Conservative Revolutionary movement

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Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland by Armin Mohler

The Conservative Revolutionary movement (also phrased as Revolutionary Conservative) was a German nationalist literary youth movement, prominent in the years following the First World War.

General History

The Conservative Revolutionary school of thought advocated a new conservatism and nationalism that was specifically German, or Prussian in particular. Like other conservative movements in the same period, they sought to put a stop to the rising tide of communism, with some groups advocating a Conservative Socialism.

The Conservative Revolutionaries based their ideas on organic rather than materialistic thinking, on quality instead of quantity and on Volksgemeinschaft ("folk-community") rather than class conflict and ochlocracy. These writers produced a profusion of radical nationalistic literature that consisted of war diaries, combat fictional works, political journalism, manifestos, and philosophical treatises outlining their ideas for the transformation of German cultural and political life. The movement had a wide influence among many of Germany’s most gifted youth, universities and middle classes.

The term "Conservative Revolution" predates the First World War, but the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the political theorist Edgar Julius Jung were instrumental in making this term an established concept of the Weimar period. The term signified a general group with a variety of concepts and attitudes, in some cases although not all including nihilistic ideas. Most of the Conservative Revolutionaries were born at the end of the ninenteenth century and were heavily influenced by the experiences of the First World War. The horrors of the war along with the German Revolution, caused by the betrayal of the German nation by certain treasonous figures, created a break with Germany's past and the Second Reich.

After 1933 some of the proponents of the conservative revolutionary movement were persecuted by the National Socialists, most notably by the SS of Heinrich Himmler, who wanted to prevent reactionaries and other opposing conservative groups from opposing or deviating the Hitler regime in this early time. Many noblemen were anti-democratic, and were happy with a National Socialist abolition of democracy, but some (not all) of them were also opposed to socialism and even racialism, which were key parts of NSDAP policy, and therefore were opponents of the party. Other conservative revolutionary movement members went into anonymity and some arranged themselves with the new regime and became NSDAP members. Again others remained inside the Reichswehr and later Wehrmacht, to silently conspire on the lower levels of the 20 July plot of 1944.

Although the Conservative Revolutionary movement included a vast amount of intellectuals with a variety of views, it is clear that the most important theorists of Revolutionary Conservatism were: Edgar Julius Jung, Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Oswald Spengler, Othmar Spann, and Carl Schmitt.

Other noteworthy although lesser figures were: Ernst Jünger, Friedrich Georg Jünger, Hans Zehrer, Hans Freyer, Ludwig Klages, Ernst Niekisch, Ernst von Salomon, Stefan George, Werner Sombart, and Karl Haushofer. Also of note is Otto Strasser, who is sometimes considered a Conservative Revolutionary, and the key postwar historian of the Conservative Revolution, Armin Mohler. In addition, some intellectuals of the European New Right, including Alain de Benoist and Tomislav Sunic, are sometimes considered to belong to an extension of the Conservative Revolution.

Quotes about the Conservative Revolution

  • "The process of which I am speaking is nothing less than a conservative revolution on such a scale as the history of Europe has never known. Its object is form, a new German reality, in which the whole nation will share." - Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Das Schrifttum als geistiger Raum der Nation
  • "The crumbling state threatened to bury the nation in its ruins. But there has arisen a hope of salvation: a conservative-revolutionary movement of nationalism. It seeks to save the nation’s life; it seeks to make good what had been omitted: to permit the nation to take a share in determining its own destinies." - Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany's Third Empire
  • "A new front is forming on the battlefields of bourgeois society - the revolution from the right. With that magnetic power inherent in the battle cry of the future even before it has been sounded, it draws into its ranks the toughest, the most alert, the most timely men from all camps. It is still lining up, but it will strike. Its movement is still a mere assembly of spirits, lacking awareness, symbols, or direction. But overnight the front will arise. It will reach beyond the old parties with their petrified programs and antiquated ideologies. It will successfully challenge the conceit that the rigidified class antognisms of contemporary reality - which have led on both sides to a petit bourgeois world - can be politically productive. It will do away with the ossified remnants of the nineteenth century and free the way for the history of the twentieth..." - Hans Freyer, Revolution von Rechts
  • "The Conservative Revolution is the Restoration of all those elementary laws and values without which man loses his ties with nature and God and without which he is incapable of building up a true order. In the place of equality there will be inherent standards, in the place of social consciousness a just integration into the hierarchical society, in the place of mechanical election an organic elite, in the place of bureaucratic leveling the inner responsibility of genuine self-government, in the place of mass prosperity the rights of a proud people." - Edgar Julius Jung, "Germany and the Conservative Revolution"
  • "We are reproached for proceeding alongside or behind active political forces, for being romantics who fail to see reality and who indulge in dreams of an ideology of the Reich that turns toward the past. But form and formlessness represent eternal social principles, like the struggle between the microcosm and the macrocosm endures in the eternal swing of the pendulum. The phenomenal forms that mature in time are always new, but the great principles of order (mechanical or organic) always remain the same... We once again see the world as it is because we are ourselves not only of this world, but because we have an immediate sense of the metaphysical and feel its presence within us as a cosmic law. That is why our hour has come: the hour of the German revolution." - Edgar Julius Jung, "Germany and the Conservative Revolution"
  • "What is needed is not to artificially and coercively perpetuate particular forms tied to the past, despite having exhausted their vital possibilities and being out of touch with the times. For the authentic revolutionary conservative, what really counts is to be faithful not to past forms and institutions, but rather to principles of which such forms and institutions have been particular expressions, adequate for a specific period of time and in a specific geographical area... what remains is a certain continuity amid the changing historical, social, economic, and cultural factors. In order to ensure this continuity, while holding fast to the underlying principles, it is necessary to eventually throw away everything that needs to be discarded, instead of stiffening, panicking, or confusedly seeking new ideas when crises occur and times change: this is indeed the essence of the true conservative spirit." - Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins
  • "The old structure of the West as a synthesis of classical culture, Christianity, and the impulses of peoples entering history for the Žfirst time has broken down. A new unity, however, has not yet emerged. We stand in this transitional period, this ‘interregnum’ which leaves its mark on every spiritual activity. The Conservative Revolution is conditioned by it, and at the same time sees itself as an attempt to overcome it." - Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland

Notable Members

Bibliography

  • Alain de Benoist, "Arthur Moeller van den Bruck: Une 'Question a la Destinee Allemande,'" Nouvelle Ecole, Paris, 35, January 1980, pp. 40-73.
  • Alain de Benoist, “Julius Evola, réactionnaire radical et métaphysicien engagé. Analyse critique de la pensée politique de Julius Evola,” Nouvelle Ecole, No. 53–54 (2003), pp. 147–69. Online: <http://www.alaindebenoist.com/pdf/julius_evola.pdf>.
  • Alain de Benoist, Les idées à l'endroit (Paris: Libres-Hallier, 1979).
  • Alexander Dugin, Konflikte der Zukunft: Die Rückkehr der Geopolitik (Kiel: Arndt-Verlag, 2014).
  • Alexander Dugin, Pour une théorie du monde multipolaire (Nantes: Éditions Ars Magna, 2013).
  • Alexander Dugin, The Fourth Political Theory (London: Arktos, 2012).
  • Julius Evola, Men Among the Ruins (Rochester: Inner Traditions, 2002).
  • Julius Evola,The Path of Cinnabar (Integral Tradition Publishing, 2009).
  • Klaus P. Fischer, History and Prophecy: Oswald Spengler and the Decline of the West (New York: P. Lang, 1989).
  • Hans Freyer, Revolution Von Rechts (Jena: E. Diederichs, 1931).
  • Hans Freyer, Theory of Objective Mind: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Culture (Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1999).
  • John J. Haag, Othmar Spann and the Politics of "Totality": Corporatism in Theory and Practice, Ph.D. Thesis, Rice University, 1969.
  • Hugo Von Hofmannsthal, Hugo Von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea: Selected Essays and Addresses, 1906-1927 (Purdue University Press, 2011).
  • Alexander Jacob, Europa: German Conservative Foreign Policy 1870-1940 (Lanham, MD, USA: University Press of America, 2002).
  • Alexander Jacob, Introduction to Political Ideals, by Houston Stewart Chamberlain (Lanham, MD, USA: University Press Of America, 2005).
  • Larry Eugene Jones, "Edgar Julius Jung: The Conservative Revolution in Theory and Practice," Conference Group for Central European History of the American Historical Association, vol. 21, Issue 02, 1988, p. 142-174.
  • Paul Gottfried, Carl Schmitt: Politics and Theory (New York: Greenwood Press, 1990).
  • Edgar Julius Jung, "Germany and the Conservative Revolution," published in The Weimar Republic Sourcebook, edited by Anton Kaes, Martin Jay, and Edward Dimendberg (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1994), pp. 352-54. (See Online)
  • Edgar Julius Jung, The Rule of the Inferiour, 2 vols. (Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press, 1995).
  • Ernst Jünger, Storm of Steel, trans. Basil Greighton (London: Chatto & Windus, 1929).
  • Ernst Jünger, Copse 125 (London: Chatto & Windus, 1930).
  • Gerd-Klaus Kaltenbrunner, Europa: Seine geistigen Quellen in Portraits aus zwei Jahrtausenden, Vol. 1 (Heroldsberg: Christiania-Verlag, 1981).
  • Ludwig Klages, The Biocentric Worldview, tanslated & introduced by Joseph Pryce (London: Arktos, 2013).
  • Klemens von Klemperer, Germany's New Conservatism; Its History And Dilemma In The Twentieth Century (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1968).
  • Sebastian Maass, Die andere deutsche Revolution: Edgar Julius Jung und die metaphysischen Grundlagen der Konservativen Revolution (Kiel: Regin Verlag, 2009).
  • Johannes Messner, Social Ethics: Natural Law in the Western World (St. Louis, MO: B. Herder Book Co., 1965).
  • Arthur Moeller van den Bruck, Germany's Third Empire (London: Arktos Media, 2012).
  • Armin Mohler, Die Konservative Revolution in Deutschland 1918–1932 (Stuttgart: Friedrich Vorwerk Verlag, 1950).
  • Jerry Z. Muller, The Other God that Failed: Hans Freyer and the Deradicalization of German Conservatism (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1988).
  • Michael O'Meara, New Culture, New Right: Anti-Liberalism in Postmodern Europe, 2nd Edition (London: Arktos, 2013).
  • Hermann Rauschning, The Conservative Revolution (New York: G. P. Putnam's sons, 1941).
  • Ernst von Salomon, It Cannot Be Stormed ( London: Arktos, 2011).
  • Carl Schmitt, Political Theology: Four Chapters on the Concept of Sovereignty, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005).
  • Carl Schmitt, The Concept of the Political, expanded edition, trans. G. Schwab (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).
  • Carl Schmitt, The Crisis of Parliamentary Democracy, trans. E. Kennedy, (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1985).
  • Werner Sombart, A New Social Philosophy (New York: Greenwood Press, 1937).
  • Werner Sombart, Economic Life in the Modern Age (New Brunswick, NJ, and London: Transaction Publishers, 2001).
  • Othmar Spann, Der Wahre Staat (Leipzig: Verlag von Quelle und Meyer, 1921).
  • Othmar Spann, Gesellschaftslehre (Leipzig: Quelle & Meyer, 1923).
  • Othmar Spann, Types of Economic Theory (London: Routledge, 2012).
  • Oswald Spengler, Man and Technics (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1932).
  • Oswald Spengler, Selected Essays (Chicago: Gateway/ Henry Regnery, 1967).
  • Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, Vol. 1, "Form and Actuality"; Vol. 2, "Perspectives of World History" (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1926 and 1928).
  • Otto Strasser, Hitler and I (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1940).
  • Walter Struve, Elites Against Democracy; Leadership Ideals in Bourgeois Political Thought in Germany, 1890-1933 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 1973).
  • Tomislav Sunic, Against Democracy and Equality: The European New Right (Third Edition. London: Arktos, 2010).
  • Lennart Svensson, Ernst Jünger - A Portrait (Colac, Victoria: Manticore Press , 2014).
  • Zoltan Michael Szaz, "The Ideological Precursors of National Socialism," The Western Political Quarterly, Vol. 16, No. 4 (Dec., 1963), pp. 924-945.
  • Lucian Tudor, “The Philosophy of Identity: Ethnicity, Culture, and Race in Identitarian Thought,” The Occidental Quarterly, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Fall 2014), pp. 83-112.
  • Lucian Tudor, From the German Conservative Revolution to the New Right (Santiago, Chile: Círculo de Investigaciones PanCriollistas, 2015).
  • Ian B. Warren, "The Heritage of Europe's 'Revolutionary Conservative Movement': A Conversation with Swiss Historian Armin Mohler." Journal of Historical Review, Sept.-Oct. 1994 (Vol. 14, No. 5), pages 3-9. <http://www.ihr.org/jhr/v14n5p3_warren.html>.
  • Janek Wasserman, Black Vienna, Red Vienna: The Struggle for Intellectual and Political Hegemony in Interwar Vienna, 1918–1938 (Saint Louis, Missouri: Washington University, 2010).
  • Hans Zehrer, Man in this World (New York: New York University Press. 1956).

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