Saturday, May 26, 2007


REVIEW: GERMANY'S NEW RIGHT AS CULTURE AND POLITICS. Roger Woods (Palgrave, Basingstoke 2007)

In this clear and workmanlike report and assessment of the New Right in Germany, Roger Woods first of all examines the cultural background, then goes on to explore the problematic Conservative Revolutionary and National Socialist legacy, New Right values and programmes, before reaching a somewhat downbeat conclusion. “The New Right project of providing itself with a cultural dimension as a solid foundation for new political thinking has not gone according to plan” says Woods, early-on.

Woods outlines three phases of New Right development in Germany since 1968; firstly as a meta-political movement taking its lead from the French New Right interpretation of Gramsci and culture combined with 1970s ideology, then the period 1982-1989 when the New Right served as a right wing corrective to right wing German Federal and Land governments and also in the historians dispute, and finally from 1989, after the collapse of socialism, when issues of national identity came to the fore.

The most interesting parts of the book deal with the ambiguous inheritance of Conservative Revolutionary thinkers of the Weimar Republic and the background of cultural pessimism. Woods emphasizes the uncertainty many German New Right thinkers betray despite promoting traditional values such as the Church, Family, Nation/ State. The cultural pessimist insight is that all these ideas have been tried, and failed, and that modernity in all its aspects is irreversible. With the current ecological crisis of climate change and industrial pollution, as Botho Strauss points out, not even nature can be relied upon. The quest for institutions that can embody transcendental values is abandoned. It is this feeling of resignation that allows German New Right thinkers like Martin Schwarz to contemplate compromise with Islam: “In a speech to the right wing organization Synergon Deutschland Martin Schwarz declares that if Europeans were to adopt the principles of Islam their nations would flourish”. “We live in a time of chaos and disintegration. If we wish to survive we must not convince ourselves that our main aim is to confront those people who are being uprooted and tossed around as the old order disintegrates...There is no Islamic conspiracy to bring down the West!” - Martin Schwarz.

Opposed to this defeatism are a minority including Pierre Krebs of Thule Seminar: “In the land of Nietzsche and Wagner, Bach and Kant, Clausewitz and Thomas Münzer a single word could fan the red glow of history back to life, smash to pieces half a century of dictatorial 'reeducation' that thought it could displace this word from the mind of a whole people without encountering any resistance”.

From an English perspective, this cultural pessimism may seem a result of over-intellectualizing and the particular, awkward memory for Germans of the NSDAP. If, as it is commonly held, Europe is a Symphony of Nations, then we have already heard the majesty of Mussolini and the sombre, expressionist tones of German National Socialism; yet England, the Celtic lands, Scandinavia, central Europe and Russia have so far remained silent. Let Russia sing and England and France take up the reprise! (Britain's particular excuse for European dis-engagement has been its global empire, its invention of the modern world, and currently its maintenance through force, financial power and flim-flam of that same decaying world).

Unfortunately, there is a significant oversight of which this book is guilty. I would argue that the major fault with the German New Right, and Woods account of it, is a lack of awareness of our true, shared pre-Christian Aryan heritage. As for Christianity, there seems little point in falling back on the tradition of a religion if that religion is wrong; and not only wrong, but destructive. German religious traditionalists are still mainly Christian, thereby continuing the Semitic monotheist intrusion into Aryan spirituality. How can Germans “return” to a faith that caused them so much physical and mental harm, from encouraging Charlemagne to slaughter thousands of pagan Saxons in order to force conversion, or that wasted Germany for generations after the carnage of the Thirty Years War?

Neither Roger Woods nor the examples he cites have much time for the insights of European paganism and the apparent pre-Christian Aryan ideology uncovered by Indo-Europeanists like Georges Dumezil and Alby Stone. European pagan metaphysics in conjunction with the ideas of Western philosophers such as Nietzsche and Heidegger and the political outlook of Evola and Yockey can provide meaning, to resist the onslaught of nihilist modernism and the doubts and uncertainties expressed by New Right thinkers in Germany. This is where the German New Right, and the New Right across Europe, will find the “fixed points”, the traditions, the models for a functioning society, and the new elan – the new spirit of adventure, hope, and destiny – for which the German New Right, and many Europeans more generally, have been searching.

This new spirit must originate from and embody the European Faustean sensibility; it must embrace synthesis, science and technology: “The fascist is obsessed with an ideal of Modernity and youth: he wants to create a new man, a lover of sport and autosport, living in a new city which has been given new life by futuristic architecture. He is an admirer of Le Cobusier, Marinetti, Gropius. He loves motors, mechanical engineering and speed.” - Zeev Sternhell, quoted on p68.

I have just two caveats for a book that is otherwise fair as far as it goes:
- for a book published in mid-2007, the references don't extend beyond Summer 2004 at the latest, as far as I can see. I don't blame the author for this; publication schedules are often delayed.
- secondly, the front cover appears to be a (totally uncredited) photograph of the Holocaust memorial in Berlin. According to the text within, “For the New Right, however, the Holocaust memorial is 'the last testament of the generation of 68'. Before they retire they want to deal Germany a blow which will shake it to its core. Junge Freiheit quotes Rudolf Augustein's view that the memorial is aimed against the newly emerging Germany in Berlin and the sovereignty that Germany had taken so long to restore”. To choose this particular image to illustrate the cover of a book on Germany's New Right is singularly inappropriate, almost a calculated insult directed at the book's readers.

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Blogger wallpond said...

Thanks for the review of the book.
As for the Holocaust Museum in Berlin, I had the distinct impression that it was a kind of punishment to the Germans. It was built with a background assumption floating around. The Germans might one day soon begin to escape their domination by Zionist ideology, and the massive cocrete blocks in the museum would be next to impossible to remove.

What should be kept in mind is that the Berlin Wall was also massive concrete. But with a lot of work they were able to remove it.

10:11 PM  
Blogger wallpond said...

Paganism was many different religions. So I don't know that one statement can be made for all of paganism. Anyway, I am not sure what dualism is.

As for political expediency of Christianity, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. What appears to one modern person as political expediency appears to another modern person as a constructive move on Christianity's part given the nature of that period in history.

10:22 PM  
Blogger Alisdair Clarke said...

Hi Wallpond

Dualism in this context means Heaven/ Earth, Creator/ Creation are entirely separate “and never the twain shall meet”, as opposed to the belief that all ultimately is One.

11:18 AM  
Blogger Alan said...

"This new spirit must originate from and embody the European Faustean sensibility; it must embrace synthesis, science and technology"

Unfortunately, science and
technology are rooted in, and
themselves foster and further,
analysis, division and
disintegration, not synthesis.

Further, the "European Faustian
sensibility", merged as it has
been with rampant greed and
acquisiveness (and capitalism),
is now on the verge of destroying
the planet.

“The fascist is obsessed with an ideal of Modernity and youth...
He loves motors, mechanical engineering and speed."

Lousy obsession, as we can clearly
see. ;-)


8:06 PM  
Blogger Alisdair Clarke said...

Hi Alan

Science works in two opposing directions simultaneously. There are the “splitters” that you mention. Then there are the “lumpers”; the physicists working on the Grand Unification Theory, or neurologists and evolutionary biologists theorizing on the origins of consciousness.

Good point about cars. In defence of inter-war fascism's glamourization of the private motor, all I can say is that the possibly devastating effects of carbon emissions were then unknown.

1:33 PM  

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