National Socialism Basics Part 2


Understanding National Socialism first requires understanding the historical circumstances under which it first arose early in the 20th century.

On the practical plane, Germany had never recovered from WWI, and was at an unprecedented low in morale, in terrible shape economically and hopelessly divided socially. Gottfried Feder describes it: “In the nation, taken as an organic whole, every aspect of our private life shows pain, bondage, suppression, insecurity, and presents a clear picture of a struggle of all against all. Government against people, Party against Party, … employer against employee, merchant against producer and consumer, landlord against tenant, labourer against farmer, officials against the public, worker against ‘bourgeoisie’, Church against State, each blindly hitting out at his particular adversary thinking only of his own selfish interests. … No one thinks of his neighbour’s welfare, or of his higher duties to community.” Alfred Rosenberg describes it: “It did not display a picture of a clear will, nor one of position and opposition but — if I may anticipate the developments of later years — a fight of all against all. In the end the parliamentary system was represented by forty-nine different parties, each one trying to present its own particular problem as the most important.” Hitler himself describes it, and proposes the beginnings of a solution: “What will happen one day when hordes of emancipated slaves come forth from these dens of misery to swoop down on their unsuspecting fellow men? For this other world does not think about such a possibility. They have allowed these things to go on without caring and even without suspecting – in their total lack of instinctive understanding – that sooner or later destiny will take its vengeance unless it will have been appeased in time. … Even in those days I already saw that there was a two-fold method by which alone it would be possible to bring about an amelioration of these conditions. This method is: first, to create better fundamental conditions of social development by establishing a profound feeling for social responsibilities among the public; second, to combine this feeling for social responsibilities with a ruthless determination to prune away all excrescences which are incapable of being improved.

On the intellectual plane, the empiricist worldview had (from the Renaissance onwards and ever more sharply with accelerating advances in experimental science during the so-called Age of Enlightenment) increasingly threatened spirituality with materialistic reductionism, promising to ultimately trivialize such things as emotions, dreams, free will and the spirit itself as mere side-effects of entirely physiological mechanisms. As the pressure became too great, philosophical reaction arose in opposition to empiricism by re-affirming intuition and sentiment as valid – indeed superior – routes to knowledge, as Alfred Rosenberg describes: “In various guises, an abstraction began to uproot life. The reaction in the form of German romanticism was therefore as welcome as rain after a long drought. … Where the Greek generalised, … the Romantic man personified.”  However, this reaction itself immediately split into two movements, as reliance on feeling led to different types of people feeling differently.

The Romantic movement began as a movement proposing that empiricism, though powerful in generating knowledge about what is, does so at the devastating cost of cutting us off from knowledge about what ought to be. The latter is considered accessible only via a personal undertaking to refine the spirit, which in turn can only be achieved by immersion in conditions (in practice usually generated by works of art) that remove the usual social constraints to emotional activity, thus allowing us to distance ourselves from our lower emotions and, if possible, hand ourselves over totally to our higher emotions. Particular emphasis is placed on pure love, poetic justice and appreciation for beauty, all of which are believed to converge towards – and function as conduits towards – the Romantic ideal.

The Counter-Enlightenment movement, on the other hand, proposed quite differently that empiricism was cutting us off from primal human urges and hence leading to a dry, sterile humanity that experiences life less richly than those still connected to the primal. The response they recommend is to seek immersion in conditions that unleash primality. They admit that primal feelings might not converge, and indeed often clash with each other for dominance even inside the same mind, but argue that this is not something that should be worth concern, because the very expectation of convergence is a non-primal feeling in itself, and therefore to be rejected. Primalism is considered the only valid guide; rationalism is to be rejected along with empiricism.

In short, the Counter-Enlightenment feared that empiricism would devalue the lower emotions (which they value as primal), whereas the Romantics feared that empiricism’s trivializing method of devaluing the lower emotions would inevitably devalue also the higher emotions (which we value as salvational) at the same time, thereby interfering with the Romantic eschatological vision of the higher emotions directly vanquishing the lower emotions in a triumph of the will. Alfred Rosenberg summarizes the problem with the Counter-Enlightenment from a Romantic perspective: “One is immediately reminded of the sentimental return to nature and the glorification of the primitive which appeared in the late eighteenth century. … But the nature of primitive man—as far as we can reasonably conjecture—was not particularly heroic.”

But many of the Counter-Enlightenment soon started calling themselves “Romantics”, seeing only both movements’ shared disdain towards the industrializing West, shared preference for the medieval or even earlier past and for non-Western* civilizations, shared preference for rural life over urban life, and other superficial shared tastes that in fact were motivated by entirely different feelings. The Romantics naively accepted them, assuming that the Counter-Enlightenment would become initiated into true Romanticism over time. Instead, the opposite happened: the Counter-Enlightenment usurped the label of Romanticism and confused the movement with Counter-Enlightenment ideas, as Alfred Rosenberg describes: “The great German Romantic movement sensed darker and darker veils interposed before the gods of celestial light, and it immersed itself deeper and deeper into the impulsive, formless, demonic, sexual, ecstatic and chthonic, and into mother worship.”

(* Both the Romantics and the Counter-Enlightenment sided politically with non-Western civilizations whenever possible, as empiricism was viewed as a uniquely Western attitude. Hitler himself noted this: “It is perfectly true that we are a people of romantics, quite different from the Americans, for example … The only romance which stirs the heart of the North American is that of the Redskin; but it is curious to note that the writer who has produced the most vivid Redskin romances is a German.”)

Before long, the true Romantics had been pushed to the fringes of the Counter-Enlightenment-dominated so-called “Romanticism”. Frustrated, they needed a new and even more radical movement to rally around. At the time, it was fashionable among Counter-Enlightenment advocates to blame primarily Christianity for creating Western civilization, and hence to call for abandoning Christianity in favour of pre-Christian paganism. In contrast, the true Romantics were fiercely loyal to Christianity due to considering Jesus the greatest Romantic of all. A convincing new movement had to offer an anti-Western narrative that on one hand reassured true Romantic intuition regarding Jesus, and on the other hand accounted for the largely valid Counter-Enlightenment accusation against (Judeo-)Christianity. Dietrich Eckart was ready: “Schopenhauer … said that if one wants to understand the Old Testament one must read it in the Greek version. There it has an entirely different tone, an entirely different color, with no presentiment of Christianity!” With this new interpretation that not Christianity but Judaism was to blame for creating Western civilization, National Socialism was born.


Published in: on October 30, 2016 at 11:49 pm  Leave a Comment  

The URI to TrackBack this entry is:

RSS feed for comments on this post.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s