Hugo Fischer: Ernst Jünger’s Mentor – Tiana Berger – Junge Freiheit n°20 – 2000

When Hugo Fischer died on May 11th 1975 at the age of 76 in the town of Ohlstadt in Upper Bavaria, nobody was supposed to recognize this news, at least officially. Fischer was a forgotten thinker. Towards the middle of the 1950s, he returned from India, from Varanasi, and lost all contact with the academic world of West Germany. Only a few tenuous threads vaguely linked him to the University of Munich, so he continued to lead the life he had always lead: an underground existence, the existence of a savant turning inwards into his private sphere. Yet, after his death, two voices raised themselves to recall the importance of the deceased, to judiciously draw up the critical reading of his work. The first voice was Armin Mohler: in the columns of the daily Die Welt, he declared that Fischer “had been one of the principal intellectual pioneers of the German mind in the decisive years before and after 1930.” Fischer, Mohler added, was somewhat of a “midwife of intelligence,” in such an eminent manner that a legend was peddled on this subject: that he created Ernst Jünger’s “nationalism of the front-line soldiers” (soldierly nationalism) and, moreover, drafted Der Arbeiter. The second voice that was raised to commemorate Hugo Fischer was Günter Maschke’s, who in an obituary written for the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, recalled that “one of the most significant heads of the Conservative Revolution” had died with Fischer.

A quarter century later, in the year 2000, we must note that Mohler and Maschke were the last to emphasize the forgotten importance of Fischer for the history of ideas in Germany. After them, nobody concerned themselves with this thinker. We must nevertheless thank Piet Tommissen: he lets us look at the correspondence between Fischer and Carl Schmitt. Reading it, one is even more astonished by the deliberate ignorance that reigns in our academic and journalistic world. So here is a philosopher who enriched the work of Jünger, who assiduously corresponded with Carl Schmitt, who was an eminent figure of the Conservative Revolution, and we don’t find the smallest anthology that mentions him?

Today’s historians are doubtlessly intimidated by the overly complex existence and thought of Hugo Fischer and henceforth fall back upon the slogan: “To understand everything doesn’t mean forgiving everything but simplifying everything.” Out of context approaches often limit themselves, in the case of Fischer, to showing a few of his contradictions, but in this case, that is to forget title of his doctoral thesis, presented in Leipzig in 1921: Das Prinzip der Gegensätzlichkeit bei Jakob Böhme (The Principle of Opposition With Jakob Böhme).

We can start to talk about Fischer by mentioning the denunciation that he was subjected to on the part of a few zealous National Socialists in 1933: this cabal accused our author, who, we recall, was a physically scarred war invalid, of having been seen with weapons in hand, “on the communist side” during the Kapp Putsch. Nothing attests to this accusation. On the contrary, we only know one thing with certainty, that Fischer was involved in the counter-revolutionary camp, in the so-called “Leipzig Temporary Volunteer” (Leipziger Zeitfreiwilliger) units in 1919 against Spartakist gangs. Many anecdotes about him have been circulated: as a child, he was completely alien to the worldly affairs, that he is only an errant “Magister” in the pages of his friend Jünger’s Journal. In 1945, in the famous questionnaire all Germans were subjected to, he wrote, under the heading “Political Activities”, the word “Keine” (None), with a firm hand and certainly justifiably.

Finally, he was not a dangerous man, he didn’t have a large influence, notably as the National Socialist teachers’ union of Leipzig indicated, because he upset students by pursuing every idea that came into his head during his chaotic lessons without restraint. And yet, he published articles and notes in Ernst Niekisch’s magazine Widerstand (Resistance) until 1934, the year where Widerstand publishing frequently received visits from Gestapo agents. In this fateful year, he had given the magazine an article entitled Das Ende der Modernität (The End of Modernity). Before that, he drafted unreadable, turgid monographs on Hegel and Nietzsche. On the other hand, as co-editor of Blätter für deutsche Philosophie (Notebooks for German Philosophy), a magazine that appeared from 1929 to 1934, he opened philosophy, a supposedly hermetic branch, to the empirical social sciences; in this framework, in 1932 he published an analysis of Karl Marx’s work, entitled Karl Marx und sein Verhältnis zum Staat (Karl Marx and his Relation to the State), that is still considered today as an excellent introduction to the work of the founding father of communism.

So we are concerned with a philosopher that some have relegated to his private sphere but we nevertheless find him among the young conservative thinkers such as Hans Freyer and Gunther Ipsen, penning a contribution to a collective work on the president of the Czechoslovakia, Thomas G. Masaryk, beneficiary of the Treaty of Versailles in 1930, and then contributing philosophical essays to the Literarische Welt (The World of Letters), a left liberal journal belonging to the Jewish publicist Willy Haas considered by the forces of the right as a contemptible “boulevard gazette.” Finally, Hugo Fischer was the author of a work surrounded by an aura of mystery: Lenin – der Machiavell des Ostens (Lenin – the Machiavelli of the East), which the publisher pulped even before being delivered to the printer, due to fear of confiscation in March 1933, a useless and hastily taken measure as it later turned out that neither Goebbels nor Rosenberg had intervened to seize it.

In light of such a heterogeneous intellectual biography, one might think that a common thread could show how Fischer was also a precocious theorist of globalization. When Jünger and Niekisch dreamed of planned states covering the entire planet, or “imperial figures,” then they were undoubtedly tributaries of Fischer’s visions. Mohler rightly remarked that only an Ernst Jünger could write Der Arbeiter. But not without the analytic potential of Fischer, who regularly went to visit Freyer’s sociological institute, in order to expand his research and debate the structures of industrial modernity. Bringing this institute to the attention of the contemporary student or researcher, remember that it pleased the World Spirit to settle one of its dependents in Leipzig during the 1920s.

Hugo Fischer’s essay on the “Good European Masaryk” opened, in the framework of the Conservative Revolution, super-national perspectives to the new political thought then being elaborated in Germany. In the multi-ethnic state of Czechoslovakia, born from Versailles, Fischer believed that he discovered the nucleus of a future European unity, as it harbored within its intelligentsia metaphysical elements coming from the “original Christian spirituality of the Slavs.” Here we find evident affinities with the orientation towards the East prefigured by Niekisch and with his evident and voluntary pro-Bolshevism. Likewise, another nightmare of these “Revolutionary Conservatives” and “National Bolsheviks” is revealed in the writings of Fischer: over time the political predominance on earth risks shifting from Europe to the United States. Of course, the Europe that Fischer envisioned would be structured after an anti-capitalist model. Fischer wrote: “If a new social and federalist law was established among the industrialized peoples of Europe, that would be the beginning of the end for economics-centered and liberal individualism!”

Europe, according to Fischer, should take a “bündisch form,” in the sense where it should become a practical community of labor capable of “transubstantiating” the fundamental elements of “telluricity” (das Irdische), namely technology, economics, and politics, into superior forms. This idea contained the nucleus of Fischer’s political philosophy. He was permanently seeking a supporter of “substantial communitarianism” (substanzielle Gemeinschaftlichkeit). Masaryk’s Czechoslovakia rapidly fell into discredit with Fischer, probably because he quickly realized that Prague practiced a repressive policy regarding its minorities. Towards 1932, he turned his hopes to the USSR. In his book on Lenin, he described the Soviet nationality policy (which in fact only existed on paper) as a modern variant of the imperial policies dear to central Europe. Fischer sang the praises of the Stalinist Empire of the Gulag describing it as a “Federal state on a superior level.” This self-proclaimed prototype of the planned state guaranteed, in his eyes, the existential freedom of the particular cultures that composed it and ipso facto protected them from homogenizing Americanism. Nevertheless, hoisting the nations of the world to the level of “superior mental constitution” was not the task of the Russians, but of the Germans, so long as they took their “imperial mission” seriously.

In the passages that exalted this vision of the “physical fatherland” (Heimat) and politische Geborgenheit (political security / equilibrium / harmony), Fischer evoked the Greek polis of Antiquity and the German Empire of Hohenstaufen (when the German people found themselves “entirely at home with themselves” for the first time, “ganz bei sich zu Hause”). Here Fischer is very close to the “spirit of utopia” that we find the work of Ernst Bloch. Not to the National Socialist “Third Reich” that he left in 1939, firstly to travel to Norway, then, via England, to India in order to “go study Sanskrit” as he informed the German ministry of culture.

Leaving Germany for India, it is evident that Hugo Fischer no longer believed in the “political and imperial mission” of the Germans, as the imperial idea of the National Socialists was reduced and truncated by the völkisch-national ideal, reducing it to nothingness. In Varanasi, he modified his initial ideas and pleaded for “a universal and just cultural order based on the Indian model.” The Indian juridical order maintained the great clan based family and the traditional peasantry, which he henceforth considered as the foundations of what he wished to see emerge: “a macrocosm of all cultures and all human religions.” If such a macrocosm arose on Earth, then the “specific ethnic individualities” (die eigenständischen ethnischen Individualitäten) could remain secure within modernization, without which “no superior existential form” can exist.

In 1933, in response to Carl Schmitt, Fischer formulated the central question in his eyes: “How can contemporary man confront the fact that the influences of the superior order (höhere Einwirkungen) no longer exist in the world?” Responding to this central question, that he firstly posed to himself, he developed, starting from 1930, many concepts to “make politics metaphysical”  (Metaphysizierung der Politik), revealing a more elevated level of urgency than the simple “humanization” desired by Western civilizations (in the Spenglerian sense of the term). By proposing this primacy of religious and cultural regeneration, Fischer necessarily thought at the expense of all political realism. In his last major work, Vernunft und Zivilisation (Reason and Civilization), published in 1971, Fischer henceforth logically called for an “anti-politics.

From Hegel, Marx, and Nietzsche, Hugo Fischer deduced the instruments to dissect the concepts and visions of modernity and drive his efforts to “re-enchant of the world.” From the start this idealist heritage served to shape Fischer’s future anti-political utopianism. That predestined him to become more of a theologian of politics. That is to say become a very German expression of living contradiction.

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German National Bolshevism from 1918 to 1932 – Karl O. Paetel – Aussenpolitik April 1952

Today in West Germany, when political tendencies, groups, or particular people are qualified as “National Bolshevik” (with polemical intention and a pejorative implication, like “Trotskyite” or “Titoist”), one means that these tendencies, groups, or people are oriented towards the East and Pro-Russian, or at least sympathizers. But this definition doesn’t suffice to characterize the movement, which, between the end of the First World War and Hitler’s seizure of power, attracted the attention of theoretical – political spheres, on the “extreme right” as on the “extreme left,” in many styles, and under the same name.

On both sides, the movement was, essentially, based on motifs of domestic politics: the revolutionary socialists rallied to the idea of the nation, because they saw it as the only means of putting socialism into practice. The convinced nationalists tended towards the “left,” because in their opinion, the destiny of the nation could not be entrusted to a new ruling class. Left and right came together in common hate of all that they called Western imperialism, whose principal symbol was the Treaty of Versailles and its guarantor, “the Weimar system.” Also it was nearly inevitable that they would turn, in foreign policy, towards Russia, which had not taken part in the Treaty of Versailles. The “nationalist” milieus did so with the intention of pursuing the policy of Baron vom Stein, of the Convention of Tauroggen, and finally the “reassurance” policy of Bismarck; the dissident left, despite the often violent criticisms it formulated against the policies of the Soviet Union’s Communist Internationale, remained convinced of the socialist character of the USSR, they were thus related to it, and it expected the formation of a common front against the bourgeois and capitalist West.

So National Bolshevism counted German nationalists and socialists in its ranks, who introduced a growing social-revolutionary intransigence into German politics, counting on the aid of Russia to achieve their ends.

 

Hamburg “National Communism”

 

German National Bolshevism appeared for the first time in a discussion between certain factions of the revolutionary worker’s movement. It got its chance for the first time on November 6th 1918 and June 28th 1919. On November 6th 1918 in the “Field of the Holy Spirit,” near Hamburg, Fritz Wolffheim called the people to “German revolution” which, under the aegis of the red flag, would continue the struggle against “Western imperialism.” On June 28th the Treaty of Versailles was signed, Scheidemann and Brockdorff-Rantzau refused to endorse it.

Fritz Wolffheim and Heinrich Laufenberg, president of the council of workers and soldiers of Hamburg, lead the struggle against the defeatist slogans of the Spartacus Group and preached a “Jacobin” war of socialist Germany against the Peace Diktat. In his position as leader of the peace delegation, the German minister of foreign affairs, Count Brockdorff-Rantzau, had intended to make a speech of warning before the National Assembly, underlining that an “unjust peace” would reinforce the revolutionary opposition to capitalism and imperialism, and would thus prepare a social revolutionary explosion. The speech was never made, and its content was only published much later.

When the Freikorps of General von Lettow-Vorbeck entered into Hamburg, they addressed the leader of the Freikorps with an appeal asking him to join the revolutionary workers in order to participate in this struggle against an “unjust peace.” A Free Association for the Study of German Communism, founded by communists and young patriots – the Günther brothers took an active role there – tried to demonstrate to the socialists and nationalists the necessity of this common struggle, lead in the interest of the nation and socialism. Although local contacts took place in a few cities, the movement never had a real influence on the masses.

During the “Party Days” in Heidelberg in 1919, the recently founded Communist Party pronounced the expulsion of the Hamburg “left communists,” grouped around Wolffheim and Laufenberg, and the leftists in the Spartacus Group and a few others (the two movements had joined the Communist Party). This measure was due to the anti-parliamentary and “syndicalist” (on the question of unions) deviations of the aforementioned. Wolffheim and Laufenberg then rallied the Communist Worker’s Party of Germany, which was then forming. But the total lack of cohesion and its absence of ideological unity soon lead to the disintegration of the party. The supporters of Wolffheim regrouped into the Communist League, which would bear the officious subtitle, National-Communist League. Lenin and Radek threw all their prestige against “radicalism”, aimed especially at the Hamburg Communists, in order to support Paul Levi, the adversary of Wolffheim within the German Communist Party. The Hamburg Communists were isolated and their range of action reduced to a faction of the left.

It was also impossible to rally a sufficient number of activists from the right. Count Ulrich von Brockdorff-Rantzau, left for Moscow in 1922, in the role of German ambassador. He had the intention of “redressing the misfortune of Versailles from there.” To his efforts we owe the Treaty of Rapallo of April 16th 1922 (planned by his friend Maltzan) and the Treaty of Berlin of April 1926.

The revolutionary variant of German National Bolshevism had failed. After Rapallo, the evolutionary form of National Bolshevism would be pursued in the form of multiple contacts between the leaders of the Reichswehr (Seeckt and his successors) and the USSR. We cannot enter into the details of this collaboration here.

 

The “Populist – Communist Union”

 

The communists took the second step on the way to a common front, patriotic and socialist, against the West. On June 20th 1923, during the session of the Executive Committee of the Communist Internationale, Karl Radek made his famous speech on “Leo Schlageter, Wanderer into the Void,” where he bowed before the sacrifice of the nationalist saboteur and encouraged his comrades to pursue, on the side of the revolutionary working class, the common struggle for the national liberation of Germany.

Discussions followed in Die Rote Fahne and the German populist magazine Der Reichswart: Moeller van den Bruck, Count Reventlow, Karl Radek and many others spoke on the theme: “a common way to go?” Meetings took place on occasion. “The National Movement”, where Adolf Hitler, Captain Ehrhardt, and the populists of the Wulle-Gräfe Group increasingly spoke about them, remained distant.

The “national” watchword of the Communist Party rung hollow. Essentially, it has always rung hollow for the majority of nationalist activists. In August – September 1930, the German Communist Party announced a program for “the national and social liberation of the German people”. Moreover, it had, under the name of the ex-Nazi and Reichswehr lieutenant Richard Scheringer, rallied a few hundred ex-Nazis, officers and Freikorps men, in the ranks of the “Aufbruch”, around the magazine of the same name. Yet, the National Bolshevism controlled by the Communist Party, that is to say “derivative”, never became, neither within the Communist movement or outside it, a factor capable of determining the strategy and tactics of a mass movement. It was never anything but an instrument on the margins of the NSDAP, charged with the tasks of disintegration. The authentic National Bolshevik tendencies reappeared in a very different direction.

 

“The Third Party”

 

Under the Weimar Republic, there existed a “young nationalist” movement of rebellion in Germany. This movement situated itself on the “extreme right,” on the side of the national-conservative parties, National Socialism, different “populist” groups occasionally in competition with it, and national defense associations. From 1929 to 1932, it took concrete forms, and its “right wing” label no longer had anything in common with the label used in the parliamentary geography. They called themselves “national revolutionary,” they formed their own groups, they edited their own papers or magazines, and tried to exercise a moral influence on the defense associations, political groups, youth movements, and lead them to a complete revolution of the state, economy, and society.

They remained nationalist like before, but they increasingly tended towards anti-capitalist and socialist, even partially Marxist, claims.

These “left wingers of the right,” as Kurt Hiller called them, firstly tried to establish, “above the associations,” relations between the radicals of the left and right, by taking their “common anti-bourgeois and social revolutionary attitude” as the basis. When the weight of the party apparatus, on both sides, caused the failure of these efforts, they decided to create their own revolutionary platform in the national revolutionary groups and papers. The rallying of the Wolffheim Group to the Social Revolutionary Nationalist Group in 1930, which had begun to construct a platform of this type, of fusion, in the “resistance” of the young socialists of Hofgeismar with the Oberland Group, gave a new vigor, on a superior level, to the theses of the Hamburg national communists. That was also the case for certain pro-socialist tendencies which manifested themselves in a few radical right groups that had played an active role in High Silesia or in the resistance in the Ruhr.

The national revolutionary groups always remained numerically insignificant (for a long time, public opinion didn’t have a term clearer than “national bolsheviks” to refer to them!); but in the ideological scheme, there was a sort of authentic amalgamation between the concepts of the “right” and the concepts of the “left.” National Bolshevism didn’t want to be on the left or the right. On one hand, it proclaimed the nation as “an absolute value,” and on the other, it saw in socialism the means to realize this notion in the life of the people.

Moeller van den Bruck was the first young conservative theorist to profess similar ideas. It was solely for publicity purposes that he entitled his principal work The Third Reich, a phrase that would be usurped by the Hitlerian movement afterwards. Moeller himself wanted to call his book The Third Party. His guiding idea was the opposite of Hitlerian theories. Moeller van den Bruck gave an ideological foundation to the political theories of National Bolshevism. Starting from the principle that “each people has its own socialism,” he tried to develop the principal lines of a “German socialism” exempt from all internationalist schematism. The “Prussian Style” seemed to be the best attitude to him; also Moeller’s position turned towards the East, even in the political scheme, it was only the logical consequence of this spiritual heritage. He wanted to be “conservative” in contrast to “reactionary,” “socialist” in contrast to “Marxist,” “democratic” in contrast to “liberal.” The formulas that would form a sort of common basis for all the National Bolshevik groups appeared here for the first time, radicalized, simplified, and used in a summary way.

Besides Oswald Spengler and his book Prussianism and Socialism, which would quickly cease to fascinate when one recognizes its purely tactical character, two intellectuals coming from the social democrats contributed to the penetration of socialist ideas into the ranks of the young nationalist bourgeoisie: August Winnig and Hermann Heller. As the worker-poet Karl Broeger did until a certain point, Winnig and Heller established relations with the so-called Hofgeismar national movement at the time of the resistance in the Ruhr, coming from the young socialist movement of the SPD. Winnig’s “Faith in the Proletariat” and Heller’s “Nation and Socialism” were the point of departure for fruitful meetings between socialists (who had recognized the value of nationalism) and nationalists (who had recognized the necessity of socialism).

 

The “New Nationalism”

 

Moreover, even in the nationalist camp of the “front generation” rebel voices would rise. Firstly in the context of the Stahlhelm, then marginal, then ultimately cursed by this movement, they would express themselves in magazines like Standarte, Arminius, Vormarsch, Das Reich, contrasting a “new nationalism” to the national bourgeois patriot movement, and especially the NSDAP. When any hope of exercising an influence withing the large associations, groups, and parties was lost, they would resolutely oppose all slogans of “popular community.” “We are tired of hearing about the nation and only seeing regular profits for the bourgeois. We do not fight a second time so that the big banks and trusts will orderly and calmly administer the German state. Us other nationalists do not want, again, to make a common front with capital. The fronts are beginning to separate!” For the second time in the social-revolutionary movement, the border between the purely soldierly “new nationalism” and true National-Bolshevism was crossed. Anti-imperialists watchwords in foreign policy were its logical conclusion.

The spiritual leader of “new nationalism” was Ernst Jünger. Firstly known for this realist war novels, he then drew conclusions from the First World War, his philosophy of “heroic realism”, which would suppress the old antagonism between idealism and materialism. Through his vision of the Worker, was the first to encourage the young rebels who turned towards a world in which the “domination and form” of the proletariat operated – although he expressly elaborated the figure of the Worker beyond sociological facts – and after having analyzed and declared the coming a new collectivist social order inevitable in Total Mobilization. Jünger never joined any group, and published articles in many magazines representing these currents until 1932.

 

The Social-Revolutionary Platform

 

The theories professed in these milieus were far from always being rational. Franz Schauwecker declared: “It was necessary to lose the war, in order to win the nation.” They evoked so-called “the Reich” characterized by “power and inwardness.” But the program included, on the metaphysical side, strongly realistic points. They approved the class struggle- some, inspired as much by models of self-administration offered by German history as the Russian example – advocated the system of “councils.” They tried to make contact with extra-German anti-Western movements: the Irish independence movement, Arab milieus, Indians, Chinese (a League of Oppressed Peoples was contrasted to the League of Nations!). They energetically defended the idea of a Germano-Russian alliance, they proclaimed the necessity of a German revolution, of a common front with the revolutionary proletariat. All radical social-revolutionary claims had the same point of departure: the opposition to the Treaty of Versailles. One day Ernst Niekisch declared: “The minority has decided to renounce everything in favor of national independence, and even to sacrifice today’s social, economic, and political order, if it is otherwise impossible to obtain it.”

These milieus considered National Socialism as “belonging to the West.” Prussianism, socialism, Protestantism and even – until a certain point- neo-paganism – were used against National Socialism and its “Catholic and Counter-Reformation tendencies,” which falsified the national as well as social slogans and tended towards Fascism. Although in the last years before 1933, the struggle against the Hitlerist movement increasingly became the principal objective for the national revolutionaries, at this time public opinion considered National-Bolshevik tendencies as a real danger to the Republic, precisely for the reasons we just said.

The movement was never centralized. The different groups and papers never succeeded in acquiring a real cohesion; they were confined in a fierce individualism, until the moment Hitler eliminated them all by banning them, and arresting, exiling, or killing their leaders. If the “Youth Action” against the Young Plan had at least a certain media success, the groups failed to agree on the choice of Claus Heim as their common candidate for the Reich’s presidential election. Likewise for the efforts designed to create a single national communist party at the end of 1932.

 

The Anti-Capitalist Intelligentsia.

 

In 1932, general unease reigned and one wondered – especially in the bourgeois press – if the words of Albrecht Erich Guenther didn’t contain a little truth: “The force of National-Bolshevism cannot be evaluated in terms of the number of members of a party or group, nor in terms of the readership of its magazines. We must feel how much the radical youth was willing to unreservedly rally to National-Bolshevism, in order to understand that such a movement could suddenly overflow limited circles to expand among the people.” Gregor Strasser’s threatening quote about the “anti-capitalist nostalgia of the German people” continued to ring disagreeably in the ears of some, especially on the right. 1932 became the decisive year. The columns of the NSDAP and the Communist Party marched against the state. Then from the sociological no-man’s land a third movement briefly arose which not only made appeals to national passion, but still brandished the threat of complete social revolution – and all of that with a fanaticism that seemed more serious than the fanaticism of National Socialism, whose slogans seemed identical in the eyes of a superficial observer.

In milieus which had nothing to do with activists from national revolutionary circles, similar theses also briefly appeared, even if the language seemed more measured, more objective, and more realist. The young intelligentsia of both parties, threatened with the disappearance of the profession, increasingly risked being seduced by radicalizing, anti-capitalist, and partly anti-bourgeois slogans. These tendencies manifested themselves through the sudden fame of the group Die Tat, gathered around the monthly magazine of the same name. This magazine, coming from the former free German youth movement, was lead by Hans Zehrer, former foreign policy editor of Vossische Zeitung. It guarded itself against the sterile dogmatism of the radical left and right, and reprised the essential claims of the national revolutionaries. The magazine supported Ferdinand Fried’s attacks against the capitalist order, and advocated, with him, for a planned economic and a guaranteed national sovereignty – autarky – thus appropriating the slogans of the Hitlerian movement.

This “moderate National-Bolshevism,” if one can express it as such, almost became a real factor. The readership of Die Tat reached figures unknown in Germany until then; the influence of its weighty and scientific analyses far surpassed the influence of the traditional National-Bolshevik groups.

At one point, General Schleicher began to seek contact with the unions and Gregor Strasser who, since the disappearance of the “revolutionary national socialists” of his brother Otto, represented the “left wing” tendencies within the NSDAP; among the masses he wanted to establish the “socialism of the general”, which he skillfully propagandized and whose sensational slogan was: “The Reichswehr isn’t here to protect an outmoded property regime.” Die Tat then backed this doctrine. Zehrer took charge of an old Christian-Social daily Tägliche Rundschau and defended a Third Front based around Schleicher. After having, a time beforehand, launched as the slogan regarding the existing parties: “The Youth Front remains outside them!”, this “Third Front” turned out to be a simple “reformist” variant of the Anti-Capitalist Front of Youth from the left to the right, represented by National-Revolutionary milieus. The brutal dismissal of Schleicher ultimately put an end to this campaign.

 

Under the Aegis of the Black Flag

 

The national-revolutionaries never achieved mass awareness. A few thousand young idealists gathered around a dozen and a half magazines and leaders of a few small groups. When Otto Strasser founded his own group on 1930, called the Black Front thereafter, the national-revolutionaries tried to make contact with it, but soon renounced it. Like the Scheringer Group, Strasser’s group was never truly national-revolutionary. But the movement that Strasser indirectly unleashed by quitting the NSDAP, would lead many to join the National-Bolsheviks. Since before 1933, SA and young Hitlerian groups had been formed, in a few towns, under the aegis – illegally – of the national-revolutionaries. But these were isolated cases, and not mass work.

One time alone, the symbol of the national-revolutionaries, the black flag (Moeller van den Bruck had proposed it as an emblem and all the National-Bolshevik groups accepted it) played a historic role under the Weimar regime: in the rural movement of Schleswig-Holstein (which had ramifications in Wurtemberg, Mecklenburg, Pomerania, Silesia, etc). Claus Heim, a prosperous fully experienced farmer, became the center of the peasant’s defense against the Weimar “system.” The national-revolutionary intellectuals had the ideological education of the peasant masses, who were not “National -Bolsheviks” at all, in their grasp. Bruno and Ernst von Salomon, and many others, tried, especially in the organs of the rural moment, to give it a “German-revolutionary” meaning and surpass local concerns, with bombs launched against the Landratsämter, expulsions of tax officials coming to collect levies on farms, forcibly banning auctions.

During the course of the “dynamiters trial,” Claus Heim and his closest collaborators were thrown in prison, the movement lost its strength, but the Prussian police were not very far from the truth when at the start of the proceeding, they contemptuously arrested all those who were associated with the very nationalist “Salon Salinger” in Berlin. The men who went there were not privy to the different attacks, but they were the spiritual instigators of the movement.

 

The National Revolutionary Combat Groups

 

While the Stahlhelm had not necessarily submitted to the influence of National-Bolshevik slogans, and the Young German Order, focused in principle around a policy of Franco-German alliance, demonstrated unequivocal hostility to these groups, two less important associations of front line soldiers, belonging to the right, rallied quite completely to them: the Oberland League and Werwolf. Initially the Oberland League was part of the German Combat Group which, with Goering’s SA, had been the principal military support of the November 1923 Putsch. But, from the beginning, it didn’t belong there. Ernst Röhm recounted in his memoirs that he intended, during one of the first “German days”, to use the opportunity to propose Prince Rupprecht’s kingship of Bavaria. But the leaders of the Oberland League, to whom he communicated his plans, clearly declared that they would come with machine guns and fire on the “separatists” at the first cry of “long live the king,” upon which the old leader of the Reichskriegsflagge, grinding his teeth, had to renounce his project. Another example drawn from the history of the Freikorps shows that the Oberland was a group apart: after the famous assault on Annaberg in 1921, the Oberland League, on its return journey, passed through Beuthen, where the workers were on strike. As, in general, the Freikorps were always willing to shoot at the workers, the leaders of the Oberland League were asked to break the strike through force of arms. They refused.

The Freikorps were then dissolved and replaced by the Oberland League, which later edited the magazine Das Dritte Reich. Very quickly, the most important members of the group moved closer to the National Bolsheviks in the ideological scheme; Beppo Römer, the true instigator of the assault on Annaberg, even joined joined Scheringer’s communist group. In 1931, the Austrian sections of the group, relatively strong, elected the prince Ernst Rüdiger von Starhemberg, fascist leader of the Heimwehr, as leader of the group: the national-revolutionaries then left the group and, under the name of Oberlandkameradschaft, passed to Ernst Niekisch’s resistance group, soon forming its nucleus.

A second defense group reprised certain theories of the national-revolutionary movement: Werwolf (in the Tannenberg group of Ludendorff, voices of this type were the exception). Werwolf modified its position for two reasons: firstly, this group counted a relatively large number of workers in its ranks, who very strongly exercised pressure in favor of a “non-bourgeois” nationalism; secondly, its leader, Studienrat Kloppe, demonstrated the constant need to differentiate itself from more important groups. As the “new nationalists” fell into disrepute among the Stahlhelm, the NSDAP, and the DNVP, Werwolf moved closer to them [the “new nationalists”] in a spectacular fashion. When Otto Strasser founded the “true national socialist group” in 1930, after having launched his appeal “Socialists leave the Party”, Kloppe, whose ideas perfectly coincided with those of Strasser, did not rally to it: he founded a dissident group, called “ownerism.” The members of the group, more radical as a majority, didn’t take this new doctrine too seriously, but took over control of the group’s bulletin so that it generally represented the point of view that had been adopted by Der junge Kämpfer, Der Umsturz (organ of the “confederates”), Der Vorkämpfer, (organ of the Jungnationaler Bund, Deutsche Jungenschaft), and many others besides the organs already mentioned, on the Russian issue as on the social level. In 1932, Werwolf abruptly decided to present candidates for communal election, thus renouncing its anti-parliamentary principle.

 

The Typology of National-Bolshevism

 

The majority of the members of the national-revolutionary groups were youth or mature men. They also counted a relatively high number of former members or militants belonging to the associations of the Jugendbewegung.

No important group of the Youth Association was totally National-Bolshevik. But nearly every group counted sympathizers or adherents in the national-revolutionary movements. The national-revolutionary organs exercised a relatively large indirect influence on the groups, and likewise, the romantic world of the Jugendbewegung influenced the thought and style of the national-revolutionaries.

If we ignore the rural revolutionary movement, the Oberland League, and Werwolf, nearly all of the National-Bolshevik groups incorporated certain elements of the Jugendbewegung in the structure of their groups: elite groups based on the principle of voluntary service. The minority – but very active – were composed of former members of the proletarian youth, former communists, or social democrats, nearly all self-educated; the majority were comprised of members of the Youth Association, former members of the Freikorps and soldiers associations, students, – and disillusioned National-Socialists from the “socialist” tendency. Only the Die Tat group recruited members from the political “center.”

Essentially, all these youth were more or less in revolt against their class: bourgeois youth desirous to escape the narrowness of the bourgeois and property owning point of view, young workers who decided to pass from the class to the people, young aristocrats who, disgusted with sclerotic and outdated conceptions of their class’ “right to command,” sought to make contacts with the forces of the future. In the form of vanguard communities analogous to religious orders, these unclassifiable outsiders of the “bourgeois order” sought a new basis in the national-revolutionary movement, which, on one hand, would advance certain essential points of their former position (social revolutionary or national revolutionary elements of the “left” or “right”), and, on the other hand, develop certain separatist tendencies of a “new youth” endowed with an often exaggerated consciousness of its mission.

The men who assembled there had a common point: not social origin, but social experience. Here were not solely referring to unemployment, to the proletarianization of the middle classes and intellectuals, with all its consequences. All these facts would have lead to National-Socialism or communism in the course of the general radicalization of the masses. But, apart from this negative experience, there was a positive one: that of another social reality – the experience of community in the select milieu that “associations” of all types represented. More over – for the generations born between 1900 and 1910, with a few exceptions – these groups clashed with the silence of the existing political parties when they posed certain questions.

The national-revolutionary movement was also a sort of rallying place for all those who did not blindly rally to the Hitlerian flag, a forum for the outcast elements of the right and left because of their unbending sense of the absolute: a collector of all the “thinking” activists who tried, often in a confused fashion but at least in complete loyalty, to fill in the abyss between the right and left.

All that sometimes led to excesses of all sorts, to a certain revolutionary romanticism, to a too often exaggerated super-radicalism (especially because it lacked the corrective of a mass democratic movement). Nevertheless, a certain number of the young intellectuals of the “national” bourgeoisie were immunized against the contradictory slogans of the NSDAP thanks to it. Even in the militant organizations of National-Socialism, the national-revolutionary movement called back to objectivity and sowed the seeds of revolt.

This wave of German National-Bolshevism didn’t have political influence. The Nazis’ seizure of power put an end to its illusions – and its chances.

 

Conclusion

 

Today National-Bolshevism belongs to history. Even its last adherents, the resistance, so heavy with sacrifices, that lead many of its members against the Hitlerian regime clandestinely, the brief flare of the “National-Bolshevik” tactic inspired by the communists and directed from Moscow, all that is only history. A few of the most well known national-revolutionaries capitulated before National-Socialism. Here we remember the name of Franz Schauwecker, instead of certain others. Execution, confinement, concentration camp, exile, was the lot of the resistants belonging to the national-revolutionary movement – and the lot of all adversaries of Hitler.

As exemplars of the active and secret struggle under the Hitlerian regime, we cite Harro Schulze-Boysen, leader of the Gegner Group, the adversaries (of Hitler), and Ernst Niekisch, one of the few who after 1945, “followed the route to the end”, that is to say rallied to the SED. The majority of those who represented national-revolutionary tendencies in the past adopted new ideas: that was the case of Friedrich Hielscher and Ernst Jünger. They continued to build on the consolidated bases.

When the National Front of East Germany (a pale copy of the “national” line of the German Communist Party represented during the war by Moscow’s National Committee for a Free Germany and General von Seydlitz’s Leagueof German Officers), the Ohne mich-Bewegung [“Without Me” movement- West German peace movement]and the propaganda in favor of “conversations between representatives of all Germany” seek to warn against the National-Bolshevik movement of the past, or, on the other hand, refer themselves to it, they are most totally in error. Other realities in matters of global politics have created new problems – and new goals.

The account – incomplete – that we have tried to make here doesn’t try to defend or demolish certain stances of the past. The facts speak for themselves.

The German National-Bolshevism of 1918 to 1932 was a legitimate attempt to form the political will of the Germans. No one can say with certainty if, at its peak, it would be a positive and happy, or on the contrary, hateful, variant of the imminent revolt of the intermediate generations against the bourgeois state (inspired by the collectivist idea). It was limited to grandiloquent declarations, ultimately pre-political: the chance to prove themselves in daily reality was refused to them.

The majority of its representatives were honest, unselfish, and loyal men, which perhaps aids that task of considering it uniquely as historical phenomenon, even to its former adversaries, in all objectivity and without resentment.

 

(Aussenpolitik April 1952)

 

Source: http://etpuisapres.hautetfort.com/archive/2010/12/22/archives-sur-weimar.html

National Bolshevism and the Extreme Right – Response to a Political Science Student in the Context of a Thesis – Robert Steuckers – May 1988

What are the relations between “National Bolshevism” and the “extreme right?” Does the latter have the same social program as the revolutionary parties?

A difficult question which requires returning to all the classic literature in this domain: Sauermann, Kabermann, Dupeux, Jean-Pierre Faye, Renata Fritsch-Bournazel, etc. In summary, we can say that the rapprochement between nationalists (militarists and conservatives) and the German Communist Party in 1923, rests on the context and the following historical facts:

1) Germany was defeated and had to pay enormous reparations to France. Its economy was weakened, it lost its colonies, it didn’t have room to dump its population overflow or surplus industrial production, it was not self sufficient in the alimentary scheme (the loss of Posen, rich in grain, to the benefit of the new Polish state), its social and industrial structures were undermined.

2) The communist USSR was outcast among nations, boycotted by the Anglo-Saxons. It had trouble settling down after the civil war between the Whites and the Reds.

3) Through an alliance between Germans and Soviets, the Reich could find external markets and sources of raw materials (Siberia, Ukrainian grain, Caucasian oil, etc) and the USSR could have a stockpile of finished industrial products at its disposal.

4) In order to prop up this alliance, which would be endorsed at Rapallo in 1922 by the ministers Rathenau and Chicherin, it was necessary to soften the ideological differences between the two states. For the Germans, that meant deconstructing the anti-communist ideology which could be roused in Germany in order to ruin the achievements of Rapallo. Communism must be made acceptable in the German media. For the Soviets, the Germans would become victims of Western capitalist rapacity and French militarism.

5) The conservative circles around Arthur Moeller van den Bruck elaborated the following theory: Russia and Prussia were unbeatable when they were allies (as in 1813 against Napoleon). Under Bismarck, the tacit accord which united the Germans and Russians granted peace to Europe. Germany remained neutral during the Crimean War (but still showed sympathies for Russia). Thus the Germano-Russian alliance should be an untouchable axiom of German policy. So the change of ideology in Russia should not change anything about this principle. Russia remained an unassailable territorial mass and an immense reserve of raw materials from which Germany could benefit. Moeller van den Bruck was the translator of Dostoevsky and drew the principal arguments of his pragmatic Russophilia from “A Writer’s Diary” by his favorite author. To understand the mechanics of the Germano-Russian alliance, and consequently, the rapprochement between “Bolsheviks” and “nationalists,” implies understanding Dostoevsky’s arguments in “A Writer’s Diary.

6) On the communist side, Karl Radek engaged in talks with the diplomatic corps of the Reich and with the army (invited to train in Russia; cf. the military work of General Hans von Seeckt; in order to understand the Soviet point of view, cf. the work of the English historian Carr).

7) The Franco-Belgian occupation of the Ruhr prevented the industry of the Rhine from fully serving the Reich, and thus in turn the USSR, whose only serious ally was the Reich, despite its momentary weaknesses. The communists, numerous in this region and well organized, henceforth participated in strikes and boycotts against France. Lieutenant Schlageter, who organized sabotage with explosives and attacks, was arrested, condemned to death, and shot by the French: he was a hero of the nationalists and communists in the Ruhr and throughout Germany (cf. the homages that Radek, Moeller van den Bruck, and Heidegger made to him).

8) The Germans and the Russians intended to raise up the dominated peoples in the French and English colonies against their oppressors. In the framework of “National Bolshevism,” one sees support for the Arabs, Indians, and Chinese develop. The anti-colonialist ideology also gave birth to a certain anti-racism (notwithstanding the glorification of Germanity in conservative and nationalist ranks).

9) Another factor in the Germano-Soviet rapprochement: Poland which the Germans and Russians deemed to be instrumentalized by France against Berlin and Moscow. In fact, in 1921, when the Polish invaded the USSR following the Soviet attack, they were commanded by French generals and armed by France. In the 1920s and 30s, France co-financed the enormous military budget of Poland (nearly 37% of the GNP).

10) The axiomatic ideal of a Germano-Russian alliance reached its apogee in the clauses of the German – Soviet Pact of August 1939. They would be made null and void in June 1941, when Hitler’s armies invaded the Soviet Union.

11) In the new iterations of “National Bolshevism,” after 1945, many factors need to be taken into account:

a) The refusal of the anti-Soviet logic of the Americans during the Cold War and especially after Reagan’s accession to the presidency following the November 1980 presidential elections. This refusal culminated in the pacifist wave in Germany (1980 – 1985), where they opposed nuclear war on European soil. It was also the era where the principal ideologues of National Bolshevism were rediscovered, commented upon, and re-edited (for example Ernst Niekisch).

b) Restoration of one form or another of Germano-Soviet (in Germany) or Euro-Soviet alliance (elsewhere, notably in Belgium with Jean Thiriart).

c) Creation of a Eurasian space as an ersatz geopolitics of internationalism (proletarian or otherwise).

d) Demonstration of a preference for martial ideologies against mercantile ideologies, spread by Americanism.

e) The search for an alternative to Western liberalism and Sovietism (deemed too rigid: “panzercommunism,” “state capitalism,” the rule of apparatchiks, etc.)

f) The search for this alternative lead to the remembrance of dialogues between the “extreme right” and the “extreme left” before 1914 in France. From this viewpoint, the works of Cercle Proudhon in 1911 where the Maurrasian nationalists and the Sorelian socialists compared their points of view, in order to fight against a “swamp” of parliamentary politics, incapable of quickly solving the problems of French society.

g) This “neo-National Bolshevism” retained an anti-colonial or anti-neo-colonial preference from the 20s and 30s, leading the majority of national-revolutionary or national-Bolshevik circles to champion of the cause of the Palestinians, Gaddafi, Iran, etc. and share the cult of personalities like Che with the leftists. Likewise, they supported ethnic guerrillas in Europe (IRA, Basques, Corsicans, etc).

The question of the social program is complex, but we must not forget the context. The German bourgeoisie was ruined, it no longer had immediate interests and could accept extreme social claims. The mark was worthless, inflation reached unbounded proportions. Between 1924 and 1929, when German society seemed to stabilize, the divides reappeared but were swept away again by the Crash of 1929. Don’t forget that Germany, unlike other Western states, had established an optimal system of social security, with the contribution of the social democrats, who had been involved with political power since Ferdinand Lassalle (leader of the social democrats at the end of the 19th century). Thus in Germany the notion of social justice was more widespread than in the West. The left and the right both dreamed of restoring the functioning of the Wilhelmine social system. The majority of debates oscillated between redistribution of wealth (from the nationalists to the social democrats) and the expropriation of private property (the ultra of the communist left).

Ernst Jünger and National Bolshevism – Louis Dupeux – Magazine littéraire n°130 – November 1977

In the face of National Socialism, in the Germany of the 1920s, National Bolshevism developed around Ernst Niekisch and the magazine Vormarsch. Jünger contributed his thoughts on the primacy of the nation there, and wrote Der Arbeiter, before the disappearance of the movement, crushed by National Socialism, from which Jünger turned away with horror.

“National Bolshevism,” a marginal political current but of the highest theoretical interest, appeared in the spring of 1919 on the German extreme right. Its point of departure was the conviction according to which the fundamental values of the right, like the nation, state, or hierarchy, are eternal realities that revolutions can certainly obscure temporarily, but which only reemerge stronger, regenerated by the test of fire. Thus, Bolshevik Russia was only an avatar of the eternal Russia; the Russian state was stronger than ever and would never perish; the Russian nation, stripped of occidental influence, rediscovered its identity: Marxist materialism poorly concealed a grand spirit of idealism; Lenin and then Stalin were “red Tsars”, etc.

This interpretation, then very widespread (and not only on the right and in Germany) did not in itself constitute a “National-Bolshevik” reasoning. For there to be “National Bolshevism,” there must be activists extracting practical results, that is to say deciding to apply the recipe to their own country, “contaminated” by liberalism and democracy. It is necessary for them to accept integral socioeconomic revolution, not for the good of individuals or groups, but for the reinforcement of the nation and its state. There must be, on the other hand, the acceptance of not only the “Russian” alliance, but also alliance with German communists and even, logically, their eventual hegemony, since the natural movement of history would only use German communism to give birth to a new Germany – or more exactly a “new Prussia.”

Such was the solution proposed, in April 1919, by the first of the “National Bolsheviks”, the National German deputy Paul Eltzbacher, who called his compatriots to “place themselves in all honesty on the ground of Bolshevism,” in order to escape the “slavery” promised by the future peace treaty, but also to bring about a “complete reconstruction of the state” according to the purest criteria of traditional German idealism …

Ernst Jünger was charged with “National Bolshevism” by different observers, the most notable of which is certainly Hermann Rauschning, the author of The Revolution of Nihilism, which has long passed as an essential work on the interpretation of totalitarian phenomenon.

In reality, it is imprecise to consider Jünger as a “National Bolshevik,” while its also imprecise to consider him as a National Socialist in the “Hitlerian” sense of the term … It is true that Jünger was fascinated by the problem of Bolshevism; in his capacity as a theorist of a certain modernist extreme right, he felt infinitely closer to Stalinist totalitarianism than “Western” liberalism. Also, without essentially engaging with it himself, he advocated a “hardline” political attitude, that spread “National Bolshevik” commitments among his very numerous admirers. It is also significant that the majority of “National Bolshevik” leaders, starting with the most famous among them, Ernst Niekisch, were friends, sometimes even intimate friends of Jünger.

In 1925, Jünger tried, for the first and last time in his life, to throw himself into active politics. He called for the leagues of former soldiers to unite in order to create a “national, social, armed, and authoritatively structured” state, the formulation betrayed an evident admiration for the Fascist model. The appeal failed. Convinced by the “fiasco of the leagues,” Jünger then decided to devote himself to the formation of an “intellectual elite.” At the head of a small phalanx of war veteran writers, he collaborated with a large number of ultra-nationalist magazines, like Vormarsch, particularly striving to influence the hard nucleus of Youth Leagues. His talent allowed him to impose himself very quickly as “the uncontested spiritual leader” of what one called “young nationalism” or “neo-nationalism,” that is to say a particularly hard variant of the global ideology of the German extreme right – an extreme right where the National Socialists were still only a small group among others …

The principal characteristics of this “neo-nationalism” were linked to its paramilitary origin as well as a strong Nietzschean influence. Militant anti-rationalists, imbued with a Darwinian and “vitalist” vision of the world, the “neo-nationalist” writers took pleasure in the expression in a so-called “soldierly” brutality. While exalting blood, force, and fate, fruitful barbarity, and primitivism, they also showed themselves to be fascinated by the power of technology, which they experienced on the battle field. So these ultra-reactionaries were also modernists at the same time, attentive to all the aspects of industrial societies and convinced that “the city is the front” in an era where many others still or already exalted the virtues of a return to the soil … On the level of practical politics, they cultivated “steadfastness”, that is to say radicalism, which is the German name for extremism. One of their watchwords was “decision,” decision “without respect” for others or themselves, since the country was at stake.

In this often very sloppy jumble, Jünger distinguished himself with a subtlety and breadth of personal view – without speaking of his talent with the pen. He liked to present his nationalism not as an end in itself but as the privileged means of a sort of cultural revolution. For example he wrote, “Nationalism is the counter-critique to the critique directed against life in the context of a weakened faith. As such, it is akin to the Counter-Reformation … It expresses a resolute conversion to the soil, astonishing after 150 years of Enlightenment.”

According to Jünger, an essential means of achieving this counter-revolution was to confer to ideas like the nation “a power such that they escape any discussion.” So the nation should be presented as a “central value” and nationalism used as a sort of explosive, capable of provoking the reversal of values. Moreover, and to accelerate things, one should utilize all means of nihilism, exalt chaos, the “blank slate” and the “cleansing through the void,” of course meaning a provisional nihilism, “responsible,” or, in a word, “Prussian,” aiming to reconstruct, but on new bases. As Jünger himself said, after the deployment of “what remains in us of nature, of the elementary, of true savagery, of the original language, of the power of true conception with blood and seed, only then will the possibility of new forms arise…”

Deepening his thought, Jünger arrived at 3 fundamental ideas in 1929, which stirred the enthusiasm of his most daring admirers. He firstly noted the existence of what he called an “invisible alliance,” that is to say an objective solidarity between nationalism and communism in the struggle against the “bourgeois” world. He also discovered, thanks to the Russian example in particular, that the sense of nationhood was strong enough to “triumph over all dogmas” and mix very different ideas without risk, including the idea of social revolution. In this double realization, which was likewise “a monstrous concentration of force,” he even saw it as “the philosopher’s stone that the master of modern politics must discover” … Finally, he perceived an identification between nationalism and socialism – quite simply because the gave the same “organicist” meaning to the word “socialism” like nearly all of the new German right

These ideas (or images) – shocking, expressed in a very pure and illustrative language, through very subtle examples – also reinforced by the more direct argumentation of men like Friedrich-Georg Jünger who demanded an “state of steel” on his part – would push the most determined disciples to “National Bolshevism” according to ultimately very simple processes. Far from considering nationalism as the simple instrument of a vast cultural revolution, a certain number of ultras, youth or older, would position themselves as “absolute nationalists” and consider the nation not as “a” central value but “the” central value.

In the same time where the aesthetic of the “blank table” marked them as revolutionaries – or “anti-bourgeois” rebels – the will to the “ultimate consequence” would lead them to radically challenge everything that seemed to oppose the power of the nation and the state. At this time, that is to say in full “prosperity” as well as in the heart of the Great Depression, the German extreme right was marked by a violent anti-capitalist current. In the magazines of the activist leagues as in multiple debates of the Youth Movement, more or less skilled analysts, but generally sincere, demonstrated that the economy had taken precedence over the political (thus over the state).

They reproached capitalism for being foreign to the “German spirit” and accused it of compromising both national independence and the cohesion … But intellects split on the level of the solution to the problem. While the pure Hitlerians only attacked “Jewish” capital, the “left wing Nazis” and likewise proposed a vast system of partial nationalization on their part. As for the most “consequent” neo-nationalists, they took the analysis to its conclusion and found themselves to be “National Bolsheviks.” A moment troubled by the sincere reformism of the Strasser brothers, they soon refused to stand for half solutions. They required the pure and simple eradication of capitalism by nationalization of the entire productive system. This choice lead them to advocate alliance with the communists – always “for the love of the nation” and defend the Soviet experiment by all means, then illustrated by the “Central Planning,” which they interpreted as an extraordinary affirmation of the political and as an essential instrument for the construction of a hierarchical, structured, “national community” endowed with an ideal.

Yet Jünger pressed his thought, increasingly orienting it towards examining the dynamic of contemporary industrial societies. Observing that “progressiveness” achieved, in Western countries, value as a “faith” and a force of mass movement (thus irrational), he saw in the manipulation of democratic techniques a means to achieve the inversion of values and total mobilization, to which he devoted a small book in 1931. He thus engaged himself in a way that would make him one of the first theorists of totalitarianism, with his friend Carl Schmitt. In 1932, he published The Worker (Der Arbeiter), a fundamental work which furnished the schema of a rigorously totalitarian society.

The “Worker” according to Jünger is not exactly a laborer nor (especially not) a “bourgeois.” It is absurd to interpret him in terms of economy and (especially not) rationality. He represents a human “type,” the type of the New Man that arises in deep resonance with the tendencies of mass technical society, subsumed under the name of “Work.” Jünger confers to this “Work” a “cosmic” character, “total”, and thus inescapable. In the universe thus defined or marked, every man, every “worker” sees or will see his place rigorously determined by his degree of acclimation to the universal tendency. He will take his rank on an ideal socio-political pyramid. Thus “total mobilization” will be realized, that is to say a totalitarianism without flaws, allowing for a monstrous concentration of power within what Jünger calls, not nations, but “planned spaces.”

In these spaces, the economy will not necessarily be collectivized, but it will be totally controlled by the state, which could content itself with mastering the strategic nodes of power: for example, electrical grids and radio stations. This modern Leviathan will expand through different means, in particular through war, considered as a superior form of “Work” (that is to say, in fact, activity or action…) The planet will progressively see itself divided into a small number of political unities, within which the smaller people will find protection, waiting for the advent of a planetary domination procuring a superior form of security for all, “surpassing all the processes of wartime and peacetime work.”

It is clear that the ideas developed in Der Arbeiter do not conform to the criteria of “National Bolshevism” as we have defined them above. Certain “National Bolsheviks” would reproach Jünger in particular for having adopted an planetary view (which is not otherwise incompatible with an eventual German imperialism). But what truly distinguished Jünger’s concept from “National Bolshevism” was firstly its abstract character. Authors like Niekisch and Rauschning, who saw the archetype of “National Bolshevism” in Der Arbeiter were only able to do so because they saw in Bolshevik Russia the particular form of a global “anti-Western” process, which also expressed itself in Italian Fascism. It is also what Jünger thought himself, because he interpreted Bolshevism as “the barbarian-Scythian form of the universal process of the restoration of values…”

If we stand on these generalities (or this confusion), it is quite true that we can make Jünger a sort of “National Bolshevik” of the masses. But in concrete politics, the sympathy that he expressed for the Soviet Union was accompanied by a solid distrust, quite distant from the enthusiasm of the “National Bolshevik” militants, and extended through an even larger mistrust regarding German communists. Finally – and especially – the vague or abstract character of the solutions proposed by Der Arbeiter in the economic domain fundamentally differs from the concrete radicalism professed by “National Bolshevik” activists. An incontestable discomfort was felt between Jünger and some of his admirers – as enthusiastic as they were for the idea of a “total state” on one hand. One of them even reproached him for opening the way to “neo-fascist” experiences of state capitalism – and it is true that the vague economic model sketched in Der Arbeiter evokes the practice of Italian Fascism … and the future Nazi practice.

Whether Jünger (who we personally consider as the greatest contemporary German writer) was sincerely and profoundly repulsed by Nazi vulgarity and barbarism (a “barbarism” that he conjured the specter of himself), is an entirely separate affair. Here one touches on the domain of the responsibility of the intellectual or aesthete, a responsibility that would doubtlessly be as relevant in the more hypothetical case of a “National Bolshevik” crystallization of the German extreme right … Jünger put his immense talent in the service of a global tendency of which “National Bolshevism” only represented a marginal expression, but the most “substantial,” the most radical, if not the most logical. Neither truly a “National Bolshevik,” nor a “left wing Nazi,” especially not a Hitlerian, he situated himself at the crossroads of all totalitarianism, before realizing all the horror. Not a “National Bolshevik,” but a cynical discoverer of the most destructive tendencies of contemporary mass societies.

Ernst Niekisch: A German Destiny – François Lapeyre – éléments n°73 – 1992

The collection “Hitler une fatalité allemande et autres écrits nationaux-bolcheviks” unveils the work of Ernst Niekisch, one of the most troublesome and controversial authors of the German Conservative Revolution to the French public for the first time.

The first appearances of National Bolshevism happened in a Germany bled dry, at the end of the Great War. So we come to professor Paul Eltzbacher’s spectacular rally to the Bolshevik idea in 1919. Eltzbacher, then a member of the German National Party, declared in the newspaper Tag (April 2nd 1919): “There is only one way to end this affair. That way is Bolshevism.” The consternation in the Conservative milieus was total, while the left remained wary of such a rally. Only the communist Karl Radek recognized the emergence of a National Bolshevism from the “honest” right, to which the communists should “extend a hand” so that “the national hope could also be a way towards communism.” (Kommunistiche Arbeiter-Zeitung, Hamburg, November 24th 1919).

The second manifestation of National Bolshevik tendencies would be broader. Its principal actors would be Heinrich Laufenberg and his friend Fritz Wolffheim, both members of the radical left in Hamburg, then in the KPD from January 1919. They played a preponderant role during the revolution in Hamburg, in November 1918. The first Socialist Republic of the Reich was enthusiastically proclaimed there, and Laufenberg was elected president of the council of workers and soldiers. But opposition rapidly emerged within the leadership of the KPD, principally Radek and Levi, for whom the failure of councilism as a spontaneous form of revolution would lead to the constitution of a centralized party leading a “war of position” against Weimar. Expelled, Laufenberg and Wolffheim, largely supported by the Hamburg communists, would then benefit from the signature of the Treaty of Versailles, resented by all as an insupportable diktat, in order to give a distinctly nationalist orientation to their movement.

They described the necessity of a “popular revolutionary war” where the unity of the people (and not only of the proletariat) is expressed against the occupation forces. “The proletarian class organization” became “the proletarian organization of the people,” resulting in the emancipation of the “totality of the people,” of the “entire nation,” and the leaders proposed the creation of Red Liberation Army, which, reaching out to Russia across Poland, would organize the creation of an Eastern bloc. But, despite the creation of the Communist Workers Party of Germany (KAPD), this National Communist agitation would remain without results. It is nevertheless emblematic enough of this first National-Bolshevism, the “National Bolshevism of defeat,” as Louis Dupeux called it (in National bolchevisme dans l’Allemagne de Weimar, éd. Champion, 1979), as inspired as Ernst Niekisch’s National-Bolshevism, which would experience its rise ten years later.

The political journey of Ernst Niekisch was situated entirely on the left. He joined the SPD in October 1917. On November 8th 1918, he was elected president of the council of workers and soldiers of the city of Augsburg. He was then elected, in 1919, to the Bavarian parliament on the USPD ticket (Independent Social Democratic Party). His opposition to the reformist wing of the SPD, directed by Bernstein, marginalized him within this party. He resigned at the start of 1926 and then joined the “Old Socialist” Party (ASP), whose daily newspaper Der Volksstaat he directed until 1928, the year he abandoned all political engagement.

But, in the meanwhile, Niekisch founded, on July 1st 1926, the monthly revue that would make him famous: Widerstand (Resistance). This experiment, that Niekisch would start in 1927, co-editing with August Winnig, developed links with the Conservative Revolution, principally the Young Conservative, Neo-Nationalist, and Bündisch milieus. The meeting with Ernst Jünger, in 1927, would notably be determinant in Niekisch’s ideological evolution. It was within the magazine Widerstand that the National-Bolshevik ideology would be elaborated.

Two themes dominated National-Bolshevism. On the ideological level, it firstly advocated social revolution in order to liberate the German workers from the exploiting class, while recalling that this social revolution could only be complete if it were accompanied by a national revolution and that delineated a political form, tending towards the constitution of a new state: “Only the will to class struggle, as the political organ and receptacle of the national will to life, liberates peoples,” wrote Niekisch. The most famous consequence, and the most common in these times of intense ideological re-positioning, would be the fusion of nationalism and Bolshevism into a single ideology advocating the unity of the people, nation, and state.

On the geopolitical level, National-Bolshevism stood entirely in opposition to the West, then symbolized by the diktat of Versailles. Ernst Niekisch recalled the existence of a Germanic-Russian community of a destiny (Schicksalgemeinschaft). We know that orientation towards the East (Ostorientierung), Russophile as well as Russophobe, is a permanent factor in all of German history and a great theme of the Conservative Revolution in particular. It found new dimensions with Niekisch. Firstly “pragmatic Russophilia” desired that the two outcasts from the order of Versailles, Germany and the USSR, ally with each other in order to make a common front against the Western powers of the European continent.

The Bolshevik Revolution was then appreciated for its own merits under two aspects: on one hand, the parallel between the Bolshevik spirit and the Prussian style (“Orientation towards the East and the de-bourgeoisement of Germany are situated in the same scheme” Niekisch affirms: the strong hierarchical state, the mobilization of the people, the appeal to heroism, the suppression of parasitic classes, the appropriation of technology for the development of the community and not for calculated profit alone, etc), and on another, the affirmation of the Russian character of the Revolution of 1917, of which Marxism was only superficial internationalist dressing.

Finally, there exists a third form of orientation towards the East, much later but also more radical, notably expressed in the Third Imperial Figure. The publication of this book in 1934 corresponds to the reformulation of National-Bolshevik ideology in idealist terms, notably in the meta-historical analysis. The central place is given to the concept of the Figure (Gestalt), the form which dominates in a given epoch of history, as in Jünger’s The Worker (published a year before). For Niekisch, the two major past Figures of the Eternal Roman and the Eternal Jew, arising from the same Mediterranean mold, are on the verge being replaced by the figure of the Worker, which, impregnated with the “new force” of the “Russo-Asiatic element”, will initiate a domination, no longer metaphysical or economic, but technical, no longer national but world imperial.

Such positions could evidently only distance Ernst Niekisch from National-Socialism. Moreover, he was among the first, within the Conservative Revolution, to denounce its dangers and distance himself from Adolf Hitler’s organization. This opposition would be systematized and expressed in the famous pamphlet, Hitler, A German Fate, published in 1932. The Russian Question is once again determinant there: National-Bolshevism is evidently foreign to anti-communist hysteria and the racialist anti-Slavism defended by the NSDAP. The idea of crusade against Russia is essentially Roman – Christian, Niekisch recalls. The Emperors of the West submitted in exchange for papal blessing, just like Hitler was ready to submit in return for Western recognition: behind the little Bavarian agitator hid “the gendarme of the West.” The crusade is a misappropriation of the idea of the “German protest,” a term Niekisch used to designate the capacity of the people to resist occupations and alienation.

Niekisch then derided the “Roman” character of National-Socialism, detectable in the Southern origins of Hitler as in the heritage of Italian Fascism. Racial obsession, the “oriental” cult of the leader, the often reaffirmed sympathy for Western powers, notably England, compromises with the Catholic Church and financial powers (with the demagogic distinction between speculative capital and creative capital), national messianism, petty bourgeois salvation, the total absence of the Prussian and Protestant countenance in the high masses of National Socialism: such are the most notable marks of the Western character of Hitlerian ideology. And Niekisch would issue a prophecy whose lucidity would reverberate through history: “The obscure forces of Germany spread in this erroneous way. Already the day was announced where, in a sterile exultation, they were lost in smoke until the last leap. They thus remained a people, exhausted, without hope. Tired, they doubted the meaning of the entire new German resistance. But the order of Versailles will be stronger than ever.”

Niekisch would pay for his audacity with his freedom. He was arrested on March 22nd 1937 by the Gestapo and immediately incarcerated. The Widerstand Circles, were, like other political movements, dissolved and forced to go underground. Sentenced two years later, Niekisch was condemned to life imprisonment, the confiscation of his wealth, and the forfeiture of his civil rights. Freed in January 1945 from the camp of Mauthausen where he was deported one year earlier, Niekisch joined the East German KPD in August. But the DDR would hardly be more favorable to him. The Institute of Studies on Imperialism that he founded there would be brutally closed in 1951. His first book published after the war, matured in prison, Europäische Bilanz, received an icy welcome. The second, Das Reich der niederen Dämonen, was banned a few weeks after its release. He joined West German in 1953, where his reception was most reserved. He died there, alone, the day of his 78th birthday, May 23rd 1967.

The entire life and work of Niekisch essentially stood for the idea of resistance, in this appeal to the eternal “German protest” against occupation and colonization. Resistance to Weimar Germany, which imprisoned him, to Hitler’s Germany, which deported him, to East Germany, which repressed him, and West Germany, which detested him. Ernst Niekisch would die without the Germany of his dreams ever becoming a reality.

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.

Source: http://www.voxnr.com/4395/litineraire-dernst-niekisch

“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.