Fascism and Marxism

Well…. as I noted in an earlier comment, I actually never thought I’ld have to revisit my earlier studies and researches with the express purpose of gathering material to dispel the absurd revisionist nonsense that fascism was a movement of the radical left. It was a foregone conclusion in my time that fascism and Nazism were movements of the extreme right and of reactionary nationalism that could not possibly be confused with the movements of revolutionary socialism in the least.

Although what we call “fascism” and “Marxism” are, in many respects, the flotsam and jetsam of an age that is now fast receding, we are still required to deal with their spectres, which still to some extent continue to shape events. It is also quite relevant to our main interest here at The Chrysalis — Jean Gebser studies and the issue of “integral consciousness”, since Gebser wrote his great book The Ever-Present Origin parallel with all this turmoil in Europe. It evidently also conditioned some of his thinking, for he was himself a fugitive from fascism through much of his life, and even while writing his great book.

So, here we go: Post-War Germany was riven between forces of reactionary nationalism and revolutionary socialism. The liberal Weimar Republic that had emerged from the crucible of war seemed quite impotent to impose its authority over the country. Streetfighting between forces of reactionary nationalism and revolutionary socialism was pretty common, and in the case of Munich, was open civil war.

The situation in Italy was quite similar. Both Germany and Italy had suffered the humiliation of defeat in the war, and when you’re accustomed to thinking of your country as the centre of the universe, or that God spoke German or Italian, a defeat in war can be a pretty rude awakening. A lot of so-called “New Conservatism” that emerged also after the war blamed the whole mess on the French and the liberal French Revolution and sought to roll it back throughout Europe. They especially hated the motto of the Revolution: Liberté, égalité, fraternité.

(Also to be reminded here, that during this time the “Frankfurt School” — or “New Left” — also emerged as a critical response to this “New Conservatism”, and that many of the members of the Frankfurt School ended up as refugees in America).

So, this is one of the preconditions in Germany, Italy, and Japan that seemed to favour the rise of fascism — a sense of national humiliation that pops the bubble of an already excessive national narcissism, but that becomes exaggerated in the opposite direction as “master race” theory.

Since Germany was the centre of the universe, and God spoke German, the country’s defeat in the war could have only been due to diabolical forces and not from the incompetence of the German General Staff. And thus emerged the “stab in the back theory” as a face-saving device. In Germany it was pretty clear that these diabolical forces were Jews and Marxists whose “patriotism” was always suspect, and who, in the minds of reactionary nationalists, were pretty much one and the same thing.

For the sake of brevity, we’ll have to skip over a few things of consequence, but into this volatile mix of elements emerged the NSDAP (the Nazi Party) that presented itself as a “Third Way” with a 25-point programme for effecting a kind of crude synthesis of reactionary nationalism with elements of revolutionary socialism. Hence the name “National Socialism”, but which was mostly pretense as was the conceit of being a “National Socialist German Workers Party” since there were virtually no “workers” at all represented in it. It was initially largely a movement of the déclassé or the petit bourgeoisie. The German workers trades unions were pretty well established in their allegiance to the German Socialist Party (the SPD). Hitler was quite jealous of the popularity of the SPD and the name “National Socialist German Workers Party” ( Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei ) which was contracted, as is the German custom for long constructions, to “Nazi”.

(And I feel I have to mention this bit of trivia because I once encountered a man — a doctor even! — who firmly believed the Jews were the Nazis because of the term “ashkenazi Jew“. That kind of ignorance was jaw-dropping. No. Nazi is not short for Ashkenazi, even if, very ironically, some extreme forms of contemporary Jewish Zionism are clearly fascistic and are clearly Zionist versions of “Blood and Soil” and “Lebensraum” ultra-nationalism. And, No, pointing out that contradiction doesn’t mean you’re a racist or an anti-semite despite all attempts of the Israeli Hasbara (“propaganda”) to do so.)

Now, some naive people might be forgiven for thinking that Hitler’s crude synthesis of reactionary nationalism with some elements of revolutionary socialism means Hitler was a “man of the left” and that National Socialism was a socialist party. But that dog won’t hunt, because the socialist elements of the party programme were never implemented, and when the actual left-leaning faction in the Nazi Party insisted on the full implementation of the 25 point programme — the Strasserist faction — they were purged in the July 1934 Night of the Long Knives (or Operation Hummingbird). And this was done precisely so Hitler could curry favour with the industrial capitalists and the military high command whose support Hitler desired for his ulimate objective of resuming the war.

For Hitler and the Nazis, preparation for resuming the war (and everyone should have seen that coming) meant securing the home front first, and purging the nation of any potential dissenters, or “disloyal” or “unpatriotic” elements, including any of the religious who refused the Gleichschaltung, as it was called — who refused to be “coordinated” or “assimilated” (it’s a difficult word to translate directly into English). But basically, it was this “Gleichschaltung“, effected also through the Nazi propaganda system and the string of concentration camps for the defiant or recalcitrant, that lent Nazi Germany its totalitarian character. And it was the policy of the Gleichschaltung that is described by Pastor Neimoller’s famous verse

First they came for the socialists, and I did not speak out—because I was not a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists, and I did not speak out— because I was not a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—and there was no one left to speak for me.

Now, despite what you might read or hear about “the antifa” (the term is German and dates from this period), the anti-Nazi resistance in Germany was largely led by the religious, many of whom had refused to go along with their Churches which (shamefully) allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Gleichschaltung in the name of what the Nazis called “Postive Christianity”. As Niemoller’s quote relates, most of the communists, socialists, anarchists, trades unionists had been already liquidated or rounded-up and shipped off to concentration camps. So, the two perhaps most notable centres of antifa defiance and resistance were the Kreisau Circle and The White Rose, and these were fairly broad spectrum centres of resistance, including some active duty German soldiers. But many were Buddhists, Protestants, Catholics, Anthroposophists as well as conservatives and socialists. (Rosenstock-Huessy was also a member of the Kreisau Circle).

Now, some people, especially of a highly individualistic bent of mind, will simply see Fascism and Marxism (or Nationalism and Socialism) as the same because they are both collectivist movements: das Volk or the proletariat. This is, though, a bit of a problematic interpretation when it comes to what Marx actually taught about communist society as he envisioned it (although he was never very clear about it at all). But he thought of it as a society of genuine self-determination, and that it was the condition of proletarianisation that was, itself, the collectivist condition that the working class needed to be emancipated from — their subordination to capital or to the means of production or private property which is what prevented any kind of real self-determination. The working class, in order to live, had to subordinate itself to the dictates of the means of production itself — its rationality and its tempo. Mechanical time ruled over lifetime, as you see depicted in movies like Metropolis or Charlie Chaplin’s “Modern Times“. But here’s how Marx really thought of his ideal of the communist society

“For as soon as the distribution of labour comes into being, each man has a particular, exclusive sphere of activity, which is forced upon him and from which he cannot escape. He is a hunter, a fisherman, a herdsman, or a critical critic, and must remain so if he does not want to lose his means of livelihood; while in communist society, where nobody has one exclusive sphere of activity but each can become accomplished in any branch he wishes, society regulates the general production and thus makes it possible for me to do one thing today and another tomorrow, to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticise after dinner, just as I have a mind, without ever becoming hunter, fisherman, herdsman or critic.”

Now, this is a very peculiar sort of “collectivism” which no ostensibly communist society of the last century ever resembled at all, which sort of underscores Rosenstock-Huessy’s quip that the only reason communism never succeeded was the Communist Party. But in most respects, this remark of Marx’s is also represented in Rosenstock-Huessy’s social philosophy as “the Multiformity of Man“, and Rosenstock-Huessy considered himself a conservative!

So, the paradox of Marx’s idea of socialism and the classless society is not collectivist at all. The individual is now free to circulate through all sorts of identities rather than being stuck with one identity. One finds the same thing in Rudolf Steiner’s social philosophy: the individual should be free to circulate through many identities. And Marx is attesting here also to the truth that the real human being is polymorphic and polychrone.

As we could reasonably conclude from Marx’s quote, Marx would probably be hostile to any form of “identitarianism” or identity politics of any kind. The free individual disposes over his or her own life-time, and dons and sheds many identities as he or she sees fit.

So you might see how Marx’s vision could offend those who insist that you “know your place” or “keep to your station” in the social pecking order, and why none of the so-called “communist revolutions” of the last century ever even came close to resembling Marx’s idea of it.

In essence, though, it very much resembles William Blake’s own succinct political formula: “The Arts, and all things in common”. This is actually quite profound. For Blake, it was free creative expression that guaranteed the individuality, meaning also that aesthetics, and not principally technics, was deemed the hallmark of true intelligence. And free arts is what totalitarian regimes move to suppress first of all in favour of technics.

(I once visited the largest bookstore in then East Berlin, and was so disappointed to find that it was all books on purely technical subjects. No literature at all, which explains why I was in East Berlin at all. I was helping to smuggle East German literature back across the wall — ha. Almost got caught, too. A little unnerving to be waylaid by a man with a machine gun).

Anyway, as you might surmise from the citation, Marx’s chief beef was with the division of labour and the proletarianisation of the worker, which he thought confined the potential fullness of human identity and consciousness to a very narrow band on the spectrum of possible experience of life. His ideal still seems the Renaissance Man, who is artist in the morning, scientist and engineer in the afternoon, philosopher in the evening, or what we refer to as “well-rounded”.

19 responses to “Fascism and Marxism”

  1. Scott Preston says :

    “China calls for Hong Kong to swiftly punish ‘radical’ protesters”.

    Pretty ironic. But then, this is a time of great ironies.

    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2019/jul/29/china-calls-for-hong-kong-swiftly-punish-violent-protesters

  2. Scott Preston says :

    I might mention another peculiar fact about that bookstore in East Berlin. It didn’t offer any books by Karl Marx either.

    That always struck me as strange, until I read an account in Dreschner’s book God and the Fascists how the Spanish fascists (at the behest of the Spanish Catholic Church) confiscated all Spanish language versions of the Bible — some 250,000 copies were confiscated (because it might inspire Protestantism, apparently and the Catholic character of the country had to be preserved. That apparently meant keeping the population in ignorance of what was actually in the Bible).

    Given that strange anecdote, I think I finally understood why the biggest bookstore in East Berlin didn’t even carry anything by Karl Marx.

  3. Scott Preston says :

    “The Trump Administration has virtually obliterated the lines normally separating government policy making from corporate and foreign interests,” according to a report overseen by House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings.

    Well, that explains quite a lot doesn’t it? Not only about what it says, but also who stated it and why he’s suddenly become a target of Trump’s wrath.

  4. Steve says :

    Scott just found this in a book……The word for ‘ Cain ‘ itself means ‘ individual thinker ‘ or ‘ expert ‘ and is concealed in the name of the underworld god of smiths: Vulcan, who is really called ‘ Vul-Cain ‘. Interesting. The book is an Anthroposophical book.

  5. Scott Preston says :

    “Wow. Just before candidate Trump gave a major speech on energy policy, campaign adviser Tom Barrack shared a copy of it w/ UAE & Saudi officials — and arranged for language requested by UAE officials to be added to the speech, w/ the help of Paul Manafort.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/Politics/trump-aide-submitted-drafts-2016-america-energy-speech/story?id=64634140

    Yipes. Just yipes. Wonder what the base thinks about the great Islamophobe being so obligiing (and vice versa) towards two Muslim states behind the scenes? This seems all performance, like TV wrestling.

  6. Scott Preston says :

    This is alarming. Hope the screenshot comes through here (I’ll keep fiddling with it till it does)

    Fettweis climate map

    • Scott Preston says :

      This is quite consistent with other anomalies. What was predicted only for 2050 is going to all happen in 2019.

      • InfiniteWarrior says :

        Why are we still calling these “anomalies?”

        • Antonio Dias says :

          True!

          That is why I’m proposing a non-euphemistic name/label for what’s happening to our climate:

          Climate Fuckery!

          This calls it for what it is and covers all the ways in which we and the Earth are being violated.

          • Scott Preston says :

            Amidst all this fuckery, though, we are going to learn a hell of a lot. We’re going to see things we never saw before, like how the lithosphere, hydrosphere, biosphere, atmosphere, stratosphere, magnetosphere, etc all interact, and also we’ll have to add and recognise the “Anthroposphere” as an additional sphere in all this, how they all integrate, act, and relate to produce “climate”.

            Begins to look like Lennon’s “Glass Onion”, or something like the old medieval maps of the crystalline spheres except in three and four dimensions, and underscores Gebser’s symbol of the “sphere” as a new image of the integral.

            This also underscores Stephon Alexanders recent essay on how a drawing made him see the meaning of fourdimensional spacetime — it was the segment of a sphere.

            http://nautil.us/issue/46/balance/what-this-drawing-taught-me-about-four_dimensional-spacetime

            • Antonio Dias says :

              Yes!

              I’ve long felt that the Enormity we face is what gives us an unprecedented opportunity to truly take-in how everything is connected and at the same time see through all of the failures made in past efforts to break out of the cycles of so-called revolutions that, as the word implies, only take us back to where we were with a new oppressor replacing the old.

              These two pieces on Fascism do so much to clarify the ways in which these errors to learn from history led to the crises of the Twentieth Century and how duplicitous the attempts to cloud that history are today.

            • Scott Preston says :

              And when I say we’re going to learn a hell of a lot (and better learn it or we’re done for) I want to emphasise the word “hell” here.

    • Scott Preston says :

      I’m going to post something about that… probably tomorrow about Blake and his “Bible of Hell” and what that might actually mean in the present context.

      But right now, I have to do the dishes!

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