The Itinerary of Ernst Niekisch – Thierry Mudry – October 11th, 2016

Ernst Niekisch is no longer an unknown: numerous works have evoked his itinerary and his ideas for a long time, a certain number have been entirely devoted to him (1). The latest to date, “Ernst Niekisch und der revolutionärer Nationalismus” by Uwe Sauermann certainly concerns a period in the intellectual and political engagement of Ernst Niekisch, the revolutionary nationalist period (wrongly christened “National Bolshevik”) which coincides with publication of the magazine “Widerstand” (Resistance) that Ernst Niekisch directed from 1926 to 1934. It does not concern the Social Democratic period prior to 1926, evoked in the work of Sauermann for the record, and the period after the war (after 1945, Niekisch became Marxist, occupying a teaching post at Humboldt University in East-Berlin).

Uwe Sauermann delivers an extremely detailed study of the magazine “Widerstand” (he does not hesitate to use quantitative analysis of texts in order to draw key concepts) and throughout it, he studies the intellectual evolution and political progression of Ernst Niekisch and his friends between 1926 and 1934. This study is articulated in four parts:

  1. The development of the magazine.
  2. The position of the magazine facing National-Socialism.
  3. The ideological uniqueness of “Widerstand.”
  4. The role of “Widerstand” and the movement constituted around the magazine in the political culture of the Weimar Republic.

Ernst Niekisch: from Social Democracy to Nationalism

Ernst Niekisch played a non-negligible role in German Social-Democracy immediately after the First World War. On November 8th 1918, Ernst Niekisch, then a young Social-Democrat teacher, created the Council of Workers and Soldiers of Augsburg, of which he became president. The 21st of February 1919, he was elected president of the Central Committee of Councils of Bavaria but he refused to participate in the experience of the Republic of Bavarian Councils and the Bavarian Soviet Republic, he was condemned to two years in prison for “complicity in high treason.” He joined the USPD (Independent Social-Democrat Party, the dissident left wing of Social-Democracy) in the Bavarian Landtag. In 1922, like most of the “independents” at the same time, Niekisch rejoined the Social-Democrats. A brilliant political career seemed open to him. But Niekisch left Munich for Berlin where he became the secretary for the youth organization of a textile worker’s union; he wasn’t more than a modest union functionary. Starting from the Autumn of 1924, Niekisch expressed nationalist opinions that would soon rapidly transform into an ultra and “Machiavellian” nationalism in the socialist paper “Der Firn,” of which he was the editor in chief. At the same time, Niekisch entered into contact with the “Hofgeismar Circle” of young socialists with nationalist tendencies. The “policy” of the execution of the Treary of Versailles and the occupation of the Ruhr by Franco-Belgian troops provoked a certain nationalist awareness among Niekisch, as among certain young socialists. Violently attacked in the SPD, Niekisch left the party at the start of 1926 followed by the members of the Hofgeismar Circle.

In 1926, Niekisch joined the “Old Social-Democratic Party” (ASP) founded by 23 socialist deputies of the Saxon Lantag. Niekisch became director of the daily publication of the ASP, the “Volkstaat.” Rapidly, he became the “spiritual guide” of the new Party (pg. 44). During the Dresden Congress of the ASP, Niekisch called the workers to “an awareness of the state and the people” and invited the Republic to “passionately” attach itself to the revival of Germany (note 1, pg. 47). At the same time, with former members of the Hofgeismar Circle, Niekisch founded the magazine “Widerstand” and brought a personal touch to it.

The legislative elections of May 1928 were a total failure for the ASP. In November Niekisch left the ASP after the third Party Congress rejected his proposal for a program (pg. 65). The magazine “Widerstand” then cut all bridges with traditional socialism and fell totally into the camp of the nationalist extreme right. From 1926, while the young socialists left the magazine, “Widerstand” opened its columns to the nationalists and the leaders of paramilitary groups “Oberland” and “Wehrwolf” as well as the “old combatant” Franz Schauwecker, a close associate of Ernst Jünger, who attached themselves to it as permanent collaborators. In 1929, Georg and Ernst Jünger, spokesman of “neo-nationalism” made their entry in the magazine.

Between 1928 and 1930, Niekisch took the initiative of unitary actions in the nationalist camp. In October 1928, he succeeded in uniting the leaders of the paramilitary groups “Stahlhelm,” “Jungdo.” “Wehrwolf,” “Oberland,” etc, in order to constitute a “circle of leaders” (“ Führerring”). This unitary enterprise (already attempted a few years before by Ernst Jünger) ultimately failed. In 1929, Niekisch attempted to unite the youth leagues and student associations in a “youth action” against the Young Plan. It was half successful. Next, Niekisch contented himself with raising a “movement of resistance” around the magazine, starting with the “Oberland Comradeship” (a part of the “Oberland” group that actually adopted his theses). This movement became clandestine in 1933; it would finally be dismantled by the Gestapo in 1937 and its leaders, including Niekisch, were imprisoned (2).

In 1930, the radicalization of “Widerstand,” totally directed by Niekisch … and his harsh character (“disagreeable and sententious”, he “always pretended to know more than others,” pg. 74) caused the departure of certain collaborators of the magazine, notably August Winnig, and lead to the marginalization of “Widerstand” within the nationalist camp.

“Widerstand”: From “Proletarian Nationalism” to “Prussian Bolshevism”

From the apparently inextricable assemblage of actions lead and themes developed by Niekisch and “Widerstand,” Uwe Sauermann finds a guiding thread: the absolute, unconditional (unbedingt) nationalism professed by Niekisch in the years 1925–26.

Niekisch firstly thought that it fell to the working class to embody this nationalism and realize the program (a program of foreign policy) against the Treaty of Versailles, against the system of oppression (political oppression of Germany by Western powers, social oppression of workers by international capitalism). It was the time of “proletarian nationalism” (1925–1928). The influence of Lassalle was evident.

Then Niekisch’s hopes focused on the paramilitary groups and the nationalist youth leagues. At the same time, Niekisch discovered the West, and particularly Romanity, behind the Treaty of Versailles, which threatened “the German being.” He also discovered the “German protestation” against Rome embodied by Luther and the “Spirit of Potsdam” embodied by old Prussia, which both founded Germany’s non-Western essence. It was the era of “Widerstandsgesinnung” as Sauermann called it.

The ideology of “Widerstand” radicalized in 1930-1931 and gave birth to “Prussian Bolshevism”: Niekisch thought that Germany must turn towards the East to escape the West, particularly towards Soviet Russia which was anti-Western and which henceforth embodied “the spirit of Potsdam” (which had left Germany and which Germany must regain from the Russians). Niekisch then placed his hopes in the peasantry, and for a time as well, in the revolutionary proletariat (that is to say the German Communist Party which he considered as an “outpost” of Soviet Russia), on the condition that it was placed under nationalist direction (in spirit).

Finally, Niekisch, impressed by the achievements of the Five Year Plan and Soviet collectivization (he made a voyage to Russia in 1932) as well as the reading of the “Worker” by Jünger, presented the appearance of the planetary “Third Imperial Figure,” whose ratio would be technical and which would supplant the “eternal Roman” (who ratio was metaphysical) and the “eternal Jew” (whose ratio was economic) (3). Niekisch distances himself from the absolute nationalism he professed until then.

In 1926–1927, the magazine “Widerstand” advocated proletarian nationalism, which Niekisch affirmed had no common points with the “social reactionary” nationalism of the bourgeoisie (pg. 180). This proletarian nationalism, whose origins were immersed both in the ideology of the Hofgeismar Circle and in the previous writings of Niekisch, resting on three key ideas:

  1. The working class, by reason of its fundamentally collectivist attitude (“kollektivistische Grundhaltung”), because it possessed nothing and thus escaped “selfish motivations of individual property”, could become the purest organ for the reasons of the state and the national class (the bearer of nationalism) par excellence.
  2. International capitalism enslaved Germany and Germany became a proletarian nation since the war and the Treaty of Versailles.
  3. Social revolution against the Western exploiters of the German proletariat and national revolution against the Treaty of Versailles were strongly linked (pg. 180–182).

After having idealized the proletariat, Niekisch, disappointed by the experience of the ASP, brought his hopes to the “nationalist minority”, that is to say the paramilitary groups and youth leagues but also the revolutionary peasantry. In 1932, Niekisch militated for the candidacy of the peasant leader Claus Heim in the presidential elections. In his “ Gedanken über deutsche Politik” (“Thoughts on German Politics”) published in 1929, Niekisch evoked the “thinness” of the “völkisch substance” of the worker (pg. 195). This “human and völkisch substance” would be crushed, pulverized, he later wrote in “Widerstand” (in an article entitled “The Political Space of German Resistance”, November 1931) henceforth the proletarian struggle only expressed “social resentment” (pg. 284). In the same article Niekisch summarizes that the political space of German resistance situated itself between the rootless proletariat and the Westernized bourgeoisie (4).

Niekisch discovered that Germany was not only politically and economically oppressed, but that it was also culturally alienated. The Treaty of Versailles and the Weimar System permitted the West, and particularly Romanity, to smother the German being and dominate the totality of German space. In the measure where the ideology of “Widerstand” radicalized, the anti- Roman aspect reinforced itself and became predominant.

Niekisch and “Widerstand” attacked all manifestations of the West and Romanity in Germany: the ideas of Progress, Humanity, Peace, and Friendship between peoples were denounced as incapacitating myths destined to disarm Germany and kill any will to resistance (pg. 199-200); the “ideas of 1789”; (Western) civilization and big cities; individualism; liberalism; capitalism; the bourgeoisie, the veritable internal enemy upon whom Niekisch wished liquidation in a new “St Bartholomew Day” or “Sicilian Vespers” (5); private property in the sense of Roman rights, but also Marxism, ultimately the consequence of liberalism; Catholicism of course, the Weimar Republic; parliamentarianism; democracy (or more exactly: “democratism,” that is to say recourse to mass appeal which, according to Niekisch, also characterizes Fascism); and Fascism.

Niekisch wrote his first long article on National-Socialism in May 1929 (“Der deutsche Nationalsozialismus”). There he criticized the pro-Italian and pro-British orientation of Nazism, that is to say its pro-Roman and pro-capitalist/ pro-imperialist orientation. He also denounced the integration of Nazism into the Weimar System (pg. 95-97). In his book “Hitler: A German Fate,” published in 1931, Niekisch exposes the motifs of his anti-Hitlerism at length: after having recognized some positive starts in the Nazi movement, Niekisch condemned it for the “Roman treason” of Hitler, the national betrayal to the benefit of the Versailles order and the Weimar System and the social betrayal of Hitler to the benefit of capitalism. Rapidly, in the years 1931-1932, the resistance against the West and against Rome identified with the resistance against the increasing force of Fascism and Hitlerism.

Facing the West and Romanity: the “German protestation” and the “spirit of Potsdam”

Baeumler (one of the future official philosophers of the Third Reich), was the first to evoke the “German protestation against Rome” embodied by Luther in December 1928, in “Widerstand.” Niekisch reprised and developed this theme strongly inspired by Dostoevsky (6). In an article from April 1928, Friedrich Hielscher, a friend of Ernst Jünger, affirms that the “non-Western essence of German nature” rests on a “Prussian attitude,” a Frederick style Prussianism (pg. 216). Some months later, Niekisch contrasts the (Prussian) “spirit of Potsdam” with the Western and Francophile “spirit of Weimar” (pg. 218-219 and pg. 244). The “spirit of Potsdam” chased from Prussia, would be embodied in Bolshevik Russia (pg. 218-219 and pg. 244)”: that was the basic article and reference point of “Prussian Bolshevism” from 1930 to 1932.

The ideology of “Widerstand” would radicalize again in the last years of the Weimar Republic. The new themes appeared in an article by Niekisch in September 1929 “Der sterbende Osten” (“The East is Dying”) (pg. 229), and in an article from March 1930 by Werner Hennecke (pg. 231 – 233), a collaborator of the periodical “Blut und Boden”, close to the Peasant Movement. They would reprise and develop the political program of the German resistance in April 1930 (pg. 234-235). Niekisch and “Widerstand” then advocated:

  1. Orientation towards the East (Prussia certainly and Bolshevik Russia)
  2. The return to the earth, to “barbarism and peasant primitiveness,” to a peasant and soldierly way of life (those two requirements tend to merge: the Prussian and the Russian Bolshevik East are qualified as “barbaric”; Prussia and Bolshevik Russia would be originally based on the peasants, primitive, submitting to the discipline of a military state.)

In “Das Gesetz von Potsdam” (“The Law of Potsdam”, an article from August 1931), Niekisch supports overthrowing the occidental edifice constructed by Charlemagne (the German people must, if they wanted to recover themselves, return to a pre-Roman and pre-Christian time, pg. 227). Charlemagne established Roman domination over the Germans through the means of military violence, spiritual – mental alienation, and he biologically consolidated it by the massacre of Saxon nobility and organizing the Latin colonization of Saxony. “For more than 1000 years, Germany history has moved on the biological, political, and spiritual terrain of the Carolingian creation.” (pg. 240). For Niekisch, it was necessary to break with the Roman idea of Imperium, with Christianity, and the Roman spirit, to treat Roman blood the same way that Charlemagne treated Saxon blood (pg. 241), and erect a new order of three columns: the Prussian state; an “ancient Prussian spirit”; “another vital substance”, the Germanic-Slavic “Prussian race” (pg. 242-242, on the racial opposition between Prussia and Southern and Western Germany, read the note on page 220).

Niekisch advocated a military-economic alliance, but also an ideological (“weltrevolutionär” Niekisch said – “global revolutionary” ) alliance with Bolshevik Russia. He even imagined a Russo-German empire from “Vladivostok to Vlissingen” (here, Niekisch seems to surpass his absolute German nationalism in order to think in terms of imperial politics).

But the idealized image of Bolshevism that Niekisch projected in “Widerstand” shared nothing with Marxist-Leninism, including the Stalinist version, nor with the reality of Bolshevism: In Niekisch’s eyes Bolshevism represented the absolute anti-Occident, “Asiatic barbarism,” it would constitute a camp (Fedlager) against the West and embody the idea of Potsdam. Uwe Sauermann maintains that the “Prussian Bolshevism” of “Widerstand” did not merge with “National Bolshevism”: actually, “Widerstand” did not propose to import Bolshevism to Germany and nationalize it, but attempted to return the Idea of Potsdam to it’s Prussian origins from Bolshevism; the staff of “Widerstand” was indifferent to Marxism and the “construction of socialism”: what interested them were the allegedly Prussian aspects of Bolshevism (8); finally, it remained distrusted and even hostile in the view of the German Communist Party (pg. 297–396).

Finally, Bolshevism stabilized itself (non-aggression treaties with Poland and France in 1932, entrance into the League of Nations in 1934) and thus betrayed the hopes of Niekisch (pgs. 264–266). He would then focus his attention on the Imperial Figure whose emergence would be the beginning of the end for Western and Roman domination and Western civilization itself.

Uwe SAUERMANN : « Ernst Niekisch und der revolutionäre Natinalismus » – Bibliotheksdienst Angere (München 1985), 460 S., DM 32.


“The spiritual path of Jünger found its salvation in writing and voyages” – Robert Steuckers – March 3, 2016

Robert Steuckers is the author of a reference work, “La Révolution conservatrice allemande (2014),” that compiles biographies and selected texts from this great intellectual movement of which he is a recognized specialist. He is at the head of the movement Synergies européennes after having left GRECE in 1993. We interviewed him about an emblematic figure of the German Conservative Revolution, Ernst Jünger, as well as a personality less known by the public, Armin Mohler, great theorist of the Conservative Revolution.

PHILITT :You distinguish many currents within the German Conservative Revolution. Which one does Jünger belong to?

Robert Steuckers: Ernst Jünger belongs, surely, in the National-Revolutionary vein of the “Conservative Revolution,” almost from the start. It’s a current necessarily more revolutionary than conservative. For what reasons does Jünger fall into this revolutionary nationalism rather than another another category of the Conservative Revolution? Like many of his counterparts, the reading of Nietzsche, before 1914, while still an adolescent, was determinant. We must firstly summarize that Nietzsche, in this era, was read above all on the most controversial fringes of the German left and by Bohemian literati. There reigned a joyous and mocking anarchism in these milieus that tore off the masks of the bien-pensants, that denounced hypocrisies and castigated moralism. It was in the overflowing spirit of the Wandervogel youth movement, in which Ernst Jünger participated from 1911-1912. The discovery of Nietzsche left few written traces in the work of Jünger. Between his return from the Foreign Legion and his engagement with the German Imperial Army, we have few of his personal notes, letters addressed to his parents or friends. His biographer Heimo Schwilk simply notes that Jünger read the Will to Power and the Birth of Tragedy. We can deduce that the adolescent inherited a rebellious attitude from this reading. No established order found grace in his eyes. Like a good number of his contemporaries in the Belle Epoque, where they were bored, he rejected what was frozen. So it’s essentially the Nietzsche they called “critical” and “unmasking” that transformed 18 year old Jünger. It was necessary to think dangerously, according to the injunctions of the loner of Sils-Maria. It was also necessary to make a complete renewal, to experiment in incandescent living in communities of Dionysian ecstasy. This ardent living, the war would offer him. The cataclysm freed him from the boredom, sterile repetitions, hesitant humdrum in educational institutions. The experience of the war, with the daily confrontation with the “elementary” (mud, rats, fire, cold, wounds …) destroyed all the frozen reflexes that a child from a good Belle Epoque family could still harbor in his heart.

Where does the nationalism of Jünger come from?

What made Jünger a “nationalist” in the 1920s, it’s the reading of Maurice Barrès. Why? Before the Great War, they were conservative, but not revolutionary. Henceforth, with the myth of blood, sung by Barrès, they became revolutionary nationalists. The term, rather new at the start of the Weimar Republic, indicates a political and aesthetic radicalization that broke with the conventional right. Germany, between 1918 and 1923, was in the same disastrous situation as France after 1871. The Barrèsian revanchist model was thus transposable in humiliated and vanquished Germany. In following, not inclined to accept conventional political work, Jünger was seduced, like Barrès before him, by General Boulanger, the man, he wrote, “who energetically opened the window, throwing out the babblers and letting fresh air in.” With Barrès, Ernst Jünger not only found the keys to a metapolitics of revenge or an ideal of violent purification of political life, in the fashion of Boulanger. Behind this reception of Barrès there was a mystic dimension, concentrated in a work that Ernst Jünger had already read in high school: Du sang, de la volupté et de la mort. It holds necessary an orgiastic drunkenness, which does not fear blood, in any sound political approach, that is to say in the context of the era, any non-liberal non bourgeois political approach.

The National-Revolutionary camp, within the Conservative Revolution, was thus essentially a camp of young former soldiers, directly or indirectly influenced by Nietzsche and Barrès (often via the interpretation Jünger gave). A camp that very much desired, if the occasion presented itself, to make a coup in the fashion of General Boulanger, this time with the Freikorps of Captain Ehrhardt.

Starting from “The Peace” an essay published in 1946, his work seems to take an individualist turn, maybe even spiritual. Must we see a break with the Conservative Revolution there?

I think that the “individualist” turn, as you said, and the spiritual and traditionalist attraction operated surreptitiously since the very effervescent political period, from 1918 to 1926, ceased to animate the German political scene. The treaties of Locarno and Berlin brought appeasement in Europe and Germany signed more or less satisfactory treaties with its neighbors to the East and West. We can no longer speak of a revolutionary period in Europe, where everything would be possible, like National-Bolshevism from the Atlantic to the Pacific. The futurist and Barrèsian dreams were no longer possible. The Bolshevik up-welling, it too faded, and the USSR tried to stabilize itself. Jünger made the first of his voyages, leaving Germany, with a scholarship to study marine fauna in Naples. The encounter with the Mediterranean was important: its landscapes calmed the Nordic soldier coming from the Hells of Flanders and Picardy. The treaties and the trip to Naples certainly did not interrupt the editorial activities of Ernst Jünger and his brother Friedrich Georg. They both participated in the most audacious journals of the little nationalist, National-Revolutionary, or National-Bolshevik sphere. They were resistant towards the advances of Goebbels, Hitler or Hess: above all because the two brothers remained “Boulangists.” They did not want to participate in political carnivals, they placed themselves under the sign of a nationalism born from war and the refusal of the implications of the Treaty of Versailles. Since the advent of National-Socialist power in 1933, the retreat of the Jünger was accentuated. Ernst Jünger renounced any position in the literary academies brought to heel by the regime. Sitting in these controlled academies would lead to a sterile, even quietist, humdrum life rather than a Nietzschean one, he could not accept. It was also the time of the first retreat to the rural zone, in Kirchhorst in Lower Saxony, in the region of Hanover, the cradle of his paternal family. Then a few voyages to Mediterranean countries, and finally, uniformed sojourns to Paris in the occupation army.

It is an aging Jünger who expresses himself more in this individualist tone?

The abandonment of the entrenched positions of the years 1918-1933 certainly came with age: Ernst Jünger was fifty when the Third Reich collapsed in horror. It also came from the terrible shock of the death of his son Ernstel in combat in the marble quarries of Carrare in Italy. At the moment of writing The Peace, Ernst Jünger, bitter like most of his compatriots at the time of defeat, stated: “After a likewise defeat, we do not rise like they could rise after Jena or Sedan. A defeat of this extent means a turning point in the life of all people that it subdues; in this phase of transition not only do innumerable human beings disappear but also and above all many things that would move us more deeply in ourselves disappear.” Unlike the preceding wars, the Second World War brought the destructive power of the belligerents to paroxysm, to dimensions that Ernst Jünger qualified as “cosmic,” especially after the atom bombing of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Our author understood that this destructive excess was not longer comprehensible in the usual political categories: in fact, we enter into an era of post-history. The defeat of the Third Reich and the victory of the allies (the Anglo-Saxon and Soviets) had rendered the pursuit of historical trajectories inherited from the past impossible. Technical means had lead to mass death, the destruction of entire cities in a few minutes, even a few seconds, which proved that modern civilization, as his biographer Schwilk wrote: “tends irremediably to destroy everything that underlines the natural, traditions, organic facts of life.” It’s the post-historic age of “poly-technicians of power” which began everywhere, and above all in ravaged Europe, forming the world to its standards.

The 22nd of September 1945, Schwilk recalls, Ernst Jünger wrote in his journal: “They know neither Greek myths nor Christian ethics nor French moralism nor German metaphusics nor the poetry of all the poets in the world. Before the true life, they are only dwarfs. But they are Goliath technicians – thus giants in every work of destruction, where they ultimately conceal their mission, that they ignore as such. They have a clarity and unusual precision about everything that is mechanical. They are confused, stunted, drowned, by all that is beauty and love. They are titans and cyclops, spirits of darkness, negators and enemies of all creative forces. Those who can reduce millions of years of organic development to nothing by a few meager efforts, without leaving anything behind that could equal the least spring of grass, the least grain of corn, the smaller wing of a mosquito. They are far from poems, wine, dreams, games, hopelessly lost in fallacious doctrines, articulated in the manner of pretentious professors. Nevertheless, they have their mission to accomplish.”

Are those the words of a disillusioned man?

They are the sentiments that Ernst Jünger wanted to communicate to his readers immediately after 1945. Schwilk, in my eyes the best biographer by far, explains the meaning of the gradual evolution that occurred in the spirit of our author: Everyone is guilty in this Second World War that was the “first collective work of humanity.” And a work of destruction! Political projects could no longer be national, reduced to small or middling nations alone. It was necessary to create Europe, Jünger thought immediately after the war, where the peoples could recognize that the war had been simultaneously won and lost by all. This Europe must renew the principles of tranquility of the Middles Ages or the Ancien Regime: he clearly renounced the concepts that he forged in from 1920-1930, those of “total mobilization” and the “Worker” that had formed the quintessence of his National-Revolutionary philosophy just before Hitler’s rise to power. These concepts, he stated in 1946, no longer lead to anything positive. They called to push humanity into horror.

Thus Jünger became the prophet of “deceleration” (die Entschleunigung), after having been the prophet of paroxysmal acceleration (die Beschleunigung) in the 20s, like the Italian Futurists gathered around Marinetti. Jan Robert Weber released a biography of Ernst Jünger in 2011 centered around the notion of “deceleration:” he explains there that the spiritual and “individualist” progression (I would say the progression of the anarch) was deployed in two principle phases: the retreat to writing, claimed as a refuge to escape the work of the titans and cyclops or the degenerating throes of post-history; then voyages to Mediterranean refuges which, very soon, would become victims of voracious modernity and its strategies of acceleration themselves. Jan Robert Weber: “It calms me as a man who travels across the world in post-history.”

Armin Mohler was the secretary of Ernst Jünger and worked to make the German Conservative Revolution known. Could you tell us more about his role?

It’s evidently not so much a rupture with the Conservative Revolution (which has too many facets to be able to reject entirely) but with his own National-Revolutionary postures. Armin Mohler wrote the first laudatory article on Ernst Jünger in Weltwoche in 1946. In September 1949, he became Ernst Jünger’s secretary, whose first task was publishing a part of his war journals in Switzerland, under the supervision of the moderately existentialist and Protestant philosopher Karl Jaspers, from whom he retained a cardinal idea: that of the “axial period” of history. An axial period creates the perennial values of a civilization or geo-religious great space. For Armin Mohler, very idealistic, the Conservative Revolution, by rejecting the ideas of 1789, from English Manchesterism and all the other liberal ideas, laid the bases for a new battery of values to regenerate the world, to give it a new solid course, through the efforts of audacious elites, following the idea of amor fati formulated by Nietzsche. The ideas expressed by Ernst Jünger in the National-Revolutionary journals of the 1920s and in The Worker of 1932 were the “purest,” the most purified from all regressive baggage and all compromises with one or another aspect of pan-liberalism of the “stupid 19th century” which Daudet spoke of, it would be necessary that these ideas triumph over post-history and revive the dynamism of European peoples in their history.

The sustainability of these new values’ founding ideas would sweep away the lame ideas of the Soviet and Anglo-Saxon victors and surpass the very caricatured ideas of the National-Socialists. Armin Mohler wanted to convince the master to return to the struggle. But Jünger had just published The Wall of Time, whose central thesis was that the era of historical humanity, steeped in history and acting within it, was definitely over. In The Peace, Jünger still evoked a Europe unified in sadness and reconciliation. On the threshold of a new decade, in 1960, “national empires” and the idea of a unified Europe not longer enthused him. There was no other perspective than that of “universal state,” the title of a new work. Modern humanity was delivered to material forces, to endless acceleration of processes what aimed to seize the entire world. This planetary fluidity, also criticized by Carl Schmitt, dissolves all historical categories, all peaceful stability. So to reactivate them has no chance of leading to anything one way or the other. In order to complete a National-Revolutionary program, as the Jünger brothers imagined, they needed willing citizens and free soldiers. But this liberty had faded from every regime around the globe. It was replaced by obtuse, cumbersome, instincts like those that guide insect colonies.

So the attitude of the anarch described by Jünger is an alternative, a new perspective for this era. How it is defined?

Before the extent of this anthropological catastrophe, the anarch must try to escape the Leviathan. His will of independence, calm and no longer rowdy, must espouse the “will of the Earth,” that seeks to smother the Goliaths and titans. For Armin Mohler, Ernst Jünger renounced the heroic ideals of his youth. He didn’t accept it. Corresponding with German language journals in Paris, he regularly addressed mordant and ironic reproach to Ernst Jünger. It was their rupture. The criticisms and recriminations were: Mohler wrote that Jünger had aligned himself with the “democracy of the occupiers.” Worse: he accused the second wife of Jünger, Liselotte Lohrer, of being responsible for this reversal; she ensured that her husband, “took the ideas that forged their destiny from his own disciples.”

Did this tension transcribe itself into the reception the “Nouvelle Droite” gave to Jünger’s work?

The French Nouvelle Droite emerged on the Parisian political-cultural scene at the end of 60s. Ernst Jünger first appeared to it in the form of a booklet penned by Marcel Decombis. The Conservative Revolution, more precisely the thesis of Mohler, was evoked by Giorgio Locchi in issue No. 23 of Nouvelle École. Beginning with these texts a diverse and heterogeneous reception emerged: the war texts for the lovers of militaria; the National-Revolutionary texts (little known and little translated) in bits and pieces among the youngest and most Nietzschean; the journals among the silent anarchs, etc. From Mohler, the Nouvelle Droite inherited the idea of a planetary alliance between Europe and the enemies of the Yalta duopoly firstly, then American unipolarity next. It’s the direct heritage of the politics and alternative alliances suggested under the Weimar Republic, notably with the Arab Muslim world, China, and India. Moreover, Armin Mohler rehabilitated Georges Sorel in a more explicit and profound manner than the Nouvelle Droite. In Germany, Mohler received a third of the space in the journal Criticon, directed by the very wise and much missed Baron Caspar von Schrenck-Notzing in Munich. Today, this Mohlerian heritage has been assumed by the publishing house Antaios and the magazine Sezession, directed by Götz Kubitschek and his spouse Ellen Kositza.

Armin Mohler worked in France and had shown himself to be relatively Francophile. However his position on the question of French Algeria contrasted with that of the proponents of the “Nouvelle Droite.” What does this controversy teach about the relation between Conservative Revolutionary thought and the world?

Armin Mohler was effectively the correspondent of various German and Swiss papers in Paris since the middle of the 1950s. He learned the spirit of French politics: a magisterial text (which revived the Jüngerien cult of Barrès a bit …) attests to this enthusiastic reception. This text was titled Der französische Nationaljakobinismus and has never been translated! Mohler was fascinated by the figure of Charles de Gaulle, who he qualified as a “political animal.” For Armin Mohler, De Gaulle was a disciple of Péguy, Barrès and Bergson, three authors that we could interpret and then mobilize in order to re-energize the values of the Conservative Revolution. Regarding the Algerian affair, Armin Mohler reasoned in his text on Gaullisms (in the plural!), Charles de Gaulle und die Gaullismen, in terms drawn from the work of Carl Schmitt (who, at the time, criticized the “stardom” of Jünger, his art of publicity seeking as a “diva;” the criticisms of Mohler could be compared to those formulated by Schmitt…). For the jurist, theorist of “great spaces,” and for Mohler, Jünger had committed the sin of “de-politicization.”

Mohler’s infatuation with De Gaulle is astonishing!

Regarding the phenomenon of “De Gaulle,” Mohler was full of praise: the general had succeeded in decolonizing without causing a big political explosion, a general civil war. He also praised the founder of the Fifth Republic for having begun a great institutional upheaval after the turmoil caused by Algerian independence. Here again, he benefited from the reading of Schmitt rather than Jünger, that said: the Constitution of 1958 was ultimately the work of a Schmittian, René Capitant; it values the political much more than the other constitutions in the West. To which Mohler added that he approved the introduction of direct presidential election, following the plebiscite of October 28th 1962. Ultimately, Schmitt, the disciple of Charles Maurras, Maurice Hauriou and Charles Benoist, was horrified by “intermediaries” between the monarch (or president) and the people. Mohler, inspired by Schmitt, welcomed the presidential suppression of the “intermediaries,” the logical consequence of the new constitutional principles of 1958 and the power concentrated in the person of the president, from 1962. The “Fourth Gaullism,” according to Mohler, is that of “Grand Politics,” of an alternative global geopolitics, where France tried to escape from the American vice, not hesitating to align with “rogue” states (China, for example) and assuming an independent policy with the entire world. This “Grand Politics” shattered in Mai 68, when the “chienlit” demonstrated and began “their long march through the institutions,” which lead France to the big carnivalesque joke of today. Mohler, not so much as a reader of Jünger but as a reader of Schmitt, was Gaullist, in the name of the same principles of his Conservative Revolution. He thought we could only judge De Gaulle on Schmittian criteria alone. He commented on the adventure of the ultras on the OAS along those lines. So Mohler belonged to another political school than the future leaders of the Nouvelle Droite. The German New Right possessed other idiosyncrasies: the convergence between Mohler and the Frence Nouvelle Droite (with the Jüngerian Venner) only came about when the differences of the Algerian War were no longer relevant.

Mohler wanted to transpose the Gaullist independent thinking into Germany. In February 1968, he would defend the Gaullist “Grand Politics” point of view at a meeting of a “Euro-American colloquium” in Chicago. This text, released in English and not translated in French, has the merit of a programmatic clarity, it desires to remove Europe from the straitjacket of Yalta, under the banner of a new European Gaullism. If there is a lesson to draw from it, not from this argument but from this intransigent Euro-Gaullist stance, it’s effectively that a Schmittian reading of European political decline (in the era of post-historical decadence) proves itself to be very necessary. And that an exit program from all incapacitating subservience is imperative, otherwise we will sink into a definitive decline. All the ingredients of our disappearance are near.

Is the influence that Jünger exercised on Mohler felt in our contemporaries’ reception of the German Conservative Revolution?

For the most part, yes. Despite the great diversity of aspects and perspectives that the Conservative Revolution takes and adopts, Jünger the National-Revolutionary, the nationalist soldier, doubtlessly fascinates more than than the anarch or the voyager who observes wild worlds more or less still intact or the entomologist who engaged in his “subtle hunts.” However, it is also exactly the central idea of “The Wall of Time” that is not without relevance. We are marinated in post-history through and through; as for Gaullism or a similar Europeanism, we hardly see a trace: Sarkozy and Hollande have liquidated the last vestiges of Gaullist independence. The anti-American stance of Chirac in 2003, at the time of the Second Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, is already a distant memory: rare are those who still invoke the Paris-Berlin-Moscow Axis, defined by Henri de Grossouvre. However, the long list of authors suggested by Mohler in his doctoral thesis advised by Jaspers, inspires numerous intellectual vocations. We can no longer count the theses on these authors, even if they have been ostracized for a long time in the name of a “political correctness” avant la lettre. All these studies do not share the same approach. But beyond history, in the disordered tumults of chaotic post-history, this long buried world of increasingly blurred memories will be reconstructed. In order to make a museum? Or in order to make the premises of a “grand return?”

The figures of the rebel and the anarch are marked by a living aspiration for liberty, which is not without links to a notion of adventure based on the dignity of the human condition with Mohler. Is the free and adventurous individual the archetype of man that the Conservative Revolution idealized?

Yes, the liberty of the writer, the authentic man, the autonomy of the person, are inevitable qualities of the rebel and the anarch. Or better: they are embodied by them alone. Mohler, in a philosophical and theological debate with Thomas Molnar in the journal Criticon, had christened this “heroic realism” by the name of “nominalism.” The Nouvelle Droite, uniquely translating his contribution in the debate with Molnar, reprised his account of the term “nominalism” to express his heroic existentialism, to somehow affirm a sort of primacy of existence over essence, but through very different narratives and features than Sartre. “Nominalism” as defined by Mohler, ultimately has very little to do with the nominalism of the Middle Ages. Not only does the adventurer hero, the absolute Nietzschean, embody it, but also the quiet anarch, the voyager who seeks unsullied worlds, the explorer who defies the traps of virgin nature, the vulcanologist like Haroun Tazieff, captain Cousteau or the observers of grand land or marine mammals or the entomologist, all are equally figures who refuse the conformism of millions of consumers, the bleating flock of post-historic conurbations. In the ranks of the Nouvelle Droite, no one defined the adventurer better than Jean Mabir in an interview he gave with Laurent Schang, today a contributor to Éléments. This interview was published in Nouvelles de Synergies Européennes. Mabire expressed there, like in his literary chronicles collected in « Que lire ? », an authentic existentialism: that which desires rooted (in their physical homeland) but adventurous men and castigates the rootless and timid. In this clear formula, in this limpid distinction (thanks to my friend Bernard Garcet !) the vital program that we must apply to ourselves in order to become true rebels and anarchs is summarized.

Jean Thiriart, Theorist of the European Revolution – Christian Bouchet

Rare are the French among whom the name Jean Thiriart evokes a memory. Yet from 1960 to 1969, through the transnational European organization Jeune Europe and the monthly La Nation Européenne he directed the first attempt, still unequaled, of the creation of a European revolutionary nationalist party, and clearly defined in his writings what now forms the doctrinal corpus of a non-negligible part of nationalist movements in Europe.

Born into a large liberal family in Liege that demonstrated strong sympathies for the left, Jean Thiriart first militated in the Jeune Garde Socialiste and in the Union Socialiste Anti-Fasciste, then during the Second World War in the Fichte Bund (a league coming from the Hamburg National-Bolshevik movement of the 1920s), and in the Amis du Grand Reich Allemand, an association that gathered elements of the extreme left in Wallonie favorable to European collaboration, even annexation in the Reich.

Condemned to three years in prison from the “Liberation,” Thiriart only politically resurfaced in 1960, by participating, during the decolonization of the Congo, in the foundation of the Comité d’Action and de Défense des Belges d’Afrique which became a few weeks later the Mouvement d’Action Civique. In a short time Jean Thiriart transformed this Poujadiste groupuscule into an effective revolutionary structure which – believing that the seizure of power by the OAS in France would likely be a great springboard for European revolution – gave effective support without fail to the secret army.

Simultaneously, a meeting was organized in Venice on March 4th 1962. Participating in it, besides Thiriart who represented the MAC and Belgium, were the Italian Social Movement for Italy, the Socialist Reich Party for Germany, and the Union Movement of Oswald Mosley for Great Britain. In a common declaration, these organizations declared that they wanted to found a “A National European Party, centered on the idea of European unity, which does not accept satellization of Western Europe by the USA and does not reject reunification with the territories of the East, from Poland to Bulgaria, through Hungary.” But the European National Party would only have an extremely brief existence, the archaic and narrow nationalism of the Italians and Germans rapidly broke up their pro-European engagements.

That added to the inglorious end of the OAS caused Thiriart to reflect, who concluded that the only solution was in the creation from scratch of a Revolutionary European Party, and in a common front with parties or countries opposed to the order of Yalta.

Culminating with the work started since the end of 1961, the MAC transformed into Jeune Europe in January 1963, a European organization that embedded itself in Austria, Germany, Spain, France, Great Britain, Italy, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland. The new movement contrasted its style with the habitual nationalist movements. It was very strongly structured, it insisted on ideological formation in true schools of cadres, it tried to put in place an embryonic central syndicate, the Syndicat Communautaire Européen. Furthermore, Jeune Europe wished to found European Revolutionary Brigades to start the armed struggle against the American occupier, and searched for external support. Thus contacts were made with Communist China, Yugoslavia, and Romania, and even with Iraq, Egypt, and the Palestinian Resistance.

If Jean Thiriart was recognized as a revolutionary to be reckoned with – he met Chou En-Lai in 1966 and Nasser in 1968, and was forbidden to visit in five European countries! – and if the military support of his militants in the Anti-Zionist combat was incontestable – the first European who would fall, arms in hand, in struggle against Zionsim, Roger Coudroy, was a member of Jeune Europe – his potential allies remained inhibited by ideological reflexes or diplomatic decorum that prevented them from according the desired financial and material aid to Jeune Europe. Furthermore after the crises of decolonization Europe benefited from a decade of economic prosperity with made the survival of a revolutionary movement very difficult. However, the press of the organization, first Jeune Europe, then La Nation Européenne, had a certain audience and counted high level collaborators among which we can cite the writer Pierre Gripari, the Alpes-Maritimes deputy Francis Palermo, the Syrian ambassador to Brussels Selim El Yafi, that of Iraq to Paris Nather El Omari, as well as Tran Haoi Nam, head of the Viet Cong mission to Algiers, and more personalities such as the American Black leader Stokely Carmichael, the coordinator of the executive secretariat of the FLN Cherif Belkacem, the commandant Si Larbi and Djambil Mendimred, both directors of the Algerian FLN, and the predecessor of Arafat at the head of the PLO, Ahmed Choukeri, granted interviews to it without difficulty. As for General Peron, in exile in Madrid, he would declare “I regularly read La Nation Européenne and I entirely share its ideas. Not only that which concerns Europe but the world.”

In 1969, disappointed by the relative failure of his movement and the timidity of his external support, Thiriart renounced militant combat. Despite the efforts of some in its cadres, Jeune Europe would not survive the departure of its principal leader. However, his lineage was claimed, from the start of the 70s, by the militants of the organization Lutte du Peuple in Germany, Austria, Spain, France, Italy, and Switzerland, in the 80s by the staffs of the Belgian magazine Volonté Européenne and the French magazine Le Partisan Européen, as well as the Les Tercéristes Radicaux tendency within the French NR movement Troisième Voie. Jean Thiriart would leave his political exile, in 1991, to support the creation of the European National Liberation Front, which was the only successor of Jeune Europe. It was with a delegation of the EFL that he went to Moscow in 1992 to meet the directors of the Russian opposition to Boris Yeltsin. Unfortunately Jean Thiriart was struck down by a heart attack shortly after his return to Belgium. He left unfinished many theoretical works in which he analyzed the necessary evolution of the Anti-American combat in the light of the disappearance of the USSR.

Inspired by Machiavelli and Pareto, Thiriart called himself “a doctrinaire rationalist” and rejected the habitual classifications of politics, he liked to cite the phrase of Ortega y Gasset “To be of the Left or to be of the Right is to choose one of the innumerable ways offered to man for being an imbecile; both, actually, are forms of moral hemiplegia.” The nationalism that he developed was an act of will, the common desire of a minority to realize something. Thus it was solely based on geopolitical considerations. For him, only nations with a continental span (USA, China, USSR) have a future, so thus to give Europe its greatness and importance, it should be unified, by creating a Revolutionary Party of the Leninist type that immediately starts the national liberation struggle against the American occupier and its collaborators, the parties of the system and the colonial troops of NATO. Western Europe, liberated and unified could then undertake negotiations with the USSR to construct the Great European Empire from Galway to Vladivostok, solely capable of resisting the new American Carthage, and the Chinese bloc with its billion inhabitants.

Opposed to confederate or federal models, such as the “Europe with a hundred flags,” Thiriart defined himself as a “Jacobin of the very Great Europe” wanting to construct a unitary nation conceived on the basis of a nationalism of integration, of an extensive empire granting to all its citizen omni-citizenship and the spiritual and judicial inheritance of the Roman Empire.

In the economic scheme Thiriart rejected “the economy of profit” (capitalism) and the “economy of utopia” (communism) to advocate “the economy of power” that aims for the maximum development of national potential. Certainly in his spirit, the only viable dimension for this economy is the European dimension. Disciple of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and Friedrich List. Thiriart was the partisan of “the autarky of great spaces.” Thus Europe, leaving the IMF and given its own currency, protected by solid custom barriers, and ensured by its self-sufficiency, could escape the laws of the global economy.

Although dating from the middle of the 1960s, the books of Jean Thiriart remain astonishingly timely. Since 1964, he described the disappearance of the “Russian Party” in Europe, more than ten years before the birth of Eurocommunism and nearly 25 before the upheavals in the Eastern countries. Even his description of the American party, the thousands of “US Quislings,” is still the reality in Europe today, as the positions of most politicians recently illustrated during the Gulf War, the clashes in Yugoslavia, and the last African outbursts. And his analysis of American imperialism has not aged, in 1966 he then recommended reading the Yankee James Burnham, advice that is still timely to follow in order to find in the book of the latter, The Struggle for the World, phrases such as this “It is necessary to renounce what remains of the doctrine of equality of nations. The USA must openly bid for the direction of global policy.”

Contestable from certain sides (overdone Jacobinism, too much rationalism, etc), we will not ignore it, Thiriart remains one of our great mentors for the last century. It is our responsibility to nourish his theories, to evaluate them and know how to surpass them in order to tackle the future in the year 2000.

Walter Lass and Karl-Otto Paetel, Two German National-Bolsheviks – Edouard Rix – Réfléchir & Agir – Summer 2008, No. 29

Less well known than Ernst Niekisch, Werner Lass and Karl-Otto Paetel are two atypical figures of National-Bolshevism, described by Louis Dupeux as the most fascinating current of the Conservative Revolution.

At the heart of the Bündisch Youth

Born in Berlin the 20th of May 1902, Werner Lass belonged to the Wandervogel from 1916 to 1920. In 1923, he was elected head of the Bund Sturmvolk, of which a part joined the Schilljugend of the famous Freikorps leader Gehrardt Rossbach in 1926. In 1927, Lass broke away to found the Freischar Schill, a Bündisch group of which Ernst Jünger rapidly became the mentor (“Schirmherr”) and which placed the “combat for the borders,” hiking expeditions, and military training at the heart of its activities.

From October 1927 to March 1928, Lass and Jünger combined to edit the magazine Der Vormarsch (“The Offensive”), created in June 1927 by another famous Freikorps author, Captain Ehrhardt. Desiring to surpass the narrow limits of the youth movement, he founded the Wehrjugendbewegung or the Youth Movement for Defense. For him it acted to link the “hardness of the front line soldier’s engagement with the youth movement’s strength of achievement and depth” to create a new type of man.

In August 1928, the Freischar Schill participated in the World Congress of Youth Organizations, at Ommen, in Holland. Lass made a striking blow by protesting against the “colonization” of Germany and the refusal of visas to the Russian delegates. The same year he was imprisoned, accused of having participated in the peasant revolt of Claus Heim that then shook Schleswig-Holstein, and his movement was outlawed in many cities.

In 1929, the Freischar Schill undertook negotiations with the NSDAP, which failed because of the exorbitant pretensions of the Hitlerjugend. In September 1929, Lass founded a league incorporating the oldest members, the Bund der Eidgenossen or League of Confederates, which quickly adopted National-Bolsheviks positions.

Die Kommenden and the Social-Revolutionary Nationalists

Some months later, in January 1930, Werner Lass and Jünger took the leadership of the weekly, Die Kommenden, which then exercised a large influence on nearly all the Bündisch youth. Lass wrote infrequent articles for it.

It was at the editorship of Die Kommenden where he encountered another figure of National-Bolshevism of the 1930s: Karl-Otto Paetel. He was also born in Berlin, the 23rd of November 1906. Like Lass, he began to militate in the ranks of the Bündisch youth, with the Deutsche Freischar and the Bund der Kongener. Coming from very modest circumstances, he had to cease his studies when the scholarship that he benefited from was withdrawn after he had taken part in demonstrations against the Young Plan. A decidedly rebellious spirit, he was also excluded from the Deutsche Freischar in 1930, following an article judged insulting to Marshall Hindenburg.

Director, from 1928 to to 1930, of the monthly Das Junge Volk, Karl-Otto Paetel linked the national liberation fight and class struggle in his writings starting from 1929: “All for the nation! … the words of August Winnig, after which the liberation struggle of the nation must be the struggle of the German worker, lead here to the only possible consequence: approve the class struggle as a fact, push it in the interest of the entire people … bear it as the way for the victory of nationalism.”

In 1930, Paetel was offered the leadership of Die Kommenden by Lass and Jünger. In an article published in the first issue of 1930, he called to “make it a spokesman for all the new impulses and thoughts that are at work everywhere in the German youth, for all the revolutionary tendencies of renewal” and to reject the “barking of liberalism and reaction, which we recognize as our mortal enemies.” And assigning the line of revolutionary nationalism to the journal: “We claim the fight against the system of capitalist exploitation, which has always prevented the integration of the proletariat into the ensemble of German destiny, on the interior and exterior of the German space.”

Some months later, at the end of May 1930, he created the Gruppe sozialrevolutionarër nationalisten (Social-Revolutionary Nationalist Group). A series of articles, published in the issue of June 27th 1930 presented the declaration of program of GSRN. For Paetel, “the meaning of the entire economy is solely to cover the needs of the nations and not wealth and gain.” It called for a “global revolution,” considered Bolshevism as a national liberation movement and it desired an alliance with the USSR to break the slavery exercised by Western nations: “We Social-Revolutionary Nationalists, we require an alliance with the Soviet Union. We see in all oppressed peoples, whatever race they belong to, our natural allies.”

National-Bolshevism and National-Socialism

During the summer of 1930, Paetel was discharged from Die Kommenden by the proponents of a more classical nationalism. In Janaury 1931, he launched the monthly Die Sozialistische Nation, which proclaimed National-Bolshevism, advocated class struggle, collaboration with the KPD, and the establishment of “the Germany of councils,” and then intended to represent “the non-Marxist, non-materialist sector of the socialist front.” On his side, Lass published, in September 1932, a new magazine, Der Umsturz (The Overthrow), which desired to be the organ of “radical nationalists, socialist radicals, revolutionary activists of all tendencies” and openly claimed National-Bolshevism. One can read in it, “Bolshevism was presented as the quintessence of all of that which was destructive and decomposing. Then, it is true, we are National-Bolsheviks, because precisely, the way of the nation only proceeds through creative destruction.”

The National-Bolshevik orientation seems corroborated by events in the years 1930-1931, the split of the left wing of the NSDAP on one hand, the “national” policy of the KPD on another. Concerning the NSDAP of Hitler, the National-Bolsheviks held that it was bourgeoisified. In 1931, Lass thus wrote, “Today the convinced nationalist of the NSDAP can only be accorded the task of radicalizing the large mass of the bourgeoisie and contributing to national disintegration.” Nothing more. The 4th of July 1930, Otto Strasser left the party to found the Combat League of Revolutionary Socialists. But very quickly the National-Bolsheviks raised criticisms regarding Strasserite theses, criticizing his “socialism to 49%” and his hesitation on the question of Russian alliance.

The gulf between the National-Bolsheviks and the Left of the NS widened still from the hope put in the evolution of the KPD. August 24th 1930, the central KPD organ, Die Rote Fahne, published a “Program for the National and Social Liberation of the German People,” that accorded a large place to the national question. For the communists it acted to spread radicalization to the middle classes, by developing a nationalist argumentation based on an appeal to a “alliance of all working classes” against the small of capitalist property owners. This strategy seemed to pass from the camp of the Communists to the nationalists. Naively believing that a National-Bolshevik line was at work in the KPD, Paetel multiplied the debates with communists, even taking the lectern during their meetings. In 1932, he even called to vote for the Communist presidential candidate Thaelmann. In 1933, he published a National-Bolshevik Manifesto, whose first copies, printed the 29th of January, were distributed the same night Hitler came to power.

Werner Lass was arrested, in March 1933, for stockpiling explosives and was put in prison. After suspending training , the Freischar Schill and the Bund der Eidgenossen were banned, he joined the Hitlerjugend, which represents a unique case among all the National-Bolshevik leaders. He would be expelled in 1934. On his side, Paetel would be imprisoned many times after Hitler’s rise to power, before exile in Prague in 1935, then to Scandinavia.

Europe-State and Europe-Nation Will Be Against the USA – Jean Thiriart

The European construction born in the Treaty of Rome (March 25th 1957) should lead to the Europe-State. It’s a valuable construction, indispensable and we should not condemn its technical character in the name of a certain sentimentalism. The Europe of the Common Market is a good thing. But it is very limited in its ambitions. It aims to put in place statist structures. That’s both too much and too little. Europe will only be achieved when it is both State and Nation, that is to say structures and consciousness.

We are historically the first, the only, to have expressed the will to realize it. Our communitarian current is the source from where, for the first time, the concept of European nationalism arose. It is essentially different, it is in fact diametrically opposed to those concepts of hegemonic Europe (the French Europe of Bonaparte or De Gaulle and the German Europe of Hitler) and to that of the Europe of fatherlands. The difference between the Europe-State and the Europe-Nation is that which exists between the inorganic and organic, between matter and life, between chemistry and biology, between the atom and the cell.

The Treason of Regimists

All the Western European governments came from Anglo-Saxon baggage trains in 1945. They are the collaborators of the occupiers, directly or by degree. Since then the European political constructions of the regimists have been mortgaged by our occupants. The proof of this mortgage, this treason of intention, figures everywhere, but in a formal and glaring fashion in an official document of the “European Parliament” (sic): “The European Union’s mission is to promote the unity of Europe.

Very well, perfect. But a bit further we read:

The adoption of a common defense policy, in the framework of the Atlantic Alliance, contributing to the reinforcement of the Atlantic Alliance.

Thus the confession is there, on full display, very explicit. The confession that this “Europe” is only an appendix of American imperialism, as the Atlantic alliance is the American shark circling the European regimist mackerel. Official Europe cannot be as it is entangled in a formal contradiction, to make a nation that from the start avows its dependence on another. Folly, tartufferie.

Europe Must Be Against the Americans

A nation in particular defines itself through its difference from others, in its style, in its intentions, in its interests. Those who claim Europe and who simultaneously find in the United States the perfect model of society, the only model there is to copy, and who hold that each American war is also ours, are in contradiction with themselves. Why claim Europe if the USA is perfect? That they expand the USA, that would be more logical. The clique of “Europeans” who say their bedtime prayers towards Washington each night would do better to propose England as the 51st American state, Germany as the 52nd, Italy as the 53rd. As that’s the reality.

There is an absolute, formal, conceptual contradiction between the fact of being European and the fact of being pro-American. He who call himself pro-American expels himself from Europe, whether he is Social-Democratic or some ninny of the extreme right.

He who collaborates with the Americans is a traitor to Europe.

Europe Without Risks: Idiocy

Sometimes well intentioned intellectual naifs hope to make a Europe by peaceful, reasoned means. It’s a dream. History makes itself in convulsions, in combat, in effort and sacrifice. A nation, in particular, creates itself against something else, against enemies. Not only are the United States historically enemies of the awakening Europe, in the objective scheme but they must be in the psychological scheme. A nation needs enemies to make itself, to maintain itself. Living in the face of enemies creates unity, creates moral health, maintains the vigor of character. For us it is not a question of asking for Europe but taking Europe. Objectively, never has any hegemonic state (like the United States at the moment regarding Europe) given independence to its vassals, but quite on the contrary, they had to take their independence. Italy did it against both the Austrians and the French. Europe will do it against the Americans. A nation forges itself in combat and seals itself in blood. The risks are great but they must be taken. Life is a permanent risk. The risk must be intended, calculated.

A Europe without risks is a demented chimera by all historical experience.

The Shield and the Schedule

The big specious argument of the shameful philo-Americans is that of the “American shield.”

What is this shield?

Bled out in 1945, convalescent in 1955, Europe is today, in the industrial and economic scheme, full of force and health. American protection – against the Stalinist assault – was indispensable in 1948, useful in 1951 (in the spirit of the age). Today it is no longer the same. In factories, in money, in men Western Europe alone no longer needs the Americans. Thus they leave. No gratitude should bind us to them. They came to Europe for their own interests and not for ours. In 1949 we could be philo-American by hypocrisy and self-interest. No longer today.

Western Europe along is powerful enough to very easily develop a military force capable of foiling any potential adversary. The key is to want it, this military force, so to desire the political unity of Europe. Those who claim we cannot do without the Americans do nothing for us.

The “American shield” it’s the alibi of cowards, it’s the alibi of the lazy, it’s the alibi of the powerless.

The American construction is as follows: they say, reluctantly, that they will leave Europe when we are strong enough to defend ourselves alone, (they say it but they do not think it) and at the same time they do everything so that we alone will never be strong enough. That is the key of this shameful lie.

The United States doesn’t want to sell us atomic weapons or entrust them in the framework of NATO. NATO is thus a scam (the shark and the mackerels – see above) because one finds there allies of the first rank (the USA) and allies of the second rank (the little European countries), the first have the right to the bomb, the second do not have the right.

The Americans are sufficiently realistic to know that the end of their military occupation in Europe would be followed, six months later, by the end of their political suzerainty. Since then the Americans cannot sincerely envision their departure.

The Americans, deservedly, do not have confidence in a free Europe-USA association on the basis of equality. They know well that strong, independent Europe will NOT be an ally of the USA.

Since then Americans will do everything to always remain militarily indispensable in Europe. The thesis of the pro-American collaborators according to which we cannot do without the Americans is hypocritical, actually they would do better to confess that they do not want to do without the Americans. The argument of the “American shield” would only be valuable on two formal conditions:
Neither of two points is respected, nor will they be. I will even go further than this prudent plan. I will even say that it is desirable that the American troops decamp even before the schedule would be established. When Europe fears them it will pull itself together. Today Europe lazily cowers under the shelter of the “American shield.” To accelerate the development of the consciousness of Europe it must deliberately seek danger. It’s the need, it’s the emergency, it’s the imminence that will reawaken Europe. It must accept and seek the risks of a hasty reawakening. In order to cement this Europe, it must partially be put in danger. This did not escape the leaders of France in 1792 …

They did not create a nation with speeches, with pious vows and banquets. They created a nation with rifles, with martyrs, with shared dangers. In fact the philo-Americans are cowards, people who do not want to fight when necessary. The accept the humiliation of American occupation in order to avoid having to fight. It’s the same state of spirit that the French bourgeoisie had under German occupation in 1942. They believed themselves very clever saying: “The Germans die on the Russian front to protect our safe deposit boxes.” They believed themselves very clever but they did not see themselves as very cowardly. Thus a tradition was not lost. The same ignoble bourgeoisie that protected itself with the “German shield” in 1942 accepts today, with complaisance, the protection of the “American shield.” From the moment their dividends are protected they are content. But if these people have the physical fear of American departure, because then, they need to do it themselves; we are not afraid. That is the gulf that separates us from the clique of philo-Yankee collaborators.

Garibaldian Solutions

Italian unity was accomplished by the aid of different factors: the idealism and magnificent prescience of Mazzini, the epic activist Garibaldi, the calculations of Cavour. It’s an unbreakable ensemble. In the purely military scheme Garibaldian action was insignificant. In the historical scheme it was capital, determinant. It was thanks to Garibaldi that blood was shed. And when blood was shed a trench was dug between the occupier and the occupied. The trench that obligates everyone to clearly take a side for or against the occupier. After the first deaths there was no longer any place for “yes but,” “maybe.”

The phenomenon was verified in Algeria between 1954 and 1962. In 1954 numerous Algerians could still defend with justice the thesis of French occupation as “lesser evil.” In 1960 no Algerian could do it any longer. The trench had been drawn by the dead. That it had been done artificially, deliberately, changes nothing.

During the German occupation the Communists did it. They killed quite innocent German soldiers, with a bullet in the back. The occupying authorities fell into the trap: they shot completely innocent French. The machine was then put into motion; the unstoppable had begun. That would only end with the total destruction of one or the other. One could wait in 1940, no longer in January 1945.

When Garibaldi had his first hundred deaths in his ranks of irregular soldiers, Italy began to feel obligated to finished the business with cannon. That’s what it did.

Europe must also turn against its occupiers. If the shakedown is well done it will be without too much bloodshed or violence. But it is likely that the shakedown of our occupiers will be terribly reinforced by “Garibaldian actions” from the start.

With a very patriotic political duplicity, like that of Garibaldi or Cavour, we will expel the occupiers. Thus, a European revolutionary must consider an eventual insurrectionist armed struggle against the American occupier as a working hypothesis. He who fears this hypothesis is not a revolutionary. He is not a European nationalist. When we demand the ends, we demand the means. When demanding Europe, we demand the means to make it.

We Must Make Europe Ourselves

The regimist Europe fails in the construction of Europe, whether in the fact of petty nationalist afterthoughts or in the fact of being tied to the American paw. The Europe of the Treaty of Rome will not be achieved by itself. We must make Europe, do it ourselves. The thing becomes evident today: Europe is a pretext of politicians to assert themselves. Each one learned what he could draw from Europe, publicity for himself or selfish economic benefits for his country. By numerical tricks, hypocritical lies, official Europe is now at an impasse. It is there because its promoters do not have the will to make it. At best, some have the vague and pious wish.

So we must make Europe ourselves. Make it with a great HISTORICAL PARTY, with a great NATIONAL-EUROPEAN PATRIOTIC PARTY. It must act directly on events, eliminate from the political scene anti-European rulers, and prick the rears of the hesitant with bayonets. More than ever I am convinced that Europe will be made by a PARTY that is obligated to make Europe, by a PARTY that gives a self-awareness to Europe, by a party prepared for ideological or passionate tasks, legal or illegal, dialectical or violent. Yesterday it took NEO-DESTOUR to make Tunisia, ISTIQLAL to make Morocco, the FLN to make Algeria just as a century ago it took the Risorgimento to make Italy.

To deliver Europe there must be a party. We will prepare it!

Giovane Europa – Yannick Sauveur – 1980

The movement “Jeune Europe,” under the direction of Jean Thiriart (1922-1992), was the most successful attempt at the creation of an authentically transnational and European movement. Thiriart defended the idea of the Historical Party, “the little enlightened group, the vanguard group, the group capable of giving birth to a nation.” The party prefigures the nation (or community of destiny) to construct, the European nation. Since 1962, Jeune Europe scattered everywhere in Europe and even beyond it. At the time, the influence of Jeune Europe was rather marginal, the numerical weakness of its networks was not unknown to it. Thus, “JE” was forbidden in France because of its active support of the OAS. Only the Belgian and Italian networks would know their hour of glory.

Regarding the Italian organization of “Jeune Europe,” we can legitimately speak of relative success on the level of the action and organization of its structures and the originality of themes. Also, the success of longevity because the Italian branch was the last to disappear in 1970.

The study that follows on “Giovane Europa” essentially dates from 1980 except for some modifications and new elements that have since appeared.



The genesis of “Giovane Europa” was on “the right,” it was indeed from “Giovane Nazione” that “Jeune Europe” would be born. The reference to the French organization “Jeune Nation” and its founders, the brothers Jacques and Pierre Sidos, is evident, as their popularity was large on the other side of the Alps.

“Giovane Nazione” was from the start a student organization founded by Pierfranco Bruschi (born in 1940) and Renato Cinquemani. Its first internal bulletin was published in November 1962 and would be followed by a dozen other issues until November 1963.

We note, and its anecdotal, the laudatory references to “Comrade Renato Curcio,” who was in charge of “Giovane Nazione” as can be seen in the internal bulletins of the movement (issues 4 and 5 of February and March 1963, who would become the leader of the “Red Brigades” some years later. Renato Curcio was then part of the group of Albenga and the directors of Giovane Nazione did not fail to praise him for the perfect organization and distribution of tasks within various federations, and also for completing the work of “translation from our European press.”1

At the time, the Italian organization existed principally in Milan, Bresica, Bologna, Turin, Genoa, and more generally, essentially in the North of Italy.

The Italian organization followed the same evolution as the Belgian network. Activism of the right ended in 1962 with a police repression that struck the principle Italian leaders.

“A bit after, Bruschi and Cinquemani were convinced of the necessity to organize the struggle on the European scale, tightening their links with Jeune Europe by adopting the Celtic cross and printing the manifesto of the European Nation.”2




The first assembly of “Giovane Nazione” was held in Bologna, the 4th and 5th of May 1963, which reunited 60 delegates coming from all of Italy.

At this meeting Jean Thiriart, Oswald Mosley, and Pierfranco Bruschi, President of “Giovane Nazione” spoke. Renato Cinquemani retraced the worked accomplished in these three years of activity by “Giovane Nazione.” It was at the start of these works that Bruschi announced to the Italian militants the creation of an autonomous network “Alto-Adige,” independent of both the Italian and Austrian networks.

Immediately after, in June 1963, the release of the first issue of “Europa Combattente,” which featured the account of the meeting in Bologna, under the signature of Antonino de Bono. In this same issue, a supplement, “ MANIFESTO ALLA NAZIONE EUROPEA” was inserted.

It was at the same time that the “National-Revolutionary Alliance” was created on the initiative of “Giovane Nazione,” this alliance federated a certain number of groups including “Giovane Nazione,” “Giovane Europa,” “Giovani Italiani” of the FNCRSI, Gruppo San Marco of the “National Youth Front,” and other student groups. In fact, it is worth saying, the alliance, whose evident goal was to constitute a pole in opposition to the MSI, hardly served its goal. The principal political force, essentially revolutionary nationalist, that of Pino Rauti and Antonio Lombardo of “Ordine Nuovo,” remained separate.

Antonio Lombardo, who had assisted at the first meeting of the “National-Revolutionary Alliance”, did not cease to denigrate the action of this same “National-Revolutionary Alliance” afterwards.

Anyway, Giovane Nazione” underlined:

“The various organizations joining the National-Revolutionary Alliance have a common ideological origin with those working today in Italy and Europe that expresses itself in a common conception of the world and life and in a common vision of solutions to the contingent problems, ‘Giovane Nazione’ proposes the fusion of all member organizations of the National-Revolutionary Alliance into a new unitary organ.”3

That would be object of the meeting held in Bologna the 27th of October 1963 with the participation of Bruschi, Cinquemani, De Bono (Giovane Nazione), Cesarini, Smantelli, Gigliarelli (Ordine Nuovo Perugia), Pintus (FNG La Spezia), Paganini (Gruppo V Catullo de Verona), Andrioni (FISN Naples) and other friends of Grosseto, Catania, Reggio Calabria, and Messina.

At the end of this meeting, the National-Revolutionary Alliance was dissolved and some of the members joined Giovane Nazione and gave birth to Giovane Europa. Among these groups, we must mention those of Ordine Nuovo of Perugia lead by Cesarini and the student groups Gruppo V Catullo of Verona and FNG La Spezia directed respectively by Paganini and Pintus. Significantly, issue 4 of “ Europa Combattente” (February 1964) became the organ of “Giovane Europa,” no longer of Giovane Nazione.

“The Program of the new organization is the manifesto of the European Nation”4

The leadership of the national council returned to Gianfranco Bruschi while Doctor Rinaldo Barbesino of the FNCRSI was invited to accept the presidency of Giovane Europa. Besides Bruschi, we find: Ugo Cesarini, Eros Perugini, Antonio de Bono, Renato Cinquemani.




The periodical “Europa Combattente” became the organ of the movement5, henceforth, the Italian network would closely model its actions and its structures on the Belgian central organization, thus witnessed by the example of “communications” that perfectly inform us of the activity of “Giovane Europa” 6.

In these years 64-65-66, Giovane Europa deployed intensive propaganda, the groups multiplied, in the period from June 1963 to June 1964, the strongest groups were those in Bologna, Verona, Perugia, and Genoa 7. Numerous bulletins emerged, most often each federation had its own bulletin, like Bologna (GIOVANEUROPA), Naples (GIOVANTU’EUROPEA), Verona (NUOVA EUROPA), Turin (TORINO EUROPA-CONTINENTE), Milan (EUROFRONT), High Tuscany (GIOVANE EUROPA – CROCE EUROPEA), Ferrara (IL PRIMATO D’EUROPA ), Parma (BATAGLIA EUROPEA).

Thus, by its vigor, the Italian network showed that a political breakthrough was possible, from Bolzano to Reggio di Calabria, from Venice to Imperia.

Its originality also appeared in the ideological scheme, and in particular, it stands out from the right wing space from which it originated. Regarding the Italian Social Movement: “The MSI is a party of a deeply parliamentary essence with some nostalgic tendencies. Its entire political discourse is centered on the illusory hope of power to be utilized in a center or center right government.”

The MSI was burdened with a reactionary and conservative anti-communism: “The MSI follows Western, Atlanticist, and Nationalist politics…” The judgment was also severe regarding “Ordine Nuovo,” accused of only living to serve MSI: “In ON, we find indifferently ‘Nazis’, traditionalist Catholics, neo-pagans, republican Fascists, monarchists, nationalists, ‘Europeans,’ conservatives, socialists …”

The deep difference between Giovane Europa and these other movements is fundamental in the eyes of the leaders of Giovane Europa, each has a clear, revolutionary political discourse, the others must renounce Occidentalism and nationalism.”8

Following the example of the Belgian Central organization, the Italian network showed a great intransigence from both the militant and doctrinal points of view. The communications give numerous examples of praise and blame towards the militants and leaders … This is “due to the courage and the sacrifice of many of our members … Balzano, Bersacchi, Cerati, Cinquemani, Colucci, Costanzo, Fiori, Giubilo[9], Leone, Martelli, Moglia, Mutti, Orsi, Papalia, Ruocco, Smorto, Vella.”

Another example of the intense activity and the strength of its representation within the structure of Jeune Europe is given to us by both its intellectual and active participation:

  • In Issue 0 of La Nation Européenne (October – December 1965), there were 42 people of all nationalities launching an appeal “to unite in the great combat for European Unity.” Among them 8 came from the Italian peninsula: Bruschi, Cinquemani, Costanzo, Destefanis, Martelli, Mutti, Orsi, Smorto.
  • At the Madrid Congress in 1967, of the 58 directors from seven European countries, ten can from Italy, namely, Barsachi, Bruschi, Cinquemani, Fiori, Grandi, Magni, Maranelli, Martelli, Salis, Smorto.




The Italian network was constituted on the model of the Belgian Central organization. At its head, we find from the start Pierfranco Bruschi, who would remain the leader of the organization practically until the end. We hereafter give the composition of the national leadership, we will notice on one hand strong representation from Northern Italy and on another substantial modifications in the composition of this leadership, except the continuous presence of P. Bruschi and C. Orsi.


The Organizational Scheme, copied from the Belgian Central Organization, is as follows:

  • First Seat: Political Education
  • Second Seat: Administration
  • Third Seat: Propaganda
  • Fourth Seat: Action
  • Fifth Seat: Intelligence

30 November 1965 :

President : Pierfranco BRUSCHI (MILAN)

1st Seat : Massimo COSTANZO (ROME)

2nd Seat : Eros PERUGINI (MILAN)

3rd Seat : Claudio ORSI (FERRARA)

4th Seat : Renato CINQUEMANI (MILAN)


20 January 1967 :

President : BRUSCHI



3rd Seat : ORSI

4th Seat: Claudio DESTEFANIS


27 October 1968 :

Prssident : BRUSCHI

1st Seat : ORSI

2nd Seat : DESTEFANIS (provisoirement)

3rd Seat : Leonardo FIORI



30 January 1969 :

Identical composition except

3rd Seat : Claudio MUTTI (PARMA)


25 October 1969 :

National Secretary : Claudio ORSI (FERRARA)

1st Seat : Pierfranco BRUSCHI (MILAN)

2nd Seat : Claudio DESTEFANIS (GENES)


4th Seat : Claudio MUTTI (PARMA)




Giovane Europa was rather traditional in its actions, namely, public and private gatherings, tracts, displays, graffiti, journals, and communiques.

The original character of this propaganda resides essentially in its density of specifically Italian publications as well as the will to Italianize Jeune Europe to the maximum, the book by Thiriart was translated into Italian and sold.10

Two printed publications marked the life of Giovane Europa: EUROPA COMBATTENTE, publishing three issues in 1963, three in 1964, five in 1965, nine in 1966. By the end of 1966 this latter publication ceased to exist and was replaced by LA NAZIONE EUROPEA11, a fine publication averaging about eight pages. However, it was less fancy than LA NATION EUROPEENNE. The average circulation of the Italian journal was about 5,000 copies.

Its editorship included the principle leaders of “GE,” namely Pino Balzano, Pierfranco Bruschi, Renato Cinquemani, Francesco Egon Colucci, Leonardo Fiori, Claudio Mutti, Claudio Orsi.

In its form but also by its adaptation to the local context, LA NAZIONE EUROPEA adopted a very militant tone that made it more a broadsheet than a magazine. The themes are very anti-American, nay Third Worldist. The titles are revelatory of this state of mind: “NATO: Instrument of Servitude,” “The American Strategy in the Mediterranean,” an appeal to Vietnam, “Italy: An American Colony,” support for the black revolt in the USA, etc.




Unlike the Francophone branch, the apogee of Giovane Europa occurred in 1969, while 1967 marked the height of activity in France and Belgium. Actually, it seems to have had the possibility of exploiting the Italian situation in the sense of a radicalization of the national liberation struggle (understood in the European sense). 1969, it’s the year of a flood of student struggle in Italy, struggles that Giovane Europa would attempt to channel and take into account. “Today in Italy, about fourteen spontaneous groups are nearly in complete agreement with our positions. We need to introduce the spontaneous groups to GE …” … “The idea of doing something new with the spontaneous groups must be fought as a romantic proposition. Thus we should use the spontaneous groups as a mass to direct, to guide without hesitation to the objectives proper to “GE,” namely doctrinal, political objectives and the plan of organization.” 12

It was in this spirit that the “ MOVIEMENTO STUDENSCO EUROPEO” (MSE) was launched on the initiative of “GE.” However, it appeared very quickly that it was very difficult if not impossible to do anything with the spontaneous movements. Thus, a meeting of the MSE, which would have been held in Florence on the 26th and 27th of April 1969 was canceled. The spontaneous groups were actually accused of lacking political homogeneity and doing activism for the sake of activism. Consequently, “GE” proposed beforehand, a true “Political debate to verify and deepen a unitary political discourse,” establishing LA NAZIONE EUROPEA as the platform. 13

“GE” noted firstly that it had two enemies to fight: the MSI and the National-Revolutionaries, both of whom tried to recoup the spontaneous movement (for opposite reasons). The seems that as it happened, the National-Revolutionaries – including Ugo Gaudenzi – were fought more for personal reasons rather than ideological motivations.

Thus, the struggle’s center of gravity was displaced towards the South so that “GE” could no longer control the situation.



The second and last congress of Giovane Europa was held on the 27th, 28th, and 29th of June 1970. In the meantime, the editorship of “LNE” had passed to Naples, but the movement was running out of breath, no longer having the vitality of the beautiful years. The discouragement was strong among the militants who believed without a doubt, for the most part, that “the great night” was near. Alas, some resigned, others joined Christian Democracy (CD), the extreme left 14, or the ranks of “Lotta di Popolo” (E.M. Dantini & Ugo Gaudenzi) in Rome, Naples, Milan, and Imperia.

However, it is suitable to relativize the importance and success of Giovane Europa because by the admission of even Claudio Mutti, the movement hardly counted more than a hundred in its ranks during its best period.

It remains that the Italian network was better developed than other countries – Belgium excluded – why? Among the many explanations, we can evoke the history of Italy. Unlike France, Spain, or England, Italy had a recent national past, its unity was hardly more than a hundred years old. Nationalism had less meaning there than in France and it was easier for it to transcend to European nationalism. We can also put forward the greater politicization of Italy in relation to other European countries – France included. All the parties in Italy had proportionally many more members than the similar parties in Frances.

Beyond the historical record, it is noteworthy that the intellectual influence of the ideas developed by Giovane Europa, and more generally by Thiriart, remained very present in Italy, even if the interpretation of some left much to be desired.


Yannick Sauveur – July 1980

Russian Nationalism in the Soviet Era – David L’Epée – Rébellion – 2016

While the issue of the crisis that tears apart Ukraine today is uncertain after the “revolution” in Kiev and the events in Crimea occurred, the factor of Russian (or pro-Russian) nationalism seems to have invited itself into the debate as a key element without which it is impossible to understand what happened in the East. Thus it seems rather interesting to me to examine the specifics of this Russian nationalism, so foreign to our conceptions, that speaks of empire more often than nation, and to look backwards a bit to discover in what measure it plunges its roots into the Soviet era. The recent publication of the thesis of Vera Nikolski devoted to this subject gives us the opportunity.

Vera Nikolski, a researcher in political sciences of Russian origin, is the author of a thesis entitled “The New Forms of Conservative Thought in Contemporary Russia, from Youth Militancy to its Ideological Foundations.” She published a few months ago, destined for a very large public, a work inspired by her thesis, “National-Bolshevism and Neo-Eurasianism in Contemporary Russia.” She bases her research on various nationalist disputes that accompanied and still accompany the liberal transition of Russia after the fall of the USSR, concentrating more particularly on two figures that the readers of Rébellion know well: Alexander Dugin and Edouard Limonov.

But we cannot understand these two typically Russian and modern ideological phenomena if we do not dive again into the past a bit and question the older forms of Russian nationalism, notably during the Soviet era. Nikolski goes back even further and searches in the 19th century, among the Black Hundreds and in the Slavophile Current, the ancestors of contemporary Eurasianism. It is true that a part of Russian nationalists today like to refer to the old Tsars as tutelary figures but these references, according to Nikolski, are artificial, purely symbolic, and present no ideological coherence with what could have been, in a very different context, the Tsarist nationalism of the era.

The USSR was National-Communist

Many European communists today, forgetful of history and misinformed by the surrounding leftist ideology, have hidden what yet appears as evident when we study just a little bit the events of the 20th century: everywhere in the world where communist revolutions triumphed, from China to Yugoslavia to Cuba, they appealed to a living patriotic feeling and founded regimes that we could rightly qualify as national-communist. The USSR knew a fairly similar history to that of all the other national-communist countries. The patriotic feelings of Lenin were known but above all it was Stalin who, after of a period of questioning so-called imperialist wars (“no war between peoples, no peace between classes”) following the October Revolution occurring in the midst of full world war, oriented his efforts towards a rehabilitation of more traditional Russian nationalism. By replacing in his speeches the communist expression “comrades” by that of “brothers and sisters,” by eulogizing Ivan the Terrible or Alexander Nevsky (a rehabilitation that permitted the realization of the eponymous masterwork of Eisenstein) and, in a much more problematic way, by “ethnicizing” power – “ethnicization” that accompanied certain waves of racist prosecutions against various minorities – Stalin renewed a conception of ancestral power in Russia.

While in contemporary Europe, nationalism is mostly found in the popular classes and it only encounters contempt on the part of the elites (all converted to globalization and to the pro-European catechism), the scheme was very different in the USSR where nationalism was very prized by the intelligentsia, both in the Party (the state intellectuals, that Nikolski already qualifies as National-Bolsheviks) and in the opposition, where we found nationalists with occasionally liberal or democratic sensibilities. It’s this distinction between power and opposition that lead historians to speak of so-called legal and illegal currents in Russian nationalism in this era. If the first often professed atheism and followed the official line, that of dialectical materialism, the second were often Orthodox or had other religious sensibilities, and Nikolski speaks of “collusions between the Orthodox nationalists and pagans”1 Certain nationalists in the opposition yielded to the sirens of the sacred union and validated, often reluctantly, the Soviet regime as the repository of Russian national identity. This voluntary attachment by a part of the traditionalist opinion to a system known for its revolutionary politics of tabula rasa seems difficult to understand for a Western spectator but in numerous cultures – and I remarked on it with China also – it is often difficult to conceive of a nationalism that is not an act of allegiance to the state at the same time2. Other nationalist resistants, more ferociously anti-Communist, refused this concession and preferred to flee abroad where some among them would become involved in European Fascist movements.

The Nationalist Opposition in the Face of Perestroika

But the regime, between the period of Stalin and that of its fall, knew numerous upheavals that equally lead to upheavals in the conception of nationalism. Perestroika constituted a major change both in the relations of power and in the positions of the nationalist camp. During the Andropov years already, they was a cooling in the relations between the Party and the nationalist literary magazines, a harbinger of decline of the legal nationalist current. Perestroika, associated with a weakening of the state and a phase of Westernization, was sharply critiqued by the nationalists and this is the whole paradox: it’s exactly Perestroika, and the regaining of the freedom of expression that it triggered, that allowed the opposition to articulate their critiques without necessarily ending up in the Gulag. Many intellectuals were then torn by this paradox: the writer Alexander Zinoviev, for example, attacks with vigor (and much humor) the reform policies in his novel Katastroika, but it was thanks to these reforms that he could finally return from exile, as did Solzhenitsyn and Limonov – to cite only well known personalities. “The opportunity to return, real or symbolic,” wrote Nikolski, “is especially important for the nationalist authors as it reestablished the coherence of their record that was disrupted by abandoning of the country”3.

Here we are confronted with phenomenon difficult to understand from the outside: while it appeared obvious that the Soviet regime was in the process of weakening, the nationalist opponents, far from rejoicing, despaired. Outside of the problem of the association of the nation with the state (and thus with the regime) of which we will speak of further, this apparent paradox is explained by the emergence of a new opposition parallel to that of the nationalists, the liberal opposition. It benefited like the other from the reemergence of freedom but it made its bread and butter issues new ideas, starting with that of the philosophical and economic influence of the West. “If the opening of the regime offered (to the nationalists) new possibilities, it furnished them no particular legitimacy, that their liberal counterparts enjoyed on the other hand, during Perestroika, a short but intense moment of dedication.”4 The nationalist camp thus reacted by radicalizing its discourse and critiquing the Gorbachev government and its new orientations with virulence. At the same moment, this camp saw emerge from its rank a new type of intellectual, that we could qualify as an outsider: contrary to the communists they did not come out of the official Party schools and contrary to the liberals they were not formed in international institutes headed by the United States, they were mavericks outside of the academic world, writers, journalists, military dissidents, revolting autodidacts. The figures of Dugin and Limonov would emerge from this new wave.

Red Nationalism versus White Nationalism

On the side of power, the conservative supporters of the Party, those who felt the most diminished in the face of the liberal reformers, were tempted by alliances with the nationalists in the legal current. “The alliance between the communists and the nationalists of the imperial – statist tendency constituted without contest the center of gravity of what they began to call the national-patriotic camp.”5 This rapprochement contributed, somewhat in reaction to the new relation of forces, to reinforce the line we could already qualify as National – Bolshevik (without direct reference to its German counterpart in the first half of the 20th century), and which was characterized by an inter-ethnic nationalism, taking into account the imperial dimension of a very mixed Russia. That was, in the ideological scheme, in direct competition with another form of nationalism very present in a part of the opposition, white nationalism, coming from the extreme right and bearing a racialist and often monarchist vision. After the fall of the USSR, National-Bolshevism permanently endured over the nationalism of the extreme right.

This fall, however, would again radically modify the status of Russian nationalism in its complex relations with power. As we knew it, wild liberalization that would lead to, in 1992, hyperinflation, prices exploded, privatizations succeeded each other, and lead to massive impoverishment in the population with dramatic consequences: demographic crisis, the fall of hope in life, breakneck aggravation of social inequalities, quasi-disappearance of the middle class – the joys of capitalism. Like under Perestroika, the reforms led to nationalist outcries, supported this time by communists chased from power and horrified to see the old socialist policy replaced by a predatory market economy. Thus Dugin said : “I said yes to the USSR at the moment where it ceased to exist. As what replaced it was truly worse the question could not be asked … I am a Soviet man, my parents were Soviets. Although I tried to the maximum to eliminate the Soviet in me, the 19th of August 1991 I began to restore this heritage.”6 It was firstly by the intermediary of Eurasianism that Dugin began to consider the USSR as the legitimate heir of the Russian Empire.

Sacred Union Against the Liberals

Following the failure of the rebellions of 1992-1993, the KPRF (the post-Soviet Communist Party) affirmed itself as the sole upholder of red nationalism, the grand dame of nationalist groupuscules that were stealing the show. This party was founded and presided over by Gennady Zyuganov, a major politician in the history of contemporary Russia and who, to this day, is the principal competitor with Putin electorally. Former member of the dissolved CPSU, he reconstructed a party around the same Marxist discipline but on a more conservative and nationalist line than the former. It is possible that the influence of Dugin played a role in this orientation, which would lead to relations with him and his occasional counseling7; Dugin has said elsewhere: “The KPRF, is for the most part a Eurasianist party of the left.”8 Much later, when he would found the National-Bolshevik Party, Limonov would explain that his objective was to surmount the opposition that existed between the programs of the LDPR of Zhirinovsky (nationalist party) and the KPRF of Zyuganov.

During the Yeltsin years that followed the followed the fall of the USSR, we can thus say that that power was liberal and the opposition was nationalist. The scheme would reverse with the arrival of Putin to power. It would be accompanied with a momentary weakening of the opposition as the latter would be surpassed on its own territory by the Kremlin. A part of the opposition, notably that of the National-Bolsheviks, however would find its place in the revolutionary camp, notably on the social front. But that’s already another story.


1) Vera Nikolski, National-Bolchevisme et Néo-Eurasisme dans la Russie Contemporaine : la Carrière Militante d’une Idéologie, Mare & Martin, 2013, p.114

2) In France today, of course, the allegiance to the state, and particularly to the Hollande government, could on the contrary be associated rightly with a form of anti-patriotism…

3) Ibid. p. 117

4) Ibid. p. 117

5) Ibid. p. 126-127

6) Alexander Dugin, interview with Vera Nikolski, Ibid, p.226-227

7) Dugin, during his rapprochement with the European New Right, had even succeeded in organizing a meeting between Zyuganov and Alain de Benoist

8) Alexander Dugin, cited in Ibid. p. 240