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Old December 25th, 2011 #1
Alex Linder
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Alex Linder
Default Enemy Critical Analysis of National Socialism

THE NEW GERMAN MENTALITY

1 THE TWO LAYERS OF THE NEW GERMAN MENTALITY

National Socialism has changed the thought and behavior pattern of the German people in such a way that it is no longer susceptible to the traditional methods of counter-propaganda and education. The German people today is oriented to essentially different values and standards; it talks and understands a language that is different not only from that of Western civilization but also from that of the former German Kultur. A thorough knowledge of the new mentality and the new language is a prerequisite for the effective psychological and ideological offensive against National Socialism. We may distinguish between two layers of the new mentality:


1 the pragmatic layer (matter-of-factness, the philosophy of efficiency and success, of mechanization and rationalization)

2 die mythological layer (paganism, racism, social naturalism)

The two layers are two sides of one and the same phenomenon. A critical analysis of the new mentality is necessary in order to find the instruments that are most apt to destroy it. We have two principal sources for such an analysis:

1 The actual organization of National Socialist society. We may infer the new psychological Status of the people from die pattern of the social and political institutions which have been set up to govern this people.

2 The National Socialist ideology, that is to say, the philosophy by which the National Socialists explain and justify the new institutions and relations. The ideology can only be understood, however, by analysing it in the context of the actual organization of National Socialist society.


2 THE FEATURES OF THE NEW GERMAN MENTALITY


We may summarize the new German mentality under the following headings:


1 Integral politicalization The facts are well known, but an adequate interpretation of their scope and consequences is still lacking. In present day Germany, all motives, problems and interests pertaining to the life of individuals are more or less directly political ones, and their realization is likewise a directly political action. Social as well as private existence, work as well as leisure, are political activities. The traditional barrier between the individual and society, and between society and the state has disappeared. But it would be utterly wrong to regard this politicalization as the culmination of German etatism, authoritarianism or anti-individualism. The National Socialist politicalization rather revitalizes certain forms of terroristic politicalization which were characteristics of the middle class revolution in the Western European countries: the “bourgeois“ emerges as the “citoyen“ whose life is business, and whose business is a political affair.


2 Integral debunking National Socialism has trained the German people to consider everything that is not borne out by the facts as an ideological manoeuvre designed to conceal and confuse the real fronts and forces in the struggle within and without. This process did not stop short at National Socialism‘s own philosophy: the cynicism which pervades this philosophy has also seized those who are supposed to believe what their leaders tell them. The German people believe in the National Socialist philosophy insofar as this philosophy proves to be an efficient weapon for defense and aggression — but not farther. With the exception of the very young and the very old objects of National Socialist organization, everyone who believes in the National Socialist ideology is conscious of the fact that he believes in an ideology.1


3 Cynical matter-of-factness In organizing German society for total war expansion, National Socialism has imbued the thus mobilized population with a rationality that measures all issues in terms of efficiency, success and expediency. The German “dreamer“ and “idealist“ has become the world‘s most brutal “pragmatist.“ He views the totalitarian regime solely under the aspect of his immediate material advantages. He has adjusted his thoughts, feelings and behavior to the technological rationalization which National Socialism has transformed into the most formidable weapon of conquest. He thinks in quantities: in terms of speed, skill, energy, organization, mass. The terror which threatens him at any moment promotes this mentality: he has learned to be suspicious and shrewd, to weigh any step at an instance‘s notice, to hide his thoughts and his aims, to mechanize his actions and reactions and to adapt them to the rhythm of universal regimentation. This matter-of-factness is the very center of the National Socialist mentality and the psychological ferment of the National Socialist system.2


4 Neo-Paganism The pragmatic cynicism which pervades the National Socialist matter-of-factness has been pushed forward into a revolt against the basic principles of Christian civilization. To the German people these principles were last materialized in the Weimar Republic and in the Labor movement. National Socialism has from the beginning associated the latter with the basic ideas of Christian civilization: Christian humanism, the Rights of Man, democracy and socialism have been made elements of one and the same compound.3 This strange amalgam was rendered possible by the fact that, since the First World War, the German labor movement had become part and parcel of the system of democratic culture. The labor movement thus came to share the fate of this culture, and the failure of the Weimar Republic to fulfill its promises was used by the National Socialists to nourish distrust and hatred of the supreme ideas of Christian civilization as such, a distrust and hatred which were deeply rooted among large strata of the German population. In fostering these feelings, National Socialism appealed to the German people‘s experience of its most recent frustration: the revolt against Christian civilization belongs to the new spirit of matter-of-factness rather than to the spirit of “German metaphysics.“


The revolt against Christian civilization appears in various forms: antisemitism, terrorism, social Darwinism, anti-intellectualism, naturalism. Common to all of them is the rebellion against the restraining and transcendental principles of Christian morality (the liberty and equality of man qua man, the subordination of might to right, the idea of universal ethics). This rebellion is an age-old German heritage which was operative in all typically German movements: in Luffier‘s protestantism, in the “Faustic“ elements of German literature, philosophy and music, in the popular upheavals during the Wars of Liberation, in Nietzsche, in the Youth Movement. But National Socialism has destroyed the metaphysical implications of this rebellion and transformed it into an instrument of totalitarian efficiency.


5 Shift of traditional taboos In order to actualize this rebellion, National Socialism was compelled to attack some of the taboos that Christian civilization had placed upon private and social life. The most conspicuous side of this process is the attack on certain taboos on sexuality, the family, the moral code.4 We shall see, however, that the taboos have only been shifted, and not abolished. The result is an illusionary license and emancipation, accompanied by a strengthening of the taboos on other and better protected relations and institutions.


6 As the war goes on, the German population is increasingly possessed by a catastrophic fatalism which strengthens rather than weakens the hold of the National Socialist regime. The German masses seem to identify the annihilation of Hitlerism with annihilation as such, that is to say, with the final destruction of Germany as a nation and state, with the final loss of security, with the lowering of the standard of living below the inflation level. This catastrophic fear is one of the strongest bonds between the masses and the regime.5


We shall now attempt to interpret the elements of the new German mentality in the context of the National Socialist organization of society, but we shall interpret them only under the aspect of the destruction of this mentality.6


3 THE SOCIAL FUNCTION OF THE NEW GERMAN MENTALITY


National Socialism may be characterized as the specifically German adaptation of society to the requirements of large scale industry, as the typically German form of “technocracy“. We might even venture to say that National Socialism is the first and only “middle class revolution“ in Germany, occurring at the stage of large scale industry and therefore skipping or condensing the preceding stages of the development. National Socialism has abolished the remnants of feudalism, notwithstanding the concentration of large real estate which the system promotes with all means (this concentration is a capitalistic rather than feudal process). National Socialism has furthermore abolished the relatively independent position of those groups which lagged behind the capacity of large scale enterprise, namely, the groups of small and middle business, of commerce and finance. The free market, which corresponded to the economic constellation prior to the predominance of large scale enterprise, has been regimented. National Socialism has incorporated labor into the dominion of industry and removed the barriers of social legislation which stood in the way of such incorporation. Directly political forms of control have been established (abolition of the rule of law, of free contract, representation, etc.). National Socialism has merged the industrial, governmental (ministerial) and semigovernmental (party) bureaucracy, thereby adjusting the state to the needs of the industrial apparatus. Finally, National Socialism has released the full capacity of this apparatus by embarking upon a policy of imperialist expansion on a continental scale. This sweeping adjustment in the social institutions and relations implied a not less sweeping adjustment in private as well as collective morale and psychology. The new mentality is, even in its most irrational aspects, the result of a process of totalitarian “rationalization“ which removes the moral inhibition, waste and inefficiency that stand in the way of ruthless economic and political conquest.


The analysis of the new mentality will make it clear that:


1 the new mentality is the expression, not of some abstruse philosophy, but of a highly rationalized pattern of social organization;


2 there is no warranted conclusion that the new mentality will disappear with the disappearance of the National Socialist regime. For the new mentality is bound up with a pattern of social organization that is not identical with National Socialism, although National Socialism has given it its most aggressive form.


Moreover, in view of the social function of the new mentality, it is highly improbable that it can simply be retransformed into the mentality of the status quo. Since the new mentality is skilfully adapted to the latest stage of large scale industry and organization, to utmost technological capacity, any retrogression behind this stage would contradict the general trend of the international development and constitute a source of recurrent crises and conflicts. Integral politicalization is the National Socialist concomitant of the transition to a planned economy within the established social framework; integral debunking, cynical matter-of-factness and the shifting of traditional taboos are the German features of technological rationality, and neo-paganism serves to crush the psychological and emotional resistance to ruthless imperialist conquest. The whole mentality is that of the “late-comer“ who tries to break into the entrenched system of powers with terroristic means.


There are other reasons against retrogression to the status quo, reasons that are founded in the new mentality itself. The matter-of-factness which, in present day Germany, provides the ground for all evaluation still gives the Hitler regime preference over the era of the democratic Republic. The German masses of today regard liberty, equality and the rights of man as a mere ideology unless these ideas are realized in material security and an adequate standard of living. The Weimar Republic was not able to achieve this realization, and the German masses care but little what happens in the other democracies as long as they themselves do not enjoy these benefits.7 In Germany, full employment prevails, and the population does not yet starve. To be sure, the increasing hardships of war and the terrible losses will shift the balance in disfavor of the regime — but not in favor of the status quo. Here again, the evaluation is entirely pragmatic: the war has been pictured to the German population as a business proposition; the investment is high and frightfully risky, but it is the only possible investment, and the initial success is promising.8 Entire nations have been subjected to German exploitation, and even the little man gets a small share of the booty. Moreover, it seems as if the technical character of modern warfare diminishes the weight of the moral factor and allows to continue operations even if the “spirit“ is surprisingly low.


The National Socialist regime‘s hold over the German people is based on its efficiency and success in the international struggle, and military defeat is therefore the prerequisite for breaking this hold. But there is not the slightest guarantee that the downfall of the regime will eradicate the roots of the National Socialist mentality which made the regime possible. […]


We have so far treated this mentality as a unit; we have talked of “the German people“ and disregarded its differentiation in the various social strata. This is a gross over-simplification, and the adaptation of propaganda to the different social strata and interests is indispensable. We shall try such a differentiation later on. There is, however, some justification for neglecting it in a preliminary general outline. In Germany, the regimented rationalization of society is totalitarian also in the respect that it standardizes the thought and behavior pattern in all social strata. With the exception of the active opposition, they all converge on the same interests. National Socialism has furthermore “unified“ the social antagonisms to such an extent that the vast majority of the population faces the small group of the industrial and governmental leadership.9 Outside the ranks of this leadership, they are all objects of one and the same authoritarian organization, and their life depends at any moment on this organization, in the factory as well as in the shop, in the office and on the land, at home as well as in the assembly halls, clubs, theaters, hospitals and concentration camps. The dichotomy between the small ruling group and the rest of the population does not mean that the latter constitutes one oppositional mass. Unfortunately, the picture is not that simple. There is hardly any social group which, in its material interest, is not in some way or other bound up with the functioning of the system, and wherever these ties are loosening, they are replaced by brute terror. The dichotomy rather designates the two poles on which the distribution of power centers: the policy is laid down by the ruling clique within which the conflicts of interests are fought out and the basic compromises reached, all other groups are fused together into an all-embracing organization which insures the execution of this policy. Within this regimented mass, the active Opposition (that is to say, the Opposition which fights the system, and not merely the more or less contingent composition of its leadership) is scattered among the factories and shipyards, road squads and labor camps, work schools and prisons. This opposition does not need “propaganda“, but if the latter is addressed to the coordinated mass of the population, it will reach the opposition anyway.


4 THE NOVELTY OF NATIONAL SOCIALIST LOGIC AND LANGUAGE


[…] Many critics of National Socialism are baffled by the fact that in present day Germany apparently two different mentalities, logics and languages coexist: the one, pertaining to the National Socialist philosophy, ideology and propaganda, utterly irrational; the other, pertaining to the realm of administration, organization and daily communication, utterly rational and technical. In reality, however, there is only one mentality, logic and language, and its two forms of manifestation are determined, pervaded and unified by one and the same rationality. This structure must be taken into account if an effective counterlanguage is to be developed.


The starting point for the understanding of a specific language is its usage.10 The National Socialist language is used for propagating, indoctrinating and justifying large-scale imperialist expansion. In the situation of German society at the end of the Weimar Republic, this implied the subordination of all private and social relationships to the standards of mechanized and rationalized war production, and the planful elimination of all concepts and values which transcended or impaired this effort. The National Socialist language is therefore strictly technical: its concepts aim at a definite pragmatic goal, and fixate all things, relations and institutions in their operational function within the National Socialist system. They lose their traditional significance, their “universality“ which has made them the common property of civilization — instead, they take up a new singular content, determined exclusively by their National Socialist utilization. This structure pervades the language of the totalitarian administration and bureaucracy, of the decrees, statutes, law courts, and to a great extent, of everyday life. But we shall see that the “mythological“ language of National Socialist propaganda and philosophy also derives its rationality from this technical structure.


Every technical language, however, presupposes a “supra-technical“ language community from which it draws its force and appeal, otherwise it could not serve as an all-embracing medium of intersubjective understanding.11 This language community is chiefly one of sentiments, emotions, subjective desires and impulses. The National Socialist language possesses its supra-technical language community in the mythological layer of the German mentality, and particularly in that complex of ideas, impulses and instincts which constitutes the reservoir for the German protest against Christian civilization. But this complex is mobilized for the pragmatic goals of National Socialism and placed in the service of the technical rationality which guides the efforts to attain these goals. In transforming the mythological and metaphysical elements of the German mentality into instruments of totalitarian control and conquest, National Socialism destroys their mythological and metaphysical content. Their value becomes an exclusively operational one: they are made parts of the technique of domination. The apparently irrational philosophy of National Socialism actually represents the end of “German metaphysics,“ its liquidation by the totalitarian technical rationality.12


This process manifests itself in the syntactical form of the National Socialist language, in its vocabulary, and in the logical pattern of National Socialist “argumentation."


[…] The National Socialist language obviously centers on “irrational“ ideas such as folk, race, blood and soil, Reich. It must be noted that all these concepts, although their form is that of universals, actually exclude universality. They are used only as particular, even as individual concepts: they serve to distinguish the German folk, race, blood, and to discriminate against other folks, races, bloods. They designate singular “facts“ and derive from such facts singular standards and values. Moreover, the facts which they designate are such “by nature,“ that is to say, they are placed outside the universal context of human civilization as something that belongs to a higher order. In this order, the “natural“ inequality of men is more than their “artificial“ equalization, the body more than the mind, health more than morality, force more than law, strong hatred more than feeble sympathy. We have previously mentioned that this entire “mythology“ rests on a very definite empirical basis,15 and that this basis is to be found in the physiological and psychological preparation of German society for imperialist world conquest.16 This policy required the destruction of all “universal“ laws and standards which placed the German people in the context of international civilization, and the abolition of all (moral and legal) restraint implied in these laws and standards. The apparent irrationality of the National Socialist mythology emerges as the “rationality“ of imperialist domination. […]


It would be fatefully wrong, however, to explain the National Socialist mythology as a simple ideology of totalitarian imperialism, buttressed by the manifold material benefits which large strata of the population derive from the New Order. If this were the case, the breakdown of the imperialist expansion would almost automatically bring about the breakdown of the new German mentality. The actual relation between this mentality and the social and political structure is much more complicated. National Socialism has succeeded in imposing upon the German people the pragmatic rationality of totalitarianism because it has appealed to forces which belong to the deepest and strongest traits of the “German character.“ These forces have been released in the mobilization of the mythological layer. They had been tamed and restrained by the process of Christian civilization, but they had continued to live under its cover, and their National Socialist emancipation constitutes the greatest threat to Western civilization. […]


5 THE PSYCHOLOGICAL FOUNDATIONS OF THE NEW MENTALITY


As a starting point, however, we may take Ernst Jünger‘s analysis of the “German character“, perhaps the most intelligent National Socialist inter*pretation of the new mentality. […] Jünger‘s book is the prototype of the National Socialist Union between mythology and technology, a book in which the world of “blood and soil“ emerges as a gigantic, totally mechanized and rationalized enterprise, shaping the life of men to such an extent that they do with automatic precision the right operation at the right place and moment, a world of brute matter-of-factness without space and time for “ideals.“ But this totally technological world is born and fed by a supra-technological source which Jünger indicates by evoking the “anti-bourgeois“ traits of the German character. Is there any justification for designating the mythological layer of the German mentality as anti*bourgeois?


[…] Jünger‘s emphasis on the anti-bourgeois elements of the German character, however, is nothing but an instrument of political propaganda, serving to placate the National Socialist order as an anti-capitalist revolution, and these traits must be interpreted on a quite different ground.


A rational justification for stressing the “anti-bourgeois“ elements of the German character may be found in the fact that, up to the beginning of the twentieth century, the middle class has never integrally shaped the pattern of German society. The protracted rule of feudalism in Germany has brought it about that the forms of integration and control characteristic for middle-class society have never fully inculcated on the German population. Large sections of the German people were held under semi-feudal forms of integration and control: the relationships of domination and subordination were more direct, concrete and “personal“ than under a system of integral commodity production and market economy. This might contribute to explain the “patriarchal“ and authoritarian elements in these relationships. There was a strong inclination to regard government as a natural rather than social institution and to look upon it as something external to one‘s own personal life, something to which the individual could unconditionally submit without giving away his “personality.“ German individualism and authoritarianism, self-assurance and bureaucratism are two aspects of one and the same phenomenon: the restricted scope of middle class integration and control. As a consequence, the pragmatic and technological rationality typical for a developed middle class society was, prior to the rise of National Socialism, hardly representative for German society. Large sections of this society were never quite incorporated into the system of rational domination and utilization of matter; they were not imbued with the “spirit of capitalism.“ An entire dimension of the German mind remained relatively free from the standards of utility, expediency and efficiency. This dimension became the resting place of the “soul,“ which retained a definite autarchy and autonomy as against the restrained and regimented social relationships.


A similar autarchy and autonomy was reserved to the realm of “nature.“ Nature plays a peculiar part in German thought and feeling. It is primarily viewed, not as mere matter to be mastered and utilized by man, nor as the mere environment or basis of the social process, but as the independent source of the most fundamental impulses, drives and desires of man. This rather pre-Christian, pagan conception of nature implies a strong protest against civilization: nature yields standards and values which frequently supersede those of civilization and thus constitute a sphere in which man lives “beyond good and evil.“ Man is as much nature as are the other organic beings, his “soul“ is the token of his natural, sub-social essence. Compared with the “natural" realm of man, the entire network of social relationships becomes a rather secondary and foreign sphere. Man‘s true satisfaction spring from his natural essence, from the life of his soul which remains strikingly antagonistic to the life of civilization.19


[…] The idea of human equality appears as the effort to level down what is above rather than to raise what is below. The National Socialist pageants imitate the grandeur of the heroic age of European society, or the glamour and pleasures of the pre-revolutionary French aristocracy which they extend in small doses to the little man. After each of these doses, he will more willingly perform his duties to the totalitarian state.22


All these gratifications are coupled with the emancipation of “nature“ as against civilization. It is this appeal which makes them a ferment of aggression and, at the same time, an anodyne of submission. The “lower regions“ are liberated from the restraint placed upon them by Christian civilization, but they are liberated in such a way that the released impulses strengthen the totalitarian forms of domination. The natural “right of the body“ supersedes the claim of the intellect which threatens to penetrate the web of the “folkish community“ and to discover its terroristic foundation.23 The official care for health and beauty enhances the state‘s reservoir for labor and military power, and the “natural“ attitude towards sex promotes the rise of the birth rate. The perversion of Christianity into a folkish religion gives man the good conscience for throwing off the moral restrictions on the struggle for life and power, for exterminating the weak and helpless, exploiting his fellow men and ruthlessly enlarging his living space.24 But this neo-pagan naturalism performs an even farthergoing function: it suppresses the desire to transcend the prevailing order to a juster and better one and delivers man in his entirety to the secular powers which rule over his life. It is this abolition of the faith into another order which is perhaps the most dangerous achievement of National Socialism and which makes the total offensive against this system on the psychological front a task requiring new and unusual weapons.


6 THE ABOLITION OF FAITH


[…] We have mentioned the process of integral debunking and the cynical matter-of-factness which has gripped the German people. We may now attempt to interpret the significance of this process for the National Socialist morale.


The faith which National Socialism destroyed in order to build up its own system is not primarily religious belief. It is rather the faith in the standards and values of Christian civilization insofar as they have no immediate “cash value,“ that is to say, insofar as they have not been realized in the actual behavior of individuals, groups and nations. Not only the supreme tenets of Christianity, but also the avowed principles of secular ethics, business morale and politics belong to this category. It was the foremost undertaking of National Socialist propaganda to teach that the highly praised ideas of social justice, equality of opportunity, representation, international law and order are nothing but ideological manoeuvres, a thin veil behind which the interests of power and money continued to assert themselves.25 National Socialism has hammered into the heads of its followers the idea that the world is an arena in which the most powerful and efficient competitor wins the race, and that he who wants to get along in this world can do no better than to forget about all transcendental ideas which hamper the efficient use of his means, and to orient himself to the brute matters of fact.26 Ruthless utilization of all available means for getting a bigger share in the distribution of power - this, according to National Socialism, is the most adequate principle of individual as well as social and political action.27


[…] Destruction of faith, however, is a purely negative process which might explain the dissolution of a system but hardly suffices to explain the construction and perseverance of a comprehensive order. And how can such a destructive process account for the building up and perpetuation of morale? Has not the abolished faith of the German people rather been replaced by another and even stronger faith, namely that in the charismatic leader and his unerring power? We shall take up the latter question first.


We may, of course, interpret the striking adherence of the German people to Hitler, and the even more striking coherence of the National Socialist system, by simply assuming an almost boundless faith in his person and regime. In doing so, however, we would obliterate the essential difference between the old and the new German mentality and inadequately describe the facts. Faith means trust beyond verification and compensation, trust which is not enforced and sustained from outside. The attitude of the majority of the German people shows none of these characteristics. True, they follow the regime also without direct terrorization, but they follow with a definite reservation. They trust the regime up to a certain point. This point is not the endurable limit of physiological and moral strain. It is rather the evident failure of the regime to keep the System of total regimentation going with full efficiency and capacity. Even so, however, the breaking point is not yet sufficiently defined. We must add an essential qualification; the breakdown of the regime must be concomitant with the actual chance to establish a democratic regime which can insure full employment and material security. We have mentioned this before and we come back to it time and again because it is the point at which the National Socialistic education comes to fruition. The disillusioned matter-of-factness and the destruction of faith here show forth as a powerful bond between the people and the regime. The people stands behind the regime on the ground of brute facts, not of ideals and promises. It will weigh the facts of the National Socialist order against the facts of that order which will follow the downfall of the regime. And the people will certainly prefer regimentation by its native rulers to regimentation by foreign rulers, and national independence to enslavement.28


That the strongest moral bond between the people and the regime is constituted by complete lack of faith rather than by faith is a fact pertinent to the question whether or not a distinction between the German people and the regime is justified. We must give this question a definite temporal qualification. At present, no clear-cut distinction is justified. To be sure, the regime functions only through institutionalized terror, but the majority of the population has accepted the language of facts and identified itself with the regime. The rest is done by integral organization. Identification, however, precisely because and insofar as it rests on the ground of brute matter-of-factness, can turn into hostility as soon as an actually new constellation of facts has been established. This turn might come in the form of a sudden shock, after which the National Socialist mentality appears eradicated and forgotten. But such a shock cannot be expected to come "by itself,“ it presupposes the creation of a new constellation of facts.


7 THE TRANSFORMATION OF MORALE INTO TECHNOLOGY


We may now attempt to answer the second question: how can the mere abolition of faith and a cynical matter-of-factness account for a morale which has so far insured the functioning of the National Socialist system and which has not broken down even under the extreme hardships and losses of the Russian war? The question must be approached without illusions and prejudices for it seems to lead to an answer which contradicts some of our most cherished ideas.


What is called the morale or spirit of a people or an army apparently does not prevail on the German home and battle front. The available docu*ments seem to warrant the conclusion that both fronts are permeated by the same disillusioned matter-of-factness. All the acts of utmost endurance and reliability, savage defiance and inhuman cruelty are performed with a likewise inhuman soberness, efficiency and smartness.29 This is not faith in a “cause,“ although the “German cause“ looms large in the struggle. But this German cause is like that of a giant machine or apparatus which constantly occupies the mind and feelings of its attendants, controls and dictates their actions and leaves them not the slightest refuge. In National Socialist Germany, all men are the mere appendices of the instruments of production, destruction and communication, and although these human appendices work with a high degree of initiative, spontaneity and even “personality,“ their individual performances are entirely adjusted to the operation of the machine (the sum total of their instruments) and timed and coordinated according to its requirements. And wherever man do not appear as the appendices of their instruments, they are the appendices of their functions (as deputy, Gauleiter, agent of the Gestapo, etc.) which have themselves been objectified and made a fixated part of the machine.30 The system has a strictly technical structure, and its coherence is a strictly technical procedure. Morale has become a part of technology.


If we call the National Socialist morale a part of technology, we use the term technology in the literal sense. In technology, there is no truth and falsehood, right and wrong, good and evil — there is only adequacy and inadequacy to a pragmatic end. Accordingly, under National Socialism, all standards and values, all patterns of thought and behavior are dictated by the need for the incessant functioning of the machinery of production, destruction and domination. The leader and his supreme advisers form the board of directors, his deputies and generals are the owners and managers, the terror is the inevitable instrument of discipline, and the rest of the population makes up the vast army of the employees and workers. Within the whole, all parts are thoroughly synchronized; the enterprise is the only going enterprise, so no other possibility of living exists. There is actually no loophole for transgression and escape - neither physically nor mentally. Faith, ideals, morale in the traditional sense are things that can be dispensed with. The entire philosophy of blood and soil, of the folk and the leader has a strictly operational meaning. The new philosophy and religion is a highly flexible system of mental techniques and procedures, serving to prepare, announce and adjust the policy of the enterprise as well as its work methods, and to “sell“ them in the most effective manner. It might thus be compared with a gigantic advertisement campaign and it is handled with the skill, logic and language of such a campaign. Of course, there is nothing to sell that has not to be bought anyway, but there are enough competing interests within the enterprise, and enough injustice and inequality in the distribution of earnings and spoils. Constant readjustment, compromise and bribing are therefore necessary.


The National Socialist transformation of moral standards and ideas into technical concepts and procedures was necessitated by the specific situation of German society after the First World War. In organizing the nation into a ruthlessly expanding industrial enterprise, National Socialism faced the task of making up, in a few years, for decades of backwardness. To be sure, the industrial apparatus of German industry did not lag behind that of the Western countries, on the contrary, already prior to the ascent of National Socialism, this apparatus was probably the most thoroughly rationalized and mechanized system in Europe. But this apparatus was constantly hampered by extreme difficulties of utilization, not only because of the economic crisis, but also because of the social legislation of the Republic and the pervasive “anti-capitalist“ attitude of the population. We have tried to explain the latter by pointing to the abortive middle class revolution in Germany and the “anti-bourgeois“ mentality prevalent among large strata of the German population. National Socialism has overcome this resistance by mobilizing the mythological layer of the German mind, which constituted the vast reservoir of the German protest against Christian civilization, and in doing so, it has made this protest one of the most powerful instruments for training in technological rationality.


The rationalization of the irrational (in which the latter preserves its force but lends it to the process of rationalization), this constant interplay between mythology and technology, “nature" and mechanization, metaphysics and matter-of-factness, “soul“ and efficiency is the very center of the National Socialist mentality. It is this pattern which also determines the technicalization of morale. We may illustrate this by the shifting of taboos, which has been noted as a characteristic feature of National Socialism.


The destruction of the family, the attack on patriarchalic and monogamic standards and all the similar widely heralded undertakings play upon the latent “discontent“ in civilization, the protest against its restraint and frustration. They appeal to the right of “nature,“ to the healthy and defamed drives of man, to the calamity of his monadic existence under the money system, to his longing for a true “community“ in a world dominated by profit and exchange. They claim to reestablish the “natural“ and direct rapports among men. They invoke the “soul“ against soulless mechanization, folkish solidarity against paternal authority, the open air against the smugness of the “bourgeois home,“ the strong body against the pale intellect. This inevitably implied the granting of easier opportunities for satisfaction, but the new liberties are just as many duties to the population policy of the Reich; they are rewarded contributions to the campaign for a larger supply of Labor and war power. Personal satisfaction has become a controlled political function, and its dangerous impact has been turned into a force of coherence. Racial restriction, the confinement and super-vision of leisure, the abolition of privacy, and the request for “purity“ dilute and regulate the permitted pleasure. The omnipotent Party is a more effective authority than the pater familias and the moral law.31


The new authorities and taboos do not only operate as an external power, but have taken root in the very character of men and in their spon*taneous behavior. Men take what is offered to them and make the best of it. Here again, the cynical matter-of-factness of the new mentality plays into the hands of the National Socialist regime. In its school, men have learned to be shrewd, secretive and suspicious. They have no time and energy for sticking to their own thoughts and feelings. In a world where everyone works day and night on the instruments of conquest and des*truction, love, passion and faith are senseless and ridiculous. Educated to consider his body as the most precious source of that energy which feeds these instruments, the good Nazi treats the satisfaction of his drives as an act of mental and physiological hygiene, as a productive and profitable technique. His thought and emotions are turned into technical tools.


In view of the decisive role played by psychological and emotional mechanism in the technicalization of morale, it would be wrong to say that under National Socialism moral coherence has been replaced by organizational coherence. To be sure, without its omnipotent organization, National Socialism would immediately break down. This organization, however, is itself built up and perpetuated by psychological and emotional mechanisms which converge on the abolition of faith and training in cynical matter-of-factness. They have facilitated men‘s surrender to the all-embracing machinery of expansion and domination. Men are compelled to think, feel and talk in terms of things and functions which pertain exclusively to this machinery. They are forced into an existence which at any moment depends on the correct performance of required operational functions. The present has absorbed the past and the future. National Socialism has proclaimed the millennium of the Third Reich, but this millennium has constricted itself to the given moment, the here and now in which it can be finally conquered or finally lost. Men must concentrate on this given moment; the rest is up to “fate.“ History is condensed into the hour of National Socialism; everything else is either pre-history or fate. The notion of fate plays an increasingly important part in National Socialist propaganda:32 it makes the regime the executioner of destiny itself, and the future of mankind depend on the all-out effort to utilize the weapons which the regime has provided.




1) Paul Hagen, Will Germany Crack? New York 1942, p. 219. See the paper on "Private Morale in Germany, " submitted to the Coordinator of Information (April 1942) by the Institute of social Research.

2) The destruction of “German metaphysics“ (the people of poets and thinkers) by the new spirit of matter-of-factness began already prior to National Socialism. Oswald Spengler was perhaps the first to interpret the disillusioned, cynical‘ pragmatic attitude as the characteristic feature of the New Cesarism; see Preussentum und Sozialismus, München 1920, pp. 4, 30, and Jahre der Entscheidung, München 1933, pp. 9, 14. Cf. note 12 below.

3) This is one of the central propositions of Moeller van den Bruck‘s Das Dritte Reich, and Alfred Rosenberg‘s Der Mythus des 2Oten Jahrhundertes. Ernst Krieck has expounded it in all his books.

4) The material is collected in Clifford Kirkpatrick, Nazi Germany: Its Women and Family Life, Indianapolis 1938, and Georg Ziemer, Education for Death, New York 1942.

5) Inside Germany Reports, no. 12, 1940, p. 8; no. 20, 1941, p.3.

6) The interpretation is based on Franz Neumann, Behemoth: The Origin and Practice of National Socialism, New York 1942.

7, 8, 9) (…)

10) Karl Vossler, The Spirit o[ Language in Civilization, transl. Oskar Oeser, New York 1932, p. 82 f.

11) Ibid., p. 107 f.

12) Ernst Krieck, “Der deutsche Idealismus zwischen den Zeitaltern“, in Volk im Werden, Leipzig 1933, no. 3, p. 4: “German idealism must therefore be overcome in form and content if we wish to become a political, an active nation.“ Oswald Spengler likewise proclaimed the end of German metaphysics; see especially Jahre der Entscheidung, chapter 1: “Der politische Horizont.“

13) This has been shown in a paper by Henry Paechter.

14) The structure of a technological language has been outlined by Stanley Gerr: «Language and Science,“ in Philosophy of Science, April 1942, p. 146 ff.

15) The Nazi Primer, transl. H.L. Childs, New York 1938, p. 4: the National

16) (...)

17) Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter, Hamburg 1932.

18) For the mythological layer of the German mentality and it concrete manifestations see the paper on “Private Morale in Germany,“ quoted above, and Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,“ in Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, vol. IX, 1941, no. 3, p. 383.

19) In Mein Kampf, Hitler uses the concept of nature almost exclusively for contrasting the “true“ human relationships and institutions with their «perverted“ forms in Christian civilization.

20) Ernst Krieck, Nationalpolitische Erziehung, Leipzig 1933, pp. 34, 37.

21) Franz Neumann, Behemoth, p. 275; Hagen, Will Germany Crack?, p. 128.

22) For the utilization of the “new license“ in the service of the National Socialist population- and labor policy see Inside Germany Reports, no. 19, 1941, p. 15, and Juristische Wochenschrift, LX, 1937, no. 48, p. 3057 f. With regard to the function of the National Socialist pageants, see E.R. Pope, Munich Playground, New York 1941, p. 40.

23) Hitler, Mein Kampf, Reynal and Hitchcock (ed.>, p. 613 ff.

24) The Nazi Primer, p. 73 f.

25) Hitler, Mein Kampf, p. 521 ff.; My New Order, p. 167; Alfred Rosenberg, Der Mythus des 2Oten Jahrhunderts, München 1933, pp. 202 f., 540 f.

26) This attitude has been preached most convincingly by Oswald Spengler: “in the historical world there are no ideals, but only facts. There is no reason, no honesty, no equity, no final aim, but only facts, and anyone who does not realize this should write books on politics - let him not try to make politics“ (The Decline of the West, transl. Charles Francis Atkinson, New York 1926, vol. II, p. 368). Accordingly the only thing that a nation needs in order to win in the international competition is “to be in form (in the sense of the modern Sport)“ - this is the very definition of the state (Jahre der Entscheidung, loc. cit., p. 24).

27) Hitler, My New Order, pp. 104 f., 200.

28) Inside Germany Reports, no. 15, 1940, p. 13; no. 21, 1942, p. 12 f.; Paul Hagen, Will Germany Crack?, p. 211.

29) See the report in the New York Times, March 15, 1942 on the diary of a German soldier on the Russian front: "I‘m surprised it didn‘t affect me more to see a woman hanged. It even entertained me. Spent birthday digging up bodies and smashing in their faces. My sweetheart will say ‹yes› when she hears how 1 hanged a Russian today."

30) Hans Frank, the German Governor General of Poland, has himself compared the National Socialist state with a perfectly functioning machine. According to him, the functioning of the state machine is a “matter of technique,» and the entire realm of the state can be interpreted and understood in terms of “mathematical- physical method» (Technik des Staates,“ in Zeitschrift der Akademie für Deutsches Recht, 1941, no. 1, p. 2). This is far more than an analogy; it is an adequate description of die foundational mechanisms of the National Socialist state.

31) For the interpretation of the National Socialist abolition of taboos see the paper on "Private Morale in Germany,“ quoted above, and my paper “State and Individual under National Socialism.“

32) Cf. Hitler’s and Goebbel’s speeches after the German setbacks in Russia.

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Old December 25th, 2011 #2
Alex Linder
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author of the above is Marcuse, a jew and a frankfurter

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Old December 25th, 2011 #3
Alex Linder
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Technology, War and Fascism is the first of a six-volume “Collected Papers” edition of Marcuse’s works that is being published by Routledge and edited by Douglas Kellner. The first volume contains much interesting archival material from the early forties, including two lengthy essays Marcuse wrote on Nazi Germany and an overview of a major research project on the history of social change from antiquity to the present that Marcuse initiated with Franz Neumann. Other archival material in the volume includes a thesis paper outlining Marcuse’s understanding of the postwar political situation as well as numerous letters Marcuse wrote to Horkheimer in the forties. Along with this previously unavailable material Kellner has also included “Some Social Implications of Modern Technology,” Marcuse’s first serious treatment of technology, which was originally published in the final issue of the Zeitschrift für Sozialforschung in 1941; an essay on Louis Aragon’s novel Aurelien, which Marcuse used to reflect upon the aesthetic implications of fascism; and a brief exchange of letters with Heidegger after the war in which Marcuse distanced himself from his former mentor after the latter’s refusal to take a public stance on his involvement with the Nazis. So while the primary purpose of the Routledge “Collected Papers” series is to make available material from the Marcuse Archive, some previously published essays, lectures, and letters will also be included. Although the material in the first volume is limited to the forties, this and the following volumes of the edition are organized along thematic, not chronological lines. This presumably is the reason why Kellner has chosen to republish Marcuse’s first technology essay rather than, for example, his trenchant critique of Sartre’s Being and Nothingness, which was also written in the late forties. The themes to be addressed in the next five volumes include critical theory, aesthetics, the New Left, psychoanalysis, and Marxism.

In his lengthy introduction to the volume, Kellner argues convincingly that the research Marcuse conducted on Germany for the US government during the war should not be seen merely as a hiatus in his theoretical work, but rather as an important empirical basis for many of his later insights. Reading the essays on Nazi Germany, it is indeed apparent that central concepts of Marcuse’s later work, such as technological rationality and repressive desublimation, were first formulated at this time. Kellner also argues, less convincingly, that a serious rift was opening up in the forties between the former members of the Institute, with Marcuse and Neumann on one side and Horkheimer and Adorno on the other. Kellner points to Marcuse and Neumann’s plans for a massive research project on social change as evidence that they were attempting to develop a more politically engaged version of critical theory to counter the growing pessimism and resignation of Horkheimer and Adorno. But if this was true, one wonders why Marcuse and Neumann never went beyond the beginning stages in their work on the social change project. It is clear that Marcuse was influenced by Neumann during this time, but not in a way that diminished his opinion of Horkheimer’s position. Marcuse’s letters to Horkheimer in the forties demonstrate clearly that he wanted nothing more than to continue his theoretical collaboration with Horkheimer.

By the early forties the Institute’s financial situation had become critical, so when Marcuse was offered a research position at the Office of War Information in Washington DC – ironically enough, a precursor organization of the CIA – in 1942, Marcuse reluctantly followed Horkheimer’s advice and joined a number of other leftist émigrés employed by the US government in the fight against fascism. During this time Marcuse prepared the final versions of the two essays on Nazi Germany contained in this volume: “State and Individual under National Socialism” and “The New German Mentality.” The former, which was originally written as a contribution to a series of lectures that Institute members were giving at the time at Columbia University, is concerned primarily with the political and socio-economic structure of National Socialism. Marcuse had already argued in his 1934 essay, “The Struggle Against Liberalism in the Totalitarian View of the State,” that National Socialism had liquidated the liberal-democratic political principles of the Weimar republic, while at the same time consolidating the monopolistic forms of capital accumulation that had made great strides in Germany in the twenties. In “State and Individual under National Socialism” he makes a similar argument, although he places greater emphasis on the achievements of Weimar. In his view, the Nazi regime allowed German industry to cast off the fetters imposed upon it by the Weimar republic, and thus cleared the way for imperialist expansion in the East. He also focuses – clearly demonstrating the influence of Neumann’s Behemoth – on the abolition of the Weimar Rechtsstaat and the dissolution of universalist law, which placed German society under the direct control of particularistic groups, such as big industry, the Nazi party, and the Wehrmacht. In other words, Marcuse tried to convince his American audience that fascism was not the complete antithesis of their own society – it was not a monolithic state and it brought to fruition certain tendencies operative in all capitalist economies – while at the same time reminding them that the universalist political principles they were defending were far more than metaphysical abstractions.

In “The New German Mentality,” a memorandum Marcuse circulated among his colleagues in Washington that was based on an earlier text he had prepared for the Institute, Marcuse turned his attention to the cultural transformation brought about by National Socialism. He was particularly concerned with the continuities and breaks between German Kultur and National Socialist ideology, a topic he had addressed the year before in his massive study on Hegel and the rise of social theory, Reason and Revolution. In that work – the first he wrote in English – Marcuse countered the belief, common in the US and England at the time, that Hegel’s emphatic concept of the state was an intellectual precursor of Nazism. In the “New German Mentality” he continued this line of argument, stating that the new mentality is not the realization of any abstruse metaphysical doctrine, but rather a form of capitalist reorganization characteristic of a “late-comer who tries to break into the entrenched system of powers with terroristic means” (146). This thoroughly rationalized and efficient social system gave rise to an ideology of myth and pragmatism, which represented the negation of the German ideals of Kultur and Bildung. Truth, goodness, and beauty were meaningless for those absorbed in the pursuit of their immediate interests. As Marcuse put it, “The German dreamer and idealist has become the world’s most brutal pragmatist” (143). While Marcuse did tend toward a rather orthodox Marxist interpretation of National Socialism, which located its origins in the general contradictions of capitalist modernization, he also took psychological factors and the peculiarities of German history into account. Drawing upon a recent essay by Horkheimer, Marcuse discussed the social-psychological underpinnings of Nazism: the vast reservoir of anti-Christian, anti-capitalist, and anti-modern ideas that existed in Germany because of the relative weakness of the middle class and the persistence of feudal social relations. According to this analysis, the Nazis’ success depended largely on their ability to tap these emotions and manipulate them for their own ends.

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