Chapter VII, Society and Economics, from Aurel Kolnai's seminal work on German National Socialism, "The War Against the West", published in 1938. "The War Against the West" is perhaps the best deconstruction of the German National Socialist ideology. Kolnai's destruction of the "socialism" of German National Socialism is particularly well documented and, as such, is presented here.
1. The Socialist Phrase
That both [classical] liberal and socialist
thought may derive considerable gain, perhaps their very salvation,
from the re-establishment of direct communication with
Christian ethics and possibly even with some of the economic
teachings forming part of the Church tradition, may sound less
novel or extravagant to English than to continental [eastern, German] ears.
events, the Western mind will desire personal
liberty and rational insight to be shared by everyone, in
the direction of the economic life of society; it will consider Man
and Mankind as the supreme object of social discipline and
economic effort; it will recognize man's standard of life (material
and mental, in so far as the mental standard is conditioned by
the material) to be the main theme of economic science; to breed a keener sense of civilization
as regards trade customs and economic instincts.
this is utterly alien - and for the most part, antagonistic - to the
national socialist mind, most of all when it expresses itself in National
Socialism. We shall see presently what the term national "Socialism" denotes under this act of brazen expropriation, which is called a "harmless misnomer".
It [national socialism] signifies, not a construction
of society based on the relinquishment of certain
individualist illusions and carelessnesses for the sake of
individual dignity and happiness, but a savage mood of anti-individual.
Indeed, national "Socialism" has no consistent
opinion as to the desirability and efficiency of a definite social
structure, nor is it connected with a school of economics in any
classic or comprehensive sense of that term.
The very doctrine of the "Corporative State" adopted by Italian Fascism
after its conquest of power, commended (though with a
more democratic accent) by the Pope in his famous encyclic of
Whitsuntide,1931, and selected for its charter by the former
Austrian Fascist State, is a thing very much wrapt up in commonplaces
and contradictory expoundings, without any economic
conception of its own. Apart from some additional
innuendoes about granting workers a share in the enterprises
which employ them, "Corporativism" is chiefly preoccupied
with securing a smooth and undisturbed functioning economies by bringing about, in each branch of industrial production,
a benevolent harmonization, between
owners' associations and workers' syndicates.
Obviously the scheme can only he put into effect by the fascist methods of a
state monopoly of syndicates as well as of political parties. In the Third Empire
there is talk of "corporative reconstruction" without anybody having a clear idea of what it means,
or attaching too much importance to it.
The entrepreneur is threatened with legal penalties for "unsocial
behaviour ". In a word, the national socialist state is not a" bourgeois" but a "socialist" state and national "socialism" is but a mood, not a structural conception;
this, however, must not lead us to doubt that national socialism itself,
including its display of pinchbeck "socialism", is certainly far
from being a meaningless and ineffectual mood.
it indicate a reactionary position in contradistinction to other
conceivable positions within the limits of Capitalism; secondly,
it bears a special reference to the crisis of Capitalist society; and
finally, it reveals the undoubted fact that the "social problem" (as stated in the terms of "capital and labour") is not the
primary and central theme of National Socialism.
Let us now proceed to show this German socialism in its various
forms. Moeller-Bruck, the Prussian aesthete who in the years
before his death became a prophet of the Third Empire, demanded
that a "socialism of sentiment" [socialism of the blood] should replace Marx' "socialism of reason", which had failed to fulfill its promise.
He urged that the new Socialism should focus its interests on the
problem of population neglected by the old Socialism, "a problem
that will overshadow the idea of class-war by extending it into the conception of a war of nations". Among others, Werner
Haverbeck (The rising (AlIfbruch) of the young Nation", in National sozialislische Monatsheftc ", 1932) discloses the miracle
of "German Socialism" which has become the" community
experience of the masses"; he then tells us that Germanic man
needs property and a" meaning of labour", and mentions the
"labour youth of the brain and the fist" and "the sword and
the plough". Professor Sombart in his "German Socialism" (1934) defines Socialism as "social regulationism".
The Socialist principle demands that "the behaviour of
the individual should be determined essentially by the constraint
of norms originating in a general reason rooted in the political
community, and finding their expression in the Nomos". In
practice, socialism takes the shape in "legal punishment for murder;
compulsory education; laws for the protection of labour injunctions
like' Smoking prohibited " ' Keep to the Right ', ' Pay
your taxes ' " .
But Sombart adds "essentially regulated planned
economy" as a closer definition for Socialism, and proceeds to
enumerate its abundant varieties. His own he calls" German
Socialism ", of which more later. At any rate he would have it
known as" thoroughgoing anti-Capitalism", meaning, of course,
Time and again, an apparently" radical " note flashes up in national socialist literature; but it soon becomes apparent that its
substance is slight: sympathy with workers of German blood as
opposed to Jewish money-lenders, aversion to bourgeois because they are civilian, or a hankering for "final
Thus Feder, Hitler's oldest comrade and the Party's official programme-builder, instructs us that National Socialism means the "powerful synthesis and fervent wish
to achieve a radical solution of the social problem"; in the same
breath he condemns" Marxist tendencies" such as a contribution
of the great estates, denies the necessity for part-ownership
of factories by the workers, and dismisses nationalization as mere
modification of the outward structure of production.
alarmed by the hint that "man's worth, pure and naked, shall
decide alone forthwith ", would soon be reassured by the pacific
promise of "concord based upon the common task in place of
dissension obsessed with dogmas. Indeed, the gist of the "unheard-of revolution" is cann ier-revolution, conceived so
radically that it certainly overleaps the restoration of yesterday's
society and produces a social order with some peculiar and
evasive traits of " novelty".
'We see in Ferdinand Fried, an apostle of national " Autarkic" and exponent of the pro-Russian "Die Tat" circle, the" brain
trust" of the Prussian Conservative youth in
the incubation years of the Third Empire.
Fried's "anti-capitalism" is slightly more serious than is the case with
the average national socialist thinker. In "The end of Capitalism" (1931) he
argues that the evolution of free markets has distorted the people
into a " propertied " and "propertyless" class, provoking an
anti-Capitalist reaction furthered by the democratic process of
identification between People and State.
"The mass of the disinherited
people is growing into the State" and the State is
becoming the battering-ram of a "popular social counter-movement
against Capitalism" National socialism is producing new
types of leaders in antagonism to the sphere of competitive
economy: The "capitalistic world" in which the value of a man
is gauged by his income, in which the exchangeable monetary
tender, devoid of "quality", forms the common denominator of
values, is heading for destruction.
The consequences drawn by Fried are not in favour of a socialistic self-government of the
masses engaged in industrial production, but in the sense of replacing "dynamics" by "statics" (quite after the heart of Sombart and the votaries of "Corporativism"), of discarding
democracy, of an economy planned by the government on a
strictly Nationalist basis.
The malaise under Capitalism is crystallized
out into anti-Western resentment. In his book " Autarkic" (1932) Fried's progress along the path of reaction
is clear beyond all possibility of misconstruction. " The field of
social Nationalism is not the world: it is the nation, it is the
Volk, it is man (!) .... 'Socialism' in the word's best sense,
that is, German or National Socialism, as contrasted to he
international Socialism of the Marxians." The formulas of Moeller-Bruck echo ths view, but in more
elegant phrases. "To socialize is to nationalize." "Socialism" is the general label for a "new will" turning against [classical] Liberalism
and "the obsolete and outmoded idea of the West".