Less surprising than it may seem on the first view, this analysis registered in a tradition of “pragmatic Russophilia” (Dupeux) that long marked German history. The National Revolutionaries were not deprived elsewhere of opportunities to evoke some historical precedents, in their eyes, rich in teachings. They cited the example of the alliance between Fredrick II and Tsar Peter III of Russia, made possible by the death of the Tsaritsa Elizabeth, which saved Prussia from defeat at the end of the Seven Years War (1762). They recalled the the aid brought by Russia to Prussia in the War of Liberation against the Napoleonic Occupation and the fashion in which the Baron Heinrich von Stein, expelled from Prussia in 1808 at the demand of Napoleon, could organize the resistance in St Petersburg. They argued, finally, that it was still the Russian alliance that would assure Bismarck of the security of the Eastern frontiers and would leave him free to carry on his policies in the West. Niekisch himself, in his books, compared the 1917 Revolution with the death of Tsaritsa Elizabeth, and wrote, on the date of March 5th 1918, that the peace of Brest-Litovsk repeated the treaty of Tilsit.
One knows otherwise that during the First World War, the German Empire counted on the dissolving effect of Bolshevism to weaken the Russian pressure on the Eastern Front. In April 1917, the German authorities did not hesitate to authorize Lenin and his companions, who found themselves in Switzerland at the start of the war, to traverse Germany in a sealed car to rejoin Russia. Some months later, the Peace of Brest-Litovsk, which Trotsky would oppose in the name of intransigent internationalism, and Lenin would sign by realism, put an end to the hostilities between Germany and Russia, at the same time it would accord the Bolsheviks with a broad legitimization, because it was the first treaty concluded with the new revolutionary regime by a “bourgeois” country.
In following, the defeated Germany had to try to reduce the Allied stipulations arguing that its weakening would push the masses to despair and play into the hands of communist propaganda. In France, around 1918, Action Française spoke of “blackmail from Bolshevism.” It was not an empty threat. The following year, the 21st of March 1919, the Communists seized power because the Hungarian government, traumatized by the peace conditions imposed by the Allies, preferred to step down and let the soviets seize Budapest. In April of 1922, the Treaty of Rapallo made official the German-Soviet relations and even secretly provided for collaboration between the Reichswehr and the Red Army. Ambassador to Moscow from 1922 to 1928, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, charged with the application of the treaty and who would enjoy the great favor of the National Bolsheviks, would himself be the linchpin of many other Germano-Russian accords. By the Treaty of Rapallo, Germany would know that it was no longer alone and that it was in the interest of the Allies to release their pressure. London and Paris would manifest their anxiety, and it was likely that the fear of seeing a grand Russo-German alliance drawn up would very much play into the decision of Raymond Poincaré to occupy the Ruhr in 1923. All of this certainly had nothing to do with National Bolshevism in the ideological sense of the term, neither with the first manifestations of this current such that we could record them between 1918 and 1923, but it constituted a historical-political cadre which we cannot ignore to comprehend the problem.
On the interior of the Conservative Revolution, the difficulty was evidently to reconcile an “orientation towards the East” with a critique of Marxism that appeared as founding a rapport between the principles. However this difficulty will be rapidly turned, at least in certain sectors of the movement. Two key ideas were going to aid them, the first part, the conviction that there existed a certain number of common points between Bolshevism and the Prussian style (a strong and hierarchical state, a will to suppress “bourgeois” parasitism, an appeal to the sense of sacrifice and of duty); the second part, the idea that Bolshevism is firstly a Russian movement, which the Marxist and internationalist ideology only represented a facade.
The analysis of the 1917 Revolution then operated on a double register. On one side, they stressed that Sovietism was only a radical and cosmopolitan form, of a poorly understood “Western-Social-Marxist idea,” as Arthur Moeller Van den Bruck said it. On the other, they affirmed that the 1917 Revolution constituted a sort of electroshock that permitted the Russian people to retake possession of themselves. Revealing this ambiguity was the attitude adopted by the directors of the Anti-Bolshevik League, a young conservative organization founded at the end of 1918 by Eduard Stadtler, who did not hesitate to declare that the Bolshevism they intended to fight was also the incarnation of a form of “an ethic of Service” of Prussian inspiration. Adolf Grabowsky, active member of the League, future collaborator of the magazine Osteuropa, organ of the German Society for the Study of Eastern Europe founded in 1925 by the new conservative Hoetzsch – that the National Socialists would accuse, in following, of having constituted a “collection of the all salon Bolsheviks and pro-Soviet Jewish Masonic liberals” – thus stressed the “absolutely authoritarian, activist, aristocratic” character of Russian Bolshevism, which Stadtler said himself “repressed by dictatorial force the anarcho-Bolshevik wave” and, at the same time, searched “in the system” of ideas and forms which would permit the birth of a “Bolshevism or German socialism!”
The affirmation of the primacy of “life” and “spirit” supported, in parallel, the certainty that the national tradition and permanent traits of the Volksgeist would always end up winning with their political avatars. The general idea that, whatever revolutions produce on the interior of societies, the spirit of the people always reappears, marked invariably with footprint of ideologies with the most “universal” pretensions. “Each people has its own socialism,” repeated Moeller Van den Bruck, who would finish by writing, “Bolshevism is Russian and only Russian.” Thus, it imposes the idea that Russian Bolshevism is only superficially Marxist. Besides, added some, Marxism is incapable of effectively fighting against capitalism, because it is itself a byproduct of “bourgeois materialism.” As Marx formulated it, said Winnig, the class struggle only aimed to inculcate “bourgeois values to the worker,” in the measure where they did not leave the superficial terrain of strictly material interests. Niekisch would say, the same, the proletarian according to Marx only criticized the bourgeoisie because he did not belong to it, and that his critique betrays his desire to become bourgeois in turn: the proletarian is a bourgeois in power, a Möchte-Gern Bürger, which claims they rely uniquely on resentment and envy. For the National Revolutionaries, Russian Bolshevism made no attempt to turn the worker into a bourgeois. It was rather an idealist movement, founded on the ethic of work, selfless sacrifice, the primacy of the collective over the individual. And that also proved that the Russian spirit has already prevailed over the Marxist ideology that no longer serves as the screen of action for the Soviet leaders.