Alain de Benoist’s Preface to “Hitler: A German Fate” and Other National Bolshevik Writings – Continued

Around 1927, the Russian Revolution was presented in certain neo-nationalist organs, not necessarily as a model, but at least as an example “of national restoration and authoritarian social restructuring” (Dupeux). In December 1927, Hartmut Plaas, former naval lieutenant and future deportee to Ravensbr ü ck, thus wrote in Vormarsch : “Lenin was Russian. We salute the ally. Even if he felt himself an international proletarian, he fought all his life for Russia. He conquered Russia, he accomplished a Russian mission … Lenin was a socialist. That is why he is not our enemy. As Russia, it was its right to be socialist. Because socialism is the form of society that corresponds to the blood of Eastern men.” That point of view was systematized by the first National-Bolshevik journals. One could read for example in Der Umsturz that Marxism “is the ultimate consequence of liberalism”, while by Bolshevism, it means “All the Russian events, which are eminently nationalist events.” Niekisch would write himself: “Leninism is simply that which remains from Marxism when a great statesman utilizes it for the aims of national politics.” And in December 1928, Widerstand , salutes the elimination of Trotsky, rendering tribute to the fortitude of Stalin and his will to attack all the “forces of hostile decomposition to the national order in Russia.”

From one group to another, however, the points of view did not always overlap. Certain National-Bolsheviks admitted the idea of the class struggle, others didn’t. Some of them employed it to give themselves a new political coloring. In August 1929, Karl Otto Paetel wrote: “All for the nation … The word of August Winnig, after which the liberation struggle of the nation must be the struggle of the German worker, leads here to the only consequence possible, approve the class struggle as a fact, the push in the interest of the whole people … imprinting it as a way to the victory of nationalism.” Hartmut Plaas, in the autumn of 1928, rallied himself forcefully to the notion of class struggle, without joining the National-Bolsheviks, who he would attack anyways in 1932, precisely he again “changed his mind on the question.” However, all agreed to consider that Bolshevism, before all, was a Russian phenomenon; that this phenomenon exemplified, in that it brought together, under a revolutionary form, social and national aspirations; and mainly, that Germany and Russia had a common enemy, knowing it as the bourgeois capitalism and liberal individualism of the West, that at least justifies a negative solidarity of the right and the left against the universe of the “center.” This conviction sometimes relied on the idea, advanced by Moeller Van den Bruck, that there existed a natural solidarity of “young peoples” (Germany and Russia) against the “old peoples” (France and Britain), an idea which had a geographic resonance besides, since Moeller added that “each country is old in the West, young in the East.” Finally, all saw in Bolshevism a force of radical change. “Bolshevism was presented as the quintessence of all of that which was destructive and decomposing”, one reads in Der Umsturz . “Then, it is true, we are National-Bolsheviks, because precisely, the way of the nation only proceeds through creative destruction.” Bolshevism would become the best means to collapse an order already shaken at its foundations, the best means to accelerate the movement and to hasten those things: a worsening political situation backed by a final optimism.

In 1929, Niekisch wrote in collaboration with Jünger an article entitled “Revolution um Karl Marx” in which he contrasted the synthesis of nationalism and socialism to Marxist internationalism, and advocates a “community of combat coming from very different camps.” This idea truly returns to speak as a leitmotiv. Jünger also declared that a tactical alliance with the communists was possible in the measure where they opposed the established order and the Weimar status quo, all in estimating that Marxism, to him, did not ultimately intend to “establish one of the most radical and the most boring forms of the petit-bourgeois rationalist order, in the style of a small allotment, a sort of proclamation of ration cards in perpetuity.” In the same spirit, Friedrich Hielscher published on the 16 th of March 1927, in the Neue Standarte (Arminius) , an “appeal for oppressed peoples”, where one can read: “Firstly we must reject most clearly, the Third International and its ideology, because it is neither Russian nor German, but Western, and that it only represents a mask for Russia. Secondly, we must search for collaboration with Moscow despite the Communist ideology, because a large part of the consequences that Russia took from its ideology are not Marxist, but Russian.”

With the exception some of the cases of particular figures, and in a certain number of individual gatherings, this appeal for a “collaboration of fronts,” will hardly be followed by effects. The difficulty was astonishing. For the National-Bolsheviks the communists were on good path, but they were stopped en route, they could only seriously fight against capitalism when they would abandon the internationalism and materialism by which Marxism was akin to the bourgeois ideology it pretended to combat. The communists, from their side, held an identical reasoning, but on the inverse: if the National-Bolsheviks truly wanted to defend the people, they could begin by renouncing the nationalist aspirations which served as an alibi for the defense of capitalist interests. Passionate controversy, but deaf to dialogue.

On this backdrop, Ernst Niekisch would inscribe his proper trajectory. Determinant in this respect, was a lecture, that he seems to have made in the spring of 1929 (in the moment where all of the German right was mobilizing against the Young Plan), on an article published in May of 1877 by Dostoevsky in the Journal of a Writer . In this text, which Widerstand would reprint some months later, the author of The Possessed described Germany as a “protesting power.” “The most characteristic trait, the most essential of this great, proud, and particular people,” wrote Dostoevsky, “always was, since its entry into history, the refusal to unite, in its destiny and its principles, with the extreme Western European world, that is to say, with the inheritors of the old Roman destiny. It protested two thousand years, and even if it didn’t express it in proper words, even if it never expressed its proper ideal in a clear manner formulated to replace the Roman idea it destroyed, I believe yet, that it will always be intimately convinced that it can one day express these new words, which will allow it to lead humanity.”

This theme of the “eternally protesting German,” already evoked by Alfred Baeumler in the columns of Widerstand in December 1928 and which, previously, had already seduced Thomas Mann, permitted Niekisch to systematize his watchword of “resistance” (Widerstand) and to give to it a new context. Whereas previously, the West as always understood by the National-Revolutionaries and Young Conservatives was represented by French universalism and English liberalism, the fight against Rome (“Los von Rom!”) being rather the fact of Völkisch milieus, Niekisch would henceforth declare with virulence that the “Western” world is ultimately the product of this “Roman spirit” to which the German people were constantly opposed throughout history, since Arminius and Widukind to Luther and Bismarck. He affirmed himself before all as a “protestant,” in all senses of the word, yet that would not prevent him from reproaching the official Protestant churches for failing the “Lutheran will to combat.” This anti-occidentalism reinforced the traditional opposition to “welsch” values, which then permitted him to divide the world into two antagonistic blocs: on one side, the West, Europe, Romanism, Catholicism, bourgeois imperialism, parliamentary decadence, and liberal capitalism; the other, Germany and Russia, and even Asia, Germanism and Slavism, Protestantism, the Prussian Style, and finally Bolshevism! In this lens, France was only “the contemporaneous armed form of Roman imperialism.” It is necessary, wrote Niekisch, to dismantle the edifice inherited from Charlemagne, this “father of the West,” this “patriarch of Pan-Europa,” indeed even treating the Romans as Charlemagne in his times treated the Saxons!

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