Monday, December 26, 2016

Preliminary Reflections on National Socialism and Class Struggle

Thought clichés abound on the nationalist scene. I frequently come across one that purports to be an explanation of German National Socialism: German National Socialism exists in the national sphere, Marxist-Leninism in the international - that's how you tell the two apart, one socialism is national, the other, international.

My opinion is that this definition sounds too pat, too easy. After all, we could sum up the views of Ho Chi Minh, Nicholae Ceaucescu, Mao Tse-Tung or even Fidel Castro as being national socialist, national communist; but these men can't be characterized as fascist, let alone Nazi.

A connection does exist between Marxist-Leninism and fascism, and someone experienced with the writings of both will see correlations between Marx's ideas and Hitler's. We can find, in the latter, plenty of Marxist themes: do a control-f search of Mein Kampf, see how many times you can find the words 'class', 'bourgeoisie', 'proletariat', 'labour', 'dignity of labour', 'capitalist', read the passages so as to understand the context in which Hitler is using those words, and you'll discover the hidden Hitler - the Marxist Hitler, the socialist Hitler - who is neglected by so many today who claim to be 'National Socialist'.

It's this underlying socialism that gives Hitler's speeches and writings their peculiar flavour, which is why I always advise students of National Socialism wanting to get a better understanding of the creed to read up on Marxism. Some of the primers and study guides on Marx's Kapital make a good starting point.

Hitler seems to mention Kapital only once in his writings, and there it is only to make one of his favourite points: that any agitator is best advised to pitch his propaganda at the masses, not at the intellectuals. In Chapter VI, 'The First Period of Our Struggle', he writes:

What gave Marxism its amazing influence over the broad masses was not that formal printed work which sets forth the Jewish system of ideas, but the tremendous oral propaganda carried on for years among the masses. Out of one hundred thousand German workers scarcely one hundred know of Marx’s book. It has been studied much more in intellectual circles and especially by the Jews than by the genuine followers of the movement who come from the lower classes. That work was not written for the masses, but exclusively for the intellectual leaders of the Jewish machine for conquering the world. The engine was heated with quite different stuff: namely, the journalistic Press. What differentiates the bourgeois Press from the Marxist Press is that the latter is written by agitators, whereas the bourgeois Press would like to carry on agitation by means of professional writers. The Social-Democrat sub-editor, who almost always came directly from the meeting to the editorial offices of his paper, felt his job on his finger-tips. But the bourgeois writer who left his desk to appear before the masses already felt ill when he smelled the very odour of the crowd and found that what he had written was useless to him.

What he says here regarding Kapital is true even today. Barely any communists have read the book, and even then, most of the time they've only read the first volume, which has become famous as a Victorian-era social tract condemning the Dickensian conditions the British working class lived in at the time. A few articles appear here and there on the topic of Marxist economics do appear in communist journals, but overall, your average bull-dyke member of Socialist Alternative hasn't read the book, doesn't know about the ideas and doesn't want to. This is because Kapital in actual fact doesn't possess much in the way of political value; the Marxist-Leninists - as opposed to the Marxists - were interested in mobilising as large a mass of people as possible, not in engaging in hair-splitting discussions of variable and constant capital, the average rate of profit, Ricardo's theory of rent, etc. And it's here that Hitler's and the Marxist-Leninist's objectives coincided. Both of them were engaged in a political struggle for the hearts and minds of the German working class, for the soul of the German worker.

Technically speaking, 'working class' in Marxist theory refers to anyone who doesn't own the means of production: even if I work in a white-collar job, I belong to the working class, as I earn a salary; even my manager, who earns a six-figure salary (or close to it) could be said to be working class.

But common usage takes 'working class' to refer to blue-collar labour, menial labour, labour which relies more on (in Wanniskian parlance) physical capital rather than intellectual capital. Hitler sometimes elides the difference between physical and mental labour - between the worker of the 'hand' and the 'brain' - but generally follows common usage in speaking of the working class as being blue-collar and menial.

Communism in the 1920s and 1930s - to judge by Hitler's writings - certainly had a large working class (in the above sense) following; Hitler describes vast legions of working class men (and they are invariably men) marching under the red banner. (In my mind's eye, I always picture them as sturdy men wearing cloth caps and overalls, and carrying sledgehammers on their shoulders).

How things have changed in what has been nearly a hundred years. Today's communists can't attract the working classes to save their lives. The communist party today serves as a refuge for the freakish, marginalised people of society who possess a university education. And today's Left despises the working class, especially the white working class, which perceives this hatred, on a subliminal level at least, and reacts to it by voting for Trump or for some other right-wing populist. (Remember that line from Trump's speech in Michigan the night before the election: 'Tomorrow the American working class strikes back!'). The communist would like to steer those white working class voters towards communism, of course, and away from all that 'racism, sexism, Islamophobia, populism, nationalism', but he can't stomach them long enough for the time it takes to do so. He prefers the company of non-whites - Muslims, Afro-Americans, Hispanics - who he believes can be more easily manipulated into the overthrow of capitalism and the installation of the dictatorship of the proletariat, etc.

Being of a genteel disposition myself, I understand some of this distaste. Hitler did too. He writes in Mein Kampf of how proletarianisation tends to degrade the morals of the working class; he speaks of the many working class people - perhaps today we would call them chavs, or bogans -  he had encountered who, in his view, possessed low moral character. This mirrors my own experience. I've found that a thin line can separate the proletariat from the lumpenproletariat.

Textbook Marxist theory teaches that this class, more than any other, possesses 'revolutionary' potential, and that it suffers more than any other from the poverty, immiseration, etc., that capitalism brings. I find both of these assertions dubious. But every communist and anarchist agitator rediscovers these truths again and again: that the Marxist theory of the 'revolutionary potential' of the working class falls down in reality; that the working classes are not discontented with their lot, at least, not enough to embrace 'revolutionary socialism' - perhaps they were a hundred years ago (around the time when Hitler wrote Mein Kampf) but not today.

On the other hand, enough American working class voters felt discontented enough to vote for Trump. One could blame that discontent on the shortcomings of the capitalist system. Even the enormous levels of non-white immigration into America could be blamed on that same system, because Marx's Kapital tells us that capitalists will always favour a large and growing population of workers because of a need to extract as much 'surplus value' as possible. (I myself find that explanation too simple, however, and many on the Far Right wouldn't like it. They would prefer to indict, not capitalism, but Judaism, or Freemasonry, or Cultural Marxism, or the Coudenhove-Kalergi plan...).

To sum up, then, agitators for 'revolutionary socialism' find themselves in a quandary: they can either stick to the traditional Marxist-Leninist model, and aim at winning over as many of the working classes as possible; or they can adopt an anti-capitalism and 'socialism' which seeks to enrol both menial and mental, blue-collar and white-collar labour - this Marxism would depart from Marxist-Leninism but would be closer to what Marx intended.

Those who seek to revive Hitler's approach are faced with the exact same dilemma: either take up a new, weird anti-capitalist doctrine which would lead goodness knows where, or stick with the original National Socialism, which was grounded on blue-collar, menial labour.

The latter course of action - sticking with the original - should be favoured over the former. This is because any diverging away from what has become the traditional and conservative in Far Right nationalism makes our job too difficult for us: weird deviations such as National-Anarchism prove to be a much harder sell than plain old White Nationalism / Neo-Nazism. Besides which, the working classes flock to nationalism these days, as shown by the recent elections in America and Austria (the Far Right populist Freedom Party is now the party of choice of the Austrian working class).

Out of all the Far Right and nationalistic tendencies in Australia, only the Patriot / Reclaim Australia movement has managed to attract wide and spontaneous working class support. (I will qualify this by noting that the Patriot movement hasn't run in an election and so doesn't receive working class votes - these in all probability go to One Nation, Australian Liberty Alliance and other populist formations). Nationalists including myself have made many criticisms of the Patriot movement, criticisms which I won't repeat here. But all the same, the Patriot movement resembles the communist and fascist movements of old in some respects, which is one of the reasons why it made the Left hysterical - the Left detected the resemblances between the organisation and practices of the Patriots and the NSDAP.

The upshot of this is: if you're an Australian Neo-Nazi, and want to put the doctrines of Mein Kampf into practice, you could do worse than the Patriot movement. In fact, out of all the political groupings and tendencies in Australia, only the Patriot movement is reminiscent of the 'socialist' movements - national or international - of a hundred years ago. A real Nazi, or a real commie, starts off with a working class base.

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