Monday, May 13, 2013

The Right Left


 In my previous post, commentator asdf made the following comment.
Fascism is a version of what Germany was under the Kaiser. Even Japan today is fascist.......

One way to describe the Japanese achievement is to say that they have achieved what the Nazis wanted to achieve but didn’t, largely of course because they were mad serial killers obsessed with a lot of things other than economics. Ironically, Asiatic Japan comes closer than any nation on earth to what Hitler wanted. It is a socially conservative, hierarchical, technocratic, orderly, pagan, sexist, nationalist, racially pure, anti-communist, non-capitalist and anti-Semitic society.

Of course, it would be unfair to describe contemporary Japan as Nazi-like in any of the senses that are notorious (though one cannot help observing that she has never been contrite about her WWII actions the way Germany has.) More correctly, the architects of the Japanese system learned from their disastrous experience in WWII that the kind of society they wanted could not be achieved through a totalitarian predator-state and they calculated that it could be achieved through the forms, though not the content, of liberal democracy, which is how Japan presents itself.
I'm not sure if commentator asdf is a trad or not, but his comments illustrate just how much contemporary right wing thinking is done through a left wing controlled frame.

Japan was utterly beaten at the end of the Second World War. It's military class was stripped of its power and a democracy was forced onto the people of Japan. ( Under the watchful eyes of the U.S. military). Japan's domestic and social policies were thus a product endogenous genuine democratic process and thus to describe the Japanese state as fascistic is disingenuous. What asdf means, I suppose, is that the values that the Japanese have chosen, through the mechanism of democracy, are inherently fascistic.

Under this leftist reframe, fascism ceases being about a system of government but a slur on a set of cultural beliefs, belief's which share a strong overlap with conservatism.  Sensible conservative policies are thus stymied because of the guilt by association with Fascism. Because the fascists worshiped masculinity, therefore masculinity is fascist. Because the fascists were nationalist, nationalism is fascism and so on. Once again, it's guilt by association.

Wilhelmine Germany did have many values which overlapped with the ideals of Nazism but,  as system of government, it never set up concentration camps, practiced eugenics and totally stripped away the rights of an individual. Wilhelmine Germany was conservative but it wasn't evil.  To imply then that Nazi Germany was a fulfillment of Wilhelmine ideals is then to imply that the Nazism is the fulfillment of Conservative ideals. i.e Conservatism and Nazism are the same. It's standard low-brow left wing boilerplate.

But is strange how only certain associations are considered fascistic and other not. When Nazi Germany wasn't fighting wars or killing Jews it was busy implementing other social engineering policies on its people. It was one first societies to recognise the dangers of smoking and enforced anti-smoking bans. It subsidised holidays for the working class. It slashed unemployment through deficit spending. It promoted breast cancer screening,  promoted an  effective national policy of physical fitness, promoted animal welfare and  pushed environmental clean up laws;  all the standard feel good policies of the Left. Yet, even though Hitler enthusiastically implemented them, these social policies are not considered fascistic. Why so?

The answer to this puzzle is best explained by scholars such as David Ramsay Steele* ( a former socialist) and  James A Gregor.  Quite plausibly, they argue that the mainstream orthodox understanding of the phenomenon has been heavily influenced by the preponderance of left wing writers on the subject.  These left winger thinkers downplayed the Socialist origins of fascism and instead  exaggerated the differences between the two strains of revolutionary thought, in the same way that an Ulsterman would emphatically deny that he has anything in common with an Irish Catholic. The Hindu looks on, amused.

Thus, left wing thinkers, wishing to distinguish themselves from their "right wing" co-socialists saw the origins of fascism in the things such as racial theory, militarism and nationalism downplaying the underlying metaphysics of socialism, which justified merciless total war against any opponent of the socialist vision. The reason why Whilhelmite Germany did not set up the gas chambers, even though possessing all the cultural prerequisites for the Final Solution, is because Whilhelmite Germany was Christian; Nazi Germany, Socialist. What unites Auschwitz with Katyn is the metaphysics of Socialism.

And it is within this left "frame" that Modern Japan gets called a "fascistic" country. National policies, which a century ago would of been considered mainstream and sensible, are now prime examples of latent fascism. Japan's economic and social policies are nothing new, they were pretty stock standard throughout the Western World before WW2.  Most nations wanted to maintain their own internal cultural homogeneity, pursue their own economic interests, maintain their religions, and were quite supportive of science and technology. The fact that what was once considered basic common sense conservative social policy is now considered fascistic shows just how leftward the culture has lurched. Today's right is in someways yesterday's less radical left.

The failure of the Right to combat this understanding of fascism has worked towards the Left's favour. Society, wishing to avoid a recurrence of the Nazi experience  and yet understanding that experience through the prism of left wing influenced thought, suppresses the window dressing of Fascism whilst keeping its poison intact. The West wages war against "militarism" (i.e sensible national defence), Xenophobia (i.e an aversion to multiculturalism), Sexism (i.e sexual polarity), Nationalism (i.e national self interest) with an aim to prevent the resurgence of fascism. Thus the social policies which are currently corroding the West are enabled and any attempt to stymie them becomes a battle against the extreme right. i.e the Fascists. The Left's success in conflating fascism with conservatism means that any type of straight out disagreement with the Left is immediately labelled as fascistic. Thus the Right must respond to the Left in degrees, not outright opposition.

But a far greater problem for the Right is the type of conservatism that tends to exist when a country like modern Japan is thought of fascistic. It will a conservatism that is relatively docile, reactionary and concessionary. It will try to be an "all inclusive" conservatism instead of specific militant one. It follow rather than leads, it reacts rather than acts. It defends rather than attacks. It becomes a rearguard action conservatism.

The problem then for contemporary conservatism is how to appear virile without being accused of being fascistic  And this problem is best exemplified by the case of Ernst Junger.

The writer of Storm of Steel(autobiography) was widely praised by the Nazi's. Junger, who saw war as a formative experience and a test of manhood did not tow the All Quiet on the Western Front (work of fiction. G.K Chesterton hated the book) line. He saw the positive aspect of war and battle for the man who was able to withstand it horrors intact.  He was fiercely Nationalistic and hostile to liberalism. The Nazi's lapped up his writings which synched so well with their ideology. So great was his prestige amongst the goose steppers that even when he criticised the regime and was peripherally involved the assassination attempt of Hitler he was left relatively untouched. Yet from the Wiki article.
In the 1920s Jünger published articles in several right-wing nationalist journals, and further novels. As in Storm of Steel, in the book Feuer und Blut (1925, Fire and Blood), Jünger glorified war as an internal event. According to Jünger, war elevates the soldier's life, isolated from normal humanity, into a mystical experience. The extremities of modern military techniques tested the capacity of the human senses. He criticized the fragile and unstable democracy of the Weimar Republic, stating that he "hated democracy like the plague."] Although never a member of the National Socialist movement around Adolf Hitler, Jünger never publicly criticized the regime before the war. Jünger, however, refused a chair offered to him in the Reichstag following the Nazi Party's ascension to power in 1933, and he refused the invitation to head the German Academy of Literature (Die deutsche Akademie der Dichtung). Even though he never endorsed the Nazi Party, and indeed kept them at a careful distance, Jünger's Storm of Steel sold well into the six-figure range by the end of the 1930s. In the essay On Pain,[8] written and published in 1934, Jünger rejects the liberal values of liberty, security, ease, and comfort, and seeks instead the measure of man in the capacity to withstand pain and sacrifice.
The Nazi's loved him because they worshiped the masculism of Junger yet he thought them vile rabble. So was he a Nazi?

Well, for many people he was, so intertwined was his philosophy of war with Nazi ideals yet he emphatically denied being so. Junger was a Wilhelmine conservative, but so much has the cultural ground shifted to the Left that even Wilhelmine Conservatives are now thought of as Nazi's. As for himself, Junger thought himself old school. Asked what he thought of the new post war Germany Junger said:
My wife and I are loyal citizens of the Federal Republic, but not particularly enthusiastic ones—our reality is the German Empire
I suppose the point that I'm trying to make is that the Left has been able to conflate a vigorous masculine conservatism with Nazism.  Any resurgence of a virile conservatism has to tackle this problem.

*The essay by David Ramsay Steele is a must read.

19 comments:

alcestiseshtemoa said...

Good post. It's a rewriting of history in the matter of 1984's George Orwell.

alcestiseshtemoa said...

I suppose the point that I'm trying to make is that the Left has been able to conflate a vigorous masculine conservatism with Nazism. Any resurgence of a virile conservatism has to tackle this problem.

I'll play Devil's Advocate here: isn't this falling into their frame?

They have smeared us for centuries, are amoral and hopelessly tempted towards evil.

Why should any part of this corner of the web, care about how they see us? A couple of times their criticism are valid, but often it isn't.

asdf said...

Except Japan is not democratic. Japan was dominated by a single political party for most of its existence, and that political party used many undemocratic means to stay in power. They were also propped up by the US at various points. The same was true in South Korea.

Moreover, the real power in Japan has always lied in the bureaucracy. It's the unelected bureaucrats that led Japan, not the elected representatives.

---

"Fascism" isn't about concentration camps. Nazism was about concentration camps. Most Germans, even most Fascists, didn't even know about the concentration camps till after the war.

Your afraid of a word. Your letting a fear of that word cause you to resist any idea that was championed by "fascists". You're the one that has bought into the leftist frame.

Conservatism lost to liberalism. The only people who managed to resist it are those that practice what would today be considered fascist: The West wages war against "militarism" (i.e sensible national defence), Xenophobia (i.e an aversion to multiculturalism), Sexism (i.e sexual polarity), Nationalism (i.e national self interest)

Would any conservative today identify with any of those positions? The answer is no. Conservatives are just right liberals (i.e. liberals that don't like paying taxes). That's what conversativism became when it abandoned those principles, which is did.

Airien said...

"The problem then for contemporary conservatism is how to appear virile without being accused of being fascistic "

I honestly think the answer to this is to take a page from the left's playbook: if they are going to call us nazi's then let's wear it like a rock star. In other words wear it in a way that mocks those who call you by that name.

Rock stars were sometimes accused of doing the devil's work, so in turn they wore satanic imagery (in the extreme like Marilyn Manson) as a way to mock those who labeled them.

There are already nazi fangirls and a nazi fettish and nazi chic out there. Maybe tap into some of that. Imagine using this image of Hitler to mock the right's enemies. They call us nazi's so we put up that pic of Hitler as a poster welcoming people to this month's meeting of the Thomas Carlyle Club for Young Reactionaries (Students Against a Democratic Society).

More then just that, the younger generations don't associate nazi's with eeeeevile the way the older one's do. Hitler is a funny meme on places like 4chan. This amuses Hitler.

tl:dr - They call us nazi's? Turn the joke on them.

David Foster said...

Wilhelmine society also encompassed a youth movement that in many ways resembled the American youth movements of the late 1960s, the Wandervoegel.



The Social Pathologist said...

@acles

Why should any part of this corner of the web, care about how they see us?

I don't care how they see us, what I care about is the prole perception. It's a war of "hearts and minds" and the left is winning.

@Airien

honestly think the answer to this is to take a page from the left's playbook: if they are going to call us nazi's then let's wear it like a rock star.

I think it is the wrong approach. The Nazi's were vile and I want nothing to do with them. My preferred approach is to think of Nazism as a masculine form of socialism. That way you can tease out the masculinity from the socialism and preserve it. Or more importantly restore it to conservatism.

@David

The Wandervogel ideals where a typical response to the cultural crisis of the times. Their "back to nature" imperative and romantic ideation have a strong whiff of Rousseau.




David Foster said...

Very interesting pamphlet here, from 1932, in which Goebbels explains the cornerstones of the Nazi philosophy: Nationalism, Socialism, and anti-Semitism:

http://www.calvin.edu/academic/cas/gpa/haken32.htm

GK Chesterton said...

I repent!

The Social Pathologist said...

David Foster.

Thanks for the link. It's a pretty impressive document.

The interesting thing is just how the Nazis saw themselves as different from the Marxists.

The sin of Marxism was to degrade socialism into a question of wages and the stomach, putting it in conflict with the state and its national existence. An understanding of both these facts leads us to a new sense of socialism, which sees its nature as nationalistic, state-building, liberating and constructive.

The Nazi's were parochial socialists. But not only that, they also seem to think that the strictly materialist vision of Marxism somehow degraded man. It was their version of "man does not live by bread alone".

Their equality was not in the equality of means but in the equality of membership through work.

We are a workers’ party because we see in the coming battle between finance and labor the beginning and the end of the structure of the twentieth century. We are on the side of labor and against finance. Money is the measuring rod of liberalism, work and accomplishment that of the socialist state. The liberal asks: What are you? The socialist asks: Who are you? Worlds lie between.

We do not want to make everyone the same. Nor do we want levels in the population, high and low, above and below. The aristocracy of the coming state will be determined not by possessions or money, but only on the quality of one’s accomplishments. One earns merit through service. Men are distinguished by the results of their labor. That is the sure sign of the character and value of a person. The value of labor under socialism will be determined by its value to the state, to the whole community. Labor means creating value, not haggling over things. The soldier is a worker when he bears the sword to protect the national economy. The statesman also is a worker when he gives the nation a form and a will that help it to produce what it needs for life and freedom


Still, this last line backs up my theory.

An uncompromising program implemented by men who will implement it passionately. No slogans, only living energy.

It was a vile ideology, but it had a pair.

asdf said...

Conservativism, divorced from the community, becomes nothing more then individualism. All noble things, including masculinity, fall apart when it becomes the realm of only the individual. Asking one to be noble in and ignoble society for no purpose other then his own self is asking for failure (as conservatism did fail over the last 100 years).

The excerpts you listed are what I think reactionaries are fighting for.

1) Hierarchy based on accomplishment rather then gaming a system

2) Accomplishment measured by creative works of real value that makes your community better

3) A vigorous defense of virtue and higher principles then materialism.

You consider these things vile?

What are you fighting for then. Some quasi-libertarian state. Because that is all conservatism ends up being.

Sid said...

İ don't really see any point in trying to extricate "good" things from Fascism.

There definitely was a conservative resurgence after 9/11, at least in America, when people woke up to the fact that national pride and a strong military are prerequisites for continued survival - and that Christianity and Western traditions weren't as harmful, and were probably better, than Islam and non-Western beliefs.

What did conservatives say about the Fascists then? That we killed the fuckers, that's what. If you want to re-establish a sensible nationalism, respect for Western traditions, and pride in Western culture, then point to the Left's bogeyman and tell them that it wasn't multiculturalism, environmentalism and gay marriage that made ashes out of the Nazis. It was an intense, fervent national pride and thirst for justice that led the fight against Fascism.

Look, even Stalin relaxed his persecution of the Orthodox Church during the Nazi invasion. He trumpeted Russian nationalism. Even a leftist demon realized, when faced with potential annihilation, that men are at their strongest when they have God and country, not the Party, to fight for.

The Social Pathologist said...

Sid

İ don't really see any point in trying to extricate "good" things from Fascism.

I'm not trying to extricate good things from fascism as much as I'm trying trying to stop good things from being beaten down by their association with fascism.

What did conservatives say about the Fascists then? That we killed the fuckers, that's what.

The heavy lifting in the war against the Germans was done in Eastern Europe. It was Stalinist Socialism which took the bastards down in the end. The conservatives (Roosevelt ?????) played a moderate role. Moscow is nearly double the distance from Berlin than London. It was a sectarian shit fight that took the Nazi's down.

Look, even Stalin relaxed his persecution of the Orthodox Church during the Nazi invasion.

Correct. Stalin realised that appeals to Communist ideology were less effective than appeals to nationalist pride. Mother Russia motivated more than the hope of a proletarian Utopia.

In other words, nationalism is more akin to human nature than internationalism. The problem is, that the association of nationalism with fascism has made it intellectually suspect in the West.

Painting fascism as alpha socialism cleaves the alpha from the socialism. It allows a reclaiming of alpha by western conservatives whilst removing the socialist poison.

@asdf

Conservativism, divorced from the community, becomes nothing more then individualism.

It becomes Libertarianism.

You consider these things vile?

I don't think these things are vile and they are not inherently fascistic. But when these things become alloyed to a socialist ideology they become fascist. The trick is not to conflate the two, like you did with your claim that Japan was fascistic.





Sid said...

"I'm not trying to extricate good things from fascism as much as I'm trying trying to stop good things from being beaten down by their association with fascism."

No I agree. My comment was pointed more towards other comments than yours

"The heavy lifting in the war against the Germans was done in Eastern Europe. It was Stalinist Socialism which took the bastards down in the end. The conservatives (Roosevelt ?????) played a moderate role. Moscow is nearly double the distance from Berlin than London. It was a sectarian shit fight that took the Nazi's down."

True, but the Western powers played a crucial role in taking down Nazism. The role they did play was executed with conservative principles, namely, a strong patriotism and desire to defeat their enemies. We mustn't understate our role.

"Painting fascism as alpha socialism cleaves the alpha from the socialism. It allows a reclaiming of alpha by western conservatives whilst removing the socialist poison."

I agree, but I think the most effective strategy in liberating nationalism and masculinity is to emphasize how those things annihilated fascism. Sandra Fluke might say that transexuals need to be in the armed forces because to do otherwise is fascist. But how many Nazis did transexuals kill at Stalingrad? If we don't emphasize that patriotism and bravery destroyed fascism, then efforts to paint fascism as a masculine socialism leaves it open for progressives to claim that manliness poisoned socialism, and not socialism manliness. We need to explain that even the Communists needed to amp up traditional Tsarist themes to get their troops to eviscerate the Nazis.

asdf said...

SP,

That leave the problem that the only group to have ever successfully defended those ideas against modernity are fascists (or fascist light like Japan). "Conservatives" lost and became libertarians, even though they "won" the war.

mdavid said...

I don't necessarily agree with everything in this post, but the old SP is back! Extremely high quality writing, in both content and in presentation.

I'm still mulling the thesis over my mind and enjoying it...like a fine red wine is oft prolonged over the buds...so don't have any worthwhile comment. But I can say I've never seen this idea so carefully explored and convincingly argued as here.

I suppose the point that I'm trying to make is that the Left has been able to conflate a vigorous masculine conservatism with Nazism.

I agree with this part for sure. But identifying masculinity with Nazism is only part; it's identified with evil and stupidity in general. The book The Garbage Generation explores this idea in a roundabout way as well.

The Social Pathologist said...

Thanks mdavid.

I'll have a look at the book.

Stirner said...

This essay does a great job of making the argument that modern Japan is a covertly fascist system.

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue23/Locke23.htm

Very much worth a look.

Stirner said...

This essay does a great job of making the argument that modern Japan is a covertly fascist system.

http://www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue23/Locke23.htm

Very much worth a look.

mdavid said...

Thanks for that article Stimer.

SP, the book The Garbage Generation is online in its entirety.

Another blog post by Vox that you might find of interest: Nihilist vs civilizationists.