Armin Mohler: "The Fascist Style."
This will be serially released over the next couple weeks - in total, about 40 printed pages. Mohler uses both Gottfried Benn and Ernst Jünger as examples of a type of “Fascist style” or even “disposition.” A very interesting piece from an important figure in the post - war German Right (most well known for his book “The Conservative Revolution in Germany” as well as being erstwhile secretary to Jünger himself)
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There is hardly a contemporary historical phenomenon whose contours are as blurred for us as fascism. It seems that no one thing corresponds to the word anymore. Everyone uses the word, but each time for something different, and so in the end it no longer grasps anything. In a frenzied automatism, the labels "fascist," "fascist," "fascism" are applied to such a variety of people, organizations, informal groups, and even situations that one feels as if one were in an occupied country, where inverted signposts are supposed to lead the occupier astray. We are amazed to witness a politics in which everyone has called everyone else a "fascist" at one time or another. Specifications such as "prefascist", "postfascist" or the "clerico-fascist" so popular at times in the Federal Republic hardly have any effect on this inflation. They, too, do not limit the phenomenon at all, but are afflicted by the same generalizing and thus blurring fever as the root terms. This tendency reaches its climax in the adjective "fascistoid."
This linguistic confusion has provoked linguistically aware Frenchmen to make a pun that non-Frenchmen easily overlook. They have formed the neologism "fâchiste" (phonetically: faaaachist) from the verb se fâcher (to become indignant) as a nickname for "fascist-sniffer.”1 The short word "fasciste", however, remained reserved for the designation of concrete fascists until 1945. Since 1945, no serious group, anywhere in the world, refers to itself as "fascist." This is only reserved for a few stubborn individuals: a few extras from the "lunatic fringe" or a writer like Maurice Bardèche, who uses this term in memory of his brother-in-law Robert Brasillach, who was shot as a "collaborator" in 1945 (Qu'est-ce que le Fascisme? Paris 1961).
Fascist has long since ceased to be a designation, but rather an utterance of displeasure that can be applied all around to relieve one's own soul and conscience. This is exactly the way political terms are hollowed out and then die off. It is not by chance that the study of the rather wide range of "fascism" theories - their derivation, classification and psychoanalysis - has become a flourishing branch of modern ideology research.
Pushed to the left wing?
Fascism - that has to do, if not with conservatism, then with the right in general. Conservatives, in their situation, which is threatened from all sides, have repeatedly tried to push phenomena such as fascism and National Socialism to the left. Both after 1933 and after 1945, they have given what others call "right-wing totalitarianism" a left-wing pedigree in order to locate it at the other end of the political landscape. In the case of a Catholic conservative like Emil Franzel, this is already evident in the book title "Die Braunen Jakobiner/ Der Nationalsozialismus als geschichtliche Erscheinung" (Munich 1964).
A number of arguments can be advanced for such a shift of Fascism/National Socialism to the left - for example, historical-philosophical considerations or fascist texts that are really interspersed with left-wing vocabulary. We are less convinced by the fact that prominent fascist leaders were renegades from the left, such as the ex-socialist Mussolini or the ex-communist Doriot. Does it say anything about Catholic conservatives that Franzel was a doctrinaire Marxist in his younger years? Can't something new, something third, emerge from the back and forth? (Addendum 1989: the book "Neither Right nor Left" by the Israeli historian Zeev Sternhell, published in Paris in 1983 and not yet translated into German, has in the meantime revolutionized fascism research. According to Sternhell, fascism arose from the fact that radical leftists, who could not forgive the moderate leftists for their compromises with the liberal center, joined forces with radical rightists, the rightists and leftists who had become disenchanted with the moderate leftists of their camp, from left-wing and right-wing "revisionists.” That is why, for Sternhell, Fascism stands outside the right-left schema, as something third, revolutionary).
Towards the end of the Weimar Republic there was already a political model, which was happily presented, which announced such an abolition of the right-left-mechanism into a new third thing. It had the shape of a horseshoe; the horseshoe ends "outside left" and "outside right" bent away from the heavily burdening, carrying middle and approached each other. And as in the case of the horseshoe, the attraction is between the two ends facing each other, so at that time, in political reality, it was believed that there was a convergence of what the framers [of such ideology] had imagined to be miles apart. At first, however, it was mainly splinter groups and individual mavericks who were caught up in this vortex at the beginning of the 1930s. The two big groups from the right and from the left converged with each other only twice. The first time for a week, the second time for nearly two years. Already the coming together of the National Socialists and the Communists in the Berlin traffic strike (November 2-7, 1932) made the Republic tremble; the Reichswehr was already drawing up scenarios for a coup d'état to save the Republic from the SA and the Red Front Fighters' League at the same time. With the Hitler-Stalin Pact (23 August 1939 to 22 June 1941), the tremor went far beyond the Republic: the Great Alliance of the three "have-nots" - Germany, Russia, Japan - against the liberal world loomed on the horizon. An alliance that was to change the world not only in the imagination of General Haushofer2.
The outcome of the war decided otherwise. The border between the left and the right mass movements was drawn with streams of blood. That cannot be so easily erased. Certainly, many conservatives testified to their hostility to "right-wing totalitarianism" with their death or with long years in prison; in Germany they undoubtedly represented the largest contingent of victims after the Jews. But this less obvious demarcation is not as important historically as the other one, which is visible to all. In an upheaval of the magnitude and dynamics of the Second World War, very large shovels were used. At the end of the war, the right-wing, which wanted nothing to do with Hitler, was swept into the big pile of the defeated. The right as a whole lost this war - even in the countries that won the war.
Since everyone prefers to be counted among the victors rather than the losers, we are today faced with the same situation everywhere, not only in the Federal Republic: an intimidated right, which continuously apologizes for its current existence, is confronted with a lively left, which is not handicapped in anything and knows how to seize an opportunity. It puts its slogans to the unimaginative, lethargic center and plays cat and mouse with all those involved. To use the word "fascism" in this situation can only come to the minds of two categories of contemporaries: either to very naïve people, or to those who know exactly what they mean by it. It is therefore necessary to be clear about what the real existing fascism between 1919 and 1945 was, and what it was not.
The "physiognomic approach."
In Germany, the name Ernst Nolte stands for research on fascism. This historian has the merit of having removed the study of fascism from the "popular pedagogical" prejudices. He has turned a mere slur into a term that seeks to capture a piece of historical reality. He limited it to a specific historical period, the time between the end of the First World War and the end of the Second. However, here he succumbed to the temptation to immediately grasp the whole epoch under the key term"fascism." In this, Nolte's origins in philosophy become visible: in historiography, he loves big, summarizing arcs and easily becomes impatient in the confrontation with historical detail. It is a violation of history when Nolte forces such diverse historical entities as Maurras' "Action Française," Mussolini's Fascism, and Hitler's National Socialism3 into a logically divergent sequence for the sake of the coherence of his presentation of evidence. The philosophical urge to bring everything into one concept is in no part of reality less appropriate than in the historical process, which from close-up looks like a single chain of paradoxes.
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