Arthur Moeller van den Bruck
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck (April 23, 1876 - May 30, 1925) was a German philosopher and cultural historian who played an important role in the creation of the Conservative Revolutionary movement. He is notable for translating Dosoevsky's works into German and writing the book Germany's Third Empire.
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck was born in Solingen, Germany, on April 23, 1876. He studied at a gymnasium, but was expelled for his indifference towards his studies in 1892. He believed that German literature and philosophy (especially Nietzsche) provided a more important education, and thus he continued studies on his own in Berlin, Paris, and Italy. By 1905 Moeller had published his eight-volume cultural history of the German people, titled Die Deustchen: unsere Menschengeschichte ("The Germans, our people's history"). A book to supplement this history, Die Zeitgenossen ("The Contemporaries"), first expressed his ideas of "young nations" and "old nations" (see below). In 1907, he returned to Germany and enlisted in the army in 1914 (the start of World War I). Soon afterwards, he joined the press office of the Foreign Ministry and was attached to the foreign affairs section of the German Supreme Army Command.
After the war Moeller van den Bruck (his name will be shortened to Moeller) engaged in political activism, founding the Juniklub ("June Club") to rally young conservatives to fight against the Treaty of Versailles. This organization was later renamed Deutscher Herrenklub ("German Gentlemen's Club") and became very powerful, playing an important role in helping Franz von Papen to become Reichskanzler in 1932. Moeller wrote several works throughout this time period expressing anti-Liberal, anti-parliamentary, anti-Communist, anti-Capitalist, Third Positionist, and Revolutionary Conservative (a term he created) views. His most notable books in terms of philosophical thought were Der Preußische Stil ("The Prussian Style"), Das Recht der jungen Völker ("The Right Of Young Nations"), and Das Dritte Reich (Germany's Third Empire). The most memorable was Das Dritte Reich, published 1923, which influenced various nationalist conservatives and the National Socialists. However, it should be noted that Das Recht der jungen Völker is also a very significant expression of philosophical thought, very notable for expounding his ideas on race, German character, and his criticism of Spengler. He met Hitler in 1922, but was not impressed and thought him to be too unsophisticated. In May of 1925, Moeller had a nervous breakdown and committed suicide.
Political and Economic Ideas
Arthur Moeller van den Bruck asserted that true democracy was not about theoretic rights of man, republican ideas, or parliamentary practices, it was about the people taking a share in determing its destiny. The Germans already had monarchies in the past which were essentially democratic. In terms of the choice of leadership, Moeller asserted that: "Leadership is not a matter of ballot-boxes, but of choice based on confidence. The disillusionment which the parties have wrought, has created a receptivity for the leader-ideal. Youth is entirely for it. The monarchy had no room for this ideal; the monarch claimed the leadership himself; but he claimed it exclusively as a matter of privilege, and not of merit. Not till the Revolution came was the leader ideal made possible, the ideal of a leader who shall not destroy but conserve." He declared that republicans, those who called themselves democrats, were now an enemy of the people who must be defeated.
Moeller van den Bruck argued against Liberalism as well as Marxism. "Liberalism is the party of upstarts who have insinuated themselves between the people and its big men. Liberals feel themselves as isolated individuals, responsible to nobody. They do not share the nation’s traditions, they are indifferent to its past and have no ambition for its future. They seek only their own personal advantage in the present. Their dream is the great International, in which the differences of peoples and languages, races and cultures will be obliterated." The foundations of a healthy nation must be nationalism and conservatism: "Conservatism seeks to preserve a nation’s values, both by conserving traditional values, as far as these still possess the power of growth, and by assimilating all new values which increase a nation’s vitality. A nation is a community of values; and nationalism is a consciousness of values."
Moeller distinguished between four general socio-political groupings: the Reactionary, the Conservative, the Liberal, and the Revolutionary. The Reactionary often thought himself a Conservative but is in fact a figure who wants to revive the past totally as it was, taking an unrealistic position and treating all former traditions and values as good, even if some are both good and bad. The Liberal is a total individualist who does not belong to any people and does not truly share any traditions; he only does what is best for himself as an individual because he follows an individualist philsophy. The radical Revolutionary, exemplified by Communists, aims to completely transform society through a revolution. His mistake is in thinking that he can brush aside all past customs, traditions, and values and replace them with a new world. The Conservative is superior to all of these groups because he understands how the world actually works. Unlike the Reactionary the Conservative recognizes that societies evolve, with their values and traditions changing. However, the Conservative also tries to preserve values and traditions that are good for a people and nation... and simultaneously embraces new ones if they will be helpful for the nation (especially if they increase its vitality) or if they replace old values which decrease the nation's vitality.
Moeller spent much time criticizing the materialist and rationalist foundations of Marxism, which he believed created a flawed understanding of man, not taking into considering vital factors. Against Marxism he posed German Socialism, whose main insipiration is Friedrich List. Moeller van asserted that "Every people has its own socialism… When we talk of a German socialism, we do not of course mean the socialism of the social democrat in which the party took refuge after our collapse; neither do we mean the logical Marxist socialism which refuses to abandon the class war of the Internationals… International socialism does not exist. It did not exist before the War, still less after the War….Socialism begins where Marxism ends. German socialism is called to play a part in the spiritual and intellectual history of mankind by purging itself of every trace of liberalism… This New Socialism must be the foundation of Germany’s Third Empire."
"Young" and "Old" Nations
Moeller van den Bruck established the view that nations (Volker) differed in “age,” which is not to be understood in terms of age in years but rather by the character and behavior of a nation (Volk). Thus there are “old nations” and “young nations,” and Moeller identified key examples of each type. A “young nation” is energetic, strong, possesses will-to-power, readiness, vitality, and hard work. An “old nation” is highly developed, saturated, having a lower amount of energy and vitality, and has a tendency towards the corrupt ideals of 1789 (most notably rationalism and liberalism) and aims for Bentham’s concept of happiness. Examples of nations which had youth were Bulgaria, Finland, Japan, Russia, and Germany (especially Prussia, whose values and style Moeller praised) while key examples of nations which were aged were Italy, France, and England. Moeller believed that the fate of nations would be determined by the "law of rise and decline of nations," according to which "all aging states relentlessly sink down from their hegemonial positions." However, as the result of World War I had shown, a young nation like Germany could still fear defeat as a result of its inexperience, impetuosity, or because it was under attack by a coalition of old nations (England, France, etc.). Defeat in war, however, would not break a young nation if the peace treaty would leave unimpared that nation's right of existence, growth, and freedom of movement. Moeller developed these ideas especially in Die Zeitgenossen, later refined them in Das Recht der Jungen Volker, and expressed them again in a more general form in Das Dritte Reich.
Idea of Race
Moeller van den Bruck opposed people who believed the anthropological theories dividing Germans along with other Europeans into numerous sub-races and mixtures. Moeller argued for the existence of "races of the spirit" which united Europeans who were thought to be a mixture of physical sub-races or "races of the blood". Using this position, he argued that all Germans were of a single racial type, not divided by anything important when it came to race, physically or spiritually. Furthermore, he believed that while biological race was real, it was not as powerful as some scientists argued it was; it was more of just a forming element for a nation which could be used as an idea to awaken national conscience. It should also be noted that Moeller's concept of "race of the spirit" is actually more similar to the concept of Volksgeist rather than a concept of race.
Criticism of Spengler
Moeller argued that Spengler's theory of culture cycles was inaccurate and not in accordance with the true life of nations and cultures. Evolution was a continuous and unpredictable development which did not function in the "morphological" process Spengler argued for. Further, Moeller stated that humans were "more than nature", and thus Spengler's attempts at viewing history and culture using naturalistic science were incorrect. Spengler may have used metaphysical language and irrationalist concepts, but essentially he viewed humans as merely biological entities subject to natural rhythms. For Moeller, humans had a much higher spiritual side which meant that their tendencies and movements were not totally guided by nature. Moeller also did not believe that cultures existed and were divided in the particular manner in which Spengler believed. The Greco-Romans were in many ways a younger version of what is known as the West. Also, for Moeller Germany was actually neither Western nor eastern, and was an energetic and "young" nation unlike the chief Western nations England and France. Moeller even rejected Spengler's fatalism, arguing that history was not circular as Spengler believed, but was rather more like a spiral. A nation can lose its energy and become old ("civilized" in Spengler's terms), but it can and does also reverse this process, to regenerate and be reborn in a younger generation. Germany was one such young and vital nation, as opposed to France, which he saw as old and devitalized.
- Die moderne Literatur in Gruppen und Einzeldarstellungen (1900)
- Das Variété: Eine Kulturdramaturgie (1900)
- Die Deutschen: Unsere Menschheitsgeschichte (1904)
- Die Zeitgenossen: Die Geister - Die Menschen (1905)
- Die italienische Schönheit (1913)
- Der preußische Stil (1915)
- Willen zum Staat (1916)
- Das Recht der jungen Völker (1918)
- Die Neue Front (1922)
- Das Dritte Reich (1923)
- "A nation is a community of values; and nationalism is a consciousness of values."
- "The Conservative's function is to create values which are worth conserving."
- "[The Conservative] has no ambition to see the world as a museum; he prefers it as a workshop, where he can create things which will serve as new foundations. His thought differs from the revolutionary's in that it does not trust things which were hastily begotten in the chaos of upheaval; things have a value for him only when they possess certain stability. Stable values spring from tradition. We may be the victims of catastrophes which overtake us, of revolutions which we cannot prevent, but tradition always re-emerges."
- "German nationalism is the champion of the Final Empire: ever promised, never fulfilled."
- Volker, plural for Volk, could alternatively be translated be translated as ethnicities, peoples, or Folks. It is common but somewhat misleading to translate it to "nations," since in German Nationen and Volker are two different things.
- Alain de Benoist. "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: Une 'Question a la Destinee Allemande,'" Nouvelle Ecole, Paris, 35, January 1980, pp. 40-73.
- Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. Germany's Third Empire. Howard Fertig, New York, 1971.
- Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany's Third Empire. London: Arktos Media, 2012. (new edition)
- Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. Das Recht der Jungen Völker. Munchen: R. Piper & Co., 1919.
- Arthur Moeller van den Bruck. Das Dritte Reich. Berlin: Ring Verlag, 1923.
- Sebastian Maaß. Kämpfer um ein drittes Reich: Arthur Moeller van den Bruck und sein Kreis. Kiel: Regin-Verlag, 2010.
- Stan Lauryssens. The Man Who Invented the Third Reich: The Life and Times of Arthur Moeller Van Den Bruck. Sutton Publishing, NY, 2003.
- Lucian Tudor, "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man and His Thought," Counter-Currents.com, 17 August 2012, <http://www.counter-currents.com/2012/08/arthur-moeller-van-den-bruck-the-man-and-his-thought/>.
- Lucian Tudor, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right. Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015.
- Lucian Tudor, "The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler," Tankesmedjan Motpol, 7 November 2014, <http://www.motpol.nu/english/2014/11/07/the-revolutionary-conservative-critique-of-oswald-spengler/ >.
- Zoltan Michael Szaz, "The Ideological Precursors of National Socialism," The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Dec., 1963), pp. 924-945.
- "Moeller van den Bruck, National Bolshevik", Instauration, February 1978
- "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: The Man and His Thought" by Lucian Tudor
- "The Revolutionary Conservative Critique of Oswald Spengler" by Lucian Tudor
- Moeller van den Bruck's Germany's Third Empire
- "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck" by Alain de Benoist (French language text)
- Benoist's "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck" (Spanish translation)
- Moeller's Das Dritte Reich (German version)
- Moeller's Die Zeitgenossen (German)