Saturday, March 11, 2017

Gregor on Marx and Darwinism

Marx recognised early on that there was a synergy between his material interpretation of history and the Darwinian theories of evolution. It was only a matter of time that the significance of human "material" would be recognised as one of the economic determinants of production.

Gregor dwells less on the Darwinian aspect of Marxism as compared to its nationalist component but, once again, he clearly shows how a moderate Marxist "racial consciousness" developed into a rabid racial doctrine once the evolutionary struggle of Darwin was fused with the revolutionary Positivism materialism of Marx. Many of the arguments made by the Marxists were similar to the ones we see today repeated by the HBD crowd and it really is quite surprising to see the the descent into rassenkampf  being recognised by Marxism's theoreticians very early on.

By the turn of the twentieth century, it was evident that Marxism was undergoing fundamental revision. Not a few Marxists were reshaping revolutionary doctrine and policy by reinterpreting some of the basic tenets of doctrinal Marxism. Woltmann was clearly numbered among them—and while the analyses of the nature of science and truth, human thought, will, and morality were issues employed in the reshaping, it was Darwinism that was to have the most radical impact. 
By the time Dietzgen put pen to paper in the 1870's, Darwinism had already exercised influence on the European continent for more than a decade—and Marx himself had identified Darwinism as an intellectual activity sharing "affinities" with his own "historical materialism". In those circumstances, what Dietzgen did was to take some of the central propositions of Darwinism—"the struggle for survival; "survival of the fittest; and the conception of "progressive evolution"—and tailor them to fit what he took to he the Marxist inductive "science" of moral judgment.
In one place, for example, Marx identified "race" as one of the natural "physical conditions" that influences the productivity of labor. That productivity, in itself, was critical to social development. Somehow or other, it would seem, racial traits influenced the very fundamentals of human social life. Engels, in his fullest maturity, in the year before his death, did speak of "economic conditions" as the factor that ultimately shapes historical development, to quickly add, "but race is itself an economic factor." Woltmann pointed out that it was uncertain how such notions were to he understood if they did not allude to heritable racial properties.
While the prime motivation for Bauer's stork arose out of his recognition of the importance of national sentiment among Europe's proletariat, some of his intellectual strategies can be traced to that preoccupation among Marxists, at the end of the nineteenth century, to link the materialist conception of history to Darwinian notions of evolution. Years later, Karl Kautsky could still insist on their shared continuities. He reinvoked the memory of Ludwig Woltmann, and agreed with him—with reservations—in seeing Darwinism as an essential part of the "material foundation" of Marxism. Bauer was of similar persuasion. In his judgment, Darwinism was an intrinsic part of the rationale of the materialist interpretation of human history. In attempting to provide the most comprehensive scientific basis for Marxism, Marxists in general, and Bauer in particular, invoked Darwinism and advanced an account of human history that proceeded from biological, to social, evolution. 

Engels had originally tendered the claim in a variety of publications and with a variety of qualifications. Whatever their qualifications, Marxists like Dietzgen, Woltmann, and Kautsky embraced Darwinism as an essential part of Marxism as a theory of history. While acknowledging Darwinism as a material prologue to Marxism, Kautsky complained that Woltmann had pursued Darwinism into racism.  And of course, Kautsky was correct. 
Woltmann's philosophical curiosity was to propel him still further. He took his studies of Darwinism, and his allusions to the role of race in the economic history of human kind, and tied them to the moral principle that Josef Dietzgen had made the lodestar of Marxist ethics. In his final works, the highest good that shaped Woltmann's individual and collective ethics was, as it was for Dietzgen, the "general welfare of humankind" 

What distinguished Woltmann's conception of the general welfare of humankind from that of Dietzgen turned on Woltmann's conviction that the biological survival and collective integrity of Nordics constituted the agency responsible for what that general welfare might be taken to he. Woltmann could affirm, with profound conviction, that if the secular progress of which all Marxists spoke was a function of the intellectual and creative talents of a racial minority of human beings, then the security, sustenance, and fostering of that race became a moral imperative of the highest order!' Its survival and expansion was the necessary condition for the production of all the welfare benefits, material and spiritual, of which Marx had spoken—and to which Dietzgen had alluded.
By the time Woltmann published his Politische Anthropologie, his heterodox Marxism had been transformed. Darwinism dominated not only his conception of human evolution, but social evolution as well. The social dynamics we continue to identify with historical materialism remained largely inviolable, but the motive force behind technological invention Woltmann identified with heritable properties—creativity and intelligence—traits he increasingly identified with select individuals and select racial communities. By the first years of the twentieth century what emerged was a political ideology that had originally found its inspiration in classical Marxism—but which, as a consequence of systematic and sustained criticism, had been so altered that it could only be identified as a Marxist heresy. Whatever that is taken to mean, it obscures the reality that Woltmann's racism was the natural child of classical Marxism. [ED]

Woltmann was not the only Marxist who traveled that path. In 1862, decades before Woltmann's "heresy"; Moses Hess, the "communist rabbi"—the person who purportedly made a communist of Karl Marx—made very clear his racist and nationalist predilections with the publication of his Rome and Jerusalem. After having worked with Marx and Engels on some of their most important early publications, with the appearance of Rome and Jerusalem, Hess was to leave them behind. In his book, Hess made the case for Jewish psychobiological superiority, to advocate the creation of a Jewish homeland in the effort to assure Jewish survival—in order that they might continue to provide benefits for all of humanity. The Marxism of his young manhood had been transmogrified in much the same manner as had the Marxism of the young Ludwig Woltmann.
In our own time, Woltmann's intimate association with Marxism is rarely, if ever, cited—and one of the principal sources of the revolutionary racism of the twentieth century thereby obscured. It was the decay of classical Marxism that contributed racism to the mix of revolutionary ideas that were to torment our time. Neither Moses Hess nor Ludwig Woltmann can he dismissed as anomalies. As the subsequent history of revolutionary Marxism was to reveal, racist and reactive nationalist variants of Marxism were to inspire revolutions throughout the doleful history of our most recent past.

I must admit that I was completely blown away by the knowledge of Moses Hess. It's perhaps one of history's most tragic irony's--in more ways than one--that the "grandfather" of the doctrine that would lead to ovens of Auschwitz was Jewish.


Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur said...

Besides the Darwinian and more importantly the Gumplowiczian aspects, it was also Hegelianism that played an interesting role. I'm currently writing an article for my blog on the heterodox Prussian national-liberalism of Heinrich von Treitschke. Treitschke is a very interesting figure because he's essentially a liberal who has openly and consciously embraced illiberal, Machiavellian and right-Hegelian ideas as the cornerstone of his thought, in order to resolve the intrinsic contradictions of the liberal worldview. This "illiberal liberalism" appears to me a clear ancestor of ideas frequently seen in the modern identitarian right.

What modern men of both left and right do not realize is that the ideas of "Prussian militarism" and expansionist nationalism were not ideas of the reactionary right. The reactionary circle (such as the one organized around the Berliner Politische Wochenblatt in the 1830s) was the one arguing for keeping the feudal patchwork of Kleinstaaterei, against the liberal demands of unification. Treitschke scoffed at them. It was this unitary liberalism that would very quickly mutate into being a conservative "right-wing" ideology (since the liberalism of 20 years ago is always today's conservatism, and tomorrow's reaction) and would ultimately tar the whole German right. It also permanently severed the ties between classical counterrevolutionary thought and the modern right. Virtually all of the modern right descends from this 19th century unitary national-liberalism, that emerged in opposition to the ancien regime.

Moses Hess also gets frequently mentioned in some circles to prove the intrinsic Jewry of Marxism. Of course, socialism and communism predated Marx and would have postdated him. Nevertheless, I think even without Hess, Marx would have still went on similar paths from Feuerbach, the Young Hegelians, Proudhon and others he later dismissed as "utopian socialists".

Anti-Jewish sentiment was very common in socialist circles. Blanqui, Duehring, Bakunin and Proudhon, just to name a few. When you're a socialist and you regard money and capital to be evil, the Jewish moneylender is the perfect personification of what you loathe.

Ultimately, the great tragedy of the modern right is that so many of them today are continuing a long and highly bastardized tradition of thought that has its origins in a repudiation of the right that aimed to defend Old Europe. Young kids now think that sociobiology and revolutionary ethnonationalism that Metternich, Castlereagh, Count von Beust, Talleyrand, Gentz, Haller and the Holy Alliance fought hard to stop, are in fact *the* right-wing tradition par excellence, and moreover, its purest form.

The Social Pathologist said...


Ultimately, the great tragedy of the modern right is that so many of them today are continuing a long and highly bastardized tradition of thought .........


What modern men of both left and right do not realize is that the ideas of "Prussian militarism" and expansionist nationalism were not ideas of the reactionary right.

Agree, but I also feel that push towards towards modernism wasn't wholly a philosophically led position. I think material contingencies were just as responsible, and that's a huge problem. Metternich et al, I don't think fully grasped the transformative changes that were being wrought in society and got sideswiped despite their "reactionary" approach.

I'm actually of the opinion that the old order won't come back, not because I don't want it to but because many of the material conditions upon which the old order was built simply aren't there. Chesterton, for instance, realised that fuedalism was a pragmatic system of feeding and protecting the population. You can't do feudal in a modern industrial society with fertilisers, industrial farming and urbanisation.

Any transformative Right response to modernity is going to paving new ground.

Chris B said...

I have anouther book recomendation for you. Someone put me onto it, and it concentrates on Sorel's influence on Fascism. - The Birth of Fascist Ideology: From Cultural Rebellion to Political Revolution.

Ping me an email if you want to discuss it further( As a taster, check the obscene entry for the anti-capitalism entry for Sorel on Wiki

(spoiler - the body of the text recounts Sorel's desperate pleas to defend capitalism lol)

Nulle Terre Sans Seigneur said...

I do second the recommendation for Sternhell's book. Sternhell is IMO the second-best scholar of fascism after Gregor, and he hammers in the point that "fascist ideology is an anti-materialist revision of Marxism" at home. Who among self-professed fascist sympathizers these days read the Belgian neosocialists, Vichy national socialists and Italian national syndicalists? Some old Italian veteran of the post-war party MSI, maybe.

Chris B said...

"fascist ideology is an anti-materialist revision of Marxism" The best part is the coverage of Sorel and his identification of Marxism with Manchester political economics, and the advocacy of unrestrained capitalism to create conflict. When you realize Marxism is basically classical economics placed in a historical narrative and extrapolated forward, you see that Marxism and liberalism are complementary, and not opposites. Then you see Italian Fascism is marxism when faced with actually reality which forces it to try to be...sane...which you see in Gentile's constant attacks against intellectualism divorced from reality. Fascism then becomes an intellectual movement aimed at ending conflicts.

The Social Pathologist said...

@NTSS and Chris B

fascist ideology is an anti-materialist revision of Marxism

Griffin call this as the "flight from Positivism".

Firstly, the reading list keeps getting bigger and bigger! Thanks for the recommendation. I've also got to admit that Gregor's depictions of the Italian Fascist intellectuals makes the Germans look like peasant rubes. (Darwinism is low brow though!)

What becomes apparent in Gregor's work was just how profoundly unsettling the notion of materialist determinism was to European intellectuals. People just refused to believe that we didn't have free will or some choice in our destiny and revolted against materialist determinism.

But where do you go to if all there is is the material universe. I mean if God is dead (or inadmissible according to Marxist Positivism) where do you get your values from? Furthermore, there is an intellectual inconsistency among these rebels in that their metaphysics were positivistic while their conception of man was not. In that man had some "special" properties which allowed him to escape the laws of nature evidenced by free will and value imperative.

As I see it, this "flight from Positivism" was a retreat into intuition and philosophical Idealism was simply a justification for the "feels" in a world without God given morality. Hence you get all the "staring into abyss's", "transvaluations of values", "blond beast" and "will to power" shit as some kinds of insights into morality. I've not done a thorough study into idealism but my first impressions are that it philosophical navel gazing.

Which brings me to Sorel. (I'll read Sternhall's book) but my impressions of the man is that he is one of the sober solid petit bourgeois who is "vanilla" in his tastes and habits. He is also "Protestant" in his conception of the both the dignity of work and workingmen. Peguy, who was Sorel's friend shared these same views and saw the "plain people" as a source of superior value to that of corrupt bourgeoisie. Sorel is basically a philosopher arguing on behalf of the "redneck" and advocates a philosophy based on the "redneck" virtues of the late 19th C. He converts into a philosophy the "intuitive" values of the working man. Go to any international soccer match and you'll see the incarnation of Sorelian values.

Chris B said...

"As I see it, this "flight from Positivism" was a retreat into intuition and philosophical Idealism was simply a justification for the "feels"... I've not done a thorough study into idealism but my first impressions are that it philosophical navel gazing."

This is where MacIntyre comes in, and why I consider reading Gregor and MacIntyre's "Whose Justice? Which Rationality" in succession is invaluable. You have to consider the philosophical development of the early modern period and the lead up to the present. His general thesis, and one which plays out with fascism, is that ethics became engaged in a conflict from which only one side remains - medeival voluntarism. Man as a functional agent no longer remained. Man as a functional category had allowed for ethical judgements, just as a judgment can be made of a watch; A watch is good if it functions well as a watch. Without this, ethics simply make no sense, and that is the great dirty secret of philosophy. It makes no sense, and has no chance of making sense without reference to god and its origins. The result is that the only way to make some sort of system that corresponds to the world we actually inhabit, including producing societies and political orders requires bizzare and brazenly mythical concepts to balance the systems. You see them everywhere.

Smith and Hume- sympathy, the impartial spectator, the invisible hand
Nietzsche - the ubermensche
Darwin- teleology
Kant - where to start?
Schopenhauer - what exactly is Will if not the Will of god in voluntarist theology?

As for Sorel, he was kind of crazy. He advocated hyper capitalism to create conflict and bring about the socialist revolution. A kind of non-robot/AI version.

Anonymous said...

I don't see the personal tragedy in the irony, they were vile people with a vile philosophy.

The Social Pathologist said...

@Anon 2:50

As a Christian, I disagree. Killing the innocent is always wrong. Sure there is a disproportianate representation of Jews among the Left but there's many of them who are politically neutral. What was their crime? See this is the problems with Natsoc, you can be innocent of any crimes but as long as you don't subscribe to groupthink you're a potential target for liquidation.


Anti-Jewish sentiment was very common in socialist circles.

Yes, it was.

Of course, socialism and communism predated Marx and would have postdated him. Nevertheless, I think even without Hess, Marx would have still went on similar paths from Feuerbach, the Young Hegelians, Proudhon and others he later dismissed as "utopian socialists".

Agree. I personally don't think of Socialism as "Jewish", I tend to think of it as atheistic. Though I could see the appeal of it to many Jews, in that it advocated a society where religion didn't matter which was not the case in Christian Europe.

Anonymous said...

I'm not saying i dont see the tragedy in jews dying, I'm saying i dont see the personal tragedy of these communists' sparking bloodshed with their beliefs, it seems inevitable.

Peter said...

Just want to let you know that there are many spam comments on your Germaine's Daughters article. You should be able to delete them easily. Probably other articles of yours as well.

The Social Pathologist said...


Thx. There's a lot of spam in the old posts. Hopefully will get around to cleaning it up some time in the future.