How do the fascists feel about individualism?

(Anti) fascism

Volker Weiss

To person

is a historian and publicist. In 2017 he published "The Authoritarian Revolt. The New Right and the Fall of the Occident".

Is there an ideological connection between the "New Right" and the historical complex "Fascism"? Given the inflationary use of the latter category for years, this question should be answered with caution. In addition, fascism was long considered a phenomenon that was limited to "its epoch" (Ernst Nolte) of the first half of the 20th century and to a few countries and finally disappeared with the Cold War.

Recent research has questioned this temporal limitation of fascism. According to the political scientist Zeev Sternhell, fascism was an "integral part" of the 20th century and not just an eruption of the interwar period. [1] It is therefore to be feared that it showed itself to be an independent political phenomenon that is viable to the present day. The historian Robert Paxton also states a possible survival. He defines fascism as "a form of political behavior" which is determined by an "obsessive preoccupation with the decline, humiliation or victim role of a community and by compensatory cults of unity, strength and purity". A "mass-based party of determined nationalist activists in uncomfortable but effective cooperation with traditional elites is giving up democratic freedoms" and pursuing "goals of internal cleansing and external expansion by means of a force that is glorified as redeeming and without ethical or legal restrictions". [2] In the following, the question will be examined to what extent these provisions apply to the current phenomenon of the New Right.

New rights

Sometimes the concept of "New Right" is applied in an undifferentiated way to all phenomena of the right-wing political fringe that somehow seem "new". The feeling of confrontation with something new is mostly due to the fact that the term "right" calls up the cliché of the dull neo-Nazi, which has little to do with the actual manifestations of the right-wing political field. The political scientist Samuel Salzborn has therefore criticized the fact that the term "New Right" is used in very different and often diffuse ways. On the other hand, he historically defines the New Right as a movement that emerged in the late 1960s, which set itself the "formation of an intellectual metapolitics and the achievement of a (right-wing) cultural hegemony" as strategic goals. [3] In this way she differed significantly from the activist-oriented and biographically still influenced by National Socialism extreme right of the post-war period. Influences from France were also influential, where a "Nouvelle Droite" had also been founded in order to leave well-known paths. With regard to the broad lines, its protagonists are based on authors from the interwar period who are gathered under the paradox of a "conservative revolution".

The relevant research literature also refers to these three pillars - modernization, internationalization and reference to the so-called conservative revolution. A recent summary, however, notes that "the New Right (...) can basically only be spoken of in the plural" in order to do justice to the diverse developments of the past four decades. [4]

There is little objection to these deductions from their current actors. A definition of terms by the Institute for State Policy (IfS), which has served the New Right as the organizational center since the turn of the millennium, also refers to the historical forerunners of the interwar period. On the other hand, there is complaint about the delegitimization of one's own position on the basis of a "newly, that is," anti-fascist "- defined center". The self-portrayal as a movement that "can be clearly distinguished from neo-national socialist or völkisch on the one hand, from German-national, traditionalist-conservative positions on the other hand" and "concentrates on the creation of alternative worldviews" must, however, be questioned. [5]

With regard to the historical models, this demarcation can hardly be maintained. Armin Mohler, Spiritus Rector of the New Right and bibliographer of the Conservative Revolution, admitted in old age that the strict separation of the Conservative Revolution from National Socialism had been constructed: "It was very difficult to distinguish; in historical reality it already overlaps a lot . "[6] By maintaining this separation, however, New Right draw their historical self-image.

Conservative thought leaders

In the journalism of the New Right, the classics of the Conservative Revolution of the 1920s and 1930s continue to enjoy high priority. In addition to numerous other articles on this topic, this is also demonstrated by their presence in the "State Political Manual", which the current head of the IfS, Erik Lehnert, published together with the journalist Karlheinz Weißmann. As in the past, current right-wing authors' assessments of the situation can be found quoting the formula of the "conservative revolutionary" Edgar J. Jung, according to which democracy is the "rule of the inferior". Jung's definition of "inferiority" encompasses social and ethnic categories. He was involved in a fememicide in 1924 and wanted the republic to be replaced by an authoritarian corporate state.

If the boundary to fascism remains vague in view of such positions, the distance to traditional conservatism is clearer. Like the Conservative Revolution, the New Right is dynamic and revolutionary in its claims. Mohler formulated sharp attacks against a merely "horticultural" conservatism. Like his teacher Ernst Jünger, whose secretary Mohler had worked at a young age, he relied on the revolutionary overcoming of the bourgeoisie through an offensive right. As early as 1929, Jünger had left no doubt about the radical claim of this new nationalism: "We leave the view that there is a kind of revolution that at the same time supports order to all honest men." Jünger went on to proclaim: "We will not stand anywhere where the jet of flame has not struck us, where the flamethrower has not carried out the great cleansing through nothingness", finally leading to the sentence with which the Identitarian Movement is wooing supporters today: "Because we are the real, true and relentless enemies of the citizen, we enjoy his corruption." [8] For Jünger, the time of classical conservatism was up. His admirers today are impressed by the uncompromising attitude that was directed against liberals and leftists.

A central thinker of this radical cut is Georges Sorel. As an author who opposed the hated decadence of the bourgeoisie and preached violence as a cleansing agent, he has found its way into the canon of the New Right. Sternhell points to its great importance for the genesis of fascist ideology: "If, from a philosophical point of view, fascism meant a rejection of the rationalistic and individualistic content that formed the foundations of Marxism and liberalism, it represented the synthesis of an organic one on the ideological and political level Nationalism with the Marx revision of Georges Sorel and his followers in France and Italy at the beginning of the century. "[9]

Sorel also played a central role in the theorizing of the New Right. Karlheinz Weißmann described Sorel's influences on Armin Mohler in "Junge Freiheit". This had "above all reasons of principle" "to rediscover Sorel. Sorel's anti-liberalism and decisionism had impressed Mohler and perhaps even more so by the 'ambiguity' of his thinking." [10] Mohler was already involved in the journal "Criticón" in 1973 Sorel and in 1975, in his capacity as head of the Siemens Foundation, commented on a publication on Sorel. In 2000 the Antaios publishing house, which is close to the IfS, published the small volume "Georges Sorel. Archfather of the Conservative Revolution" with an afterword by Karlheinz Weißmann. [11] The hatred of the "decadence" of Western liberalism is part of Sorel's intellectual legacy in the New Right.

With this revolutionary legacy, the New Right stands in the tradition of those right-wing forces that turned against order when it no longer corresponded to their ideas. Sternhell characterized such an attitude as "revolutionary revisionism", which could incorporate dynamic elements of modernity. [12] Fascism emerged from him as a total rejection of political culture and the "ideal type of an ideology of upheaval". [13] These features already marked a radicalized conservatism towards the end of the 19th century, which declared itself a "national opposition" when it could not stop the republic. The early Ernst Nolte used France as an example to describe how, in the prehistory of fascism at the end of the 19th century, the defenders of a lost order radicalized conservatism with all its consequences. [14] The consequences were not only reflected in the content, but also in the modernization of the form. Lehnert also points out the distance between his own school of thought and historical conservatism: For him, the phenomenon "New Rights" expresses "that we know that throne and altar no longer work". [15]