorly defined by its advocates, but which could essentially be qualified as agrarian.

At the end of the year 1928, the movement took the name Landvolkbewegung (Rural People’s Movment), under the direction of Claus Heim, from the countryside of Dithmarschen, and Wilhelm Hamkens, from Eiderstedt. Together they financed and published a journal, Das Landvolk, together with “guard associations” (Wachvereiningungen), a type of paramilitary unit lead by former Freikorps combatants. The movement thus acquired a form of organization that it didn’t posses before.

In 1928, Heim launched an appeal to boycott taxes. Suddenly, public protests were no longer passive: they were followed by strong armed actions and even terrorist attacks. The bailiffs who came to seize the property of bankrupt peasants were set upon and driven out with violence. The small city of Neumünster was subjected to a boycott on the part of peasants who refused to go there to buy commodities and materials. The opponents of the movement fell victim to explosive attacks, designed to intimidate them. Following these explosive attacks, the agitators where pursued by justice and condemned to prison. The movement was broken.


Interview with General Perón – La Nation Européenne, No. 30, February 1969 – Conducted in Madrid, November 7th 1968.


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Juan Domingo Perón was born in Lobos, Argentina, in 1895. A colonel in 1941. He participated in the coup of June 1943. Supported by Argentine workers (the descamisados), he was freed by them on October 17th 1945 after a brief incarceration. He was elected president of the Republic on February 24th 1946.

Advised by Miranda, he expropriated big enterprises, nationalized the central bank, railways, and external commerce. In 1947 a 5 year plan of industrialization was implemented. Perón turned away from the United States and signed important economic agreements with France and England. The Argentine army, instigated by the American secret services, staged a coup in September 1955. They fired cannon against the workers who demonstrated in favor of Perón. Hundreds died. Once Perón left, the bourgeoisie recovered its factories, its bank accounts, its privileges. The local plutocracy, entirely in the hands of the United States, restored colonial capitalism.

For having wanted to laicize the Argentine Republic (institution of divorce in 1954 – separation between Church and State in 1955) Rome used the pretext of the expulsion of the auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires to excommunicate Perón. An interesting marriage to observe in 1955: the Church and Wall Street against the socialist general. Perón’s socialist theory was named Justicialism.

Jean Thiriart: Juan Perón, firstly, could you speak to us about the work you just published, La Hora de los pueblos?

General Perón: In this book, I wanted to give a complete overview of imperialist influence and domination in Latin America. I think that Latin American countries are on the way towards their liberation. Of course, this liberation will be long and difficult, as it concerns the totality of countries in Latin America. In effect, it is unthinkable that there is a free man in an enslaved country, nor a free country in an enslaved continent. During the ten years of Justicialist government in Argentina, we lived freely in a sovereign nation. Nobody could interfere in our internal affairs without coming into conflict with us. But, in ten years, the international synarchy, that is to say the ensemble of imperialist forces that dominate the world, defeated us. A fifth column, the sepoys as we would call them in reference to India, scientifically carried out an effective undermining job and the regime that I presided over was overthrown. This proves that if peoples can liberate themselves from the imperialist yoke, it is consequently much more difficult for them to preserve their independence, as the international forces I just denounced regain control. In this sense, the failure of Justicialism should be a lesson and an experience, among many others, alas, for all the countries that want to free themselves and remain free.

We must envision the struggle for the liberation of Latin American countries as a global struggle, on the level of the continent. In this struggle, each country is in solidarity with its neighbors, upon which it must find support. The first imperative for these countries is thus to unite, to integrate. The second point is to realize the effective alliance with the third world, as we, my collaborators and myself, have advocated for 25 years! We must point out this way to the South American people; not only the leaders, but also to the popular masses that must be made aware of the necessity of this struggle against imperialism. To unify the continent and free it from external influences, to ally with the third world, such are the first objectives. Consequently, the process of internal liberation can unfold: the people will obtain the government they demand every day and that has unceasingly been refused to them, hence this succession of ephemeral dictatorships and puppet governments put in place thanks to schemes, but never elections, which allows them to keep the people under different forms of domination. This is the process that my book seeks to make the popular masses understand.

Jean Thiriart: Is there, in South America, a social class, a bourgeoisie that systematically collaborates with the United States?

General Perón: Unfortunately yes! In our country, the division between the people and an oligarchy of fortune, of birth, is very sharp, likewise with the people and the new business bourgeoisie that has developed very quickly. A powerful oligarch sleeps in each industrialist enriching himself. This oligarchy dominates the country, but we must not underestimate the breadth of the immense mass’ struggle that demands its freedom. We have initiated this movement, in a certain measure, in the ten years of Justicialist government. Justicialism is a form of socialism, a national socialism, which corresponds to the necessities and conditions of Argentinian life. It is natural for socialism to drive the masses and consequently, in their name, flare up social claims. It created an entirely new system, totally different from the old democratic liberalism that dominated the country and shamelessly put itself in the service of Yankee imperialism.

Jean Thiriart: In Europe, the Americans have corrupted all political tendencies, from the extreme right to the extreme left. There are collaborators, sold to the United States, as much among the socialists as among the Catholics and the liberals. The Americans manage to buy every party. Do you observe the same phenomenon in Latin America?

General Perón: Exactly. The Americans use the same technique everywhere in the world. Firstly, they proceed through economic penetration, through the intermediary of this oligarchy of which I just spoke, who finds substantial interests there … Next, there are more or less direct political pressures, in all political sectors. Thus, if they do not buy them, control them, the Americans try to rupture and divide national political forces. The CIA has mastered the art of organizing provocations. These objectives attained, they then attack military milieus, which they penetrate through different means, of which the most effective is certainly the liberal application of bribery. That’s how they operated in South Vietnam, through the intermediary of a few military advisers whose principal activity was bribing the generals whose moral integrity was already very far from being irreproachable, who didn’t say no to the disbursement of considerable financial advantages (for example, massive allocation of shares in foreign corporations or nominations to the executive management of corporations). These men won over by American imperialism, all that remains for them is to organize a military coup to establish a dictatorship, as is the case in Argentina, as was the case in Brazil, in Ecuador, and recently in Peru and Panama. The method is always the same. In the last stage, once the situation is under control, the Americans then begin to monopolize all the economic wealth of the country, by systematically silencing all political and social opposition forces. Such is the mechanism, in South America, in Asia, in Europe, and elsewhere.

Jean Thiriart: There it’s even stronger. In Europe, the Americans have succeeded in controlling the movements whose official goal is European unification! Thus in Brussels, the pro-European movements in parallel with the common market have been subjected to such infiltration that they now proclaim “we must make Europe with the Americans.” Which is evidently stupid because European unification, as we have shown many times in La Nation européenne, implies the departure of the Americans. But the latter are so clever that they have even taken the European movement in hand to smother it, to make it fail!

But returning to Latin America. Do certain governments try to resist American penetration?

General Perón: Practically not, as we are in a phase of nearly absolute domination. There are, of course, a few governments which are not gangrened by American imperialism, but in the general context submission, they have a paltry and aleatory character, due to isolation, the measures they adopt to face this imperialism fail to rally a true opposition. On the other hand, all the revolutionary opposition movements against imperialism are hunted down, in Argentina particularly. That’s equally true everywhere in the world, because all countries, in general, are more or less dominated, directly or indirectly, through imperialist influence, whether it’s American or Soviet imperialism. Both, basically, agree to share the world amiably.

Jean Thiriart: For you, the liberation of Argentina alone, or Chile alone, seemed fated to fail. According to you, the different liberation movements must be concurrent and operate on the continental scale. Are you a resolute partisan of integration?

General Perón: Yes. Because I believe in a certain historical determinism, The world has always been under the iron rule of an imperialism. Today we have the misfortune to have to fight against two accomplice imperialisms. But the power of imperialism follows a parabolic arc, and once it reaches the highest point on the vertical axis, the summit of the arc, decadence begins. In my opinion, the imperialisms have already entered into the phase of decadence. We have seen that they cannot be overthrown or shaken from the outside, except through the integration of all means of struggle and all concerned forces. But this sacred union is long and hard to realize, which allows the imperialisms to live happily. Yet a danger threatens them: they rot from the inside and this corruption is already very advanced, in North America as in Russia. We must use that to precipitate the process of degradation.

To achieve this, a conflict would be futile no matter how heroic.

I believe that we have arrived in a phase of humanity’s history that will be marked by the decline of the great powers of domination. We’ve reached the end of an evolution of humanity which, since the cavemen until our days, has been made through integration. From the individual to the family, to the tribe, to the city, to the feudal state, to present day nations, we arrive at continental integration. Currently, outside of a few colossi, the USA, Russia, China, a single country doesn’t represent a great force in the future, in a world where Europe will integrate, like America or Asia, small isolated nations can no longer survive. Today, to live with the means of power, we must join a bloc that already exists or is yet to be created. Europe will unify or succumb. The year 2000 will see a Europe unified or dominated. It will be the same for Latin America.

A united Europe would count a population of nearly 500 million inhabitants. The South American continent already counts more than 250 million. Such blocs would be respected and effectively oppose subjugation to imperialism which is the lot of weak and divided countries.

Jean Thiriart: Do you believe that the work of agitation undertaken by Fidel Castro is useful for the Latin American cause?

General Perón: Absolutely. Castro is a promoter of liberation. He has to appeal to one imperialism because the proximity of the other threatens to crush him. But the objective of the Cubans is the liberation of the peoples of Latin America. They have no other intention but to constitute a bridgehead for the liberation of the continental countries. Che Guevara is a symbol of this liberation. He was great because he served a great cause, ending up embodying it. He was the man of an ideal. Many great men are passed over unnoticed because they didn’t have a noble cause to serve. On the other hand, simple, normal men, far from being predestined to such a role, weren’t superhuman, but men who quite simply became great heroes because so they could better serve a noble cause.

Jean Thiriart: Do you have the impression that the Soviets prevent Castro from pursuing important action in Latin America? That they restrain Castro in order to stop him from surpassing a certain level of agitation?

General Perón: Perfectly. The Russians play this role not only in Cuba, but in other countries. Thus, Guevara, after having accomplished his mission in Cuba, left for Africa to enter into contact with the African communist movement. But the leaders of this movement had received the order to impede Guevara. Guevara had to leave Africa because the Russians were at work there: a conflict pitted the Congo against two concurrent imperialisms. The two opposed tendencies that they represent can, at certain moments, unite their forces to defend the same cause: that of the established order. It’s logical, they defend imperialism, and not the freedom of the people!

Jean Thiriart: What would you think about the establishment of a global system of information and communication between all the tendencies that fight against Russian and American imperialism, and the collective pursuit of a certain number of political efforts?

General Perón: We must consider unification to be the principal objective of all those who fight for the same cause. I say unification and not union or association. We need to integrate. Because we will soon have the occasion to act, and we must be integrated and not only associated for an effective action.

Jean Thiriart: So you believe we must go very far, much further than simple connections, in the tactical alliance with the enemies of American imperialism. Even with Castro, the Arabs, Mao Zedong if it’s necessary? You think that the enemy is so powerful, so invasive, that we must come together in order to defeat it, leaving aside ideological differences?

General Perón: I’m not communist. I’m Justicialist. But I don’t have the right to demand that China be Justicialist also. If the Chinese want to be communists, why would we want to “make them happy” against their will at any price? They are free to choose the regime that they wish for, even if it’s different than ours. Everyone is sovereign in what concerns their internal affairs. But if the Chinese fight against the same imperialist domination as us, then they are our companions in struggle. Mao himself said: “The first thing to distinguish is the real identity of friends and enemies. Then we can act.” I am a partisan of tactical alliances, according to the formula: the enemies of our enemies are our friends.

Jean Thiriart: Thank you. I have now finished with my questions. Would you like to make a declaration of particular subjects?

General Perón: I regularly read La Nation Européenne and I entirely share its ideas. Not only concering Europe but the world. One criticism, I would prefer to the title La Nation Européenne, the title Monde nouveau [The New World]. Because in the future, Europe alone will not have all the sufficient resources for the defense of its interests. Today, particular interests often defend themselves in very far away places. Europe should think about it. It must integrate, certainly, but in integrating, it should also keep close contacts with other countries in the process of integrating. Latin America in particular, an essential element that must ally with Europe. We, Latin Americans, are Europeans, and not from the American tendency. I personally feel more French, more Spanish, or more German than American. The old Jew Disraeli was quite right when he said: “Peoples have neither permanent friends nor permanent enemies, they have permanent interests,” we must unite these interests, even if they are geographically distant, so that Europe can continue to be the first civilizing power in the world.

Georges Sorel: Socialism and Violence – Ange Sampieru, revue Orientations n°11 (July 1989).


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For the majority of our contemporaries, the mention of Georges Sorel most often recalls the analysis of the theorist of violence. His most famous work, “Reflections on Violence” (1908), constitutes an irreplaceable contribution to the revolutionary myth. We know the importance that the concept of “myth” held for this exceptional thinker. The Sorelian revolutionary myth was inspired by a polemological vision of social relations. Violence informs revolutionary action and invests it with a realist conception of history. As the means to act upon the present, the proletarian myth is a tool in the service of the anti-bourgeois revolution. It’s also a conceptual tool that must firstly oppose both socialist utopianism and liberal conservatism. This very original discourse, an activist discourse par excellence, gives Sorel’s work a privileged place in our conception of socialism.

Before addressing the analysis of the myth of violence as the idea-force of Sorel, it is useful to present the man and his work. Starting from this recognition of the ideological environment we can, in the second part, present the characteristics of this “violence” as myth, and the conclusions that derive from our own position.



I. Sorel: Man and Work



Georges Sorel (1847-1922) began his career in 1889. It was the era of the first French translations of Marx’s work. One could already find “Capital” and “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific” in the library; though one had to wait until 1895 for the publication of the famous “Manifesto of the Communist Party.” In France, it is a fact that Marxism constituted an ideological movement much more than a revolutionary party in 1889. And it was in 1893 that Sorel converted to Marxism. Sorel’s rapprochement would mark his entire work. That doesn’t imply any blind attachment to Marxist values. His character was too independent for his thoughts to be inscribed within a total system. But incidentally, who was Sorel? His character has been the subject of numerous analyses as brilliant as they are contradictory. For some, Sorel is a thinker attached to the rationalist school. For others, he would be a remarkable advocate of the irrational. In his political opinions, he appears to some as a revolutionary conservative (a rare species in his time); for others, he is a neo-Marxist. And the works abound that seek to definitively prove the scientific basis of one opinion or another. For our part, we will not enter into this debate.

We will follow a chronological analysis, split into successive phases, where each layer supports a part of the following thought. It is undeniable that Sorel was seduced by the radical novelty of Marxist texts at a moment of his evolution. How could an intellectual of his era, open to new ideas, in correspondence with numerous European intellectuals of all tendencies (we cite for the record Roberto Michels, Benedetto Croce), not have been attracted by a revolutionary discourse proposing a “scientific” reading of history and misery. But we must not believe in the “Marxism”, orthodox or not, of Sorel. Likewise, we don’t believe in the so-called “fascism” of Sorel, which is difficult to attach of the (historical) contemporary idea that we’ve made of it today, where 66 years have elapsed since Mussolini’s seizure of power. The work of Sorel is much more complex.

According to Paolo Pastori (Rivoluzione e continuita in Proudhon e Sorel, Giuffre, Roma, 1980, 244 p.), the work of Sorel constitutes “an alternative to reactionary conservatism and revolutionary progressivism.” He adds that Sorelian thought surpasses the traditional oppositions of modern thought, between, on one hand, theories of natural law, and, on the other, subjective theories of law, absolute rationalism and free will. The political conclusion of the ideology is a “pluralist” revolution, which restores an open society, if only to counter the threat of capitalism’s social entropy. Modernity is not denied, it is integrated into an organic communitarian whole. Closer to Proudhon than Marx, Sorel adhered to the ideological foundations of the French socialist thinker. Namely:

1) A plural conception of reason. Marxist in an absolute and monist rationalism which, like capitalism, prescribes a desiccated social project.

2) A multidimensional vision of man. Marxism is a dangerous reductionism for man (due to its economic determinism) and society (the mechanics of the class struggle). Taking into account a social dialectic that refuses the capitalist worker/entrepreneur dualism and recognizes a richer set of social relations.

3) A project of social synthesis, where the sense of equilibrium of (emerging) social classes underlines the authority/freedom, individual/community, past/present dialectic.



Sorel and Proudhon: A Relation of Continuity



There is without a doubt a relation of continuity between Sorel and Proudhon. Sorel was a student of Proudhon, who actualized his thought during different phases of his investigations. According to Pastori, Sorel was first a liberal conservative (1889-1892, then a “strict obedience” Marxist (1893-1896); this second phase lead to a period of revision of deterministic and scientist Marxism, to end up in a return to Marx’s thought in 1905-1908, which would ultimately be abandoned in 1910-1911. This latter phase constitutes a point of return to Proudhon’s thought for Sorel. So we will understand Sorel better if we attach ourselves to the task of a serious study of the author of “La Guerre et la paix” and “La capacité politique des classes ouvrières”…

Proudhon was a revolutionary thinker in the 19th century of the bourgeois reason. Attached to the idea, Proudhon could not be considered a “rationalist” in the common sense of the term. Proudhon distinguishes many categories of the concept of reason: human reason, natural reason, practical reason, on one hand, and, on the other, public reason and particular reason. Human reason is the superior faculty of conceiving “the ideal that is the expression of the free creative capacity of historical groups and persons.” Contrasted to the rationalism of bourgeois thought and the scientific pretension of Marxism, Proudhon strongly claims the space of freedom of historical thought for social groups and man, who is conceived as a being of culture unconditioned by absolute determinisms.

This first reason is limited in turn by the reason called, in Proudhonian language, “natural reason” or “the reason of things.” It is objective necessity, which restrains the demiurgical aspirations of man within certain unsurpassable limits. Practical reason is the final synthesis of the preceding two. Through it one can understand the confrontation of the 2 reasons, that of the free man not determined by material mechanism, and that of the reality which is the frontier of human creative powers. Proudhon drew from a pragmatic conception. The second category breaks into public or general reason, and particular reason, the reproduction of “the instance of universality” (necessity) and that of particularity (freedom). The non-coincidence of the mentioned reasons implies a radical critique of “absolutist” systems of thought, totalitarian systems of thought (Marxism, Jacobinism, and democratic Rousseauism). Proudhon, the militant anti-totalitarian, privileged particular reason. This “pluralist rationalism” thus informs Proudhon’s socio-political concept.



The Serial Dialectic of Proudhon



The theory of series is a necessary element to understand his thought. Proudhon distinguishes two separate movements in every process: the first is division-individuation (the constitution of simple series), the second is the recomposition of unity – totality (the constitution of composite series). Proudhon also affirms the independence of the series’ orders and the impossibility of a universal science (De la création de l’ordre dans l’humanité). Paolo Pastori speaks of Proudhon’s “serial dialectic”, which opposes the Hegelian dialectic, and is similar to the Croce’s dialectic of instincts. This serial dialectic confirms Proudhon’s refusal of all reductionist analysis. Social existence cannot be reduced to a single reference point, universal and determinant. Proudhonian sociology, which Sorel reprised in turn, is a “sociology of composition” (the division of labor and organization, the recognition of rural and industrial economies, central functions and decentralization).

This aspect of Proudhon and Sorel’s thought is opposed to the uni-dimensional tendencies of capitalist society. It’s historical form, liberal economics, confuses freedom and free competition, creating a “new anti-organic and anti-political feudalism.” Proudhon was not the enemy of individual initiative. He subjected it to his theory of series. Namely: the subjective moment of individual initiative, and the objective one of submission of the collective aims of the people.

The concomitant apology for the rural world constitutes, among French socialists, a veritable critique of the “economic reduction of human reality” (Idée générale de la Révolution). But this apology should not be confused with any reactionary attachment to the peasant world. The socialist ideology of Proudhon defends agricultural production without attaching it to the values of the right, as the French state did between 1940 and 1944. Earth and industry are two factors of labor and production bound by an encompassing system of federations. And the revolution is “the refusal of the multidimensional social order’s reduction to a single economic purpose” (P. Pastori, op. cit.).

The revolution is not a simple movement of destruction or class contestation (the French Revolution was the movement of the overly restricted bourgeoisie in a traditional society where the dominant values were those of the aristocracy – social values – and the monarchical state – political values). Against this misguided idea of revolution, the French socialists (Proudhon and Sorel) had a revolutionary conception of balance. Synthesis of apparently contradictory values: individuality and community, private property and public interest.

Concerning property, for example, the French socialists opposed both its radical elimination (communism) and its current condition. The bourgeoisie denies the social meaning of property. Socialist property recognizes it. Thus the constant valorization of justice among these thinkers, as the focal point of the new society they envisioned. And, with Proudhon, and then Sorel, the development of a federalist, anti-economic and anti-bourgeois (including the parliamentary socialists in this latter category) discourse.



Seductive Marxist Discipline and Deterministic Rigor



One must remark that Sorel remained in a critical position regarding the work of Proudhon, which accused of tendencies towards a “systemic mind.” The “ontologization” of Justice is the philosophical foundation of the apology for balance. Beyond this criticism, Sorel nevertheless remained a faithful student of Proudhon. He joins Proudhon in his reflections on liberty, which is the Gordian knot of the socialist ethic. Faced with bourgeois individualism, Sorel turned towards a radical socialism, a socialism of combat. Marxism then represented a seed of order in the face of the chaos created by the bourgeoisie’s capitalism. The world of production then underlies this cultural revolution proclaimed by Sorel. Sorel is the partisan of practical – political reason, shadowed by a historicist conception.

Starting from 1896, Sorel underwent an evolution that distanced him from this determinist reason. His philosophical critique of positivism extended itself to a political discourse where “absolute reason” held the sovereign role. There was, Pastori writes, “a radical rupture with the rigid materialist schema of orthodox Marxism.”And, in 1898, Sorel turned again towards Proudhon more seriously: he then wrote “L’avenir socialiste des syndicats.” The revolution that establishes the dictatorship of the proletariat was rejected by Sorel. He accused this project of masking the dictatorship of intellectuals. Behind the final and properly “apocalyptic” conception of proletarian revolution, understood in the Marxist sense, one easily recognizes an economic – intellectual tyranny, a despotic ideocracy. Sorel proposes a revolutionary first act to the proletariat: definitively reject the dictatorship of intellectuals, which reproduces the external discipline of capitalism. In its place, it is necessary to establish an internal discipline, that Sorel would qualify as “moral.” According to Pastori, in 1903 Sorel finally rejoined Proudhon once and for all, leaving the dangerous ground of orthodox Marxism. He then wrote his “Introduction à l’économie moderne.” On two points Sorel was especially Proudhonian: private property must be conserved, which is a serious guarantee of the citizens’ freedom. This social property challenges the bourgeois form of “abstract property” where the owner of the means of production is not the producer. The second point: restore the ideal of a “harmonious interplay of individual, familial, and social interests” that animated Roman antiquity. Sorel also proposes a judicial order quite distant from “political rationalism.” It proclaims the emergence of new “social authorities.” Finally, he gives the role of mediator and initiator to the state.



Myth: The Spiritual Tool of Mobilization



Furthermore Sorel developed a theory of social myths. Myth is the necessary synthesis between reason and “that which is not rational.” Myth is a symbolic translation of the real, which authorizes and fosters a total mobilization of the masses. In this sense, myth is the opposite of intellectual rationalism, for example the intellectual rationalism of the Marxists. Without contesting this “reason of things” of which Proudhon spoke and the “objective gravity” that results from it, Sorel retains myth as the spiritual tool of mobilization. The social order and its ideological dependencies (like law) are founded upon a common conception of the world, a vision of the social and the political that doesn’t reduce to a pure rational discourse. Order is the joint result of this ensemble of images (myth) and popular will (mobilization).

This position would be the object of a new revision provoked by the “Dreyfusard revolution” of 1905-1908. For Pastori, there is a return to a “dichotomous” conception: Sorel was split between the ongoing relationship between the rational and the irrational and revolutionary rupture as a total and irrational explosion. We find this division in his writings collected under the title of “Reflections on Violence.” Sorel distinguishes the general syndicalist strike (the creation of a new order) and the general political strike (we will prefer to say: political – partiocratic), that is to say, exploited and directed by social-parliamentary politicos. Revolution is a creative spirit, that the strike conveys and which consists of a total critique of the existing order. The figure of the revolutionary hero emerges: the syndicalist is the virtuous warrior of this revolution, driven by the values of sacrifice, by the desire for overcoming. Sorel analyzes certain traditional institutions as exemplars of a revolutionary structure: for example the Catholic Church, both as a secular actor and as an institution whose members are devoted to an absolute. Transcendent idealism and direct and permanent action on history are the two qualities of a revolutionary party. In 1910, Sorel wrote that the Church was an elite one.

This was also the era where Sorel reflected upon the questions of Roman law and the historical institutions that composed the ancient social order. Namely and principally patriarchy. He distinguishes three sources of the juridical spirit: war, family, property. War is one of the dimensions of the dialectic of social relations. And revolution must use this plurality of relations to its benefit, not in the name of a catastrophic finality (the final revolution of orthodox Marxism), but for the reestablishment of this “subsidiary justice,” the foundation of the juridical order. Sorel uncompromisingly excluded relations with the party of the bourgeois who “reduce everything to an economic tool.” This a certain fascination for the Bolshevik revolution, which was not the residue of any ideological attachment to Marxism, but a recognition of a revolution whose acts were total. Perhaps it was also a desire to really demarcate his thought from the social- reformism that he execrated above all (Sorel spoke of the “hyper-legalistic socialism of our doctors of reformist high politics” in “Introduction à l’économie moderne”, cited by Marc Rives : À propos de Sorel et Proudhon in Cahiers G. Sorel n°1, 1983).



II. Socialism and Violence




Sorel is a great thinker not so much for his works as for the originality of his reflections and the “marginality” of his positions. Who was Sorel? A traditionalist, a Marxist, a Dreyfusard, a champion of revolutionary syndicalism and voluntarist nationalism, or a Leninist in heart and mind? Certain men are resistant to any classification. Labels cannot manage to hold them in one case and masters of classification have insurmountable difficulties “normalizing” this type of man. Yet certain researchers have tried to better identify Sorel. We cite for the record: “Georges Sorel, Der revolutionäre Konservatismus” by Michael Freund (Klostermann, 1972) ; “Notre maître G. Sorel” by Pierre Andreu (1982) ; and finally “Georges Sorel : het einde van een mythe,” by J. de Kadt (1938).

For Claude Polin, the question is clear: is a man who was in turn an admirer of Marx, Péguy, Lénine and Le Play, Proudhon, Nietzsche, Renan, James, Maurras and Bergson, Hegel and Mussolini, etc. muddle headed? His response was just as direct: this is where apparent chaos hides a logic off the beaten path of academic thought. Sorel is a man of intuitions. At the same time he was one who refuses total systems of the thought, which many of his contemporaries wanted to impose as the “unsurpassable horizons of their time” (for example Comte’s positivism and Marxism). Sorel expressed this freedom of thought, this desire to not enclose his thought on the world and society in a frozen and mechanical ideological framework in one of his strongest works: “Reflections on Violence.”

In his work on the “revolutionary right,” following “Ni droite, ni gauche,” the historian Z. Sternhell titles one of his chapters: “The revolution of the moralists.” Sorel is presented in this chapter as one of the most remarkable representatives of this “moralist” current. Faced with the liberal revisionism of Bernstein and Jaurès, attached to traditional liberal values (regarding these values, Lafargue spoke of “metaphysical prostitutes,” cited by Sternhell p.81), the “moralists” were the men who refused any dishonorable compromise: comprise with the values of bourgeois society, compromise with materialism in all its forms, that is to say Marxist or bourgeois (we find this same sentiment regarding materialism in other European groups of the era: Congrès de Hoppenheim (1928), Congrès du Parti Ouvrier Belge (the manifesto of July 3rd 1940), where De Man evokes a spiritual and ethical revolution before the delegates.) One finds the myth of violence at the origin of this “ethical socialism.”



Violence, The Proletariat, and the General Strike



Firstly it is useful not to confuse Sorelian violence with the physical forms of violence that our modern societies expose us to. With Sorel, the notion of violence is linked with two other equally essential notions: that of the “proletariat” (the monopolist of this violence) and that of the “general strike,” which is the arm of the revolution. There is actually an intimate link between the general strike and the exercise of violence. The general strike is the privileged and singular expression of the violence of the proletariat in contemporary history. It is, Sorel wrote, an “act of war,” similar to that of an army on campaign. The general strike occurs without hate and without the spirit of vengeance. Sorel wrote: “In war, one doesn’t kill the vanquished.”

The effective and present day use of physical violence is not equivalent to the violence of the general strike. This violence is a sort of “military demonstration” of proletarian force. The death of others is only an accident of violence, it is not its essence. Sorel contrasts bourgeois military violence and limited warlike proletarian violence. Thus Sorel’s violence is an attitude, an attitude of determination against the adversary. Violence is an idea that promotes mobilization and the action arises from it. Sorel also wrote: “We have to act.”

This viewpoint also explains the Sorelian contempt of the intellectual class, incapable of all offensive action, ignorant of the terrain of combat. On the contrary, one can remark that these same intellectuals who refuse reality’s contact with the real are bloodthirsty leaders. The “violence” of intellectuals in power (Sorel perhaps thought of the revolution of 1791 and the repression of 1870) is erratic, cruel, and terrorist. The violence that they exercise is pathological. It transcribes their inability to unify the masses around their values. Sorelian violence is opposed to this violence – one thinks of the violence of the Jacobins in 1791, the Leninist violence of the NEP against the peasants of Ukraine, etc. – because it has full understanding of its dignity, its generosity. Sorel refers to a warrior’s violence, which, as with Clausewitz, is the mark of a will. Violence is a manifestation of determination, of surety in its objectives and its ideal.

This idea of “creative violence” unfolds in a historical myth for Sorel: the general strike. Willed violence is an idea that must present itself as a historical act. The idea animates a will and the myth mediates the relation between the real (the general strike) and the idea. Myth, wrote Sorel, is the realization of hopes in actions, not in the service of a doctrine, because doctrines and systems are intellectual speculations beyond the field of action and the interests of the proletarians, Violence is doctrine as deed, it is pure will and not the representation of thought. The idea of the general strike is “an organization of images,” a collective instinct and a general feeling that manifests in the war of modern socialism against bourgeois society. And Sorel returns to this notion of intuition, which is not reducible to a clear, precise, essentially mechanical classification of aligned and normalized ideas. With Sorel, violence is similar to the Bergsonian idea. Polin wrote: “In violence, the myth becomes what it is.” The notion of confusion between becoming and intuition plays the same role with both our authors.



Revolutionary Syndicalism Against Social Reformism



Finally, violence is the womb of a proletarian socialism. Sorel’s socialism is born from this violence, it is not social reformism. Sorel puts his confidence in revolutionary syndicalism to build this socialism. The syndicate is what binds the living forces of the proletariat. Sorel’s socialism refuses the socialism of the dream or parliamentary eloquence, the socialism of the parties and the intellectuals who lead the proletariat to a hollow socialism. We cite Sorel again: “The syndicate: the entire future of socialism resides in the autonomous development of workers’ syndicates” (Matériaux pour une théorie du prolétariat). And Polin accurately notes that the syndicate is “the Cogito of the proletariat” in Sorel ideas.

Sorel considers the syndicate as the linchpin of the revolution. The syndicates are the natural groupings of the proletariat. They are the crucible of its manifest will of liberation. The syndicate, which excludes intellectuals and parliamentarians, is an authentic community of combat. Sorel also said to the Marxists that the true Marxist is one who understands that Marxism is useless for the working masses. The syndicate acts for itself, for those who are its members. It doesn’t follow party programs and professionals of thought. The latter, who Sorel called “doctors of the little science”, had a corporatist reaction to this judgment that Sorel mocked. Sorel put the intellectuals of the bourgeois parties and the intellectual of proletarian pretensions back to back. He denounced their inherently parasitic nature. The utopia of their speeches is reactionary. The intellectual blocks the revolutionary movement and alienates the thought of the workers. The revolution is thought in action. The revolution of the intellectuals is pure image.

But we must not confound “violent action” and “action for action’s sake.” Sorel, Polin summarizes, is not a nihilist thinker. Agitation is not revolution. Violence doesn’t limit itself to a series of shocks. Violence engenders actions that Sorel calls “epic actions.” The revolutionary epic is not negativist, it is negative social entropy. Violence is the highest form of action, because it has the ultimate ability to create. In this sense, it is the empowerment of actors, the nobility of combatants, the overcoming of the self. It awakens “the sentiment of the sublime”, and “reveals at the highest level the pride of the free man” (Reflections). We can liken this creative, inherently Faustian aspect of violence to the new values of “philosopher with a hammer” of Sils-Maria.

Violence is a means to create, it is not an ends in itself. This creativity invests it with an unequaled value. It is in the service of socialism because it wants to transform the world and not only to understand it, according to the famous phrase of Marx. Sorel thought socialism was a new idea. It had this youthfulness that refuses programs and clear and distinct ideas. Enclosed within a discourse, it loses all vitality. It becomes old, identical to its adversaries. Socialism is an idea in deeds, it’s a spontaneous product. It is evident that socialism has little relation with the social-democratic parties currently existing in “Western democracies.” The only common denominator is the name “socialism.” As for the rest …



A Socialism Foreign to World of Sophists, Economists, and Calculators



We have mentioned the thesis of Sternhell according to which Sorel is a thinker of “moralist revolution.” Polin mentions that Sorel is a “pessimist by temperament.” Thus for him, progress transcribes a bourgeois notion above all. He is against Hegel and thinks that “human nature always seeks to escape into decadence.” Man is subjected to the eternal law of combat. He must avoid the obstacles that contrast nature and his own nature (spinelessness, cowardice, mediocrity, etc.) The great danger of entropy hangs over man. Sorel wrote: “It is likely that collectives are attracted towards a complicated magma whose basis is disorder.” Violence then reveals its creative energy that fights entropy.

Sorel is a philosopher of energy. Man, thought Sorel, satisfied himself with a feeling of struggle. In this viewpoint, effort is more than positive, sought as an end in itself. Violence gives man a salvific energy that restrains him from being mediocre (Polin compares the Sorelian energy expressed through violence to the Stoic thumos.) Man ultimately links himself with morality through the violence emerging from his creative individuality. Violence is the permanent form of morality. So morality is a struggle against impoverishing entropy. We can refer to Nietzsche again. The new moral table of the German philosopher is close to the values of struggle and overcoming that Sorel reclaims for the workers.

With Sorel, morality equals self sacrifice, abnegation, heroism, selflessness, effort. The worker is the Roman warrior, the conqueror of the 20th century; he must possess the moral qualities that ennoble him and assure his superiority against the bourgeoisie. Sorel speaks with sympathy of this race of men “who consider life as a struggle and not as pleasure.” His keywords are: personal energy, creative energy, effective energy. This type of man is the student of the Greek warrior. He refuses the world of intellectuals who weaken him. Like Burke, he is foreign to the world of sophists, economists, and calculators. And Sorel goes further when he wrote: “The sublime is dead in the bourgeoisie” and this sublime is the prerogative of violence in history. It’s the source of revolutionary morality. The syndicate reconnects with the world of morality, thus the world of the sublime and heroism. It’s a place, a school of collective moralization. The syndicate is autonomous and its morality is a total conception of the world.

But Sorel is an apostle of violence because he believes in the new figure of the worker. Sorel identifies work for us. He rejects the war/work dichotomy of Auguste Comte. Work is a creative act that doesn’t bow to the dirty calculations of the capitalists in essence. Work is selfless. Like violence. The general strike is also an act free from any quest for material profit. Likewise, Polin feels that the notion of work is struggle in its own right. Work is, according to Sorel’s intuition, a Promethean act. Work is not only the act of transforming things, it acts on itself and the entire collective. Violence ennobles the consciousness of work; in other terms, it gives form to the act of creation and transformation.

Work, which is not a simple “factor of production” as the thinkers and economists of the liberal school pretend, nor a source of profit for the worker and surplus value for the entrepreneurs as Marxists in the strict sense believe, is a sublimated form of creation. It is quite evident that Sorelian violence is a quality that is inherent to the world of producers; the reduction of violence to the domination of man by man is the opposite of Sorel’s proletarian violence. Sorel even adds that at the heart of labor itself, one finds violence as the inner motor. Thus the notions are linked: labor, violence, morality. And socialism is then the result of this “emerging virtue” (Reflections). Work is a struggle, where the producer is roused by an absolute violence from which the historic creative act follows.



Violence, Antidote to the Baseness of the Soul



For Sorel, it is evident that this emergence of the socialism of violence will be to detriment of this old bourgeois world. If violence is a positive notion because it is creative, we must expect fierce opposition. Sorel proposes to define the territory of the conflict and situate the enemy against it. Civilization is the number one enemy of the emerging socialism, an enemy that relies on two other instances of the old world: democracy and the state. The troops that defend these citadels are varied and often apparent enemies: the camp of the bourgeoisie (liberals, radicals, partisans of capitalism outright, the conservative right) and the pseudo-socialists (the members of reformist parties, the democratic “left”, progressives of all tendencies).

Behind these abstractions (democracy, civilization, the state), Sorel unflaggingly combats the very common values of the ideology of mediocrity. With Sorel there is the sense of cultural war, the sense of the combat of values. He doesn’t believe in the labels that bourgeois discourse likes to attribute to the actors in its game. Words in the political game are only appearances. Sorel sought to scour the roots of these discourses. To be “socialist” means nothing if one is not aware of a conception of the world that breaks with merchant society. Laziness, baseness, hypocrisy, incompetence, cowardice are the common traits of the official parties.

Sorelian violence is actually very conscious of the real and historical stakes of the struggle. The non-values, which subjugate the producers and hold their freedom hostage, are concentrated in the economic conception of man, that Maurrassians called “economism.” The principles of this economism are twofold: the belief in material progress, the reduction of man to materialist values. Man benefits from both material comfort and an intellectual “comfort.” Man is an enormous stomach, destined for social and political submission. Consumer society is then the greatest camp of intellectual normalization. One can think that Sorelian violence would be in a state of rupture with the Western world, and all that this world carries behind it. Likewise, he would have a hard time recognizing himself in certain progressive critiques of consumer society, whose foundation resides in an even greater requirement of comfort. The philosophy of happiness is anti-Sorelian and Marcuse would be considered as a typical case of bourgeois utopianism by Sorel. The man who proclaims the end of work, who refuses struggle, who contests social war, this man that our 1970s philosophers summon from all their wishes, is very distant from the producer with the warrior mentality of “Reflections on Violence.”



The Illusions of Progress



As for “progress,” Sorel felt the need to devote an entire work to it as it seemed to him that this concept was an emblem of the bourgeois mentality. This was “Illusions du progrès.” The supreme illusion of an earthly paradise found at the end of time made Sorel cringe. Sorelian pessimism is the conclusion of an observation: man doesn’t fundamentally change. Sorel approves acts of material progress but for him it meant an admiration for the “creativity” of which these acts are the manifestations. Likewise, he believed in the proletariat, not like Marx who believed in the “chosen class of history”, but because he noted that the bourgeoisie no longer had the energy to continue the eternal struggle.

For Sorel, history is a succession of manifested energies in limited groups. The captain of industry is a positive figure. He’s an idea of his era. Furthermore, mercantile values are values of degeneration. War against modern (implicitly mercantile) society is a common starting point of Sorel and Maurras. Hate for the bourgeois, wrote Polin, is a meeting point between Action Française and Sorel. It’s a class without will, without honor, without dignity. The democratic regime suits it because it conserves, not because it is the source of creation. Sorel spoke harshly of the bourgeoisie because he noted a “degradation of the sentiment of honor” among them.

Sorel vituperates this democracy, he wrote: “(democracy) is the charlatanism of ambitious and pleasure seeking leaders” (Reflections). It matters little if this democracy is conservative or popular, it conserves and promotes the same decadence. The democratic socialists are “merchant politicians, demagogues, charlatans, manufacturers of intellect.” Moreover, not content to keep the people under an oppressive regime (where the workers are to work 16 hours a day, 6 days a week?), democracy established the reign of money. It’s a tyranny, a plutocratic tyranny, directed by the men of money, who want to preserve their own interests. Sorel wrote: “It is likely that their interests are the only motivations for their actions.” As for the leadership of the Worker’s International, Sorel denounced them as apprentice dictators. Their objective was the establishment of a “demagogic dictatorship.”

Sorel did not want state socialism. He demonstrates anarchist tendencies in his critique of the state, hardly compatible with the state dictatorship of the proletariat desired by the Marxists. The state (even socialist) is an “artificial state,” the bearer of a “marvelous servitude.” In history, the democratic state ends with the September Massacres. And what C. Pollin calls, like Sorel, the “ideological cortege” of democracy (human rights, humanitarianism, charity, pacifism, etc) changes nothing about the oppressive character of this regime. Sorel is the author of a famous quote on democracy: “Democracy is the dictatorship of incapacity” (Reflections). The two words that strike us: dictatorship, incapacity.

The anti-democratic critique of Sorel should not be confused with the reactionary ideology of the authoritarian current nor with the conservative discourse of law and order. Furthermore, we see a rejection of two camps with Sorel: the camp of the bourgeoisie, where cowardice dominates, and the camp of social reformism directed by corruption. Sorel believes in the class struggle, that makes him incompatible with social-democratic or conservative labels. The violence that this class struggle manifests is also a factor of energy in action. Like Pareto, he believed that the class struggle gives birth to new elites from the corpses for the fallen classes. Social peace is the state of absolute social entropy for Sorel. Yet, Sorel can not be Marxist because he doesn’t adhere to Marx’s final vision of the world. Struggle is the normal activity of humanity. It has no meaning if not to circulate elites in history. In summation, by becoming infinite, violence is the bearer of a project of creation, the bearer of a moral conception of life, the source of the producers’ organization.



III. Conclusions



In his introduction to “Reflections”, Sorel wrote: “I am not a professor, nor a popularizer, nor an aspiring party leader; I am an autodidact who presents the notes that I have used for my own instruction to a few people.” Thus “Reflections” constitutes an ensemble of practical observations. Sorel repeats: he does not want to create an academic work. Instead, it’s a pedagogical work for the use of free syndicalists, who are ready to receive a revolutionary message.

Sorelian violence is the purely moral and creative dimension of Sorel’s socialism. The message of Sorel is that socialism is not a political program, nor a political party. Socialism is a moral revolution; in other terms, socialism is primarily a reversal of mentalities. One could speak of “spiritual revolution.” And violence informs this brutal change of mind. Socialism without violence is not socialism. Only the use of violence assures a positive revolution. Sorel doesn’t recognize a creative violence in the acts of the French Revolution. He rejects all that aims to destroy for the sake of destruction. Violence gives socialism the mark of its nobility. It constitutes an essential value for the progressive and independent organization of producers.

For us, it is certain that socialism is not a rigid discourse. We do not desire to recognize a socialist regime or ideology in social democracy. Socialism is not an ersatz bastard of Western liberalism. Western regimes that claim socialism today are, with perhaps the exception of Austria in matters of foreign policy, shamefully, or “happily” compromised by social liberalism (on this subject, read in Le Monde Diplomatique of February 1984, the article entitled “A French socialism with the colors of liberalism”). Sorel predicted this involution towards a mixed discourse, where socialism and liberalism are “a good match.”

Sorel’s socialism is not a compromise. It presents itself as a cultural revolution. His objective is not to manage capitalism through a new division of power (what difference is there between a left wing and a right wing technocracy?) but to offer the true values of the revolution. Violence is a guarantor of fidelity to revolutionary values. It doesn’t mean smashing the windows of the big stores or practicing terrorist violence. True violence consists of overturning taboos. We must denounce the intellectual blockages of the West. We must not hesitate to question the system. That is the true violence of Sorel: intellectual autonomy … So, Sorel, a radical alternative?



Source: https://voxnr.com/4408/georges-sorel-socialisme-violence

Carl Schmitt: The Nomos of the Earth or the Rootedness of Law – PHILITT #2


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In “The Nomos of the Earth” (1950), Carl Schmitt shows that order cannot exist without rootedness. Against positivist thought and the cosmopolitan ideal, he appeals to the earth, the elementary substrate of any society, in order to understand humanity’s relation to the world.

[Article initially published in the magazine PHILITT #2 devoted to the earth and rootedness.]

A great figure of the German Conservative Revolution, Carl Schmitt opposed the heirs of Auguste Comte’s positivism, and more specifically judicial positivism, whose most famous theorist was Hans Kelsen (also an opponent of Schmitt). In his “Theory of Pure Law,” he only studies and recognizes law enacted by man, that one calls positive law, obscuring the deep origin of these norms and rejecting the very idea of natural law which would be based on higher values. On the other hand, striving to find the source of law, Schmitt revives the concept of an inherent law of the land. If localization, defined geopolitical space, primarily figures in his study of power relations, his philosophy of law invites us to a very organic reading, with a ecological connotation. Then, without even mentioning any moral values, that positivists qualify as extrinsic to judicial matters in order to disregard them, “The Nomos of the Earth” puts the logic of these legalists to the test of peasant common sense: “First, the fertile earth contains within herself, within the womb of her fecundity, an inner measure, because human toil and trouble, human planting and cultivation of the fruitful earth is rewarded justly by her with growth and harvest. Every farmer knows the inner measure of this justice.” The earth is also delimited by the man who works it, just like mountain ranges and waterways. Finally, it is the foundation of all enclosures, the visible manifestations of social order, power, and property. So one understands that the earth is “triply linked to law.” A particular order exists, proper to and defined by a given territory, which imposes itself from the moment it is taken. If seas are free, order reigns on terra firma.

This vision of an a priori and de facto rootedness of order seems to void the relativist posture which consists of believing that states and nations plunge an order that they create from scratch into the soil they dominate through force, great fireworks, symbols, and inflammatory speeches. If rootedness decrees order, it gives itself the attributes of a natural force and the reassuring face of a founding myth that aims unite a people with its land in a quasi-mystical manner. Schmitt refutes those who still want to see in the notion of rootedness a pure romantic abstraction without basis in reality, a superfluous and trite tool of policy provision, indeed a “nationalist” myth of “inwardness and hate for the other,” according to the now common abject expression. In reality we will discover that it is entirely the opposite, as someone who doesn’t accept a particular soil is irrevocably linked to a particular order and would consider that the order to which he consents is valid everywhere – for example, someone who pretends to be a citizen of the world: he would potentially violate every land, every order, every law, with the exception of his own.

The authentic peace lover can only admit that from the very moment where a territory is seized, the order that it bears imposes itself, as much on the inside, on whose who have seized it, as on the outside, that is to say, on the foreigner who can only legitimately impose a different order. In other words, to consider that a concrete link between rootedness and a particular order, between a given law and the land it rules over, doesn’t exist is a negation of the sovereignties that express themselves in the diversity of orders. So rootedness no longer appears as a choice, a myth, or an a posteriori construction, but primarily as an unsurpassable necessity of politics: the necessity of submitting to the order that the earth bears and imposes on he who takes it, divides it, and works it. To refuse this postulate can only lead to the destruction of the elementary substrate of all society. By using the term of nomos to designate “the first measure of all subsequent measures, the first land appropriation as the first partition and classification of space, the primeval division and distribution,” the author formulates a deep critique of positivist thought in its entirety, which is uninterested in the “way of birth” and for which only “the law of phenomenon” counts. This semantic method shows that in legal matters as well, he who disregards history disregards the earth as much as he who disregards the earth disregards history: he is rootless.

The idealist and universalist political project inherited from the French Revolution then seems absurd, making a concrete ambition of what the author designates as “philosophical generalizations of the Hellenistic era creating a cosmopolis from the polis.” And Schmitt adds that “they were deprived of topos, that is to say localization, and thus couldn’t constitute a concrete order.” One naturally comes to think that any political project, expressed through law, that doesn’t anchor itself in solid land and the reality it imposes is suspect.

From Ungrounded Thought to the Destructive Disdain for the Earth

If the rootlessness of the positivists, when it is only a working hypothesis, an academic intellectual posture, is not an a priori danger, the judicial and political evolution that concerned Carl Schmitt at the end of the “Nomos of the Earth” illustrates the disaster to which this paradigm leads. The “jus publicum europaeum” that the French Revolution began to question before the First World War finished it, rested on the acceptance of the diversity of judicial and spatial orders and the recognition of the enemy as justus hostis, in other words as a legitimate enemy to make war upon. But the ungrounded thought of the League of Nations (now the United Nations), American imperialism sometimes masked under the traits of a benevolent universalism, linked with the considerable means of mass destruction, could have broken humanity’s instinctive and natural attachment to the earth by reintroducing the notion of justa causa, once theological (and subject to the judgment of the Pope), into military relations while subsidizing the cosmopolitan dream. It’s as if the man capable of destroying the land of another (especially if the latter cannot do the same) despised the land deeply. As if the man capable of destroying the planet only thirsts to dominate it entirely to preserve himself. The the ambition of a “new world order,” the expression that George H.W. Bush himself imprinted on us, is the most striking symbol of this political and intellectual rupture: there no longer seems to be a place for multiple and diverse political and judicial orders, linked to their own lands, whose relations would be ruled by norms simply aiming to limit war. There will henceforth be a single order, universal and cosmopolitan, that we can envision being born in the rubble of Old Europe, symbolically taking root in the ruins of Dresden Cathedral. An order that has no history since it took nothing, an order that has no land but that which it has destroyed.

Also, war will no longer be limited, but criminalized, and prohibited in principle by the United Nations. Because an order, even global, can only be peaceful. Having tasked themselves with accumulating the sufficient means to reduce the world to dust, humanity is confronted with the moral question of the usage of these weapons of mass destruction. One can only reasonably allow using them in so-called just wars against an enemy that must be destroyed, and not only contained. But air war and the very newsworthy “police bombing” operations are the image of absolute contempt for the earth. “Aerial bombardment has annihilation as its only meaning and purpose,” states the author. We see fighter planes as arrogant and proud vectors of this new world order that is imposed from above, dismissing the earth from their cockpits, only knowing the earth of the American parent company. By pretending to conduct a war without ever treading on enemy soil, the essential link between occupation, obedience, and protection is broken in the eyes of Schmitt. Without soldiers on the ground, and thus without concrete links with the earth, the way to pure and simple destruction from the air is opened. But the opinion remains: soldiers no longer die on the field of honor. Once again, the link with the earth appears as an unavoidable and necessary source of order, while the use of aerial space alone sows chaos. It seems that only the projection of men onto the earth, the mother and support of all order, is capable of giving satisfactory political results. But that doesn’t matter, because there is no longer war, because all the enemies we strike are no longer states equal to those who fight against them, but the incarnation of evil! But, as David Cumin, biographer and specialist on Carl Schmitt, likes to recall, the enemy for the latter is “the figure of our own question,” the war of annihilation examines the paradigm and the morality of great Western military powers. This new relation to the earth invites us to seriously consider the lesson of Carl Schmitt at the end of his preface: “The earth has been promised to the peacemakers. The idea of a new nomos of the earth belongs only to them,” for modern destructive war separates law from its source and its seat, which is the earth.

Source: https://philitt.fr/2016/06/20/carl-schmitt-le-nomos-de-la-terre-ou-lenracinement-du-droit/

For a National Communism – The Magazine “Die Tat” – Alexandre Marc Lipiansky – La revue d’Allemagne et des Pays de langue allemande, N°60, October 15th 1932


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In troubled, uncertain, and transitory periods such as the one Europe – Germany in particular – has experienced for the last fourteen years, it is very rare that political struggles express the deep movement of the era, whether they dream of legal or illegal forms. Most of the time, revolutionary as well as governmental parties, act and fight for ideas and passions already on their way to obsolescence and concern themselves with problems that belong more to the past than the future or even the present. It is not just popular passions that unleash themselves for or against prefabricated people or ideas, if I could say, as if cast in the mold of history. The forces of the future, in similar eras, are often very distant from the political arena and even from what we commonly perceive through “action.” Thus in the 18th century, the social, political, and economic forms of modern France elaborated themselves bit by bit far from Versailles and Paris, in the peaceable and “inoffensive” literary and scientific societies of the provinces, in the reading room of Voltaire and the “Hermitage” of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Much later, Communist Russia was prepared during interminable debate sessions in the cafes of Zurich, Paris, and London. This is because the real “action” – that which bears fruit, inscribes itself in reality, and doesn’t pulverize itself into vain and noisy agitation – is firstly “thinking” and “speaking.” It’s difficult to say that there is an “essential” difference between “thought” and “action,” not only a difference of “degree,” and that thought is naturally action in the measure where it’s the expression of a meeting between concrete reality and the mind. It’s analogous to what happens for electromagnetic rays, which are only perceptible to our eyes between the red and violent wavelengths, but beyond the violent and below the red, they are not any less real. Without desiring to make vain and artificial historical comparisons between the situation in France before 1789, and that of Russia in 1917 and Germany today, it seems to us that it would help make sense of the realities limited to the observation of men, things, and issues that occupy the spotlight beyond the Rhine for the moment.

We certainly do not pretend that the German theater of electoral events is without immediate importance. Yet we cannot prevent ourselves from thinking that the electoral success of Hitler has a totally episodic character and is only a manifestation – or more accurately, an external and temporary deviation – without decisive importance, of the deep spiritual crisis that has impacted Germany for the past 14 years. It’s not a “Third Reich” as Hitler’s lieutenants imagine, that will end this crisis, that would be trivial; its a new incarnation of Germanic destiny.

During these last years, the German crisis was so virulent, so intense, so chaotic that it was impossible – even for informed observers – to try to ascertain the ferments of the future from the decomposing elements, truly the dead was mixed with the living like in a tropical forest in a maelstrom of souls.

But, for some time, the German spiritual crisis has tended to polarize and – as long as one is aware of how things are in Germany – one can discern profound currents, essential tendencies that are emerging beyond the Rhine. Doubtlessly these tendencies still lack precision on many points; but the general orientation is clearly being drawn and it seems one can risk saying that the evolution of Germany in the future will be under the sign of National Communism, of which others have already shown certain aspects. Of course we do not mean that this term indicates a constituted and crystallized form of society, but an ensemble of tendencies whose subsequent orientation is still difficult to summarize.

We wish to attempt, in the following pages, to study the movement of the souls and minds of the German youth in one of its most conscious, objective, and intellectual manifestations: the activity of the group around the magazine Die Tat. This magazine, of a highly intellectual character, has achieved an important readership figure and now occupies a first rank position in the life and spiritual evolution of the German youth – which the so-called informed press continues to pass over in silence. As, on the other hand, the group that is constituted around this magazine generally keeps its distance from political struggles – piquantly paradoxical for a magazine entitled “action” – it seems particularly interesting to us to treat this group as the geometric locus, or as the fulcrum, of a study on the German spiritual revolution. In this fashion, it will be possible for us to indicate, along the way, what constitutes universal elements in this human revolution – like any profound spiritual movement – and what assumes a specifically Germanic form. In other terms, the magazine Die Tat seems detached enough from political contingencies and practice so that impartial study of the ideas expressed or sketched in it reveals the spiritual crisis of Germany is the only the particular expression suited to the Germanic temperament and tradition of a general movement of souls and minds that increasingly extends to all European youth, whose manifestations are more or less intense or veiled according the particular circumstances that reign in each country.

For the past few years, the Die Tat group has shown a great amount of intellectual activity, and has successively released a number of interesting theories and ideas, curious but often imprecise and sometimes contradictory.

This plethora of ideas and tendencies that characterizes the activity of the Die Tat group, is actually interesting in itself. It proves that the writers who compose it are in intimate contact with psychological reality, in constant transformation, fusing with the Germany of today if I could say; as arrested ideas and doctrines with diamond sharp edges are always made by men of the drawing room and “ivory tower” intellectuals, without contact with the ambiance of their time and their country, emerging without spiritual light and without deep influence on their contemporaries. So we will not analyze in detail the theories and the ideas that the magazine Die Tat has successively introduced to the public in the course of the last years here.

In regards to a group such as Die Tat, such a method, purely analytic and academic, which suits theses at the Sorbonne, remains ineffectual. We will also try, in the following pages, to extract, on one hand, the tendencies that increasingly “galvanize” the movement and give it a decisive orientation, and, on the other hand, the essential ideas around which the Die Tat group concentrates and on which all the members seem to agree, whatever their divergences on other points, from the seething chaos of the more or less vague or even contradictory theses of Die Tat, and the circles that gravitate around this magazine.

Like most doctrinal constructions worthy of the name, the doctrinal construction that the members of the Die Tat group work for is firstly based on the observation of a given situation and disorder as the point of departure: this given situation, this disorder would be the general weakness of the modern capitalist system. The people of Die Tat do not condemn the capitalist system by dogmatic judgment in the abstract or through sentimental reaction; they are in no way professional socialists, if one can say that. If they condemn capitalism, in their eyes, this condemnation is written in the facts. The manner of envisioning things gives their studies on capitalism a very particular accent of scientific and nearly even academic objectivity. Thus the tone of the studies devoted to this problem by the mysterious Fried [pseudonym of Ferdinand Friedrich Zimmermann, author of the “End of Capitalism”], one of the principal collaborators of Die Tat, is as distant from the verbal violence and dogmatism of the socialist critique as it is from the pretentious frivolity of “drawing room anti-capitalism” so fashionable recently. They are the first to render justice to the historical merits of the system, as well as to the personal qualities of the men who were its creators and pioneers. Fried, in particular, shows with an impressive technical precision that highlights, so to speak, the mechanism by which modern capitalism has engaged our society in a real economic impasse. The purely economic part of Fried’s work is too dense, too rigorous, too detailed to possibly summarize in the framework of one article – despite its exceptional interest. On the other hand, it is possible to give a schematic survey of the entirely original psychological and sociological analysis that Fried makes regarding the evolution of the capitalist system from its beginnings until the current global crisis, which, according to our author, marks its logical conclusions and its historical end.

Fried divides the evolution of capitalist economic regime into three phases. The first is that of exploration, discovery, and the strictly technical and economic struggle.

It’s the heroic period of capitalism, the period where audacity and the taste for risk was truly inseparable from the capitalist spirit and where the identification of the former with the latter – which certain authors of political economy textbooks still do through routine and intellectual sclerosis – appears to Fried as legitimate and precise. After the phase of creation and conquest, comes the phase of establishment, organization, and regular development of the regime.

The mercenaries, the economic adventurers of the first period, often without scruples but not without a certain grandeur, are succeeded by a more balanced, less “colorful” type of man, if I could say, more staid, more bourgeois, in short, the type of the great “captain of industry,” prudent enough to conserve and manage the inherited wealth and industry, and, at the same time, “dynamic,” wise, and skillful enough to adapt the capitalist machine to new technologies and constantly changing necessities.

For some time already, the capitalist system has entered into a very different period than the first two: the period of bastardization and decadence. This phase would essentially be characterized by the abandonment of the principles of struggle and risk that created the strength and grandeur of capitalism. The current masters of the regime are surrounded by fat, their blood is heavy, their muscles are loose, while it seems that their fatigued nerves escape the control of their will and they become similar to those pale, de-virilized, and nocturnal “aesthetes” that the captains of industry fifty years ago would have mocked so loudly in their pride of strong, healthy, and vigorous men. Stinnes, Kreuger, and Company are only apparent exceptions that confirm the rule. It seems, according to our author, that the current masters of capitalism have fallen prey to what one could call the “psychosis of security.” All their efforts actually attempt to transform the powerful machine that their fathers bequeathed them into a vast system of mutual assurances. Multiple phenomena highlight this deficiency of capitalism, this abandonment of the principles that formed its basis and reason to exist. We will only cite a few significant examples: on one hand, the increasingly frequent call for the state to bail out bankrupt banks and struggling shipping companies (we know that in Germany today, nearly all the shipping companies and a number of important banks are in the hands of the state), and, on the other hand, take responsibility for the millions of unemployed that capitalism, which had once wrenched the peasants from the earth, is powerless to employ today. Finally we cite, in a similar vein, the maladroit and shameful borrowings that capitalism has made from the revolutionary economic concept of the “plan” under the hitherto inoperable form of cartels, trusts, international conventions, thus renouncing its very essence and signing, with its own hands, its death sentence after having signed its resignation by making an appeal for state tutelage; because we know that regimes which want to distort the principles of the rising new revolutionary order for their own benefit inevitably die from this botched transfusion of blood, if I could express myself so. Thus the new blood they injected into their veins ferments in their debilitated organism, provoking the shock that ultimately kills them. Must we recall that in 1789 the “Feuillants”, Barnave, Lameth, Monnier, that is to say the left wing monarchists, the supreme hope of the monarchy, delivered the coup de grace by trying to renew it, by accommodating it to the taste of the day.

Moreover, as the folks at Die Tat say, the disorganization of the capitalist organism also manifests through other signs, which, in the collective scheme, fully recall the symptoms of a neurotic individual. We will not overemphasize, in the restricted framework of an article, this aspect of the question. We will limit ourselves to pointing out, for example, that capitalist Europe’s equipping of exotic countries has thus aroused their future competitors’ self initiative, closing the possibilities of future commercial expansion in advance on one hand, and on the other hand, that post-war super-rationalization pushed beyond all measure and all sense, has lead to the most extravagant manifestations of real collective madness. One must confess that it is difficult for the impartial observer not to see, as the folks at Die Tat do, in this double and successive error of modern capitalism a truly unpardonable aberration, a sort of unnatural logic, which singularly recalls the logic of the schizophrenic and demented, whose thought turns on itself, so to say, and encloses itself in a labyrinth built on the void and fed with emptiness, impossible to break with reasoning.

The analyses, of which we have tried to give a succinct schema in the preceding pages, lead to – if one knows how to broadly interpret the thought of this German group which is the object of this study and separate it from the complications and digressions inherent to the German spirit – a categorical conclusion that one can formulate as thus: the capitalist system has freed the economy from all external restraint. It has unbound the economy from any attachment to non-economic factors of life and mankind. In other terms, it has realized the “pure” economy, the “absolute” economy, if we can say, also implicitly proclaiming the primacy of the economy. But having reached this point of perfection , it devoured itself so to say or more exactly it exploded, it cracked like a gemstone under extreme temperatures; absolute purity confused itself with sterilization. Here we note that Mme Yvonne Serruys concluded a very well documented study on the American attempt at super-rationalization entitled “Farm Board,” with a condemnation of the capitalist regime very similar to the one made by the Die Tat group. The spiritual French movement grouped around Ordre Nouveau and the magazine Plans also expresses analogous ideas on many points. There is evidently a connection of a few young minds that the impartial observer should note.

It seems, in any case, and whatever one may think of this phenomenon, that we have been assisting the collapse of the economy’s primacy for some time, and the deep meaning and lesson of this terrible economic crisis that ravages the world resides in this collapse. Mr Fried made us perceive a new proof of this collapse very subtly, an a contrario proof in a way, in the very attitude of those who – in different scheme from that of modern capitalist society – also claim the primacy of the economic in their doctrine. If one actually analyzes the theory and the practice of the “seizure of power” and the “socialist state,” as realized, in part, in Russia, one can note that they implicitly recognize a certain primacy of the state over the economy. Starting from this very interesting and curious observation, but perhaps a bit too subtle, the Die Tat group thinks that it is the state which, under a new form, must realize the necessary revolution, put an end to economic disorder and reestablish the primacy of the spiritual, without which human enterprises, whatever their order and nature may be, go awry and fall into chaos. We remark, in passing, that we recognize the mark of the modern German spirit in this accent put on the state.

The Die Tat group, after having established the critical review of the capitalist system’s weakness and having imputed, in the final analysis, this weakness to the reversal of values which consists of replacing the primacy of the spiritual with the primacy of the economic, thus came to believe that it the state’s duty to realize the new order which society needs.

But, as we have already said, the folks at Die Tat do not believe that the state, in its present form, can fulfill the role they assign it. The new state, they write, will the expression, the organic emanation of the “people” (Volkstaat). This notion of the “people’s state,” we immediately note, is not without a certain Germanic obscurity. Yet, if we study things closely in the spirit of Die Tat’s leaders, we perceive that the Volkstaat is only the concrete outcome, the crowing institution, if we can express it so, of a revolution that mustn’t limit itself to a change of political, social, and economic regime, but must be “a revolution of the soul” before all, capable of giving rise to a new “incarnation” of man and a new starting point for civilization. To summarize these abstract notions a little, we say – though this example has, like all historical examples, only a limited value – that the revolution predicted by Die Tat would be on the order of the Reformation, which gave a “new visage” to a large part of humanity. It seems we can sat that, in the spirit of the German thinkers grouped around Die Tat, the Volkstaat will be the active expression of the revolutionary people, the latter being the collective manifestation of the “new man.”

These ideas have lead the folks at Die Tat – who, we recall, are not drawing room theorists but thinkers convinced that ideas only have value in the measure where they are the intellectual reflection of human necessities and realities – to ask where they can find the elements, the ferments of the “revolutionary people” of tomorrow in today’s society. For these German revolutionaries, as for many observers of social realities, every given social state provokes the formation of an ensemble of opposing forces in itself – through an intrinsic reaction that would be too much to analyze here. According to Hans Freyer – the member of the group who has particularly studied this problem – it is essentially important that this organic reaction is not sterilized and channeled into a laborious attempt at transforming the given elements, which can only lead to the reform of the existing state of things, that is to say to compromise. For Freyer, the true expression of this internal dynamism of today’s society can only be a “rupture,” in other words a revolution. This conception leads, through a series of observations and deductions that we don’t have the space to analyze here, Mr Freyer to believe that Karl Marx committed an error by identifying revolutionary ferment with what he called the “proletariat.” While recognizing in part the truth of his theories, indeed even “the prophecies” of Das Kapital’s author. Freyer addressed a veritable indictment against the proletariat. The latter, according to our author, has not shown itself to be worthy of its revolutionary mission. It prefers the improvement of society to struggle against it; it has abandoned revolutionary spirit for the slow acquisition of well being within the very society that this spirit must destroy. Reformist socialism has betrayed its revolutionary mission. Mr Freyer tells us it only embodied a moment of history, the protest of an elite that believed it expressed, and expressed often, the effort of the proletariat directed against the concept of bourgeois society made man into a thing, a commodity. But setting foot on the ground of actual reality, the proletariat renounced this leap into the world of freedom of which Marx spoke and concluded an armistice, maybe even a peace treaty, with the spirit of bourgeois society. More than any other opposition party, the ideology of socialism agreed to every conciliation in advance. It still uses – through a mixture of routine and hypocrisy – the term of struggle, devalued and devoid of any substance, but it no longer attaches any concrete or dynamic meaning to it. So it will not be the proletariat who will form and erect the foundation of this new state that Fried announces, and Freyer proclaims the necessity and imminence of a “revolution from the right.”

What does Die Tat mean by this term, “revolution from the right,” which lends some ambiguity? Nothing resembling the reactionary movement. Quite on the contrary, for them, revolution from the right is that which is capable of resolving the problem that escaped the so-called “revolution from the left,” that of the proletariat: namely the liquidation of the “atomistic” and “rationalist” society of the past two centuries. That is to say that the “revolution from the right” of Die Tat’s men is in some way, and in certain aspects, beyond Marxism, beyond communism. Through it, the doctrine of Freyer and his friends singularly incidentally resembles the doctrine of the small grouping of “Eurasianists” who seek to complete and “transcend” Soviet communism. Now that we have seen the goals and orientation that the German group we’re studying intends to give to the “revolution from the right,” two questions naturally come to mind: who will realize the revolution and in what manner?

It is perhaps one of the points where Freyer’s thought and the doctrine of Die Tat have the most novelty and creative originality. In their eyes, the revolution is not actually a simple question of temporal interests, it will not be the work of a “class.” It can only be realized by those who have already performed it in themselves and for themselves, who have broken with the bourgeois conception of life, and whose vision, mind, and soul are open to the “revelation” of the necessary world of tomorrow, who already live in it, so to say. Those who carry in themselves this “revelation”, this vision if one prefers, form – according to the thinkers of Die Tat – the initial cell of the “revolutionary people.” And thus is clarified this notion of the “revolutionary people,” of which it seems that one can say it is – in the doctrine we’re trying to analyze – both the revolutionary ferment within present society and the prefiguration of the future society that will form when the revolutionary rupture eliminates the “categorical imperatives” of pure “rationalism” and “utilitarianism” that poison the world today. In summation, according to Die Tat, the revolutionary people is, in the measure that it already exists, and will be, in the measure where it will encompass all of society one day, lead by ideals, through ideas, in the sense that the Greeks gave to the word, instead of material preoccupations erected as sacred dogmas and indisputable axioms under a more or less direct form. The society of tomorrow will be “ideocratic.” That doesn’t mean, however, that the Die Tat group neglects the economic aspects of life. It only intends to put economics in its proper place, which is secondary and necessary, and subject it to the spiritual. We have already addressed the ideas of Mr Freyer and his friends on reformist socialism above. The readers won’t be astonished that the Die Tat group affirms that the attitude of the “people” before today’s society can only be – contrary to the attitude of most union workers – one of absolute intransigence. Revolution, according to them, can only arise from what Mr Freyer calls radical negation: an energetic, even frightening term. The question that asks itself, on this point of analysis, can be formulated as thus: according to the Die Tat group, what must the point of this “radical negation” be firstly directed against? In other terms, what is the place in the edifice of bourgeois society that should be attacked first?

The answer to this question is found in various studies by the Die Tat group, but it’s Mr Hans Zehrer, former editor of the liberal Vossische Zeitung, currently the leader of the movement that is the object of this study, who has answered it at length and most precisely. For him, it’s liberalism, the liberal conception of truth in particular, and parliamentarianism as its projection into the political field, that the “revolution” must attack before all. According to Hans Zehrer, the liberal conception of the truth – common to all political parties, whether on the right or left – can thus be analyzed: the truth is, before all, what is discussed; more exactly truth only exists as a function of the scientific confrontation of opinions and decision only emerges via abstract reasoning. And, in the final analysis, decision is made from a compromise pushed as far as possible and a sort of numeric operation of which the “vote” is the most complete and adequate expression. It’s exactly because the regime is bound to this more or less conscious conception of truth, that all action engaged against it, on its on terrain, that is to say – to transpose what we just said in the philosophical scheme to the political one – in the parliamentary field, far from harming it, necessarily enforces it.

To support these affirmations, Zehrer, reviewing the forces of resistance which, in the course of the 19th century tried to either curb the evolution of capitalist society or block it, shows that these forces, conservative as well as socialist, have been subjected to the same processes of degradation and decomposition under the dissolving action of the parliamentary pseudo-struggle against capitalist liberalism. Henceforth, far from threatening the foundations of contemporary society, social conservatism (the Die Tat group sees, not incorrectly, in social conservatism, a tradition that runs counter to the primacy of the economic that Fried attributes to the appearance of capitalism, as we have already seen), on one hand, and reformist socialism on the other, form essential pieces of it. The latter, by limiting capitalist arbitrariness through an adroitly arranged philanthropy on very level of the regime, prevents capitalist society from provoking, through its excess, an overly violent reaction. It acts as a sort of lubricant according to Zehrer, indeed even an intermediary mechanism destined to dampen the inevitable shocks of the machine. As for conservatism, it masks the spiritual nothingness of contemporary capitalism by shoring it up with values imbued with patriotism, tradition, religion, thus throwing a veil of pseudo-spirituality on the naked inhumanity of the system.

We see there is something “religious” in the Die Tat group’s conception of the revolution; thus begging the question of what is the group’s attitude towards religion, and in particular the religion organically constituted in the framework of the Catholic Church; Hans Zehrer doesn’t take a strong position in this regard; but if one knows how to make the necessary connections and overlaps in his book, it is easy to take account of his tendencies on this point; Zehrer condemns with utmost severity the German Catholic Center Party because it uses the religion to sustain dying liberalism; but Zehrer thinks, on the other hand, that if the Catholic Church could break with what is destined to perish in today’s world, new and magnificent “chances “would open to it.

Having reached this point of his analysis, Mr Hans Zehrer has come to envision the most immediate reality and consider the political and psychological facts of the present situation in Germany. He doesn’t believe in the strength of resistance of what one could call the moderate parties. From socialism to national conservatism, these parties will increasingly see their influence diminish in the measure that the German revolution takes form and gains consciousness, and they are destined to disappear in the revolutionary tumult that will follow. Thus only the extremes should retain our attention: the national-socialist wing on one hand, the communist wing on the other.

One cannot deny that there are open or secret links between the movement of Die Tat, which sometimes shows some affection for fascism, and national-socialism. There is, on certain points, an indisputable parentage between the ideas that the publicists and economists grouped around Die Tat slowly elaborate and those trumpeted by the adepts of the Third Reich. It is certain, in particular, that a theory such as that of economic autarky – a theory that we find elsewhere in the liberal economy of the 19th century – has acquired a new prestige, thanks to the highly interesting works of Die Tat. We cannot analyze or even summarize these economic studies here. We will content ourselves with noting that the partisans of economic autarky start from the observation of international capitalism’s weakness to reach, relying on a politico-geographic analysis of what they call the Germano-Balkan or Germano-Slavic “space,” the conclusion of the possibility of a nearly complete rupture of relations between Germany and the capitalist West.

We will remark in passing that if German big industry has supported Adolf Hitler, the prophet of autarky, for purely tactical reasons, it now seems to be increasingly abandoning this peculiar theory where the most audacious observations mingle with reminiscences of a bygone era – in order to seek a rapprochement with French heavy industry.

For some time already, the attitude of the Die Tat group regarding national-socialism has become extremely reserved, even negative. In effect, national-socialism only has an existence as a mass movement, while, on the contrary, the Die Tat group resolutely condemns large organizations with an electoral character. On the other hand, national-socialism is engaged in the most demagogic activity, while the Die Tat group is reserved and concentrated on itself. “He who lacks the courage to abstain from all immediate action is a spiritual deserter,” proclaims Mr Fried. That is to say that the collaborators of Die Tat can only rebuke the noisy exhibitions of Adolf Hitler. The only ambition of the Die Tat group now is to address a merciless critique of what it calls capitalist and liberal bankruptcy.

But one can guess that the communist party is not any more sympathetic to the friends of Zehrer than the national-socialist party today. For Zehrer, the two militant wings of the revolution both have betrayed their mission. They have transformed themselves into “parties,” in the liberal and bourgeois sense of the word, into mass organizations based on quantity, and consequently subject to the laws of demagogy, delivered to the “temptation of legality” and parliamentarianism. Thus they lost on the way the creative intransigence without which the necessary revolution is stillborn. Imperceptibly, the “liberal virus” thus infected the most decided adversaries of liberal society.

Before this “deficiency of revolutionary parties” thus stigmatized by Mr Zehrer, what are the recommendations of the Die Tat group? In other terms, what are the formations and groupings, present or future, in which the revolutionary spirit could be embodied, the only thing capable of saving Germany – and later the world – from perdition, in the eyes of Mr Zehrer and his friends.

It seems that the predictions and sympathies of Mr Zehrer lend themselves to an eventual transformation of the communist party which – one one hand, detaching itself from its specifically Marxist origins with which its links are already fairly relaxed, and on the other hand, linking to Stalinist myth (so long as it has real value) of the historical-geographic development of Eurasia – could integrate the German national tradition. It seems that national-communism summarizes the thought of the director of Die Tat on this point.

But the politico-social aspect of the question is far being expressed in an entirely adequate fashion in the thought of Mr Hans Zehrer. More precisely, he doesn’t exhaust the problem, such as it is posed by the thinkers of Die Tat. Any revolution worthy of calling itself one is thus not only a radical change of institutions and their principles, but especially and above all a real creation, that of a “new man.”

This new man can only arise from a spiritual effort, in all its depth and concentrated intensity. Within today’s chaos, we must not join “political parties”, but unite in “groups of thought and action,” – in “lodges” – if the term doesn’t not evoke something radically different in the eyes of French readers than what is meant by Die Tat – in organically linked societies of men who prepare the future. These men must have a new conception of life and the world; such a conception cannot be elaborated by solitary thinkers working in their ivory towers, by “clerks”, in other words, but by “concrete revolutionaries” linked to the very substance of their people and representing, or more exactly, projecting the convulsions and growth of the people in the spiritual scheme.

We hope we have given the French reader, in this article, an exact enough synopsis of the essential ideas, very interesting but sometimes confused or a bit contradictory, emerging from the ensemble of works inspired by the bold initiatives of the magazine Die Tat. Doubtlessly, we have been obligated to give an unintentional stylization to a movement in the midst of evolution. But unless one succumbs to the temptation of chaos and formlessness that any impartial observer of present day Germany cannot fail to experience, we must resign ourselves to limiting ourselves and framing a movement nearly impossible to tie down in all its liquid complexity, if I can express myself so. Anyhow, our intention is to show, above all, behind the facade of garish colors of today’s political edifice, the slow movement of forces that will shape tomorrow.

The Youth Movement and National Revolutionary Ideology Under the Weimar Republic – Thierry Mudry –  Vouloir n°43/44 – 1987


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From the years 1924-25 until the legislative elections which, in short, would propel the National Socialist party into the first rank, nationalist militancy was principally represented in Germany by the paramilitary groups (Wehrverbände), the heirs of the Freikorps, and the youth leagues (Bünde). Due to the economic crisis, the most radical elements of these groups and leagues would evolve towards revolutionary national socialism (the Strasser tendency) or National Bolshevism while others (that is to say the majority of the league members and leaders) would seek an accommodation with the system for a time and rally to new parties, like the German State Party (arising from the merger of the Democratic Party and the Young German Order of Artur Mahraun) and the Conservative People’s Party (formed by the Social Christians and elements coming from the extreme right DNVP), trying in vain, to make them instruments of German revival.



Bündisch Socialism



The members of the youth leagues were inflamed with passion for “Bündisch socialism,” a variant of the “German socialism” to which numerous socio-professional milieus and political groups in Weimar Germany rallied. “Bündisch socialism” was very close to the “soldierly socialism” professed by their elders in the paramilitary groups. In both cases, the accent of this socialism was put on the group, not only on the Bund or the militarized group, but also the Volksgemeinschaft (the Community of the People) served by Bund or group, into which it was integrated. While the “soldierly socialism” of the elders was based on the experience of the war and the comradeship of the front, the “Bündisch socialism” of the youth rested on the experiences of hikes throughout Germany, the contact with the German people, and the communitarian experience of the Bund, the comradeship experienced within the Bund. With the crisis and the increasing radicalization of the youth leagues, “Bündisch socialism” became more concrete and transformed into a national-revolutionary socialism favorable to the total or partial nationalization of the means of production, a planned economy, and German or Central European autarky.



The Hitlerian Challenge



After Hitler’s accession to power, the principal youth leagues (except the “Mendicants”, the most moderate, notably the important Deutsche Freischar) united in March 1933 into the Grossdeutsche Jugendbund under the sponsorship of Admiral von Trotha, a close associate of Reich President Hindenburg. Thus they hoped to escape the “synchronization” (Gleichschaltung), meaning dissolution and the integration of their members into the Hitler Youth. On their side, the “hardest” leagues, the most Völkisch (for which Volk was often synonymous with Rasse) and the most critical regarding Hitlerism at the same time (they judged it from a revolutionary national socialist or National Bolshevik point of view) regrouped into a Bündische Front für Wehr-, Arbeits- und Grenzdienst ( Bündische Front for the service of defense, labor, and border security), under the presidency of a “Trotskyite of National Socialism,” Dr Kleo Pleyer.

The youth leagues were, despite their desperate efforts, dissolved during the summer of 1933. Their members then entered into the Hitler Youth and especially in the cadre of the Deutsche Jungvolk (which gathered the youngest elements of the Hitler Youth) in order to continue their activities and promote the Bündisch spirit there. The others, older, (the associates of Friedrich Hielscher) entered into the SS and the Ahnenerbe (“Heritage of the Ancestors”, the sector of the SS specializing in scientific research, particularly historical and prehistoric research). Yet others (the Strasserists under the direction of Heinz Gruber) chose to enter into the Labor Front in order to accentuate its socialist orientation. Finally, Dr. Werner Haverbeck tried to regroup the youth of Bündisch spirit into an organization, Reichsbund Volkstum und Heimat, a satellite association KdF (Kraft durch Freude, “Strength Through Joy”) – this organization would soon count nearly a million members.



The Repression Begins



But under the notable pressure of Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth, who feared seeing his authority over the German youth contested, repression struck the former Bündisch leader from 1934 onward: some were excluded from the Hitler Jugend [Werner Lass, founder and leader of the “Freischar Schill” and the secret organization of the Eidgenoßen (Confederates)], others were arrested [Heinz Gruber, founder and leader of the Schwarze Jungmannschaft, the social-revolutionary dissidence from the Hitler Youth, which became part of Otto Strasser’s Black Front; Robert Oelbermann, founder and leader of the Nerother Wandervogel] or forced into exile [Eberhard Köbel, nicknamed “tusk”, founder and leader of the “Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929”, dissident movement from the important Deutsche Freischar; Fritz Borinski, social democrat and one of the leaders of the Deutsche Freischar; Hans Ebeling, founder and leader of the Jungnationaler Bund, deutsche Jungenschaft; Karl-Otto Paetel, founder and leader of the Gruppe Sozialrevolutionärer Nationalisten], others were ultimately assassinated [Karl Lämmermann, one of the leaders of the Deutsche Freischar, assassinated during the Night of the Long Knives]. Haverback’s Reichsbund was dissolved.

Despite four successive bans (in 1933, 1934, February 6th 1936, and May 13th 1937) and the mandatory incorporation of the German youth into the Hitler Youth, mandated in 1936, and applied in practice in 1939, certain leagues would continue their activities in Germany clandestinely and illegally. That was the case of:

1) The “Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929”, founded by “tusk”, the alias of Eberhard Köbel, in 1931, in liaison with the exiled Karl-Otto Paetel and Otto Strasser (Helmut Hirsch, member of the “d.j. 1.11” and correspondent of Strasser, condemned to death on June 4th 1937, would be hanged at Plötzensee).

2) The Nerother Wandervogel

3) The Jungnationaler-Bund, deutsche Jungenschaft, dismantled in 1937, whose leaders would be heavily condemned during the trial in Essen.

If certain leagues could survive clandestinely, with limited effective membership, new groups appeared, bands of adolescents who refused integration into the Hitler Youth and the militarization of the youth. Some of these bands imitated Western fashions and prefigured the postwar groups, others professed a moralizing Christianity and constituted the continuation of the Christian youth organizations, yet others renewed the romantic ideal of the Wandervögel. Among these new groups, the most well known was, without contest, Die Weisse Rose, in which some of the oldest belonged to youth leagues.

The Bündisch youth, and their imitators, were not the only ones to resist Hitlerian “Fascism”: we must also mention the young communists in the labor milieu and the young Catholics in the Rhineland and Bavaria. While the first relied on the clandestine infrastructure of the German Communist Party, the second sheltered themselves behind the Concordat signed between Hitler and the Pope in 1933.



The Bündisch Ideal in Exile



The Bündisch ideal, progressively smothered in Germany, was maintained abroad in exile. Otto Strasser sparked the creation of a Ring bündischer Jugend, which was integrated into his Deutsche Front gegen das Hitlersystem (German Front against the Hitlerian System). An anti-fascist magazine, controlled by the communists, emerged in Paris under the title Freie deutsche Jugend (this phrase denoted a faction of the independent youth movement between 1913 and 1923 and would denote the East German youth organization after the Second World War). Karl-Otto Paetel edited in Stockholm, then in Brussels and finally in Paris, the Schriften der jungen Nation and the Blätter des sozialistischen Nation (disseminated in Germany by the Siliava sisters, members of the “Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1.11.1929” in Berlin). Finally in 1935, Hans Ebeling and Theo Hespers would establish the Arbeitsgemeinschaft Bündischer Jugend in Belgium, which Paetel and Tusk joined, which would give rise to the Deutsche Jugendfront. This youth front was linked to Dutch, Belgian, and British groups. It was born from the desire to regroup the entire German youth opposition. But this attempt failed due to communist maneuvers and these young resistants’ lack of cohesion. Ebeling and Hespers, who were not discouraged, then published the magazine Kameradschaft (Comradeship) from 1937 to 1940.



Hans Ebeling and Theo Hespers



Ebeling and Hespers’ magazine Kameradschaft dreamed of uniting all the youth animated by the Bündisch ideal beyond the conventional political divides. Their will to struggle against the uniformity of organization introduced by the NSDAP preceded from a desire to exclude no Volksgenosse [member of the folk] from the future community being constructed. In light of the passions that animated the political scene of the era, this project and this hope was utopian, which the communists perfectly perceived. A heavy suspicion of treason would weigh on their leaders, in contact with people who actually plotted against Germany for the benefit of foreign services. The poor Hespers would pay dearly for his idealistic commitment: he would be hanged at Berlin-Plötzensee.

The magazine Kameradschaft constitutes an important testimony to the resistance of the Bündisch youth to the Hitlerian state and to its social and political project against Fascism. This German language magazine, edited in Belgium, was clandestinely disseminated in Germany. Its founders, Hans Ebeling and Theo Hespers, were both former youth league leaders in exile. The first, born in 1897 in Krefeld, had taken part in the First World War (he finished it with the rank of lieutenant), the combat of 1920 (in the Rhineland) in the ranks of the provisional Reichswehr and the resistance against the French occupation troops in the Ruhr. He joined the Jungnationaler Bund shortly after, from which he separated in 1924 to found the more activist and more radical Jungnationaler Bund, deutsche Jungenschaft, which evolved towards National Bolshevism. Starting from the end of 1929 until January 1933, Ebeling directed, with Professor Lenz, the magazine Der Vorkämpfer.

In the company of other Bündisch leaders (notably Werners Lass and Karl-Otto Paetel) Hans Ebeling participated in international meetings in Freusburg (August 1927) and in Ommen in Holland (August 1928), destined to prepare the foundation for a global league for peace. These international meetings, during which the young Bündisch leaders established contacts with the representatives of the extreme left and the colonized peoples, accelerated the radicalization of the youth leagues (note that Ebeling, Lass, and Paetel, who participated in them, consequently became figures of National Bolshevism) and would inspire Ebeling to found, with Prof. Lenz, a few months later, in January 1930, the magazine Vorkämpfer, with a ultra-nationalist, anti-capitalist (Vorkämpfer adopted elements of Marxist analysis) and anti-imperialist (and pro-Soviet) orientation.

Theo Hespers, born in 1903, joined the Catholic youth organization Quickborn at the age of 14, to which he belonged until 1927. He also participated in the passive resistance against the Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr. He then joined the Vitus-Heller-Bewegung and directed the Pfadfinderschaft Westmark, which constituted, with Ebeling’s league, Werner Lass’ Freischar Schill, and the Young Prussian League of Jupp Hoven, the “Combat Committee of the National Revolutionary Groups in the Western March” in the Rhineland.

The Vitus Heller movement to which Theo Hespers belonged was the only Christian National Bolshevik movement (the other movements of this type affected indifference to religious matters, even an aggressive atheism, or spoke in favor of a Germanic neopaganism) and actually implanted itself in the Catholic milieu (National Bolshevism was, as L. Dupeux demonstrated, a very majority “Protestant” phenomenon – unsurprising since National Bolshevism attached itself to the German protestant tradition of Arminius, Widukind, and Luther – which did not prevent the Catholic Rhineland, a frontier region receptive to German nationalist theses, from being, with Berlin and Franconia, one of the strongholds of National-Bolshevism).



The Bund, Alternative to the Parties and the Single Party



Kameradschaft wanted to be the tribune of the young opponents of Hitlerism. The Young Nationalists, Young Socialists, Young Catholics, and Young Protestants who expressed themselves in Kameradschaft affirmed themselves as Bündisch, völkisch and great German nationalists, Christians, Democrats, and Socialists at the same time.

For them, the Bund constituted a political mode, the model of a “German democracy,” founded on the Führer / Gefolgschaft pair (the charismatic Führer, in the service of the idea, freely chosen and subjected to the permanent approbation of the group, was only a first among equals here). They contrasted the Bund to the bankrupt parties of the Weimar democracy and the single party of the Hitlerian dictatorship. The Bund was also a social model founded upon comradeship (Kameradschaft) – contrasted to Hitlerian Schadenfreude – and a model of individual integration and socialization based on enthusiasm; a model of political education and even a model of the revolutionary community of combat formed by the activist German youth, enemy of Weimar and then Hitlerism.

For the collaborators of Kameradschaft, who particularly insisted on the role played by the Bund in the matter of political education and for whom the Bündisch man was the political man par excellence, entirely devoted to the service of the state and the people, the Hitlerian state appeared as a dictatorship of apolitical petty bourgeois elements (associated with a politicized Reichswehr but avoiding all political responsibility). Under the Third Reich, the political, indeed physical liquidation, of nationalist activism considered dangerous by the new masters of Germany (paramilitary groups and youth leagues) seems revelatory in this regard. Kameradschaft devoted two large articles to the judicial proceedings against the Jungnationaler Bund, deutsche Jungenschaft, and against Niekisch and the “ Eberhard comradeships.”



Redefining Volksgemeinschaft



The völkisch nationalists took up the defense of the Volk and the Volkstum but refused the “neo-German imperialism” of the Hitlerians. In the spirit of the collaborators of Kameradschaft, völkisch nationalism attached itself to the defense of the independence and Volkstum of all peoples. They also took up the defense of the Volksgenossen, against the continuing capitalist exploitation and against the arbitrariness of the Hitlerian state; they advocated the constitution of a true Volksgemeinschaft (community of the people) unrelated to the so-called Volksgemeinschaft, product of the police state and Hitlerian mass politics; in their eyes the constitution of this “true” Volksgemeinschaft constituted a new socio-economic order (socialists), which would put an end to the class order arising from capitalism, and a spiritual reorientation (völkisch) with a Christian essence, which would combat the materialist disarray of the epoch. The “revolutionary national socialists” of Otto Strasser and the “social-revolutionary nationalists” of K.O. Paetel defended the same point of view (with the nuance that the spiritual reorientation envisioned by Paetel and his friends would be most German pagan than Christian).

Like Otto Strasser, they contrasted the greater German tradition, based on the refusal of the Austro-Prussian dualism, in which they situated themselves, to Pan-Germanism. They rejected the capitalist economy founded on profit as well as the war economy and “bureaucratic anarchy” (of Hitlerian Germany realized the symbiosis), to which they substituted a Plan (a German, then European Plan). They prefigured, in the framework of this plan, an economy destined to satisfy the needs of the people, the nationalization of key industries which would break the power of big capital, and the sharing of large landed properties, and finally the constitution of cooperatives in all domains of economic activity.



In fact, the editorship of Kameradschaft posed as the heir of two traditions:



1) The Libertarian Tradition of the Wandervogel



The tradition of the independent youth movement, notably the Free German Youth emerging during the meeting at Hohe Meißner in 1913. Against the paternal / paternalist world (Väterwelt), the youth movement affirmed its fidelity to the forefathers, the ancestors (Vorväter). Against the tutelage of institutions (school, church, family) and bourgeois society, they claimed independence and chose young leaders for themselves. Against the Wilhelmine state and bourgeois chauvinism, they affirmed their love for the Volk and their allegiance to the Volk. Against the big city, the movement proposed the Wandern, hiking across the German countryside (“the deep Germany”) in contact with the authentic German Volk. Against revealed religion, they encouraged Germanic religiosity. Against the use of tobacco and condemning alcoholism, against physical degeneration, they exalted physical strength and Nordic beauty (depicted by the artist Fidus), and practiced gymnastics and nudism.

Finally, after the test of the Great War, the youth movement lead to the emergence of youth leagues in 1924-25 arising from the merger of the dissident scout groups and the Wandervögel.



2) The “Freikorps” Tradition



The tradition of the Freikorps, which had formed the provisional Reichswehr in 1919 before becoming enemies of the Reichswehr issuing from the military clauses of the Treaty of Versailles (which had reestablished the aristocratic traditions of the Imperial Army, thus putting an end to the democratization of the army, and notably the officers corps, provoked by the Great War and its consequences), and the tradition of the national-revolutionary paramilitary groups that succeeded the Freikorps, who attacked the reaction embodied by the industrialists and planters, the generals of the Reichswehr and the right wing politicians.

Despite the originality of the Hitlerian phenomenon and the originality of the magazine’s interpretation of it (an interpretation which approached the ‘theory of totalitarianism’ in certain regards), Kameradschaft reprised certain critiques against Hitlerism that had been formulated beforehand by its predecessors in the youth movement regarding Wilhelminism, and by its predecessors in the Freikorps or paramilitary groups regarding Weimar and reaction (notably the Reichswehr associated with Hitlerian power) in the Weimar era.



Links between the Bündische in exile with the French “Non-Conformists” and “Planistes”



Beyond the bond of evident shared lineage between the German Youth, the Freikorps and paramilitary groups, and Kameradschaft, one notes an astonishing relation between the ideas of the Bündisch youth, as expressed in Kameradschaft, and those of the young French Non-Conformists of the 1930s who adhered to patriotic, federalist, personalist, communitarian, planist, corporatist or syndicalist watchwords.

Contacts existed between the representatives of the German youth leagues and the French Non-Conformist groups: thus Harro Schulze-Boysen (veteran militant of the Young German Order, who would later play a first rank role in the Red Orchestra, and director of Planer, the German equivalent of the French magazine Plans, directed by Philippe Lamour), was, with Otto Abetz, one of the German delegates to the Front unique de la Jeunesse Européenne, created on the initiative of the French groups Plans and Ordre Nouveau. Consequently, Ordre Nouveau entertained close contacts with Otto Strasser, the group formed around the magazine Die Tat, and especially the magazine Der Gegner (The Adversary) – to which Louis Dupeux devoted a chapter of his thesis on National-Bolshevism – directed by Harro Schulze-Boysen and Fred Schmid, founder and leader of the Grey Corps league, a split from Deutsche Freischar.

But personal contacts alone cannot explain such a convergence: what linked the best elements of the German and French youth was a common refusal of liberalism and totalitarianism, from which they emerged, and a common aspiration to a spiritual (or if one prefers: cultural), political, and socioeconomic revolution.

Ernst Jünger: A Mythic Existence – Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner –  Nouvelle École – n°48 – 1996.


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The idea that he could not have lived and wrote sends chills down the spine. There are few figures in the history of the 20th century German literature to whom this affirmation could apply. Ernst Jünger is one of them.

Born in 1895, the year of the discovery of X rays by Röntgen, Ernst Jünger is indeed the writer – thinker of Strahlungen [German: Radiations]. This doesn’t solely apply to the biographical writings that bear this title either. One couldn’t better qualify the impression produced by his immense body of work, which spans more than 60 years, than through a concept of modern physics, precisely the concept of radiance (Strahlung). On such heights, matter, light, and knowledge are one. Spiritual and chthonic elements, Antaeus and Plotinus, meet in a perfect “union of opposites” (coincidentia oppositorum). Poetry and the spirit of precision, mysticism and science lose their antithetical character there:

“Thus we tirelessly strive to give direction and harmony to floods of light, to radiant sheaves, to raise them to the rank of images. In all honestly, to live is nothing else. In the supreme order, cosmic and terrestrial radiations are so inextricably linked that they reveal significant motifs.”

In these lines, Jünger condensed his spiritual itinerary into a revelatory formula.

Jünger is the great loner of German literature – at least in Germany. He is as isolated as Nietzsche was during the Wilhelmine era, when they esteemed Dühring and Eduard von Hartmann as great thinkers, and Rudolf Baumbach and Emanuel Geibel as great writers. But unlike Nietzsche, create period of Jünger lasted longer than Goethe’s. He started as the chronicler of the First World War, wrote of essays like “On Pain,” narratives like “African Games” of “Visit to Godenholm,” novels with autobiographical connotations like “The Slingshot”, works with Utopian orientations like “Heliopolis,” “The Glass Bees,” and “Eumeswil.” He composed “figures and cappriccios” – to re-use his own expression – that one can salute as first rank contributions to the surrealist poetry of our century. He surprised the public through his works discussing the philosophy of history and pronouncing a diagnosis on the contemporary era, as well as by his visionary and premonitory sketches: “The Peace,” “Uber die Linie,” “Treatise on the Rebel,” “The Wall of Time,” and “The Universal State.” He noted lived experiences with countries, insects, drugs, adventures, impressions and reflections of his numerous journeys which lead him to France to Norway, from the Mediterranean isles to Africa, from Brazil to Singapore. These autobiographical writings and essays take up the most space in his body of work.


A Work With Multiple Faces


Ernst Jünger wrote a great deal, even at an advanced age. Those who know how to read him often interpret him in strongly divergent ways, depending on the book that firstly seduced them in the deepest manner. The reason why it is so difficult to come to an agreement on Jünger comes from the fact that every one of his readers prefers a different work, a different period. There is the combatant and the militarist, the pacifist and the humanist, the observer and the visionary, the physiognomist and the allegorist, and finally: the aesthete, the dandy, the existentialist, the morphologist, the skeptic, and the Homo religiosus, the hobbyist who meditates on minerals, plants, and insects, the man who delight in s seeking treasures and collecting the customs and traditions of faraway countries, the lucid critic of civilization, the magisterial experimenter and explorer of the most varied forms of life and cultural models, the player and the maker of myths. The judgments of certain admirers of Jünger, this exceptional author – who say he is the greatest since the death of Gottfried Benn and Rudolf Pannwitz -often differ to the point where one could ask if they’re addressing one and the same author. But these disagreements find their justification in the polymorphy of the Jüngerian body of work and in the subjectivity – inescapable, shaped by the era, the generation and the historic kairos [the crucial instance] – of he who encounters Jünger through his books and what he extracts from them.

For those who lived through Hitler, National Socialist totalitarianism, and the Second World War with open eyes, the impression that the little book “On the Marble Cliffs” produced remains ineffable. Karl Korn confided in 1974: “We were trapped, it must not be forgotten. Suddenly this grand poem surged forth like a light in our prisons. Certainly, this vision of the apocalypse confirmed the horror of our situation, but it was a message coming from a another universe at the same time. What courage the first lines of the book gave to us:

“You all know this intractable melancholy that seizes us when we remember happy times and free this emotional capacity that drives away the oppressive feeling of our imprisonment in the belly of the Leviathan! The sorrowful elegiac tone bound to the interludes where the erasmic ambiance of the herbarium and library of the hermitage imposes itself, all that annihilates the despair and anguish that oppresses us. Ancient fascination transports us.”

Likewise, Dolf Sternberger:

“This is the boldest literature produced in the era of the Third Reich in Germany. It was like a beacon that suddenly illuminated the shadows and cleared the country. It was the coded verdict condemning our miserable rulers. We rubbed our eyes: we could hardly conceive that such a thing was possible.”

On the other hand, for others, the two – very different – versions of the essay “The Adventurous Heart” constitute the most exciting, intense, and fascinating writings of Jünger.


The Reign of Titans


In my opinion, Ernst Jünger is primarily and above all the author of the book “Der Arbeiter: Figure and Domination.” It’s one of these rare works makes you grasp reality with a new look upon reading it. I do not know a single work, except maybe that of his brother Friedrich Georg on technology (Maschine und Eigentum), that makes all that the Marxists offer on the subject look like pure and simple verbiage, a mixture of prolix humanitarianism and doctrinaire economism. All these socialisms that incense and flatter the worker as a social factor seem terribly insipid, wordy, conformist, and sectarian compared to what Ernst Jünger says, for whom the worker is firstly a titan, not an exploited being deserving pity, but a planetary exploiter, not an economic agent but a power on the metaphysical level.

What book is as stimulating, immense, and full of fury as Der Arbeiter! The grand lucid diagnostic of his epoch, putting it into perspective in the framework of the history of philosophy, and at the same time, an apocalyptic evocation of events to come, it’s an assemblage of extremes, composed of ice and fire, a work whose ambition, radicalism, and expressive power can only be compared to the late writings of Kierkegaard and Nietzsche.

At the time Der Arbeiter’s publication, Jünger was 37 years old. He held neither a university degree nor an official post, and hadn’t earned literary prizes; but he had received the highest military distinction in Germany, the “Pour le Mérite” medal, created by Frederick the Great. Adventurer, front line soldier, nationalist and writer, anti-bourgeois and bellicose even after his de-mobilization, a loner, an original, whose war books “Storms of Steel,” “Copse 125,” and “Fire and Blood,” accurately expressed the experience of an entire generation in a cold and brutal, but also excitable and impassioned, language. This Jünger was neither a democrat nor a liberal, he was never one thereafter; but he was no longer a monarchist, nor a national-conservative, nor a reactionary whose ambition was to re-establish the old regime. In his book published in 1929, “The Adventurous Heart,” one finds on the other hand, a reference to “the Prussian anarchist” who “armed with sole categorical imperative of the heart and referring only to it, searches the chaos of unleashed forces seeking the foundations of new orders.”

As Nietzsche remarked, Cataline was the figure that prefigured Ceasar. The Prussian anarchist is the adolescent form of the post-bourgeois modern conservative, who is no longer preoccupied with preserving existing situations bequeathed by tradition. Armin Mohler, who was once Jünger’s secretary, referred to “the crucial conservative period.” Once this latter period was crossed, conservatism radically transformed. If until then it had turned towards the past, sacrificing itself to traditionalism and restorationism, it henceforth looked towards the future – it became revolutionary. It became so at the moment where it discovers that its commitment no longer applies to a faith defined by its content (“God, Emperor, Country,”), but by a formal attitude: “The essential thing is not knowing why, but knowing how we fight.” The essential thing is henceforth fundamentally formal values, aesthetic in the limited sense of the word – even if that mean a merciless aesthetic of technocratic samurai. Opinions, ideologies, programs are only hollow concepts: form and attitude, that’s what counts.

The conservative metamorphoses into a “heroic realist” subjected to the dynamic of technical – industrial processes. He doesn’t consider himself as a brake on it in any way. In full cognizance, body and soul, he pushes himself to fuse with it. The dynamic of universal technical revolution cannot nor should not be decelerated, all the more reason to ask: does that posit a reactionary romanticism, a sterile and powerless nostalgia. Moreover, the anarchy that results from the emergence of modern technological processes and which has opposed, victoriously, every attempt by the conservatives to bring it to heel or domesticate it, should radically grow to reach an extreme stage and spread the new order that already pre-exists in itself, now hidden there: “There is no escape, in any direction, rather it acts to reinforce the efficiency and the speed of the processes we are enmeshed in. It is good, however, to sense a stable nucleus behind the excesses of the dynamism of our times.”


A New Cosmic Order


In the exacerbated – to fullest brightness – dynamism of the technical process which has henceforth been unleashed, stupefying progressive humanists, a new cosmic order reveals itself. We are lead to a new advent of extinct religions. Thanks to a limitless zeal in the service of technological processes (an attraction nothing can resist), thanks to an attitude of fatalism, aggressive so to speak, the new Nomos of the earth will be revealed. The ancient thought of a divine magic constraint appears again in the age of the total disenchantment of the world. The Arbeiter is the one who realizes a theurgic transubstantiation, a phenomenon which has a cosmogonic character in the strict sense of the world: he creates a universe. The work he accomplishes does not belong to an economic category, nor is it the object of sociological observation or socio-political measures: it’s a “new principle” which “mightily surpasses the economic in all its forms.” Labor becomes a cosmological category, indeed ontological. In the new era which is now opening, being itself reveals itself as work: all is one. It is not Divine love that puts the sun and stars in motion, as Dante sang, but work. The anonymous and universal demiurge. There is nothing that could not be conceived as work:

“Work is the rhythm of the hand, thoughts, heart, life, day and night, science, love, art, faith, religion, war; work is the vibration of the atom and the energy which sets the stars and solar systems in motion.”

Work is the totalizing principle par excellence, it experiences no contradictions beyond itself. There is no Sabbath where God and men rest; the workplace is limitless – and likewise, the workday is 24 hours. Even rest, play, distractions, festivals demonstrate, in Jünger’s piercing look, a character that fully integrates this new fully principle, and he presents striking documentation and the results of inquiries which evidently illustrate the increasing absurdity, not only of the old system and Sundays and holidays, but also of bourgeois culture as a whole, whose practice is separated from the universe of work in an artificial fashion.

The Jüngerian Arbeiter no long carries the odor of proletarian misery, of slave uprisings, of the appeal to social emancipatory pity. He no longer is part of the humiliations and outrages of the dispossessed and exploited. He personifies the elite of the technological era. He’s an aristocrat, a lord, and a “Super-Prussian.” He rules by serving and exercising his function. Representative of the technical universe, he implements a mobilization of telluric dimensions, just as he entertains a particularly intimate relation with the sphere of the elementary, unlike the bourgeois. The Arbeiter is a metaphysical figure, or, to reprise Kant, the transcendental schema according to which Jünger experiences a new age of the world: the eon of planetary technological revolution. Technology is “the mode under the which the figure of the Arbeiter mobilizes and revolutionizes the world.”

Mobilization and Revolution signify the disappearance of the individual; he dies like the old rambler or drawing room. The Arbeiter is a uniformed soldier of enterprise, the Prussian exercising a function as a part of a machine. This role tailor made for the German, more than the representatives of other nations, “because he lacks, deep within himself, any form of relation to individual liberty and thus to bourgeois society.” Nevertheless, Jünger didn’t intend to say that the Arbeiter is a specifically German figure: he is an imperial figure, who ignores national consciousness and dissolves all patriotic bonds.

In this context, it is important to underline the concept of “organic construction,” which comprises many levels of meaning. The term “organic construction” firstly integrates the idea that metaphysical power, which mobilizes the material world under the form of technology, subjects not only inanimate matter, but also organic units. The organic world and mechanical universe become elements of a globalizing ensemble that Jünger, if he had written his book fifteen year later, would have probably christened “cybernetic.”

Moreover, the term “organic construction” signifies that “technology attains the same ultimate degree of autonomy that one finds among plants and animals.” Pushing his logic to its conclusion, “organic construction” aims, via technology, to abolish the dichotomy between nature and civilization. It’s a profound mutation, indeed a global recreation of the earth which realizes the fusion of the elementary and the sublime, of instinct and intellect, of reflection and vision. This recalls Kleist’s motif of dialogue in the marionette theater. There is no longer a possible return to the vitality, security, and grace of the time before technology: we only have the choice of tracing our route across the infinity of modern technology in order to reach a new innocence, an intimate fusion, freed from all contradiction, of life with its tools and artifacts.

But what guarantees the success of this “organic construction?” Could the telluric process of the global revolution also fail? Jünger doesn’t have an explicit response to this question. The latter question, nevertheless, would it not only be a new expression of the “bourgeois” point of view, which always and everywhere desires “results” from an enterprise? In Jünger’s eyes, Marxism is still a bourgeois ideology in this regard. The supreme good for man doesn’t consist of the realization of such or such utopia, but in the “sacrifice of one’s self.” At least it’s the attitude proper to the iron race of the Arbeiter, “who knows the offensive as much as the lost position, but for whom it matters little to know if the situation is improving or deteriorating.”

The only appropriate attitude is the refusal of compromise and once one adopts it, there is no longer any “lost post.” In this context Jünger speaks of “heroic realism,” which doesn’t allow itself to be shaken by the prospect of total annihilation and the knowledge of the uselessness of one’s efforts. The “Arbeiter represents heroic realism” and is capable of choosing death with pleasure and furthermore seeing in this act a confirmation of order. The privilege of rediscovering, after the disappearance of the old beliefs, the essential truth according to which “life and cult are identical” is reserved to him. Ernst Jünger’s book ends with these lines: “One is seized by emotion when one beholds man, in the midst of chaotic zones, occupied with the forging of weapons and hearts, and when one sees how he renounces the expedient of happiness. To take part and to serve: that is the task that is expected of us.”

Ernst Niekisch interpreted the spirit in which this book was written as a type of “German Bolshevism” and the Jesuit Friedrich Muckermann, editor of the magazine Der Gral, famous at the time, wrote an open letter to the author: “You know I haven’t stopped seeing the face of Lenin between your lines?” The Völkischer Beobachter published a critique which lambasted the book: they reproached it for abstract intellectualism, of being distant from life, and blind to the primitive forces of “blood and soil.” The era that was supposed to begin was not the era of the Arbeiter, but the era of People and Race …

In October 1932, just after the publication of the book, the first 5,000 copies were sold out in a few days. There would be three new editions in the same year; the fourth, 15 to 20,000, was present in libraries until the war, to the moment where the dreamlike work, “On the Marble Cliffs,” read as a coded condemnation of the Hitlerian Reich, made its mark in Germany. Martin Heidegger commented on the book in a small group during the winter of 1939-1940; this attempt to interpret the present situation in the light of Jünger’s Arbeiter was secretly monitored by the Nazis, and ultimately forbidden. Heidegger was not surprised, “as it is in the very nature of the will to power to forbid the real to which it subjects itself to from appearing in reality.” Later after the war, Heidegger encouraged Jünger to re-edit The Arbeiter. After having hesitated, Jünger followed the advice of the philosopher from Freiburg and reissued the text from 1932 in the sixth volume of his works, with Klett publishing, in Stuttgart.


Victim and Sacrificial Priest


In the era where The Arbeiter was written, he was fascinated by the experience of collectivist planning in Russia. The eastern empire where Lenin lead his revolution seemed to be “one of the great destinations for travelers in our time.” At the time where the millenarian Ernst Bloch had the impression to assist with the beginnings of the celestial Jerusalem on earth, the old combatant Ernst Jünger wrote, not without a ferocious satisfaction: “There are countries where you can be shot for sabotage in the workplace like a soldier who abandons his post and where foodstuffs have been rationed for fifteen years like in a besieged city – and these are the countries where socialism was been implemented in the most undeniable fashion.”

The Arbeiter whose outline he traces is a secularized crusader and monk. He is the victim, sacrificial priest, and even the Moloch to whom one offers sacrifices, at the same time: “The more the style of life is cynical, Spartan, Prussian, or Bolshevik, the better.” Nevertheless, “the warrior skepticism” that Jünger proclaims, like Sorel, the admirer of Lenin, before him, is not a leftist ideology. Alfred Andersch aroused false expectations when he affirmed in 1973 that the reader capable of really deciphering The Arbeiter could discover anything else than a man of the right there. In a very precise sense, the book is right wing, just like Ernst Bloch’s “The Principle of Hope” represents a left wing gnosis. The Arbeiter who renounces the frivolity of happiness is another race than the proletarian of the class struggle, as the theorists of emancipation on the left present him to us.

Jünger’s master isn’t Marx, but Nietzsche. The iron age of the Arbeiter that he prophesizes is not the unconstrained reign of freedom, but a profane and technocratic empire of planetary dimensions. It is probably without classes – if only because the aforementioned is a phenomenon inherited from bourgeois society. But it is neither egalitarian nor liberal. Freedoms exclusively present themselves under the form of the right to work: it’s the organization of work that takes the place of the social contract. The State of Labor (Arbeitsstaat) is super state of the technocratic and collectivist type, which presents a militarist – elitist structure.

Assuming that, we will not disagree, adherence to the idea of hierarchical power, attachment to authority, discipline and constraint, the primacy of the imperial virtues of heroism and elitism, are part of the essential constants of the thought and attitude of “the right,” then The Arbeiter of Jünger is a right wing book, and to a very high degree. We’ll immediately add that chasms separate it from all the right wing movements of the clerical, feudal, corporatist, völkisch, or racist type. It has nothing in common with old style conservatism, agrarian romanticism, or Kulturpessimismus. However, the absence of any retrograde, restorationist, or nostalgic ingredient, changes nothing regarding the fact that the institution announced by Jünger’s imperial figure of Der Arbeiter – ascetic, technician, and soldier at once – would signify a redeployment of conservatism on the planetary scale.


The Creator of Myths


The Arbeiter has lost none of its provocative power. One cannot throw it into oblivion by considering it only as an illustration of philosophy and thought in the era of the Weimar Republic’s last spasms. It contains a mass of observations, reflections, and disturbing hypotheses that are only not outdated, but are stronger than ever after 50 years. The author, we recall, considered himself as a seismograph; anyone who has read The Arbeiter would accord Ernst Jünger the right to affirm it: “Concerning historical realities, I’m in the position of a lookout, in the sense that I perceive things in advance, before they present themselves.”

Jünger did not content himself with coldly registering what he observed: he also represented what we could call a “mythic existence.” One could give to his book, in a more appropriate manner than the prolix and pathetic work of the same title, the name of “The Myth of the 20th Century” – as one cannot deny that it is. One can contrast another myth to it, which would have its roots in the absolute without appeal to a sentiment of life differing in essence. What fundamental disposition could be further opposed to the thunderous universe of the factory than the melancholic memory of idyllic life “in our little communities, under a peaceful roof, with benign discussions and friendly greetings day and night?” The singular certitude that there still exists gardens “inaccessible to the Leviathan” in our days? If Ernst Jünger predicted the irresistible irruption of the Arbeiter, his own existence and life style were ultimately in contradiction with this globalizing technocratic vision. He did not disown his myth of the Arbeiter, but he re-imagined it, like the myth of the Rebel and the Anarch (which is nearly the opposite of the anarchist). In 1978, at the age of 83, placed in the role of “Mexican” (in the sense that Alexander von Humboldt gave to the term), he confessed in an interview with Jean-Louis de Rambures that he preferred “what Germans called Heimat or what is the island for those who live there.” to the global technocratic state. Thus in his manner, he confirmed the words of Eugen Gottlob Winkler: “Jünger cannot be refuted, he can only be surpassed.” He devoted his whole life to this principle.

The Magic Cancellation of Crisis and the “Physiognomic Method” of Ernst Jünger – Robert Steuckers – Vouloir n°123/125 – 1995.


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Jünger saw in the figure of the Arbeiter the central category around which the modern world, subjected to the planetary domination of technology, was called to organize itself, in “total mobilization” though and in labor. More precisely, a response adapted to the rise of nihilism in the modern era could be deployed through the technological mobilization of the world. With it, he salutes the advent of a new figure of man, modeled on the Nietzschean superman.

Among the adepts of Marxist ideology, very few have analyzed the thought of those they call “pre-fascist”, or outright “fascist”, including Ernst Jünger, who would evidently be one of the figureheads. Armin Steil is one of the rare Marxist ideologues who has analyzed the paths of Georges Sorel, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Jünger with pertinence, depth, and especially clarity in his work Die imaginäre Revolte : Untersuchungen zur faschistischen Ideologie und ihrer theoretischen Vorbereitung bei Georges Sorel, Carl Schmitt und Ernst Jünger (The Imaginary Revolt: Inquiries on Fascist Ideology and its Preparation with Georges Sorel, Carl Schmitt, and Ernst Jünger).

Focusing on Der Arbeiter, Steil notes that Jünger’s logic, starting from his “fascism” or more precisely his “revolutionary conservatism,” is not a theoretical logic, a constructed logic, based on the observation of causes and effects, but a metaphorical, poetic, imagistic logic and language. Facing a chaotic socio-economic and political reality, facing the crisis of German society and culture, Jünger wanted to master its perverse effects, its dysfunctions through aesthetics: so his “fascism,” his “revolutionary conservatism,” would essentially be aesthetic in nature, contrary to Marxism, which molds itself on material realities and resolves crises by operating on socio-economic matters themselves, without idealist recourse, without recourse to transcendence or to an aesthetic. Steil very justly concludes: “The book [Der Arbeiter] wants to teach [men] to have a sovereign attitude in the face of social attitudes.” Cold, dispassionate, microscopic observation thus forms the “magic key” that would permit an elite to master the crises, to put an end to chaos and the corrosive disparities that hinder the proper functioning of societies that are subject to them.

To be Hyper-Perceptive Eyes

The willing spirits that thus desire “to take the bull by the horns,” to act on the political terrain, to fight against crises and their effects, should not bind themselves to building a mechanical system of ready made ideas that perfectly match and fit together, but should be hyper-perceptive “eyes,” capable of describing the phenomena of everyday life: what Jünger calls the “physiognomic method.” It allows one to see the essence of a thing in its simple appearance, grasping the unity of essence and appearance, which is the “form” (Gestalt), invisible to all inattentive, distracted observers, not used to wielding the “physiognomic method” with the desired dexterity. All valuable, fruitful phenomena thus bear in themselves a “form,” more or less hidden, a potential force that it captures and puts in the service of a political or historic project. On the other hand, every phenomenon that only appears as “normal” is consequently a phenomenon without further “form”, without “force.” Such a phenomenon would be an early warning sign of decadence, a sign indicating a reshuffling of the cards, forms die, thus obeying a hidden logic, which prepares the advent of new forms, of unbroken forces.

The observation of the phenomena of everyday life, of the details of our daily settings, gives a glimpse of where the fall and death of forms manifest themselves: neon, garish lights, loud and artificial modern cities, are a patent indication of this fading of forces, masked by colors and intensities without real life. Modern traffic in the big cities burdens the pedestrian, the only physical being in this universe of concrete, asphalt, and metal, on the barely tolerated margins are the sidewalks, tracks reserved for the “least speedy.”

The “Arbeiter” uses the “Physiognomic Method”

So the “Arbeiter” is the figure that makes use of the “physiognomic method,” observes, deciphers, plunges into this universe of artifice to seek buried forces, in order to mobilize them for a purely imagined project, “Utopian” in the Marxian and Engelsian sense of the term, Steil explains. This recourse to the imaginary, as the Marxist Steil explains, proceeds from a logic of doubt, which aims to give meaning to that which does not have it, at any cost. It aims to convince us that behind the phenomena of decline, of de-vitalization, an “Order” and laws emerge, which are avatars of the one God refused by the advocates of historical materialism. This “Order”, this Gestalt, this “form”, integrates the infinite diversity of observations posed by people, but it is not, like in the case of historical materialism, a reflection of social relations, but rather a total vision, intuitive, going directly to the essence, that is to say the original form. It is not the objective and positive enumeration of causes and effects that allows one to decide and act, but, on the contrary, a piercing look what allows one to see and grasp the world as the theater where forms confront or cooperate with each other.

The “Arbeiter” is precisely the one who possesses such a “piercing look”, and who replaces the bourgeois, who reasons strictly in simple cause and effect. Steil notes the gap between this vision of the “Arbeiter” and the Marxist and empirical vision of the “Proletarian”: the figure forged by Jünger places himself high above socio-economic contingencies; while the proletarian conscious of his dereliction operates at the heart of these contingencies, without taking any distance, without detachment. The “high flight” of the Arbeiter, his aquiline perspective, gives him a mask: metallic or cosmetic, the gas mask of the combatant, the drivers helmet with the men, makeup with the women. Individual traits disappear behind these masks, as should individual human, all too human, imperfections disappear. The figures of the Arbeiter are certainly imaginary figures, excessively idealized, de-individualized and examined: they act like Prussian soldiers in the Frederician era of practice. Following their leaders, these lesser (but nevertheless necessary) avatars of the Arbeiter and the Prussian soldiers from the “war in lace” [Translator’s note: referring to the ornate uniforms worn by soldiers of the 17th and 18th century] certainly lose the imperfections of their individuality, but also abandon their doubts and disorientation: rules and Order are safety anchors offered by the new elite community of “Arbeiters,” virtuosi of the “physiognomic method.”

The Apparent Independence of the Proletarian

Steil protests that Order, as an imaginary projection, and the “physiognomic method” are instruments against the empirical and Marxist notion of “class struggle,” before clearly giving Jünger’s version: to leave the laborer, the worker, in the grasp of socio-economic contingencies is to leave him in a world entirely determined by the bourgeoisie, arising from the bourgeoisie and ultimately controlled by the bourgeoisie. By occupying a designated place in the bourgeois order, the worker only enjoys an apparent independence, he has no autonomy. Every attack launched against the bourgeois order from this apparent position is also only apparent, destined to be recollected and reinforce the establishment. “Theoretically, every move takes place in the context of an outdated social and human utopia; practically, each brings to dominion, time and again, the figure of the clever business man, whose art consists in bargaining and mediating,” writes Jünger. For Steil, this definition radicalizes the Sorelian vision of socialism, which desires to transform politics into pure means, without a limiting objective, inscribed in contingencies.

To Restore “Auratic” Work

A Marxist will see, in this idealism and in this purification of politics as pure means, an eliminations of politics, a will to put an end to the destructive violence of politics, which is only, in the Marxist view, “class struggle.” But technology operates to sweep away the dead forms in order to establish new forms following a planetary confrontation of extant forms, still endowed with more or less intact forces. So technology destroys residual or obsolete forms, it makes the permanent war of forms planetary and gigantic, but the “Arbeiter,” by coldly instrumentalizing the “physiognomic method,” gives a final form to technology (a desire that is never realized!). This final form will be artistic and the beauty emerging from it will have a magic and “sacral” function, like in so-called “primitive” societies. The restoration of these forms, writes Steil, will be achieved through the restoration of “auratic” work, eclipsed by technological standardization. The Aura, the impalpable expression of form, of the essence of represented phenomenon, restores the sacred dimension, proclaims the return of the cult of beauty, by qualitative replacement of the dead religiosity from the bourgeois era.

“Heroic realism,” the foundation of the new socio-political Order, will be carried by a dominant caste simultaneously exercising three functions: that of retainer of knowledge, that of new warrior forged during the battles of material in the Great War, and that of producer of a new aesthetic, a medium integrating social differences.

Armin Steil, in his Marxist critique of the “pre-fascism” of Sorel, Jünger and Schmitt, clearly lays out the essence of a work as capital as Der Arbeiter, where the mania for fabricating systems is refused in favor of great idealist affirmations, disengaged from the overly heavy contingencies of bourgeois society and proletarian misery. The Jüngerian path, in this view, appears as a disengagement from the yoke of the concrete, as a haughty retreat ultimately leading to a total but external domination of this concreteness. But in the piercing look, demanded by the physiognomic method, is there not, on the contrary, an instrument to penetrate concreteness, much more subtle than simple surface considerations of phenomena?

Reference: : Armin STEIL, Die imaginäre Revolte. Untersuchungen zur faschistischen Ideologie und ihrer theoretischen Vorbereitung bei Georges Sorel, Carl Schmitt und Ernst Jünger, Verlag Arbeiterbewegung und Gesellschaftswissenschaft, Marburg, 1984

Chisinau Manifesto – “To Realize The Great Europe” – Geopolitical Propositions for a Resolutely Multipolar World – Sans Frontières, July – August 2017


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We, the participants of the International Conference “From the Atlantic to the Pacific: For a common destiny of Eurasian peoples,” intellectuals from Moldavia, Romania, Russia, Greece, France, Italy, Serbia, Georgia, and Belgian, adopt the following Manifesto:

1) After the decline and disappearance of the socialist bloc in Eastern Europe at the end of the last century, a new geopolitical vision of the Old World, notably in its relations with the Americas, has urgently become necessary. Because the inertia of political thought and the lack of historical imagination of today’s Western elites has led us to a simplistic conclusion, namely that the conceptual basis of Western style liberal democracy, the market economy, and the strategic domination of the United States, has become the only solution to emerging challenges. This model, held as universal, must imperatively be the model for all of humanity.

2) This new visage of the world is imposed on all: the reality of a world entirely organized according to the Euro-Atlantic paradigm. An influential neo-conservative think tank in Washington hasn’t hesitated to use the formula which best expresses their point of view: “the global empire,” unipolar and naturally extending in concentric circles. In the center “the rich North” and the Westernized sphere, which includes external territories such as the Japanese archipelago, South Korea, New Zealand and Australia. The rest of the world, made of “under developed” or “developing” zones is considered as a vast periphery destined to evolve in the same direction, but at a slower pace.

3) In accordance with this unipolar vision, Europe is perceived as a North American satellite zone and the continental bridgehead of the Anglo-Saxon sphere unfolding into the Eurasian space. Europe, though partly integrated into the rich North, cannot pretend to assume any leadership in it. Europe, in the light of such a project, is perceived as an instrument of history guided by the American World, and not as an autonomous subject, that is to say as a geopolitical entity deprived of all specific identity and authentic sovereignty. The vast majority of its cultural, confessional, ethno-historical singularities, its Greco-Latin heritage and its Christian roots, are henceforth considered obsolete. The parts of these past legacies considered useful have already been integrated into the global project; the rest is consigned to uselessness without recourse. Europe has been decreed geopolitically negligible, emptied of its own substance and deprived of all real independence.

4) The economic crisis has become quasi-permanent, accompanied by disastrous austerity policies, and ineffective plans which always find their justification among economic elites characterized by a decreasingly hidden contempt for the people and the democratic expression of their will. The absurd destiny reserved for Greece and the alarming accumulation of Western arms and troops on the borders of Russia are also symptoms of this nullification of Europe, and of the lie that liberal globalization represents, promising peace and prosperity, but ultimately only bringing war, poverty, and instability.

5) We underline that democracy and the free market are only one aspect of the historical European contribution among many others. In matters of political and social organization, many other ways have been opened by great Europeans, scientists, politicians, thinkers, and artists. The identity of Europe is much bigger and deeper than what Anglo-Saxon dogmas present it as, a caricatured mixture of ultra-liberalism and market fetishism.

6) Today’s Europe has its own strategic interests, which are discernibly different from the dominant thalassocratic interests, as well as from the very distinct needs of the project of liberal globalization. Thus the real Europe (which has nothing to do with Brussels) cannot have its policies or its choices towards its Southern or Eastern neighbors dictated to it.

7) These considerations lead us, the intellectuals of the Eurasian continent, deeply preoccupied with our collective destiny, to the conclusion we now uphold, with urgency, an imperative need to construct and militate in favor of an alternative vision of the world to come. A world where the place, the role, and the mission of Europe and European civilization will be better, more secure, and freed from the asphyxiating ideological tutelage inherent to the imperialist project of the thalassocratic empire.

8) The only viable alternative in today’s circumstances seems to be defined in the framework of a multipolar world. Multipolarity actually accords to all countries and civilizational spheres the right and the liberty to organize themselves, to develop themselves, and to construct their futures in accordance with their own identity and history. This foundation of freedom in evolutionary choices and access to modernity constitutes the only reliable basis for the establishment of just and equitable international relations. Technical progress and increasing openness between countries should favor dialogue and prosperity between peoples and nations without harming their respective identities. Differences between great cultures and civilizations should not necessarily result in disagreement between them. Contrary to the simplistic and logomachic rhetoric of some theorists with imperialist aims such as Bernard Lewis and Samuel Huntington. Dialogue with multiple voices will become the privileged vector for the creation of a new world order built on cooperation and reconciliation between cultures, religions, and nations.

9) Concerning Europe, we propose, as the concrete manifestation of the multipolar approach, a balanced and open vision of a “Greater Europe” as an innovative concept for the future development of our civilization in its strategic, social, cultural, economic, and geopolitical dimensions.

10) Greater Europe concerns the geopolitical space determined by the limits of European civilization. This model of borders derives from a completely new concept, the idea of the civilization-state. The revolutionary nature of these limes implies progressive transformations, unlike the brutal delimitations that peoples subjected to the arbitrary whims of conquerors have experienced during their divisions of the world. Consequently: this Greater Europe will naturally be politically and geographically open to interactions that will proliferate with its neighbors in the West, East, and South.

11) European civilization has Christianity as its historical foundation, which is itself grafted onto the grand Greco-Latin heritage. Christianity, under its various forms, must guarantee in reciprocal respect and tolerance, in the civilizational space of the Greater Europe, the material and spiritual serenity of the different confessions historically present on the continent.

12) This Greater Europe, in the context of a multipolar world, is of course surrounded by other large territories, each basing its homogeneity, indeed unity, on cultural affinities existing between the various nations populating its territory. We can thus predict the appearance of a great North America, a great Eurasia, a similar sphere in the Asia – Pacific region and in the Middle and Near East, and in a more distant future a great South America and a great Africa.

13) We imagine this Greater Europe as a sovereign geopolitical power, the retainer of a firm cultural identity, cultivating its own social and political models (based on the principles of the ancient European democratic tradition and the moral values of Christianity), with its own defense capabilities (including nuclear), and its own strategic access to fossil fuels and new energy sources, as well as organic and mineral resources. For this reason, we enjoin the European states that are members of the Atlantic Alliance, the essentially Anglo-Saxon and non – European warmongering coalition, to withdraw from NATO. Leave NATO to enter into bilateral and multilateral alliances with France and Russia, the historical military guarantors of European independence, in order to satisfy the needs of regional and international security. In order for Greater Europe, meaning the constituent states, to fully recover the regal right of issuing currency, we demand withdrawal from any treaty or organization limiting their sovereignty in the monetary domain.

14) The first threat we must face is the threat of the standardization of the world, which implies the unspoken law of unlimited growth, unleashed greed and crime against the independence of people as the ordinary operating mode of predatory financiers. It is time to make a new appeal to the Non-Aligned Countries for a new Bandung Conference with the goal of constructing a multipolar world.

15) Private enterprises as well as public institutions now find themselves confronted with the obligation to comply with coercive norms whose sole goal is to undermine national sovereignty and the peoples will. We should establish, enact, and announce for humanity, sets of non-binding norms whose conception will be uniquely guided by the general principle of conformity to national identity, to the laws, traditions, and collective choices of each nation.

16) The more the financial system and the global markets are integrated, unified according to the same rules, the more the next crisis will be destructive and global. In order to avoid a massive destruction of wealth and a total collapse of human activity, the surest method is to construct market organizations, systems of compensation, regulation, and information beyond the reach of global Anglo-Saxon finance, the almighty dollar, and the banking network of high finance whose epicenter is located in Basel within the Bank for International Settlements. The Shanghai Treaty Organization, as well as other international organs of the same order of magnitude, are invited to design the basis of a truly multipolar system effective and stable, for finance, commerce, and the exchange of goods, services, and currency.

17) Finally, with the goal of promoting the project of a Greater Europe and the concept of dynamic multipolarity, we make an appeal to the various political forces of Western and Eastern Europe, as well as to the Russians, to their American, Asian, or other partners, asking them to bring, beyond their political options and religious and cultural differences, an active support to this initiative. We call for the creation of Committees for a Greater Europe. These committees should reject unipolarity, recognize the growing danger of Anglo-Saxon imperialism, and especially, in the case of extra-European committees, elaborate similar concepts for each of the other civilizations composing humanity. By working together, strongly affirming our specific identities, we can achieve the establishment of a balanced, just and potentially better world. A peaceful world where every culture, faith, tradition, or creation will find its legitimate place.

May 27th, 2017, Chișinău, Republic of Moldova

Source:  http://sf.donntu.org/pdf/sf0717.pdf

Homage to Henning Eichberg (1942-2017) – August 2017


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“Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne heut’ durch die gespalt’ne Nation?
Who carries the black flag today in the divided nation?
Wer sprengt die Ketten, wer haut darein und kämpft für die Revolution?
Who breaks the chains, who strikes forward and struggles for the revolution?
Bist du dabei, bin ich dabei, heut’ oder morgen schon?
Do you, do I, today or maybe tomorrow?
Wann stürzt im Lande die Fremdherrschaft vor der deutschen Revolution?
When will foreign domination in this country fall before the blows of the German revolution?
Hervor, Leute, hervor – hervor!
Onward, lads, onward – onward!
Die schwarze Fahne empor!
Hold high the black flag!
Denn überall wo das Unrecht herrscht, geht die Fahne der Freiheit empor!
Everywhere where unrighteousness rules, raise high the flag of freedom!”

Every nationalist militant knew the words of this third stanza of the song: it was the unofficial anthem of the entire movement, so to speak. Henning Eichberg, who composed its text, was the principal thinker of the German national-revolutionary movement in West Germany, during the 60s and 70s. This theorist ended up emigrating to Denmark to become a member of the Socialistisk Folkeparti (Socialist People’s Party). At the end of his life, one could say that he belonged entirely to the political left of his new country. Despite this astonishing transition in the political landscape of Germany and Scandinavia, the key concepts of the “Nation” and “People” (“Nation” and “Volk”) remained cornerstones of his scientific and political interests.

These two key concepts came directly from his idiosyncratic past, his biographical itinerary. Henning Eichberg was born on December 1st 1942 in Schweidnitz in Silesia. His family left the region before the end of the war and settled in Saxony. Even when Eichberg began his political mutation and fully and entirely became a man of the left, he never stopped considering himself as a Silesian, as he recalls elsewhere in an interview accorded to the magazine Ökologie in 1998: “At the start of the project of modernity, peoples rose and sought to make themselves subjects of history, they marched in the name of liberty, equality, and fraternity … but this third value was forgotten: precisely, brotherhood, sisterhood, the communitarian feeling, or to mark it in red letters, solidarity … That’s why we must restart the project of modernity from zero. The preceding project lead to the murder of entire peoples, ethnic cleansing. Genocide and ethnocide are diametrically opposed to fraternity. That’s why I hold onto my Silesian identity, so that it is not forgotten. Silesia will not die with the old generation. The American Indian didn’t die at Wounded Knee either.”

From Adenauer’s CDU to Pure Nationalism

In 1950, the family of the young Henning Eichberg moved to Hamburg. In a retrospective interview given in 2010, he reminded his readers that he never felt at home in West Germany. In the 1950s, the young man Eichberg sought to become involved in the Adenauer era. He joined the Christian democratic CDU and obtained the rank of reserve officer in the Bundeswehr. Yet his reflections and observations made him realize one thing: the parties of the CDU only envisioned German reunification from an entirely theoretical point of view; moreover the increasing Americanization of the country particularly disturbed him. At the start of the 1960s, Eichberg reoriented himself politically bit by bit. This labor of reflection lead him to call himself a “national revolutionary.” His character attracted attention as he produced an enormous amount of work as publicist in these years, notably writing in the magazines Nation Europa, Deutscher Studenten-Anzeiger, Deutsche National-Zeitung und Soldatenzeitung and for a very important theoretical organ despite its niche style: Junges Forum. He quite justly acquired the reputation of being the principal theorist of the national-revolutionary movement in West Germany. In a work devoted to this movement, the very attentive observer of German extra-parliamentary movements Günter Bartsch vividly describes him as the “Rudi Dutschke of the right,” in his reference work “Revolution von rechts? Ideologie und Organisation der Neuen Rechte.” Some of his texts, written under the pseudonym Hartwig Singer were truly the foundational texts of a new political theory at the time. He then had the ambition to develop a theoretical corpus for German nationalism that could stay the course and endure. This corpus must, in his opinion, answer all the great questions of the moment and enter into serious competition with the ideas proposed by the “new left.”

The Western Characteristic

Happy are those who still posses the little black books entitled Junge Kritik, which Eichberg edited at the time, today the younger people have enormous difficulty finding them even in specialized bookstores! The owners of these precious booklets can measure the quality of Eichberg’s thoughts, unequaled in Germany in the 1950s and 60s. There Eichberg raised nationalism to a very respectable theoretical level: in his proofs, he starts from the postulate of a “Western characteristic,” the origin of the psychology and mores of the peoples of Europe, from which one could also deduce the emergence of typically European / Western phenomena like technology. Eichberg sought to deploy his political efforts to keep these traits of the European psyche intact in the framework of industrial societies, which all need to renew themselves from their identitarian origins.

But even while he was becoming the principal theoretical innovator of the nationalist camp in Germany at the time, Eichberg had already branched out into certain circles of the “new left” in Hamburg, who were also fighting against imperialism, especially American imperialism. These circles were “Club Lynx” and Arie Goral’s Galerie. Though Eichberg portrayed himself as a radical anticommunist in the 1960s, that didn’t prevent him from finding many positive ideas in the emerging 68er movement, because they raised a “revolt against the establishment.” He said an authentic right would never defend this establishment. Consequently, he made the watchword of this new anarchic left his own: “Disorder is the first duty!” However at the same time, Eichberg rejected conventional “socialism” and argued for a “European socialism” which was simultaneously a modern nationalism. He then referred to the left wing of the NSDAP in the 1920s.

Another revealing discovery by Eichberg in 1966: his participation in the summer camp of the French youth who militated within the “Fédération des Etudiants Nationalistes” (FEN). He was impressed by the revolutionary determination of French militant but also their will to reconnect with the socialist and syndicalist traditions of their country. Eichberg saw a “new socialism for the Europeans of tomorrow” emerging. These years saw the emergence of the ideal of a “European Nation” among French and German nationalists.

Observers of Eichberg’s path will remark with interest that he had not entirely passed to the new left by the end of the 1960s. He had good reasons not to take the plunge. In principle, he saluted the merits of the left-wing revolt, which had shaken the political edifice of West Germany, but he also criticized the indifference the leftists displayed to the position of their own people. Eichberg thought that that leftist students militated in “diversions” when they rose up for Mao’s China or Ho Chi Minh’s Vietnam instead of fighting firstly or at least simultaneously for the reunification of Germany, itself an emblematic victim of Soviet and American imperialism. Eichberg deplored the fact that the left wing opposition didn’t harmonize its struggle for the liberation of Vietnam with the struggle for the liberation of Germany. So at first Eichberg retained his basic opinions: create a “new right” in parallel (and not necessarily in opposition) to the “new left” but a new right where militants must be both “nationalists” and “socialists,” as Günter Bartsch recounts in the book I just mentioned. Thus Eichberg held his distance in the 1960s and 70s.

The Magazine “Wir Selbst” as a new tribune for Eichberg

Among the mythic actions that one mentions regarding Eichberg in the framework of his “new right,” there is a protest against the conferences held by Willy Brandt with the DDR’s Prime Minister Willi Stroph in Kassel in 1970. The group assembled by Eichberg distributed tracts entitled: “The division of Germany is the division of the German proletariat.” Two years later, Eichberg drafted the founding program of a movement, Aktion Neue Rechte, whose first principle would be “the nationalism of liberation” (Befreiungsnationalismus). This “nationalism of liberation” would spread in a Europe and a world divided into two blocs, one communist, the other capitalist. This incapacitating and humiliating division thus demanded the German people’s unconditional solidarity with the combat of all ethnic minorities within states, with all the peoples deprived of their national sovereignty by the American and Soviet superpowers, also victims of this duopoly. In 1974, the militants around Eichberg founded Sache des Volkes/ Nationalrevolutionäre Aufbauorganisation (Cause of the People/National Revolutionary Construction Organization – SdV/NRAO). Eichberg clearly intended to pursue one goal: encourage the political left to take the national question into consideration. Starting from this moment, he was a persona grata in certain circles of the left. He could publish his articles in some of their organs like Pflasterstrand, das da and Ästhetik & Kommunikation. He participated in the inaugural congress of the Green Party in 1979 in Baden – Wurttemberg. He then cultivated the hope of seeing a “third way” emerge from the ecological movement, distant from the fixed ideas of the right and left. But alas, he rapidly had to note that it was an error: henceforth, he would consider the Green Party as a new bourgeois party.

Eichberg was fascinated by Rudi Dutschke’s evolution. In his last years and especially before his death, the late leader of the Berlin student protesters increasingly emphasized the idea of German national self-determination in his political thought. In 1979, Siegfried Bublies founded the magazine Wir Selbst, with a national-revolutionary inspiration as Eichberg intended. Bublies had been a permanent fixture of the “Young National Democrats” in Rhineland – Palatinate. This well organized organ would become Eichberg’s principal tribune from where he would spread his non-conformist ideas.

In this magazine, Eichberg could display his always innovative ideas, which challenged and provoked but also forced the reader to reflect, to review his unrefined convictions. Eichberg’s thought was a thought in motion, nothing frozen in immobile concepts. He didn’t affirm a concept of “nation,” but he sought, with his readers, to define something organic and living: national identity. He probed every approach to re-root the people despite the deracinating context of late capitalist industrial society, in order to relieve the loss of countries and regions under the blows of globalization and Americanization.
Ultimately, Eichberg gave up seeking to influence the German political scene. In 1982, he definitively emigrated to Denmark where he received a professorship at the university of Odense. In his Danish exile, he clearly broke more and more with right wing milieus. Much later, his former disciples would learn with stupefaction that he argued for a multicultural society in his own way. From his Danish professorship, Eichberg would acquire an international scientific renown. He became specialist in “body culture” and sport. All that was distant from the theories he professed in the columns of Wir Selbst or Volkslust. His theories on sport and body culture are very interesting but their very acute scientific character obviously doesn’t electrify militants like the innovative and pioneering texts of the national-revolutionary faction he boldly drafted in the 1960s, 70s, and 80s.

Henning Eichberg passed away in Odense in Denmark on April 22nd, 2017.

Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne
Wolf in Lieder

1. Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne dort durch Schleswig und Holsteiner Land?
Das sind die Bauern, das ist Claus Heim, der trägt sie in der Hand.
Sie pfändeten ihnen die Höfe weg, da bombten sie die Behörden entzwei.
Im Jahr achtundzwanzig erhoben sie sich gegen Zinsdruck und Ausbeuterei.
/ : Hervor, Leute hervor, hervor! Die schwarze Fahne empor! Denn überall,
wo das Unrecht herrscht, geht die schwarze Fahne empor.

(Who carries the black flag in the lands of Schleswig and Holstein?
It’s the peasants, Claus Heim carries it in hand.
Their farms mortgaged and taken, they blew up the government agencies!
In the year of 28, they rose against interest and exploitation)

2. Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne dort durch das Westfalenland?
Das ist der Kumpel von der Ruhr, er trägt sie in der Hand.
Sie schlossen ihnen die Zechen zu, das war das letzte mal;
im Jahr sechsundsechzig erhoben sie sich gegen Bonn und das Kapital.
/ : Hervor, Leute hervor, hervor! Die schwarze Fahne empor! Denn überall,
wo das Unrecht herrscht, geht die schwarze Fahne empor.

(Who carries the black flag in the land of Westphalia?
It’s the coal-miner of the Ruhr, he carries it in hand.
They’ve closed his mines, it’s the last time;
In the year of 66 they rose against Bonn and Capital.)

3. Wer trägt die schwarze Fahne heut` durch die gespalt`ne Nation?
Wer sprengt die Ketten, wer haut darein und kämpft für die Revolution?
Bist du dabei, bin ich dabei, heut` oder morgen schon?
Wann stürzt im Land die Fremdherrschaft vor der deutschen Revolution?
/ : Hervor, Leute hervor, hervor! Die schwarze Fahne empor! Denn überall,
wo das Unrecht herrscht, geht die Fahne der Freiheit empor.

Source: http://euro-synergies.hautetfort.com/archive/2017/08/17/hommage-a-henning-eichberg-1942-2017.html