Friday, June 22, 2012
Manual for the Radical Nationalist, Part II: Keeping a Group Together
I am pleased to report that, since my post, In Praise of Neo-Stalinist Doctrinairism, things have been going well for my group. Why is this? The answer is, my understanding - of how to organise in politics - increased. As to how it increased, I'll explain presently... Before I do, though, I'll note - for the sake of other nationalists who are trying to work in a group or party - that questions of organisation, management, leadership, and so forth, are different in politics than they are in fields of human endeavour. At first sight, it seems that running a political group is like running any other organisation - e.g., a trade union, a business, a bowling club, an army, whatever. But this isn't the case. Politics operates according to laws which are unique to it. The character of a political group depends on its fundamental political philosophy, which needs to be articulated and made explicit - time and time again. That philosophy encompasses everything in a group: it not only determines the objective of a group (e.g., a 'dictatorship of the proletariat') or its relations to rival groups and ideologies, but its internal organisation as well. In other words, theory determines practice. Some groups and parties, of course, get by with very little theory: e.g., your average conservative or social democratic party, or parties like Mussolini's PNF, or the German NSDAP... Those sorts of parties run like a smooth, well-oiled machine, with very little internal dissent over policy and objectives. For newish groups in the nationalist movement, though, a great deal of theory is necessary, and, what's more, this must be articulated, made explicit, in the form of a constitution and a party program. Without clarity, internal disagreement will fester, and the group will shrivel up and die - or, most likely, split apart...
In the past few months, I have read around 15 (!) books written by communists from the Soviet Union and the Eastern Bloc: it's been an invaluable education, politically, ideologically, intellectually, and an experience I recommend to all my fellow nationalist intellectuals. In truth, I enjoy, these days, reading these books more than nationalist material: I learn something new, every time (even if I don't always get something useful), whereas, if one sticks to the nationalist corpus - usually, the 'New Right' and 'Conservative Revolution' authors (Schmitt, Evola, et al.), one comes to a dead halt, sooner or later... (I speak, of course, after ten years of reading these 'approved nationalist authors').
As I mentioned before, 80% of the problems in the nationalist movement come about because groups can't last for long: because of the (near-inevitable) clashes of personalities, a group falls apart in short order. This is quite unlike conventional politics. Take, for example, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, which has been around since 1935 and has been operating under tremendous state oppression. They are, at present, on the threshold of political power in Egypt: but, even supposing that the Mubarakist military strikes back, and denies them legislative and executive power - well, the Brotherhood won't be defeated. They'll simply make a tactical retreat and prepare for the next offensive. In nationalism, though, this doesn't happen: compare the Brotherhood to One Nation or the British National Party - a real 'party machine' just never really existed there. Nor were they, or any other prestigious (prestigious in the nationalist world, that is) parties ever on the threshold of 'seizing power' in the past forty years. The German NPD, for example, has been around since 1964, and is incapable of winning federal representation. (Yes, a nationalist in Germany faces a tough assignment: but it can't be tougher than Mubarak's Egypt, or Assad's Syria). As for the non-parliamentary nationalist groups, these tend to form into small, extraparliamentary grouplets (just like the radical Left) and fall apart fairly quickly (just like radical Left). I've seen a few good groups, overseas, come and go, based on a progressive, anti-capitalist ideology (influenced by the German Frei Nationalisten groups), which got off to a good start but broke up in mutual recrimination. (You know that they've broken up when you go to check their websites, and find that they're all down, and have been so for months; and you hear gossip, on the nationalist grapevine, that the group fell apart after such-and-such an internal dispute).
Why can't such groups - that is, progressive, anti-capitalist nationalist ones - stick together? I think the answer is simple: anarchism. Trotskyite and Maoist groups are heavily influenced by anarchism - hence their tendency to split and subdivide into smaller and smaller groups - and so are the anti-capitalist groups on the Far Right: the Freie Nationalisten are more or less a German nationalist version of the neo-anarchist Autonomen groups. Anarchism is prone to splitting, divisiveness, sectarianism, lack of sustained action towards socialism: anarchism, because of lack of mutual agreement on a constitution and a democratic, party-like structure, leads to hierarchy, authoritarianism and individualism (surprisingly enough). The conventional charge against Marxism is that it leads to hierarchy and a lack of democracy, whereas anarchism is free, non-hierarchical and democratic: but, in truth, it's the other way around - that's the conclusion I've drawn from the literature on the subject. At any rate, Marxist-Leninist theory - for all its many faults - provides a skeleton, a structure, for a left-wing group. Without it, left-wing groups degenerate into neo-anarchism - and end up falling apart. That's what's happening to the once-promising Occupy movement in America.
(This is the conundrum of the Left in America: they'll only get anywhere if they form a communist type party, with the old democratic centralism, Leninist discipline and the rest; but obviously, this has already been tried there a thousand times in the past hundred years. Obviously, the old Marxist-Leninism is unsatisfactory to the modern American Left, which is why it opted for the New Left in the sixties and now Occupy. But without Marxist-Leninism, the American Left can't get together even the beginnings of a disciplined offensive against American capitalism. It's a catch-22. In my opinion, the only way the American Left can break out of the vicious circle is to go back towards the old party methods of organisation, but adopt racialism, anti-Semitism and nationalism as an ideological platform and embrace the white working-class American. But that, of course, will never happen...).
So, it's the lack of Marxism which explains the failures of the nationalist groups, in Europe and elsewhere, which have adopted anti-capitalism. In the end, it gets down to the class-content of one's ideology: which class do you, as a nationalist group, represent? If you're going to be an neo-anarchist type group, you'll end up gravitating towards a representation - of the classes traditionally attracted to anarchism, viz, the lumpenproles, and the peasantry. (We don't have peasants any more in the West, of course, but we do have lumpenproles - among the the poor students and punks who live in squats and eat charity food, who are a declassé social group and who seem to make up the anarchist and Antifa formations). It's not that these types are undesirable people (they are): it's that they are not the right fit for Far Right nationalism. We have to recall the fascist parties of our forebears, the parties of Hitler, Mussolini, Mosley: the class composition was working-class - the disciplined white European working-class (particularly the German, which was extolled by Marx, Engels, Lenin). True, many of these men were indigent, out of work, in straitened circumstances - but they were still of the working-class. They didn't lower themselves by dropping out of their class, in the way that quite a few students have (here in Australia and Europe): viz, the students have renounced their petit-bourgeois origins (many Australians students come from middle-class families, as do many British students) and descended, on the rungs of the ladder, to the level of the lumpenproletariat.
This is important to nationalism, because so many of nationalists one encounters are precisely from the same class - the petit bourgeoisie. The tendency for that class - especially at the fringes of politics, i.e., at the extreme Left or Right - is to gravitate towards a freakish individualism, an excessive 'subjectivism', of 'me-firstism', where one's tastes, preferences, self, dominate over the 'objective' (that is, politics, economics, class). Nothing wrong with subjectivism and individualism, of course. But these have to be put to good use: to the pursuit, in a straight line, of an impersonal goal, which is, of course, the communist or fascist state, Marx's 'dictatorship of the proletariat', whether it be a red dictatorship or a brown dictatorship... In this regard, the amazing thing about the pre-war fascist movement in Europe was that these men and women organised themselves, in a socialist and Marxist-Leninist way, without paying attention to Marxist theory! They were influenced by Lenin, and Marx, to an incredible degree: but you will (hardly ever) find a fascist politician or intellectual quoting Lenin or Marx or Stalin in support of their positions. Which is why I define fascism as a kind of pre-reflexive Marxism: that is, a Marxism without theory, a Marxism which doesn't think of itself as Marxist...
As to why the fascists were like this... The answer is, they absorbed communism into their bloodstream, by osmosis. It was part of the air that they breathed. Soviet communism, under Lenin and then Stalinism, was a viable alternative to liberal democracy. When people of my generation think of Soviet communism, they, of course, think of the decrepit communism of the 1980s - of Brezhnev and his (soon-deceased successors) and the 'young' Gorbachev. But, back in my great-grandfather's time, Soviet communism really was something. Someone on the Far Right had to acknowledge it: one couldn't escape it, or the effects on people's lives. It was like the iPhone, or Twitter, or Facebook (all of which I despise)... We moderns - we Westerners in the year 2012 - can't understand this. Hence, we have to re-educate ourselves. We have to go through the necessary stages before we can duplicate the success of the old, European, working-man's movement of the 1920s and 1930s which was fascism. In other words, we must learn to be Marxists and socialists before we make ourselves to be fascists. Which leads to a kind of over-compensation: one has to go full-tilt to Marxist-Leninism and take on board all it has to offer - in terms of political economy, politics, philosophy. We simply can't suck in Marxism from the air and absorb it into our bloodstream, in the way that Hitler, Mussolini, Primo de Rivera did - for the simple reason that, in 2012, communism, much less a viable Stalinist, Soviet communism, is no longer with us.
So, nationalist intellectuals need to embrace Marxist theory. 'But what of all the faults in that theory?'. Well, of course there are faults; but, in the end, these don't matter. It seems that every day, on the front page of some respectable newspaper, an announcement will appear (from some respectable scientist) that the Earth isn't warming as rapidly as the environmentalists claim; or that the Earth is cooling; or that 'greenhouse gases' weren't as responsible for that warming as once thought; or that the warming isn't going to be disastrous as once throught... These scientists aren't in the pay of Big Oil, or neoliberal think-tanks, either. Despite this countervailing evidence, however, environmentalism keeps marching on its way; more and more useless, environmentalist legislation - to 'combat global warming' - will be introduced... Pretty much communism went the same way. Trenchant criticisms of Kapital, made as early as the turn of the century, had zero effect. The fact that millions starved to death in the Ukraine in the early 1930s, or in China in the early 1960s - that wasn't a disproof of Marx's theory.
(What did make a difference to Marxism was the collapse of the USSR in 1991 - and the backsliding of China after 1979. But that's a story for another day).
But to return to fascism: the difference between Bolshevik Marxism, and the socialism of the fascist kind, was not only on the national question, but on the extent to which a socialist government, a revolutionary government, should abolish property.
One can say, on this point, that the fascists were right. Perhaps the communist governments went too fast - and this is a retrospective criticism - in getting rid of property altogether; perhaps they would have survived longer, had they not been in such a rush to introduce socialist property relations... Perhaps man could be steered away from capitalist property relations towards socialist ones, but this 'steering' would take a hundred years or more. This sort of thinking, of course, is 'right-wing', even 'revisionist' and 'social democratic' of me: but the capitalist, liberal democrat and bourgeois system is still here, while the USSR isn't. So, who is right and who is wrong?
But this, in turn, raises a number of questions: one of them is the fascist 'line' on capitalism and private property. In Hitler's speeches, we find him lauding private enterprise and individual initiative in one speech (before one audience, usually a business audience), and then praising socialism and the German worker the next (before a different audience). Overall, we do find a consistency in Hitler's day-to-day policy - which is, I argue, a 'Left' policy - but from speech to speech, pronouncement to pronouncement, an inconsistency. The same goes for Mussolini. The anti-fascist Left will use Hitler's pronouncements on private enterprise to prove that he was a neoliberal - which is nonsense. But then, the Left has a tendency to go by what a man says, and not what he does. By his actions, Hitler wasn't a neoliberal; his immediate successors, in the post-war Bonn republic, were (Ludwig Erhard is one of the gods in the pantheon of neoliberal-approved politicians). The fact is, in the day-to-day running of the country, or in the contesting of an election, a politician will occasionally contradict himself. Mussolini and Hitler did this to an alarming degree. But the Left does it as well. Many years ago, I stumbled across a quote from Lenin (in the first pages of the anti-communist compilation, Marx Refuted: The Verdict of History (1986), edited by Colin Wilson and Ronald Duncan) from 1917 in which he declares he is 'No longer a Marxist'. One has to consider the context of such an extraordinary statement. But, suffice to say, the Soviets would have obscured such a statement from the historical record: that is, everything written, or said, by Engels, Marx, Lenin, Stalin, was presented in order to give readers a portrait of men who were fully consonant in thought and deed - for every single day of their lives. When, in reality, such a thing is not possible...
But this is not an excuse for inconsistency. On the contrary, a nationalist group should strive for the utmost consistency: its press releases, articles, transcribed or recorded speeches, etc., should be fully consonant with the principles and positions as outlined in the constitution and party program.
All this talk of economics brings us to another point. Would, or should, major nationalisations take place under a Far Right government? Critics of socialism argue that widescale nationalisations 'destroy the economy' and 'reduce the confidence of foreign investors', etc., etc. Communist governments, operating under the constraints of Marxist ideology, view capitalist property relations as 'the exploitation of man by man', and so are bound, by that view, to abolish all property (the USSR, of course, abolished all property except at the local, market garden level). The conservative anti-communists argue that this policy led to economic ruin. But it is possible for a country to do well, in 2012, with a nationalised economy - to a certain extent. The UAE, for instance, doesn't have income, corporate, value-added, capital gains, or sales taxes: the country is about as tax-free as one can get. The UAE's revenue comes from state-owned oil. Oil-rich countries like Iran, with a state-owned oil sector, though, don't do well - possibly, this is because of an extensive corporate, sales and income tax regime, with rates cutting in at low thresholds of income (inflation, brought about by loose monetary policy, in Iran only increases the 'bracket creep' effect, in which Iranians are pushed into higher and higher progressive tax brackets through inflation). The point is, one can envisage, then, a UAE-type arrangement in Australia, in which the mining and resources sector is state-owned, while all taxes are, in effect, abolished.
But one should not be hamstrung to such a policy. One wouldn't think it, but one of the tenets of Marxist-Leninism is that communist leaders should not be bound to an economic policy which has been devised (as I have just done) in abstraction, a priori, separate from existing reality. Marxist-Leninism does justify discretion on the economy. In this regard, it is flexible, fluid, organic... It castigates the 'Left' communists who demand that such-and-such an economic scheme (which was devised a priori) be introduced, as a matter of principle, even if the existing realities don't call for it. This is what the Marxist-Leninists call 'dogmatism'. And it is this 'dogmatism' which is one of the distinguishing traits of Trotskyism and Maoism. (But, it should be said, the line between a mad, 'Left-adventurist' and 'dogmatic' scheme, and a good, proper, socialist one, is thin: how are we to distinguish between, say, Stalin's collectivisation program in the Ukraine, and Mao's crazed, 'adventurist' Great Leap Forward?).
Marxism's organic approach is what separates it from the 'utopian' forms of communism. 'Utopian' communism devises abstract, a priori schemes for social reform, and demands that they be imposed, from the top down, and all at once. Marxism, on the other hand, believes that reality is gradually inclining towards socialism - that's the tendency in the economic and social arrangements of the world today - but these tendencies may end up zig-zagging: that is, there may be a sudden spurt towards socialism, and then a turning away from it... The goal of the Marxist political leadership is to divine the existing tendency and work with it, and not against it.
The essential thing is that there will be struggle between the existing tendencies - the one towards capitalism and away from socialism, and vice versa. Marxism is the metaphysics of struggle.
Nationalists should take this metaphysics on board. Many of them exhibit surprise that there is a struggle, that there is a terrible fight, in politics. Some profess to be bemused by present-day policy on immigration, for example: 'Why doesn't' Romney and the US Republican Party see sense on non-white immigration, and just ban it? But, according to Marxism, there must be a struggle: a fight, a battle, will be necessary. Marxism is a close cousin of Darwinism, of course, and it's not for nothing that Hitler named his memoirs, 'My Struggle'...