Sunday, April 24, 2011

Some Old Familiar Poxyclips


David Redles, Hitler's millennial Reich: Apocalyptic Belief and the Search for Salvation

Chapter 2 "The Turning Point: Racial Apocalypse or Racial Salvation"

The total chaos of the Weimar period, particularly in the early years, elicited a profound sense of collapse for many Germans, outwardly and inwardly. Perched on the edge of an abyss, the Nazis in particular came to believe that Germany, and indeed Aryan humanity in general, had reached a historic turning point. The old order had collapsed, requiring the appearance of a New Order (a new perception of reality, what the Nazis termed Weltanschauung, or would view). In true apocalyptic fashion, Hitler explained to a journalist,

The day is not far off when we shall be living in great times once more. What we now need is that intelligent writers should make clear to the citizens of Germany the historic turning point at which Germany stands today. We are on the threshold of a unique new epoch in our history. We have reached the turning point when the bourgeoisie must decide whether it will choose Bolshevik chaos in Germany and therefore in Europe, or a National-Socialist Germany and a new order on our continent.

Alfred Rosenberg likened this turning point to those that ushered in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment: “today is again a turning point in the history of the world. At the beginning of the sixteenth century one began in Europe; at the end of the eighteenth century another set in, at the beginning of the twentieth century is again decline and rebirth.” According to Rosenberg, it was a rebirth into a “new synthesis of life,” not simply a new form of government but an inner spiritual transformation: “today we are inwardly experiencing a collapse, and we have a deep longing for a new form of life.”

The testimonials of the Old Guard clearly reflect a sense of living at a time that would bring either apocalypse or salvation. Jakob Hoffmann states that “I always believed a union of the best forces of Germany must bring about a turning point in order to save Germany from chaos.” Wilhelm Scherer remarked that he was happy to have been “able to contribute” to what he termed “a world-historical epoch.” Describing this epoch, he explained,

A presentiment arose in me that only revolution must follow, like one that the glorious history of Germany had not yet experienced. Yes, like one world history had not yet, until now, produced. Germany put into effect a world turning point, brought about by our Führer, his movement, and many of our best who had sacrificed their sacred blood.

Heinrich Maxeiner exclaimed that “I, however, rejoiced that a benevolent fate had placed me in this great destiny and turning point of our Volk – to have allowed me to experience the striving and struggling for it.” Similarly, another minor Nazi states that “we are thankful to our Creator to be able to live in this age,” while yet another proclaimed that “the greatest fortune that could befall me was the circumstances that I was born into a time like no other.” Finally, Arno Belger, a local propaganda leader from Halle, described this “world turning point” in a language reflective of his role within the movement:

An over-strained, spiritually hollow age drew to its close, as antiquated and decaying liberalistic social orders and forms collapsed into themselves. Europe breathed with difficulty under the stifling nightmare of that Uncertain yet Inescapable which was summoned by the shot at Sarajevo as a purifying bath of steel closed upon the civilized world, and so produced the pre-condition for the evolution of the new man of community.

This turning point marked the death of one age and a rebirth into a new age. Rosenberg’s notion that out of the collapse of civilization there is rebirth is a significant and recurrent element of Nazi millennialism. For many Nazis, the death of their world necessitated the birth of a new world. According to Hitler, it was the Nazis’ mission to help finish off the dying old world so that the new one could be born. As he explained to Otto Wagener,

That is precisely the most profound secret of the entire revolution we are living through and whose leadership it is our mission to seize: that there has to be overthrow, demolition, destruction by force! The destruction must be meaningful not senseless, as under Bolshevism. And it can only become meaningful is we have understood the goal, the purpose, the necessity.

Hitler told Hermann Rauchning similarly, “They regard me as an uneducated barbarian. Yes, we are barbarians! It is an honourable title. We shall rejuvenate the world! This world is near its end. It is our mission to cause unrest.” While Rauschning and many later historians took such statements as proof of Hitler’s essential nihilism, he and they missed the central point that Hitler, like his beloved Richard Wagner, saw destruction as potentially regenerative, hastening the birth of the millennial Third Reich.

Rebirth symbolizes the psychological transformation that occurs when a new construction of reality replaces one that has collapsed, a function of the postconversion mentality that I discuss in the next chapter. Nazi rhetoric and propaganda reflected this psychological process in its presentation of contemporary times. A Völkischer Beobachter headline on February 26, 1930 stated plainly, “While the Volk Decays, A New Volk Arises Out of It.” Goebbels explained that “distress is the path to happiness. Disintegration and dissolution do not mean perishing but, rather, ascension and opening. Behind the noise of the day the strong powers of a new creation work in stillness.” Gregor Strasser noted that “in disaster the seed of the coming redemption is contained, and in death the seed of the coming life.” Rosenberg stated that “a new synthesis of state is arising from the collapse and chaos.” Ernst Röhm exclaimed that “the time in which we live, in which a world has collapsed in a roar and a young world struggles for life and light, will be designated by later generations as the birth of a New Age.” The Old Guard Nazi Karl Hepp described the Weimar period in a similar manner;

A world was forever submerged, and there was something new in the Becoming. A spiritual unrest had seized the world and especially the German people, and permitted men to experience the labor pains of a New Age. I also was strongly possessed by the inner unrest of the New Age.


  1. So both this and the last post have been about catastrophe-rebirth narratives being inherently fascist, but neither of them has even hinted at why this might be so. I guess you think this is too obvious to require argument but could you like link me to something at least

  2. No this post is just a long excerpt from a book about the Nazi theme of old world/new world destruction and rebirth and the lower post is about Zizek's passing off a quotation in this Nazi style as a passage from Gramsci's prison notebooks on an audience which has become accustomed to this infantile "mythic" tone.

    It's instructive to contrast the language of Nazis - Hitler, Goebbels, Rosenberg - and the language of communists, Lenin, Luxemburg, Gramsci, because there are definite parallels today. US cocaculature is full of Nazi-style childishness and Nazi-style fantasies, and so commonplace has this comic book mythic posture becomle that Zizek can even pass off that godordul risible quote on The New Left Review whose editors pose as being familiar with Gramlsci and with communist writing in general, but seem happy to print articles which put the sentiments and styles of Carl Schmitt and Amlfred Rosenberg into the mouth of the epitome of sanity and maturity, seriousness, and historical materialist militant thought.

    I don't think catastrophe-rebirth narratives are "inherently fascist". Obviously they are far older common religious themles. The fascist versions are simply the most popular examples of them particular to in a certain period and milieu. Certainly now to write of "the old world dying whilme the new struggles to be born" is to quote Goebbels, and to speak in the style to evoke Nazism, just as to say "we have nothing to fear but fear itself" is to quote Rooosevelt, even if Zizek attributes the line to Robespierre. One of the things Zizek and his acolytes attempt to do is - as the Nazis before them - instrumentalise history, fashion fables out of fragments and disrupt the ground of historiography's standards of proof, evidence, accuracy.

    Many "catastrophe-rebirth" narratives in US cocaculture now do belong to the same tradition as the Nazi mythology, but a lot of them depart from this tradition and seem to be driven by despair/wishfulfillment of apocalyptic Christianity and the Rapture etc.. But these do combine.

    Have you seen this post?

    In treating this one very popular catastrophe-rebirth narrative, he gets at certain issues that seem to be present in much of the American product since the 80s. This could be fruitfully contrasted to the influential Handmaid's Tale, which has descendants, most recently and interestingly these hit teen novels Hunger Games, stories of catastrophe without "rebirth" and without "destiny", with neither Hegelian nor Nietzschean mysticism, simply with class war and a kind of "shock doctrine" historical pattern.

  3. If you are questioning the validity of the statement that this "world decadence and rebirth" is a Nazi theme, I'd say read the book this post quotes for ample demonstration, and also Theweleit of course.

    If the question is why would this kind of rhetoric and these themes appeal to Nazis, that's different. We can notice that Nazis were attracted to this Wagnerian kitschy medievalism while many Italian fascists, committed modernists, were repulsed by this.

    I think there are several ways the graily decadence/purification stories the Nazis told were convenient to their social-political goals. The vision of an organic society, "partnership", is assumed in fairytales and the like and need not be argued for.

    But the pseudo-Darwinian feature of the Nazi version of decadence and regeneration, the pseudo-scientific biologism, may for example have been just opportunistic adoption of the nifty ideas "lying around" as Milton Friedman said. But - as we can see even today with Lovecraft fandom - this specific kind of biologism has a strong appeal to a certain psychographic/demographic, as does the related speculations of Freud and Nietzsche. The appeal of the Star Treks and their biocultural varieties seems related as well, (a show which reassures that these preoccupations and such a "reality" is compatible with progress and liberalism, though the threats get bigger and bigger).


  4. Star Trek's modern variations are as obsessed with racial classification as Tolkein (and nearly every alien is played by black actors except for 'leaders').

    The current obsession with zombies ('too many of 'em! Exterminate 'em all before they eat us!') and vampires (golden superior beings who survive outside society for eternity) point to these fascist impulses. There was a lot more political ambiguity/discomfort in Romero that today's filmakers have abandoned:

  5. BTW interesting how werewolves are so unfashionable these days - perhaps because the threat is 'within' rather than easily identified as 'outside'? Or is hybridity too taboo for the youth market?

  6. christian thornes four posts on zombies is very interesting to me.

    also - there is much to be discovered, as someone else has shown me, in the way the business press and msm use zombie and vampire to discuss finance. Michael Hudson explained it's not zombie banks, the banks are vampires.

    zombies are about slavery; closer to frankenstein than to vampires. But now these fast zombies, that are the mass as vampires, exhibit this shift from popular culture to cocaculture, to mass corporate culture. This pseudo-popular commodity culture fashions cultural elements into expressions of the doctrines and fears of elites. So in popular culture, vampires=finance, other, aristo; in the mass cocaculture, vampires=proletariat. In the transitional stage you have these classic romero zombies, the "consumers", the middle class - a spoilt greedy selfish working class, a pampered working class. This vision of "the masses" in wealthy advanced democracy - envisioned by Marcuse, Fromm, Adorno too - is well accounted for by Rancière in The Hatred of Democracy.

  7. I saw that post, it was very interestging.

    so what do you think of Red Riding Hood and the Twilight indigenous werewolves?

    Did you see the Jack Nicholson Michelle Pfeiffer one?

  8. james spader does something in Wolf that is just unbelievable. And you realise he has always been playing a wolf.

    A woman I knew in Taos had 4 pet wolves.

    Werewolves are HUGE now in romance, and other "shapeshifters" who get furry and strong and toothy and beastie though maybe not strictly wolf.

  9. i would like to see more werewolf posts there with Wolf, Cat People, Red Riding Hood, Twilight, Beauty and the Beast (disney) and American Psycho. The last two should always be together.

    And isn't spiderman a werewolf? And batman a guy pretending to be a werewolf who isn't? (really a transvestite?) And aren't the Buffy vampire lovers really werewolves?

    I love the Tomasso Landolfi story of the werewolves who capture the moon and put it in a sack. And it's slimy and smelly and they just hate it, it's just controlled their lives like an addiction.


  11. Can't say I keep up with romance fiction (or watch movies like Twilight ot Red Riding Hood nowadays). Visually werewolves seem to be in the background. Trad ones like Del Toro flop. Batman's a golem/vampire - and has been a german expressionist/Fritz Lang from 1939 to Nolan. Spiderman's an impoversished Robin (orphan) without the father figure and added class anxieties. Buffy's lovers don't have enough impulsive self-loathing to be werewolves - vampires being more self-conscious and self-made (as Victorian as they still are). Surely Bateman was a vampire for this reason?

    I liked Wolf (haven't seen it for a while), but like a lot of 'middlebrow' horror, I would have liked it to be cruder (as for Spader, Sex Lies and Videotape would have been a much better movie it was outright horror, but Soderbergh lacks enough imagination).

  12. Thanks! I hadn't checked out Thorne's blog, that post is pretty good

  13. Does Thorne blog anywhere else now? I was getting quite into Commonplace book and it just stopped (his actual book is too damn expensive too!)

  14. WK don't know if thorne blogs anymore, I like his style of writing;I can read him and "AmStranger" about this stuff I don't watch - it's not a fan discourse.

    I was thinking (WK, "e") it's worth noting the distinction between the kinds of dystopias that depict class war and despotism...Handmaid's Tale, Hunger Games...which propose certain kinds of resistance with real referents, and the kind that racialise (to one degree of other, in some manner or other) catatstrophe and the conflict and offer extermination/purification as the form of kampf-y solutions...Buffy, Zombie movies, the Road, the new Planet of the Apes is obviously in tune with the current "social darwinist" revanchism, Zizek's fantasies of course.. castes/races are central Harry Potter and Twilight, and it is interesting to see how these more openly reactionary products differ from the racial biocultural fantasies of
    Star Trek or the attempt at lib progressive use of the trope in Alienation.

    It's not insignificant that the core fanbase for the exterminationist fantasies are downwardly mobile youngish white American men in culture production.

  15. people who think of themselves as the "losers" of the elite caste like to watch righteous bloodbaths, lots of killing of riff raff, and also to imagine that other people like it too, even though the vast majority of humanity doesn't like to watch this and doesn't fantasise this blasting- away, slayer-action solution to shame/humiliation inflicted by the increasingly arrogant plutocrats but the resentment of which is redirected - Neeechee neecheee - toward the uppity slaves and ravenous mindless animal sybarite filthy rabble.

  16. Well that kind of stuff used to made for 14-year old males who didn't get out much. Now its acclaimed by college-educated thirtysomethings and sold as date movies. Similar phenomenon with games, heavy metal and comic books - levels of po-faced genocidal violence intensifies, but the audience just gets older. The last time I looked at mainstream American comics I was kinda shocked how nearly every extended 'arc' was about cosmic wars of extermination (what happened to 'crime-fighting'?) Camp replaced by kampf. Also, older canonical dystopias would be about the crushed clerk realising he had more in common with the 'proles' or the 'savages'. Now he'd lock and load for the big land clearance.

    Maybe today's ideal culture consumer is a perpetual 14-year old who doesn't get out much?

  17. I know you can't expect men to pay any attention to romance novels, but those who don't pay attention to it have to stop mlaking claims to know anything about mass culture. Men generalise about "our desires" based on the fantasies of a few ruling class men who sell violent spectacles to infantilised white males who think they are the centre of the universe.

    "we" actually dislike violence. We like comraderie, love, material abundance and security, leisure, pleasure, sex and romance, kindness, creativity, loyalty, carefreeness.


  19. Most women I know prefer crime fiction, whatever their age. Cinematic romantic comedy gives me the creeps in a way they never used to. Is it the unlikeability of the actors (who the hell wishes happiness for Vince Vaughn?)? Or the 'message' nailed on by the end?

  20. romance is by far the bestselling genre though.

    (in fact there is plenty of violence in subgenres of this genre, but its not blasting away of the riff raff sort)

    of course, the more mature, better off bourgeoisie like literary novels about "the burdens of inheritance".

    becoming very very burdensome lately. a sensitive, martyred ruling class is opening up to us.

    I find this writer Jude Morgan interesting; wrote, under a female pseudonym Hannah March, some pulp historical mysteries. I generally prefer something a little thicker than the airplane mystery - Eco, or the lesse perez-reverte, instance of the fingerpost - but I liked these (as I like Kate Ross), and never suspected the author was not really a woman. Why a woman's pseudonym? And why should it be so rare? Anyway, now he writes rather women's fiction type stuff, historical novels, the Brontës, Berlioz, Shelleys, a kind of pseudo-Austen.



  23. the "no inner life" is why it's also assumed "incapable of irony"....

  24. eh, stupid werewolves.

  25. This comment has been removed by the author.

  26. A little off-topic, but isn't it uncanny how so many of the discussions you were having here last year foreshadowed the attacks in Norway? Breivik even quoted Sex in the City and sex positive feminist Ellen Willis in his manifesto.

    Talk about "intersectionism"! Now we've got misogyny and anti-Islamic sentiment all tied up in one neat little package. Not that this is new, really, but a new permutation on an old stand-by, as you've been so tirelessly pointing out.

    Funnily enough, Breivik's position sounds an awful lot like Michel Houellebecq's at points, specifically all of his goings on about New Age Hippie Feminist Castrating Bitches. He also mentioned that he was out to get those "multiculti" race traitors when he went on the shooting rampage. Hmmm... why does this wording sound so familiar?

    Hate to say those idiotic American feminists, what with their lipstick and their job-stealing, told them so. But they did.

  27. Oops, should have said that Breivik "cited" SatC and Ellen Willis in his manifesto, as proof that the West is in decline, instead of "quoted".

  28. yes it's striking

    much of his manifesto is indistinguishable from Zizney (who is given space in the Guardian to admire Breivik's this week)...but not surprising because its all coming from the same place...cut paste and rehash stuff cooked up by PR firms anbd for zizz and breivik just bring some of the subtext to the surface with this hokey old fascist imagery and vocab - but yeah, the venom of his misogyny is reminiscent of the psoodfeminist "critiques of feminism" that are so perfectly expressed by the triptych with Kahlo, Greer, and the cum drenched sad girl.