Georg Lukács. How did fascist philosophy come about in Germany?, 1933
Written: August 1933 in Moscow;
First published: as Foreword to: Wie ist die faschistische Philosophie in Deutschland entstanden? (Veröffentlichungen des Lukács-Archivs), 1982, pp. 7-40;
Translated by: Anton P.
This book is a pamphlet. A pamphlet against the ideology of fascism. From the outset, therefore, it has no intention of giving a systematic and complete overview of German philosophy in the imperialist period. On the contrary, only those authors and only those works were cited, which most clearly show their basic tendency – as far as the development of the bourgeois ideology in it is concerned – of the development towards fascist ideology in its most important stages. So if authors feel offended, either because they appear in this context or because they were not considered, if they complain about “arbitrariness” in the selection, let them be told: the author of this book knows very well that many more German authors, as he was able to quote, belong in this line of development. But – to give a concrete example of the method of selection – it is interesting and worth noting that the neo-Machists, who consider Marx insufficiently “scientific”, fall back to Nietzsche in their rejection of “actual reality”. On the other hand, it is absolutely self-evident that Hugo Fischer must bring Hegel and Nietzsche into a developmental series; it is therefore superfluous to waste even a word about such things that are taken for granted. Or it is clear that Klages means a stage between Spengler and Baeumler. However, it seemed to us superfluous to make the broad line of development confusing by inserting too many intermediate links. And so on in hundreds of examples.
More important seems to be the objection that showing the course of historical development which ideologically leads to the fascist world view, showing the uniformity and necessity of this development could weaken the struggle against National Socialism. After all, some say, our main task is to wage a relentless struggle against the Hitler regime and its ideology. If one shows, as this book tries to show in the field of philosophy, that the present National Socialism in Germany was the necessary fruit of the development of the German bourgeoisie under imperialism, one reduces the “responsibility” of the German rulers, one blunts the weapon, which must be wielded against them, by making the entire recent past of bourgeois Germany complicit in the establishment of fascist rule. One must – say they – expose the scoundrels ruling in Germany in all their meanness, one must show that they are a pack of lumpen proletariat and lumpen bourgeoisie, a bunch of adventurers, a new edition of the December men of Napoleon III, who have subjected the whole of Germany, including the bourgeoisie, to their sadistic tyranny.
These and similar trains of thought, which the author, like so many others, has encountered incessantly in word and writing, sound extremely radical, but in reality they are nothing more than the abandonment of any real struggle. Anyone who has followed the political struggles of recent years in Germany has come across variants of this view step by step. They said: Bruning must be supported, Hindenburg must be made President, etc., so that Hitler does not come. The practical result of such a Realpolitik can be overlooked by anyone today; it is important today to draw the political conclusions. That is, it is important to see clearly what Hitler is, on whom he can lean, who his real enemies are and who his merely apparent “opponents” are, whose struggle against him his system wants and can control, and whose opposition is mere mirror fencing.
Just think of July 20, 1932. The dismissal of the Prussian government had been hanging in the air for weeks. Rumors of determined resistance were spread from “left” social-democratic and center circles; Hirtsiefer’s entourage even claimed that in such a case the seat of the Prussian government would be moved to Essen and placed under the protection of the workers of the Ruhr area. Would such resistance have been promising? Of course. Just remember the effect of the general strike in response to the Kapp Putsch. Of course the resistance would have been greater this time, the general strike alone would not have been enough; there should have been a civil war, but a civil war in which there was every prospect of Papen-Hitler’s defeat.
The memory of the Kapp putsch and the general strike that smothered it is no longer just a historical analogy here. It was a decisive motive why there was no resistance, no appeal to the workers when the Prussian government was overthrown. For even the general strike against Kapp turned into workers’ uprisings – albeit only locally, in Saxony, in the Ruhr area – whose objectives went far beyond the establishment of the status quo after Kapp’s elimination, and had to go far beyond that. At that time, the SPD and above all the USPD still managed to isolate these uprisings from the majority of the working class and thus to enable their bloody suppression under social democratic leadership. But where was the guarantee in the summer of 1932 that resistance to the dismissal of the Braun-Severing-Hirtsiefer government would, or could, stop at the status quo? The two election figures from 1920 (after the Kapp Putsch) and from November 1932 should only be compared here, as completely external symptoms; the KPD received half a million votes in 1920 and almost six million in 1932. And the SPD leadership must have known very well that in 1932 it was much less in control of its own masses than it was in 1920 with the help of the USPD. The class struggles of the intervening twelve years have had too great an impact on the social-democratic workers, even if it has not yet become generally known. And since the masses learn quickly in the midst of a revolutionary action, often going through the development of years in days and weeks, the chances of a status quo saved by revolution were very different in the summer of 1932, much worse than in the spring of 1920.
All the more so since the status quo itself was very different in 1932 and therefore looked very different to the masses than it did in 1920. At that time, the illusions of the broad masses of workers regarding the Weimar Republic and its democracy were still very strong. Broad masses saw in the republic and democracy the necessary “organic,” not “violent,” transition to socialism. Perhaps even broader ones saw in it something valuable for themselves: the state and social order in which one still has to live for a long period of time. But what was the status quo of 1932? Relegating Papen to the limits of “legality” and “democracy”? Or a return of the Brüning regime? Was it conceivable to call upon the masses to revolutionary action (and the general strike of July 1932 would have been revolutionary action) to restore the status quo of two-thirds fascism to three-fifths fascism? (The numbers here are only intended to characterize the tactical situation; as a characteristic of Papen or Brüning, they are of course entirely arbitrary.)
This analogy of a resistance that did not take place, indeed one that was violently choked off (by the Social Democrats in the face of the KPD’s call for a strike), may seem pointless to some readers and not relevant to our topic. But it is neither idle nor does it distract from the subject. On the contrary. It is precisely this that leads right to the heart of the worldview questions to be dealt with here. Because it not only shows where only real and active forces can be mobilized against fascism, but it also shows that anyone who does not appeal to these forces and is not relying on these forces (whether he knows it or not, wants to or not) is merely playing off a fascist nuance that has already become backwards against a more developed one. So instead of fighting fascism, everyone who takes such a standpoint can only aim at: slowing down the “inevitable” process of fascization, giving it more “civilized” forms. The notorious theory of the “lesser evil” is based on this fatalistic view of the inevitability of fascism: Brüning is the lesser evil compared to Papen, Schleicher compared to Hitler, tomorrow maybe: Hitler compared to “National Socialist extremists”, etc. ad infinitum.
And fascism is, in fact, inevitable until those forces are unleashed which alone are capable of putting an end to it: the forces of the revolutionary united proletariat fighting for the cause of the liberation of all working people from oppression and exploitation. However, the proletariat fights fascism as the current form of rule of capitalism, today’s imperialist monopoly capitalism. And it cannot fight fascism effectively if it reduces its fight to mere form; it must hit and overthrow the content together with the form, and capitalist exploitation together with the fascist form.
The widespread view that we are struggling against here, the last waves of which swept and are still spilling over into the camp of communism, on the other hand, separates fascism from its historical, from its economic and social basis. This separation takes on either an extraordinarily “radical” or an extraordinarily realpolitik character, depending on who carries it out. However, since the separation only takes place in thought and not in reality, the mentally unrecognized necessity ghosts around in people’s heads as fatalism and mixes in a strangely eclectic way the oh-so “radical” or “miraculous” with the “realistic” projects. When listening to the debates of the French Social Democrats, who wanted to become little French Hitlers themselves out of fear of the German Hitler, we can only be reminded of Otto Wels’ loud-mouthed, realpolitik speech in Magdeburg: “If it is a dictatorship, let us exercise it!”.
Wels was right insofar as the economic and social content of a dictatorship that he would have exercised would have been essentially the same as Hitler’s. But with his Realpolitik he was just as hollow a project maker as those French social democrats are who imagine that fascism can be avoided by introducing it yourself. This step-by-step realization of fascism, which created such a situation in Germany that the “National Socialist revolution” was able to take on a rich heritage and only had to draw the consequences from the long-standing process of fascism in public life, shows most clearly what it means in practice when theoretically fascism is separated from the general development of the bourgeoisie in post-war imperialism.
Of course, for the bourgeoisie itself, this theoretical separation is by no means the primary thing, by no means a theoretical question. On the contrary, it stems from what they have in common, from the common development of their general class situation, their general class interests. These general class interests are contradictory and unevenly expressed within the bourgeoisie. The difference, even the contradiction of interests within the individual layers (and accordingly politically: the individual fractions) of the bourgeoisie is expressed not only in the demand for different measures, different speeds, etc. of the implementation of fascism, but also in different demands regarding its economic and social content. So, to cite just one example, it is impossible for manufacturing industry to agree with radical and hundred-percent fascism like heavy industry or big agrarian capital did. Simply because the implemented fascist dictatorship means not only a regime of terror over all working people (it would have nothing essential to object to that), but at the same time and inseparably an unprecedented dictatorship of heavy industry within the factional antagonisms of capitalism itself. (Similar differences appear in the Customs questions, the question of inflation, etc. between the individual layers of the bourgeoisie.) But the question always arises: What is the overarching moment? That is, where is the weight of the general class interests of the bourgeoisie as a whole?
The mere posing of this question shows clearly that as soon as the question is whether or not the capitalist system is to be, these internal antagonisms, these factional quarrels, must recede. Not always voluntarily; often, almost always, gnashing their teeth, rebellious, intriguing, even oppositional, etc. But they must resign. The times are long gone when, as in France in 1830 or 1848, the monopoly rule of a faction of the bourgeoisie could be overthrown by revolutionary means. The June battle of the Paris proletariat clearly marks the dividing line: as long as the rebellions of the exploited class were merely local, spontaneous uprisings with limited aims, like the Lyon uprising in 1839, this possibility existed, because the way to use the discontented masses as cannon fodder in the barricades was still an open question. The June battle has already matured the proletariat (despite the bloody defeat) as a class with revolutionary goals for society as a whole, with heroic energy to realize them in a revolutionary way, no longer as a mere “class in itself”, but already as a “class for itself.” It turned out that the bourgeoisie’s habit of “playing with the fire of the revolution” had to be extinguished forever.
It was only when social democracy grew into a bourgeois party with proletarian supporters that, during the first storms of the present revolutionary period, did similar experiments become possible again. But the limit is exactly where it was drawn for the old bourgeois parties through the June battle: in the reliability of social democracy, in the achievement of the overall bourgeois class goal, the masses of workers are commanded “this far and no further” and this command should also be able to be enforced in practice. Social democracy lost this “reliability to tame the workers” with the last acute crisis within the general crisis of the capitalist system. It is not because of their good will. Their leaders have repeatedly declared that they regard fascism as the “lesser evil” as opposed to Bolshevism. They had repeatedly demonstrated their subjective reliability in going with the bourgeoisie to the bitter end, in fighting with it even on the barricades that were lost or seemingly lost (Russia, Hungary), in sharing exile and conspiratorial work against the rule of the proletariat together with them. However, the subjective reliability, the most iron “Nibelungentreue” is not enough here. It cannot offer any guarantee for one bourgeois faction against another unless it is coupled with the objective guarantee of the ideological and organizational dominance over the majority of the working class. With a dominance where this majority also goes along with the low-key stuff of the revolutionary minority, or at least tacitly tolerates it. Ebert, Noske and Severing were able to offer this guarantee in 1918-1928. Wels, Braun and Hilferding can no longer do so in 1932.
So no one denies that broad sections of the bourgeoisie are dissatisfied with the National Socialist dictatorship. Not even that, before Hitler seized power, broad sections of the population might have been looking for other ways. However, the question arises: other ways to where? And the question arises: other ways at what price? The two questions are closely related. For no matter how contradictorily and unevenly the general class interests of the bourgeoisie may assert themselves, they must always assert themselves. And as the crisis grows, as not only the proletarian but also the petty-bourgeois masses start to move, and as the anti-capitalist moods in these masses constantly increase, the concrete question to be asked of these general class interests of the bourgeoisie becomes ever clearer: the existence or non-existence of the capitalist system. From this point of view, of course, the special interests of classes and factions must take a back seat. Not always voluntarily. But the general class interest of the bourgeoisie also prevails in the opposition-minded layers, in that they submit, if not with enthusiasm, sometimes even with anger and exasperation. In any case, under no circumstances do they allow it to go to the extreme, to go hard. In any case, they know that they must not risk it. Threats may and do come, but only to discourage the other faction from taking certain steps. However, if the step is taken, the weaker faction must submit. That means their opposition remains legal, opposition within the fascist system, ultimately: a sham opposition. There is just as little doubt that the southern German states were dissatisfied with the Gleichschaltung or that there was friction, differences, even contradictions between the Stahlhelm and SA-SS and between parts of the Reichswehr, the police, etc. and the National Socialist power apparatus . Nevertheless, it was empty project-makers and not serious politicians who expected the fall or even the shaking of the National Socialist regime from the intensification of these differences and contradictions. The more these contradictions came to a head, the more certain it was that their peak would have to break off at the decisive moment. It had to, because a fight, a real struggle between the Stahlhelm and the SA would only have been possible and promising with an appeal to the working class. And for that very reason it was impossible for the leaders of the Stahlhelm from the outset to risk such a showdown.
Of course, the differences about “method,” about tactics, cannot be separated from the differences in their socio-economic content. But we have already shown that the substantive differences, no matter how great they may be in individual cases, must be put aside before the question of the existence or non-existence of the capitalist system and, as the facts show, are always put aside. Especially the differences about “methods”, about tactics. However, the tactical differences in this period are deeply linked to the central vital issues of the existence of the bourgeoisie as a whole. But they still remain mere tactical questions; they nevertheless remain within the same class framework. For tactically it is a question of what power can be used to oppose the growing anti-capitalist mass sentiments not only of the workers but also of the urban petty bourgeoisie and peasants. The “peculiarity” of the National Socialist movement consists in the fact that it attempts to re-establish the faltering rule of monopoly capitalism by exploiting and whipping up this mass sentiment, while their “opponents” tried to contain, hold back, and put back in their place this anti-capitalist mass mood with an eclectic mixture of ideological influence and state violence. Needless to say, this is an important tactical difference. But of course it is also a tactical difference within the same general class goal: the salvation of the capitalist system.
This unity of unity and contradiction, as the old Hegel used to say, whereby unity must understandably be the overarching element, determined the nature of the difference and the manner in which it was carried out before Hitler seized power and also determines it today in the National Socialist dictatorship. At that time, a position had to be taken on the “irresistible mass movement” of National Socialism. And the “opponents” also took a stand, with fear and with respect. With fear not only because of their own (personal and fractional) “security” in the event of a National Socialist victory, not only because of the defense of “democracy” that is closely related to it, but above all with fear – with justified fear – of the daring experiment: to drive out the devil (the growing hatred of the working masses against capitalism) with the help of Beelzebub (by inciting and misleading this hatred). With justifiable fear of how fascism was managing to turn the previously mobilized (and, moreover, anti-capitalistically mobilized) masses into an obedient herd of monopoly capitalism, how fascism was forcing workers to again endure the intensified exploitation and oppression by the same monopoly capitalism that they wanted to overthrow. But this fear of the “experiment”, of the deployment of the last reserve (of a growing mass influence directed by monopoly capitalism) was always coupled with timid respect for the “irresistible mass movement”. The “opponents” of fascism had to see that all their measures to gradually introduce fascism within the framework of “democracy” aroused only bitterness and hatred among the masses of their own followers; that the growing anti-capitalist mood of the masses was becoming really irresistible as the crisis steadily intensified, and that the danger of the masses becoming really anti-capitalist, consciously anti-capitalist, and supporters of communism became more and more apparent day by day. After all attempts to bring “the irresistible mass movement” in any form under the leadership of the old bourgeois parties had failed (and were bound to fail, since the National Socialist method of misleading the masses presented their autocracy as a manifestation, as a pretense of a radical upheaval of the whole system), all such “opponents” of fascism imperatively put aside their “concerns” and bowed to the National Socialist dictatorship. In so doing, they have faithfully and loyally discharged their duties to the common class interests of the bourgeoisie. They held back the masses who really wanted to fight fascism by using all their energies to fight the Hitler regime when it had not yet established itself in the state apparatus, and thus gave National Socialism the breathing space it needed to consolidate its rule organizationally.
Here, too, the Social Democrats have proved to be the most loyal “opposition” to National Socialism imaginable. Here, too, they have shown that they have allied themselves with the imperialist bourgeoisie for better or for worse, that it pursues politics only within the framework of capitalism, in order to maintain capitalist rule. This incorporation into the capitalist system does not, of course, cancel out the special position of Social Democracy: the fact that this time it succeeded in restraining its working-class supporters from a real struggle against the onset of National Socialism was decisive for the organizational consolidation of the Hitler regime.
Has this situation changed with the establishment of the National Socialist dictatorship? Yes and no. But if we consider the basic economic and social characteristics of the Hitler regime, it is clear that we must answer the question in the negative. The struggle of the strata and factions of the bourgeoisie continues. This struggle is perhaps even more violent now than it was before the seizure of power. Only the forms of these struggles have changed greatly. But anyone who believes that the organizational dissolution of all parties and the monopoly position of National Socialist ideology has changed something other than the form of differences within the bourgeoisie is deluding themselves. Just like the one who believes that the monopoly rule of the NSDAP means a real concentration of all the forces of the bourgeoisie, a real and lasting strengthening of the power of the bourgeoisie. No. The struggle from before the seizure of power continues with at least undiminished ferocity. But – and this is the most important thing – this struggle is still happening within the same system. This means that the various “enemies” and “opponents” of National Socialist rule would like to change their form and content according to their particular interests, but they are still further from allowing or even promoting a struggle than before the seizure of power could jeopardize the existence of the system. All the less so since the necessary transformation of the ruling National Socialism, its transition “from revolution to evolution” eliminates part of the old differences from the world. If the National Socialist government creates “order” among its own followers, who have taken the social demagogy of National Socialist agitation seriously, by dissolving the organizations, by imprisoning, internment and shootings, by forbidding the NSBO to interfere in any kind of company affairs, etc., then they can count on the unqualified applause of all “opponents” from Löbe to Hugenberg. And when Hitler, in his foreign policy speeches, throws the whole national demagogy of the National Socialist agitation period into the junk room of outdated catchphrases (although he lets them work feverishly on the armament of Germany), then all the old “opponents” from the Weimar democracy, whose foreign policy he continues, will only congratulate him; and so do they.
As different as the conditions of “opposition” have become, as much as the content and form of this “opposition” have changed: the basic principle, the essence, has remained the same. Except that now the various “oppositions” are given the function of becoming, precisely as “oppositions,” collection organizations for the masses disappointed by National Socialism. They take upon themselves the historical task of preventing these masses from passing from the National Socialist sham revolution to the real revolution, to the proletarian revolution against capitalism, against its present form of rule, the “total state” of National Socialism. They used to pave the way for the full rule of fascism. Today, precisely as “oppositions”, they are organic components of the fascist system.
And this all the stronger, the faster the real fundamental contradiction of the National Socialist regime grows. Namely the contrast between monopoly capitalist exploiters, whose dictatorship in the factories, in pricing, etc., in a word in all areas that affect the standard of living of the working masses, is constantly increasing, and the exploited, in whose heads the economic and social content of the Third Reich is beaten into it. Here alone German fascism faces a real danger. If in a few months it has made some progress (both in liquidating the competing organizations and in shedding the pseudo-revolutionary mask), this is by no means a sign of its strength, as its advertising bosses proclaim. On the contrary. It is an expression of the extraordinarily shaky ground, of the extraordinarily rapidly narrowing social base in the highly developed industrial country of Germany, with its quantitatively huge and qualitatively superior proletariat, in the midst of a crisis which, albeit intermittently, has so far been steadily deepening and intensifying. On this ground, social and national demagogy had to be dismantled quickly. The Third Reich soon had to show itself to be a strictly guarded penitentiary for all working people.
The more this fundamental contradiction of the ruling fascism pushes itself to the fore in a way that is obvious to the broadest masses, the more the pseudo-oppositional character of all bourgeois “opponents” of National Socialism must come to the fore. This forces them to openly state their position on whether they want to overthrow National Socialism or just want to reform it. And their decision can never be in doubt for a moment. Despite all the differences in content and tactics, which are likely to become ever more acute, it is impossible for any bourgeois “opponent” of National Socialism, always including the Social Democrats, to see a remedy against National Socialist rule in the proletarian revolution, in the overthrow of capitalism. Their “opposition” can help to disorganize the National Socialist regime, albeit at the same time also disorganizing and misleading the working masses rebelling against fascism. But at the same time, and above all, it must give the regime greater maneuverability, the possibility of an apparent “restructuring,” of deceiving the masses through “reforms.” Above all, it must steer the revolting masses down a “legal” path, a path of sham opposition, and thereby possibly give National Socialism a way out of its crisis.
I know some readers will call this perspective “slander in advance.” I ask such readers to recall the events of 1932-33. To recall how, with the aggravation of the crisis of the capitalist system, which found expression objectively in the economic situation and subjectively in the growing mass influence of the KPD, the “opponents” of the fascist danger more and more openly threw off their earlier masks of sham opposition. And they had to throw them off. Because politics cannot be made with phrases. Politics is a calculation, a putting into action of masses of millions, of real power factors. Whatever the slogans of the politicians, in reality they will necessarily orientate themselves and try to support certain real power factors, as far as it is really about politics and not influential sectarian project-makers. But what can the bourgeois “opponents” of National Socialism base themselves on? Everyone knows very well what the working masses want, and the social-democratic leaders know it best: They want – even though this is still often unclear today – the overthrow of the capitalist system. The agitation successes of National Socialism were based precisely on a swindle with this lack of clarity. And the tragicomedy of such a deception cannot be staged arbitrarily often and at will. The masses have learned something, even a great deal, from their disappointment. A real power to save the capitalist system can only be a state or “social” apparatus for the oppression of the masses. Saving the capitalist system is now synonymous with saving and supporting a fascist form of rule of the big bourgeoisie.
Of course there are “politicians”, especially among the social-fascists, who play off the “democracy” of the Great and the Little Entente against German fascism. It is impossible here to go into detail about the character of this “democracy.” Just remember the debates in French social democracy, the open support of French fascism by a sizeable minority, the strong growth of the fascist movement in Czechoslovakia, the character of the Yugoslav military dictatorship, etc.. Such politicians want to save “democracy” again by playing off undeveloped forms of fascism against its most developed form.
To be sure, France, England, and the Little Entente are undoubtedly real power factors. However, if it is subjectively honest, it is the stupidest of politicians to think that their opposition to Hitlerian Germany is something different from the old imperialist opposition to “Weimar democracy”. Even if Hitler’s seizure of power objectively exacerbates these contradictions, it cannot change their character. That is why it can be really advantageous for France, for England, for the Little Entente, to divert the attention of their “own” masses from their “own” imperialist goals by mimicking a “struggle of democracy against fascism” (the Franco-English journalism still has a great deal of experience and routine in this regard from the First Imperialist World War). But those German “opponents” of fascism who fight it under the banner of these “democracies” have only one choice: to be conscious or unconscious, paid or honorary agents of a competing imperialism. In doing so, they are also doing Hitlerite fascism a service, sometimes perhaps involuntarily, by allowing him to mask his own betrayal of the national liberation of Germany, postponing the unmasking of his national demagogy by diverting the anger of the masses to the “traitors to the fatherland”, who, however, happen to really be agents of Germany’s imperialist enemies.
The necessarily limited length of a foreword forced us to confine our experience of fascism and its “opponents” to Germany. But anyone familiar with the situation in Italy, Hungary, etc. will recognize Italian or Hungarian analogies in the German types indicated here. In addition, the present crisis is transforming fascism into an international trend in bourgeois politics far more strongly and explicitly than the crushing of the first revolutionary upheavals of the post-war period. At that time, the “relative stabilization” was able to bring about a re-awakening of democratic and pacifist illusions in foreign and domestic policy. Mussolini himself was forced to take the position that “Fascism was not an export commodity.” Today, this situation has also changed radically. German National Socialism has become the ideological and organizational center of an international fascist movement from Austria to Finland. And there are many indications that if the further aggravation of the crisis does not turn into a rapid upsurge in the proletarian-revolutionary movement, the decidedly fascist tendencies will also strengthen in France and England.
Such an international spread of fascist tendencies does not, of course, abolish “national peculiarities”. German fascism, too, differs in many ways from Italian fascism, and Czech fascism, for example, would have to have other traits if only because of the peculiar national structure of Czechoslovakia. However, these differences do not exclude the deep similarities. On the contrary, they just underline them. For precisely the fact that, despite all the differences in the decisive question (the question of the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the period of the crisis of the capitalist system) the common features must come to the fore clearly shows that fascism is the basic tendency of the bourgeoisie in the “third period” of the post-war crisis. And while the differences concern the type, degree, speed, etc. of the implementation of this common policy of monopoly capitalism, the common features emerge most clearly in the decisive questions. And that applies both to fascism itself and to the bourgeois pseudo-oppositions. As Hitler introduced, albeit at a faster pace than Mussolini, the political and ideological monopoly of official fascism, as he launched the original “fascist revolution”, ie. had to liquidate social demagogy, today’s “opponents” of National Socialism in Germany must adopt the essential features of the Italian etc. pseudo-oppositions; thus the “opponents” of fascism in countries where it has not yet fully triumphed repeat the main features of the policy which was employed in Germany to “prevent” the fascist dictatorship. Otto Bauer also announces the “fight” against Austrian National Socialism in the name of “democracy”. He, too, has branded as traitors and deserters those social-democratic workers who have lost faith in “democracy”, who want to oppose the fascist dictatorship to the dictatorship of the proletariat, who, according to the custom of the old army of the Habsburg Monarchy, deserve to be “cut down forthwith”. He, too, is waging the “struggle” with the following strategy, to say it with respect: “First of all, we must be careful not to round up the blacks and the browns, the clerical fascists and national fascists ... In order to prevent this danger, since March we have had to exercise the most painful restraint and self-control. This tactic cost us very important positions.” (Der Kampf, 1933, July issue, editorial) We believe: a comment is unnecessary. It would only weaken the glaring commonality of the tactics of the “right-wing” Otto Wels and the “left-wing” Otto Bauer. Just as the common tendencies of Winnig, Leipart and their ilk in Germany and Marquet and Beard in France need no comment.
The dilemma of fascism or Bolshevism is therefore not an “invention” of the communists, it is rather the signature of the epoch in which we live. In reality, no one can escape this dilemma. He may try to argue away the dilemma ideologically, in his own head. Nobody can stop him from doing that. But no one can prevent him from becoming an ally, an accomplice of fascism, even if he imagines he is an implacable opponent of fascism, even if the fascists treat him personally as an opponent and mistreat him accordingly. Because the facts are hard things, which have their logic, and this logic is more consistent and relentless than the finely devised trains of thought of individual people. This logic of things does not change because it is not recognized at all or only later. The German nationalist Ernst Niekisch also realized quite late that the “temporary volunteers” of the first years of the revolution, who considered themselves convinced nationalists and bitter enemies of the Entente, were objectively doing business with Entente imperialism by crushing the workers’ uprisings in Germany. Some of the sincere bourgeois opponents of fascism have already recognized this connection, albeit belatedly. In the period between January 30 and February 26 they openly admitted their mistake in wanting to fight fascism alone, in isolation and not alongside, in the fighting front of the revolutionary proletariat; that they criticized both “right” and “left” in supposed independence of classes and parties, without seeing that any attack on the revolutionary party of the proletariat is an unintended aid to the fascist reaction. (I regret that I cannot give names, time and place here; but a part of these upright and respectable bourgeois anti-fascists are now in the claws of the Hitlerite bandits.)
And this realization marches. Albeit slowly, contradictorily, unevenly. For it is necessary to overcome extraordinarily profound, deeply rooted class prejudices in order to achieve this realization; you have to face your own class. Depending on whether National Socialism is the bandit-like encroachment of a small minority of lumpen – lumpen bourgeois and lumpen proletarians – who usurp the rule over the whole of society, including the bourgeoisie, or whether it is seen as the necessary product of the economic development of imperialism during the period when the necessary defense organization of monopoly capitalism understood the threatening proletarian revolution, all problems connected with the “National Socialist revolution” were dealt with in different, even directly opposed positions. In the first case, this “banditism” simply has to be eradicated and a corresponding status quo of “normal” bourgeois society restored, whereby we have to leave it to the imagination of the reader to imagine what the social content of the status quo saved in this way may be. In the second case, the struggle is directed against fascism as the form of rule of the monopoly capitalist bourgeoisie. The liberation of the working people from the yoke of fascism is at the same time their liberation from capitalist exploitation and oppression.
The “ultra-radical” and the realpolitik views of the character of National Socialism and the struggle against it, both of which equally separate fascism from the general economic and political development of the bourgeoisie in post-war imperialism, thus lead to the same sort of politicking and project-mongering, from which practically only Hitler can really benefit.
But, a reader may ask, why all this in the foreword of a book the subject of which is the fascist world view? On the contrary, we believe: this is precisely where the central question of the fascist worldview lies. For if one considers the heralds of this world view in isolation, such as Rosenberg’s representative book The Myth of the Twentieth Century, it is child’s play for a philosophically trained reader to prove the amateurish eclecticism, the hollow and confused boasting of the author. But what is the cognitive value of this proof? What does it mean practically in the struggle against the fascist poisoning of millions of people, from the desperately unemployed and crazed petty bourgeoisie to the highest qualified intellectuals? It is possible, of course, to shrug arrogantly and look down with deep contempt on such misguided “fools” and hypnotizing charlatans. But this shrug of the shoulders is basically just as passive, signifying just as much a sectarian isolation from what is actually going on as that defeatist letting oneself be impressed by the propaganda successes of the Nazis, that cowardly “self-criticism” that we think too much about their presentation, their advertising, etc.. Such admiration and such contempt have the same source: cowardice; the fear of facing the truth that fascism has become a real force in Germany; the fear of investigating the real causes of this power, because one is afraid of the consequences one would have to draw from the results of this investigation.
Our book is dedicated to this problem. It wants to show that the worldview that is revealed in National Socialist agitation and propaganda, from the thick tome of Rosenberg to the daily speeches and newspaper articles, is the organically grown, necessary fruit of the ideological development of the German bourgeoisie in the imperialist age. We have seen that all currents of bourgeois politics in Germany, always including social democracy, flowed into the broad stream of the fascist movement; that all bourgeois “opponents” of National Socialism stand on the same ground with it, on the ground of fascism, on the last decisive question, the question of the relationship between the bourgeoisie and the proletariat in the time of crisis of the capitalist system, that they can only be divided by factional differences, separated by tactical disagreements in front of it. We now want to follow this path to a contradictory unity filled with insoluble contradictions in the following explanations in the field of worldview. The aim is to show how the fascist world view grows with the development of imperialism and its crisis, step by step, from problem to problem. The Weltanschauung of National Socialism is the last “highest” level of this development that has been reached so far.
It is understandable if honest intellectuals shy away from seeing the ideology of National Socialism as the end point of the intellectual development that they themselves took part in. But no contempt for the incredibly low ideological level of the National Socialists, no abhorrence of the blood and dirt with which they put and continue to put this ideology into practice, can negate the fact of this common testimony of ideology. Just as the imperialist development of the German bourgeoisie is the prehistory of National Socialism, so the history of philosophy in the imperialist period is the prehistory of the National Socialist worldview. Anyone who wants to fight against the fascist world view in the ideological field (and the fight against this world view is an important part, but only a part of the general fight against fascism) must go back to these roots. Otherwise, without knowing it, he will fall victim to the danger of fighting National Socialism on the basis of half or three-quarters fascist assumptions. And then his fight must degenerate into fencing. For no matter how low the mental level of the National Socialist leaders in worldview may be, they have the consistency ahead of such “opponents”. Everything that the general parasitic developmental tendency of the imperialist period produced philosophically: eclecticism and apologetics, agnosticism and mysticism, irrationalism and romanticism, etc. etc., all of this was brought together here with unscrupulous skill in a demagogically effective “system”. And despite all the low level of ordinary and mendacious demagogy, National Socialism still had to win, also ideologically, over “opponents” who started from the same philosophical assumptions, who were also eclectics and apologists, agnosticists, irrationalists and mystics, just like their political equivalents stopped halfway. Anyone who opposes the fascist myth with another myth should not be surprised if the fascist myth, crudely tailored to mass effect, to stimulating all the base instincts of people driven into despair, triumphs over its timid, refined competitors. Whoever undermines the possibility of scientific knowledge of objective, material reality with, say, neo-Kantian or neo-Machist arguments should not be surprised if the shattering of trust in science, which he has helped to cause, turns into a demagogic exploitation of “systematized” gullibility. And so on through all areas of worldview, through all categories of philosophy.
Of course, such a critique of contemporary philosophy will be seen by many as “overly summarizing,” overly “equalizing.” And we repeat: We find it understandable when honest intellectuals desperately resist the mere thought of such an ideological affinity with National Socialism. On what ideological ground do they stand, objectively, in this defense? Many will quickly come to terms with the answer: Philosophy is not a question of the times, or at least not just a question of the times; the object of philosophy is rather the “eternal,” precisely that which stands beyond the class and party struggles of the present. We Marxists are the last to question the existence of “eternal truths” at all. But we require that the basis of the “eternal truth” which reflects it be established in the existence and nature of the material object itself. But to what do the “eternal truths” of the thinkers of our epoch refer? Are they not without exception historically created, historically constantly changing objects – the state, man, love, honor, etc. – that are idealistically inflated into “eternal truths” in this philosophy? But one should never forget that precisely this rendering of the historical-transitory timeless was the fundamental methodological principle of every apologetics of a social system. Whether the principle of “eternity” comes from God, from “reason”, from the “system of value” does not change anything decisive. It only acquires a special nuance in our time when, as a result of the appeal to intuition, to vision or to primal experience, the justification of the principle itself is removed from any scientific discussion and made the object of belief. And in doing so, these categories must necessarily be sublimated to such a degree that in the night of these concepts, which are emptied of any tangible content, the most arbitrary apologetics – precisely the fascist apologetics of monopoly capitalism – can carry on their demagogic orgies so that even the “opponents” of fascism, who march against it with such armament, inevitably fall into trains of thought which are confusingly, despairingly, similar to the fascist ones.
I just want to cite one particularly blatant example. When in the summer of 1931 the Brüning government took a decisive step towards the fascization of public opinion with its emergency press decree, a storm of indignation arose among the left-wing intelligentsia. But a particularly “radical” representative of this intelligentsia, Kurt Hiller, found that “the state”, as an “eternal concept”, has the right and must have the right to have its say even in the press opposed to it; that the first notorious paragraph of this emergency decree, the obligation to publish government statements in the press without the right to simultaneous polemics, would have to be affirmed. I know: Kurt Hiller also believed at that time that he was an “opponent” of Brüning (just as Brüning and his followers thought they were in harsh “opposition” to Hitler), but it is clear that he has thereby become an inconsistent supporter of Brüning; that he behaved towards Brüning in the same way that Brüning treated Hugenberg and Hitler. And this is by no means an accidental lapse on Hiller’s part, but the necessary consequence of a theoretical point of view which, without being clear about it, stood on the parasitic soil of imperialist monopoly capitalism, therefore shared a number of the most important epistemological and methodological premises with fascist ideology and therefore had to come to similar conclusions on a number of questions. Whereby the author’s subjective decision to fight against fascism, against fascization, is only sufficient to turn the capitulation to fascist ideology, which is necessary on the basis of these assumptions, into a hesitation, into an eclectic confusion of recognition and rejection, a matter of on the one hand and on the other hand.
This eclecticism produces the strangest flowers in today’s struggles over world views. Every educated person knows that today it is impossible – physically impossible – to paint as Rembrandt painted, to write as Shakespeare or Schiller wrote. Every educated person will admit that the tone of the language of the – excellent – Shakespeare translations by A. W. Schlegel is a Goethe-Schiller tone, that of the – also meritorious – Shakespeare translations by Friedrich Gundolf is a Stefan George tone. And no one would think of blaming Schlegel or Gundolf for this, this impossibility seems so obvious, although its real causes have never been uncovered by bourgeois science. But when a left-wing bourgeois writer or politician in the fight against fascism falls back on the terminology, the tone, even the content of 1789 or 1848, even 1793, no one recognizes the degree of impossibility that turns into comedy. For why is the French Montagne of 1848 a sad caricature of the Jacobins of 1789-1793? Danton, who was never extremely radical in terms of the social content of his politics (measured, of course, by the standards of the period, by Marat, Robespierre, etc.) still had the opportunity to take revolutionary measures for his demands and to use them actively to perform. In the light of the September days, the lever en masse, his call for “boldness, boldness and more boldness” is everything but a phrase. But when already in 1849 Ledru-Rollin, with the words and gestures of Danton, arranged a peaceful demonstration against the threatening putsch of Louis Bonaparte, which in one fell swoop revealed the impotence of the bourgeois-radical opposition and its armed support (National Guard, etc.), here the costume of the Montagne becomes an empty masquerade, a tragicomic carnival joke. And Ledru-Rollin is still a Danton when compared to our modern-day defenders of “democracy.”
The September days were precisely the palette from which Danton drew the true colors of his revolutionary pathos. Without this palette (which today is only available in the revolutionary proletariat) every Dantonian gesture becomes just as much an academic caricature as the attempt to repeat the pathos of Michelangelo or Shakespeare. Subjectively, poor Don Quixote was much more honest and fanatically convinced of the still existing knighthood than today’s sad knights of “democracy”. Nevertheless, he has only reaped ridicule and beatings. But today not even his tragicomedy can be imitated. Because the sad knight was really a knight errant in his world view, who not only made no compromises (even unconscious ones) with the rising new world of capitalism, but also remained completely unaffected by its world view. That is why he could put his spear against windmills and flocks of sheep with unshakable earnestness. Had he shared the slightest ideology with the hostile world around him, he would have become a prosaic fool or a downright ridiculous poseur, and not the holy fool that Cervantes immortalized him to be. Now his tragicomic path is also blocked. Today’s sad knights of the “timeless values of democracy” know that the windmill is no giant and, above all, that Dulcinea is a filthy peasant maid.
The contents of the book should not be anticipated here. But let us take a quick look at how without a fight the “opponents” of fascism gave it the entire legacy of the bourgeois revolutionary period in the ideological field. One wants to deny the Nazis that they have a right to pose even as the heirs of the imperialist period. (The demagogic polemics of the Nazis and their inner mendaciousness are dealt with in the book itself.) But Kant and Fichte, Goethe and Schiller, together with Fridericus Rex and Bismarck, with Moltke and Tirpitz, are classified by National Socialism in its ancestral gallery, in its living heritage, and who opposed this? And what arguments could he cite against the demagogy of the National Socialists? Who turned Goethe into an “irrationalist” and interpreted away his – ingenious but incomplete – dialectic and his timid, wavering materialism from the world in order to be able to bring him under one roof with Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Bergson? Simmel and Gundolf, the “classics” of the left-wing intelligentsia. Who made Hegel a “philosopher of life” and “reconciled” him with Romanticism, thus adapting him to the ideological needs of imperialism? Dilthey, also a “classic” of the left-wing intelligentsia. Who made Hegel a forerunner of Bismarck? Meinecke, the “great” historian of the same intelligentsia. Who turned the disgrace of the German bourgeoisie, the Prussian-“Bonapartist” emergence of German unity, into a halo and turned Germany’s political backwardness into a myth of German exemplaryness for the whole world? All of Germany’s left-wing intelligentsia of the pre-war and post-war period etc. etc. One would have to enumerate all the results of the entire German historiography of the last fifty years in order to uncover the real sources of the National Socialist historical myth. And it is no use if the father now denies the “failed” son. The real genealogical connection cannot be eliminated.
However, these questions are, primarily, neither literary nor philosophical-historical. Rather, they are based on the position of German science, including that of the “left,” including that of the “oppositional,” in relation to the history of bourgeois-revolutionary development in Germany. This development itself has really not been all that glorious. But also that which was great about it in world history, the emergence of the idealistic dialectic, was dragged into the dung by the ideologues of the imperialistic period, by the “left” as well as by the right. What right does one have today to wonder that this excrement has become fertilizer for the marsh blossoms of fascism? The National Socialists brutally spit on every memory of the bourgeois-revolutionary period. However, after decades of being spat upon “scientifically” but also systematically, the right to criticism from this side, the arguments of such criticism have, to put it politely, become quite problematic.
The attitude to the past revolutions is determined by the attitude to the coming, to the current, to the revolution knocking at the door. The Weltanschauung is one of the weapons for either illuminating or obscuring the present (and with it the past). The world view either helps to clarify the world of the present, the central questions of the epoch, or to explain them away. In both cases, however, every worldview has a path, and every path has a direction. The path of the bourgeoisie and its ideologues in the age of imperialism took the direction of fascism, unconsciously at first for everyone and later for many. One can turn back on this path and seek one’s way in the opposite direction. But do not imagine that if you sit down in the middle of the path, you are changing direction.
The most honest and far-sighted bourgeois revolutionaries have long recognized where the fork in the road lies. From Gracchus Babeuf, whom Thermidor transformed into a proletarian revolutionary, there is a long chain of great figures via Blanqui and Anatole France, via Johann Jacoby and Franz Mehring to Sun Yat-sen. They all recognized with very different degrees of clarity that the problems of bourgeois society can only be solved in connection with the liberation of the proletariat from capitalist exploitation. Sun Yat-sen just fell at the crossroads. But the fate of his closest disciples and followers clearly shows where the road leads if one ignores the central question of the period: Lenin’s question “Who – whom?” makes it the fulcrum of solving all problems. In China, Chiang Kai-shek and Wang Ching-wei have become slaves of the foreign imperialists. The bourgeois revolution, the national liberation of China had to be betrayed at the same time as the betrayal of the proletarian revolution. In Germany, the question “Who – whom?” was possibly made even clearer. Anyone who does not seek and find connection with the revolutionary proletariat ends up in the system of the “total state,” the Third Reich, as a supporter or “oppositionist,” it does not matter.
Fascism or Bolshevism is the choice facing those alive today. And since they have to make this choice in their material practice, it is also unavoidable for them ideologically. And ideologically, every idealism, every irrationalism, every belief in a myth means choosing the fascist path, and only dialectical materialism, the ideology of the proletariat also points ideologically to the land of liberation from exploitation and slavery! Lenin formulated the essential question harshly and clearly: “Who – whom?” Either monopoly capital will continue to oppress the proletariat and all values of culture will perish ingloriously in the bloody swamp of fascism. Or the proletariat shakes off the fascist-monopoly-capitalist yoke, and the way is clear for a new flourishing of culture, for a culture that breaks the shackles of previous class cultures, the class structure of society, the separation of town and country, of physical and intellectual labor, the educational monopoly, the “servile submission to the division of labor” are destroyed in a long, tenacious struggle. Not we communists, not even a genius like Lenin makes this choice. It has been prepared for by all of human development up to now. In our time, however, the decisive hour has come.
Does this statement mean that anyone who wants to fight fascism seriously must be a dialectical materialist? No way. The camp of determined, heroically self-sacrificing fighters against the Hitler regime, a camp that grows daily and that daily tests its heroism in anonymous everyday struggles, is incomparably broader and wider than that of the communists or even the conscious, clear adherents of dialectical materialism. But since communism, dialectical materialism, alone is capable of giving a clear consciousness of the connections that exist here, anyone who seriously fights fascism inevitably takes steps in the direction of Marxism-Leninism; whether he is aware of it or not. Because the question “Who – whom?”, if not in Lenin’s formulation, if of course not with the systematic and concrete wealth of recognized objective determinations of Marxism-Leninism, everyone who really takes up the fight against fascism must confront it and somehow solve it. And again: whether he is aware of it or not, he must also raise the question of worldview. It does not matter whether a worker in a factory wants to ideologically fight against the further reduction in the standard of living, against the yellow-brown factory terror, etc., or whether an intellectual, for example in emigration, wants to fight against the fascist destruction of culture, he will take the first steps, we repeat: not necessarily in conscious form are these problems encountered. He will, no matter with what degree of awareness, have to ask himself the question “Who – whom?”, but he will feel prevented from taking the right practical position by the various obstacles of an ideological nature.
These inhibitions shimmer in the most diverse colors and merge into one another in various ways. The social-democratic or union-trained worker will experience legalism, the closely associated tendency to wait and see passively, the narrow-minded staring at the merely immediate consequences of action, the slavish respect for “superior authorities,” the illusions about the state and democracy, the end of the illusion that the reformist path is less painful and less dangerous than the revolutionary one, etc. The intellectual is always hampered by the commonality of his own ideological bases and assumptions with those of fascism. The less he is aware of this commonality or begins to become aware of it, the more he finds himself in an inextricable mental labyrinth. But the beautiful and decisive examples to which we have alluded show that once the fundamental question, the question “Who – whom?” even dawns, the path to the right struggle against fascism has been entered. And if it is honest and resolute, both the worker and the petty bourgeois, the intellectual, etc., will benefit from the experience of one’s own practice. Not spontaneously. Not “by itself”. Not without the help of Marxism-Leninism, not without dealing with it, not without assimilating it to a certain extent. But in the uneven interaction of theory and practice: theory, if it cannot be based on the generalization of one’s own experience, necessarily becomes a dead letter, and the decisive thing remains: the real, active, practical struggle against fascism. Except that the practical effectiveness of the struggle is inextricably linked to the level of theoretical clarity.
So for the anti-fascist front, also in the field of worldview issues, it depends on the direction taken by the anti-fascist fighters. Anyone who honestly, albeit slowly and painfully, begins to free himself from his bourgeois habits of thought is de facto closer not only to the anti-fascist fighting front, but also to Marxism-Leninism than the “educated Marxist” who has distanced himself from true Marxism-Leninism in a Brandlerist or Trotskyist manner and has his social-fascist strategy “proven” with quotes from Marx and Lenin. The anti-fascist front is still very broad today, despite being illegal, and is becoming broader as the real struggles grow and intensify. And everyone who is really determined to fight against fascism belongs on this front. The serious decision, however justified, however theoretically based, to join this front, the only fighting front against fascism, already indicates the decisive direction here, also in the field of world view.
The breadth of the battlefront and the theoretical clarity of the vanguard of this battlefront, and their unforgiving rigor in questions of theory, are by no means contradictory. Rather, they are connected to one another in an inseparable interaction; one cannot be realized at all without the other. The theory shows a sectarian narrowness, an idealistic ultra-radicalism, a lack of connection with practice if it does not become the leader and organizer of a broad front of struggle. And no matter how broad is the massiveness, no matter how great is the boldness and determination of the fighters, it will be fruitless if no correct Marxist-Leninist theory continuously shows them the perspective of the struggle and the concrete tasks that will lead to its realization.
It is therefore an indispensable practical requirement for every communist in the successful struggle against fascism to examine his own theoretical armamentarium and to take the most scrupulous care of the purity and effectiveness of this armamentarium. I am now of the opinion that everyone has to begin this work with themselves. I have the following to say to the reader: My book History and Class Consciousness was published about ten years ago and has meanwhile gained a certain notoriety. It owed this “glory” very largely to its mistakes, its deviations from dialectical materialism. When one reads the compliments sugarcoated with criticism, with which the “left-wing” neo-Hegelians in particular shower this book, one cannot help but think of old Bebel’s statement: One must have made a mistake if one is praised by the class enemy. Admittedly, this praise was not necessary to make me realize the errors in my book. History and Class Consciousness has been out of print for about five years; For this reason I did not allow a new edition because of the insight into the essential incorrectness of the book. But when I present myself to the reader today with a new book of philosophical content, I feel obliged to at least briefly enumerate the reasons why I have long since stopped showing solidarity with History and Class Consciousness. All the more so since there are quite a few who still consider this book to be a Marxist weapon against false ideologies. The heart of the question is that of materialism, the question whose ideological and practical meaning is most difficult to grasp for those who come to Marxism from the bourgeois intelligentsia. That is what happened to me back then. When at that time, in false polemics against Friedrich Engels, I denied the possibility of a dialectic knowledge of nature and limited the dialectical method to knowledge of society; when I attacked the theory of images with the “argument” that processes cannot be imaged, this and similar views are based on the fact that we cannot break away from bourgeois idealism. If this was done in the subjective belief of being particularly radical, more radical than the real, materialist communists (the mistakes of History and Class Consciousness are most closely related to those ultra-left tendencies of 1920/21 in the Third International, in which I was very actively involved), this does not change the objective fact that the most serious concessions to the bourgeois idealistic world view were made in decisive questions. However, the ultra-radical illusion when the essential content is turned into the bourgeois-idealistic is very suitable for underlining the current political significance of such mistakes. Because – I repeat what has already been said here and what is still to be said in relation to my old book – how can one successfully fight against modern agnosticism, against the subjectivist dissolution of scientific knowledge of objective, material reality, if one only takes one step or only a few steps done in this direction? How can one hope to fight irrationalism if one still makes the greatest concessions to the theory of spontaneity, as a result of the remnants of Luxemburg’s influences on my book? How do you answer the question “Who – whom?” in a dialectically correct way and solve it correctly in concrete cases when the relationship between class and class-consciousness is thought of with idealistic distortions? etc. etc. One believes he is fighting honestly, but at the same time, unintentionally, supplies the opponent with spiritual weapons.
I have only highlighted some of the most important points which have long caused me to discard my old book. Partly to help ensure that in the future no one will think they can get closer to Marxism with the help of this book. Partly, and this precisely here in order to indicate to those honest intellectuals who are looking for the way to Marxism under the influence of the German events, with a concrete example both for the difficulties of this path and the path of overcoming these difficulties. To show that one must not be satisfied with a certain degree of appropriation of Marxism, but must use the appropriation self-critically for the constant revision of the bourgeois remnants in one’s own thinking. To show that no imaginary ultra-radicalism can protect you from bourgeois-idealistic trains of thought. On the contrary, the clash of subjectivist ultra-radicalism with the collective and collectively-generalized experiences of the Third International all the more leads to relapses into bourgeois thinking. To show that only growing together with the practice of the revolutionary proletariat shows the right way to Marxism-Leninism.
Admittedly, this book is by no means only written for Marxists and for those who are on the way to Marxism. I hope, however, that these (also) subjective observations will also be of interest to other readers. And here, where the author becomes subjective in the only place in this book, he may be permitted to continue briefly. This book was written shortly after Hitler’s seizure of power after my forced emigration, in a few weeks. At the same time, I can say, without much exaggeration, that this book has been in existence for over twenty-five years. As a student of Simmei and Dilthey, as a friend of Max Weber and Emil Lask, as an enthusiastic reader of Stefan George and Rilke, I experienced the entire development described here myself. Admittedly, before or after 1918, on different sides of the barricade. So I must emphasize to the readers who shrink from the consequences of this book, from acknowledging the uniformity of the development of bourgeois thinking from the imperialist period up to fascism, that establishing the connection was not a hasty construction out of polemical considerations, but the summary and generalization of an experienced age. I have had to see many a friend of my youth, honest and convinced romantic anti-capitalists, swallowed up by the storm of fascism. I have seen the great hopes of philosophy and poetry end in vain between the camps, because they could break away from the parasitism of the period only in the conclusions but not in the assumptions of their thinking, because they have broken with the imperialist bourgeoisie only externally and not down to the roots of their being and thinking. And since I managed to save myself from the snares of ideological parasitism, I believe I have the right to call out to my peers in social descent: Eradicate the ideology of the monopoly capitalist period completely, root and branch, if you fight fascism and do not want to be devoured by it.