Posts Tagged ‘third reich’

“So You Can See Who’s Phoning,” Ottawa Citizen. July 27, 1938. Page 01.

The German husband who telephones home from a bierstube and tells his frau he’s ‘detained at the office’ will be out of luck when use of the new television-telephone apparatus pictured above becomes general. It was recently successfully operated over the 650-kilometer stretch between Berlin and Munich. The Berlin operator shown here holds a cumbersome tramission cell which will be eliminated from sets for home use. He can see the Munich operators in the projection window at left. In the wall, next to it, the round ‘eye’ which transmitted his image to Munich.

Read Full Post »


Judgment at Nuremberg (1961)

Read Full Post »


85 years ago today, on 27 February 1933, a 24 year old Dutch council-communist (who according to some sources also considered himself an anarchist),
Marinus van der Lubbe set fire to
the German parliament building, the

He did this alone after having been profoundly disappointed by the lack of resistance to both capitalism and fascism, and hoped his act would spark a revolution.

Unfortunately this did not happen and the Nazis
instead started a campaign of mass arrests against communists who were placed in concentration camps. They also used the Reichstag fire to pass laws that gave them more power, another step towards dictatorship. Marinus was arrested and executed a few days before his 25th birthday.

It was long believed that the Nazi’s themselves started the fire as an excuse to gain this extra power and historians who pointed to evidence to the contract have had their careers ruined on the suspision that they were trying to cover up nazi crimes. By now, we now that the Reichstag fire was not a conspiracy but an isolated heroic act of resistance to capitalism and fascism.

Read Full Post »


Bertolt Brecht, War Primer 

Read Full Post »

“Contre les raids aériens,” La Patrie. December 16, 1935. Page 01.

“Dans toutes les parties de l’Allemagne on enseigne aux femmes et aux jeunes filles le moyen de sa protéger et d’aider les autres contre les raids aériens. Les jeunes filles que l’on voit tet sont élèbes de l’Ecole professionnelle de Berlin. L’un d’elles, suffoquée par les gaz asphyxiants, est portée à un abri par ses compagnes.”

Read Full Post »

“Who participated in supernatural thinking in Germany in the ’20s, ’30s, and ’40s? Everyone? And do you think Nazis actually believed this stuff, or did they find it politically convenient?

Educated urban liberal elites and Jewish intellectuals were the least likely to embrace any of this as authentic, or see it as anything other than a pathology of modernity that was particularly strong in Austria and Germany and needed to be dealt with. They could see people they otherwise respected finding some of it interesting, and worried about that response, but they were almost universally opposed to it.

Then you have the German and Austrian middle and lower-middle classes. Traditional religious practice was waning over the course of the 19th century. World War I was really galvanizing in that regard because it called everything into question. Many people who were—well, I don’t want to use the term that some of the intellectuals at the time used, like “half-educated,” “semi-educated”; Theodor Adorno [said] “occultism is the metaphysic of dunces.” Let’s say, clearly these were people who were educated enough to want an alternative to traditional religion, to want to be able to argue scientifically or with authority about religion, science, and politics, and they’re finding these alternative doctrines and institutes and classes on parapsychology and tarot reading as a kind of supplement to the [disenchantment of] the world that occurred through industrialization. And that was true of millions of Germans and Austrians. (It was also true in Britain and France!)

Why did so many Nazis, in particular, believe it or find it interesting or see it as potentially helpful in manipulating the population? Because they grew up during a flowering of supernatural thinking across Germany and Austria. So even the Nazis who were skeptical recognized it as a profound theme. You have both Hitler and Goebbels in the 1920s acknowledging that ‘folkish [völkisch]’ thinkers are the ones most likely to join the Nazi Party. Many of these people want to wander around “clothed in bearskins,” as Hitler put it in Mein Kampf, talking about mystical runes. Now Hitler and Goebbels said, “That’s not what our movement is about.” So some people say, “You see, Hitler wasn’t into that!” But my question is why didn’t Churchill or Roosevelt or France’s Prime Minister Leon Blum have to write things like that to their constituents repeatedly? It’s because [supernatural thinking] wasn’t so intrinsic to [their] movements.

So to come back to France for a minute: In France, you don’t see the equivalent politicization and racialization of it. You have theosophy in Britain and America. But it’s a relatively harmless movement, where people get together in a drawing room and try to connect with spirits and write novels about Atlantis. But the concept of root races, which [H.P.] Blavatsky, the Russian progenitor of theosophy, talked about, never gets brought up as an actual basis for belief in “superior breeding” or race war among the liberal or conservative parties that run the government in Britain and America. It clearly is not influencing Roosevelt or Churchill’s view of social policy or foreign policy.

But in Germany so many of the people who joined the Nazi Party or supported it are using language and ideas directly borrowed from these occult and border scientific doctrines. “Tschandals,” the lesser races, a Thule civilization.

You make a distinction between pseudoscience, which tries (and fails) to operate within mainstream science, and what you call “border science,” which works around the edges, from a faith-based epistemology. What was the relationship between the people who were still trying to work within an international mainstream of scientific activity in Germany in the 1920s and 1930s, and the people who were doing these border-scientific experiments that were increasingly supported by the regime? (World Ice Theory, for example—the idea that everything in our universe was created when the collision of two stars flung icy celestial moons and planets everywhere—happened to align with ideas from Nordic mythology, so it got a lot of support from the Nazis despite its origins in a dream.)

[Border science] was easily dismissed as amateurish by mainstream scientists in the 1910s and 1920s. There were no university posts or research institutes officially sponsored by the Imperial German, Austrian, or Weimar government to promote world ice theory. But it was wildly popular among völkisch and esoterically inclined thinkers, like engineers, who didn’t quite understand modern physics but understood enough technical jargon to kind of glom onto the ideas and argue that they were valid as an alternative to “Jewish physics.”

In the 1930s Hitler and [Heinrich] Himmler gave an honorary doctoral title to the living co-progenitor of World Ice Theory, or “Glacial Cosmogony” as they called it, Philip Fauth. They put him and Hans Robert Scultetus, who was trained as a meteorologist, in charge of a World Ice Division in ’35 or ’36 within the Ahnenerbe, Himmler’s giant Institute for Ancestral Research. The sole purpose of the division was to coordinate and propagate World Ice Theory as official Nazi doctrine.

A year or so in they started to get nasty letters from the Prussian Academy of Sciences, or professional physicists and geologists, asking “Hey, what are you doing here? It’s bad enough that kids can’t do math anymore and we’re trying to rebuild our military and improve our technology. Now you’ve got these official publications claiming that World Ice Theory is just as good or better than modern geology and physics. This is really problematic.”

The really mainstream, well-known natural scientists—as far as I can tell, they were just ignored. So Himmler didn’t put them in jail or anything, he just wouldn’t give them the time of day when they wrote the letters. But if you were a person within the SS ambit, like this guy named Georg Hinzpeter, you were in trouble. All Hinzpeter said was, “You know, if we use what we’ve got in the last 30 years in terms of physics and geology, some calculations and claims that [co-progenitor of the theory Hans] Hörbiger made 40 years ago—not his fault, that was the 1890s—don’t quite hold up, and maybe we should rethink these premises.” And that was when Himmler and Scultetus and this other guy, Edmund Kiss, who wrote fantasy novels about Atlantis—not even a scientist!—they all agreed: “You know what? We’ve got a protocol [The Pyrmont Protocol] now. Anyone practicing World Ice Theory now has to subscribe to its basic tenets”—almost like a bible. “And if you don’t, you will not be allowed to publish, at least not with the imprimatur of anything in the government, and you will not get any funding.” In 1939, World Ice Theory became a very rigid kind of orthodoxy.

As in many other areas, the Third Reich was not a totalitarian regime in all ways. They weren’t going to start locking up otherwise brilliant “Aryan” scientists who paid their taxes and joined the military because they found this theory laughable. But they weren’t going to change what they thought or redistribute funding in a more rational way, either.

What other theories, beside World Ice Theory, did the regime adhere to in that way?

Well, the entire apparatus of race theory was founded at least as much on ideas drawn from Indo-Aryan religion, Nordic mythology and occult or border-scientific doctrines as it was on modern biology or eugenics. Eugenics as practiced in most of the West was limited by the fact that those people wanted to be accepted by mainstream biology. So eugenics was a pseudoscience, not a border science. It did come out of mainstream genetics and biology, it just made claims that were out of all proportion with scientific capacity or reality at the time. And when that proved as destructive as it was, both scientifically and ideologically [after World War II], it got reined back in.

In the Nazi case, it’s the opposite. While they make certain nods to the eugenics movement and say “Oh, this brilliant Swedish or British eugenicist was very inspiring,” when you look at how they argue about race, with the Jews being monstrous and the Slavs “sub-human,” while Indian, Japanese, and perhaps even Persian and Arab civilizations are deemed at least partially Indo-Aryan, it’s all this stuff that’s wrapped up with ariosophy, theosophy, anthroposophy—these major occult doctrines that were prominent in Austria and Germany. It had so little to do with actual empirical science, or even pseudoscience practiced elsewhere during the first half of the 20th century, that it opened the way for all these fantastical policies.

To what degree was anti-mainstream-science feeling within the Nazi Party also anti-Semitic?

I wouldn’t say they were “anti-science.” The Nazis simply thought that there are new sciences, new ways of doing things that traditional scientists hadn’t accepted, in part because they’d been corrupted by Jewish leftist materialists who don’t understand the mystical parts of life. Because the Jews, they insist, are these soulless, self-interested, evil people who just can’t get the organicist connection between soul and body—and all these other ideas that völkisch and esoteric thinkers, and many Nazis, embraced.”

– Rebecca Onion interviews Eric Kurlander, “The Nazis Were Obsessed With Magic,” Slate. August 24, 2017.

Read Full Post »

“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

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »