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Posts Tagged ‘fascism’

“The interpretation of fascism as an instrument of big business has been classic since Daniel Guerin. But the seriousness of his analysis conceals a central error. Most of the “marxist” studies maintain the idea that, in spite of everything, fascism was avoidable in 1922 or 1933. Fascism is reduced to a weapon used by capitalism at a certain moment. According to these studies capitalism would not have turned to fascism if the workers’ movement had exercised sufficient pressure rather than displaying its sectarianism. Of course we wouldn’t have had a “revolution”, but at least Europe would have been spared Nazism, the camps, etc. Despite some very accurate observations on social classes, the State, and the connection between fascism and big business, this perspective succeeds in missing the point that fascism was the product of a double failure; the defeat of the revolutionaries who were crushed by the social democrats and their liberal allies; followed by the failure of the liberals and social democrats to manage Capital effectively. The nature of fascism and its rise to power remain incomprehensible without studying the class struggles of the preceding period and their limitations.”

– Gilles Dauve, Fascism/Antifascism. Translation of 

« Bilan » Contre-Révolution en Espagne. Edmonton, Black Cat Press: 1982. 

(via forestrebel)

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“The rise of Fascism around the world has been happening quickly and it’s a lot to take in. So we wanted to take a minute to review the electoral gains made by anti-immigrant & far-right movements here in Québec and Ontario over the past few months.

It’s only been a month since François Legault’s CAQ won a majority government in Québec and they’ve already made it clear that they intend to decrease the amount of immigrants arriving in the province, make new immigrants take language and ‘values’ tests, ban non-Christian religious symbols in the civil service, and further privatize the health care system.

In Ontario, it’s been over four months since Doug Ford’s PC party won a majority and they’ve already rolled back minimum wage & basic workplace protections, privatized prescription drug insurance, returned elementary & high schools to a 1998 sex-ed curriculum, and threatened to withhold funding from universities that won’t host Fascist speakers.While both these right-wing parties were influenced & supported by far-right movements, neither are themselves Fascist.

 But in the short time since their victories, we’ve started to see more explicitly white nationalist candidates become electorally viable.

In Toronto’s mayoral election this past week, white nationalist Faith Goldy came in 3rd place. She beat the only leftist candidate in the race and received over 25,000 votes.In Mississauga’s recent mayoral election, far-right anti-Muslim candidate Kevin Johnston came in 2nd place, receiving over 16,000 votes. He accomplished this while also defending himself in court over hate crime charges.

Elections aren’t accurate measures of popular opinion. And as Anarchists, we don’t put stock in them as vehicles for the kind of political change we need. In fact, we strongly believe that attempts to achieve state power are not the answer. The reason we’re focusing on elections is because they’re becoming an increasingly possible bridge between far-right movements and the state power they desire.

Now, the Canadian government certainly doesn’t need Fascists at its helm to continue the ongoing genocide against indigenous peoples, to promote imperialism around the world, repress labour in the name of capital, or to continue to impose systems of structural white supremacy, patriarchy, ableism, and cis-heteronormativity onto the territories it stole through colonization. But today’s growing Fascist & other far-right movements are beginning to view the prospect of state power as a realistic horizon. And this prospect represents a mode of state repression that we’re largely unequipped to resist.

It’s also important to note that this isn’t coming out of nowhere. The rapid growth of the far-right has been made possible by decades of centre-right political gains.

While a lot of attention has been paid to the way far-right groups have influenced and supported certain parties and candidates, the lines of support and influence are in fact cyclical, flowing in both directions.

On a national level, you can draw a straight line between the Liberals’ post-911 fear mongering (the ‘Anti-Terrorism’ and ‘Public Safety’ acts, the use of Security Certificates against Muslim men, Project Thread & other baseless cases brought against Muslims), the Conservatives’ mid-2000s anti-Muslim attacks (the ‘Zero Tolerance for Barbaric Cultural Practices’ act, attempts to ban Muslim women from wearing the niqab, the proposed hotline for people to make accusations against Muslim neighbours), and the growth of anti-Muslim groups like PEGIDA Canada or the WCAI. 

 A similar line can be drawn between the anti-immigrant discourse of the Liberals’ border policy reforms (shifting from immigrants to ‘temporary foreign workers’ in the 1990s, the creation of the CBSA), the Conservatives’ expansion of those policies in the mid-2000s (referring to refugees as criminals, vastly reducing new immigrants, increasing ‘temporary foreign workers’, detentions, and deportations), and the recent growth of anti-immigrant groups like the Soldiers of Odin, Storm Alliance, or the Northern Guard.

In Ontario, 8 years of PC attacks on poor and working people, massive transfers of wealth and reductions of social services, followed by 15 years of Liberal Party ‘austerity,’ created public messaging (and a dire economic context) that now undergirds most far-right organizing in the province. 

Over the past 25 years, both parties consistently attacked organized labour, built public support against them, and normalized back to work legislation as a means to end strikes for good. It’s not surprising that workers experience attacks and death threats at picket lines today.

On a more local level, a quick survey of the wards where Faith Goldy drew the most support closely resembles the map of Rob Ford’s support base, built back in 2010 & since expanded by his brother. Again, the far-right’s growth isn’t coming out of nowhere.People have been well primed for Fascism by exposure to decades of racist, nationalist, and capitalist propaganda from the Canadian political mainstream. 

As far-right media outlets like The Rebel have begun to eclipse more mainstream publications, it’s easy to forget how much groundwork was laid before their arrival.In Québec, over a decade of multi-party anti-Muslim rhetoric laid the groundwork for the growth of far-right anti-Muslim groups like La Meute, Atalante, and last year’s mass murder at the Québec City Islamic Cultural Centre. Between the Liberals’ ‘Reasonable Accommodation’ debate & Bouchard-Taylor Commission, the PQ’s ‘Charter of Quebec Values’, the Liberals’ Bill 62, and the CAQ’s upcoming ban on non-Christian religious symbols, there’s been an anti-Muslim consensus within Québec’s political mainstream.

Politicians in Québec have spent years stoking xenophobia to harness fading nationalist sentiment, now successfully mobilized against Muslims and immigrants on a mass level. This has translated into mass support for far-right groups in Québec, who have been growing rapidly and increasing their influence on (and proximity to) state power.In Ontario, support for the far-right hasn’t reached the same level but it’s growing. And these movements are beginning to use elections to normalize their ideas and expand their base. 

With media outlets like The Rebel and Ontario Proud now reaching wider audiences than most mainstream publications, this growth seems set to continue.

In this context, we need to take the far-right’s aspirations for state power more seriously and understand how elections increasingly fit into their strategy. But responding with leftist electoral campaigns is a strategy doomed to cooptation and failure. 

Only by building popular resistance to the ideas of both the far-right and the political mainstream that paved their way (including false electoral solutions) can we win. Because if the Fascists achieve state power, it won’t matter how good we are at fighting them in the streets.”

– Treyf, “The Far-Right and Recent Elections in Ontario & Québec.” October 26, 2018.

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“We crave hearing that we’re alright, we’re not alone, we’re accepted in spite of our flaws. Belonging is an essential human need. (Fascists understand this basic fact; neoliberals don’t.) Loneliness, it turns out, negatively affects not only our psychological well-being, but also our physical health. And yet we have apparently chosen, via liberal democracy, to live according to a system of social organization that requires us to be jumpy paranoids, suspicious of everyone and terrified of our own potential mistakes. Believers in capitalist liberal democracies may cluck at the over-the-top Maoist inquisitions devoted to revolutionary self-criticism, but our society encourages us to practice the same extravagant self-loathing, only privately. That’s why America’s vast therapeutic brain trust has steadily eradicated the language of solidarity and class consciousness, honed through collective struggle, and replaced it with exhortations to “do what you love” and “live your best life.” Both aphorisms imply that what we’re currently doing is not enough.

…But here’s the truly wonderful thing about neoliberalism—as it turns us all into paranoid, jealous schemers, it offers to sell us bromides to ameliorate the very bad feelings of self-doubt and alienation it conjures in our dark nights of the soul. Neoliberalism has not only given us crippling anxiety, but also its apparent remedy. It is no coincidence that as we become more nervous, “wellness” and “self-care” have become mainstream industries. Over the last few decades, workplaces have become ever more oppressive, intensely tracking workers’ bodies, demanding longer hours, and weakening workers’ bargaining rights while also instituting wellness and mentoring programs on an ever greater scale.

Occasionally, the contradiction of punitive, intrusive “wellness” becomes too ridiculous to bear and cracks under its own weight. One oft-mentioned catalyst for the recent teacher strike in West Virginia was a proposal to mandate the monitoring of teachers’ bodily movement via Fitbit just as the state government moved to limit pay raises and school funding. Capitalism will deplete you, while letting you think you have the means to improve your lot. Indeed, it will attempt to force its therapy on you. In the case of West Virginia’s top-down Taylorist wellness crusade, the state authorities clearly overplayed their hand; far more common are employer-sponsored initiatives, whether packaged as mindfulness training or meditation classes, that have been inserted into our working lives to help us talk ourselves down. Mindfulness—a state of hyper-awareness tempered with disciplined calm—has become the corporate mantra du jour. By encouraging increasingly put-upon employees to assume tree poses or retreat into an om in the face of frustration, corporate overlords mean to head off any mutinous stirrings before they have a chance to gain momentum. Even if CEOs themselves occasionally adopt these regimes with apparent sincerity, mindfulness serves the companies’ bottom lines first and foremost because it is fundamentally anti-revolutionary. “It’s hard not to notice how often corporate mindfulness aligns seamlessly with layoffs,” Laura Marsh writes. “Employees need a sense of calm too when their employer is flailing. Those productivity gains—an extra sixty-nine minutes of focus per employee per month—count for more when the ranks are thinning.”

…It’s also no coincidence that the politician who presided over the final triumph of neoliberalism as American social and economic common sense was Bill “I Feel Your Pain” Clinton. Clinton threw poor single mothers off of public assistance, but any cost-cutting pol can do that. Clinton’s gift was that he could make even self-identified left-liberals feel good about such punitive policy shifts, by making it appear that they were in fact helping these women help themselves. In many ways, Clinton’s sleight of hand encapsulates neatly the narcissistic feedback loop of neoliberal positivity, which focuses on what feels good, rather than what is gracious and just.”

– Miya Tokumitsu, “Tell Me It’s Going to be OK.” The Baffler, Issue 41. 

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“It is at the same time that the State apparatus appropriates
the war machine, subordinates it to its “political” aims, and gives it
war as its direct object.  And  it is one and  the same historical
tendency
that causes State to evolve from a triple point of view: going from
figures of encastment to forms of appropriation proper, going from
limited war to so-called total war, and transforming the relation
between aim and object. The factors that make State war total war are
closely connected to capitalism: it has to do with the investment of
constant capital in equipment, industry, and the war economy, and the
investment of variable capital in the population in its physical and
mental aspects (both as warmaker and as victim of war). Total war is
not only a war of annihilation but arises when annihilation takes as its
“center” not only the enemy army, or the enemy State, but the entire
population and its economy. The fact  that this double investment can be
made only under prior conditions of limited war  illustrates the
irresistible  character of the capitalist tendency to develop total
war.

We could say that the appropriation has changed
direction, or rather that States tend to unleash, reconstitute, an
immense war machine of which they are no longer anything more than the
opposable or apposed parts. This worldwide war machine, which in away
“reissues” from the States, displays two successive figures: first, that
of fascism, which makes war an unlimited movement with no other aim
than itself; but fascism is only a rough sketch, and the second,
post-fascist, figure is that of a war machine that takes peace as its
object directly, as the peace of Terror or Survival. The war machine
reforms a smooth space that now claims to control, to surround the
entire earth. Total war itself is surpassed, toward a form of peace
more terrifying still. The war machine has taken charge of the aim,
worldwide order, and the States are now no more than objects or means
adapted to that  machine. This is the point at which Clausewitz’s
formula is effectively reversed; to be entitled to say that politics is
the continuation of war by other means, it is not enough to invert the
order of the words as if they could be spoken in either direction; it is
necessary to follow the real movement at the conclusion of which the
States, having appropriated a war machine, and having adapted it to
their aims, reimpart a war machine that  takes charge  of the aim,
appropriates the States, and assumes increasingly wider political
functions.

Doubtless, the present situation is highly discouraging. We have
watched the war machine grow stronger and stronger, as in a science
fiction story; we have seen it assign as its objective a peace still
more terrifying than fascist death; we have seen it maintain or
instigate the most terrible of local wars as parts of itself; we have
seen it set its  sights on a new type of enemy, no longer another State,
or even another regime, but the  "unspecified enemy"; we have seen it
put its counterguerrilla elements into place, so that it can be caught
by surprise once, but not twice. Yet the very conditions that make the
State or World war machine possible,  in other words, constant capital
(resources and equipment) and human variable capital, continually
recreate unexpected possibilities for counterattack, unforeseen
initiatives determining revolutionary, popular, minority, mutant
machines. The definition of the Unspecified Enemy testifies to this:
“multiform, maneuvering and omnipresent… of the moral, political,
subversive or economic  order, etc.,” the unassignable material Saboteur
or human Deserter assuming the most diverse forms.”

– Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, “1227: TREATISE ON NOMADOLOGY—THE WAR MACHINE” in A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism & Schizophrenia. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1987. pp. 420-422

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“Fascists, But Race Apart From Italians,” Ottawa Citizen. August 3, 1938. Page 01.

These dark-hued, new little recruits to Fascism may wave Italian flags to their hearts’ content in the streets of Addis Abada – but they never may grow to call themselves Italians. The Italian government is seeing to it that they are kept a race apart from the white colonizers of Ethiopia.

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“In every democratic nation there are fascist political parties. Sometimes, they don’t have a lot of impact for a long time, but they do exist nevertheless. Fascists are people who are politically organised on the common ground that they see their own nation sold out by their own government. Sold out, because that very government allegedly governed their people in a wrong way, meaning they would admit “the wrong” people and would govern “our own” too laxly, which would undermine motivation and decency. Wherever governments strengthen the dependency on other countries by making trade agreements or forming political alliances because they count on a positive outcome for their nation, it’s the fascists who smell a sellout of the homeland.

This standpoint of fascists is kept alive and even strengthened by democratic parties. Every democratic party finds it reasonable to be sceptical about „foreigners“. Even where some might aim for a liberalisation of immigration law or for making naturalisation easier, it would still be stressed that this process should definitely depend on successful “integration” of these foreigners. It is taken for granted that foreigners always lack real patriotism – the one natives know before they are out of diapers. Every democratic party finds a lack of morale in the people, no matter if the occasion is a debate over fiscal evasion or on benefit scroungers. Every democratic party stresses that it only acts for the national common good when it, for example, signs an international treaty. Stressing that also means to hint at the other side of the medal: in any international business one’s own national interests are at risk of being undermined by other nation-states. This is a prime subject of debate in parliamentary democracy: each party blames the others to have failed with regard to furthering the national interest or to even have thrown back the whole country by misgovernment. All those standpoints exist in every democracy. Fascists seize and radicalise them.

The EU and the Eurozone are associations of states each of which wants to advance its own power by joining together. Germany, for example, wanted to expand its already strong power in the world. Other nations, especially those in the south of Europe, wanted to get away from their agrarian economies and turn them into real capitalist ones. Both calculations seemed to have worked – until 2007.

The financial and sovereign debt crisis thwarted all of their plans. The countries in the European South had to subject themselves to a national scrappage programme simply for continued access to credit in Euro and without any perspective for further development. Germany does not want to pay a lot for those nation-states struck hardest by the crisis as they do not contribute to the German project of becoming a world power within and through a successful Europe.

In the public sphere it is the democratic parties which, at first, cast doubt whether everything worked according to plan in the past – in particular when they say: “carry on” regardless of the crisis. In contrast, fascist parties radicalised this doubt to the certainty that the whole EU and the Eurozone are one big sellout of the national interest.

The political elites have arrived at the conclusion that central political strategies have failed so far. This is one foundation of fascist success.

Secondly, for fascists parties to be successful it needs the people. Most people have no idea what the point of the Euro and its financial markets has been and continues to be. For the population it is patriotically obvious that painful cuts are required in the interest of the success of the nation when they think it is plausible that their own restrictions help the nation to achieve the greatness promised by politicians. For the same reason some countries saw mass protests because people do not accept that structural adjustment programmes lead the nation to greatness – as in their view those are merely imposed on them from abroad.

When large parts of the population now find it plausible to vote for fascist parties then this is not because they realised that nationally organised capitalism only means trouble for the satisfaction of needs and desires. But what they consider an inalienable right is the success of the nation itself. If that is threatened then they – as loyal subjects – become demanding and put their trust in parties which promise to stand for ruthless moralistic terror and systematic tightening of the figurative belt – without any concessions to foreign powers.

Antifascist activists remain helpless if they attempt to work with bourgeois parties and if they ignore their “arguments” (e.g. “foreigners and the EU are useful for the nation”) in coalitions – or even support these arguments. This bourgeois “invitation” not to follow the fascists contains the whole breeding ground for exactly these fascists. Instead what is needed is critique of those who judge the world around them – in good and bad times – as to how successful the nation is, instead of asking: what is my place, if others rule over me.”

– “Thesis on the swing to the right in Europe,” Gruppen Gegen Kapital und Nation.

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“The growing proletarianization of modern man and the increasing formation of masses are two aspects of the same process. Fascism attempts to organize the newly created proletarian masses without affecting the property structure which the masses strive to eliminate. Fascism sees its salvation in giving these masses not their right, but instead a chance to express themselves. The masses have a right to change property relations; Fascism seeks to give them an expression while preserving property. The logical result of Fascism is the introduction of aesthetics into political life. The violation of the masses, whom Fascism, with its Führer cult, forces to their knees, has its counterpart in the violation of an apparatus which is pressed into the production of ritual values.

All efforts to render politics aesthetic culminate in one thing: war. War and war only can set a goal for mass movements on the largest scale while respecting the traditional property system. This is the political formula for the situation. The technological formula may be stated as follows: Only war makes it possible to mobilize all of today’s technical resources while maintaining the property system. It goes without saying that the Fascist apotheosis of war does not employ such arguments. Still, Marinetti says in his manifesto on the Ethiopian colonial war:

“For twenty-seven years we Futurists have rebelled against the branding of war as anti-aesthetic … Accordingly we state:… War is beautiful because it establishes man’s dominion over the subjugated machinery by means of gas masks, terrifying megaphones, flame throwers, and small tanks. War is beautiful because it initiates the dreamt-of metalization of the human body. War is beautiful because it enriches a flowering meadow with the fiery orchids of machine guns. War is beautiful because it combines the gunfire, the cannonades, the cease-fire, the scents, and the stench of putrefaction into a symphony. War is beautiful because it creates new architecture, like that of the big tanks, the geometrical formation flights, the smoke spirals from burning villages, and many others … Poets and artists of Futurism! … remember these principles of an aesthetics of war so that your struggle for a new literature and a new graphic art … may be illumined by them!”

This manifesto has the virtue of clarity. Its formulations deserve to be accepted by dialecticians. To the latter, the aesthetics of today’s war appears as follows: If the natural utilization of productive forces is impeded by the property system, the increase in technical devices, in speed, and in the sources of energy will press for an unnatural utilization, and this is found in war. The destructiveness of war furnishes proof that society has not been mature enough to incorporate technology as its organ, that technology has not been sufficiently developed to cope with the elemental forces of society. The horrible features of imperialistic warfare are attributable to the discrepancy between the tremendous means of production and their inadequate utilization in the process of production – in other words, to unemployment and the lack of markets. Imperialistic war is a rebellion of technology which collects, in the form of “human material,” the claims to which society has denied its natural materrial. Instead of draining rivers, society directs a human stream into a bed of trenches; instead of dropping seeds from airplanes, it drops incendiary bombs over cities; and through gas warfare the aura is abolished in a new way.

“Fiat ars – pereat mundus”, says Fascism, and, as Marinetti admits, expects war to supply the artistic gratification of a sense perception that has been changed by technology. This is evidently the consummation of “l’art pour l’art.” Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order. This is the situation of politics which Fascism is rendering aesthetic. Communism responds by politicizing art.”

– Walter Benjamin, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction,“ 1936

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“Although the fascist regime was defeated at the end of World War II, Italian fascism never really went away. The Italian constitution might have explicitly prohibited the reconstitution of the fascist party, but no sooner than it was introduced the Italian Social Movement (MSI) was founded. This party made explicit reference to the Italian Social Republic, the fascist regime that Mussolini established under Nazi protection in northern Italy after the Allies and the Italian partisans had freed the central and southern part of the country. From 1946 onward, MSI regularly participated in Italian elections, increasing its vote share to the point of becoming the fourth largest party behind the Christian Democrats, the Communists, and the Socialist Party.

In spring 1960, MSI offered external support for the government led by the right-wing Christian Democrat Fernando Tambroni. However, the Tambroni government was dissolved after only four months thanks to a wave of demonstrations involving hundreds of thousands of people in many Italian towns and cities. Organized by left-wing opposition parties, these protests were often violently repressed by police. The demonstrations were also notable for the large number of young people who participated, combining an anti-fascist spirit with a broader desire for social change in a country that was characterized by conservatism. In fact, the 1960s marked the beginning of a wave of social struggles that continued across the following decade. The student revolt in 1968 was soon followed by an important cycle of workers’ struggles: the Hot Autumn.

While this strong popular opposition destroyed the MSI’s chances of entering government, fascists could still be useful for sections of the Italian ruling class. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s sectors of the the country’s political and military elites made use of a myriad of subversive fascist groups to pursue “strategy of tension” aimed at containing the wave of social struggles which were emerging in the country. The goal was to create a climate of fear among the population, which would then justify authoritarian measures to reestablish order — including through the suppression of the Left.

Despite the smokescreen which still hangs over the events of these years, it has been established that fascist groups were involved in at least one coup attempt (the so-called Golpe Borghese, named after the former fascist Navy official behind the initiative) and a number of massacres across the 1960s and 1970s. The bomb that killed seventeen people and injured eighty-eight in Milan’s Piazza Fontana in 1969 marked the beginning of a decade that culminated in the August 1980 with the bombing at Bologna railway station, which left eighty-two people dead. Although we still don’t know the names of the instigators, trials have established that fascists carried out both atrocities, as well as a number of other killings and shootings throughout that decade.

The 1980s were a decade of political disillusionment and retreat, marking the end of the social struggles which characterized the two previous decades. From the outside, it appeared that this could also be the end of Italian fascism. The 1990s saw the end of the MSI, which turned into the more “institutionally respectable” Alleanza Nazionale (AN). During a 2003 visit to Israel, Gianfranco Fini — the final secretary of the MSI and the leader of the transition towards the AN — went as far to declare that the Italian fascist regime of Mussolini was part of the “absolute evil,” on account of its 1930s “race laws” against Jews. Italy, it seemed, might finally be about to leave its fascist past behind.

Believing the country was moving beyond political “extremes,” both center-left and center-right parties engaged in an attempt to rewrite history, aimed at creating a fictitious shared memory of the years of the fascist regime and the Italian Resistance. The Italian Social Republic was progressively normalized, with politicians from the left and the right arguing that it was time to try to understand the motives of the defeated fascists, who were increasingly characterized as young people who fought for the wrong cause.

At the same time experience of the Italian resistance against fascism was gradually emptied of its original political significance. This led to a situation where in 2017 the governing party, the centrist Democrats, turned the annual demonstration in commemoration of the Resistance, held every April 25, into a celebration of the European Union. To add further embarrassment, PD militants were photographed holding signs celebrating a series of “European patriots,” among whom they included Coco Chanel, in fact known to be a Nazi collaborator.

But the reality was, against this backdrop of ideological confusion, Italian fascism had not disappeared. Many politicians in “institutional” right-wing parties maintained links with the far-right milieu and a number of neofascist organizations continued operating. In a telling reflection of these often untold links, in 2008 a number of supporters of Rome’s new mayor Gianni Alemanno, a former chairman of the MSI youth organization and a prominent AN member, gave fascist salutes and chanted in homage to Mussolini after Alemanno’s election victory.

Fascists did not stop killing, either. In 2003, two fascist brothers and their father stabbed to death Davide “Dax” Cesare, a militant of a social center in Milan, who they held responsible for an attack on the family’s older brother a week before. In 2006 two young fascists stabbed to death Renato Biagetti, a militant of Rome’s Acrobax social center. In 2008 Nicola Tommasoli, aged twenty-eight, died in Verona after a savage beating by a group of five far-right ultras.

But it is with the recent economic crisis that Italian fascists’ strategies have become more overt. In the context of rising unemployment and poverty, triggered by the EU-backed austerity policies implemented by all Italian governments since the beginning of the crisis, neofascist organizations such as Forza Nuova and the new CasaPound tried to build support by shifting blame onto immigrants. In perfect continuity with the historical experience of fascism, neofascist organizations have politicized the crisis along racial and not class lines, exploiting also the weakness of the Italian left, which has been unable to provide a radical alternative during the recession.

The demand “put Italians first” has not only been a rhetorical device. As the housing situation became explosive during the crisis, with evictions skyrocketing as tenants were unable to pay their rent, fascist groups promoted squatting for Italians only, or attempted (often successfully) to impede migrant families’ rightful access to public housing. Playing on the burgeoning feelings of fear and insecurity, fed by a media campaign over migrant criminality, fascists instigated neighborhood patrols, often under the cover of murky citizens’ associations. Taking advantage of an increasing poverty rate, they have collected food in front of or even inside supermarkets, but for indigenous Italians only.

In this pivot to service provision for the poor, fascist groups well understood that they were stealing the Left’s clothes. As one group said in a recent interview, “We do what the Communist Party stopped doing. In the poorer areas, in the outskirts of the cities, the Communist Party is not there anymore but CasaPound is there now helping.” Helping maybe — but only some, solidifying their base among white Italians suffering from the economic crisis while fomenting animus against their immigrant neighbors.

In shifting the focus away from class politics and driving warfare within the working class, fascists have served the interest of the Italian ruling class. It is therefore unsurprising that they have been gradually normalized within the public debate. CasaPound’s self-defined “fascists of the third millennium” has received increasingly benign media coverage, with interviews of its leaders and a widespread description of its militants as young and passionate activists, in contrast to the apathetic majority of the younger generations.

This reached fresh heights last November, when a fashion magazine published an article describing some of the more visible women within the organization in admiring tones. Last fall, famous journalists participated in the preelection debates held in the CasaPound headquarters in Rome. Moreover, as documented by the Wu Ming collective and the researchers of the Nicoletta Bourbaki group, recent years have seen increasing number of connections at the local level between exponents of the centrist Democratic Party and CasaPound. Local Democratic figures have participated in initiatives hosted by CasaPound, and vice versa, even to the extent that some fascist militants complained publicly on Twitter about such strange connections.”

– Carlo Florenzi, “It Never Went Away.” Jacobin, March 4, 2018.

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Fascism and Aesthetics
The rise of fascism in Europe was perhaps the epochal transformation of Benjamin’s era, and had menacing overtones for him as a radical and a Jew. Benjamin offers an original theory of fascism, which situates it within cultural transformations. He rejects both the orthodox Marxist view that fascism is simply a dictatorship of finance capital, and the progressivist view that it is some kind of premodern or anti-modern relapse into barbarism. Instead, he argues that capitalism arises from particular changes in everyday culture, or ‘ideology’ in an Althusserian sense, arising from the development of capitalism.

In the epilogue to ‘The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction, Benjamin argues that fascism seeks to respond to proletarianisation and massification without altering the property structure. It does this by giving the masses ‘a chance to express themselves’, as a substitute for power. It offers emotional rewards instead of material rewards.

Fascism logically leads to the aestheticising of politics. Politics is turned into the production of beauty, according to a certain aesthetic. This is achieved through an immense apparatus for the ‘production of ritual values’. Benjamin is thinking of the Nazi propaganda-machine, with its choreographed torch-lit marches and rallies, iconic posters and statues, and films such as Triumph of the Will. This machine is widely recognised as a forerunner of the modern PR industry.

Fascism is thus partly a product of spectacle. Benjamin relates it to the spectacular nature of commodities, which are transformed in their presence from simple objects to spectacle or phantasmagoria. Fascism expands the logic of spectacle into the field of politics, with its charismatic leaders, eye-catching posters, movie-like Manichean discourse, torchlit rallies, and powerful logos and symbols.

According to Benjamin, fascism inevitably leads to war. War is the only way to channel mass movements and intense emotions, without challenging the property system. It simultaneously serves, in classic Marxist fashion, to channel the forces of production which are blocked by the property system.

Some Marxists see crises such as those of the 1930s and today as crises of overproduction. This means that capitalism is in crisis because it can’t get people to consume as much as it can produce, usually because people aren’t being paid enough. As a result, people are left unemployed and machines and factories are left idle. People who adhere to this theory see the Second World War as a resolution of the crisis of overproduction. The state artificially inflated demand by producing weapons. It then destroyed a lot of other resources by using them. This got people producing again, and was a way out of the crisis.

Benjamin is unusual in linking this account to the cultural usefulness of war. For Benjamin, war does not only serve capitalism by consuming resources. It also provides a way to channel intense emotions and frustrations which would otherwise destabilise the system.

Benjamin links the fascist aesthetic to the Futurist Marinetti’s claim that ‘war is beautiful’. The Futurists were a mainly Italian art movement whose work celebrated modern technology, speed and power. Initially progressive, some of them went over to fascism. Their aesthetic is often associated by Benjamin with fascism. He viewed them as symptomatic of the aspect of fascism which glorified technology.

The aspect of war which can most easily be aestheticised is the display of technology, and the power of human agents as masters of powerful technology. In order to aestheticise war, it is necessary to edit out human suffering, whether of soldiers or civilians. Benjamin suggests, however, that destruction is integral to the process. Humanity is now so alienated that it can contemplate its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure.

Marinetti expected war to supply sensory and aesthetic enjoyment in a world changed by technology. This is the ultimate in alienation. Humanity observes itself from outside, as an object of contemplation. Benjamin sees this as the culmination of the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’ – or in Marinetti’s slogan, ‘let art be created, let the world perish’. The appropriate response, according to Benjamin, is to politicise art.

War is further aestheticised by inter-war writers such as Ernst Jünger. In his ‘Theories of German Fascism’, engaging with Jünger, Benjamin extends his critique of fascistic trends in art. Jünger extends the idea of ‘art for art’s sake’ to war. (This ‘war for war’s sake’ also appears in Deleuze’s digression on the bad type of war machine, which takes war as its object).

Mass technological warfare is an image of everyday actuality – the destructiveness and meaninglessness of mass alienated technology. But it appears to the likes of Jünger as a magical force of eternal war. This leads to a ‘mystical’ view of war: the state must show itself worthy of the magical forces of war.

For Benjamin, this is not simply a matter of false consciousness. Rather, it is derived from a particular ‘primal experience’, or constitutive trauma. Jünger was a professional soldier for whom warfare is the natural or habitual environment. His literature defends his particular professional habitus, his conventional way of life. He simply celebrates what he is familiar with, without any basis for preferring it. Benjamin asks, ‘Where do you come from? And what do you know of peace?’ The criticism here is that Jünger and those like him can’t extol war as preferable to peace, because they only know war.

The authors of war literature, according to Benjamin, are expressing a particular class perspective. Many of them are specialist soldiers, commandos and engineers – the military equivalent of the managerial class. The ideology of endless war, of a magical power of war, is implicitly portrayed as a kind of class ideology of the elite soldier.

These former soldiers were to become the social basis for fascism, as Benjamin recognised. Many of them graduated from the army to the Freikorps to the Nazi Stormtroopers. Today, this underlines the importance of demobilising and reintegrating former soldiers – many of them economically disadvantaged and war-traumatised – in the aftermath of conflicts. It also underlines the persisting importance of militarised masculinity in the securitisation of civilian spaces.

According to Benjamin, the literature he refers to is an effect of World War 1. Technological warfare has exhibited a disastrous gap between massive destructive effects of technology, and minimal moral illumination arising from such effects. This produces a kind of meaninglessness (a common theme in Frankfurt School work). The main danger today stems from the difficulties in organising human relationships in accord with the relationship to nature and technology, so as to use technology as a key to happiness instead of destruction. In short, people are losing control of their technology because they retain competitive relationships which lead to mass destruction. Benjamin sees his era as having the last chance to overcome this discrepancy. This would be a transition to socialism through the conversion of the world war into a global civil war.

Technological warfare dispenses with the symbols of heroism. War has become akin to sports in that its achievements are not so much personal as ‘record-setting’ – how many are killed. The escalating power to kill in huge numbers associated with gas warfare (and later, nuclear weapons) renders war extremely risky, and predominantly offensive (rather than defensive). The protection of civilians is lost. The winner is now the side which conquers the war, not the adversary, and avoids losing control of its meanings and effects.”

– 

Andrew Robinson, “Walter Benjamin: Fascism and Crisis.Ceasefire, August 14, 2013.

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Masculinity,
War, and the Cultural Politics of the Weimar Radical 
Right

The
end of the War presented the radical right with a dismaying
spectacle. Not
only was the War lost, but the hated left seemed in the ascendancy.
The SPD quickly became the party of government, pushing for the
establishment of a parliamentary republic to replace the imperial
order, and various radical movements further to the left threatened
even greater social change. The ‘magic formula’ that the
radical-right author Ernst Junger had experienced in the unity of
August 1914 was shattered. Worse, the experience of war itself, the
life of the front, was no more. The masculine unity promised by war
was disintegrating under a nauseating onslaught of threatening
forces. That this unity had
never truly existed was of little consequence. Indeed, as we shall
see, for radical
right writers like Junger, Oswald Spengler, or Arthur Moeller van den
Bruck,
it was the struggle itself that was the most important value. In the
aftermath of war, all this was under grave threat.

These
radical right fears were built on the emergent politics and mythology
of
the two fronts. This mythological system certainly had material
roots. There is no denying that the impact of scarcity, deprivation,
and social upheaval on the home front produced a certain shared
experience, while for soldiers… there was also a powerful
commonality produced by the experience of danger and death shared in
close proximity. Frontline soldiers frequently developed a strong
sense of alienation from those who did not share their experiences,
with a special disdain for those serving in the Etappe,
or rear echelons of the front, and especially for officers who never
experienced trench warfare directly. The
widespread nature of this disdain and its political heterogeneity was
evident after the War. Dirk Schumann describes how in clashes in 1921
in Eilenburg and Eisleben between members of the Stahlhelm,
the right-wing Combat League, and the KPD’s Proletarian Hundreds,
the latter would taunt the Stahlhelm
members
not only for their support of authoritarian politics, but also for
being Etappenschweine
(‘rear
echelon pigs’), and hence not ‘true’ soldiers. To
speak of the myths of the two fronts is thus not to deny these
material realities and the ways in which they produced particular
forms of consciousness. Yet these seemingly shared experiences gave
rise to a wide range of responses. For some, it led to a rejection of
war, while others celebrated its violence. These different responses
had much to do with social and political background, especially
class. As we saw with the experience of August 1914, the idea of
‘unity’ needs to be carefully interrogated.

As
Domansky suggests, the delegitimisation of state authority and the
militarisation of society opened up space for new forms of political
mobilisation that the radical right moved to fill. The radical right
played a central counter-revolutionary role, with the suppression of
the left during the post-War revolutions providing the context within
which the radical right could translate their wartime experience, in
particular that of the trenches, into peacetime. The revolutionary
upsurges of 1918–19 were contained through a variety of mechanisms,
but it was the right-wing paramilitaries, the Freikorps,
that were the cutting edge of this often-violent process. The
Freikorps
were
somewhat heterogeneous in their social composition, but were driven
by NCOs and
frontline reserve officers violently opposed to the new Republic.
They attracted a range of participants including unemployed
white-collar workers, university
students and cadets, as well as some from lower-middle-class or rural
backgrounds.

Fighters
were involved in a variety of military actions, including battles to
defend ‘lost’ German lands in the Baltics, but their most notable
action was against the left. The post-War SPD-led government, with
Gustav Noske taking the lead, called upon them in numerous instances
to suppress the revolutionary left, the Freikorps
collaborating
on these occasions to support the Republic they hated against what
they saw as the even greater danger of Bolshevism. (Muller
1925 remains one of the better accounts of the complex interplay of
forces around the suppression of the revolution. On Noske, who he
calls ‘[t]he most celebrated man of the bourgeoisie’ (p. 107), he
cites a passage praising Noske’s muscular counterrevolutionary
action from an article by Doris Wittner in the Acht
Uhr Abendblatt
:
‘the lines of his movement remind one of Meunier’s bronze men.
One grasps the psyche of this man from his body [Physis]’
(p. 107). This aestheticised masculinity suggests close links with
radical right conceptions of male embodiment. They
were not the only paramilitary formations to come into being in the
period. Home Guards (Einwohnerwehren),
for example, were militia that mobilised especially in rural areas,
but these were not as explicitly counterrevolutionary, responding
instead to broader fears of disorder and the protection of property.
If the War gave the radical right a new model for an ideal social
order, the counter-revolutionary fights of the post-War period,
especially those led by the Freikorps,
provided the mobilising centre around which they coalesced, and a
central element in the violent mythologies that sustained them
through the Weimar period. The emergence of the radical right was
certainly driven by a counter-revolutionary politics, but also by a
reaction to the gendered dynamics of the conflicts of war.

The
misogyny of the post-War radical right drew on a longer history of
antifeminism. Already before the War influential right-wing pressure
groups were a staple of political life. Some, including the League
for the Prevention of the Emancipation of Women, had anti-feminism as
their primary focus, while other larger organisations like the
Pan-German League advocated against changes in the gendered order as
part of a broader reactionary project. The former group recognised
the significance of women’s activism already at the outset of war,
writing to the government to express their worries over the
establishment of the National Women’s Service and arguing that ‘the
women’s movement is the only large organisation – even the Social
Democrats today are true
fellow
fighters – that, with a truly feminine lack of scruples, is making
use of the distress of the Fatherland to further their own goals’.

Pre-War
organisations tended to take the patriarchal social order as their
touchstone, but for the radical right that emerged during and after
the War it was a Volkskörper
modelled
on the two fronts that provided the horizon within which they
operated. Emblematic of this orientation was the emergence in the
later stages and in the aftermath of the War of an especially
pernicious myth, the legend of the ‘stab-in-the-back’
(Dolchstoßlegende).
The contention was that the army, undefeated on the field of battle
and still possessed of the will to win, had been undermined and
betrayed by traitorous forces within – inside the military itself
in the form of shirkers, pacifists, or radical soldiers and sailors,
and on the home front, with its various threats to military order.
The myth was explicitly propagated by Ludendorff and others around
the High Command. On 1 October 1918, as the cohesion of the army was
becoming an important source of concern within the military,
Ludendorff warned:

Our
own army is, unfortunately, heavily infected with the poison of
Spartacist-Socialist ideas. There is no relying on the troops
anymore… . So it is to be expected that the enemy will succeed
soon … Then our western army will lose its last self-control and,
in complete chaos, flee back across the Rhine and bring revolution to
Germany.

Ludendorff’s
outburst, often cited as an originary moment in the formation of the
legend, came at a small meeting of officers, among them Colonel Thaer
who later recorded them. …the front armies returning from the west
in fact demobilised in a much more orderly and organised fashion than
many historians have suggested (see also Bessel 1993). While this by
no means meant that they remained effective as a fighting force as
many proponents of the Dolchstoßlegende
had
it, he suggests that the sight of columns of troops marching back to
Germany in formation worked to give the impression of an undefeated
army, thus providing visual ammunition for those arguments. Notably,
recognising the links between strikes on the home front and the
conditions in
the army, Ludendorff likened soldiers’ resistance to the War to a
labour action, contending that those who remained willing to fight
‘would be greeted [by other soldiers] with the call of
“strike-breaker” and asked not to fight anymore’.

Ludendorff’s
comments highlight a number of key aspects of the Dolchstoßlegende.
It was not military defeat in the conventional sense, but loss of the
will to fight that was seen as the source of Germany’s downfall.
Ludendorff’s
view was shared lower down the chain of command in this respect as
well. The 11 November entry for the Second Battalion of the 31st
Landwehr
regiment,
for example, captures the ambivalent feelings of its writer, who
suggests that ‘[t]he report [of the armistice] was received with
joy that the bloody war is henceforth at an end, and pride that,
until the last moment, when weapons were laid down, the battalion was
undefeated’. A similar perspective informed a 16 November
communication to the V Reserve Corps that stressed the positive
impact the returning troops could have: ‘The dignified and earnest
bearing of the troops should banish the despondency of the homeland;
the farmers and middle class at home should see that an undefeated
army returns in proud and unbowed bearing’. The stress on the
middle class and farmers betrays the concerns of the writer,
presumably reflecting the desire to buttress these segments of
society against the growing working class mobilisations. This
loss of will was tied primarily to the influence of socialist ideas,
but also more generally to a loss of control configured in the
language of degeneration. In the Dolchstoßlegende
and
in the politics of the radical right these threats came from within
the military, but even more so from the civilian home front. The
first significant reference to a stab in the back came from Field
Marshall von Hindenburg in November 1918.
Along with socialists, others such as pacifists, Jews, foreign
workers, spies, protesting women, and the working class were depicted
as key sources of betrayal. In broad terms, then, and especially in
its radical right instantiations, the Dolchstoßlegende
held
a broad civilian, feminised ethos responsible for defeat. The myth
was especially potent in mobilising the Freikorps
against
these multifarious threats, but it had a wider currency. As Benjamin
Ziemann argues, it was ‘not only a political instrument wielded by
interested parties [those around the German High Command in
particular], but also and above all a means through which problems of
social order could be rendered visible, and, more generally, made
intellectually and emotionally understandable’.

The
true heroes of the myth were thus the undefeated soldiers who, in
Ludendorff’s terms, resisted the epithets of ‘strike-breaker’
and maintained their military posture. Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck became
a key figure in this respect. He had been serving in German East
Africa upon the outbreak of war in 1914 and, with his mixed force of
German and East African soldiers, held out against all odds until 25
November 1918, his surrender coming only when he learned, weeks after
the fact, of the end of the war in Europe. He thus became a key
figure in the mythology of the undefeated army, with his exploits
also helping to cement the importance of colonialism in the narrative
of Weimar nationalism, a theme to which I will return in later
chapters. Lettow-Vorbeck’s book Hela
Safari!
,
published in 1920, became a best-seller. His account of the War and
his homecoming drew a direct link between the unity of August 1914
and the military as the body of the nation. Upon returning, he
recounts, ‘[h]undreds of thousands cheered us on, cheered in pure
joy despite the severe wounds that remained fresh. Pride emanated
from them that we had held the flag high until the end, and that we
had brought back unbesmirched a part of German soldierhood’.
Lettow-Vorbeck and numerous other former colonial soldiers would go
on to play key roles in the Freikorps,
their military experience with colonial counter-insurgency brought
into action against the left in Germany.

The
idea of the undefeated army was especially prevalent in the military
hierarchy and on the right, but even the new president, the SPD’s
Friedrich Ebert, parroted the claim that the army ‘is returning
home undefeated’. Boris Barth
suggests that Ebert deployed the phrase tactically (it had been
written by a military officer) without a full appreciation of its
implications. Barth stresses that it was not only the military or
political hierarchy that put forward the view of the undefeated army,
but that it was widespread, expressed even by civilians welcoming
soldiers back from the front
The SPD’s frequent endorsement of these nationalist tropes was
indicative of their position in the post-War balance of forces. In
seeking to sustain a reformist project against the revolutionary
left, the SPD hierarchy continued the conciliatory politics of the
War, acting in concert with the right against the revolutionary left.
The right in turn was also happy to conclude these tactical
alliances, but both the older established elites and the new radical
right never lost their fundamentally anti-socialist politics. The
signing of the Treaty of Versailles by the SPD-led government
strengthened this violent antipathy on their part, and made the
Dolchstoßlegende
an
absolute article of faith. The signing was widely condemned as a
capitulation that imposed a variety of punitive clauses limiting
German sovereignty and burdening the country with massive reparations
payments.

Even
though the SPD-led government had little choice but to sign the
Treaty, they were portrayed as responsible for this further stab in
the back, feeding the strategy of Ludendorff, the German high
command, and various conservative forces to shift blame onto the left
as a way of preparing the ground for counterrevolutionary action. The
left, including the SPD, had enabled what the German National Party
representative Albrecht Philipp called the ‘thousands of small
“stabs in the back” that enabled the victory of Germany’s
enemies. As Barth argues, it was in fact the military’s impossible
demands for the home front to sustain production at levels that could
match the output of the Allies that generated the hunger, protest,
and delegitimisation of the state discussed earlier, and that then
fed into the Dolchstoßlegende.
These
contradictions emerged especially in the second half of the War and
the increasingly industrial character taken on by the War after the
battle of the Somme.

The
militarised response of the radical right can be read in this context
as an attempt to embody a national will untrammelled by such material
concerns. As Klaus Theweleit has famously argued, radical right
writers performed a violently misogynist politics of militarised
control, with armoured bodies constituted through the violent
repulsion of all feminine flows. The Dolchstoßlegende
provided
the distillation of this orientation, with the feminised home front
displacing any military or economic sources of defeat. During the
War, as we have seen, but also after, this dynamic configured the
home front as an existential threat to the national body. Defence of
borders against both external and internal enemies was thus
constitutive of radical right politics. The loss of territories after
the War was crucial in this respect, often depicted as an
‘amputation’ of limbs from the Volkskörper.

The
radical right turn away from more traditional forms of conservatism
associated with patriarchal values suggests a new, more modern
orientation. Indeed, much of the academic debate over the radical
right has turned on this question of their ‘modern’ nature. One
of the more influential accounts of the radical right comes from
Jeffrey Herf, who uses the term ‘reactionary modernism’ to
describe their orientation. He argues that the radical right was an
expression of ‘a cultural paradox of German modernity, namely, the
embrace of modern technology by German thinkers who rejected
Enlightenment reason’. He develops this argument on the basis of
the Sonderweg
thesis,
suggesting that the radical right was able to gain influence because
of the relative weakness of liberalism and its attendant institutions
compared to Germany’s level of industrial development. As I argued
in the introduction, however, this approach to German history has its
limits, in Herf’s case seeing him hold onto a notion of
conservatism as ‘anti-modern’. As Thomas Rohkramer argues, the
‘reactionary modernist’ paradox is only a paradox if one accepts
the dubious contention that conservatives are naturally suspicious of
technology and
rationality.

The
equation of technology and Enlightenment rationality in Herf’s
argument ends up buttressing a liberal faith in the progressive
nature of the latter. Herf constructs his argument through a rather
caricatured reading of Adorno and Horkheimer’s thesis in the
Dialectic
of Enlightenment
,
arguing that their analysis ‘was imprisoned in the limits of
Marxist theory’ and that they ‘generalized Germany’s miseries
into dilemmas of modernity per se. Consequently they blamed the
Enlightenment for what was really a result of its [Germany’s]
weakness’. The problem with Germany, he contends, was that there
was ‘not enough’ liberalism, reason, or Enlightenment, as if
these are elements that can be measured rather than complex social
processes to be analysed. Ironically, Herf also misses the extent to
which Dialectic
of Enlightenment
marks
a break from dominant Marxist interpretations of fascism and the
development of capitalism, with that work advancing a theory of the
administered society and the primacy of politics over economics that,
depending on one’s perspective, renovated or abandoned a Marxist
analysis. Herf misses Adorno and Horkheimer’s key argument, namely
that the unfolding of Enlightenment rationality was dialectically
constituted through a repression of myth, to which it then reverts.
Trying to extract a ‘true’ rationality misses precisely the
dialectical character of Enlightenment, and capitalism, itself.
Herf’s argument therefore performs precisely the false separation
of reason from myth that Horkheimer and Adorno argue marks the march
of Enlightenment reason.

Adorno’s
study of Oswald Spengler, one of the key figures on the Weimar
radical right, highlights some of the interpretive riches missed by
Herf. Adorno goes so far as to argue that ‘Spengler is one of the
theoreticians of extreme reaction whose critique of liberalism proved
itself superior in many respects to the progressive one’. In a
comment that could be directed at Herf, Adorno contends that:

To
escape the charmed circle of Spengler’s morphology it is not enough
to defame barbarism and rely on the health of culture. Spengler could
laugh in the face of such blissful confidence. Rather, it is the
barbaric element in culture itself which must be recognized. The only
considerations that have a chance of surviving Spengler’s verdict
are those which challenge the idea of culture as well as the reality
of barbarism.

The
dynamism of Spengler’s work is ultimately sterile, mirroring
relations of domination and reverting ‘unobtrusively into a
justification of the merely existent’.

Many
of the approaches to the radical right tend to miss the extent to
which, as a movement, it was responding to the contradictions of
capitalist modernity in ways that, as Adorno suggests of Spengler,
were more profound than any
liberal progressivism. The term ‘reactionary modernism’ implies
some of these interpretive problems with its attempt to salvage
‘modernism’ for the Enlightenment project. Similarly, the term
‘conservative revolutionary’, used already in Hugo von
Hofmannsthal’s 1927 claim that what was coming in Germany was ‘no
less than a Conservative Revolution, and will be of a magnitude
previously unseen in European history’, shares a tendency to see
radical right ideology as contradictory rather than rooting those
contradictions in capitalist modernity itself. Indeed, for those on
the right it was precisely that overcoming of these contradictions
that they set as their goal. This did often involve a hybrid of older
and newer conservatisms that, as one writer put it, evoking a common
right-wing appropriation of the term socialism, was both ‘Völkisch
and
socialistic’. For Alma de l’Aigles, the conservative revolution
sought ‘to eliminate the disharmony between the eternal Idea and
its temporal distinction’.

Others
on the right dispensed with even these gestures to an older
conservatism. For Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, the author of the
1922 tract The
Third Reich
,
traditional conservatism had little to say in the modern world. Thus,
as I argue elsewhere, those on the right configured their political
programmes as a kind of radical right socialism or communism,
mobilising the language of the left in the service of a radical
national politics. This mobilisation of socialist ideas had its roots
in the War when writers from a variety of political perspectives
proposed that the Planwirtschaft,
the planned economy of the War, provided a specifically German form
of socialism against the materialism of both English capitalism and
Marxist socialism. The industrialised battlefront rather than the
pastoral countryside was the model for this new politics; the
Volkskörper
was
its bodily form.

As
Adorno suggested, one of the most articulate proponents of this view
was Oswald Spengler, whose Decline
of the West
was
published in two volumes between 1918 and 1922. While Spengler
conceived of his work in part as a manual for statecraft speaking to
the policy-making elite, the work gained a huge readership in Germany
and abroad, channelling the anxieties and desires of the period
through a powerful conceptualisation of world history. Spengler’s
overriding thesis was relatively simple: all world-historical
Cultures, each of which is a totality governed by a single organising
principle, go through a series of stages, from birth through
adolescence and on to death. There are a limited number of these
Cultures (he names the Classical [Ancient Greek], Chinese, Indian,
Magian [Jewish and Muslim], occasionally the Aztec, and finally the
West), and each of these has followed the same law-like trajectory
mirroring the human life cycle. In the initial stages each Culture
emerges and develops organically through its unique organising
principle (in the West, for example, this was what he calls the
Faustian idea of infinite space), culminating in a florescence of
cultural production. It then begins to harden, and a decline sets in.

Decay
and degeneration are thus inherent in the logic of Cultures. In the
final stage (which Spengler says is the stage in which Europe finds
itself) Culture hardens and becomes Civilisation. He finds this
descent into Civilisation in all great Cultures: ‘[t]he
Civilization is the inevitable destiny
of
the Culture’. Civilisation is the age of world-cities, science and
abstract thought, imperialism, and technology. It is the final stage,
the end and fulfillment of the history of a Culture. In one sense,
then, Spengler is expressing the common distinction often made
between a Germanic Culture (Kultur)
and a mechanistic and materialistic Civilisation (Zivilisation)
associated with England and France. Indeed, much of the right-wing
thought of the 1920s was founded on the contrasting conceptions of
the national border as a ‘blood- and body-less, primarily
mathematical abstraction’ or as a ‘three-dimensional bodily
border of flesh and blood [dreidimensionaler,
durchbluteter Grenzkörper
]’,
to use Karl Haushofer’s pungent phrasing. Spengler gives this a
twist, arguing that the dichotomy of Culture and Civilisation is
internal to cultural development, removing it somewhat from its
national(ist) context. The implication of his argument is that the
decline of the West is unavoidable, and that neither a nostalgic
desire for an organic past nor a belief in modern regeneration are
tenable positions. His anti-nostalgia was shared with others on the
radical right, although most continued to dream of a national
regeneration. In
Die
Rettung des Abendlandes
,
a radical nationalist fantasy from 1921, for example, Ernst Otto
Montanus argued against Spengler’s pessimism, claiming that Decline
of the West
threatened
to lead the Volk
into
resignation, and that it contradicted the spirit of the Frontkämpfer,
the front soldiers. As Peter Fisher argues, ‘Frontkämpfer
and
völkisch
nationalists
like Montanus (and Hitler) viewed the highbrow Spengler with
antibourgeois, anti-intellectual contempt’, despite their respect
for his authoritarian and martial ideals. Fisher also quotes Hitler’s
claim that ‘I am no follower of Spengler’s. I do not believe in
the decline of the West’.

Spengler
rejected the claim that his work entailed a fatalistic or pessimistic
orientation, arguing in 1921 in response to critics of the first
volume that ‘[m]y aim was to present an image of the world to be
lived with, rather than to devise a system for professional
philosophers to brood over’. This rejection of the contemplative
mode is where Spengler’s vision most clearly links up with others
on the radical right. For Spengler, a technologised conception of an
activist will
ran
through his work, a celebration of a metallic and totally integrated
order. Technology, he argues, is at the heart of the greatness of the
Faustian West, with the engineer having pride of place. Spengler
concludes Decline
of the West
with
a brief discussion of the conflict between the entrepreneur or manager
and the factory worker, a theme familiar to viewers of Fritz Lang’s
later film Metropolis.
As in the film, Spengler argues that the entrepreneur and the factory
worker represent the division between intellectual and manual labour
– the head and the hand in Metropolis.
A third term is needed to bind the two, but where the film offers the
humanist solution of the heart as the mediator, Spengler gives the
radical right answer: the engineer is ‘the priest of the machine .
. . the machine’s master and destiny’.

The
engineer thus embodies a resolution of the contradictions of
capitalist modernity – it is key here to remember that Spengler was
writing in the context of the post-War revolutionary struggles
between workers (hands) and bosses (mind) – but there is another
opposing principle that embodies the final stage of Civilisation:
money. It represents the final subsumption of the material, of the
earth, into the intangibility of finance, a final ‘conflict between
money
and blood’.This familiar theme of the degenerative power of liquid
money and the ephemerality of finance to destroy the soul of a
people, a perspective that often underlay anti-Semitic discourses, is
raised to an inexorable historical law. The engineer and, more
broadly, militarised technology, are bound up with blood, a kind of
modernist atavism damming the flows of money. Here we are back at the
point raised in the introduction. Marx’s characterisation of
capitalism as a system in which ‘all that is solid melts into air’
underlies Spengler’s critique of Civilisation, but this
characteristic is abstracted from social relations and is reified as
money. As we shall see in the next chapter, Spengler was not alone in
performing this sleight of hand; the sociology of Georg Simmel is
another famous example, albeit from a very different political
position. For Spengler and the radical right, though, this approach
grounded a dichotomous metaphysics of violent will.

The
belief in will that was evident in Spengler’s work was analogous to
that which fed the legend of the ‘stab-in-the-back’. Paul von
Hindenburg, the head of the army during the War and the future
president of the Republic, testified to the Constituent Assembly in
November 1919 that will
is
what set the German military apart from the numerically and
materially superior enemy. ‘At the time we still hoped that the
will
to victory
would
dominate everything else’, but that hope was dashed by
revolutionary soldiers and the weakness of the home front. The
significance of the engineer for Spengler is not simply that he can
produce more goods or, in the case of war, more weapons; if that were
the case, as Hindenburg argued, the German army was lost. Rather, the
engineer embodied a will that fulfilled the promise of a machine age.

The
dichotomy that emerges in Spengler’s work maps onto that of the
home and fighting front: ‘[w]ar
is the creator, hunger the destroyer, of all great things
.
In war life is elevated by death, often to that point of irresistible
force whose mere existence guarantees victory, but in the economic
life hunger awakens the ugly, vulgar, and wholly unmetaphysical sort
of fearfulness for one’s life under which the higher form-world of
a Culture miserably collapses and the naked struggle for existence of
the human beasts begins’. The struggle against hunger that
characterised the home front during the War is reduced here to a
vulgar bestiality threatening the greatness of war. In Decline
of the West
this
is raised to a transhistorical phenomenon, the gendered dynamic of
the two fronts subtending all cultural development and degeneration.
This struggle is thus an existential moment in which, as with the
Dolchstoßlegende,
a Culture or a nation faces extinction. Given this existential
threat, then, it is not surprising that for Spengler as for others on
the radical right, the response was a powerful and violent
reiteration of the contours of the individual and social body, the
‘form-world’, against the degenerating impacts of the merely
physical.

As
mentioned earlier, one significant corollary of the reconfiguration
of the notion of borders by the radical right was that their politics
was not inscribed solely in a national or nationalist frame. As
Marcus Bullock argues in a discussion of Ernst Junger, ‘[t]he
fronts that traversed the continent of Europe and separated nations
and alliances only marked lines of division according to the politics
of the state. According to the peculiar erotics of experience enacted
in this ancient rite of blood, the lines the opposing forces drew up
in their trenches, barbed wire entanglements, and gun emplacements,
were more like the seams that knit up the tattered patchwork of
nations and restored the singular spirit of youth and courage’.
This is a kind of radical right internationalism, ironically
emerging out of a War that so profoundly split the left over the
question of proletarian internationalism. Indeed, Ari Sammartino
argues that many of the Freikorps
fighters
in the Baltics felt a profound alienation from a Germany that, to
them, had descended into socialist chaos and had rejected them;
paramilitary fighting and ultimately settlement in the east would
provide the context for a reterritorialising of an essential
Germanness. The radical right was picking up here on a broader set of
anxieties around the threat of revolution to national borders that
was expressed even by the SPD. Thus, a Party leaflet from early 1919
warned of the threat of the revolutionary ‘terroristic minority’
who would enable ‘armies of foreign peoples to breach the eastern
borders’. The relationship between internal and external borders
was clear in their call: ‘[g]et in touch with volunteer
associations [Freiwilligenverbänden,
in this case including Freikorps
units],
which the government has assembled to secure the border and maintain
law and order within the country’.

The
ambivalence of the radical right towards the nation thus expressed
itself in a kind of nationalist internationalism. Spengler and Junger
both conceived of Germany within a broader European culture, with the
latter frequently expressing his comradeship with the worthy enemies
he faced, in particular the English. Ernst von Salomon, another key
radical right author, contended that in the War the two sides did not
represent opposing ideals, but rather that the War itself provided a
shared (Western) experience. The threat of degeneration was thus also
shared, and came from the amorphous proliferation of threats to the
Volkskörper
often
represented by the home front. This cultural nation was also then
portable, enacted in the east as well as on colonial terrain.
Lettow-Vorbeck, for example, exhorted youth to learn from his defence
of German colonies in East Africa: ‘[j]ust as the revitalisation of
energy, blood flowing through the veins, and the breathing of fresh
air are necessary for the individual if the body and spirit are to be
healthy, this is also required for our sick Volkskörper.
Labour must again flow in and out and, through our great trading
cities, must again breathe the sea air’. Here we have a colonial
social hygiene in which the biologised nation is coterminous with the
global circulation of goods and bodies.

The
primary locus of national regeneration for the radical right,
however, was found in the experience of the fighting front during the
War, and it is here that we can see most clearly the links to the
gendered dynamics of war. Ernst Junger’s work was undoubtedly the
most prominent and influential in this regard. Junger had fought at
the front as a storm trooper, had been decorated, and went on to
become one of the most significant writers of the radical right in
the Weimar period. He regained prominence after the Second World War,
writing and enjoying increasing recognition up to his death in 1998
at the age of 103. His work, in particular his war memoir Storm
of Steel
,
first published in 1920 and subsequently rewritten on several
occasions, provided the most influential radical right meditation on
the significance of war; despite the differences Junger had with the
Nazis, Goebbels called it a ‘war gospel, cruelly great’. Many of
the themes evident in Spengler’s work returned with Junger, but he
grounded them more concretely in the life of the front. By the late
1920s and early 1930s he developed this front experience into a
totalising social critique and a model of social order embodied in
the figure of ‘the Worker’. A new man emerged out of Junger’s
battlefields, the ruins of the front giving birth to a machinic
figure who Junger argued embodied a regenerated social order; by the
time he wrote The
Worker
in
the early 1930s, he conceived of this order on a planetary scale.

The
purging of a feminised degeneracy was at the heart of Junger’s
work. His novels, essays and other writings provide a sustained
critique of Weimar society and politics from the perspective of war
and the experience of the front. His disgust with the post-War order,
and with a corrupt materialist order more generally, was almost
total, and was consistently articulated through a dread of
degeneration and disease. ‘Democratic sentiments?’ he asked
rhetorically in Copse
125
,
another autobiographical novel set at the front. ‘I hate democracy
as I do the plague’. For Junger, the future could only be found in
the decidedly non-democratic iron order of the battlefield and it
could only be brought into being through an implacable war against
any threatening or degenerative heterogeneity. War was thus both
model for the utopian social order, and means for its attainment.

Junger’s
texts operated in this dual fashion as well, acting as a sort of
agitprop literature for the right. The texts themselves were
constructed as models for the desired social order, violently
regimented narratives, often in the form of diaries, which were
carefully written to exclude what he saw as effete literary
flourishes. Spengler offers a similar critique of literary
production, arguing that the journalism of the stage of Civilisation
‘substitutes for the old thoughtfulness an intellectual
male-prostitution
of
speech and writing, which fills and dominates the halls and the
market-places of the megalopolis’. Again here we see the use of the
figure of the prostitute in condemning modern civilisation, linked in
turn to the degenerative influence of the city and the market. The
true writer is thus akin to the soldier who, at the fighting front,
avoids these civilian entanglements; this argument radicalises that
of the 93 intellectuals and others who associated war with German
Culture earlier in the War.

Junger’s
depiction of the front as the alternative to the plague of democracy
was outlined more explicitly in many of his contributions to the
right-wing press in the mid-1920s. His 1925 essay ‘The Front
Soldier and Internal Politics’, for instance, is built around the
reconfigured notions of ‘internal’ and ‘external’ that I have
argued marked the politics of the radical right. Rather than national
borders, the key dichotomy here is between the ethos of the front and
that of democracy; the soldier offers the possibility for the
transcendence of these divisions through the purging of degeneracy.
Increasingly, though, Junger also looked to the figure of the Worker
to describe this new man, explicitly laying claim to the terrain of
the left. The soldier of the First World War was an industrial
soldier,
a new type of embodied subject commensurate to new forms of war.
These soldiers

have
been reared in the fiery centres of modern industry and from
childhood on know the ways and power of our era. They are more deeply
embedded in the contemporary world, whose secrets and marvels shine
through cold exteriors. They sense the elemental spirit stirring in
the explosive power of steel and the atom, in the crackling of radio
waves. This also represents a return to the more fundamental; these
men have their aeroplanes under control as an [Aboriginal] Australian
his boomerang.

Crucially,
then, while this soldier is wholly modern, he also taps into an
eternal soldierly substratum; the primitivist invocation of the
Australian Aboriginal cements this trans-historical moment.

Especially
by the later 1920s Junger stressed the roots of the soldier in the
disciplined iron order of the factory. Interestingly,
the German military establishment prior to the War had preferred
rural and small-town recruits, believing that industrial environments
produced enervated men with urban vices. With the onset of war this
shifted, with urbanites and workers seen as the ideal candidates for
the new, industrial form of warfare. Junger’s argument is thus
tightly linked with the military thinking of the period.
 The figures of the soldier and worker dominate the anti-political
politics that he developed most systematically in 1932 in The
Worker
,
embodying the social and political order that would transcend liberal
parliamentarism. The Worker represents what he calls a new ‘Gestalt’
expressed through the social totality, the ‘state of total
mobilization’. Junger’s
critique of liberalism in these works has points of connection with
those developed by the left, but for Junger the idea of totality
embodies not a revolutionary or emancipatory politics, but the
principles of violence, domination, and the hierarchy of the front
writ large. This
is a radical right version of the Volkskörper,
an embodied
totality
(Junger frequently uses the term Verkörpert
[‘embodied’])
in which the individual body of the worker or soldier merges into an
integrated social totality that transcends and transforms its
individual moments. The significance of the body is most evident at
the moment of death, especially the violent death of the battlefield
where bodily life reaches its apogee. Junger’s worker-body and
soldier-body are not material bodies, however, but represent a
transcendent moment: ‘not the slightest connection exists between
the body at the second of its death and the corpse that then
appears’. Death is the moment of fulfilment of the social order,
the point at which the bourgeois dichotomy between individual and
society is transcended and the new man discovers that it is ‘in
blood sacrifice that his most significant expression is won’. In
Storm
of Steel
he
describes being shot late in the War and thinking he is about to die:
‘[s]trangely, that moment is one of very few in my life of which I
am able to say they were utterly happy. I understood, as in a flash
of lighting, the true inner purpose and form of my life’.

The
worker state thus enables the formation of what Junger calls in
different places a new gender and a new race as the embodied forms of
the new social and political order, although he insists that this
concept of race ‘has nothing to do with the biological concept of
race’. The new state is, however, violently anti-bourgeois and
anti-liberal. Junger argues that the rise of the Worker will involve
the ‘transformation [Ablösung]
of the liberal, formal democracy [Gesellschaftsdemokratie]
through work or state democracy’. These bodily and social
transformations are highly mediated by technology, the new race
taking the form of a kind of hybrid or cyborg body that has as much
to do with engineering as biology. Junger’s work is thus clearly
about more than a ‘reactionary modernism’ that brings technology
together with anti-rational thinking; indeed, it embodies a
terrifying integrative rationality in the face of which, as Adorno
suggested of Spengler’s work, a liberal critique is wholly
inadequate. It is a particularly radical version of what Cornelius
Castoriadis has characterised as ‘the fantasy of total control, of
our will or desire for mastering all objects and all circumstances’
that is at the heart of Western technological rationality….this
phenomenon is driven especially by military practice, in particular
through the growing importance of information in warfare. This
‘totalitarian’ impulse at the heart of militarised capitalism
parallels the arguments presented here in relation to the role of
information and communication in war.

Junger’s
investments in the cyborg body are most evident in his interest in
photography. In The
Worker
he
identifies photography with broader social changes characteristic of
modern life, arguing that the medium had given rise to a new
aesthetics bound up with the abolition and transcending of older
bourgeois practices. The first photographic portraits had already
begun to ‘blur the borders between art and technology’, a shift
that changed ‘what one understands
a “good face” to be’. This ‘good face’ was precisely that
which he
sought to reflect in a series of photo-books for which he served as
editor or contributor in the late 1920s and early 1930s. These books
developed a radical right aesthetics, tracing new forms of modern
subjectivity and the front experience in which they found their ideal
home. While Junger never gave up writing novels, photography gave him
a new and in many ways more accessible medium for his agitprop
literature, a mechanical means through which the modern machinic body
could be reproduced.

For
Junger, the photographs in these lavish works were more than just
illustrations; photography itself was an integral part of the
military-technological apparatus that enabled a new consciousness. In
‘War and Photography’ (‘Krieg und Lichtbild’), his
introductory essay to the photo collection The
Face of the World War
,
Junger argued that the mass of information thrown up by technological
war requires precise forms of documentation to capture the meaning of
the militarised state. Here photography has a privileged place. Along
with artillery and guns, he says, countless lenses were trained on
the battlefield, serving as ‘instruments of a technological
consciousness’ that preserved the image of this devastated yet
generative landscape. As with his writing, Junger conceived of this
archive of images not simply as a passive recording of war, but
rather as a tool that could enable those who did not experience the
front to do so through a medium adequate to its object. The
photographic archive crystallised the new constellation of
technology, subjectivity, the body, politics, and aesthetic form.

Militarised
technology itself was not the driving force of these social changes,
however. Looking specifically at the significance of the tank in
another essay in the collection The
Face of the World War
,
Junger argues that ‘[i]t is a means of expression [Ausdrucksmittel]
of a new military epoch, just as the machine itself represents not
the beginning, but rather the expression, of a new epoch of the
spirit’. Technology is thus but the outward form of a spiritual
transformation
brewing beneath the surface.

Its
[the First World War’s] fragmentary character is based on the
technology being able to destroy the traditional forms of war. From
within itself, however, it could only intimate – without being able
to realise – a new image of war. In this process, the world war
mirrors our life – the spirit behind the technology was able to
destroy old attachments while it has not yet left the experimental
stage with respect to building a new order constituted by its own
means.

The
battlefield was thus the leading edge of transformations that were
reshaping
all areas of human life. The modern moment was the ‘moment of
danger’, as Ferdinand Bucholtz’s 1931 photobook was entitled. The
images in
Bucholtz’s book trace these moments of danger, ranging from natural
disasters to industrial accidents and car crashes. More precisely, as
we saw earlier with the Australian Aboriginal, the exponential
increase in danger made possible by the destructive potential of new
industrial processes and technologies was the modern expression of a
fundamental and primal human nature. The book links this moment of
danger directly to political struggles waged by the radical right. A
significant portion of the book celebrates counter-revolutionary
violence with writings and photographs that include: an excerpt from
Ernst von Salomon’s memoir The
Outlaws
recounting
the assassination of Walter Rathenau; photographs of the Freikorps;
and depictions of colonial violence. In the introductory essay to the
book, ‘On Danger’, Junger argued that from the bourgeois
perspective danger appears as the opposite of reason, fuelling a
desire for security. Junger, though, rejects the slogan of ‘Peace
and Order’ (Ruhe
und Ordnung
)
– which was also the counter-revolutionary slogan endorsed by the
SPD in the immediate post-War years – celebrating instead the
Gestalt of the warrior, the artist, and the criminal who tap directly
into what he calls the Elemental, the universal substratum underlying
the transient moment.

Junger’s
work is arguably both a celebration of the alienated body of
capitalist modernity, and a performance of a violent masculinity
through which that alienation can be contained. Again here the
stab-in-the-back legend, in which a series of degenerative forces
emanating from the home front undermine bodily unity, is raised to a
fundamental principle. Thus, he writes, where pacifists do their work
‘there civilization emits the first scent of decay’. Civilian
life
more broadly produced profound feelings of disgust in Junger and in
others on the radical right. Franz Sontag’s
1931 Never
Again War!?
,
a novel whose title subverts a key pacifist slogan, describes the
decommissioning of an officer: ‘[s]o he had finally become a
civilian – what a repulsive thought! … internally torn,
only half a man’. The body and subjectivity of the officer
literally embody the gendered dichotomy of the two fronts, a split
that radical right cultural production and political action sought
violently and compulsively to weld together through the extermination
of the feminine.

In
many radical right texts this fundamental misogyny was expressed
through a graphic violence against women, but in Junger’s case it
manifested as a powerful repression of any
representations
of women. His accounts of leaves from the front, for example, are
terse and include little of family or other civilian/feminine
engagements. One brief mention is telling, however. At the end of
Storm
of Steel
,
after Junger is wounded, he is rushed to a dressing-station. In the
later 1961 rewriting of the novel he merely states that ‘[t]hen I
was in the hands
of the sisters’, but in the 1924 version we get a slightly longer
account. ‘Though I am no misogynist’, he claims, ‘I was always
irritated by the presence of women every time that the fate of battle
threw me into the bed of a hospital ward. One sank, after the manly
and purposeful activities of the War, into a vague atmosphere of
warmth’. These various forces against which Junger seeks to do
battle are thus characterised as formless womanly dispersion.

It
is not surprising that nurses bear the brunt of his animosity. They
represented the only large-scale female presence at the front and, as
Klaus Theweleit details, they emerged as perhaps the most fraught and
powerful symbol of femininity in the writings of the radical right.
The position of the nurse highlights not only the complexities of the
gender politics of the radical right, but also their class politics
and their relations to older forms of conservatism. Indeed, nursing
was deeply rooted in the conservative women’s movement, offering an
opportunity for work to unmarried bourgeois and aristocratic women
that had been gained only after considerable struggle. Embodying
feminine values of care and service, as Lora Wildenthal argues in her
study of colonial
women, ‘[n]ursing offered a conservative resolution to conflicts
raised by women’s efforts at participation’. Based in modern
medical practices, nursing offered a challenging outlet for
upper-class women that, because of the non-waged, volunteer nature of
the work and the fact that it took place under male medical
supervision, simultaneously reaffirmed conservative gender roles and
values. The promotion of a ‘non-political’ caring work as women’s
ideal contribution reflected the broader opposition of many
conservative women’s groups to suffrage and other concerns of the
women’s movement. In important ways, then, nursing involved a
conservative response to changing gender relations and the rise of
liberal, radical, and socialist feminisms.

In
the pre-War period nursing developed especially in relation to German
imperial projects. Through influential Patriotic Women’s Leagues
nurses played an important role in sustaining military and settler
activity during the German colonial period, even though they were
often treated with suspicion by male settlers and colonial officials.
During the War, and in conjunction with the broader integration of
the BdF and the women’s movement in the war effort, opportunities
for nurses expanded significantly. Bourgeois and conservative women’s
organisations worked with the Red Cross to mobilise and organise
around 92,000 nurses for service in the War. The Patriotic Women’s
Leagues argued in a call on 2 August 1914 that men had stepped up to
defend crown and fatherland, and that ‘[t]he Fatherland expects the
same devotion and the same willingness to sacrifice from Germany’s
women and girls as from its sons … God grant our flag victory,
and bless our work in the service of the Red Cross!’ The Leagues
also played a key public role in mobilising support for war through
public performances of medical interventions and through large-scale
poster campaigns that became central to the propaganda efforts of the
German state. This propagandistic function in particular began to
fail over the course of the War, however, mirroring the broader
delegitimisation of the state and older elites.

Despite
their staunch nationalism and conservatism, nurses remained
ambivalent figures. They did not overtly challenge patriarchal
structures, but their participation at the front nevertheless
challenged gendered expectations. For anti-feminist critics this went
too far. Not surprisingly, opposition was frequently expressed by
sexualising women’s involvement at the front, with nurses accused
in many cases of simply wanting to find husbands or lovers. More
sensationally, the Berliner
Zeitung
ran
a story about prostitutes disguised as nurses who were arrested by
police, highlighting the unstable boundaries of the category
‘prostitute’ and its importance in formal and informal modes of
regulation of all of women’s public roles. Resistance to women’s
service at the front was strengthened by the entry of other women,
often lower-middle class in this case, into auxiliary service in
areas behind the lines. These new workers provided much fodder for
public discussion of morality; again their public role was frequently
configured in terms of the transgression of sexual norms and limits,
and at the extreme elided with prostitution.

Nurses
thus simultaneously troubled and sustained dominant gendered
practices. For the misogynist and anti-feminist radical right, any
such
feminine intrusion into male social and bodily space, especially
militarised space, represented a threat. This is evident in Junger’s
response to the hospital ward mentioned above. Death, as we saw,
offers the possibility of transcendence, but bodily wounding and his
treatment by women unmans him. As Jean Quataert argues, nurses thus
represent an older form of conservatism opposed by the radical right:
‘women’s sacrifices and the values of Christian neighborliness –
once integral to official nationalist messages – were alien to the
discourses of the new political right’. The radical right’s
response was a violent rhetorical onslaught
against unruly women that could easily turn into actual violence.
This was especially the case with the figure of the ‘red nurse’,
the communist woman who, as Theweleit argues, figured as a prominent
threat in the fantasies of the radical right, and who was visited
with sexualised violence in many of their accounts. The opposing
image of the ‘white nurse’, though, also played a role in
sustaining misogynist violence. They were to be protected by radical
right fighters, but again it was the threat of rape, this time
purportedly by communists, that underlay their place in the radical
right imaginary. In Theweleit’s view, then, while white nurses were
in need of protection, the obsession with sexual violence in these
images simultaneously ‘may then function as a means of maintaining
the threat of rape as an ever-present possibility’ for all women.

This
violently misogynist fear and loathing thus sought the elimination of
any feminine dispersion and formlessness, an orientation that can be
traced to a conception of masculine identity as struggle whose most
notable exponent was the Viennese writer Otto Weininger. His 1903
work Sex
and Character
was
extremely influential, condensing in virulent terms the broader
misogynist, homophobic, and racist (especially anti-Semitic)
perspectives characteristic of early twentieth-century ideas of
degeneration. The book is a massive interdisciplinary work that seeks
to ground human life in its social, cultural and biological bases in
fundamental gendered and racialised dichotomies. Men and women, he
argues, exist on a continuum between two ideal types, a gender
continuum that finds its racial parallel between the poles of Aryan
and Jew. Everyone falls between the poles, embodying elements of both
genders and races. Sexuality is central to his argument, with
‘excessive’ femininity in men denoting homosexuality, and
masculinity in women, lesbianism. Weininger nevertheless
simultaneously speaks of ‘women’ or ‘Jews’; while we are all
compound beings, women and Jews are tied to their biological nature,
incapable of attaining full personhood and the ideal of genius.

Weininger’s
work thus expresses a profoundly unstable conception of masculine and
Aryan subjectivity and embodiment. This true subjectivity is
undermined by femininity. Femininity is in fact not subjectivity at
all: ‘[w]oman wants man sexually, because it is only through his
sexuality that she can gain an existence’. The dynamic here
reflects a particular orientation to conceptions of degeneration
outlined in the introduction, femininity configured as a threat of
negation and formlessness, that was also evident in the logic of the
two fronts and the responses of the radical right. The genius of the
masculine and Aryan is thus paradoxical; it comes out of the
awareness of the feminine and Jewish element within. However, this
awareness takes the form of struggle. Given that women’s existence
is only enabled by men’s sexuality, men need to reject sexual
intercourse entirely: ‘what is needed is neither
the affirmation nor the denial
of
femininity, but its rejection
and
its conquest’.
That the fulfilment of this struggle would lead to the end of
humanity is of no consequence; this is the struggle that must be
waged.

Weininger’s
work was an important contribution to the anti-feminism that, as I
touched on earlier, gained significant momentum around the turn of
the century. The logic expressed in Weininger’s argument resonated
strongly with that of the radical right. As Theweleit argues,
Freudian notions of repression are inadequate to an understanding of
radical right subject formation. The radical right subject seeks not
repression, but violent struggle and expulsion, the externalisation
and obliteration of any traces of femininity. It is this struggle
that grounds the radical right male subject. The rejection of
femininity was reflected as well in popular dreams of a male
community (Männerbund)
that had a broad reach. Even more broadly, it is important to
remember, these desires were by no means the exclusive province of
the radical right, with Weininger in particular proving popular with
a wide range of people. As Raymond Williams argues, something like
this tendency existed in leftist modernist and avant-garde critiques
of bourgeois society and morality as well: ‘there is a position
within the apparent critique of the bourgeois family which is
actually a critique and rejection of all social forms of human
reproduction’, a rejection that he argues takes the form of an
extreme misogyny.

For
the radical right, this violent misogyny was bound up with the
counterrevolutionary violence exemplified by the Freikorps;
both were fights to shore up unstable and porous borders, with the
individual body mapping seamlessly onto the social body. Thus, the
Freikorps
Major
Josef Bischoff argued that the fighting in the Baltics was a ‘last
battlefront’ against Bolshevism that brought together ‘those like
myself who think of an overcoming of the revolution’. This was not
a nostalgic desire that sought to preserve a pre-existing nation,
however, but a struggle for a new order. As Joan Campbell argues, the
War gave a strong boost to ideas of efficiency, rationalisation, and
scientific management, generating in the process a strong romantic
backlash. Junger’s state of total mobilisation, however, did not
partake of such romanticism, representing instead a radicalisation of
modernist ideas, a violently masculinised fetishisation and
celebration of a rationalised social order.

The
radical right thus played a fundamental role not only in the
counterrevolution, but also in generating a cultural logic that,
while it was harnessed in some ways by the SPD, older elites, and
capital, also developed its own autonomous dynamic. It was in this
sense that the radical right described here enabled the subsequent
rise of Nazism. However, their politics remained distinct, a point
made by Ernst Bloch in differentiating those like Spengler from the
Nazis.

If
Spengler predicted the fascist period, he was still wrong to see it
starting out coldly, mechanically, from the civilized cosmopolitan
cities, in short, from a totally wakeful and late consciousness. But
with our fascists Munich, not Berlin, started it, the ‘most
organic’ capital city, not the mechanized one, and the violence
emanates from the ‘people’ (in the highly undemocratic sense),
from butcher’s dances and the crudest folklore.

This
distinction is important to keep in mind, with the two approaches
also representing different moments in the gendered class struggles
that shaped the Weimar period. The cold and elite nature of Junger
and others on the radical right emerged not only out of the
experience of war, but also out of the paramilitary
counter-revolutionary warfare of the post-War period. Theirs was not
a mass mobilisation, but the formation of a disciplined and deadly
fighting force that, through an extreme misogyny that also had
women’s struggles during the War as a target, could challenge and
defeat the revolutionary left. They were repelled in many respects by
the folklore and butcher’s dances of the Nazis, including by their
crude biological racism, but in the early Weimar years the Nazis
remained a relatively minor force. In the context of the later Weimar
years, the Nazi mass movement took on much greater prominence, a
development that forms the context for the final chapter. In turning
to the post-War revolutionary movements in the next chapter, though,
it is the radical right of the Freikorps
that
provides the background for understanding the dynamics of those early
Weimar years.

–  Robert Heynen, Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany. Historical Materialism series. Leiden: Brill, 2005. pp.
107-134

Pictures are, top: from Ernst Junger’s 1931 photobook about the World War; bottom: Ferdinand Bucholtz, Der gefahrliche Augenblick, 1931

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“No one can demand that, in the very countries that have granted them asylum, the émigrés put a mirror to the world that has created fascism. But whoever is not willing to talk about capitalism should also keep quiet about fascism. The English hosts today fare better than Frederick the Great did with the acid-tongued Voltaire. No matter if the hymn the intellectuals intone to liberalism often comes too late, because the countries turn totalitarian faster than the books can find publishers; the intellectuals have not abandoned hope that somewhere the reformation of Western capitalism will proceed more mildly than in Germany and that well-recommended foreigners will have a future after all. But the totalitarian order differs from its bourgeois predecessor only in that it has lost its inhibitions. Just as old people sometimes become as evil as they basically always were, at the end of the epoch class rule has taken the form of the “folk community” [Volksgemeinschaft]. The theory has destroyed the myth of the harmony of interests [between capital and labor]; it has presented the liberal economic process as the reproduction of power relations by means of free contracts, which are compelled by the inequality of the property. Mediation has now been abolished. Fascism is that truth of modern society which has been realized by the theory from the beginning. Fascism solidifies the extreme class differences which the law of surplus value ultimately produced.

No revision of economic theory is required to understand fascism. Equal and just exchange has driven itself to the point of absurdity, and the totalitarian order is this absurdity. The transition from liberalism has occurred logically enough, and less brutally than from the mercantile system into that of the nineteenth century. The same economic tendencies that create an ever higher productivity of labor through the mechanism of competition have suddenly turned into forces of social disorganization. The pride of liberalism, industry developed technically to the utmost, ruins its own principle because great parts of the population can no longer sell their labor. The reproduction of what exists by the labor market becomes inefficient. Previously the bourgeoisie was decentralized, a many-headed ruler; the expansion of the plant was the condition for every entrepreneur to increase his portion of the social surplus. He needed workers in order to prevail in the competition of the market. In the age of monopolies, the investment of more and more new capital no longer promises any great increase in profits. The mass of workers, from whom surplus value flows, diminishes in comparison to the apparatus which it serves. In recent times, industrial production has existed only as a condition for profit, for the expansion of the power of groups and individuals over human labor. Hunger itself provides no reason for the production of consumer goods. To produce for the insolvent demand, for the unemployed masses, would run counter to the laws of economy and religion that hold the order together; no bread without work.

Even the façade betrays the obsolescence of the market economy. The advertising signs in all countries are its monuments. Their expression is ridiculous. They speak to the passers-by as shallow adults do to children or animals, in a falsely familiar slang. The masses, like children, are deluded: they believe that as independent subjects they have the freedom to choose the goods for themselves. But the choice has already largely been dictated. For decades there have been entire spheres of consumption in which only the labels change. The panoply of different qualities in which consumers revel exists only on paper. If advertising was always characteristic of the faux frais of the bourgeois commodity economy, still, it formerly performed a positive function as a means of increasing demand. Today the buyer is still paid an ideological reverence which he is not even supposed to believe entirely. He already knows enough to interpret the advertising for the great brand-name products as national slogans that one is not allowed to contradict. The discipline to which advertising appeals comes into its own in the fascist countries. In the posters the people find out what they really are: soldiers. Advertising becomes correct. The strict governmental command which threatens from every wall during totalitarian elections corresponds more exactly to the modern organization of the economy than the monotonously colorful lighting effects in the shopping centers and amusement quarters of the world.

The economic programs of the good European statesmen are illusory. In the final phase of liberalism they want to compensate with government orders for the disintegrating market economy’s inability to support the populace. Along with the economically powerful they seek to stimulate the economy so that it will provide everyone with a living, but they forget that the aversion to new investments is no whim. The industrialists have no desire to get their factories going via the indirect means of taxes they must pay to an all-too-impartial government simply to help the bankrupt farmers and other draft animals out of a jam. For their class such a procedure does not pay. No matter how much progovernmental economists may lecture the entrepreneurs that it is for their own benefit, the powerful have a better sense of their interests and have greater goals than a makeshift boom led with strikes and whatever else belongs to the proletarian class struggle. The statesmen who, after all this, still wish to run liberalism humanely, misunderstand its character. They may represent education and be surrounded by experts, but their efforts are nonetheless absurd: they wish to subordinate to the general populace that class whose particular interests by nature run contrary to the general ones. A government that would make the objects of welfare into subjects of free contracts by garnering the taxes of employers, must fail in the end: otherwise it would involuntarily degenerate from the proxy of the employers into the executive agency of the unemployed, indeed, of the dependent classes in general. Nearly confiscatory taxes, such as the inheritance tax, which are forced not only by the layoffs in industry, but also by the insoluble agriculture crisis, already threaten to make the weak into the “exploiters” of the capitalists. Such a reversal of circumstances will not be permitted in the long run by the employers in any empire. In the parliaments and all of public life, the employers sabotage neoliberal welfare policies. Even if these would help the economy, the employers would remain unreconciled: economic cycles are no longer enough for them. The relations of production prevail against the humanitarian governments. The pioneers from the employers’ associations create a new apparatus and their advocates take the social order into their hands; in place of fragmented command over particular factories, there arises the totalitarian rule of particular interests over the entire people. Individuals are subjected to a new discipline which threatens the foundations of the social order. The transformation of the downtrodden jobseeker from the nineteenth century into the solicitous member of a fascist organization recalls in its historical significance the transformation of the medieval master craftsman into the protestant burgher of the Reformation, or of the English village pauper into the modern industrial worker. Considering the fundamental nature of this change, the statesmen pursuing moderate progress appear reactionary.

The labor market is replaced by coerced labor. If over the past decades people went from exchange partners to beggars, objects of welfare, now they become direct objects of domination. In the prefascist stage the unemployed threatened the order. The transition to an economy which would unite the separated elements, which would give the people ownership of the idle machines and the useless grain, seemed unavoidable in Germany, and the world-wide danger of socialism seemed serious. With socialism’s enemies stood everyone who had anything to say in the Republic. Governing was carried out by welfare payments, by former imperial civil servants, and by reactionary officers. The trade unions wished to transform themselves from organs of class struggle into state institutions which distribute governmental largesse, inculcate a loyal attitude in the recipients, and participate in social control. Such help, however, was suspect to the powerful. Once German capital had resumed imperialist policies, it dropped the labor bureaucrats, political and trade unions, who had helped it into power. Despite their most honest intentions, the bureaucrats could not measure up to the new conditions. The masses were not activated for the improvement of their own lives, not to eat, but to obey — such is the task of the fascist apparatus. Governing has acquired a new meaning there. Instead of practiced functionaries, imaginative organizers and overseers are needed; they must be well removed from the influence of ideologies of freedom and human dignity. In late capitalism, peoples metamorphose first into welfare recipients and then into followers [Gefolgschaften].

Long before the fascist revolution, the unemployed constituted an irresistible temptation for industrialists and agrarians, who wished to organize them for their purposes. As at the beginning of the epoch, uprooted masses are again available, but one cannot force them into manufacturing as one did then; the time of private enterprise is past. The fascist agitator unites his people for the battle against democratic governments. If during the transformation it becomes less and less attractive to invest capital in useful production, then the money is put into the organization of the masses one wishes to wrest away from the prefascist governments. Once that has been accomplished at home, then it is tried internationally. Even in foreign countries the fascist states appear as organizers of power against obstinate governments. Their emissaries prepare the ground for fascist conquests; they are the descendants of the Christian missionaries who preceded the merchants. Today it is not English but German imperialism which strives for expansion.

If fascism in fact follows from the capitalist principle, it is not adapted only to the poor, the “have-not” countries, in contrast to the rich ones. The fact that fascism was initially supported by bankrupt industries concerns its specific development, not its suitability as a universal principle. Already during the time of greatest profitability, heavy industry extorted its share of the class profit by means of its position of economic power. The average profit rate, which applied to it as well, always exceeded the surplus value produced in its own area. Krupp and Thyssen obeyed the principle of competition less than others. Thus, the bankruptcy that the balance eventually revealed showed nothing of the harmony between heavy industry and the needs of the status quo. The fact that the chemical industry was superior in the market to heavy industry in terms of profitability was not socially decisive. In late capitalism the task assigned is to remodel the populace into a combat-ready collective for civil and military purposes, so that it will function in the hands of the newly formed ruling class. Poor profitability thus merely stimulated certain parts of German industry before others to force the development.

The ruling class has changed. Its members are not identical with the owners of capitalist property. The fragmented majority of the shareholders have long since fallen under the leadership of the directors. With the progression of the enterprise from one among many competing economic units to the impregnable position of social power of the modern conglomerate, management gained absolute power. The scope and differentiation of the factories has created a bureaucracy, whose apex pursues its own goals with the capital of the shareholders and, if need be, against them. The same degree of organic conglomeration of capital that limits the economic incentive for further investment allows the directors to put the brakes on production in the course of political machinations, and even to halt it, without being affected much themselves. Directors’ salaries at times free themselves from the balance sheets. The high industrial bureaucracy takes the place of the legal owners. It turns out that actual disposition, physical possession, and not nominal ownership are socially decisive.

Juridical form, which actually determined the happiness of individuals, has always been considered a product of ideology. The dispossessed groups in the bourgeoisie cling now to the hypostatized form of private property and denounce fascism as a new Bolshevism, while the latter theoretically hypostatizes a given form of socializing property and in practice cannot stop the monopolization of the production apparatus. It ultimately matters little whether the state takes care of its own by regulating private profits or the salaries of civil servants. The fascist ideology conceals the same relationship as the old harmonizing ideology: domination by a minority on the basis of actual possession of the tools of production. The aspiration for profit today ends in what it always was: striving for social power. The true self of the juridical owner of the means of production confronts him as the fascist commander of battalions of workers. Social dominance, which could not be maintained by economic means, because private property has outlived itself, is continued by directly political means. In the face of this situation, liberalism, even in its decadent form, represents the greatest good for the greatest number, since the amount of misfortune suffered by the majority in the capitalist mother countries is less than that concentrated today upon the persecuted minorities [in totalitarian countries].

Liberalism cannot be re-established. It leaves behind a demoralized proletariat betrayed by its leaders, in which the unemployed form a sort of amorphous class that fairly screams for organization from above, along with farmers, whose methods of production and forms of consciousness have lagged far behind technological development, and finally the generals of industry, the army, and the administration, who agree with each other and embrace the new order.

After the century-long interlude of liberalism, the upper class in the fascist countries has returned to its basic insights. In the twentieth century, the existence of individuals is once again being controlled in all its details. Whether totalitarian repression can persist after the unleashing of productive forces within industrial society cannot be deduced. The economic collapse was predictable, not the revolution. Theory and practice are not directly identical. After the war the question was posed in practical terms. The German workers possessed the qualifications to rearrange the world. They were defeated. How far fascism reaches its goal will depend on the struggles of the present epoch. The adaptation of individuals to fascism, however, also expresses a certain rationality. After their betrayal by their own bureaucracy since 1914, after the development of the parties into world-spanning machineries for the destruction of spontaneity, after the murder of revolutionaries, the neutrality of workers with respect to the totalitarian order is no sign of idiocy. Remembering the fourteen years [of the Weimar Republic] has more attraction for the intellectuals than for the proletariat. Fascism may have no less to offer them than the Weimar Republic, which brought up fascism.

Totalitarian society may survive economically in the long run. Collapses are not a short-term prospect. Crises were rational signs, the alienated critiques of the market economy, which, though blind, was oriented to needs. In the totalitarian economy, hunger in war and peacetime appears less as a disruption than as a patriotic duty. For fascism as a world system, no economic end is visible. Exploitation no longer reproduces itself aimlessly via the market, but rather in the conscious exercise of power. The categories of political economy — exchange of equivalents, concentration, centralization, falling rate of profit, and so on — still have a tangible validity, except that their consequence, the end of political economy, has been attained. In the fascist countries, economic concentration proceeds rapidly. It has entered, however, into the practice of methodical violence, which seeks to master social antagonisms directly. The economy no longer has any independent dynamism. It loses its power to the economically powerful. The failure of the free market reveals the inability of further progress in the forms of antagonistic society of any kind. Despite the war, fascism can survive, unless the peoples of the world understand that the knowledge and machines they possess must serve their own happiness, rather than the perpetuation of power and injustice. Fascism is retrograde not in comparison to the bankrupt principle of laissez-faire, but in terms of what could be attained.

Even if it had been possible to limit armaments and divide the world, by following the example of the conglomerates (one should recall the efforts at a British-German, and beyond that, a European coal cartel), even then fascism would not have needed to fear for its survival. There are innumerable tasks to be done which would provide food and work and yet not allow individuals to become arrogant. Mandeville, who knew what was needed, already designated the distant goal of fascism at the beginning of capitalism: “We have work for a hundred thousand more paupers than we actually have, work for three or four hundred years to come. In order to make our land useful and well populated everywhere, many rivers would need to be made navigable and many canals built. Many regions would need to be drained and protected for the future against floods. Large expanses of dry soil would have to be made fertile, many square miles of land more accessible and thus more profitable. Dei laboribus omni vendunt. There are no difficulties in this area that work and perseverance cannot overcome. The highest mountains can be toppled into the valleys that stand ready to receive them, and bridges can be built in places where we would not dare think of it…It is the state’s business to correct social ills, and take on those things first which are most neglected by private persons. Antagonisms are best cured by antagonisms; and since in the case of national failure an example accomplishes more than an order, the government should decide on some great undertaking that would require an immense amount of work for a long period, and thus convince the world that it does nothing without anxious concern for the most distant posterity. This will have a solidifying effect on the wavering spirit and the flighty mind of the people; it will remind us we do not live only for ourselves and will ultimately make people less distrustful, and thus will instill in them greater patriotism and loyal affection for their home soil, which, more than anything else, is necessary for the higher development of a nation.”

According to practical reason, the people must obey as if in prison, only with the difference that it also should have its own conscience as warden and overseer, alongside the agents of the regime in power. “The origin of the highest power is for practical purposes inscrutable for the people which is subject to it, i.e., the subject should not practically reason…about its origin; for if the subject who had pondered out the ultimate origin were to resist that now prevailing authority, then by the laws of the latter, i.e., with complete justification, he would be punished, destroyed, or (outlawed, exlex) expelled.” Kant embraces the theory “that whoever is in possession of the supreme ruling and legislating power over a people, must be obeyed, and so juridically-absolutely, that even to research the title to this acquisition in public, that is, to doubt it, in order to resist it in case of some failing, is itself punishable; that it is a categorical imperative: Obey authority that has power over you (in everything which does not contradict the inwardly moral).” But the scholar of Kant knows: the inwardly moral can never protest against an onerous task ordered by the respective authority.

Fascist nationalization, the installation of a terroristic party apparatus alongside the administration, is the opposite of socialization. As usual, the whole functions in the interests of a set group. The command of outside labor by the bureaucracy is now formally the last resort; the command of competing firms is delegated, but the contrasts blur: the owners become bureaucrats and the bureaucrats owners. The concept of the state completely loses its contradiction to the concept of a dominant particularity, it is the apparatus of the ruling clique, a tool of private power, and this is more true the more it is idolized. In Italy as well as in Germany, large public enterprises are being reprivatized. In Italy, electric factories, the monopolies on telephones and life insurance, and other governmental and municipal operations, and in Germany the banks above all, have gone into private hands. Of course, only the powerful profit from that. In the long run, the protection of the small businessman proves to be a pure propaganda hoax. The number of corporations which dominate the entire industry grows steadily smaller. Under the surface of the Führer-state a furious battle takes place among interested parties for the spoils. The German and other elites in Europe, which share the intention of keeping the populace in check, would long ago have started an internal and external war without this binding tie. Inside the totalitarian states, this tension is so great that Germany could dissolve overnight into a chaos of gangster battles. From the beginning, the tragic gestures as well as the incessant assurances of a multi-millennial permanence in National Socialist propaganda reflect the intimation of such a frailty.

Only because the justified fear of the masses constantly brings them together do the subordinate leaders allow themselves to be integrated and if necessary massacred by the mightiest one. More than was ever the case under capitalism, anarchy is hidden behind the unity and harmony, atomistic private interest behind the planned economy. An equalization occurs which is no less coincidental to human needs than the previous price range of free markets. Despite all the directives, the forces which bring about the distribution of social energies to the various branches of production are as irrational as the mechanisms of the profit economy, which were formerly removed from human power. Freedom is no less a delusion for the leaders than for the businessman; as he depends on the market, they now depend on blind constellations of power. Arms build-ups are dictated to them by the interplay among the groups, by fear of one’s own and foreign peoples, by dependence on certain parts of the world of business, just as the expansion of factories is dictated to entrepreneurs in industrial society by social antagonisms, not by the contest of people against nature, which is the only criterion for determining a rational society. The stability of fascism rests on an alliance against the revolution and on the elimination of the economic remedy. The atomistic principle, according to which the success of one person is tied to the misery of the other, has even been intensified today. In the fascist organizations, equality and brotherliness prevail only on the surface. The struggle to rise in the barbarian hierarchy makes one’s comrades presumptive opponents. The fact that in a war economy more jobs are available than workers does not abolish the struggle of all against all. Wage differentials in the individual factories, for men and women, for blue-collar and white-collar workers, for various categories of proletarians are crasser than ever. With the abolition of unemployment the isolation of human beings has not been broken. Fear of unemployment is supplanted by fear of the state. Fear atomizes.”

– 

Max Horkheimer, “The Jews and Europe.” Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung, December 1939

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“Tim Buck Ejected at McGill – Direct Violation Of Law To Allow Red Leader To Propogate Communism in Province of Quebec – Eastern University Allows Fascist Leader to Speak, However. / “Young Canada Must Arise” – Tim Buck’s Forbidden Speech to McGill Students,” The Ubyssey. February 18, 1938. Page 01. Canadian University Press story.

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Young Communist Review, December 1938.  Source.

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“Rome’s Modern Legions Parade,” Montreal Star, November 2, 1932. Front Page.

“An integral part of Italy’s fighting forces is the Metropolitan Military Motorcycle Police Patrol of Rome, which is a valuable fighting unit.  The corps, guns ready for action, is show in review at the seventh anniversary of its organization.”

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“Fascism is Big Menace – But Two Parties in This Election, Says C.C.F. Candidate,” Saskatoon Star-Phoenix. October 9, 1935. Page 06

“There are only two parties in this election – the capitalist groups and the C.C.F.” John Evans, C.C.F. candidate here, declared last night speaking at Sutherland. “A vote for any of the capitalist groups,” he said,” was a vote for the menace of Fascism.”

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