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vendredi, 27 novembre 2009

Giuseppe Berto, écrivain proscrit et oublié

berto3.jpgRoberto ALFATTI APPETITI:

Giuseppe Berto, écrivain proscrit et oublié

 

Malgré une biographie, remarquable de précision, publiée en 2000 et due à la plume de Dario Biagi, l’établissement culturel italien ne pardonne toujours pas à Giuseppe Berto, l’auteur d’ Il cielo è rosso, d’avoir attaqué avec férocité le pouvoir énorme que le centre-gauche résistentialiste s’est arrogé en Italie. C’est donc la conspiration du silence contre cette “vie scandaleuse”.

 

Quand, en l’an 2000, l’éditeur Bollati Boringhieri a publié la belle biographie de Dario Biagi, La vita scandalosa di Giuseppe Berto, nous nous sommes profondément réjouis et avons espéré que le débat se réamorcerait autour de la figure et de l’oeuvre du grand écrivain de Trévise et que d’autres maisons d’édition trouveraient le courage de proposer à nouveau au public les oeuvres désormais introuvables de Berto, mais, hélas, après quelques recensions fugaces et embarrassées, dues à des journalistes, le silence est retombé sur notre auteur.

 

Du reste, ce n’est pas étonnant, car à la barre d’une bonne partie des maisons d’édition italiennes, nous retrouvons les disciples et les héritiers de cet établissement culturel de gauche que Berto avait combattu avec courage, quasiment seul, payant le prix très élevé de l’exclusion, de l’exclusion hors des salons reconnus de la littérature, et d’un ostracisme systématique qui se poursuit jusqu’à nos jours, plus de vingt ans après la mort de l’écrivain. La valeur littéraire et historique du travail biographique de Biagi réside toute entière dans le fait d’avoir braqué à nouveau les feux de la rampe sur la vie tumultueuse d’un personnage véritablement anti-conformiste, d’un audacieux trouble-fête. Biagi nous a raconté son histoire d’homme et d’écrivain non aligné, ses triomphes et ses chutes. Il nous en a croqué un portrait fidèle et affectueux: “Berto avait tout pour faire un vainqueur: le talent, la fascination, la sympathie; mais il a voulu, et a voulu de toutes ses forces, s’inscrire au parti des perdants”.

 

bertodddd.jpgGiuseppe Berto, natif de Mogliano près de Trévise, surnommé “Bepi” par ses amis, avait fait la guerre d’Abyssinie comme sous-lieutenant volontaire dans l’infanterie et, au cours des quatre années qu’a duré la campagne, il a surmonté d’abord une attaque de la malaria, où il a frôlé la mort, et ensuite a pris une balle dans le talon droit. L’intempérance et l’exubérance de son caractère firent qu’il ne se contenta pas de ses deux médailles d’argent et du poste de secrétaire du “Fascio”, obtenu à l’âge de 27 ans seulement… Il cherchait encore à faire la guerre et, au bout de quelques années, passant sous silence un ulcère qui le tenaillait, réussit à se faire enrôler une nouvelle fois pour l’Afrique où, pendant l’été 1942, l’attendait le IV° Bataillon des Chemises Noires. Avec l’aile radicale des idéalistes rangés derrière la figure de Berto Ricci, il espérait le déclenchement régénérateur d’une seconde révolution fasciste. Il disait: “Avoir participé avec honneur à cette guerre constituera, à mes yeux, un bon droit à faire la révolution”.

 

Mais la guerre finit mal pour Berto et, en mai 1943, il est pris prisonnier en Afrique par les troupes américaines et est envoyé dans un camp au Texas, le “Fascist Criminal Camp George E. Meade” à Hereford, où, à peine arrivé, il apprend la chute de Mussolini. Dans sa situation de prisonnier de guerre, il trouve, dit-il, “les conditions extrêmement favorables” pour écrire et pour penser. Il apprend comment trois cents appareils alliés ont bombardé et détruit Trévise le 7 avril 1944, laissant dans les ruines 1100 morts et 30.000 sans abri. Aussitôt, il veut écrire l’histoire de ces “gens perdus”, en l’imaginant avec un réalisme incroyable. Il l’écrit d’un jet et, en huit mois, son livre est achevé. Juste à temps car les Américains changent d’attitude envers leurs prisonniers “non coopératifs”, les obligeant, par exemple, à déjeuner et à rester cinq ou six heures sous le soleil ardent de l’après-midi texan, pour briser leur résistance. Et Berto demeurera un “non coopératif”. Après de longs mois de tourments, il est autorisé à regagner sa mère-patrie.

 

L’éditeur Longanesi accepte de publier le livre de cet écrivain encore totalement inconnu et, après en avoir modifié le titre, “Perduta gente” (“Gens perdus”), considéré comme trop lugubre, le sort de presse, intitulé “Il sole è rosso”, vers la Noël 1946. Berto a confiance en son talent mais sait aussi quelles sont les difficultés pratiques que recèle une carrière d’écrivain; il commence par rédiger des scénarios de film, ce qu’il considère comme un “vil métier”, afin de lui permettre, à terme, de pratiquer le “noble métier” de la littérature. “Il sole è rosso” connaît un succès retentissant, les ventes battent tous les records en Italie et à l’étranger, en Espagne, en Suisse, en Scandinavie, aux Etats-Unis (20.000 copies en quelques mois) et en Angleterre (5000 copies en un seul jour!). On définit le livre comme “le plus beau roman issu de la seconde guerre mondiale”. En 1948, c’est la consécration car Berto reçoit le prestigieux “Prix Littéraire de Florence”. En 1951, toutefois sa gloire décline en Italie. Son roman “Brigante” demeure ignoré de la critique, alors qu’aux Etats-Unis, il connaît un succès considérable (avec “Il sole è rosso” et “Brigante”, Berto vendra Outre Atlantique deux millions de livres) et le “Time” juge le roman “un chef-d’oeuvre”. Les salons littéraires italiens, eux, ont décidé de mettre à la porte ce “parvenu”, en lui collant l’étiquette de “fasciste nostalgique” et en rappellant qu’il avait refusé de collaborer avec les alliés, même quand la guerre était perdue pour Mussolini et sa “République Sociale”. Biagi nous rappelle cette époque d’ostracisme: “Berto, homme orgueilleux et loyal, refuse de renier ses idéaux et contribue à alimenter les ragots”. Berto ne perd pas une occasion pour manifester son dédain pour ceux qui, subitement, ont cru bon de se convertir à l’antifascisme et qu’il qualifie de “padreterni letterari”, de “résignés de la littérature”. Il s’amuse à lancer des provocations goliardes: “Comment peut-on faire pour que le nombre des communistes diminue sans recourir à la prison ou à la décapitation?”. Il prend des positions courageuses, à contre-courant, à une époque où “le brevet d’antifasciste était obligatoire pour être admis dans la bonne société littéraire” (Biagi).

 

ilcieloerosso1.jpgEn 1955, avec la publication de “Guerra in camicia nera” (“La guerre en chemise noire”), une recomposition de ses journaux de guerre, il amorce lui-même sa chute et provoque “sa mise à l’index par l’établissement littéraire”. Berto déclare alors la guerre au “Palazzo” et se mue en un véritable censeur qui ne cessait plus de fustiger les mauvaises habitudes littéraires. La critique le rejette, comme s’il n’était plus qu’une pièce hors d’usage, ignorant délibérément cet homme que l’on définira plus tard comme celui “qui a tenté, le plus honnêtement qui soit, d’expliquer ce qu’avait été la jeunesse fasciste”. Et la critique se mit ensuite à dénigrer ses autres livres. Etrange destin pour un écrivain qui, rejeté par la critique officielle, jouissait toutefois de l’estime de Hemingway; celui-ci avait accordé un entretien l’année précédente à Venise à un certain Montale, qui fut bel et bien interloqué quand l’crivain américain lui déclara qu’il appréciait grandement l’oeuvre de Berto et qu’il souhaitait rencontrer cet écrivain de Trévise. Ses activités de scénariste marquent aussi le pas, alors que, dans les années antérieures, il était l’un des plus demandés de l’industrie cinématographique. Le succès s’en était allé et Berto retrouvait la précarité économique. Et cette misère finit par susciter en lui ce “mal obscur” qu’est la dépression. L’expérience de la dépression, il la traduira dans un livre célèbre qui lui redonne aussitôt une popularité bien méritée.

 

Mais il garde l’établissement culturel dans son collimateur et ne lâche jamais une occasion pour attaquer “l’illustre et omnipotent Moravia”, grand prêtre de cette intelligentsia, notamment en 1962 lorsqu’est attribué le second Prix Formetor. Ce prix, qui consistait en une somme de six millions de lire, et permettait au lauréat d’être édité dans treize pays, avait été conféré cette fois-là à une jeune femme de vingt-cinq ans, Dacia Maraini, que Moravia lui-même avait appuyée dans le jury; Moravia avait écrit la préface du livre et était amoureux fou de la jeune divorcée et vivait avec elle. Au cours de la conférence de presse, qui suivit l’attribution du Prix, Berto décide de mettre le feu aux poudres, prend la parole et démolit littéralement le livre primé, tout en dénonçant “le danger de corruption que court la société littéraire, si ceux qui jugent de la valeur des oeuvres relèvent désormais d’une camarilla”; sous les ovations du public, il crie à tue-tête “qu’il est temps d’en finir avec ces monopoles culturels protégés par les journaux de gauche”. Toute l’assemblée se range derrière Berto et applaudit, crie, entame des bagarres, forçant la jeune Dacia Maraini à fuir et Moravia à la suivre. Berto n’avait que mépris pour celui qu’il considérait comme “un chef mafieux dans l’orbite culturelle” (comme le rappelle Biagi), comme un “corrupteur”, comme un “écrivain passé de l’érotisme à la mode au marxisme à la mode”. En privé, une gand nombre de critiques reconnaissaient la validité des jugements lapidaires posés par Berto, mais peu d’entre eux osèrent s’engager dans un combat contre la corruption de la littérature et Moravia, grâce à ces démissions, récupéra bien rapidement son prestige.

 

Entretemps, Berto avait surmonté sa crise existentielle et était retourné de toutes ses forces à l’activité littéraire, sans pour autant abandonner ses activités journalistiques où il jouait le rôle de père fouettard ou de martin-bâton, en rédigeant des articles littéraires et des pamphlets incisifs, décochés contre ses détracteurs. “Male oscuro” a connu un succès inimaginable: en quelques mois, on en vend 100.000 copies dans la péninsule et son auteur reçoit le Prix Strega. Berto a reconquis son public, ses lecteurs le plébiscitent mais, comme il fallait s’y attendre, “la critique radicale de gauche le tourne en dérision, minimise la valeur littéraire de ses livres et dénature ses propos”. Ainsi, Walter Pedullà met en doute “l’authenticité du conflit qui avait opposé Berto à son père” et la sincérité même de “Male oscuro” alors que la prestigieuses revue américaine “New York Review of Books” avait défini ce livre comme l’unique ouvrage d’avant-garde dans l’Italie de l’époque. “Mal oscuro”, de plus, gagne deux prix en l’espace d’une semaine, le Prix Viareggio et le Prix Campiello.

 

Berto a retouvé le succès mais, malgré cela, il ne renonce pas au ton agressif qui avait été le sien dans ses années noires, notamment dans les colonnes du “Carlino” et de la “Nazione” et, plus tard, du “Settimanale” de la maison Rusconi, tribune du haut de laquelle il s’attaque “aux hommes, aux institutions et aux mythes”. En 1971, Berto publie un pamphlet “Modesta proposta per prevenire” qui, malgré les recensions négatives de la critique, se vend à 40.000 copies en quelques mois. Si on relisait ce pamphlet aujourd’hui, du moins si un éditeur trouvait le courage de le republier, on pourrait constater la lucidité de Berto lorsqu’il donnait une lecture anticonformiste et réaliste de la société italienne de ces années-là. On découvrirait effectivement sa clairvoyance quand il repérait les mutations de la société italienne et énonçait les prospectives qu’elles rendaient possibles. Déjà à l’époque, il dénonçait notre démocratie comme une démocratie bloquée et disait qu’au fascisme, que tous dénonçaient, avait succédé un autre régime basé sur la malhonnêteté. Il stigmatisait aussi la “dégénérescence partitocratique et consociative de la vie politique italienne” et, toujours avec le sens du long terme, annonçait l’avènement du fédéralisme, du présidentialisme et du système électoral majoritaire. Il jugeait, et c’était alors un sacrilège, la résistance comme “un phénomène minoritaire, confus et limité dans le temps, … rendu possible seulement par la présence sur le sol italien des troupes alliées”. Pour Berto, c’était le fascisme, et non la résistance, “qui constituait l’unique phénomène de base national-populaire observable en Italie depuis le temps de César Auguste”.

 

Lors d’une intervention tenue pendant le “Congrès pour la Défense de la Culture” à Turin, sous les auspices du MSI, Berto se déclare “a-fasciste” tout en affirmant qu’il ne tolérait pas pour cela l’antifascisme car, “en tant que pratique des intellectuels italiens, il est terriblement proche du fascisme… l’antifascisme étant tout aussi violent, sinon plus violent, coercitif, rhétorique et stupide que le fascisme lui-même”. Berto désignait en même temps les coupables: “les groupes qui constituent le pouvoir intellectuel... tous liés les uns aux autres par des principes qu’on ne peut mettre en doute car, tous autant qu’ils sont, se déclarent démocratiques, antifascistes et issus de la résistance. En réalité, ce qui les unit, c’est une communauté d’intérêt, de type mafieux, et la RAI est entre leurs mains, de même que tous les périodiques et les plus grands quotidiens… Si un intellectuel ne rentre pas dans un de ces groupes ou en dénonce les manoeuvres, concoctées par leurs chefs, il est banni, proscrit. De ses livres, on parlera le moins possible et toujours en termes méprisants… On lui collera évidemment l’étiquette de ‘fasciste’, à titre d’insulte”. Dans son intervention, Berto conclut en affirmant “qu’en Italie, il n’y a pas de liberté pour l’intellectuel”.

 

On se doute bien que la participation à un tel congrès et que de telles déclarations procurèrent à notre écrivain de solides inimitiés. Aujourd’hui, plus de vingt ans après sa mort, il continue à payer la note: son oeuvre et sa personne subissent encore et toujours une conspiration du silence, qui ne connaît aucun précédent dans l’histoire de la littérature italienne.

 

Roberto ALFATTI APPETITI.

(article paru dans le magazine “Area”, Rome, Anno V, n°49, juillet-août 2000; trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers, novembre 2009).

jeudi, 26 novembre 2009

L'art et la guerre: de Céline à H. G. Wells

Paul MODAVE :

L’art et la guerre : de Céline à H. G. Wells

 

Article paru dans « Le Soir », Bruxelles, le 18 juillet 1944

 

Au moment où l’invasion et les bombardements aériens dévastent les cités d’art de l’Occident, l’hebdomadaire français « la gerbe » vient d’ouvrir une enquête auprès des personnalités représentatives des lettres françaises afin d’offrir à celles-ci l’occasion de manifester leur réaction devant le saccage du pays.

 

eglisestjulienenruines.jpgCe qui frappe dans beaucoup de ces réponses, c’est leur réticence. Ainsi M. de Montherlant ne voit dans cette enquête qu’une « recherche académique ». M. Georges Ripert, doyen de la Faculté de Droit de Paris, regrette que « dirigeant une maison où il y a beaucoup de jeunes gens, il lui soit impossible d’accorder d’interview » ; quant à Ferdinand Céline, il répond sans ambages « qu’il donnerait toutes les cathédrales du monde pour arrêter la tuerie », ce qui est une plaisante façon de ne rien dire.

 

Commentant cette enquête dans « L’Echo de la France », M. Robert Brasillach s’exprime en ces termes : « Les professionnels de l’art savent bien, Céline aussi bien entendu, que la destruction des cathédrales ou des palais n’arrêtera pas pour cela la tuerie. Mais voilà, dire qu’on désapprouve  —ce serait bien timide cependant—  la destruction inutile de la beauté du monde, c’est donner des gages à l’Allemagne, paraît-il ! On a passé trente, quarante ans à discuter sur l’art et à plaindre nos civilisations mortelles, mais lorsque les trésors de cet art sont renversés par le souffle des machines à détruire, on se tait. On dira ce que l’on pense après la guerre, bien sûr, nuancé à la couleur du vainqueur, s’il y a un vainqueur et s’il y a une après-guerre ».

 

Et après avoir constaté que le dernier témoignage de liberté d’esprit aura été fourni par les cardinaux de France et de Belgique, M. Brasillach conclut par ses mots : « Aujourd’hui, la parole est aux forces et à leurs rapports. Tout s’est simplifié. Mais on pense seulement que la beauté du monde est chaque jour assassinée, et qu’un univers où risquent de manquer demain, Rouen, Caen, Pérouse, Sienne, Florence, n’est pas un univers dont les artistes, fût-ce par leur silence, aient le droit de se dire fiers. Si le « saint Augustin bouclé », de Benozzo Gozzoli, est détruit, dans ses fresques dorées de San-Gimignano, si la « Charité » ne rayonne plus sur les murailles d’Assise, si, de même qu’on ne peut plus errer au pied des plus nobles façades médiévales de Rostock ou de Hambourg, demain c’est le quai aux Herbes de Gand, qui s’effondre dans le néant où sont déjà les rues rouennaises et les églises de Caen ; et si l’on trouve cela tout naturel et si l’on ne souffre pas dans son cœur de civilisé, alors il me semble qu’on perd le droit de parler de culture et de barbarie, qu’on perd le droit, dans l’avenir, d’affirmer que l’on aime l’Italie, l’art roman, la sculpture française si tendre et si virile, il me semble que le silence qui sert aujourd’hui d’alibi devrait être le silence de toute une vie ».

 

On ne peut pas mieux dire. Mais dans le même moment où les artistes français se montrent si discrets ou si réticents, l’écrivain anglais H.-G. Wells, dans un article paru dans « Sunday Dispatch », bientôt repris dans le périodique « World Review », exprime ainsi son opinion sur la destruction des monuments d’art de l’Italie : « Dans tout ce territoire, il n’y a pas une seule œuvre d’art, à l’exception peut-être de manuscrits pouvant être mis facilement à l’abri, qui ne puisse être entièrement détruite, et l’héritage de l’humanité n’en éprouvera pas la moindre perte en beauté. Nous possédons notamment les maquettes de toutes ces statues qui peuvent être copiées, y compris leur patine ».

 

caen_ruins.jpg

J’espère que nos lecteurs auront savouré comme il convient l’humour  —hélas ! inconscient—  de M. H.-G. Wells. Mais il ne s’agit pas d’une boutade. Pour l’auteur, auteur particulièrement sérieux mais aussi évidemment privé du sens de l’art que l’aveugle du sens des couleurs, ne comptent que les statues cataloguées dont on possède les maquettes ! La qualité originale d’une œuvre, le milieu spirituel dont elle fait partie intégrante, lui échappe avec une certitude indiscutable. Et il le prouve bien lorsqu’il déclare plus loin, avec autant de pédantisme béat que de solennelle bêtise : « L’art et le goût de l’art sont de suprêmes offenses au charme inépuisable des créations de la nature ».

 

 

Alors qu’il n’est que trop évident que l’art est exactement le contraire, c’est-à-dire une action de grâce, un cri d’amour et de reconnaissance devant la beauté de la vie !

 

Au pays basque, au déclin d’une belle journée, il n’est pas rare que des couples de paysans se mettent, en pleine campagne, à danser et à chanter, pour rien, pour personne, pour la joie de vivre. L’art n’est pas autre chose, à l’origine, que ce chant et cette danse. Mais revenons à M. Wells, qui se hâte d’ajouter : « L’œil embrasse plus de beauté en contemplant un oiseau qui plane, un poisson qui s’ébat dans l’eau, les reflets dans une chute d’eau ou toutes les ombres qui se dessinent sous les branches d’un arbre éclairé par le soleil que nous, misérables gâcheurs, puissions espérer imaginer ou imiter ».

 

Certes. Mais selon le mot de Debussy : « Les gens n’admettent jamais que la plupart d’entre eux n’entendent ni ne voient » et c’est le rôle de l’artiste de leur ouvrir les oreilles et les yeux à la beauté du monde. Il est trop facile, presque élémentaire, d’énumérer ici ce que chaque artiste nous enseigne au premier coup d’œil : Rubens, la joie triomphante de vivre ; Renoir, la beauté rayonnante de la créature humaine ; Vermeer de Delft, le charme profond des intérieurs où se jouent les lumières et les ombres ; Chardin, la secrète poésie qui vit au cœur des plus humbles objets, des plus usuels. Tout cela et bien davantage encore…

 

Je sais, hélas ! qu’il n’en est plus ainsi : que ces échanges permanents entre la vie et l’art ne nous sont plus sensibles ; que l’art, né spontanément de la vie, a cessé de nous y ramener avec des facultés plus vives et plus aigües. Les esthètes restent confinés dans un étouffant esthétisme qui n’a d’autre fin que lui-même. Les « viveurs », si je puis les appeler ainsi, ceux qui « vivent leur vie » comme ils disent, m’apparaissent aussi peu soucieux de la beauté des oiseaux qui planent que de la grâce des poissons qui s’ébattent, n’en déplaise à M. Wells. Qu’est-ce que cela veut dire sinon que l’homme a cessé de mettre en jeu toutes ses facultés, de vivre pleinement ? C’est là une des raisons les plus profondes de notre décadence. 

 

Céline, contempteur du monde moderne, pas plus que Wells qui s’en fait l’apologiste, n’y ont trouvé de remède. C’est que l’un et l’autre appartiennent à différents égards, à cette décadence que le Docteur Carrel a si bien diagnostiquée : « Nous cherchons à développer en nous l’intelligence. Quant aux activités non intellectuelles de l’esprit, telles que le sens moral, le sens du beau et surtout le sens du sacré, elles sont négligées de façon presque complète. L’atrophie de ces qualités fondamentales fait de l’homme moderne un être spirituellement aveugle ».

 

Et, pour revenir au sujet de cet article, cela explique bien des erreurs de jugement, bien des réticences, bien des silence…

 

Paul Modave.

mercredi, 25 novembre 2009

Le Magazine des livres n°20

mdl20-couvhdef.jpg

 

En kiosque

Le Magazine des Livres n°20, Novembre/Décembre 2009

Sommaire

mercredi, 11 novembre 2009

Was le Corbusier een fascist?

Was Le Corbusier een fascist?

LE CORBUSIEREx: Deltastichting - Nieuwsbrief nr. 29 - November 2009
Vanuit Zwitserland – en van daaruit vanuit Duitsland – krijgt nu ook de herinnering aan de modernistische architectuur, Le Corbusier, een vreemde bijsmaak. In de grote pers werd de afgelopen dagen namelijk beweerd dat Le Corbusier wel eens een fascist zou kunnen geweest zijn.
 
Het Zwitserse weekblad Die Weltwoche bracht begin oktober een artikel uit met de alleszeggende titel Le Corbusier bewonderde de Nazis en Hitler. De journalist wou hiermee vooral de ‘schande’ onderstrepen van het feit dat diezelfde Le Corbusier op de bankbriefjes van 10 euro zou komen.  Bedoeling is om het leven van de architect op een zodanige manier ‘bruin’ in te kleuren, dat zijn aanhangers, die vooral onder de links-liberale jetset moeten worden gezocht, de grootmeester van de moderne bouwkunst zouden laten vallen.

Aanleiding tot het artikel zijn verder een aantal antisemitische uitlatingen van de architect, alsook enkele brieven die hij na de Duitse overwinning in juni 1940 aan het nieuwe Franse staatshoofd Pétain heeft geschreven, en de omgang die hij met bepaalde collaborateurs zou hebben gehad, waardoor hij eigenlijk te dicht zou hebben aangeschurkt bij figuren als Arno Breker, Veit Harlan of Leni Riefenstahl. Le Corbusier, die de Franse nationaliteit had aangenomen, zag de nederlaag van zijn land en de Duitse overwinning als voorwaarde “voor een verbetering van de wereld”. Volgens de Zwitserse media moet hij hierdoor worden beschouwd als de “Grootbouwmeester van de totalitaire wereld”.

Steeds weer dat moraliserende vingertje dus, als het gaat over bepaalde politieke verstrikkingen van kunstenaars, terwijl communistische sympathieën nog nooit iemand de kop hebben gekost. Kan men zich voorstellen dat een Zwitsers toparchitect lid zou zijn van de linkse cultuurscene, lid van de KP, en die uiteindelijk zijn kennis en kunde ten dienste zou stellen van een totalitaire staat als de DDR, door dezelfde journalistieke haat ten gronde zou worden gericht? De architect bestaat, heet Sigrid Giedion, en werd nooit verontrust.

Het geval Le Corbusier

Eigenlijk wordt er in Die Weltwoche niet veel nieuws verteld. Het is meestal opgewarmde kost, ook nu weer. Het Zwitserse weekblad kan niet anders dan te wijzen op de extreme ijdelheid en het ‘ontwikkelde egoïsme’ van de architect. Ook de verhalen over zijn opportunisme kenden we al. Maar het was opportunisme niet uit karakterzwakte, maar wel vanuit een permanente zoektocht naar mogelijkheden om zijn werk te slijten. Alleen machthebbers konden hem voldoende ‘mogelijkheden’ aanbieden, en dus ging hij bij hen aankloppen. Bij allemaal trouwens, en dus niet alleen bij de nazi’s.
 
COVER WELTWOCHEZoals zovele kunstenaars ging Le Corbusier dus ook in de richting van de Sojet-Unie zoeken, aangetrokken als hij was door het grootse, zelfs megalomane van de economische 5-jaarplannen. De architect stond in die tijd in rechtse kringen bekend als “saloncommunist” en “fakkel van Moskou”. Raar toch dat het Zwitserse weekblad hier géén commentaar moet ventileren…

Na Stalin ging het richting Mussolini en natuurlijk Pétain, wat echter niet zo’n goede keuze was, als men aan het eerder bekrompen, kneuterig conservatisme van de Franse maarschalk denkt. Le Corbusier kwam juist met radicale plannen binnen om Parijs volledig nieuw te ordenen. Belangrijk is natuurlijk de vaststelling dat met de nederlaag van Frankrijk in 1940 de algemene stemming in Europa zo was dat iedereen dacht dat het Duitse Rijk een blijvende invloed zou uitoefenen. Le Corbusier dacht op dat vlak niet anders dan andere progressieve geesten als André Gide en Teilhard de Chardin. Iedereen leek zich bij de overtuiging aan te sluiten dat een nieuwe, Duits gerichte periode in Europa aangebroken leek. Een overtuiging dit ongeveer anderhalf jaar in geheel Europa – met uitzondering van Groot-Brittannië allicht – overeind bleef. Maar zijn de brieven en groetboodschappen aan collaborateurs voldoende om Le Corbusier als fascist te bestempelen? Of moet men hem gewoon als ‘voorstander van een nieuw gebouw voor Europa’ beschouwen? Een kunstenaar die verdwaald tussen de aantrekkingskracht van totalitaire regimes, gevangen werd door de esthetisering van de politiek, en de ‘mogelijkheden’ die hem dit bood.
 
Dit ‘nieuwe schandaal’, dat misschien ook dankzij weldenkend links naar België en Nederland komt overwaaien, is er in feite géén. Much ado about nothing, als het ware.
 
 
(Peter Logghe)

Innerlichkeit und Staatskunst - Zum Wirken Friedrich Hielschers

hielscher.jpgInnerlichkeit und Staatskunst -

 

Zum Wirken Friedrich Hielschers

 

 

 

"Zwei Tyrannen tun dem Deutschen not: ein äußerer, der ihn zwingt, sich der Welt gegenüber als Deutscher zu fühlen, und ein innerer, der ihn zwingt, sich selbst zu verwirklichen."

- Ernst Jünger

 

 

 

Verfasser: Richard Schapke

 

 

 

Der am 7. März 1990 auf dem Rimprechtshof im Schwarzwald verstorbene Friedrich Hielscher gehörte mit Sicherheit zu den originellsten Ideologen der Konservativen Revolution. Da er sich nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg noch weniger als ohnehin schon um öffentliche Breitenwirkung scherte, gerieten seine Arbeiten in fast vollständige Vergessenheit, auch wenn Hielschers Name des öfteren in Jüngers "Strahlungen" auftaucht. In jüngster Zeit ist eine regelrechte Wiederentdeckung des unkonventionellen Nietzscheaners zu bemerken - Grund genug für einen Versuch, sich Friedrich Hielschers Leben und Werk zu nähern. Wir greifen hierbei oftmals auf Originalzitate zurück, um den Gegenstand unserer Betrachtung in seinen eigenen Worten sprechen zu lassen. Mitunter sind Zitate und Analysen aus der nach dem Zweiten Weltkrieg veröffentlichten Autobiographie "Fünfzig Jahre unter Deutschen" eingeflochten. Aus inhaltlichen Gründen gehen wir hierbei von der Chronologie der Veröffentlichung ab.

 

1. Herkunft

 

Friedrich Hielscher wurde am 31. Mai 1902 in Guben (nach anderen Angaben in Plauen/Vogtland) in eine nationalliberale Kaufmannsfamilie hineingeboren. Gerade 17 Jahre alt geworden, absolvierte er sein Kriegsabitur am Humanistischen Gymnasium, um sich fast unmittelbar darauf einem der gegen Spartakisten und Separatisten oder in den Grenzkämpfen im Osten fechtenden Freikorps anzuschließen. Dieses Freikorps Hasse ging im Juni 1919 aus der MG-Kompanie des ehemaligen Infanterieregiments 99 hervor und kam in Oberschlesien gegen polnische Insurgenten zum Einsatz. Zu den Freikorpskameraden Hielschers gehörte Arvid von Harnack, der später durch seine Mitarbeit in Harro Schulze-Boysens Roter Kapelle zu Berühmtheit gelangen sollte. Die Einheit bewährte sich und wurde in die Reichswehr übernommen, aber Hielscher quittierte den Dienst im März 1920, da er eine Beteiligung am überstürzten Kapp-Putsch gegen die Republik ablehnte.

 

Es folgte ein Jurastudium in Berlin, das von regelmäßigen Besuchen an der Hochschule für Politik begleitet wurde. Dem Brauch entsprechend schloß Hielscher sich einer Studentenverbindung an und wählte die Normannia Berlin. Nach einer vorübergehenden Mitgliedschaft im Reichsclub der nationalliberalen Deutschen Volkspartei (DVP) traten in Gestalt des aus der SPD hervorgegangenen nationalen Sozialisten August Winnig und des Geschichtsphilosophen Oswald Spengler prägendere politische Einflüsse an ihn heran. Von Winnig übernahm Hielscher die Überzeugtheit von einer weltgeschichtlichen Mission Deutschlands, vom Spengler das zyklische Geschichtsbild. Hinzu kam das in den Werken Ernst Jüngers herausgearbeitete Kriegertum.

 

Im Jahr 1924 erfolgte der Wechsel nach Jena, wo Hielscher das Referendarexamen bestand und im Dezember 1926 mit Auszeichnung zum Doktor beider Rechte promovierte. Die ungeliebte Beschäftigung als Verwaltungsjurist im preußischen Staatsdienst wurde nach nicht einmal einem Jahr im November 1927 aufgegeben. Die Anforderungen des Studiums behinderten nicht den häufigen Besuch des Weimarer Nietzsche-Archivs. Friedrich Nietzsche sollte dann auch über seine Schwester Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche der letzte wirklich prägende Bestandteil des sich allmählich herauskristallisierenden Weltbildes sein. Von Dauer war die weitere Beteiligung als Alter Herr am Verbandsleben der Normannia Berlin, wo Hielscher die Bekanntschaft von Persönlichkeiten wie Horst Wessel, Hanns Heinz Ewers und Kurt Eggers machte.

 

2. Innerlichkeit

 

Am 26. Dezember 1926 betrat Friedrich Hielscher mit dem Aufsatz "Innerlichkeit und Staatskunst" die Bühne der politischen Publizistik. Der junge Jurist hatte sich auf Rat Winnigs dem nationalrevolutionären Kreis um die Wochenzeitung "Arminius" angeschlossen, dem nicht zuletzt Ernst Jünger das Gepräge gab. Aus der Begegnung mit Jünger entstand eine lebenslange Freundschaft. "Innerlichkeit und Staatskunst" enthält bereits alle wesentlichen Aspekte des Hielscherschen Weltbildes und soll daher ausführlicher dokumentiert werden.

 

hielscher13551837n.jpg"Seien wir ehrlich: wir stehen nicht am Beginn eines neuen Aufstieges, sondern vor dem Ende des alten Zusammenbruches. Dieses Ende liegt noch vor uns. Wir müssen erst noch durch das Schlimmste hindurch, ehe wir ans neue Werk gehen können. Jeder, der jetzt schon mit irgendeinem Aufbau beginnt, tut sinnlose Arbeit. Das will folgendes heißen. Jede kriegerische Vorbereitung, die auf einen Befreiungskrieg in der Gegenwart oder der nahen Zukunft abzielt, ist wertlose Spielerei und grob fahrlässige Dummheit. Jeder geistige Versuch, einigende Bünde, Verbände, kulturelle Vereinigungen, Weisheitsschulen, oder wie man das Zeug sonst nennen mag, in der Gegenwart zu gründen, ist Selbstbetrug und Unehrlichkeit der inneren Haltung.

(...) Beweise haben in der Welt der Tatsachen keinen Sinn.. Es ist noch nie vorgekommen, daß man politische Gegner durch Beweise bekehrt oder in ihrer Stellung erschüttert hätte. Aber es ist nötig, daß die sich einig werden, die im Grunde ihres Wesens Träger ein und desselben Zieles sind: des heiligen Deutschen Reiches. Zu dieser Einigung bedarf es des gegenseitigen Verständnisses. Dieses Verständnis fehlt. Ihm dient die folgende Begründung. Sie bildet sich nicht ein, daß an dem kommenden deutschen Zerfall irgend etwas zu ändern sei. Aber sie ist der Überzeugung, daß es jetzt schon an der Zeit ist, an der geistigen Haltung zu arbeiten, von der aus der spätere Aufbau allein beginnen kann.

Seit die Germanen in Berührung mit der kraftlos gewordenen und überreifen römisch-byzantinisch-christlichen Kulturenvielfalt gekommen sind, die den Ausgang des sogenannten Altertums bildet, ist ihre innere Haltung unfrei. Seit sie das Denken dieser fremden Welten übernommen haben, unfähig, die kaum zum Ausdruck gekommene eigene Art gegen das jeder Unmittelbarkeit längst entwachsene, zu Ende gedachte fremde Wesen zu schützen, seit dieser Zeit ist die deutsche Haltung zweispältig (sic!). Der Deutsche bejaht den Kampf als solchen; aber die müde Sittlichkeit der Fremden sucht den Frieden. Seit also der deutsche Geist überfremdet ist, wird jede deutsche Kampfhandlung mit schlechtem Gewissen getan, wird halb, kommt nicht zum endgültigen Erfolge und sinkt nach oft prachtvollem Aufschwung immer wieder in sich zusammen. Staatskunst ist die Fähigkeit, die eigenen Kampfhandlungen mit dauerndem Erfolg nach außen zu verwirklichen. Seit der Deutsche überfremdet ist, steht die deutsche Staatskunst allein und hat die deutsche Innerlichkeit nicht geschlossen hinter sich. (...)

Mit Bismarcks Entlassung verwandelte sich das Bismärckische Reich in den Wilhelminischen Staat, in ein Verfassgebilde, dessen Untergang unvermeidbar war. Diese Unvermeidbarkeit zeigte sich im Weltkriege. Wenn kriegerisches Heldentum ein Schicksal wenden kann, dann mußten wir siegen. Aber wir mußten die Fahnen senken, weil hinter dem deutschen Krieger nicht die deutsche Heimat stand als eine Einheit innerlichsten Glaubens, Wollens, Denkens, als eine Welt der ungetrübten reinen und abgrundtiefen Zuversicht. So kam die Niederlage. Der Staat der Weimarer Verfassung ist nicht ein neues Gebilde, das von seinem Vorgänger irgendwie wesentlich verschieden wäre, sondern nur die letzte Gestalt des Wilhelminischen Staates, die dessen alberne, wertlose, erbärmliche Seiten in vorbildlicher Deutlichkeit und - freilich unbewußter - Ehrlichkeit zeigt.

So ist hier nichts mehr zu halten und zu retten. Je eher dieser Staat zugrunde geht, um so besser ist es für die deutsche Sache. Sein weiteres Schicksal ist uns vollendet gleichgültig. Soll ich noch deutlicher werden? Also ist hier nichts mehr zu verbessern. Wenn das noch möglich wäre, dann würde zudem nicht das kindische Hurraschreien scheinkriegerischer Aufzüge von Wert sein, sondern einzig und allein ein verbissenes, unterirdisches, schweigendes und selbstverleugnendes Arbeiten, das vom Kleinsten anfängt, wie Friedrich Wilhelm der Erste angefangen hat. Aber weil es nicht möglich ist, an diesem Staat noch Hand anzulegen, bleibt nur eins übrig: in sich zu gehen, und aus der Tiefe des eigenen Herzens die Zuversicht, den Glauben heraufzuholen, der die deutsche Zukunft tragen und ohne den das neue Werk nicht begonnen werden wird. (...)"

 

Wir fassen zusammen: Der Zusammenbruch der liberalkapitalistischen Ordnung ist nicht in vollem Gange, sondern er steht erst noch bevor. Vor diesem Kollaps sind jede Aufbauarbeit und jede politische Partizipation zwecklos. Das deutsche Wesen wurde vom westlich-christlichen Materialismus überfremdet, und daher war die Niederlage des verwestlichten Kaiserreiches im Weltkrieg unvermeidbar. Die Republik ist die Fortsetzung des wilhelminischen Staates in anderem Gewande und ebenso wie er dem Untergang geweiht.

 

Am 30. Januar 1927 legte Hielscher den Aufsatz "Der andere Weg" nach: "Will ein unterworfenes Volk frei werden, so muß es dazu zweierlei tun: es muß erstens innerlich einig werden und zweitens seine staatskünstlerische Begabung betätigen...Für die Betätigung unserer staatskünstlerischen Begabung fehlen uns die Mittel." Der Hauptfeind waren nicht die unterdrückten asiatischen Völker, sondern die "Träger der europäischen Zivilisation...Aber wir bestreiten, daß wir zur Freiheit, d.h. zum selbstherrlichen Gebrauch unserer eigenen Kräfte gelangen können, ohne in entscheidenden Gegensatz zu Europa zu treten...Daher ist es geboten, unsere ganzen Fähigkeiten auf den anderen Weg zu richten, dessen Begehung ebenfalls unumgänglich notwendig ist, auf die endliche Einigung des deutschen Geistes." Angezeigt ist die "mephistophelische Schlangenhaftigkeit und Gewandtheit in der Verschleierung der tiefsten Gründe und Hintergründe". In diesem Kampf sind alle Mittel erlaubt, solange man die eigene Treue nicht verletzt. "Ersichtlich setzt eine solche Handlungsweise eine Sicherheit der inneren Haltung voraus, die kaum überbietbar ist." Der geistige Kampf gilt nicht etwa der etwaigen Undurchsichtigkeit des Handelns, sondern der Vielfältigkeit der fremden Einflüsse. Einzig auf eigenen Willen gegründet ist die Welt eines neuen Geistes, einer machtwilligen Seele zu errichten. "Das ist das Ziel. Der Weg zu ihm führt über eine rücksichtslose strenge Selbsterziehung eines jeden Einzelnen. Er führt über das eindeutige Bekenntnis zu dem Glauben, an den sich die Dichter der alten Sagen, an den sich Eckehart, Luther, Goethe und Nietzsche hingegeben haben. Er führt über die Gestaltung jener Erziehung aus diesem Glauben heraus zur Züchtung eines Geschlechts, das im Opferdienst am deutschen Glauben einig und deshalb, und nur deshalb, berufen ist, das staatskünstlerische Werk zu vollbringen, zu dem die Gegenwart ebensowohl aus einem Mangel an äußerem Willen wie aus innerer Glaubenslosigkeit nicht geeignet ist."

 

Am 13. Februar 1927 folgte "Die faustische Seele": "Die seelische Zugehörigkeit zum Deutschtum ist das Grunderlebnis der deutschen Menschen. Der letzte große Versuch, sich mit diesem Grunderlebnis im Bewußtsein auseinanderzusetzen, ist Spenglers Lehre von der faustischen Kultur. Der deutsche ist der faustische Mensch. Die faustische Kultur ist das deutsche Seelentum. Spengler sieht es aus dem unendlichkeitsverlorenen Walhall mit seinen tiefen Mitternächten herabsteigen in die Tiefen der Mystik, sieht es zu endlosen Kämpfen, gleichgültig gegen den Tod, das Schwert ziehen, die gotischen Dome wollen den Himmel stürmen, der lutherische Bauerntrotz schlägt drein, ins Grenzenlose schreitet die wälderhafte nordische Musik, unter den zartesten und weltseligsten Melodien ihre gewaltige Einsamkeit verbergend oder sie hinausschreiend in Sturm und Gewitter, aus Not und Elend und Blut steigt das Preußentum empor, und als dem Faust der Zarathustra folgt, erschüttern Wagners Posaunen die Welt und der Preuße Bismarck holt die Krone aus dem Rhein. Dann folgt der Zusammenbruch, und von neuem beginnt der alte Kampf (...)

Ich sehe einen langen Weg. Im Urdämmer der Sage stehen der deutsche Machtwille und die deutsche Innerlichkeit zueinander und sind untrennbar verbunden....Friedrich Nietzsche, der letzte große Träger der deutschen Innerlichkeit, hat den Willen zur Macht gelehrt und so die alte Weisheit wieder geweckt, die von den Tagen der Götter, von den Tagen Sigfrids und Hagens her die deutsche Sittlichkeit verkündet. Wenn unsere Innerlichkeit wieder gelernt haben wird, ihr zu folgen, wenn der deutsche Machtwille nicht mehr alleinstehen wird, erst dann, aber dann sicher, wird die deutsche Zwietracht aufhören, wird sich das deutsche Menschentum vollenden und in seiner Vollendung heimfinden zu dem ewigen Brunnen, aus dem es entstiegen ist."

 

Verdeutlicht wird diese Darstellung der faustischen Seele durch den Aufsatz "Die Alten Götter". Sagen, Märchen und die germanisch-keltische Mythologie bilden die Heimat der deutschen Seele. Hielscher betont den Kampf als Daseinsprinzip: "Das versteht nur ein Deutscher, daß man sich gegenseitig die tiefsten Wunden schlagen und dennoch die beste Freundschaft halten kann. Denn der Deutsche ist in seinem Innern selber so: hundert- und tausendfältig zerrissen, ein Schlachtgebiet aller holden und unholden Geister, und aus dieser Zerrissenheit seinen Stolz herausholend und eine höhere Einheit, die über allem Ernste sich ein Lächeln bewahrt hat, und über allen Abgründen eine einsame und lichte Höhe, die ihren Glanz in alle Tiefen schickt....Der Kampf ist das Nein, und die Vollendung ist das Ja. Die Geburt des Ja aus dem Nein, die Vollendung im Kampfe, das ist das Lied von den alten Göttern. Es ist das Lied, das alle großen Träger der deutschen Innerlichkeit verkündet haben. Wenn Eckehart die brennende Seele lehrte, in der doch eine ungetrübte schweigende Stille herrscht, wenn Luther im Wirken und durch das Wirken Satans die Allmacht Gottes geschehen sah, wenn Goethe alles Drängen und Ringen als ewige Ruhe in Gott erlebte, wenn endlich Nietzsches Welt des Willens zur Macht, diese Welt des Ewig-sich-selber-Schaffens und Ewig-sich-selber-Zerstörens als endloser Kreislauf zu sich selber guten Willen hatte, so war das immer nur das alte Lied" (der nordischen Mythologie). "So wird der Kampf zum Selbstsinn, und die Treue in diesem Kampfe ist das Höchste. Es gibt nichts anderes. Um des Kampfes willen ist die Innerlichkeit da, weil sie die Kraft zu diesem Kampfe gibt...Das ist eine ganz andere Treue, als die Gegenwart sie kennt. Das ist die Treue, die alles opfert, den Schwur, die Ehre, das eigene Blut; die Treue, die nur das eigene Werk und seine Vollendung im Kampfe kennt."

 

Das Leben der Völker bemißt sich nach Völkerjahren mit den vier Jahreszeiten. Hielscher zieht zahlreiche Allegorien mit dem Vegetationszyklus eines Baumes. Die Deutschen befinden sich derzeit im Stadium des Winters, ausgelöst durch die "Verstofflichung", den Materialismus der westlichen Zivilisation. Die Entstehung des Materialismus verortet Hielscher bereits zu Zeiten der Renaissance, aus der sich der Frühkapitalismus entwickelte. Der Mensch will nicht mehr gebunden sein, sondern wider seine Natur nur noch von sich selbst abhängen. Religion, Volk, Tradition und Kultur weichen dem Individualismus. Die Menschen haben die Wahl, ob der Winter "die Umkehr oder den Tod bringen (wird), nach unserer Wahl und nach der zukommenden Gnade der Götter".

"Wer die Kälte der Oberfläche ändern wollte, würde als Schwarmgeist scheitern. Desgleichen steht nicht in der Hand der Wurzeln und der Wintersaat  und nicht in der Hand des Menschen. Vielmehr ist uns diese Kälte vorgegeben." Jeder Winter birgt den Keim des Frühlings, nicht zuletzt symbolisiert durch die Sonnenwende.

 

"An der Quelle muß der Strom versiegen, an der Wurzel muß das Unheil absterben. Und in Quelle und Wurzelgrund muß das Heil von neuem gewonnen werden." Das Reich ist noch nicht stark genug, um oberirdisch gedeihen zu können. Es ist verborgen im Inneren seiner Glieder, eines neuen Menschentypus, keine sichtbare Gestalt. Innerlichkeit und Wille zur Macht verknüpfen sich miteinander.

So geht es heute nicht mehr um das Retten des alten abendländischen Leibes, sondern um das Bilden des neuen." Soziale Herkunft und Interessen der Unterirdischen sind gleichgültig. "Und jeder mag unter den Vorbildern sich seinen Helden wählen."

 

3. Staatskunst

 

Nachdem Hielscher dergestalt die Notwendigkeit unterstrichen hatte, ein neues Bewußtsein als Grundvoraussetzung erfolgreichen Handelns zu schaffen, wandte er sich außenpolitischen Fragen zu. Im März 1927 veröffentlichte der "Arminius" seinen vielbeachteten Aufsatz "Für die unterdrückten Völker!", der Hielscher gewissermaßen zum Erfinder des Befreiungsnationalismus machen sollte. Wir merken an, daß derartige Gedankengänge auch schon im Werk Moeller van den Brucks auftauchen.

 

Der Erste Weltkrieg hatte die Völker aller Kontinente aufgerüttelt, so daß jede politische Maßnahme ihre Wirkung verhundertfachte. Auf dem Brüsseler Kongreß der unterdrückten Völker hatten die Farbigen erstmals einmütig ihre Stimme gegen den Westen, gegen Imperialismus und Kolonialismus und für den Nationalismus erhoben. Unter den Bestimmungen des Versailler Diktats war Deutschland mit seiner dem Westen hörigen Demokratie kein souveräner Staat, sondern ebenfalls eine Kolonie. Kein Kontinent stand mehr für sich alleine, sondern neue Aufgaben, Freundschaften und Ziele entwickelten sich. Im Zentrum der Hoffnung Hielschers stand das Erwachen des Giganten China, Indiens oder der arabischen Welt, weniger die Sowjetunion, die ihre "russische" Ideologie allen anderen Völkern aufzwingen wollte und damit kein echter Partner der nach Freiheit strebenden Völker war.

 

Deutschland ist kein Teil des westlichen Europa, sondern ein Teil des asiatischen Ostens. In der Verehrung des Ostens verbeugt sich der Deutsche "vor einer weiten unendlichen, durchaus uneuropäischen und geheimnisvollen Welt einer sehnsüchtigen und zutiefst ruhigen Weisheit und Selbstsicherheit, aus der er seine Kraft strömen fühle". Die deutsche Innerlichkeit ist ein Widerspruch gegen den Westen und dessen Zivilisationsdenken. "Die Völker des Ostens glauben an unverrückbare Kräfte, denen sie sich verdienstet wissen, aus denen ihre Art entspringt, und zu der sie zurückkehrt, wenn ihre Stunde geschlagen hat. Der Deutsche gehört zum Osten und nicht zum Westen. Der Westen ist Zivilisation, der Osten ist Kultur. Die Zivilisation ist auf dem Gelde und der Berechnung aufgebaut und kennt keine Innerlichkeit. Die Kultur errichtet auf dem Grunde einer unerschütterlichen Gewißheit die Werke einer hohen Kunst, eines demütigen Denkens, einer hingebenden Weisheit. Die Völker des Westens sind Zivilisationsvölker, die Völker des Ostens tragen ihre großen Kulturen."

 

hielscher-u-frau.jpg

Im Gegensatz zum kapitalistischen Westen ist der Osten sozialistisch, wobei Sozialismus hier als eine innere Haltung und nicht als theoretisches System zu verstehen ist. Während der Kapitalismus den Menschen seinen Taten entfremdet und dem Nutzen unterwirft, will der Sozialismus die Leistung und das Werk. Die Menschen sind keine Einzelwesen, sondern Glieder von Gemeinschaften. "Der Westen kennt nicht Ideen, sondern Konzerne; er kennt keine Gemeinschaften, sondern wirtschaftliche Verbundenheit."

 

"Der Westen ist Imperialismus, der Osten ist Nationalismus. Der Nationalismus ist die Folge des Glaubens an die eigene Kultur, der Wille zur Durchsetzung ihrer eigenen Art, der Wille zum Dienst an der Gemeinschaft, die auf der eigenen Kultur beruht. Der Imperialismus ist die Benutzung der nationalen Mittel zur Erlangung wirtschaftlichen Profites, die Umfälschung nationaler Ziele in Wirtschaftsinteressen."

"Wir deutschen Nationalisten werden mit den Nationalisten des Ostens zusammengehen; wir fordern den gemeinsamen Kampf gegen den westeuropäisch-amerikanischen Imperialismus und Siegerkapitalismus, wir fordern die Abkehr der deutschen Wirtschaft von den westlichen Verbundenheiten, die Abkehr der deutschen Geistigkeit vom Westen. Im Osten kämpfen die unterdrückten Völker den gleichen Kampf, den Kampf der Kulturnationen gegen die Zivilisationsvölker, den Kampf der Tiefe gegen die Oberfläche. Verbünden wir uns ihnen. Scheuen wir kein Opfer. Der Osten wartet auf uns. Enttäuschen wir ihn nicht. Wir sind der Vorposten des Ostens gegen den Westen. Der Westen wankt, und der Sturm aus dem Osten hat begonnen. Die deutsche Stunde schlägt."

 

Hielschers Ausführungen, die sich im übrigen jeder Rassist und Xenophobe einmal etwas intensiver durch den Kopf gehen lassen sollte, trafen auf ein gemischtes Echo. Der Kampfverlag der NS-Parteilinken unterstützte Hielschers internationalistisch-nationalistische Thesen ebenso wie Franz Schauweckers "Standarte". Bezeichnenderweise kam vom hitleristischen "Völkischen Beobachter" und von den Vereinigten Vaterländischen Verbänden schroffe Ablehnung.

 

Mit seinem philosophisch-politischen Programm stürzte Hielscher sich in die Politik, zunächst eine Reihe geopolitischer Analysen nach obigem Muster im "Arminius" veröffentlichend und jegliche Mitarbeit am Weimarer System heftig kritisierend. Im Juli 1927 beteiligte er sich an der von August Winnig gegründeten Berliner Sektion der Alten Sozialdemokratischen Partei, einer "rechten" Abspaltung der SPD. Als Gruppenorgan fungierte die Zeitschrift "Der Morgen", zu deren Autoren neben Hielscher die Nationalrevolutionäre Eugen Mossakowsky und Karl Otto Paetel gehörten. Anhang aus der Arbeiterschaft konnte kaum gewonnen werden, dafür kamen die bürgerlichen Rebellen.

 

4. "Das Reich"

 

Spätestens das ASP-Experiment überzeugte Hielscher von der Sinnlosigkeit tagespolitischer Aktivitäten. In seinen Memoiren "Fünfzig Jahre unter Deutschen" analysiert er die Situation im Nachhinein so: "Will man sich den Ort der Einzelgänger vor Augen führen, so stelle man sich die Parteien als ein Hufeisen vor, an dessen einem Flügel die Nationalsozialisten, an dessen anderem die Kommunisten standen.

Dann finden wir neben den Nationalsozialisten die Deutschnationalen Hugenbergs, neben ihnen die Deutsche Volkspartei Stresemanns und neben ihr das katholische Zentrum, das die Mitte tatsächlich bildete. Links davon sehen wir die Demokraten, hernach die Sozialdemokraten und schließlich die Kommunistische Partei.

Aber mit ihnen schloß sich der Kreis nicht, sondern zwischen ihnen und den Nationalsozialisten klaffte eine Lücke, die sich um so weniger schließen konnte, als die Nationalsozialisten und die Kommunisten bereits nur noch dem Namen nach Parteien waren, in Wirklichkeit aber Horden, und zwar Horden in Bundesgestalt und mit parlamentarischer Maske. Sie wollten Massenbewegungen sein, gaben sich vor ihren gutwilligen Anhängern das Gesicht eines Bundes und spielten nach außen die Partei, um nicht verboten zu werden.

Den Bund kennzeichnet im Aufbau die gegenseitige Verpflichtung zwischen Haupt und Gliedern, im Wesen der Geist, der sie verbindet, sei es nun ein Glaube oder auch nur eine besondere Menschlichkeit, im Sinne der freiwilligen Dienste an diesem Geiste und im Zwecke das Ziel, das er dem Haupte und den Gliedern aufgibt.

Der Horde mangelt im Aufbau die Gegenseitigkeit, im Wesen der Geist, im Sinne der freie Wille und im Zwecke das Ziel. An die Stelle der Gegenseitigkeit tritt der einseitige Gehorsam, an die Stelle des Geistes das Programm, an die Stelle des freien Willens der Zwang und an die Stelle des Zieles der erstrebte Vorteil und Nutzen, sei es des Hordenführers allein, sei es zugleich seiner Garde oder der ganzen Horde.

Die Gestalt des Bundes anzunehmen empfiehlt sich der Horde, wenn das Volk sich wieder nach Bund und Verbundenheit sehnt, weil die Lüge am besten in Gestalt der Wahrheit zu wirken vermag und von ihren abgesplitterten und selbständig genommenen Teilen allein lebt. Mit der Wahrheit zu schwindeln, ist nicht nur die beste, sondern es ist auch die einzige Art der Lüge, die Erfolg haben kann.

Und die Maske der Partei schließlich bietet sich von selber an, weil in Verfallszeiten nicht das Volk, sondern der Bürger herrscht, welcher in den Zweckverbänden der unverbindlichen Parteien sich am besten darzustellen und zu entfalten vermag. (...)

So sehen wir nicht nur an den äußeren Flügeln des Parteienhufeisens zwei offenkundige Horden in Bundesgestalt und mit scheinbündischen Gliederungen wie hier der SA oder der SS und dort dem Rotfrontkämpferbunde, sondern auch bis fast in die Mitte heran jede Partei bemüht, sich eine Horde heranzubändigen oder sich eines Bundes zu versichern. (...)

Zwischen den beiden Hordenflügeln aber kochten die Einzelgänger ihren Trank und bildete sich Bund. Hier schlugen die Flammen von rechts nach links herüber, um der Feuerzange die nötige Glut zu geben."

 

Auf den Zerfall der "Arminius"-Gruppe folgte ab Oktober 1927 die Zeitschrift "Der Vormarsch", ursprünglich ein Blatt von Kapitän Ehrhardts Wikingbund. Die Schriftleitung lag bei Ernst Jünger und Werner Lass, dem Führer der Schill-Jugend, einem ehemaligen Gefolgsmann des Freikorpsführers Roßbach mit starkem Einfluß in der HJ. Hielscher variierte hier weiterhin seine bekannten Thesen. Der "Vormarsch" wurde zum Zentrum einer bewußt provokativen Militanz. Es kam zur Bildung kleiner revolutionärer Zirkel, die über die Grenzen der Bünde und Parteien zusammenarbeiten. Engere Verbindungen unterhielt der "Vormarsch"-Kreis zur NSDAP, die sich durch ihren sozialrevolutionären Charakter zusehends von den anderen Rechtsverbänden absonderte. Unterhalb der agitatorischen Ebene verkehrte Hielscher in diversen Zirkeln, von denen vor allem der Salon Salinger zu nennen ist. Der jüdischstämmige Hans Dieter Salinger, Beamter im Reichswirtschaftsministerium und Redakteur der "Industrie- und Handelszeitung", versammelte hier einen bunt zusammengewürfelten Kreis um sich. Neben Hielscher sind hier Ernst von Salomon, Hans Zehrer, Albrecht Haushofer, Ernst Samhaber oder Franz Josef Furtwängler, die rechte Hand des Gewerkschaftsführers Leipart, zu nennen.

 

Im Frühjahr 1928 bildete Friedrich Hielscher, wohl inspiriert durch Salingers Kontaktpool und durch den Schülerkreis des Dichters Stefan George (vor allem in Aufbau und Methode), einen eigenen Zirkel um seine Person. Diesem Kreis fiel beispielsweise indirekt das Verdienst zu, den Brecht-Weggefährten Arnolt Bronnen für die revolutionäre Rechte zu gewinnen. Nach dem Rückzug Jüngers übernahm Hielscher im Juli 1928 gemeinsam mit Ernst von Salomon die Leitung des "Vormarsches", dessen Auflage auf 5000 Exemplare gesteigert werden konnte. Der NS-Studentenbund warb um den unter Studenten und Bündischer Jugend zugkräftigen Intellektuellen, um ihn als Veranstaltungsredner für sich zu gewinnen. Das Verbandsorgan der Ehrhardt-Anhänger und rechten Paramilitärs entwickelte sich zu einer übernational-antiimperialistischen Monatszeitung, die jedoch durch die wirtschaftliche Inkompetenz von Verlagsleiter Scherberning behindert wurde.

 

Dem Zeugnis Ernst von Salomons zufolge war der Hielscher-Kreis in seiner Anfangsphase jedoch ein Tummelplatz menschlicher Intrigen und Eitelkeiten. Im Herbst 1928 reagierte Hielscher auf die sich abzeichnende Bauernrevolte in Norddeutschland mit der schwächlichen Forderung nach Verminderung der Steuern und einer Agrarreform - offensichtlich hatte er das revolutionär-anarchistische Potential der entstehenden Landvolkbewegung nicht erkannt. Der verärgerte Salomon urteilte im Februar 1929: "Hielscher hat sich für mein Empfinden völlig ausgeschöpft, was er betreibt, ist Leerlauf, schade um ihn. Aber er erkennt das selber nicht, will die Dinge forcieren und erreicht dadurch erst recht nichts. Außerdem führt er einen absonderlichen Lebenswandel, der an seinen Nerven zehrt. Dabei haben die ganzen Leutchen...dickste Illusionen im Kopp..." Hielscher bilde sich ein, "man könne Politik ohne Macht, allein durch Geist und gute Verbindungen machen". Zugleich hielten die heftigen internen Auseinandersetzungen im Hielscher-Kreis mit Intrigen, Verleumdungen und Verdächtigungen an. Salomon kehrte dem "Vormarsch" daraufhin mit der Bemerkung, hier müsse noch einmal "bannig femegemordet" werden, den Rücken und schloß sich den Landvolkterroristen an.

 

Trotz eines Hitler-Verdikts gegen den "Vormarsch", der angeblich mit dem "asiatischen Bolschewismus" liebäugele, stellte sich der mächtige Gregor Strasser am 25. Oktober 1929 hinter die Gruppe. Ernst Jünger, Franz Schauwecker oder Friedrich Hielscher seien Beispiele für die steigende Tendenz, "daß der Nationalsozialismus beginnt, magnetgleich andere Kreise, andere bisher in ihrer Sphäre festgefügte, gleichwertige Geister an sich zu ziehen." Am gleichen Tag schrieb Hielscher in den "Kommenden": "Stoßen wir also bei unserer nationalistischen Arbeit auf politische Handlungen der russischen Außenpolitik, die gegen den Westen gerichtet sind, so werden wir diese Handlungen begrüßen und nach Möglichkeit fördern. Stoßen wir auf die kommunistische Ideologie selbst, die auf dem dialektischen Materialismus beruht, so werden wir ihr das idealistische Bekenntnis zur Deutschheit entgegenzustellen haben; und wir werden nicht zu vergessen haben, daß der Sozialismus, den wir wünschen, die Unterordnung der Menschen unter den nationalistischen Staat auf wirtschaftlichem Gebiet bedeutet, während der Sozialismus, den Marx anstrebt, das staatenlose, größtmögliche Wohlergehen der größtmöglichen Zahl will."

 

Im Sommer 1929 legte Hielscher die Chefredaktion des "Vormarsch" nieder, um sich einem eigenen Zeitschriftenprojekt und einem weltanschaulichen Grundlagenwerk zu widmen. Die Monatsschrift "Das Reich" sollte sich zu einem der maßgeblichen Blätter der nationalrevolutionären Szene entwickeln, in der die brillantesten Köpfe aus der Grauzone zwischen NSDAP und KPD zu Wort kamen. In der Rubrik "Vormarsch der Völker" gewährte man den antikolonialen Befreiungsbewegungen und ihren Vertretern breiten Raum, folgerichtig spielten auch vulgärgeopolitische Betrachtungen eine Rolle. Um die Jahreswende 1930/31 beteiligte Hielscher sich gemeinsam mit Jünger und Paetels Sozialrevolutionären Nationalisten an der Deutsch-Orientalischen Mittelstelle zur Förderung des antiimperialistischen Befreiungsnationalismus. Gelder beschaffte Franz Schauwecker vom Stahlhelm-nahen Frundsberg-Verlag, und neben dem altgedienten Putschisten F.W. Heinz sollte Schauwecker sich zu einem der enthusiastischsten Hielscher-Gefolgsleute entwickeln. Weitere Finanzmittel kamen vom unvermeidlichen Kapitän Ehrhardt. Die Debütausgabe des "Reiches" erschien am 1. Oktober 1930, und kein Geringerer als Ernst Jünger steuerte zur Eröffnung einen Beitrag bei.

 

Hielscher selbst schrieb in "Die letzten Jahre", Weimar und mit ihm die Wilhelminische Ordnung seien im Zerfall begriffen, es gehe wie seine Parteien bis hin zu NSDAP an Selbstzersetzung infolge von Unfähigkeit der Führer zugrunde. Die Weltwirtschaft kranke an der Weimarer Republik wie an einer unheilbaren Wunde. Asien blicke gärend auf Deutschland, von wo der Funke kommen sollte, der den letzten Sprengstoff entzündet:  "Die Versuche des Westens, von der Wirtschaft her die kommende Gefahr zu bannen, verfangen nicht mehr. Die Mächte des Ostens tasten eine jegliche nach einem neuen Halt; aber keine hat die Lösung. Niemand weiß weiter. Und in dem deutschen Raum inmitten dieser tausendfältigen Verwirrung brodelt es unaufhörlich.

Hier ist der Ort und hier liegt die Aufgabe für die Menschen des Reiches, die durch den Weltkrieg hindurchgegangen sind; des heimlichen Reiches, das inmitten der Völker sichtbare Gestalt annehmen will. Wer dem Weltkriege seine Haltung und seine Zuversicht verdankt, weiß, daß er ein Sieg des Reiches gewesen ist, den Osten erweckend, den Westen zersetzend, den Zusammenbruch des wilhelminischen Fremdkörpers vorbereitend...

Die Wissenden erkennen sich auf den ersten Blick. Sie haben einander gefunden und finden sich weiter, seitdem die Verwandlung des Weltkrieges ihr Bewußtsein erfüllt hat. Seit dieser Zeit ist die Unruhe zur Arbeit geworden und die Suche zum Entdecken...Die Menschen des unsichtbaren Kerns haben einander entdeckt. Sie rühren keinen Finger gegen den Westen, der sich imn Staat der Weimarer Verrfassung so guit wie jenseits des Atlantischen Ozeans von selbst zerstört. Was heute Erfolg heißt, ist ihnen gleichgültig. Sie haben die große Geduld.

Denn die Entscheidung, die sich heute vorbereitet, liegt tiefer als irgend eine Entscheidung der bisherigen Geschichte. An ihr sind alle Mächte beteiligt. Der Weg zu ihr ist Bekenntnis und Staatskunst zugleich. Nur wo beides ineinanderwirkt, geschieht d a s  R e i c h."

 

Neben dem "Reich" widmete Hielscher sich weiteren publizistischen Projekten, beispielsweise beteiligte er sich am 1931 von Goetz Otto Stoffregen herausgebenenen Sammelband "Aufstand - Querschnitt durch den revolutionären Nationalismus".  Im Beitrag "Zweitausend Jahre" hieß es: "Das Kennzeichen, durch welches sich unsere Geschichte von der jedes anderen Volkstums unterscheidet, ist die wechselseitige Verschlungenheit von Innerlichkeit und Macht. Unsere Innerlichkeit enthält den Willen zur Macht; und unsere Macht enthält den Willen zur Innerlichkeit." Innerlichkeit und Machtwille wurden durch den Einbruch des Christentums getrennt. Der Weg der Innerlichkeit führt von der Ursage über Mystik, Reformation und Idealismus bis hin zu Nietzsche. Der Weg der Macht wiederum verlief von Theoderich den Großen über Heinrich VI von Hohenstaufen, Gustav Adolf und Friedrich den Großen bis zu Bismarck. Die wechselseitige Bezogenheit von Innerlichkeit und Macht hatte niemals aufgehört. Immer wieder erfolgten Anläufe, die Einheit beider Begriffe herzustellen, und unter der Macht des Reiches alle germanischen Stämme zu einen. "So ist nun in dreifachem Anlauf vor aller Augen das Ziel errichtet worden, das die Macht des Reiches zu verwirklichen bestimmt ist; und es bedarf der Waffe, mit der die Deutschen das ihnen jetzt sichtbare Ziel erreichen können. Diese Waffe heißt Preußen. Preußen ist kein Stamm, sondern eine Ordnung. Es gibt nur Wahlpreußen. Aus allen Stämmen des Reiches strömen die wagemutigsten, abenteuerlichsten, kriegerischsten Herzen zusammen; es entsteht der Staat Friedrich Wilhelms I und Friedrichs des Großen."  Ziel war der Kampf gegen den westlichen Materialismus, "und gerade gegenüber diesem bereits in Deutschland eingedrungenen Gift."

"Ob Luther gegen Rom kämpft, oder ob Goethe den Beginn des Johannesevangeliums neu übersetzt: ‚Im Anfang war die Tat' - immer drängt die Innerlichkeit zum Tun; sie enthält den Willen zur Macht, die Sehnsucht, die das Amt herbeiglaubt und die Menschen zum Werke drängt.

In Nietzsche vollends wird dieser Drang zum bewußten Wollen: die Innerlichkeit erkennt ihr Getriebenwerden als Willen zur Macht." Nietzsche forderte den "ins Geistige gesteigerten Fridericianismus", bindet dieses neue Menschentum an Gestalten wie Friedrich II von Hohenstaufen und Friedrich II. den Großen. Auf Nietzsche und Bismarck folgte der Weltkrieg, der "trotz der scheinbaren Niederlage den größten Sieg bedeutet, den Deutschland jemals errungen hat". "Zum ersten Mal, seit die Erde steht, gibt es keine voneinander abgetrennten Kampffelder mehr, so wie es z.B. den ostasiatischen, den vorderasiatischen oder den Kulturkreis des Mittelmeeres gegeben hat, sondern die Erde ist ein einziges Schlachtfeld geworden, ein Chaos, in welchem alle Kräfte zugleich um den Sieg streiten, ein Chaos, das alle Kräfte durch diesen Streit verwandelt und von Grund auf umschöpft."

 

hielschercover_leitbriefe_72.jpgIm gleichen Jahr legte Friedrich Hielscher sein mit Hilfe des Frundsberg-Verlages herausgebenes Grundlagenwerk "Das Reich" nach. Ein Volk entsteht Hielscher zufolge aus der Gemeinschaft von Schicksal und Bekenntnis. Das Blut erhält seinen Rang durch eine Entscheidung und nicht durch die Biologie. Deutschtum/Deutschheit leiten sich nicht durch Abstammung und staatliche Definition, ab, sondern aus Gesinnung und Glauben. Der Reichsbegriff wird vom politischen zum religiös-metaphysischen, in der Geschichte wirkenden Prinzip einer föderativen Ordnung Europas - unter Führung des preußischen Geistes. Die Nationalstaaten sollten sich in Stämme und Landschaften auflösen, und aus diesen verkleinerten Einheiten war etwas Größeres zu schaffen, das über die Nationalstaaten hinausging.

 

Ergänzend heißt es in "50 Jahre unter Deutschen": "In Wahrheit muß...im Innern des Menschen angefangen werden, im eigenen zuerst und dann im Bunde mit denen, die des gleichen Willens sind. Aber das ist mit keiner noch so reinen Sittlichkeit zu schaffen, schon gar mit keiner Moral und vollends nicht mit Anordnungen und Vorschrift." Sondern nur der Glaube "gibt uns das Gesetz als das Gebot der Götter"

 

"Das Reich": "Die schöpferische Kraft kann nicht auf dem einen Gebiet wirken und auf dem anderen nicht. Sie kann nicht vor dem Alltag halt machen oder vor den Umständen oder der Not. Sie erfüllt den ganzen Menschen. Er mag anpacken, was er will, er mag versuchen, sich in nichtige Dinge zu flüchten: Die schöpferische Kraft folgt ihm, sie treibt ihn weiter, und am Ende erkennt er, daß alles, was er angefaßt hat und was ihm begegnet ist, notwendig und gut gewesen ist um seines Werkes willen, für das er lebt, für das er gelebt wird, das durch ihn hindurch wirkt. Darum bilden alle Menschen, hinter denen ein und dasselbe Wesen steht, nicht auf irgendwelchen einzelnen Gebieten, sondern ihr ganzes Leben hindurch, in jeder Hinsicht unabdingbar eine Einheit des Wirkens. Es müssen ein und dieselben Ereignisse sein, die sie fördern oder hemmen: ein und dieselben Begegnungen müssen für sie Tiefe oder Licht bedeuten: sie haben dasselbe Schicksal, das heißt aber: sie sind ein Volk. Kein Ding in Raum und Zeit bindet endgültig: nicht die Abstammung, nicht die Sprache, nicht die Umgebung. Dem alleine steht der einzelne frei gegenüber. Allein seine schöpferische Kraft, die seinen Willen überhaupt erst bildet, aus dem sein Wille in jedem Augenblick gebildet wird, bindet ihn notwendig, sie ist der Kern seines Wesens. Damit unterscheidet sich ein Volk von einem bloßen Abstammungsverband und von jeder Verbindung, die nur durch äußere Umstände zusammengehalten wird...Nur die seelische Besessenheit durch dieselbe schöpferische Kraft gestaltet aus einer Vielheit vertretbarer Menschen ein Volk, indem ein und dieselbe Wirklichkeit durch die Tat bezeugt wird. Das Volk ist Einheit des Bekenntnisses und des Schicksals. (...) Geduld ist die oberste Tugend dessen, der verwandeln will. Wer keine Geduld hat, erreicht nichts.

Die Entscheidung, die sich hier vorbereitet, bedeutet die vollkommene Vernichtung der heutigen Ordnungen und Güter; und es ist an der Zeit, mit jenen hoffnungslosen Gedanken aufzuräumen, die noch retten wollen, was zu retten ist. Es ist nichts mehr zu retten. Alle äußeren Gestaltungen der Gegenwart brauchen und unterstützen die westliche Verfassung des öffentlichen und des Einzellebens. Sie setzen die Heiligkeit des uneingeschränkten Eigentums voraus, den Verdienst als treibenden Anreiz des Handelns und die Wohlfahrt aller als Ziel der Gemeinschaften. Hier darf nichts gerettet werden. Die inneren Güter aber, die nicht des Westens, sondern des Reiches sind, sind unzerstörbar. Wer sie für gefährdet hält, kommt für die deutsche Zukunft nicht in Frage. Denn er glaubt nicht an sie. Wer glaubt, zweifelt nicht.

Die Vernichtung dessen, was heute besteht, ist sogar notwendig. Denn daß der Westen die Entscheidung gerade in dem Raume zwischen Rhein und Weichsel sucht, liegt an dem Rang, den dieses Gebiet innerhalb der - westlichen - Weltwirtschaft besitzt. Weil China, Indien und Rußland bereits zum größten Teile aus ihr heraus gefallen sind, darf sie Deutschland nicht auch noch verlieren, um keinen Preis. Sonst ist sie selbst verloren. Darum setzt der Untergang des Westens die Vernichtung dessenh voraus, was heute Deutschland heißt, was mit dem Wesen des Reiches nur mehr den Namen gemeinsam hat.

Die Ereignisse des Dreißigjährigen Krieges werden gering vor dieser Zukunft. Er hat die Erde noch nicht aufgerufen. Aber der Erste Weltkrieg hat es getan; und dadurch wird die Wucht der nächsten Jahre, der nächsten Jahrzehnte, der nächsten Jahrhunderte größer, als die der fünftausend Jahre bewußter Erdgeschichte, auf die wir zurückblicken können. Wer von dem Werke, das ihm obliegt, die Erhaöltung und Bewahrung überkommender Dinge erwartet, zeigt nur, daß er die Größe der Verwandlung nicht erkannt hat, in der die Völker seit 1914 leben.

Es gibt heute keine sichtbaren Werte des Reiches. Es lebt inwendig in den Herzen; oder es würde nicht leben.Zerschlagen muß das Eigentum werden, das dem Westen gehört, das den westlichen Menschen gehört. Der Westen würde längst besiegt sein, wenn er nicht die Geister der Menschen gefangen hätte, wenn nicht wirklich jeder, der um seines Vorteiles willen lebt, damit zum Werkzeuge, zum Untertan und Helfer des Westens würde. Zerschlagen muß die ständische Haltung werden, weil die hierarchische Befriedung der Stände, die - gutgläubig oder nicht gutgläubig - vom Süden her verkündet wird, nur der pax Romana, der friedevollen Herrschaft Roms sich einfügt, welche die Völker dem Heiligen Stuhle unterwirft, und weil die Ziele Roms mit denen des Westens gemeinsam auf die Erhaltung des Staates der Weimarer Verfassung gerichtet sind. Zerschlagen muß die Möglichkeit der kolonialen Ausdehnung werden, weil der Herrschaftsanspruch des Reiches nichts mit dem kolonialen Märktekampf zu tun hat, weil, nicht nur der Begriff der ‚Kolonie', sondern auch jedes koloniale Streben dem Willen zur prosperity und nicht dem Willen zur Macht dient.

Man darf gewiß sein, daß die allernächsten Jahre diese Vernichtung vorbereiten und fördern werden. Jener Gleichlauf der Selbstzersetzung des Westens und des Aufbaus der Reichszellen, jene langsame und zögernde Annäherung zweier Bahnen, die sich erst im Augenblick der Entscheidung überschneiden, deren Überschneidung der entscheidende Augenblick ist, prägt sich bereits heute - und von Tag zu Tag mehr - in der Verelendung des Volkes aus. Es wird nicht fünf Millionen, sondern fünfundzwanzig Millionen Arbeitslose geben. Es wird nicht mehr Haß und Hoffnung geben, sondern nur noch Verzweiflung und Zuversicht.

Diese Zuversicht, welche die kommende Vernichtung bejaht, glaubt an das unvernichtbare ewige Wesen des Reiches. Sie weiß, daß im Wandel der sichtbaren Geschichte immer nur die unsichtbare Wirklichkeit lebt. Sie weiß, daß eine jede Kraft des Ewigen selber unwandelbar und ewig ist, und daß kein Werk, kein schöpferisches Tun um des zeitlichen Seins willen geschieht, sondern immer und nur um der Macht des Reiches willen, welches sein zeitliches Reden und Schweigen, Tun und Stillesein, sichtbares oder verborgenes Bildnis heraufführt, wie es ihm beliebt. Das kriegerische Herz verwechselt die zeitliche Erhaltung nicht mit der göttlichen Unsterblichkeit. Es ist unsterblich und freut sich der zeitlichen Vernichtung als der Bürgschaft seiner unüberwindlichen Gewalt. Der Untergang, dem sich die Deutschen, und das heißt immer und immer wieder: die Menschen des Reiches, heute aussetzen, führt die Freiheit herauf, um die seit der ersten Schlacht des Ersten Weltkrieges gekämpft wird, die Freiheit, welcher als erwünschtes Werkzeug der Westen selber dient, dessen Griff über die Erde das Zeitalter der großen Kriege des Reiches ermöglicht."

 

5. Unterirdisch im Dritten Reich

 

Die Nationalisten alten Schlages und die KPD konnten hier begreiflicherweise nicht folgen. Ernst Niekisch urteilte: "Das ist ja nicht mehr Nationalismus". Alfred Kantorowicz erkannte in der Vossischen Zeitung am 14. September 1931 als einer der wenigen, wohin die Reise ging: Das sei weder Politik noch Philosophie, sondern Theologie. Otto-Ernst Schüddekopf bemerkt sehr treffend, die Disproportion zwischen dem engen deutschen Nationalismus des 19. Jahrhunderts und den heraufnahenden globalen Machtkämpfen suchte man im radikalen Nationalismus Weimars zu überwinden. Der Sprung in die Freiheit durch die Idee des "Reiches" der Deutschheit, die mit den Voraussetzungen des deutschen Nationalstaates nichts mehr zu tun hat - der Nationalsozialismus bedeutete demgegenüber einfach Reaktion. Kollektivistisches Denken und bolschewistische Lebensform wurden als typenbildende Kraft akzeptiert. So konnte man die alten Massenparteien aus den Angeln heben und sich selbst als die die Zukunft des Reiches bestimmende Kraft definieren.

 

Nach der NS-Machtergreifung stellte Friedrich Hielscher die Herausgabe des "Reiches" ein, um sich der unterirdischen Arbeit gegen den Hitlerismus zu widmen. Ziemlich zutreffend rechnete er mit einer Dauer des Tausendjährigen Reiches von ca. 12 Jahren, während der Großteil der nationalrevolutionären Parteigänger Hitler zu diesem Zeitpunkt nicht ernst nahm. Während Persönlichkeiten wie Schauwecker sich der neuen Ordnung anpaßten, blieben Friedrich Hielscher, die Gebrüder Jünger und Ernst Niekisch als intellektuelle Kristallisationspunkte des nationalrevolutionären Untergrundes. Der Hielscher-Zirkel entwickelte sich zu einer kleinen Untergrundzelle, zu der auch der ehemalige Ehrhardt-Adjutant Franz Liedig gehörte. Über Liedig und August Winnig hielt die Gruppe lockeren Kontakt zu oppositionellen Militärs. Verbindungen bestanden zur sozialdemokratischen Gruppe um Mierendorff, Leuschner, Haubach und Reichwein.

 

Von größerer spiritueller Bedeutung war die 1933 nach dem Umzug nach Potsdam erfolgte Gründung der Unabhängigen Freikirche UFK als heidnisch-pantheistischer Glaubensbewegung auf indogermanischer Grundlage: "Ich glaube an Gott den Alleinwirklichen. Ich glaube an die ewigen Götter. Ich glaube an das Reich." Heidnische Elemente aus der deutschen Klassik und Romantik wurden mit dem ketzerischen Pantheismus eines Johannes Scotus Eriugenas, Nietzsche und dem überlieferten keltisch-germanischen Volksglauben verknüpft zu einer sehr bald für Außenstehende äußerst schwer zu erfassenden theologischen Einheit. Die Theologie der UFK war kein statisches Gebilde, sondern wie das Reich eine dynamisch weiterzuentwickelnde Aufgabe.

 

1934 beteiligte Hielscher sich am von Curt Horzel herausgegebenen Sammelband "Deutscher Aufstand" und veröffentlichte wahrhaft prophetische Sätze: "Erster Satz: Der wilhelminische Staat hat den Krieg verloren, aber Deutschland hat ihn gewonnen.

Zweiter Satz: Deutschland hat den Krieg nicht nur dadurch gewonnen, daß es neue innere Kraftquellen erschlossen hat, sondern auch durch die Erschütterung der ganzen Erde, durch die alle Voraussetzungen aller Völker ins Wanken geraten sind.

Dritter Satz: durch die von Deutschland ausgehende Erschütterung ist es zum entscheidenden Lande auch des vor uns stehendem Zweiten Erdkrieges geworden." Diesen hatten schon Nietzsche, Trotzki und Ludendorff prophezeit. "Es leuchtet ein, daß dort, wo alle Kräfte sich überschneiden, die Entscheidung fallen muß." Der Kampf zwischen Imperialismus und Revolution wird hier ausgefochten, zwischen Bolschewismus und Hochkapitalismus, zwischen Asien und West. Deutschland als Land der Mitte sucht nach einer Synthese zwischen den Gegensätzen. Als Ausweg forderte Hielscher den Kontinentalblock Deutschland-Sowjetunion-China.

 

Eine beinahe antik anmutende Tragödie nahm ihren Anfang, als Hielschers Freund und Schüler Wolfram Sievers 1935 zum Geschäftsführer der SS-nahen Kulturstiftung Ahnenerbe avancierte. Die völkisch-indogermanischen Elitevorstellungen der Hielscher-Gruppe trafen sich durchaus mit denjenigen der SS. Hatte Hielscher sich in den Elfenbeinturm zurückgezogen, so versuchte der aktivistische Praktiker Sievers nun, das Konzept in die Tat umzusetzen und geriet außer Kontrolle. Zunächst beteiligte der Geschäftsführer sich daran, das bäuerlich-defensive Element des Reichsnährstandes aus dem Ahnenerbe hinauszudrängen und stattdessen dem soldatischen Charakter der SS-Ideologie mehr Platz zu verschaffen. Von Bedeutung war neben frühgeschichtlichen, volkskundlichen und indogermanologischen Forschungen z.B. der Versuch, die deutschen Hochschulen zwecks Schaffung eines neuen wissenschaftlichen Geistes von der Schutzstaffel infiltrieren zu lassen. Im Januar 1941 legte Sievers in einem internen Memorandum die Ziele der Erforschung von Raum, Geist und Tat des nordischen Indogermanentums dar: "Hauptziel ist es, vom Kulturellen her in Deutschland selbst das Reichsbewußtsein neu zu wecken, bezw. zu vertiefen, von dessen einstiger Größe beispielsweise ein Straßburger Münster, die Prager Burg, das Fuggerhaus auf dem Warschauer Altmarkt, die flandrischen Tuchhallen noch heute Zeugnis ablegen über Jahrhunderte hinweg, in denen das Reich schwach und im böhmisch-mährischen Raum, in den Niederlanden, im Flamentum, in der Schweiz das Gefühl der Zugehörigkeit zum Reich verloren gegangen war. Es wird notwendig sein, die Verbindungen bloß zu legen, die dennoch niemals abgerissen sind, die Überfremdung durch Kirche, Liberalismus, Freimaurerei und Judentum hinwegzuräumen und die Wiedervereinigung der Menschen germanischen Blutes im Reich zu erleichtern, das - lange seiner selbst durch internationale Ideologien entfremdet - trotz allem germanische Art am stärksten gewahrt hat."

 

Mit Kriegsausbruch verstrickte das Ahnenerbe sich in kulturelle Beutezüge im besetzten Europa und in verbrecherische Menschenversuche, die Sievers nach dem Zusammenbruch die Hinrichtung einbringen sollten. Immerhin gestattete die Tätigkeit für das Ahnenerbe ab 1937 auch Hielscher, unter dem Deckmantel wissenschaftlicher Aufträge umherzureisen und Verbindungen zu Oppositionellen zu halten. Am 2. September 1944 wurde er in Marburg wegen seiner Beziehungen zu Mitverschwörern des 20. Juli verhaftet und ins Berliner Männergefängnis an der Lehrterstraße verbracht. Die Gestapo übersah die Beziehungen zu Franz Liedig oder Hartmut Plaas und interessierte sich vor allem für die Kontakte zu Haubach, Reichwein und dem Grafen von der Schulenburg. Der alarmierte Sievers erwirkte am 19. Dezember 1944 die Haftentlassung. Hielscher mußte sich zur Frontbewährung melden, die er bei einer Ersatz-Nachrichtenabteilung verbrachte, ohne auch nur einen Schuß abzugeben. Nach dem Zusammenbruch konzentrierte Friedrich Hielscher seine wissenschaftliche und weltanschauliche Arbeit auf das studentische Verbandsleben und die Unabhängige Freikirche.

 

"Der Blick auf die Vergangenheit lehrt uns die Notwendigkeit, der Blick in die Zukunft lehrt uns die Freiheit. Die Vergangenheit zeigt, was vorgegeben, die Zukunft, was uns aufgegeben ist. Die Zeit ist weder unser Herr, noch unser Feind oder Freund, sondern die Zeit sind wir selber als die Wandelnden und sich Verwandelnden, und jeder ist es zu seinem Teile. Wer also der Zeit absagt, sagt damit entweder anderen ab oder sich selbst und seiner eigenen Aufgabe. Und zwar Anderen, die heute so herrschen, wie man nicht herrschen sollte, oder sich, indem er jenen gehorcht.

Das Zweite liegt uns fern. Und damit sind wir gebunden, der unrechten Herrschaft die Wurzel abzugraben. Also doch gebunden? Jawohl; und wir haben nur die Wahl, entweder gebunden im Gewissen und damit frei vor der Welt, oder unverbindlichen Gewissens und damit der Welt untertan zu leben.

Auch ist festzuhalten, daß die Freiheit oder Untertänigkeit vor der Welt von anderer Art ist als die Gebundenheit oder Ungebundenheit des Gewissens. Dort geht es um unsere Bewegungsfreiheit, die wir zu verteidigen oder preiszugeben uns entschließen müssen, hier um unsere Willensfreiheit, mit der wir uns an das binden oder nicht binden, was uns im Gewissen geboten ist.

Und verknüpft sind beide, die Willens- und die Handlungsfreiheit, nur insoferne, als sich über kurz oder lang der zweiten begibt, wer die erste mißbraucht." (Fünfzig Jahre unter Deutschen)

 

 

 

Literaturhinweise:

 

Peter Bahn: Glaube - Reich - Widerstand. Zum 10. Todestag Friedrich Hielschers, in: wir selbst 1-2/2000

Louis Dupeux: "Nationalbolschewismus" in Deutschland 1919-1933, München 1985

Friedrich Hielscher: Innerlichkeit und Staatskunst, Arminius 26.12.1926

Friedrich Hielscher: Der andere Weg, Arminius 30.01.1927

Friedrich Hielscher: Die Faustische Seele, Arrminius 13.02.1927

Friedrich Hielscher: Die Alten Götter, Arminius 20.02.1927

Friedrich Hielscher: Für die unterdrückten Völker! Arminius 20.03.1927

Friedrich Hielscher: Fünfzig Jahre unter Deutschen, Hamburg 1954

Friedrich Hielscher: Das Reich, Berlin 1931

Curt Hotzel: Deutscher Aufstand, Stuttgart 1934

Michael H. Kater: Das "Ahnenerbe" der SS 1935-1945. Ein Beitrag zur Kulturpolitik des Dritten Reiches, Stuttgart 1974

Markus Josef Klein: Ernst von Salomon. Eine politische Biographie, 1994 Limburg an der Lahn

Susanne Meinl: Nationalsozialisten gegen Hitler. Die nationalrevolutionäre Opposition um Friedrich Wilhelm Heinz, Berlin 2000

N.N.: Das Innere Reich, in Sturmgeweiht, Ausgabe Sommer 1995

Karl O. Paetel: Versuchung oder Chance? Zur Geschichte des deutschen Nationalbolschewismus, Göttingen 1965

Otto Ernst Schüddekopf: Linke Leute von Rechts. Nationalbolschewismus in Deutschland von 1918-1933, Stuttgart 1960

Sonnenwacht. Briefe für Heiden und Ketzer, Ausgabe 12, 2000

Goetz Otto Stoffregen (Hrsg.): Aufstand. Querschnitt durch den revolutionären Nationalismus, Berlin 1931

ZIRKULAR, Ausgaben 1 bis 3, 2001

 

 

samedi, 07 novembre 2009

L.-F. Céline et Jacques Doriot

doriot8-1943.jpg

 

L.-F. Céline et Jacques Doriot

Textes parus dans "Le Bulletin célinien", n°297, mai 2008

 

Durant l’Occupation, deux grands partis étaient en concurrence : le PPF de Jacques Doriot et le RNP de Marcel Déat.  Les collaborationnistes, eux, se partageaient tout naturellement en deux camps : ainsi, au sein de la rédaction de l’hebdomadaire Je suis partout, Lucien Rebatet était un partisan de Déat alors que Pierre-Antoine Cousteau, lui, soutenait Doriot. La parution d’une monographie consacrée au chef du PPF nous donne l’occasion de revenir sur les relations entre lui et Céline.

 

   Une chose est certaine : même s’il lui reconnaissait du talent, Céline estimait Marcel Déat suspect en raison de ses anciennes fréquentations maçonniques et de ses liens étroits avec le parlementarisme de la IIIe République.

Ainsi, dans sa correspondance à Lucien Combelle, Céline n’a que sarcasmes  pour le chef du Rassemblement National Populaire ¹. Avant-guerre, Céline ne réservait d’ailleurs pas un sort plus enviable à Doriot, le raillant comme tous ceux (La Rocque, Maurras,…) qu’il qualifiait ironiquement de « redresseurs nationaux » ou de « simples divertisseurs » : « Alors avec quoi il va l’abattre Hitler, Doriot ? (…) Il veut écraser Staline en même temps ? Brave petit gars ! Pourquoi pas ? D’une pierre deux coups !... (…) Nous sommes en pleine loufoquerie » ². Céline, chantre d’une alliance continentale censée prévenir une guerre fratricide, voyait naturellement d’un mauvais œil les menées qu’il estimait bellicistes.

 

   Mais, sous l’Occupation, son appréciation de Doriot évolue,  celui-ci ayant adopté le tournant radical que l’on sait après la rupture du pacte germano-soviétique. Le chef du PPF lui-même s’engage en septembre 1941 dans la Légion des Volontaires Français contre le bolchevisme qui vient de se créer. Dans un entretien que Céline accorde peu de temps après à l’hebdomadaire doriotiste L’Émancipation nationale, il déclare : « Doriot s’est comporté comme il a toujours fait. C’est un homme. Eh oui, il n’y a rien à dire. Il faut travailler, militer avec Doriot. (…) Chacun de notre côté, il faut accomplir ce que nous pourrons. Cette légion si calomniée, si critiquée, c’est la preuve de la vie. J’aurais aimé partir avec Doriot là-bas, mais je suis plutôt un  homme de mer, un Breton. Ça m’aurait plu d’aller sur un bateau, m’expliquer avec les Russes. » ³. Pour les besoins de sa défense, Céline démentira après-guerre avoir tenu ces propos. Mais, dans une lettre adressée au même moment à Karen Marie Jensen, il écrivait : « J’irai peut-être tout de même en Russie pour finir. Si les choses deviennent trop graves, il faudra bien que tout le monde participe – ce sera question de vie ou de mort – si cela est vivre ce que nous vivons ! 4 »

 

   Quelques mois plus tard, le dimanche 1er février 1942, a lieu au Vélodrome d’Hiver un meeting organisé par la LFV sous la présidence de Déat avec Doriot comme invité vedette.  Céline y assiste en compagnie de Lucette Destouches. Une photographie en atteste, légendée de la sorte dans L’Émancipation nationale : « Le grand écrivain Louis-Ferdinand Céline a assisté à la réunion du Vél’d’Hiv’. Le voici suivant avec attention l’exposé de Jacques Doriot,  “Ce  que j’ai vu  en  U.R.S.S.“ » 5 .

   Alors que Doriot a regagné le front de l’Est, Céline lui adresse une lettre qui sera publiée dans le mensuel de doctrine et de documentation du PPF, les Cahiers de l’émancipation nationale. Céline y préconise notamment l’instauration d’un parti unique, « L’Aryen Socialiste Français, avec Commissaires du Peuple, très délicats sur la doctrine, idoines et armés » 6. Un passage vilipendant l’Église ayant été caviardé, il critiquera vivement « Doriot, formel et devant témoins, [qui avait juré]  de  tout  imprimer » 7. On observera que, durant toute l’Occupation, aucune lettre de Céline n’est publié dans L’Œuvre, le quotidien de Marcel Déat.

 

   Après une permission, Doriot rejoint à nouveau le Front de l’Est en mars 1943. Occasion pour son journal Le Cri du peuple de solliciter, durant une quinzaine de jours, les réactions de personnalités, dont Céline qui, laconique,  aurait déclaré : « Je n’ai pas changé d’opinion depuis août  [en fait, septembre] 1941, lorsque Doriot est parti pour la première fois » 8.

 

   Comme on le sait, toutes les lettres que Céline adressa aux journaux de l’occupation n’ont pas été publiées. Un exemple fameux : la lettre sur la France du nord et du sud adressée de Bretagne à Je suis partout (juin 1942). Jugée impubliable par la rédaction, elle fut conservée par le secrétaire de rédaction, Henri Poulain, pour n’être exhumée qu’un demi-siècle plus tard 9.

Apparemment, une autre lettre – adressée en août 1943 à Jacques Doriot – aurait subi le même sort car elle mettait en cause des cadres du PPF. Elle n’était d’ailleurs peut-être pas destinée à la publication, celle-là, encore que Céline l’aurait remise personnellement à Doriot. Voici ce qu’en écrit Victor Barthélemy, secrétaire général du parti et familier des réunions dominicales à Montmartre  : « Un dimanche de septembre [1943], je profitai de l’occasion pour dire deux mots à Céline à propos d’une lettre qu’il avait adressée, ou plutôt portée lui-même à Doriot, après l’affaire Fossati [NDLR : cadre du PPF exclu pour avoir entamé, sans l’aval de Doriot, des négociations avec le RNP en vue de la création d’un parti unique]. Céline affirmait qu’il n’était pas étonnant que Fossati « fût un traître », car avec ce nom en i et son origine « maltaise » c’était couru d’avance… D’ailleurs  il était  urgent que Doriot se débarrasse de ces Méditerranéens douteux (toujours les noms en i ou en o) tels que Sabiani, Canobbio, etc., et aussi de ce Barthélemy, dont le patronyme commençant par « Bar » pouvait à bon droit laisser supposer des origines juives. (À l’époque, on prétendait volontiers que les préfixes Ben, Bar, Ber pouvaient constituer présomption d’origines juives.) Cette lettre, Doriot me l’avait fait lire, en riant à gorge déployée : “Ce Ferdinand, il est impayable !”, avait lancé Doriot. J’en étais, pour ma part, un peu irrité, et bien décidé à dire à Ferdinand ce que j’en pensais. Il prit lui aussi la chose en riant et l’affaire fut « noyée » comme il convenait » 10. Maurice-Ivan Sicard, autre cadre du PPF, écrira, de son côté, que « les lettres que [leur] envoyait Céline étaient délirantes, difficilement publiables » 11.

 

   Plus tard, lorsque les jeux seront faits, Céline daubera sur le jusqu’au-boutisme des ultras et fera, dans D’un  château l’autre, un portrait sans complaisance des rescapés de la collaboration échoués dans le Bade-Wurtemberg. Quand on lui reprochera d’avoir fréquenté Doriot  à  plusieurs reprises, il écrira : « Il n’était point bête et mon métier de médecin et de romancier est de connaître tout  le monde » 12.  Manière de dire que seule sa curiosité était coupable…

Marc LAUDELOUT

Notes

1. « 43 lettres à Lucien Combelle (1938-1959) » in L’Année Céline 1995, Du Lérot-Imec Éditions, 1996, pp. 68-156. Relevons que ce sentiment n’était pas réciproque :

 « Céline, cette source vivante du verbe, qui,  après des livres prophétiques et macabres, rabelaisiens et pessimistes, avait publié Les Beaux draps, ceux-là mêmes que les bien-pensants vichyssois n’auraient pas voulu qu’on lave à la fontaine, et que, justement, il fallait blanchir avant de refaire le lit de la France » (Marcel Déat, Mémoires politiques, Denoël, 1989, p. 774).  Voir aussi cette relation d’un dîner chez le docteur Auguste Bécart, ami doriotiste de Céline : «  On arrive ainsi à 8 h moins le quart. Lecourt et le Dr Bécart viennent nous prendre. Nous dînons chez celui-ci avec Céline, etc. Très intéressant. Pluie de vérités truculentes sur tout le monde. Attaques raciales contre Laval “nègre et juif”, etc. Au demeurant très sympathique. » (« Journal de guerre de Marcel Déat », note du 23 décembre 1942, Archives nationales. Extrait cité par Philippe Alméras in Les idées de Céline, Berg International, coll. « Pensée Politique et Sciences Sociales », 1992, p. 172.)

2. L’École des cadavres, Denoël, 1938, p. 257. Doriot est également évoqué pages 84 et 174. Voir aussi Bagatelles pour un massacre, Denoël, 1937, p. 310.

3. Lettre inédite à Karen Marie Jensen, 8 décembre [1941], citée par François Gibault in Céline. Délires et persécutions (1932-1944), Mercure de France, 1985, p. 288.

4. Ivan-M. Sicard, « Entretien avec Céline. Ce que l’auteur du Voyage au bout de la nuit “pense de tout ça...” », L’Émancipation nationale, 21 novembre 1943. Repris dans Cahiers Céline 7 (« Céline et l’actualité, 1933-1961 »), Gallimard, 1986, pp. 128-136.

5. Albert Laurence, « Le Meeting », L’Émancipation nationale, 7 février 1942.

6. « Lettre à Jacques Doriot », Cahiers de l’Émancipation nationale, mars 1942, repris dans Cahiers Céline 7, op. cit., pp. 155-161.

7. Lettre à Lucien Combelle, 17 mars [1942] in L’Année Céline 1995, op. cit., p. 117.

8. « Le Départ de Doriot, Céline a dit... », Le Cri du peuple de Paris, 31 mars 1943,  repris dans Cahiers Céline 7, op. cit., p. 185.

9. Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Lettres des années noires, Berg International, coll. « Faits et Représentations », 1994, pp. 29-35.

10. Victor Barthélemy, Du communisme au fascisme. L’histoire d’un engagement politique, Albin Michel, 1978, pp. 365-366.

11. Saint-Paulien, Histoire de la collaboration, L’Esprit nouveau, 1964, p. 257.

12. Lettre à Thorvald Mikkelsen, 2 juillet 1946 in Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Lettres de prison à Lucette Destouches et à Maître Mikkelsen, Gallimard, 1998, p. 257.

 

 

 

Jacques Doriot

DoriotLaFrance.jpgFormé dans les écoles du Komintern à Moscou, député communiste à 25 ans, maire de Saint-Denis à 32, Jacques Doriot fut au sein du PCF le grand rival de Maurice Thorez. Pour avoir refusé de se plier aux exigences de Staline et prôné trop tôt un rapprochement avec les socialistes, il est exclu du Parti en 1934.

Deux ans plus tard, il fonde le Parti populaire français (PPF), qui n’est pas encore un parti fasciste au sens strict du terme, mais qui le deviendra pendant l’Occupation. Rallié prudemment à la Collaboration tant qu’a subsisté l’hypothèque du pacte germano-soviétique, Doriot ne brûlera vraiment ses vaisseaux qu’en juin 1941, lorsque les divisions allemandes se lanceront à l’assaut de l’URSS. Il réclame alors la création d’une Légion des volontaires français contre le bolchevisme (LVF) et, de tous les dirigeants des grands partis collaborationnistes, il sera le seul à combattre sur le front de l’Est, à plusieurs reprises.

Alors que les Allemands se méfient de lui, il affiche désormais sa volonté de faire du PPF « un parti fasciste et totalitaire » (novembre 1942) et finit par trouver auprès des SS le soutien que lui a refusé Otto Abetz sur instruction d’Hitler. Il trouvera la mort en Allemagne, le 22 février 1945, mitraillé sans doute au hasard par des avions alliés.

Ainsi disparaissait l’une des figures les plus énigmatiques de l’histoire politique française du XXe siècle. Le livre de Jean-Claude Valla retrace le destin singulier d’un personnage dont Pierre Pucheu, qui ne l’aimait guère, a pu écrire : « À vrai dire, je n’ai pas connu dans notre génération d’homme ayant reçu à tel point du ciel des qualités d’homme d’État. »

 

Jean-Claude Valla, Doriot,  Éd. Pardès, coll. « Qui suis-je ? », 2008, 128 pages, ill. (12 €).

vendredi, 06 novembre 2009

"Ernst Jünger " de Dominique Venner

Le livre que Dominique Venner vient de publier aux Editions du Rocher (ici) sur Ernst Jünger fera date. Cet essai du Directeur de La Nouvelle Revue d’Histoire sur le monumental écrivain allemand n’est ni une biographie, ni une étude littéraire proprement dites.


Dans cet essai Dominique Venner tente d’expliquer comment un des penseurs de la droite radicale de l’après Grande Guerre, auteur de La guerre notre mère est devenu un adversaire du nazisme qu’il avait, avant son avènement, espéré voir donner à l’Allemagne vaincue une renaissance attendue et à quel point sa pensée peut être intemporelle


L’auteur est bien placé pour comprendre l’émetteur d’idées allemand, sensible comme un sismographe aux évolutions du temps. Car comme lui il a connu l’épreuve du feu. Jünger sous les orages d’acier de la Grande Guerre, Venner en tant que soldat perdu de la guerre d’Algérie.


Ceux de ma génération qui n’ont pas connu de guerres du tout ont du mal à comprendre réellement, profondément, que les guerres puissent féconder ainsi les vies intérieures des hommes, être de véritables expériences fondatrices, avec des résultats bien différents d’ailleurs selon les tempéraments :  


Si l’on compare deux témoignages de guerre parmi les plus marquants, écrits par deux auteurs souvent rapprochés, on découvre que La Comédie de Charleroi, de Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, malgré la victoire française de 1918, ressemble fort à un livre de vaincu, alors que Le Boqueteau 125, écrit [par Jünger] après la défaite allemande de 1918, semble plutôt un livre de vainqueur.


Ce qui fait d’Ernst Jünger un soldat et un écrivain hors normes c’est qu’il [vise] plus haut que le but qu’il s’est assigné et qu’il a une constante « tenue » au moral et au physique. Un tel homme, qui est un écrivain né, ne peut pas être un doctrinaire et ne l’est d’ailleurs pas. C’est un écrivain qui a des idées, mais :


Ces idées sont soumises à variation sans souci de cohérence idéologique.


En réalité :


Jünger vivait pour l’idée et non par l’idée. L’idée était sa raison de vivre, mais elle ne lui rapportait rien sinon des tracas. Jünger était un penseur idéaliste et profond. Il ne fut jamais un politicien pratique, tout en s’adonnant au romantisme politique plus qu’il n’en a convenu.


Si les œuvres de jeunesse semblent contredire celles de la maturité qui commencent avec Sur les falaises de marbre, Jünger considère ses œuvres comme des périodes et non pas comme des contradictions. Pour lui il y a continuité dans ses œuvres de jeunesse et de maturité comme le Nouveau Testament prolonge l’Ancien :


Seule la conjugaison [des parties de mon œuvre] déploie la dimension au sein de laquelle je souhaite qu’on me comprenne.


Jünger en dépit de son nationalisme originel ne pouvait que s’opposer à Hitler. Dominique Venner en fin d’ouvrage résume les idées qui ont nourri cette opposition :


Son refus de l’antisémitisme et du darwinisme racial, son opposition à la russophobie, lui-même souhaitant l’alliance de l’Allemagne et de la Russie, même bolchevique.


Et souligne :


[Sa] répugnance toujours plus grande […] à l’égard des dirigeants d’un parti brutal, indignes d’incarner la nouvelle Allemagne.


Il y a plus :


[Jünger] a pris […] la mesure de ses vraies aptitudes, finissant par détester en Hitler ce qu’il n’était pas. Il avait commis l’erreur fréquente des idéalistes perdus en politique. Il n’avait pas compris à temps que celle-ci appartient au monde de Machiavel et non à celui de Corneille.


Une fois comprise cette opposition l’œuvre de Jünger s’éclaire d’un tout autre jour, surtout quand on sait que :


Dans toute son œuvre, Jünger montre qu’il ne pense pas de façon historique, mais à travers des mythes intemporels.


Jünger, dans Le Nœud gordien, paru initialement en 1953, explique que l’essence de l’antinomie dans chaque débat entre l’Est et l’Ouest se trouve dans la notion de liberté qui a deux significations majeures pour l’Occidental : liberté spirituelle d’abord et :


Liberté politique ensuite, refus de l’arbitraire, dont Jünger perçoit tout à la fois les limites et la nécessité.


En héritier de cette conception de la liberté typiquement occidentale Venner est convaincu :


Que l’Europe, en tant que communauté millénaire de peuples, de culture et de civilisation, n’est pas morte, bien qu’elle ait semblé se suicider. Blessée au cœur entre 1914 et 1945 par les dévastations d’une nouvelle guerre de Trente Ans, puis par sa soumission aux utopies et systèmes des vainqueurs, elle est entrée en dormition.


Cette intime conviction repose sur ce que l’étude historique lui a appris, mais aussi sur l’exemple insigne donné par l’attitude et la pensée d’un Ernst Jünger.


Pour ma part je reconnais qu’il y a en moi de l’anarque, figure tardive de l’univers jüngerien, qui m’est contemporaine et est décrite dans Eumeswil, roman publié en 1977 par Jünger à l’âge de 82 ans :


Sa mesure lui suffit ; la liberté n’est pas son but ; elle est sa propriété.


Francis Richard


Pour l'internaute intéressé, Dominique Venner a depuis peu un blog : (ici).

vendredi, 09 octobre 2009

G. Gentile: un filosofo en el combate

gentile.jpgGiovanni Gentile: un filósofo en el combate

por Primo Siena ( http://www.arbil.org )

Asesinado en abril de 1944, en el clima de odio que envenenaba entonces a una Italia percutida por una trágica guerra civil, Giovanni Gentile, filosofo del "idealismo actual", ha recobrado un insospechado interés intelectual después de haber padecido de un largo olvido motivado por sectarias exclusiones.

Una muerte anunciada

En el verano bochornoso del 1943, Giovanni Gentile - encerrado en el pueblo campesino de Troghi, en los alrededores de Florencia, escribe en pocos meses Génesis y estructura de la sociedad, obra que lleva como subtítulo Ensayo de filosofía y que termina con un XIII° capítulo titulado La Sociedad trascendental, la muerte y la inmortalidad.

 

Se trata de una conclusión impresionante, después de profundas reflexiones desarrolladas en los capítulos anteriores sobre el Estado, la Historia y la Política.

 

En el último párrafo, hablando de la muerte el filósofo escribe: "La muerte es un hecho social. Quien muere, muere con respeto a alguien. Una absoluta soledad - que es algo imposible - non conoce la muerte, porque no realiza aquella sociedad de la que la muerte representa la disolución".

 

Terminado el libro, Gentile regresa a Florencia en los primeros días de setiembre; y mostrando el manuscrito a un amigo antifascista (Mario Manlio Rossi, también filósofo) exclama: "Vuestros amigos ahora pueden matarme. Mi tarea en esta vida ha terminado". Palabras que suenan como un siniestro presagio de una muerte presentida y anunciada, que se cumplirá trágicamente pocos meses después.

 

Un clima político sombrío, cargado de dramática incertidumbre, abrumaba la Italia de entonces, involucrada desde el año 1940 en la segunda guerra mundial.

 

Mussolini, relevado del poder por un golpe palaciego autorizado por el rey Victor Emmanuel III° el 26 de julio, había sido reemplazado por el mariscal Pietro Badoglio, quien estaba solicitando un armisticio a los angloamericanos, anunciado públicamente el 8 de setiembre de 1943. Aquel armisticio, pedido sin previo aviso a la aliada Alemania - y definido sucesivamente por el propio general H.D.Eisenhower "un negocio sucio" - causó la partición de Italia en dos bandos: uno monárquico, encabezado por Badoglio con una coalición de seis partidos antifascistas en el sur de Italia bajo dominación militar angloamericana; el otro de signo republicano-fascista, denominado República Social Italiana (RSI) y liderado por Mussolini recién rescatado de prisión, bajo el alero militar alemán, en el resto de Italia.

 

Todos estos acaecimientos impactan profundamente a Giovanni Gentile. Especialmente el armisticio, que él consideró más bien una rendición incondicional como era en verdad, lo inducía a preguntarse: "¿Por cual Italia podemos vivir, pensar, enseñar, escribir? ¡Cuando la patria desaparece, nos falta el aire, el aliento!"

 

Después de un encuentro con Mussolini - en noviembre de 1943 - Giovanni Gentile asume la presidencia de la Academia de Italia en representación del gobierno de la RSI, mientras el territorio italiano es campo de batallas entre ejércitos extranjeros. En una carta a la hija Teresita, motiva su grave decisión escribiendo: "Hay que marchar como dicta la conciencia. Esto es lo que he predicado toda mi vida. No puedo desmentirme ahora, cuando estoy para terminar mi camino; rehusarse habría sido suprema cobardía y demolición de toda una vida".

 

Coherente con esta postura, el 19 de marzo de 1944 - impulsado por el mismo sentimiento de piedad patriótica que lo había llevado a pronunciar un fuerte discurso en el Campidoglio de Roma el 24 de junio de 1943 - Gentile habla nuevamente a la nación italiana para celebrar el bicentenario del filósofo Juan Bautista Vico. Dejando de lado todo sofisma prudencial, él denuncia una vez más el peligro de una disolución espiritual que acabaría con pulverizar la unidad moral del pueblo logrando así un desastre social mucho más grave que las destrucciones materiales producidas por la guerra total que azota a la Italia entera.

 

Concluye su magistral oración sobre el pensamiento de Vico con palabras que encierran un trágico sabor profético: "¡Oh, para esta Italia nosotros, ya ancianos hemos vivido…Por ella, si fuera necesario, queremos morir porque sin ella no sabríamos sobrevivir entre los escombros de su miserable naufragio!".

 

Veintiséis días después (el 15 de abril), un grupo comunista de guerrilla urbana ultimaba a tiros el senador Giovanni Gentile al interior de su auto, frente a Villa Montaldo, su morada en las afueras de Florencia.

 

Hora antes de caer asesinado, Gentile había abogado por la vida de algunos jóvenes antifascistas detenidos por los responsables de la seguridad interior del Estado.

 

Recibiendo su "hermana muerte" en el remolino de la guerra civil, no en la quietud del hogar rodeado de afectos familiares, el filósofo del idealismo actual sellaba socráticamente su milicia cultural sustentada por la identificación entre el pensar y el obrar, el pensamiento y la acción como el modo más coherente de practicar la identidad entre filosofía y vida.

 

Años después, el filósofo católico italiano Gustavo Bontadini, reflexionando sobre la trayectoria filosófica y existencial de Gentile, en el marco de actuación de sus últimas horas de vida, reconocerá en su muerte el cumplimiento perfecto del compromiso cultural y político de un filósofo quien había hecho de su vida una reductio artium ad tehologiam.

 

La filosofía del "Idealismo actualista"

 

La investigación filosófica de Giovanni Gentile reactualiza el idealismo de Hegel pero reformándolo según el siguiente principio básico: nada es ajeno al pensamiento.

 

No existe una dialéctica de lo pensado, sino de lo pensante; por lo tanto es una grave equivocación hacer distinciones entre pensamiento práctico y pensamiento teorético, siendo el pensamiento la actividad creadora por excelencia, actividad que coincide con el acto de pensar en cuanto acto del espíritu. El autor de este acto del pensamiento es el sujeto siempre idéntico a sí mismo, mientras que el objeto existe sólo en tanto que es pensado: momento dialéctico necesario por el cual la multiciplicidad del pensamiento pensado se resuelve en la simultánea unidad del pensamiento pensante por medio del acto creador del Espíritu. De aquí arranca la filosofía del actualismo gentiliano que es también un espiritualismo.

 

Gentile concibe el espíritu no como ser sino como actividad en la cual es inmanente toda realidad; por lo tanto nada existe que no pertenezca a la actividad del Espíritu como acto del puro pensar en su permanente y simultánea actividad. Este acto puro nunca es hecho porque siempre es acto que supera las barreras del tiempo y del espacio, creaciones del mismo Espíritu que no es estático sino dinámico en su permanente actuar.

 

Dios, la naturaleza, el bien y el mal, el error y la verdad, el pasado y el futuro no subsisten fuera del acto de pensar en el que se identifican. Para Gentile entonces ser significa conocer y conocer es identificar.

 

El Espíritu Absoluto, acto puro creador, se hace a sí mismo (autoctisi) en el proceso continuo del "acto de pensar en su actualidad", concepto expresado en italiano sintéticamente como "pensiero pensante"; y coincide con el proceso autocreativo del Yo Absoluto que se pone a sí mismo come objeto del pensamiento:"categoría única, lógica, y metafísica" a la vez; lo que no es un espejo de la realidad, son más bien el principio vivo, siempre actual del cual brota toda realidad.

 

La experiencia de los cuerpos - escribió Giovanni Gentile en el Sumario de Pedagogía como ciencia filosófica (1913-14) - no es más que una modalidad de la experiencia del pensamiento. Algunos objetos del pensamientos son cuerpos, otros son ideas, otros más son números, pero todos pertenecen al acto del pensar, son ellos mismos pensamientos".

 

En la filosofía gentiliana, los seres individuales caben como realizaciones empíricas y transitorias del Espíritu Absoluto donde el pasado siempre revive como presente y la historia misma, coincidiendo con el acto del puro pensar se identifica con la filosofía.

 

La filosofía es, por lo tanto, la más alta y completa manifestación del Espíritu: auto síntesis cumbre del pensamiento que en Gentile como en Hegel es un proceso dialéctico de tres momentos, pero en la especulación filosófica gentiliana este proceso se realiza al interior del Espíritu mismo y no en la Idea que precede al Espíritu, como acaecía en Hegel. Se trata, según Gentile, de tres momentos de una única categoría y que constituyen un único proceso espiritual.

 

El momento estético del Arte (tesis) es la expresión subjetiva que se manifiesta como "actividad pensante" en su esencia; el artista, libre y autónomo, crea un mundo que se identifica consigo mismo. El arte es moralidad que aporta serenidad quietud, catarsis purificadora de las pasiones.

 

El momento de la Religión (antítesis) constituye la expresión objetiva del proceso dialéctico del Espíritu que, alejado de sí mismo, contempla a Dios como Objeto Absoluto.

 

Finalmente la Filosofía constituye la síntesis del momento del Arte y del momento de la Religión: momento culminante del Espíritu que se realiza a sí mismo por el pensamiento y de tal modo afirma su identidad y unidad, sin pasado o futuro porque en sí mismo contiene todo el pasado y todo el futuro. La filosofía constituye entonces la conceptualización de la realidad, siendo que toda la realidad es pensamiento en acto. En ese sentido la historia es concebida siempre como historia contemporánea porque los hechos trascurridos están presentes en nosotros como hechos actuales; de aquí la definición de la filosofía de Giovanni Gentile como actualismo o idealismo actualista".

 

La catolicidad controvertida del filósofo Gentile

 

La reflexión filosófica de Giovanni Gentile - según comenta José Ferrater Mora - "es un pensar que trasciende toda mera subjetividad: es pensar trascendental y no sujeto que conoce, y meno aún sujeto psicológico". De este modo el actualismo gentiliano mediante el predominio del acto puro y absolutamente actual busca de resolver las contradicciones que plantea el pensamiento mismo (1).

 

Pero una contradicción, por lo meno, permanece por cuanto concierne la cuestión religiosa, como bien observó en su tiempo el filósofo italiano Giuseppe Maggiore; quien, con respeto del filósofo Gentile, escribió: "El Cristianismo, refutado en las primeras rígidas posiciones del inmanentismo absoluto, penetró gradualmente en su pensamiento con una ansiedad insaciable, como una necesitad de liberación. Él pensó y vivió como hombre justo - vir iustus - en el sentido veraz del Cristianismo, lo cual enseña que para vivir dignamente hay que saber morir"(2).

 

Con respeto del problema religioso, las polémicas hacia Gentile y su idealismo actualista no fueron pocas. A pesar de haber confesado públicamente su adhesión a la religión católica, su posición religiosa fue considerada cuanto menos heterodoxa.

 

Un año antes de su trágica muerte, dictando en Florencia una conferencia titulada "Mi religión" Gentile proclamó: "Repito mi profesión de fe, guste o no guste a quien me está escuchando: yo soy cristiano porque creo en la religión del espíritu. Pero, para fugar todas dudas, quiero agregar: yo soy católico".

 

Después de haber negado que la religión pueda ser un asunto privado, como sostienen los reformadores luteranos, Gentile destacaba el carácter jerárquico y social del catolicismo del cual aceptaba hasta las formulaciones dogmáticas: "Lo que la Iglesia Católica quiere enseñar es digno de ser recogido en todos sus dogmas por parte de cada espíritu cristiano, consciente de que la revolución obrada en el pensamiento y en la vida del hombre por el Evangelio, es un descubrimiento de la vida del Espíritu".

 

Ahondando en su concepto de la religión afirmaba, mas adelante: "El acto del espíritu nunca será puro arte, ni pura religión, porque la sola religión que se da es aquella que se celebra en la efectiva vida del espíritu, donde todo su vigor se manifiesta en la síntesis del pensamiento. Por lo tanto la religión se alimenta y cultiva en la inteligencia, fuera de la cual se disuelve y desvanece (…). La religión crece, se expande, se consolida y vive en la filosofía que elabora sin cesar el contenido inmediato de la religión y lo introduce en la vida de la historia (…). Se quiera o no, la religión tiene que atravesar el fuego del pensamiento para no quemarse las alas que la sustentan en su vuelo hacia Dios".

 

Esta confesión pública, más que una profesión incondicional de fe católica, en palabras de Gentile resultaba la confesión de fe en un catolicismo personal, propio en la medida en la que el filósofo lograba repensar por su cuenta los conceptos de la doctrina católica; lo que constituye la modalidad propia de la filosofía actualista de vivir una doctrina: esto es, pensarla para vivirla.

 

Comentando el asesinato del filósofo, Armando Carlini, anotó: "Gentile, el gran defensor de la inmanencia y de la historicidad del espíritu, ha vivido toda su vida en una esfera de valores trascendentales, más allá del mundo pequeño, donde los hombres hacen la historia".

 

Por otra parte, un antiguo alumno de Gentile, Mario Casotti, después de haber superado los limites del pensamiento actualista alcanzando las riberas de la filosofía aristotélico-tomista, había destacado como el idealismo moderno, a pesar de sus errores particulares, hubiera logrado asimilarse con el realismo ideal de la filosofía clásica por medio de la concepción gentiliana del Espíritu como Acto Puro, porque - había observado oportunamente Casotti - "el Acto sin mixtura de potencialidad" (esto es: Acto Puro), desde Aristóteles en adelante es el Ser Absoluto: es decir Dios".

 

Giovanni Gentile representa la paradoja de una sincera fe católica conviviente con una filosofía poco compatible con la ortodoxia del catolicismo; pero compatible con el catolicismo (y con el espíritu italianísimo de Pio XII°, como bien anota Piero Vassallo, filosofo italiano de corte tomista) era la idea de pacificación política y civil profesada casi proféticamente en los tiempos últimos de su existencia: El hecho que muchos entre los más destacados discípulos de Gentile (pienso sobretodo en Armando Carlini y en Michele Federico Sciacca) hayan recorrido un itinerario filosófico que alcanzó un éxito católico, hace pensar en la existencia de un filón místico en Giovanni Gentile; lo que inducía al franciscano Padre Agostino Gemelli, rector de la Universidad católica de Milán, a escribir en la Rivista di Filosofia Neoscolastica (Junio de 1944), lo siguiente: "La barbara muerte ha truncado una posible evolución ulterior del pensamiento gentiliano, que en sus últimos años se había abierto más hacia una visión del Cristianismo auténtico"

 

El controvertido catolicismo de Giovanni Gentile fue considerado, además, por el filosofo católico Gustavo Bontadini un testimonio de aquella reductio artium ad theologíam postulada por San Buenaventura y que aflora también en la dialéctica del idealismo actualista cuando postula el pasaje desde el filosofar hacia el vivir concebido como una plena participación a la vida del Espíritu que busca Dios - el Dios Uno y Trino - y se deleita en Él.

 

Se trata de un ansia especulativa en la que se asoma el alma del creyente atraído por su voz interior y que anhela el privilegio de la sublime fulguración divina, perseguida durante toda una vida a lo largo de un interminable camino hacia Damasco, para alcanzar la luz de la revelación cristiana. Y por esa ansia fervorosa que acompañó a Giovanni Gentile en toda su vida, me atrevo a pensar que el bautismo cristiano en las aguas, recibido por él al nacer por elección de sus padres católicos, tuvo su misteriosa y providencial confirmación en el bautismo de la sangre al morir.

 

El humanismo para los nuevos tiempos

 

En su obra Reforma della scuola in Italia (1932), Giovannji Gentile afirma:

 

"El cuerpo humano es a base de toda nuestra actividad espiritual porque el hombre es el único ser viviente capaz de desarrollar el acto puro de pensar".

 

En el pensamiento reside entonces la misma realidad existencial del hombre, según la filosofía gentiliana interpretada sucesivamente como una expresión de un existencialismo positivo por Vito A.Bellezza y como un peculiar espiritualismo personalista por Francesco La Scala.

 

Coherente con esta arquitectura especulativa, en su último ensayo de filosofía practica escribió: "La política es una actividad inmanente el espíritu human. Por lo tanto quien, sinceramente y conociendo el significado de la palabra, se propusiera de apartarse de toda política, debería renunciar a vivir".

 

Pero la política debe nutrirse de una profunda moralidad, porque Gentile concibe la actividad política como expresión de una voluntad moral que obra en el hombre concebido como "Unidad dinámica de esencia y existencia, de cuerpo y alma, de sentimientos y pensamientos"; individuo que por ser personalidad humana dotada de experiencia concreta y de existencia histórica y social, es además voluntad universal que sustenta el reino del espíritu. Por consiguiente, la Sociedad y el Estado, según Gentile, no se manifiestan Inter homines sino In interiore homine. Para el filósofo del actualismo, en el individuo concreto se manifiesta la autoconciencia que resume en sí misma el espacio, el tiempo y la naturaleza. Por consiguiente en el individuo coincide la comunidad universal al interior de la cual el yo convive siempre con un alter, un socius que hace del yo un nosotros: términos inseparables y que borran todas diferencias entre ellos, porque yo y nosotros - afirma Gentile - somos unos mismos dentro del Sujeto Único y Absoluto que forma la sociedad ideal definida como Sociedad trascendental: síntesis espiritual de todos los moldes particulares y históricos de la vida asociada.

 

El soporte socio-político de esta sociedad trascendental - dibujada en Génesis y estructura de la Sociedad - es el humanismo del trabajo definido como el humanismo de los nuevos tiempos que, después del humanismo literario y filosófico, se abre para abarcar toda forma de actividad del hombre, permitiendo que se le reconozca al trabajador la misma alta dignidad reconocida que el hombre intelectual había descubierto en el pensamiento: cumbre de su voluntad y libertad.

 

"El ciudadano - escribió Gentile con un cautivante lirismo - no es el hombre abstracto de la clase dominante, porque más culta o más adinerada, ni es el hombre que para saber leer o escribir domina el instrumento de una ilimitada comunicación espiritual. El hombre real es el hombre que trabaja, porque en verdad el valor está en el trabajo; y por su trabajo, diferenciado según su calidad y cantidad, el hombre vale lo que vale".

 

Aquí radica la diferencia abismal entre el humanismo gentiliano y el utopismo marxista, que siempre ha repudiado la división del trabajo social.

 

Gentile, además, nunca ha admitido la escisión entre el interés particular y el interés común, siendo el hombre, según él, un ser entero y concreto, éticamente concebido.

 

Con el humanismo del trabajo, Gentile perfecciona y sella su polémica juvenil con el marxismo abierta en su años mozos (1897) con un ensayo crítico sobre el materialismo histórico donde había destacado el error central de Karl Marx: haber postulado una revisión morfológica del hecho, donde sólo el hecho relativo sería cierto de forma absoluta.

 

De este modo -observó Gentile - Marx había expulsado el absoluto de Hegel por carecer de la relatividad, olvidando que no es posible concebir un absoluto que carezca de algo. Además - comentaba aún Gentile - el hecho no puede ser objeto de especulación filosófica, come Marx pretendía, siendo el hecho algo pertinente solo a la experiencia, y por lo tanto pertinente a la historia pura que -como muchos saben - se ocupa sólo de lo que ha acaecido y que, por consiguiente, no cabe en la filosofía de la historia.

 

Aquí - anotaba Gentile - Marx confundió la forma con el contenido, atribuyendo al segundo las características de la primera. En esta confusión reside el gravísimo error especulativo del pensamiento marxista.

 

En la sociedad configurada por el humanismo del trabajo, Gentile ha dibujado un proyecto socio-político, donde la libertad no debe negar la autoridad, ni la autoridad desconocer a la libertad, siendo vital la síntesis de ambos valores para que el trabajador pueda elevarse a la dignidad ética del artífice; quien - con el propósito de desmaterializar a la materia - se hace, además de faber fortunae suae, también faber sui ipsius: fautor - esto es - no solamente de su suerte sino de sí mismo, según una lección de transparente raíces agustinianas.

 

El filósofo destacaba así la exigencia de dignificar éticamente toda actividad humana para resolver, de una vez, las seculares divergencias entre teoría (cultura) y praxis (producción), capita y trabajo, capitalistas y proletarios, sociedad y Estado versus individuo.

 

Aquí la filosofía de Gentile que, en sus inicio, se desarrolló centrándose principalmente entorno a la noción del acto puro, se concluye haciendo del hombre - protagonista del pensamiento pensante - el eje central de su arquitectura especulativa ; y desde esa audaz postura, él había osado declarar en el discurso del Campidoglio (junio de 1943) - anticipando su teoría sobre el humanismo del trabajo - que los comunistas de entonces no se daban cuentas de ser simplemente unos "corporativistas impacientes".

 

¡Ahora bien! Aquella atrevida afirmación - a la luz de los acontecimientos del último decenio del siglo veinte - resulta una profecía igualmente audaz y acertadamente inactual porque proyectada hacia un futuro cercano, en tiempos en los cuales una fiebre libremercadista, después del derrumbe catastrófico del marxismo leninismo está reemplazando a la utopía comunista en un mundo inquieto que anhela aún a una mayor justicia moral y social, en una sociedad del mañana sustentada en valores espirituales y afirmada en principios trascendentes y no en un pragmatismo socioeconómico satisfecho sólo por éxitos materiales.

 

Vigencia y sentido del pensamiento gentiliano

 

A pesar de haber redactado la parte filosófica del capítulo dedicado a la voz fascismo en la Enciclopedia Italiana, en conjunto con Mussolini autor de la parte histórico-programática, Giovanni Gentile no alcanzó la ambición de ser el filósofo oficial del régimen fascista italiano porque su poder se fue políticamente debilitando desde los años treinta hasta el dramático 1943. Sin embargo, el hecho de que fuese el filósofo más destacado de la Italia fascista de entonces y su gran organizador cultural, que hubiera permanecido al lado de Mussolini por toda la vida, constituyó siempre un problema inquietante para la cultura italiana antifascista y post-fascista: por esa misma razón el recuerdo de Gentile padeció por largo tiempo injustas y sectarias exclusiones.

 

Preguntándose porque Giovanni Gentile fue fascista, Piero Melograni ya en el lejano 1984 observaba que la opción política del filósofo era implicita en todo su itinerario intelectual.

 

A su vez, Aldo Lo Schiavo destacaba que postulando la identidad entre ley y libertad, individuo y Estado, Gentile encontró en el fascismo mussoliniano la última forma de un nulo concepto de libertad, hija del siglo diecinueve: Esta sería la razón por la cual el mismo Gentile consideraba la necesitad de la crítica y de la oposición como una necesitad dialéctica imprescindible también en el fascismo, que por lo tanto aparecía al filósofo no una ideología o un sistema cerrado, sino más bien un proceso histórico y un proyecto ideal en perpetuo desarrollo (3).

 

Aquí cabría - más allá de la misma generosidad, que fue un dato peculiar de su persona - también la explicación intelectual de la actitud comprensiva y tolerante hacia sus adversarios políticos; sobre todo hacia destacados intelectuales israelitas víctimas - como él mismo confesó - de "una infeliz fatalidad política".

 

Estas generosas actitudes personales todavía no absolvieron a Gentile del delito de haber sido un fascista; delito considerado imperdonable por parte de un sectarismo prepotente que arrinconó en poco reductos académicos la obra filosófica de Gentile, a lo largo de más de medio siglo, llegando al extremo de negar en la Escuela Normal Superior de Pisa el recuerdo de veinte años de intenso y proficuo magisterio gentiliano.

 

Pero la paciencia de la historia ha ido despejando, de a poco, las nieblas envenenadas por las sectas ideológicas, permitiendo que se asomara paulatinamente la deuda conceptual que la cultura italiana y europea tiene con Giovanni Gentile.

 

Desde 1994, cuando bajo el alero de una administración municipal de centro-izquierda, se celebró en el Campidoglio de Roma un congreso sobre el pensamiento del filósofo asesinado, la herencia de Gentile afloró como un patrimonio conceptual nada fácil, pero todavía vigoroso y merecedor por lo tanto de ser revisado por el sentido de conciencia crítica que empuja al hombre intelectual hacia la búsqueda de la verdad sub specie aeternitatis.

 

Ilustres filósofos, incluidos varios de ellos discrepantes con las posturas del idealismo actualista, reconocieron en aquel congreso la vigencia de distintos aspectos del pensamiento gentiliano, destacando entre otros el concepto de organicidad: condición implícita en el pluralismo de las instituciones y en las articulaciones de los cuerpos intermedios, porque Gentile ha enseñado que en el pluralismo se hace efectiva la interrelación de los elementos heterogéneos con los elementos homogéneos, todos ellos asumidos en el acto del pensar.

 

Se consideró vigente además el concepto de identidad como propuesta de conciliación dialéctica entre revolución y conservación, autoridad y libertad, libertad y deber, individuo y comunidad, Sociedad y Estado; y vigente resultó sobre todo la concepción moral de la sociedad política nutrida de valores ético-religiosos y que otorgan a la política el carácter peculiar de teología civil. Finalmente se destacó la permanente vigencia de la humanidad del hombre generoso que fue Giovanni Gentile, humanidad manifestada concretamente hacia los adversarios, y que a un paso de la muerte enfrentada socráticamente grabó el epitafio de su vida con esta palabras de bronce:"La fuerza del espíritu que está en todos nosotros, paulatinamente supera las divergencias, transforma las luchas en sendero de paz; y desde el odio - antes o después - brota el Amor".

 

Recordando este impresionante testimonio, el gentiliano Fortunato Aloi ha justamente definido a Giovanni Gentile un "filósofo sin barreras (4); quien al franquear las barreras de la vida terrenal, victimado como Sócrates por cobarde furor humano, nos dejó in extremis la más honda lección moral.

 

Una lección, frente a cual se inclina reverente también quien - como el suscrito - no asume la especulación filosófica del idealismo actualista pero reconoce en ella un profundo magisterio postfilosófico que concibe la vida como combate incesante, vocación de una milicia permanente que evoca aquella del legionario romano inmortalado por Spengler: estoicamente inmóvil, en la puerta de Pompeya, bajo la lluvia volcánica del Vesubio para no faltar a su consigna.

 

•- •-• -••• •••-•
Primo Siena

 

Notas

 

1..J.FERRATER MORA, Diccionario de F filosofía. Tomo II° (E-J)"Gentile, Giovanni". Ed.Arial, Barcelona 1994, pp. 1453-55.

 

2..G. MAGGIORE, La filosofia del Diritto in G.Gentile (en G. Gentile, la vita e il pensiero) Ed. Sansoni, Firenze 1948, p. 244.

 

3..A. LO SCHIAVO, Introduzione a Gentile. Ed. Laterza, Bari 1974.

 

4..F.ALOI, Attualitá di Gentile. Ed Diaco, Bovalino 1992.

 

samedi, 03 octobre 2009

Hiroshima: la décision fatale

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Archives de SYNERGIES EUROPEENNES  - 1996

 

 

Hiroshima: la décision fatale selon Gar Alperovitz

 

Si on examine attentivement l'abondante littérature actuelle sur l'affrontement entre le Japon et les Etats-Unis au cours de la seconde guerre mondiale, on ne s'étonnera pas des thèses que vient d'émettre Gar Alperovitz, un historien américain. Son livre vaut vraiment la peine d'être lu dans sa nouvelle version alle­mande (ISBN 3-930908-21-2), surtout parce que la thématique de Hiroshima n'avait jamais encore été abordée de façon aussi détaillée. Alperovitz nous révèle une quantité de sources inexplorées, ce qui lui permet d'ouvrir des perspectives nouvelles.

 

Il est évidemment facile de dire, aujourd'hui, que le lancement de la première bombe atomique sur Hiroshima le 6 août 1945 a été inutile. Mais les contemporains de l'événements pouvaient-ils voir les choses aussi clairement? Qu'en pensaient les responsables de l'époque? Que savait plus particulière­ment le Président Truman qui a fini par donner l'ordre de la lancer? Alperovitz nous démontre, en s'appuyant sur de nombreuses sources, que les décideurs de l'époque savaient que le Japon était sur le point de capituler et que le lancement de la bombe n'aurait rien changé. Après la fin des hostilités en Europe, les Américains avaient parfaitement pu réorganiser leurs armées et Staline avait accepté d'entrer en guerre avec le Japon, trois mois après la capitulation de la Wehrmacht. Le prolongement de la guerre en Asie, comme cela avait été le cas en Europe, avait conduit les alliés occidentaux à exiger la “capitulation inconditionnelle”, plus difficilement acceptable encore au Japon car ce n'était pas le chef charismatique d'un parti qui était au pouvoir là-bas, mais un Tenno, officiellement incarnation d'une divi­nité qui gérait le destin de l'Etat et de la nation.

 

Alperovitz nous démontre clairement que la promesse de ne pas attenter à la personne physique du Tenno et la déclaration de guerre soviétique auraient suffi à faire fléchir les militaires japonais les plus en­têtés et à leur faire accepter l'inéluctabilité de la défaite. Surtout à partir du moment où les premières at­taques russes contre l'Armée de Kuang-Toung en Mandchourie enregistrent des succès considérables, alors que cette armée japonaise était considérée à l'unanimité comme la meilleure de l'Empire du Soleil Levant.

 

Pourquoi alors les Américains ont-ils décidé de lancer leur bombe atomique? Alperovitz cherche à prouver que le lancement de la bombe ne visait pas tant le Japon mais l'Union Soviétique. L'Amérique, après avoir vaincu l'Allemagne, devait montrer au monde entier qu'elle était la plus forte, afin de faire valoir sans con­cessions les points de vue les plus exigeants de Washington autour de la table de négociations et de tenir en échec les ambitions soviétiques.

 

Le physicien atomique Leo Szilard a conté ses souvenirs dans un livre paru en 1949, A Personal History of the Atomic Bomb;  il se rappelle d'une visite de Byrnes, le Ministre américain des affaires étrangères de l'époque: «Monsieur Byrnes n'a avancé aucun argument pour dire qu'il était nécessaire de lancer la bombe atomique sur des villes japonaises afin de gagner la guerre... Monsieur Byrnes... était d'avis que les faits de posséder la bombe et de l'avoir utilisé auraient rendu les Russes et les Européens plus conci­liants».

 

Quand on lui pose la question de savoir pourquoi il a fallu autant de temps pour que l'opinion publique américaine (ou du moins une partie de celle-ci) commence à s'intéresser à ce problème, Alperovitz répond que les premières approches critiques de certains journalistes du Washington Post ont été noyées dans les remous de la Guerre Froide. «Finalement», dit Alperovitz, «nous les Américains, nous n'aimons pas entendre dire que nous ne valons moralement pas mieux que les autres. Poser des questions sur Hiroshima, c'est, pour beaucoup d'Américains, remettre en question l'intégrité morale du pays et de ses dirigeants».

 

Le livre d'Alperovitz compte quelques 800 pages. Un résumé de ce travail est paru dans les Blätter für deutsche und internationale Politik (n°7/1995). Les points essentiels de la question y sont explicités clai­rement.

 

(note parue dans Mensch und Maß, n°7/1996; adresse: Verlag Hohe Warte, Tutzinger Straße 46, D-82.396 Pähl).

 

jeudi, 17 septembre 2009

On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages

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On The Biocentric Metaphysics of Ludwig Klages

by John Claverley Cartney


Without a doubt, "The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul" by Klages is a great work of philosophy. -- Walter Benjamin


Out of Phlegethon!
Out of Phlegethon,
Gerhart
Art thou come forth out of Phlegethon?
with Buxtehude and Klages in your satchel… -- From Canto LXXV by Ezra Pound


Oliveira said, "Let’s keep on looking for the Yonder, there are plenty of Yonders that keep opening up one after the other. I’d start by saying that this technological reality that men of science and the readers of France-Soir accept today, this world of cortisone, gamma rays, and plutonium, has as little to do with reality as the world of the Roman de la Rose. If I mentioned it a while back to our friend Perico, it was in order to make him take note that his æsthetic criteria and his scale of values are pretty well liquidated and that man, after having expected everything from intelligence and from the spirit, feels that he’s been betrayed, is vaguely aware that his weapons have been turned against him, that culture and civiltà, have misled him into this blind alley where scientific barbarism is nothing but a very understandable reaction. Please excuse my vocabulary."
"Klages has already said all of that," said Gregorovius. --
From Chapter 99 of "Hopscotch" by Julio Cortázar


Ludwig Klages is primarily responsible for providing the philosophical foundations for the pan-Romantic conception of man that we now find among many thinkers in different scientific disciplines, for example, Edgar Dacqué, Leo Frobenius, C. G. Jung, Hans Prinzhorn, Theodor Lessing, and, to a certain extent, Oswald Spengler. -- From "Man’s Place in Nature" by Max Scheler


In the field of scientific psychology, Klages towers over all of his contemporaries, including even the academic world’s most renowned authorities. -- Oswald Spengler


"The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul" by Ludwig Klages ranks with Heidegger’s "Being and Time" and Hartmann’s "The Foundation of Ontology" as one of the three greatest philosophical achievements of the modern epoch. -- Erich Rothacker


Klages is a fascinating phenomenon, a scientist of the highest rank, whom I regard as the most important psychologist of our time. -- Alfred Kubin


Ludwig Klages is renowned as the brilliant creator of profound systems of expression-research and graphology, and his new book, entitled "Concerning the Cosmogonic Eros," possesses such depth of psychological insight and so rich and fructifying an atmosphere, that it moved me far more deeply than I have ever been moved by the writings of men like Spengler and Keyserling. In the pages of this book on the "Cosmogonic Eros," Klages almost seems to have found the very words with which to speak that which has hitherto been considered to be beyond the powers of speech. -- Hermann Hesse


When we survey the philosophical critiques of Nietzsche’s thought that have been published thus far, we conclude that the monograph written by Ludwig Klages, "The Psychological Achievements of Nietzsche," can only be described as the towering achievement. -- Karl Löwith



Prelude: The Intellectual Environment

Ludwig KlagesDURING THE CLOSING YEARS of the 19th century, the limitations and inadequacies of the superficial positivism that had dominated European thought for so many decades were becoming increasingly apparent to critical observers. The wholesale repudiation of metaphysics that Tyndall, Haeckel and Büchner had proclaimed as a liberation from the superstitions and false doctrines that had misled benighted investigators of earlier times, was now seen as having contributed significantly to the bankruptcy of positivism itself. Ironically, a critical examination of the unacknowledged epistemological assumptions of the positivists clearly revealed that not only had Haeckel and his ilk been unsuccessful in their attempt to free themselves from metaphysical presuppositions, but they had, in effect, merely switched their allegiance from the grand systems of speculative metaphysics that had been constructed in previous eras by the Platonists, medieval scholastics, and post-Kantian idealists whom they abominated, in order to adhere to a ludicrous, ersatz metaphysics of whose existence they were completely unaware. 

The alienation of younger thinkers from what they saw as the discredited dogmas of positivism and materialism found expression in the proliferation of a wide range of philosophical schools, whose adherents had little in common other than the will to revolt against outmoded dogma. "Back to Kant!" became the battle-cry of the neo-Kantians at Marburg. "Back to the things themselves!" proclaimed the "phenomenologist" Edmund Husserl; there were "neo-positivists," "empirio-critical" thinkers, and even the invertebrate American ochlocracy lent its cacaphonous warblings to the philosophical choir when William James proclaimed his soothing doctrine of "Pragmatism," with which salesmen, journalists, and other uncritical blockheads have stupefied themselves ever since.

A more substantial and significant revolt, however, emerged from another quarter altogether when several independent scholars began to re-examine the speculative metaphysical systems of the "philosophers of nature" who had flourished during the Romantic Period. Although the astonishing creativity of these men of genius had been forgotten whilst positivism and materialism ruled the roost, of course, men like Nietzsche, Burckhardt, and Bachofen had preserved elements of the Romantic heritage and had thereby, as it were, already prepared the soil in which younger men would sow the precious seed of a Romantic Revival. By the turn of the 20th century the blossoms had emerged in the form of the philosophers of the "vitalist" school. In France, Henri Bergson became the leading proponent of philosophical vitalism, and his slogan of élan vital as well as his doctrine of évolution créatrice thrilled audiences in the salons as well as in the university lecture halls. In Hungary, the astonishingly gifted philosopher and physicist, Melchior Palágyi—a thinker of an altogether higher order than the superficial Bergson—conducted profound research into celestial mechanics, which clearly anticipated the theory of relativity; he developed the theory of "virtual" movement; and his critical powers enabled him to craft a definitive and withering refutation of Husserl’s pseudo-phenomenology, and his insights retain their validity even now in spite of the oblivion to which the disciples of Husserl have consigned them. 

In the German-speaking world the doctrines of Lebensphilosophie, or "philosophy of life," achieved academic respectability when Wilhelm Dilthey became their spokesman. Sadly, candor demands that we draw the reader’s attention to the troubling fact that it was Dilthey who inaugurated a disastrous trend that was to be maintained at German universities for the next hundred years by such able obfuscators and logomachs as Heidegger and his spawn, for, to put it as charitably as possible, Dilthey was the first significant German philosopher to achieve wide renown in spite of having nothing significant to say (that is why, perhaps, Dilthey and Heidegger furnish such mountains of grist for the philosophical proles who edit and annotate and comment and publish and—prosper).

Among these "philosophers of life," there were "amalgamists," among whom we find Hans Driesch, who sabotaged his own project by indulging in futile attempts to combine the irreconcilable doctrines of Kantian idealism and vitalism in his theory of the "entelechy," which, although he proclaimed it to be a uniquely vitalistic notion, is always analyzed mechanistically and atomistically in his expositions. The profound speculative metaphysics of Houston Stewart Chamberlain also succumbed to the Kantian infection, for even Chamberlain seems to have been blind to the ineluctable abyss that divides vitalism and Kantianism. 

Finally, and most significantly, we encounter the undisputed master-spirit of the "vitalist" school in the German world, the philosopher and polymath Ludwig Klages, whose system of "biocentric" metaphysics displays a speculative profundity and a logical rigor that no other vitalist on the planet could hope to equal. 

The Early Years

Ludwig Klages was born on December 10, 1872, in the northern German city of Hannover. He seems to have been a solitary child, but he developed one intense friendship with a class-mate named Theodor Lessing, who would himself go on to achieve fame as the theorist of "Jewish Self-Hatred," a concept whose origins Lessing would later trace back to passionate discussions that he had had with Klages during their boyhood rambles on the windswept moors and beaches of their Lower Saxon home.

In 1891 he received his "Abitur," and immediately journeyed to Leipzig to begin his university studies in Chemistry and Physics. In 1893, he moved to Munich, where he would live and work until the Great War forced him into Swiss exile in 1915.

Klages continued his undergraduate studies in Chemistry and Physics during the day, but at night he could usually be found in the cafés of Schwabing, then as now the Bohemian district of Munich. It was in Schwabing that he encountered the poet Stefan George and his "circle." George immediately recognized the young man’s brilliance, and the poet eagerly solicited contributions from Klages, both in prose and in verse, to his journal, the Blätter für die Kunst

Klages also encountered Alfred Schuler (1865-1923), the profoundly learned Classicist and authority on ancient Roman history, at this time. Schuler was also loosely associated with the George-circle, although he was already becoming impatient with the rigidly masculine, "patriarchalist" spirit that seemed to rule the poet and his minions. Klages eventually joined forces with Schuler and Karl Wolfskehl, an authority on Germanistics who taught at the University of Munich, to form the Kosmische Runde, or "Cosmic Circle," and the three young men, who had already come under the influence of the "matriarchalist" anthropology of the late Johann Jakob Bachofen, soon expressed their mounting discontent with George and his "patriarchal" spirit. Finally, in 1904, Klages and Schuler broke with the poet, and the aftermath was of bitterness and recrimination "all compact." Klages would in later years repudiate his association with George, but he would revere Schuler, both as a man and as a scholar, to the end of his life.

The other crucial experience that Klages had during this last decade of the old century was his overwhelming love affair with Countess Franziska zu Reventlow, the novelist and Bohemian, whose "Notebooks of Mr. Lady" provides what is, perhaps, the most revealing—and comical—rendition of the turbulent events that culminated in the break between the "Cosmic Circle" and the George-Kreis; Wolfskehl, who was himself an eyewitness to the fracas, held that, although Franziska had called the book a novel, it was, in fact, a work of historical fact. Likewise, the diaries of the Countess preserve records of her conversations with Klages (who is referred to as "Hallwig," the name of the Klages-surrogate in her "Mr. Lady": she records Klages telling her that "There is no ‘God’; there are many gods!" At times "Hallwig" even frightens her with oracular allusions to "my mystical side, the rotating Swastika" and with his prophecies of inevitable doom). When the Countess terminated the liaison, Klages, who suffered from serious bouts with major depression throughout his long life, experienced such distress that he briefly contemplated suicide. Fate, of course, would hardly have countenanced such a quietus, for, as Spengler said, there are certain destinies that are utterly inconceivable—Nietzsche won’t make a fortune at the gambling tables of Monte Carlo, and Goethe won’t break his back falling out of his coach, he remarks drily. 

And, we need hardly add, Klages will not die for love…

On the contrary: he will live for Eros.

Works of Maturity

After the epoch-making experiences of the Schwabing years, the philosopher’s life seems almost to assume a prosaic, even an anticlimactic, quality. The significant events would henceforth occur primarily in the thinker’s inner world and in the publications that communicated the discoveries that he had made therein. There were also continuing commitments on his part to particular institutions and learned societies. In 1903 Klages founded his "Psychodiagnostic Seminars" at the University of Munich, which swiftly became Europe's main center for biocentric psychology. In 1908, he delivered a series of addresses on the application of "Expression Theory" (Ausdruckskunde) to graphological analysis at one such seminar.

In 1910, in addition to the book on expression-theory, Klages published the first version of his treatise on psychology, entitled Prinzipien der Charakterologie. This treatise was based upon lectures that Klages had delivered during the previous decade, and in its pages he announced his discovery of the "Id," which has popularly, and hence erroneously, for so long been attributed to Freud. He came in personal contact with several members of rival psychological schools during this period, and he was even invited—in his capacity as Europe's leading exponent of graphology—to deliver a lecture on the "Psychology of Handwriting" to the Wednesday Night Meeting of the Freudian "Vienna Society" on the 25th of October in 1911. 

The philosopher also encountered the novelist Robert Musil, in whose masterpiece, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, Klages appears—in caricatured form, of course—as the eerie and portentous prophet Meingast, that "messenger from Zarathustra’s mountain." The novelist seems to have been most impressed by the philosopher’s speculations in Vom kosmogonischen Eros concerning the ecstatic nature of the "erotic rapture" and the Klagesian "other condition" (andere Zustand). Paradoxically, however, Musil’s novel presents Meingast [Klages] as a manic and domineering worshiper of power, which is quite strange when one considers that Klages consistently portrays the Nietzschean "Will to Power" as nothing but a modality of hysteria perfectly appropriate to our murderous age of militarism and capitalism. Anyone familiar with the withering onslaught against the will and its works which constitutes the section entitled Die Lehre der Wille in Klages’s Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele must, in addition, feel a certain amazement at Meingast’s ravings concerning the necessity for a "determined will"! Another familiar (and depressing) insight into the resistance mounted by even sympathetic writers to the biocentric philosophy can be derived from a perusal of Musil’s Tagebücher, with its dreary and philistine insistence that the Klagesian rapture must at all costs be constrained by Geist, by its pallid praise for a "daylight mysticism," and so on. Admittedly, Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften will remain an astonishing and beautifully-crafted masterpiece of 20th Century belles lettres, in spite of its author’s jejune "philosophical" preachments. 

During this same period, Klages rediscovered the late-Romantic philosopher Carl Gustav Carus, author of the pioneering Psyche: Zur Entwicklungsgeschichte der Seele ("Psyche: Towards a Developmental History of the Soul") in which the unconscious is moved to center-stage (sadly, the Jung-racket falsely credits their master with this discovery). The very first sentence of this work indicates the primacy attributed by Carus to the unconscious: "The key to the understanding of the conscious life of the soul lies in the realm of the unconscious." During the Romantic Revival that took place in the Germany of th 1920s, Klages would edit a new, abridged version of Psyche, in which Carus is purged of his logocentric and Christian errors. Klages, however, fully accepts Carus’s definition of the soul as synonymous with life, a formulation that he rates as epochally significant. He finds Carus’s statement to be as profound as the aphorism of Novalis in which he locates the soul at the point of contact between the inner and outer worlds. 

In 1913, Klages presented his Zur Theorie und Symptomatologie des Willens to the Vienna Congress of International Societies for Medical Psychology and Psychotherapy. In that same year, Klages delivered an address entitled Mensch und Erde to a gathering of members of the German Youth Movement. This seminal work has recently received its due as the "foundational" document of the "deep ecology" movement when a new edition was published in 1980 in coordination with the establishment of the German "Green" political party. 

In his Heidnische Feuerzeichen, which was completed in 1913, although it would not be published in book form until 1944, Klages has some very perceptive remarks on consciousness, which he regards as always effect and never cause. He cautions us to realize that, because our feelings are almost always conscious, we tend to attribute far too much importance to them. Reality is composed of images [Bilder] and not feelings, and the most important idea that Klages ever developed is his conception of the "actuality of the images" [Wirklichkeit der Bilder]. He also savages the insane asceticism of Christianity, arguing that a satisfied sexuality is essential for all genuine cosmic radiance. Christ is to be detested as the herald of the annihilation of earth and the mechanization of man. 

The pioneering treatise on "expression theory," the Ausdruckskunde und Gestaltungskraft, also appeared in 1913. The first part of his treatise on the interpretation of dreams (Vom Traumbewusstsein) appeared in 1914, but war soon erupted in Europe, swiftly interrupting all talk of dreams. Sickened by the militaristic insanity of the "Great War," Klages moved to neutral Switzerland. In 1920 he made his last move to Kilchberg, near Zurich, Switzerland, where he would spend the rest of his life. 

The first substantial excerpt from the treatise that would eventually become his Hauptwerk (Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele) was published as Geist und Seele in a 1916 number of the journal Deutsche Psychologie. He soon turned his attention to the more mundane matter of the contemporary world situation, and in 1918, concerned by the spread of "One World"-humanitarianism and other pernicious forms of "humanism," Klages published the classic Brief über Ethik, in which he re-emphasized his opposition to all ethical and individualistic attempts to improve the world. The modern world’s increasing miscegenation has hatched out a horde of mongrels, slaves, and criminals. The world is falling under the dominion of the enemies of life, and it matters not a bit whether the ethical fanatic dubs his hobbyhorse Wille, Tat, Logos, Nous, Idee, Gott, the "Supreme Being," reines Subjekt, or absolutes Ich: these phrases are merely fronts behind which spirit, the eternal adversary of life, conducts her nefarious operations. Only infra-human nature, wherein dwells a principle of hierarchical order in true accord with the laws of life, is able to furnish man with genuine values. The preachers of morality can only murder life with their prohibitive commands so stifling to the soul’s vitality. As Klages’s disciple Hans Prinzhorn cautions us, the vital order "must not be falsified, according to the Judæo-Christian outlook, into a principle of purposefulness, morality, or sentimentality." The "Letter on Ethics" urges us to avoid all such life-hostile values, and to prize instead those moments when we allow our souls to find warmth in the love which manifests itself as adoration, reverence, and admiration. The soul’s true symbol is the mother with her beloved child, and the soul’s true examples are the lives of poets, heroes, and gods. Klages concludes his sardonic "Letter" by informing the reader, in contemptuous and ironical tones, that if he refuses to respond to these exemplary heroes, he may then find it more congenial to sit himself down and listen, unharmed, to a lecture on ethics! 

In 1921, Klages published his Vom Wesen des Bewusstseins, an investigation into the nature of consciousness, in which the ego-concept is shown to be neither a phenomenon of pure spirit nor of pure life, but rather a mere epiphenomenal precipitate of the warfare between life and spirit. In this area, Klages’s presentation invites comparion with the Kantian exposition of "pure subjectivity," although, as one might expect, Klages assails the subjectivity of the ego as a hollow sham. The drive to maximize the realm of ego, regardless of whether this impulse clothes itself in such august titles as "The Will to Power" (Nietzsche), the "Will to Live" (Schopenhauer), or the naked obsession with the "Ego and its Own" (Stirner), is merely a manifestation of malevolent Geist. Klages also ridicules the superficiality of William James’s famous theory of "stream of consciousness," which is subjected to a withering critical onslaught. After James’s "stream" is conclusively demolished, Klages demonstrates that Melchior Palágyi’s theory more profoundly analyzes the processes whereby we receive the data of consciousness. Klages endorses Palágyi’s account of consciousness in order to establish the purely illusory status of the "stream" by proving conclusively that man receives the "images" as discrete, rhythmically pulsating "intermittencies." 

We should say a few words about the philosopher whose exposition of the doctrine of consciousness so impressed Klages. Melchior Palágyi [1859-1924] was the Hungarian-Jewish Naturphilosoph who was regarded as something of a mentor by the younger man, ever since 1908, when they first met at a learned conference. Like Klages, Palágyi was completely devoted to the thought-world of German Romantic Naturphilosophie. Klages relied heavily on this thinker’s expert advice, especially with regard to questions involving mechanics and physics, upon which the older man had published outstanding technical treatises. The two men had spent many blissful days together in endless metaphysical dialogue when Palagyi visited Klages at his Swiss home shortly before Palágyi’s death. They were delighted with each other’s company, and reveled even in the cut and thrust of intense exchanges upon matters about which they were in sharp disagreement. Although this great thinker is hardly recalled today even by compilers of "comprehensive" encyclopedias, Palagyi’s definitive and irrefutable demolition of Edmund Husserl’s spurious system of "phenomenology" remains one of the most lethal examples of philosophical adversaria to be found in the literature. Palágyi, who was a Jew, had such a high opinion of his anti-semitic colleague, that when Palágyi died in 1925, one of the provisions of his will stipulated that Ludwig Klages was to be appointed as executor and editor of Palágyi’s posthumous works, a task that Klages undertook scrupulously and reverently, in spite of the fact that the amount of labor that would be required of him before the manuscripts of his deceased colleague could be readied for publication would severely disrupt his own work upon several texts, most especially the final push to complete the three-volume Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele. One gets the impression that Klages felt the task that had been imposed upon him was also one of the highest honors, and Klages’s high regard for Palágyi’s thought can best be appreciated when we realize that among the numerous thinkers and scholars whose works are cited in his collected works, the contemporary philosopher who is cited most frequently, and at the greatest length, is none other than Melchior Palágyi. 

Klages published his influential anthropological-historical study, Vom kosmogonischen Eros, in 1922, and in the Selbstbericht which serves as an introduction to this work he details the points of agreement and the points of disagreement between his views and those of Friedrich Nietzsche. 

In 1923 Klages published his Vom Wesen des Rhythmus (a revised edition of which would be issued in 1934). Then in 1925, two fervent admirers of Klagesian biocentrism—one was Niels Kampmann who would go on to publish some of Klages’s works in book form—brought out the first issue of a scholarly journal, the brilliant Zeitschrift für Menschenkunde, which would continue to publish regularly until the rigors of war eventually forced the editors to suspend publication in 1943 (eight years after the end of the war, the journal began a new career in 1953.)

A revised and enlarged edition of the treatise on characterology appeared in 1926 with the new title Die Grundlagen der Charakterkunde. Klages also published Die psychologischen Errungenschaften Nietzsches in this same year, a work which, more than a quarter of a century after its initial appearance, the Princeton-based Nietzsche-scholar Walter Kaufmann—surely no friend to Klages!—would nevertheless admire greatly, even feeling compelled to describe Klages’s exegesis of Nietzsche’s psychology as "the best monograph" ever written on its subject.

A collection of brief essays entitled Zur Ausdruckslehre und Charakterkunde, was brought out by Kampmann in 1927; many of them date from the early days of the century and their sheer profundity and variety reinforce our conviction that Klages was a mature thinker even in his twenties.

The first two volumes of his magnum opus, the long-awaited and even-longer pondered, Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, finally appeared in 1929. One year later the Graphologisches Lesebuch appeared, and the third and final volume of Der Geist hit the book-shops in 1932, a year that seems to have been a very busy one indeed for our polymathic philosopher, since he also found time to revamp his slender monograph entitled Goethe als Naturforscher, a short work that can only be compared to the Goethe-books of H. S. Chamberlain and Friedrich Gundolf for breadth of scholarship and insight into the creativity of a great seer and scientist (this study was a revised edition of a lecture that had originally been published in the Jahrbuch des Freien Deutschen Hochstifts in 1928). 

Hans Prinzhorn, the psychologist, translator of D. H. Lawrence and compiler of the landmark treatise on the artistry of the mentally-disturbed, had long been a friend and admirer of Klages, and in 1932 he organized the celebration for the sixtieth birthday of the philosopher. The tributes composed the various scholars who participated in this event were collected and edited by Prinzhorn for publication in book-form, with the title Festschrift zum 60. Geburtstag.

National Socialist Germany, World War II, and their Aftermath

Shortly after the NSDAP seized power at the beginning of 1933, one of Klages’s disciples established the Arbeitskreises für biozentrisches Forschung. At first the German disciples of Klages were tolerated as harmless philosophical eccentrics, but soon the Gestapo began keeping a close eye on members and contributors to the biocentric circle’s house organ Janus. By 1936 the authorities forcibly shut down the journal and from that time until the fall of the regime, the Gestapo would periodically arrest and question those who had been prominent members of the now-defunct "circle." From 1938 onwards, when Reichsleiter Dr. Alfred Rosenberg delivered a bitter attack on Klages and his school in his inaugural address to the summer semester at the University of Halle, the official party spokesmen explicitly and repeatedly condemned Klages and his friends as enemies of the National Socialist Weltanschauung.

Klages traveled widely during the 1930s, and he especially enjoyed his journeys to Greece and Scandinavia. In 1940 he published Alfred Schuler: Fragmente und Vorträge. Aus dem Nachlass, his edition of Alfred Schuler’s literary remains. The "Introduction" to the anthology is a voluminous critical memoir in which Klages rendered profound tribute to his late mentor. However, in the pages of that introduction, Klages introduced several statements critical of World-Jewry that were to dog his steps for the rest of his life, just as they have compromised his reputation after his death. Unlike so many ci-devant "anti-semites" who prudently saw the philo-semitic light in the aftermath of the war, however, Klages scorned to repudiate anything that he had said on this or any other topic. He even poured petrol on the fires by voicing his conviction that the only significant difference between the species of master-race nonsense that was espoused by the National Socialists and the variety adopted by their Jewish enemies was in the matter of results: Klages blandly proclaims that the Jews, after a two-thousand year long assault on the world for which they felt nothing but hatred, had actually won the definitive victory. There would be no re-match. He sneered at all the kow-towing to Jewry that had already become part of the game in the immediate post-war era, because, he reasoned, even as a tactical ploy such sycophantic behavior has always doomed itself to complete and abject failure. 

In December of 1942, the official daily newspaper of the NSDAP, the Völkischer Beobachter, published a vicious and ungracious attack on Klages in the edition that appeared on the philosopher’s 70th birthday. During the war years, Klages began compiling notes for a projected full-dress autobiography that was, sadly, never completed. Still, the notes are fascinating in their own right, and are well worth consulting by the student of his life and thought.

In 1944, Barth of Leipzig published the Rhythmen und Runen, a self-edited anthology of Klages’s prose and verse writings stemming from the turn of the century (unfortunately, however, when Bouvier finally brought out their edition of his "Collected Works," which began to appear in the mid-1960s, Rhythmen und Runen, along with the Stefan George-monograph and such provocative pieces as the "Introduction" to Schuler’s writings, were omitted from the set, in spite of the fact that the original prospectus issued to subscribers announced that these works would, in fact, be included. The reasons for this behavior are—need we say?—quite obvious).

When the war ended, Klages began to face true financial hardship, for his market, as well as his publishers, had been devastated by the horrific saturation bombing campaign with which the democratic allies had turned Germany into a shattered and burnt-out wasteland. Klages also suffered dreadfully when he learned that his beloved sister, Helene, as well as her daughter Heidi, the philosopher’s niece, had perished in the agony of post-war Germany, that nightmare world wherein genocidal bestiality and sadistic cruelty were dealt out by occupying forces with a liberal hand in order most expeditiously to "re-educate" the survivors of the vanquished Reich. Although Klages had sought permission from the occupying authorities to visit his sister as she lay dying, his request was ignored (in fact, he was told that the only civilians who would be permitted to travel to Germany were the professional looters who were officially authorized to rob Germany of industrial patents and those valiant exiles who had spent the war years as literary traitors, who made a living writing scurrilous and mendacious anti-German pamphlets). This refusal, followed shortly by his receipt of the news of her miserable death, aroused an almost unendurable grief in his soul.

His spirits were raised somewhat by the Festschrift that was organized for his 75th birthday, and his creative drive certainly seemed to be have remained undiminished by the ravages of advancing years. He was deeply immersed in the philological studies that prepared him to undertake his last great literary work, the Die Sprache als Quell der Seelenkunde, which was published in 1948. In this dazzling monument of 20th century scholarship, Klages conducted a comprehensive investigation of the relationship between psychology and linguistics. During that same year he also directed a devastating broadside in which he refuted the fallacious doctrines of Jamesian "pragmatism" as well as the infantile sophistries of Watson’s "behaviorism." This brief but pregnant essay was entitled Wie Finden Wir die Seele des Nebenmenschen?

During the early 1950s, Klages’s health finally began to deteriorate, but he was at least heartened by the news that there were serious plans afoot among his admirers and disciples to get his classic treatises back into print as soon as possible. Death came at last to Ludwig Klages on July 29, 1956. The cause of death was determined to have been a heart attack. He is buried in the Kilchberg cemetery, which overlooks Lake Zurich. 

Understanding Klagesian Terms

A brief discussion of the philosopher’s technical terminology may provide the best preparation for an examination of his metaphysics. Strangely enough, the relationship between two familiar substantives, "spirit" [Geist] and "soul" [Seele], constitutes the main source of our terminological difficulties. Confusion regarding the meaning and function of these words, especially when they are employed as technical terms in philosophical discourse, is perhaps unavoidable at the outset. We must first recognize the major problems involved before we can hope to achieve the necessary measure of clarity. Now Klages regards the study of semantics, especially in its historical dimension, as our richest source of knowledge regarding the nature of the world (metaphysics, or philosophy) and an unrivalled tool with which to probe the mysteries of the human soul (psychology, or characterology [Charakterkunde]). We would be well advised, therefore, to adopt an extraordinary stringency in lexical affairs. We have seen that the first, and in many ways the greatest, difficulty that can impede our understanding of biocentric thought confronts us in our dealings with the German word Geist. Geist has often been translated as "spirit" or "mind," and, less often, as "intellect." As it happens, the translation of Hegel’s Phänomenologie des Geistes that most American students utilized in their course-work during the 1960s and 1970s was entitled "The Phenomenology of Mind" (which edition was translated with an Introduction and Notes by J. B. Bailey, and published by Harper Torchbooks, New York, 1967). 

Lest it be thought that we are perversely attributing to the word Geist an exaggeratedly polysemic status, we would draw the reader’s attention to the startling fact that Rudolf Hildebrandt’s entry on this word in the Grimm Wörterbuch comprises more than one hundred closely printed columns. Hildebrandt’s article has even been published separately as a book. Now in everyday English usage, spirit (along with its cognates) and soul (along with its cognates) are employed as synonyms. As a result of the lexical habits to which we have grown accustomed, our initial exposure to a philosopher who employs soul and spirit as antonyms can be a somewhat perplexing experience. It is important for us to realize that we are not entering any quixotic protest here against familiar lexical custom. We merely wish to advise the reader that whilst we are involved in the interpretation of Klagesian thought, soul and spirit are to be treated consistently as technical philosophical terms bearing the specific meanings that Klages has assigned to them. 

Our philosopher is not being needlessly obscure or perversely recherché in this matter, for although there are no unambiguous distinctions drawn between soul and spirit in English usage, the German language recognizes some very clear differences between the terms Seele and Geist, and Hildebrandt’s article amply documents the widely ramified implications of the distinctions in question. In fact, literary discourse in the German-speaking world is often characterized by a lively awareness of these very distinctions. Rudolf Kassner, for instance, tells us that his friend, the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, inhabited a world of soul [Seele], not one of spirit [Geist]. In speaking of Rilke’s world as that the soul, Kassner is proclaiming the indisputable truth that Rilke’s imagination inhabits an innocent, or pagan, world, a realm that is utterly devoid of such "spiritual" baggage as "sin" and "guilt." Likewise, for Kassner, as for Rilke, the world of spirit is the realm of labor and duty, which is ruled by abstractions and "ideals." I can hardly exaggerate the significance of the spirit-soul dichotomy upon which Kassner has shed so much light in these remarks on Rilke as the man of "soul." If the reader bears their substance in mind, he will find that the path to understanding shall have been appreciably cleared of irksome obstacles.

Therefore, these indispensable lexical distinctions are henceforth to function as our established linguistic protocol. Bearing that in mind, when the reader encounters the Klagesian thesis which holds that man is the battlefield on which soul and spirit wage a war to the death, even the novice will grasp some portion of the truth that is being enunciated. And the initiate who has immersed his whole being in the biocentric doctrine will swiftly discover that he is very well prepared indeed to perpend, for instance, the characterological claim that one can situate any individual at a particular point on an extensive typological continuum at one extreme of which we situate such enemies of sexuality and sensuous joy as the early Christian hermits or the technocrats and militarists of our own day, all of whom represent the complete dominance of spirit; and at the opposite extreme of which we locate the Dionysian maenads of antiquity and those rare modern individuals whose delight in the joys of the senses enables them to attain the loftiest imaginable pinnacle of ecstatic vitality: the members of this second group, of course, comprise the party of life, whose ultimate allegiance is rendered to soul

Before we conclude this brief digression into terminological affairs, we would advise those readers whose insuperable hostility to every form of metaphysical "idealism" compels them to resist all attempts to "place" spirit and soul as "transcendental" entities, that they may nevertheless employ our terms as heuristic expedients, much as Ampére employed the metaphor of the "swimmer" in the electric "current."

Biocentric Metaphysics in its Historical Context

Perhaps a brief summary will convey at least some notion of the sheer originality and the vast scope of the biocentric metaphysics. Let us begin by placing some aspects of this philosophical system in historical context. For thousands of years, western philosophers have been deeply influenced by the doctrine, first formulated by the Eleatic school and Plato, which holds that the images that fall upon our sensorium are merely deceitful phantoms. Even those philosophers who have rebelled against the schemes devised by Plato and his successors, and who consider themselves to be "materialists," "monists," "logical atomists," etc., reveal that have been infected by the disease even as they resist its onslaught, for in many of their expositions the properties of matter are presented as if they were independent entities floating in a void that suspiciously resembles the transcendent Platonic realm of the "forms." 

Ludwig Klages, on the other hand, demonstrates that it is precisely the images and their ceaseless transformations that constitute the only realities. In the unique phenomenology of Ludwig Klages, images constitute the souls of such phenomena as plants, animals, human beings, and even the cosmos itself. These images do not deceive: they express; these living images are not to be "grasped," not to be rigidified into concepts: they are to be experienced. The world of things, on the other hand, forms the proper subject of scientific explanatory schemes that seek to "fix" things in the "grasp" of concepts. Things are appropriated by men who owe their allegiance to the will and its projects. The agents of the will appropriate the substance of the living world in order to convert it into the dead world of things, which are reduced to the status of the material components required for purposeful activities such as the industrial production of high-tech weapons systems. This purposeful activity manifests the outward operations of an occult and dæmonic principle of destruction. 

Klages calls this destructive principle "spirit" (Geist), and he draws upon the teaching of Aristotle in attempting to account for its provenance, for it was Aristotle who first asserted that spirit (nous) invaded the substance of man from "outside." Klages’s interpretation of this Aristotelian doctrine leads him to conclude that spirit invaded the realm of life from outside the spatio-temporal world. Likewise, Klages draws on the thought of Duns Scotus, Occam and other late mediæval English thinkers when he situates the characteristic activity of spirit in the will rather than in the intellect. Completely original, however, is the Klagesian doctrine of the mortal hostility that exists between spirit and life (=soul). The very title of the philosopher’s major metaphysical treatise proclaims its subject to be "The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul" (Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele).

The indivisible body-soul unity that had constituted the living substance of man during the "primordial," or prehistoric, phase of his existence, in time becomes the focus of spirit’s war against life. Spirit severs the vital connection by thrusting itself, like the thin end of an invasive wedge, between the poles of body and soul. History is the tragic chronicle that recounts the ceaseless war that is waged by spirit against life and soul. When the ever-expanding breach between body and soul finally becomes an unbridgeable abyss, the living substance is no more, although no man can predict how long man may endure as a hollow shell or simulacrum. The ceaseless accumulation of destructive power by spirit is accompanied by the reduction of a now devitalized man to the status of a mere machine, or "robot," who soullessly regurgitates the hollow slogans about "progress," "democracy," and the delights of "the consumer society" that are the only values recognized in this world of death. The natural world itself becomes mere raw material to be converted into "goods" for the happy consumer. 

A Unified System of Thought: Graphology

Let us now turn to a more detailed survey of the elements that comprise the biocentric system of metaphysics. The thought of Ludwig Klages comprises several structural components, which form a series of interdependent and increasingly comprehensive fields of research. Although each component may be profitably examined as a discrete entity, we can only grasp the full grandeur of Klagesian thought when we study the various components in the context of their interrelationships within the comprehensive system that the philosopher has constructed, for it is only when we view his thought as a unified system that we can comprehend its truly unsurpassed metaphysical profundity. Thus, graphology constitutes one element of expression-research, which, in its turn, constitutes one element of characterology. Characterology, finally, is the indispensable element that enables us to formulate a coherent interpretation of the nature of the universe, viz. philosophy in the strict sense. 

Although graphology didn't initially interest the "natural science" psychologists, the investigations that were conducted by Klages eventually evoked the interest of psychiatrists and applied psychologists, who would eventually incorporate some of his teachings in the curriculum of German universities. Graphology was also utilized in such fields as child-guidance and clinical psychology. 

Klages was preceded in this field of research by a host of investigators, most of whom relied on intuitive guesses and inspired leaps of deduction in developing their own, occasionally quite profound, theories. Klages, in fact, pays explicit tribute to these pathfinders in numerous of his graphological publications. (Americans might be startled to learn that Edgar Allan Poe himself has an honorable place in the illustrious line of graphological prophets!) Nevertheless, it was only at the end of the 19th century that the interpretation of written script was erected upon an enduring scientific foundation by the Frenchman J.-H. Michon and the German Wilhelm Preyer.

The most renowned of Klages’s contributions to graphology is his idea of the Formniwo, or "style-value." With the aid of this tool, the researcher can discriminate between various exemplars (handwritten samples) under examination, and can apply a general overall evaluation (negative, positive, or, even, ambiguous), without the guess-work and shoddy formulations of earlier students, who relied on "isolated signs" to guide them. Klages employs this concept of "style-value" to examine organic, or "holistic" entities, and his evaluation proceeds from a global perception of the personal expression through to a more detailed scrutiny. The procedure begins with an analytical inspection carried out on three levels: 1. the person’s driving-forces or motivations ("interests"); 2. the person’s creative impulses and level of intelligence; and 3. the person’s civic or political virtues. Klages tells us frankly that if we are aware of a person’s emotional makeup, the degree to which he or she is a productive and community-minded member of the polis, and how creative the person is, we know pretty much how that person will react to a life-situation.

We can best understand a person’s emotional life and the level of his intelligence through an analysis of the characteristic rhythm that his handwriting displays. Rhythm is manifested in the harmony of spaces and forms, as evidenced in the margins, the spaces between the lines, and between the letters and words. Here we find the most accurate indications as to the nature of the inner life of the person, and how rich or poor is his thought. The creative elements are best observed in the simplification and improvement that we find in the person’s handwriting. Just as mankind is dependent upon the creative genius for improvements in the cultural and technological fields, and upon the simplifications in technique that are brought about by the inventor, so too will these characteristics be evident in an individual’s handwriting. The creative person is always interested in improving his "tools," as it were. The degree to which the person will be a coöperative and responsible member of the community is reflected in the legibility and fluency of his handwriting. The legibility of a man’s exemplars is obviously going to indicate his ability to communicate successfully. The fluency will demonstrate the person’s level-headedness and sincerity.

The five keys to the evaluation of style are: 1) Rhythm. Klages tells us that there are inherent rhythmic patterns that govern the universe. We are able to recognize and gauge these rhythms in the spatial patterns of a person’s handwriting by examining whether the margins are contextually harmonious, viz., we must scrutinize a particular exemplar with an eye to determining the natural configurations (structural harmonies) formed by the gaps that intervene between the lines, between the words, and also between the individual letters. Because disharmonies are arresting—they "leap to the eye," as it were—we have no difficulty in establishing the grade of spatial rhythm in an exemplar. The rating of handwriting’s rhythm is more a matter of insight and intuition than of expert reasoning. 2) Symmetry. In a harmonious exemplar we find that the person does not overdevelop one zone at the expense of another zone; i.e., we do not find the bottom loop of a q to be exaggerated as against the upper zone stroke. In short, where we find such a deviation, or loss of proportion, we must assign the exemplar a low grade. An examination of the individual character’s height (as from the bottom of the q to its summit) cannot furnish us with a sufficient basis upon which to evaluate the overall symmetry of a person’s handwriting. Where we find excessive width, pressure, slant, loops, bars, dots, flourishes, or any other such deviation, we must recognize a disturbance of symmetry. The letters, whether they are capitals or minimum letters, must be well developed in a gradual fashion, avoiding a deflated narrowness as well as an inflated width. In short a character is to be judged both on its height as well as on the amount of space that it covers. Wide lower zone loops in an overall narrow handwriting or conjoined with deflated small letters, indicate a lack of symmetry; and unevenness of pressure or slant belong as well to the category of disproportions. 3) Creativeness. Although very few people exhibit a high degree of symmetry in their handwriting, it is a fact that even fewer display creativeness. Most people will not be grieved by this fact, as most people would rather belong to the bovine throng than to the creative elite—even in their handwriting! Only perhaps one in a thousand are willing to become heretics, to break away from the sweaty masses, to display the slightest signs of independence and boldness, to write an individual hand. In fact, only a genius is capable of inventing new and finer characters and connections, even though such creations might make for easier writing without impaired or compromised legibility. However, we must realize that an original hand and a creative hand can be two different things, for an original scribe is not always creative, but a creative person always will compose an original script. An original script must merely avoid the existing patterns; but an original script must add something to the already existing fund of patterns. A creative script must facilitate writing, and only he who writes a great deal, one who must confront and develop his ideas on the wing, as they come and go, will desire more easily written characters, and will experience the urge to create them. Such a person is ordinarily well educated, and will continue to improve his script throughout his life because he is demanding and discriminating. Klages emphatically asserts that eccentricity alone cannot indicate the creative scribe. All innovations in script will be simpler and easier to write—purpose is the rule for the creative scribe, and not merely unnaturalness. 4) Legibility. A letter is written in order to be read, obviously, and any letter that cannot be deciphered by the addressee has clearly failed of its purpose. We do not normally read from letter to letter, or from word to word. Instead, we read from cluster to cluster of words and only stumble when we come across an unfamiliar expression, or an illegible one. In consequence, the only method that we have to establish objectively the legibility of an exemplar is to remove words at random from their context and scrutinize them. Very often, the most intelligent writers will not pass this test. 5) Speed. The elementary law of creativeness is violated if the sample has not been written spontaneously, if it has required an inordinate amount of time in which to be produced. What is needed here is time saving simplicity. In fact, slowly produced writings often give evidence of criminal tendencies in the scribe. Although such scribes will attempt to furnish a genteel, legible, and conforming script, they often attempt to patch up their initially unworthy efforts by closings open letters, by straightening out faulty strokes, and by re-crossing their t-bars. The overall impression such exemplars give is one of uncleanness. A fluently produced sample, on the other hand, will show a right-slanted writing, with irregularly placed i-dots, with most dots placed ahead of the letter itself, with other letters and letter connections with garland shapes rather than angles or arcades, with the left margins tending to widen as the scribe reaches the bottom of the page, with smooth, light, and unbroken strokes.

Klages definitively refuted the doctrine of "fixed signs," which had so misled his predecessors, who erroneously ascribed "atomistic" character traits to discrete signs without perceiving the contextual matrix from which the signs are born. The biocentric investigator does not concern himself with expressive fragments: for life can only be found in organic wholes. To summarize: idiosyncratic traits are revealed in such formal elements as evenness, regularity, tempo, distribution, pressure, breadth, consistency, variety, connectedness, "angle of incidence," and initial stress of the handwritten sample, which is a permanent record of expressive gesture, a residue of living being, an examination of which can eventually enable us to embark upon ever more profound investigations of the inner life of man. (The major graphological texts published by Klages are: Die Probleme der Graphologie ["The Problems of Graphology"], published in 1910; the Handschrift und Charakter ["Handwriting and Character"], of 1912, which has gone through 26 editions; and the Einführung in die Psychologie der Handschrift ["Introduction to the Psychology of Handwriting"], which appeared in 1928.) 

A Unified System of Thought: Expression Analysis

From this brief glance at the narrow field of biocentric graphology, we now proceed to a more comprehensive division of the Klagesian system of thought, viz. the "analysis of expression" (Ausdruckskunde). According to Klages, the larger part of our knowledge of the inner life of those around us stems from our ability to comprehend the meanings inherent in each person’s gestures and facial expressions. This knowledge is not mediated by consciousness, for we must grasp the inner life of another directly, if we would grasp it at all. Every expressive movement is the precipitate of a lived impulse, and, unlike the viewpoint advanced by certain "behaviorists," these impulses are not reducible to the simple antithetic pair: pleasure or pain. Every expressive movement can be interpreted so as to reveal the form, duration, and sequence of the inner impulses. Klages subtly differentiates between several types of movements: the expressive movement, the mechanical movement, and the volitional movement. The expressive movement is regarded as one aspect of the impulse movement; the reflex movement is regarded as an element of the expressive movement; the mechanical movements earlier existed as impulse movements and are to be grouped under this head; volitional-movement is an impulse-movement controlled by the will. The types of movements are differentiated by their relationship to their aims. Volition movements are shaped by expectations of successful outcomes. Expressive movements are symbolic enactments; thus, the facial expression that embodies terror is the symbolic performance of the motions that represent the actions of one who would escape from a situation that evokes terror. 

Klages rejects the Darwinian theory of expression, which interprets all expressive movements as the rudimentary remains of actions that once were purposive. This view reflects Darwin’s insistence on rationalizing the "mechanisms" of nature, in spite of the obvious fact that expressive gestures have their origins in the subjectivity of the organism in which they arise. Pace Darwin, Klages insists that the living being never responds to the same stimulus with the same response: it responds to similar impressions with similar reactions. Instincts are similar only in species that are similar, and the process of individuation can only be consummated after the development of judgment and will. The will is not rooted in the affects, for its task is to bind, or repress, the affective life. The power of the will can be expressed as a quantum of driving force that is non-qualitative. It harnesses life in order to direct it to a goal, and the regulation of volition-movement is completely different from expressive movement. The expressive movement has no aim other than itself; the impulse-movement derives its aims from its environment; and for the volitional-movement, the conscious willing of the aim is of the essence. Actions (in contrast to pathic, dream-like states) are volitional movements (handwriting belongs under this head). Since the personality comprises a constellation of dynamic relationships, every movement expresses personality in its essential nature, for the character of an individual is revealed in every action. However, one must study aspects of expression that are outside the realm of volition, not subject to the control of consciousness, and beyond the governance of intention and learned skills. Volitional movement expresses the personality of the willing person; it does not originate in vitality, for it is chained to the causal nexus originating in the conscious mind. By itself, the volition is not expressive; the important thing is the individual course of the movement. There is present in all of an individual's expressive movements a unity of character, and any movement on the part of a person will assume that type or manner of movement which is characteristic of that individual. Klages asserts that the writing movement, for instance, is the manifestation of the will to express oneself with the aid of a certain writing system, the volition, which is the current state of some personality. Therefore, handwriting is a volitional movement and carries the idiosyncratic stamp of any personality.

Volitional movements cannot exist without impulse movements, but the impulse movement can exist without the volitional one. Every state of the body expresses an impulse system, and every attitude finds its appropriate expression. Every movement of the body is a vital movement that has two constituent parts, the impulse and the expressive. Therefore, an expressive movement is the visible manifestation of the impulses and affects that are symbolically represented in the vital movement of which it is a component part. The expression manifests the pattern of a psychic movement as to its strength, duration, and direction.

Now how is it possible for human beings to perceive, and to interpret, the expression of the soul? Klages answers this by explaining that the capacity for expression is coördinated with the human being's capacity for impression. Impression is split into two functions: a passive ("pathic") one, which receives the impression; and an active one, which makes it possible for one to become aware of one's own nature as well as that of others—only through this objectification can expression have meaning. It is the very foundation of all genuine research into the study of expressive gestures.

Klages cautions the student to avoid all vain quests after qualitative states of expressive movement; instead, we must examine vital "essences," because, in the end, isolated segments of expression must not be divorced from their organic matrix. This point of view recapitulates Klages’s criticisms of the graphological theory of "isolated signs," which can never reveal the global structure that embodies the elements of personality.

The study of expressive movement does not derive its findings from the analysis of purely "objective" states, for the entities examined by the biocentric researcher are experienced as living beings. Klages’s affirmation of the value of expression is in perfect harmony with his high evaluation of the pathic or ecstatic abandonment of the ego in a surrender to the actuality of the living images. We can locate an individual’s capacity for such self-abandonment on a continuum that is graduated according to the living content. According to the entity in which it occurs, each rhythmic pulsation gives birth to another and yet another vital content, whether it is manifested as a faint arousal of the soul or as pathic frenzy. Paradoxically, one person’s rage may be shallower and feebler than the mere breathing of another person. The man who able to observe this, and who is thereby enabled to understand the implications of his observations, so that he can distinguish authentic personality from the mere precipitate of its psychic activity, such as a handwritten exemplar, has perceived the agency through which each formal, or functional, element alternately expresses a ‘minus’ character or a ‘plus’ character. He is able to determine, as between one instance of expressive movement and another, whether he is witnessing the strength of a vital impulse or the weakness of an antagonistic inhibition, and can then correctly evaluate the character’s true traits.

The power of creativity, or formative ability [Gestaltungskraft], which is the measure of one’s capacity for enhanced intensity of expressive force, has its only source in nature. However, every vital impulse is impeded by certain binding forces, or inhibitions. This duality is referred to by Klages as the "dual significance of expression." Thus, if we witness an individual’s performance of a violent act, this act may be the result of the attractive force of the goal towards which he is aiming; or it may, on the other hand, indicate merely a lack of inhibition on the part of the person in question. The will to domination may indicate strength of will, of course; but it may also indicate an embittered affective life. Likewise, sensitivity may arise from emotional delicacy; but it may also be the result of emotional irritability. Such judgments can only be validated on the basis of a global examination of the individual under review. 

As we shall see shortly, Klages’s philosophy holds that the historical evolution of culture can only be interpreted as murderous record, a chronicle of ever-mounting horror in the course of which the vital power of expressive forces recedes before the soulless world ruled by the will, most perfectly embodied in the all-powerful state. But the enlightened biocentrist will turn from this dead Dingwelt (thing-world) to seek refreshment in the en-souled Ausdruckswelt (expression-world).

A Unified System of Thought: Characterology

From the study of expressive movement we proceed to characterology (Charakterkunde). Just as graphology led to the more comprehensive science of expression, the science of expression, in turn, provides the fund of empirical observations that supports the biocentric characterology. Klagesian characterology, in fact, constitutes the most comprehensive study of the human being that has ever been formulated. (Characterology, in its turn, constitutes the indispensible structural component of the biocentric scheme of metaphysics). 

The Grundlagen der Charakterkunde presents Klages’s system of psychology in great detail, and because his psychological exposition in that treatise is so intimately interrelated with the philosophical exposition contained in Der Geist and in his other philosophical publications, we will treat the characterology and the metaphysics as indivisible aspects of one vast symphony of thought. However, we will say a few words at this point about the most original feature of biocentric characterology, viz., the presentation of character as a dynamic structural system, comprising such elements as the material (Stoff), the structure (Gefüge), the specific type or idiosyncratic quality (Artung), the architectonics (Aufbau), and the constitutional disposition (Haltungsanlagen). 

The material comprises such innate capacities as recollection, cognition as it is embodied in conceptual thought, critical "penetration" (or acumen), intensity, sensibility, and many other capacities, all of which are innate, i.e., conditioned by the genetic endowment of the particular character. From the outset, Klages rejects with some contempt the inadequate "tabula rasa" tradition of British empiricism, which he correctly traces back to its source in Locke and his school. This innate material occurs in various combinations that vary from person to person, and although Klages ordinarily voices opposition to methodologies that are based upon quantitative "formalism," he agrees that the material is measurable in at least a metaphorical sense, for it constitutes our personal possession, the "capital," as it were, with which we are equipped. 

The structure comprises such differentiations as: temperamental or reserved, wandering or fixed, emotionally stable or unstable. Within each personality there is a unique tempo of affective excitability that can be analogized to an emotional wave, whose quantum of reactivity is functionally related to an individual’s internal organic processes. Unlike the purely innate capacities, the characteristics can be adequately expressed as a correlation between the magnitude of an impulse and the force of resistance to that impulse (we had occasion earlier to refer briefly to this relationship as it pertains to the analysis of expressive gestures). 

The quality relates to the formal aspects of volition and the tendencies of the affects, which unite to form the system of drving-forces or "interests." Specific driving-forces are by their nature directional, as we can see by examining the different goals toward which a greedy person or domineering person seem to be impelled. Architectonics constitutes the correlated interrelationships that weave all the other elements of the character together. 

Finally, the dispositions (or attitudes) comprise those traits that are obvious even to the cursory glance of an external observer, and among these traits we find courage, talkativeness, diffidence, and obnoxiousness. 

However, the most important of all the elements that make up the character is the qualitative estimation of an individual’s capacities of feeling and volition. Volition is a limited instantiation of the will, and the will is of the very essence of spirit; in fact the will is the darkest and most destructive of spirit’s manifestations, the demon of negation, the very essence of the void. 

The constellation of the driving-forces constitutes the personality, and these driving forces are as diverse and multiform as life. The drive is manifest as an urge that issues in a movement, and that movement is generated under the influence of the non-conceptual, vital experience of a power to which Klages has given the name symbol. The driving-forces are polarized, for a drive that has its source in an excess of energy (thus entailing an impulse to discharge energy) must be contrasted with the drive that arises out of a lack of energy (which will give rise to the attempt to recoup energy). There are drives that can be stirred without regard to time, as well as drives that manifest periodicity 

The instincts are opposed to the will. The will devises conscious, purposive projects that are in conflict with the immediate desire for gratification of the instincts. In opposition to the world as it is felt, the will erects conscious purposiveness and the life-hostile, moralistic codes of ethics. The authentic content of the personality is drawn from the living world, but the will ruthlessly imposes form upon that content by constricting, inhibiting, directing, or suppressing the instincts and affects. The will possesses no original, creative power of its own. The will is incarnated in man as the ego, which can be expressed metaphorically as the rudder on a vessel whose only function is controlling the vessel’s course. The will-as-ego is characterized by self-awareness and insistent activity. The instinctual drives, on the other hand, give birth to an unconscious, "pathic" surrender to the living cosmos. The instincts and affects are revealed in the love for knowledge, Eros, the quest for truth, and the admiration of beauty. The will reveals its nature in duty, conscience, ambition, greed, and egomania. The will seeks to repress or extirpate the vital impulses, and the destructive effects of the will in action can even be fatal to the organism, as we can see in the case of the political revolutionary who embarks on a fatal hunger-strike. The shattered health and twisted mind resulting from the obsessive asceticism of the religious zealot is too familiar to require further elaboration.

Philosophical Works

The strictly philosophical writings of Ludwig Klages comprise a wide range of materials. In length they range from pithy articles contributed to various lexicons and encyclopedias, through extended essays and revamped lectures, and culminate in his full-dress, formal treatises, the most comprehensive of which is the epochal Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele [3 volumes, 1929-32]. Der Geist contains an astonishing 1500 pages of text as well as an elaborate scholarly apparatus devoted to source notes and ancillary material, the closely-printed text of which would make a fair-sized book on its own! 

One of his shorter essays, the Brief Über Ethik, which was published shortly after the German defeat in 1918, is of exceptional interest to the student of race. Unlike many of his optimistic contemporaries, Klages viewed the catastrophic mongelization that was poisoning the Aryan race as an ineluctable doom, the fatal and irremediable dissolution of life under the savage assault of triumphant spirit. In the Brief, his intense study of the psychological aspects of man’s disastrous evolution, enabled him to trace the 20th century’s accursed proliferation of "slave"-types and men without character to a single poisonous source, for the production of such wretched types, he proclaims, "has arisen, arises now, and will arise, always and everywhere, as the direct result of racial bastardization and pollution of the blood!" On similar grounds, he excoriates the modern world’s monstrous plague of moralistic fanaticism in the Brief, asserting that the rapidly increasing legions of ethical preachers constitute one more manifestation of the dysgenic breeding that is destroying our culture. The moral maniac’s twisted psyche within as well as his distorted physiognomy without clearly demonstrate that such a creature "is merely the spiritual expression of tainted blood!" Because the modern world regards the man of ethics, will, and reason as the sole proper vehicle of ego and spirit, no one should be surprised that traditional and healthy value must go to the wall. Race, breeding, nobility, depth of soul, beauty, courage, and blood, are one and all devoid of substance to the moralist and the egalitarian crusader. To them, man is his mind, his morals, and his ego, and the man who has given his sole allegiance to ego and spirit, has simultaneously surrendered all interest in the particular man. Henceforth he compulsively devotes his attentions to man as generality. Klages ridicules all respect for "humanity," that ghost of an abstraction, as a willful repudiation of every vital power of discrimination, and he who stubbornly refuses to immerse himself in the undiffentiated ochlocratic mob will always be assailed as an enemy of "mankind." This humanitarian insanity is, paradoxically, also the root of the murderous career of Christian and post-Christian civilization, for those who preach so incessantly of "love" and who babble so cretinously of "compassion," have but one response to those who do not endorse their "spiritual" values: that response is murder. The egalitarian can never face the obvious fact that wherever and whenever you order a man to love, you have guaranteed that he will respond with hate.

The racialist theoreticians whom Klages most admired and cited most pertinently in his collected works were Gobineau, Ludwig Woltmann, and L. F. Clauss. Klages’s analysis of the racial dimension of the science of expression is indebted to the analytical studies of race and expression published by Clauss, especially in the formulation by Klages of what we will call the racial continuum of expression and excitability. No objective observer would wish to deny the obvious fact that the Mediterranean division of the Aryan race is typically characterized by a greater ease of expression than is found in the Nordic Aryan. Klages enforces the validity of this truth quite vividly through the ingenious use of national stereotypes as illustrative heuristic expedients; thus, his typological extremes extend from the Italian, in whom we find the maximum ease of expressive gesture as well as the greatest degree of temperamental excitability, passes through the various intermediary increments, and arrives at the opposite extreme of the racial continuum of expression, where Klages situates the only possible candidate for title of least expressive and most temperamentally reserved of European Aryans, viz., the Englishman.

In his critical exposition of the doctrine of the "temperaments,"Klages extends his investigation of individual differences to encompass an analysis of the capacity for stimulation of the will that is peculiar to the different races. Several qualities that are falsely considered by many researchers to be permanently and deeply rooted in man, e.g., the tendency to seek for perfection and the adoption of an "idealistic" point of view, vanish almost completely in the course of a lifetime. On the other hand, the least variable property of a character is this "capacity for stimulation of the will," which Klages calls the "constant of temperament." The magnitude, or degree, of the capacity for such stimulation varies significantly between the races as well, and because it constitutes a temperamental "constant," it provides a permanent index of racial differences. The Oriental race, for instance, is characterized by a will that is far less excitable than the will of the Aryan, and Klages draws upon the great Count Gobineau for an illustration: "Consider…buying and selling as they are practiced in an Oriental bazaar. An Oriental will bargain for the same article with perfect equanimity for days on end, whereas the European loses patience after an hour, and often much sooner. Joseph Arthur de Gobineau makes a fine artistic use of these differences of character in his Nouvelles Asiatiques." 

Like Gobineau, Woltmann, and Clauss, Klages was a universal scholar who possessed the same wide-ranging vision and the treasures of living wisdom that all of these men shared. And we can be apodictically certain that every one of these scholars would have rejected with utter scorn the narrow-minded theory, endorsed even by many modern writers who consider themselves to be the true heirs of the great racialists of yore, which holds that the quality of a man can be reduced to a mathematical expression. Without a doubt, Klages would have felt that the egalitarian lunacy that now rules the world is only slightly more ludicrous than the attempts that are made by modern anti-egalitarians to reduce man to his IQ. And when certain writers attempt to place characterology on a "scientific" basis through the use of factor-analysis—in other words, by pouring even more formalistic mathematics into the sauce!—we can imagine his ironic smile as he whispers: sancta simplicitas

Klages traces the origins of the modern, mongrelized world’s moralistic fanaticism and criminality back to its source in another devastatingly ironic essay, Das Problem des SOKRATES, in which he dismantles the beloved figure of Socrates as if he were a defective toaster-oven. Because Socrates is regarded by Klages as the very antithesis of the true philosopher, we will examine in some detail this unconventional and irreverent analysis of Socrates and his thought. Without qualification or proviso, Klages launches his attack. He sees Socrates as an utter fraud, a dissembling hypocrite, a complete ignoramus in scientific matters whose arrogance and lack of curiosity are truly astonishing. Why did Socrates ignore the truly epochal cosmological discoveries that were being made by the Hylozoists? A true philosopher would have been enthralled by the discoveries of these great scholars, but Socrates could care less. Heraclitus, Protagoras, and the Hylozoists were the true philosophers, not this rachitic ghoul, this professional sponger and house-guest, this most sophistical of sophists who habitually sought to diminish the genuine achievements of his hated contemporaries, not by surpassing them, but by dismissing them instead as contemptible—sophists

No figure in the intellectual history of Greece had a more skilful touch when it came to lodging dust in his spectators’ eyes. We witness the Socratic gambit par excellence when this logomach employs the most childish word-games conceivable in order to transform his blatant lack of creative talent into that which he has successfully persuaded all subsequent generations was, in reality, the most dazzling array of talents ever united within one mortal frame. Socrates obviously couldn’t master science: therefore science is an unworthy avocation! A prominent Sophist has arrived in town, and the word is out that he has prepared his lectures with a scrupulous care for formal elegance and a proper observance of the canons of logic: therefore, says Socrates, he’s nothing but logic-chopping hustler with a fancy prose style and a yen for a fast buck! From the dawn of time this has been, is now, and ever will remain, the bitter complaint leveled by the work-shy parasite against the gainfully employed citizen.

In addition to his other dubious gifts, Socrates is also an unparalleled expert at forestalling criticism, for his hidden motivation seems almost childishly transparent when we find him assuring his audience, with all the candor and guilelessness of a Uriah Heep, that the only thing that he knows is that he knows nothing! And this pish posh and flummery is still luring philosophical yokels to the Socratic side-show 2,400 years later! 

In fact, the whole repertoire of Socratic methods is exactly what Hegel and Klages say that it is: a bare-faced and unworthy swindle. Furthermore, although hardly any commentator has drawn attention to the fact, Socrates was completely successful in one of his more sinister ploys, for his most subtle dialectical maneuvers can even be said to have ominous political implications in addition to their philosophical ones. We are alluding to the sly manipulation whereby Socrates assures his auditors that the truths that they seek are already within them, for his seemingly innocent claim conceals the fact that by this very means Socrates is engineering a monstrous and underhanded tyranny over naïve youths who can scarcely realize that, invariably, everything that they will "discover" within them has already been planted there by an autocratic and mendacious charlatan! 

But what of the great martyr to "free thought," the plaster bust whom endless generations have been taught to revere as a saint and genius? Nonsense, says Klages. Not for the first, and certainly not for the last time, Klages confounds our expectations by explicitly endorsing his predecessor Hegel’s view, for Hegel effortlessly proved that Socrates got just what what coming to him. Hegel found that the conduct of the court during the trial of Socrates was legally unimpeachable and he wholeheartedly endorsed the verdict of the court. Klages also draws on Hegel’s account when he directs our attention to this charlatan’s truly mortal offenses against Athens, for who among this sophist’s accusers could forget for one moment the brutal crimes that were committed against the citizenry of Athens by Kritias, who in addition to being one of the the dearest pupils of Socrates, was also the bloodiest of all the Thirty Tyrants? And was not another cherished apostle—and, perhaps, a bit more—of Socrates, i.e., the slimy Alcibiades, known by both court and citizenry as the conscienceless traitor who bore the ultimate responsibility for the defeat and downfall of Athens in the Peloponnesian War? This obvious truth was disputed by no sane Athenian. 

No Greek thinker known to history, in fact, has a flimsier claim to the august title of true philosopher than this mongrelized gargoyle whose moral mania and theatrically grandiose death anticipate both the ethical idiocy and the shabby demise of the founder of the Christian cult, and Klages explicitly speaks of Socrates as the ancient world’s first Christian martyr. In the end, the only genuine achievements that can be credited to Socrates, Klages insists, were in the fields of epistemology and philosophical linguistics. And in all candor, who would seek to challenge the view that Socrates had about as much capacity for meaningful metaphysical speculation as your average floor-polisher? The rest is smoke and mirrors, a petty swindler’s sleight of hand.

Another brief philosophical text by Klages has become his best-known and most controversial work. In 1913, publisher Eugen Diederichs and the organizers of the anniversary celebration of the "Battle of the Nations" (which had taken place at Leipzig during the Wars of Liberation against Napoleon) invited the philosopher to address the representatives of the German Youth Movement. He delivered his Mensch und Erde, a stunning and prophetic attack on the enemies of Mother Earth, which was later published in a commemorative volume featuring a striking piece of cover-art by the neo-pagan painter Fidus. This seminal work has only recently received its due as the first statement of the philosophy of "deep ecology" when a new edition was published in 1980 in coordination with the establishment of the German "Green" political party. In this "roll-call of the dead," Klages laments the destruction of wildlife and landscape by encroaching "civilization," and, in attacking the very idea of "Progess," Klages praises the chthonic gods who have been driven into the underworld. He deplores the extinction of animal species and their wild habitats, the loss of ancient forests, and the annihilation of aboriginal peoples. He condemns Capitalism, Christianity, and utilitarianism as weapons aimed at the destruction of the ecology. Even tourism is excoriated as just another agent of environmental destruction, and Klages laments the murder of the whales long before such a concern was widespread . 

"Without a doubt," Klages says, "we are living in the age of the waning of the Soul," and he insists that when Spirit has finally silenced the "primal song of the landscape," the earth will be converted into "one gigantic Chicago interspersed with agriculture." Our machines are attended by machine-men, whose noisy and glittering amusements are unable to conceal the fact that the world has been stripped of all life-enhancing symbols and ritual observances. Our hearts are barren, and "their inner rivulets can no longer water the blossoms of song and holy feasts; there remains only this bleak and grey workaday world," in this age of soul-destruction. 

"Progress" is simply an "unfettered lust for murder," and all of nature must perish "before its poisonous breath." Our age has lost all "knowledge of the world-creating, world-weaving force of all-unifying Eros." "Originating with Socrates and coming through Kant all the way down to the present age, the hoarse demand of the Will resonates in every one of the refractions, disguises, and transformations assumed by our ethical systems, that it is the duty of man to control himself, to subject his desires to the rule of reason, to moderate his feelings when he can’t manage to exterminate them entirely." Moralistic preachers, devoted to the "improvement" of man, are nothing but criminals against life, whose immunity to the lessons of experience is reflected in their oblivion to the data of our historical experience. The "inborn" conscience, as a matter of fact, is not at all an original fact of existence, for it cannot be found anywhere else in the animal kingdom; conscience is merely spirit’s poison at its work of destroying the soul of man. Under this influence, the soul can no longer dwell amid the pulsating flux of images, for a despotic rationality, in tandem with this moral mania, finally substitutes for the endless "becoming" of the actuality of the world of nature, the disconnected, dead world of "being." "Whatever falls under the ray of intellect is immediately turned into a mere thing, a numbered object of thought connected only mechanically with other objects. The paradox enunciated by the modern sage, ‘we perceive but what is dead’, is a lapidary formulation of a profound truth." Klages tells us that Life must soon perish, "for the hour of returning has been missed."

The philosopher’s meditations on the myths and mysteries of the ancient Mediterranean world form the substance of the treatise entitled Vom kosmogonischen Eros, which appeared in 1922. Paradoxically, perhaps, in view of the anti-Socratism that we’ve been discussing, Klages follows the classic Platonic exposition in the "Symposium" regarding the nature of Eros, which is held to be compounded of antitheses such as wealth and poverty, fullness and emptiness, possession and want. This insight accounts for the dual nature of all striving, for every impulse and every desire arises from a lack of something that we yearn to possess and perishes at the moment when that which we have yearned to possess falls into our hands.

The duality that constitutes the substance of man is also clarified in the Eros-book. In primordial ages, man’s nature comprised the connected poles of body and soul, whose vital bonds it is spirit’s mission to sever from the moment that man enters into the realm of recorded history. Klages also clarifies the unique status of the image in his course of his exposition of biocentric phenomenology: "Wherever we find a living body, there we also find a soul; wherever we find a soul, there also we find a living body. The soul is the meaning of the body, and the image of the body is the manifestation of the soul. Whatever appears has a meaning, and every meaning reveals itself as it is made manifest. Meaning is experienced inwardly, the manifestation outwardly. The first must become image if it is to communicate itself, and the image must be re-internalized so that it may take effect. Those are, in the most literal sense, the twin poles of actuality." (Klages’s exposition had, for once, been anticipated by Friedrich Paulsen, in whose textbook, "An Introduction to Philosophy," we find the following remark: "Either we must regard the entire body, including the nervous system, as a system of means external to the soul, or we must regard the entire body as the visible expression, or physical equivalent, of life" [emphasis added]). 

Life is not governed by spirit, for "the law of spirit" demands that spirit divorce itself utterly from the "rhythms of cosmic life." Only the living image possesses a truly vital autonomy, for the image alone is independent of spirit. The image remains totally unaffected by whether or not the receiver of the sensuous image recollects its visitation afterwards. The thing, on the other hand, is thought into the world of consciousness. It exists as a dimension of a person’s inwardness. Life is not directed towards the future, for the future is not a property of actual time. The great error of Promethean man was in his elevating that which was to come to the same stage of actuality as the past. The "man of ‘world-history’" is a man dedicated to voids. He has annihilated and is annihilating the actuality of what has been in order to devote himself more completely to the projects of a hallucination called the future. He insists on shattering the fruitful connection of the near and the far in order to erect in its place the present’s Wandering Jew-like fascination "with a distant phantasm of futurity." Actual time is a "stream coursing from the future into the past." 

This "cosmogonic Eros" of which Klages speaks is the life-creating son of the Mother Goddess of the prehistoric Ægean world, and must not be confused with the vapid cupids that can still be found on ancient Roman frescoes, whose pale plaster descendants so gaudily adorn the walls and ceilings of the palaces of rococo Europe. A more authentic incarnation is found in the Theogony of Hesiod, in which the poet calls Eros one of the first beings, born without father or mother. Likewise, in the Orphic hymns, Kronos is his father; Sappho calls him the offspring of Earth and Heaven; and Simonides traces the descent of Eros to the union of Aphrodite and Ares. Hesiod’s treatment, by far the most profound, portrays Eros as the force of attraction upon which the very existence of the material world depends. When Hesiod makes Eros the offspring of the rainbow and the westwind, he is indicating, by the use of metaphor, that spring, the season in which they prevail, is the time of love. For Hesiod, Eros is "the most beautiful of all the deathless gods." The historical aspect of Klages’s text is largely an apologia for the Weltanschauung of Bachofen, with its forthright celebration of the "world of woman" and the life of "primitive" peoples (his most elaborate presentation of the Magna Mater and her world will appear in the crucial chapter on the "Great Mother" in Der Geist, which bears the telling subtitle "Marginal Observations on Bachofen’s Discoveries"). 

Eros is to be distinguished from "love" and "sex," both of which are tied to that obnoxious entity the "self" (Selbst), which tends to become the center of gravity in the life of man as history progressively tears his soul from the earth, turning the richly-endowed individual into a hollow mask and robot, divorced from Eros and earth. All Eros is Eros of distance (Eros der Ferne), and a moment’s reflection will suffice to demonstrate that nothing is more characteristic of our modern planetary technology than its tendency toward the annihilation of distance. Likewise, the will-to-possesion, the impulse for domination, and the thoughtless addiction to "information" that characterizes modern man are all condemned by Klages as attempts to lift the veil of Isis, which he sees as the ultimate "offense against life." "The intellectual will to power is the crime against life itself, causing man to meet life’s vindictive retaliation." For behind the veil, there is "nothingness," which is to say spirit and the will to desubstantialize the cosmos. This "modern man" has traveled very far indeed from the Naturvölker, who prefer life to cogitation, and who experience the erotic bond without commingling their precious egos, whose desire is impersonal and not focused upon an insane idealization and apotheosis of the loved one. For Klages, the most vital manifestation of Eros is not the "love unto death" of sentimental "tragedy," but is, instead, a surrender of the will to the impersonal forces of the cosmos. There is an Eros of the home as well as of the homeland, an Eros of the implement that we have fashioned with our own hands as well as an Eros of the art work that we have created with the implement’s aid. Eros inhabits, in fact, any object of perception to which we feel intimately connected, and all such objects and events become living symbols of our joys or of our sorrows. The ego has nothing to do with these erotic bonds, anymore than it has anything to do with maternal love.

Soul and Spirit

The very title of Klages’s metaphysical treatise, Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, "The Spirit as Adversary of the Soul," refers to the ceaseless and savage battle waged by spirit against the soul. The mounting onslaught of spirit against the living soul has constituted the innermost essence of the life of man. Whereas spirit once existed in a temporary and uneasy symbiosis with the soul, in the course of human history spirit’s destructive power waxes ever stronger, until spirit eventually abandons the symbiotic compromise that endured whilst the powers of life were still exalted, and erupts into the waning empire of the living soul as a savage and unyielding dæmon whose malevolent career reaches its grisly climax in our apocalyptic age of "virtual" reality, compassion-babble, hydrogen bombs, and racial chaos. 

But just what is this "soul"? In the first place, the soul is not something exclusively human, for all phenomena possess soul, viz., the sea, animals, mountains, the wind, and the stars. In fact, all phenomena are "en-souled." Now the soul possesses two poles, the archetypal soul and the substantial soul, or, to look upon these matters from a slightly different angle, a passive receptor pole and an active effector pole. The passive receptor pole is, in the thought of Klages, the truly characteristic aspect for the soul’s life. From its birth, the soul leads a pathic, or passive, dream-existence, in which its life is filled with visionary images. The soul only becomes released for activity in the phenomenal world when the bearer of that soul is confronted by the polarity of another soul, which forces each soul to reveal its nature to the other. The original characteristics of the soul are night, dreaming, rhythmic pulsation, infinite distance, and the realm of the unconscious.

The "elementary" substances that constitute the earth originated under the complex influence of telluric and cosmic forces, and the symbiotic interaction of all telluric phenomena was required in order to bring the animate world into being. According to the doctrine of the "actuality of the images," the plant represents the transitional stage between the element and the living creature. (The botanist Jagadis Bose performed experiments that he felt conclusively demonstrated the capacity of plants to experience pain). The plant experiences life in the form of growth and maturation, as well as in the creation of offspring through the processes familiar to natural science. Spontaneous movements of various kinds are characteristic of plant-life, viz., the turning of the leaves and buds to the light, the sending of the root-system into the soil in order to extract nourishment from the earth, the fixing of supportive tendrils to fixed surfaces, etc. Klages draws our attention to the fact that there are several varieties of plant that are indubitably capable of self-motility. There are, at this threshold of another realm of being, organisms such as sea squirts, mussels, oysters, sponges, and zoophytes, which become fixed in their habitat only after the early stages of the lives. (When Verworrn published his experiments on the psychical life of the protista in 1899, he attributed sensation to these organisms, a position that certainly has much to recommend it. But when he attempted to demonstrate that even the will is in evidence at this stage of life, one can only shake one’s head in disbelief, for that which this author adduces as evidence of volition in the protista is the simple phenomenon of reaction to stimuli! Thus, Verworrn equates the reactive responses in the protista to the action of the will in man, in whom the "volitional" processes are more highly developed. This is certainly a case of blindness to a difference of essence.) 

In the next developmental stage, i.e., that of the animal, the soul is now captured in a living body. The drives and instincts make their first appearance during this phase. The characteristic functions of the creature comprise physical sensation (as represented by the body-pole) and contemplation (the psychical pole). The living body is the phenomenon of the soul, and the soul is the meaning of the living body. However, in opposition to the realm of the lower animals, wherein sensation dominates contemplation, we find that in the higher animals, contemplation is strengthened at the expense of the physical sensations, as the result of spirit’s invasion of the life-cell, which occurs at this time. Now if one were to consider "the waking state" to be synonymous with consciousness itself, than one must consclude that consciousness is present in animal and man alike. According to Klages, however, it is only the capacity for conceptual thought that characterizes consciousness, so that we must attribute consciousness proper only to man. In the animal, the image cannot be divorced from the sensory impression. In man, on the other hand, the content of the visual image can be separated from the act of perception that receives that content throught the sensorium. Therefore, although the animal undoubtedly possesses instincts, only man is truly conscious.

The biological processes that constitute plant life and animal life are also operative in man, but with the intervention of spirit (at least during the initial phase of development, during which spirit and life maintain some kind of balance), he is capable of creating symbolic systems of communication and expression, viz., art and poetry, as well as myth and cult. The processes of life establish the polar connection between the actual images of the world (or, the "macrocosm") and the pathic soul that receives them (or, the "microcosm").

The human soul comprises the totality of the immediate experiences of man. It is the soul that receives its impressions of actuality in the shape of images. "The image that falls upon the senses: that, and nothing besides, is the meaning of the world," Klages insists, and one such immediate act of reception can be seen in the manner in which one comprehends the imagery employed by a great poet or the skillfully drawn portrait executed by a gifted artist. The actualities received by the "pathic" soul are experienced in the dimensions of space and time, but they have their coming-to-be and their passing-away solely within the temporal order. In sharp contrast to the traditional Christian insistence that virtue constitutes a valorization of the "spirit" at the expense of a denigrated body, Klages sees man’s highest potential in the state of ecstasy, i.e., the privileged state of rapture in which the connected poles of body and soul are liberated from the intrusive "spirit." What the Christian understands by the word soul is, in fact, actually spirit, and spirit—to simplify our scheme somewhat for the sake of expediency—is the mortal adversary of the soul. Another way to express this insight would be the formula: spirit is death, and soul is life.

Spirit manifests its characteristic essence in formalistic cognition and technological processes and in the hyper-rationalism that has pre-occupied western thought since the Renaissance. Both mathematical formalism and "high" technology have reared their conceptual skyscrapers upon a foundation formed by the accumulation of empirical data. Spirit directs its acolytes to the appropriation and rigidification of the world of things, especially those things that are exploitable by utilitarian technocrats. Spirit fulfils its project in the act, or event, that occurs within the spatio-temporal continuum, although spirit itself has its origin outside that continuum. Spirit is manifest in man’s compulsive need to seize and control the materials at hand, for only "things" will behave consistently enough for the spirit-driven utilitarian to be able to "utilize" them by means of the familiar processes of quantification and classification, which enable "science" to fix, or "grasp," the thing in its lethal conceptual stranglehold. 

We must draw a sharp distinction between the thing and its properties on one side, and the "essence" (Wesen) and its characteristics on the other. Only an essence, or nature, can be immediately experienced. One cannot describe, or "grasp," an essence by means of the conceptual analysis that is appropriate only when a scientist or technician analyzes a thing in order to reduce it to an "objective" fact that will submit to the grasp of the concept. The souls of all phenomena unite to comprise a world of sensuous images, and it is only as unmediated images that the essences appear to the pathic soul who receives their meaning-content. The world of essences (phenomena) is experienced by the pathic soul, which is the receptor of the fleeting images that constitute actuality [Wirklichkeit der Bilder]. These images wander eternally in the restless cosmic dance that is the Heraclitean flux. The image lives in intimate connection with the poles of space and time. 

The world of things, on the other hand, is rationally comprehended as a causally connected system of objects (noumena). In the course of historical time man’s ability to perceive the living images and their attendant qualities is progressively impoverished until finally spirit replaces the living world of expressive images with the dead world of mere things, whose only connections are adequately expressed in the causal nexus, or, to use the language of science, the "laws of nature." 

In the final act of the historical tragedy, when there is no longer any vital substance upon which the vampire spirit may feed, the parasitic invader from beyond time will be forced to devour itself. 

Paradise Lost

We see that the philosophy of Klages has both a metaphysical dimension as well as a historical one, for he sees the history of the world as the tragic aftermath to the disasters that ensued when man was expelled from the lost primordial paradise in which he once enjoyed the bliss of a "Golden Age." When man found himself expelled from the eternal flux of coming-to-be and passing-away of the lost pagan paradise, he received in exchange the poor substitute known as consciousness. Paradise was lost, in effect, when man allowed his temporally-incarnated life-cell to be invaded by the a-temporal force that we call spirit.

Klages is quite specific in putting forward a candidate for this "Golden Age" which prospered long before spirit had acquired its present, murderous potency, for it is within the pre-historic Ægean culture-sphere, which has often been referred to by scholars as the "Pelasgian" world, that Klages locates his vision of a peaceful, pagan paradise that was as yet resistant to the invasive wiles of spirit.

Now who are these "Pelasgians," and why does the Pelasgian "state of mind" loom so largely in Klages’s thought? According to the philosopher, the development of human consciousness, from life, to thought, to will, reveals itself in the three-stage evolution from pre-historic man (the Pelasgian), through the Promethean (down to the Renaissance), to the Heracleic man (the stage which we now occupy). For Klages, the Pelasgian is the human being as he existed in the pre-historic "Golden Age" of Minoan Crete, Mycenean Hellas, and the related cultures of the Aegean world. He is a passive, "pathic" dreamer, whose predominant mode of being is contemplation. He consorts directly with the living Cosmos and its symbols, but he is doomed. 

The "Pelasgians" occupy a strategic place in the mythos of Ludwig Klages, and this "Pelasgian Realm" of Klages closely resembles the mythic Golden Age of Atlantis that looms so large in the Weltanschauung of E. T. A. Hoffmann. But who, in fact, were these Pelasgians? According to the pre-historians and mythologists, the Pelasgians were an ancient people who inhabited the islands and seacoasts of the eastern Mediterranean during the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. Homer, in a well-known passage in the Odyssey (XIX, 175 ff), places them on Crete, but another writer, Dionysius Halicarnassus, could only tell us that the Pelasgians were autokhthonoi, or "indigenous" throughout Hellas. Homer also refers to "Lord Zeus of Dodona, Pelasgian," in the Iliad (II, 750). Plutarch says of them that "they were like the oak among trees: the first of men at least in Akhaia," while Pliny believes that Peloponnesian Arkadia was originally called Pelasgis; that Pelasgos was an aristocratic title; and that the Pelasgians were descended from the daughters of Danaos. 

The most famous Pelasgian settlement was at Dodona, and Thucydides (we discover with relief) informs us that all Greece was Pelasgian before the Trojan war (approximately 1200 B. C.): "Before the Trojan War no united effort appears to be made by Hellas; and to my belief that name itself had not yet been extended to the entire Hellenic world. In fact, before the time of Hellen, son of Deucalion, the appelation was probably unknown, and the names of the different nationalities prevailed locally, the widest in range being ‘Pelasgians.’" (Book One of the "History of the Peloponnesian War," Oxford text, edited by H. Stuart-Jones; translated by Arnold J. Toynbee). Homer mentions them in the Iliad (ii, 840), and, in the Odyssey (xix, 172-7), the poet describes them as "divine." Racially, there seems to be no doubt that the Pelasgians were an Aryan people, and physical anthropologists inform us that the twenty skulls discovered at the Minoan sites of Palakaistro, Zakro, and Gournia turn out to be predominantly dolicocephalic, with the cranial indices averaging 73.5 for the males, and 74.9 for the women (Prehistoric Crete, by R. W. Hutchinson, London, 1962). The historian Herodotus, like Thucydides, groups all of the pre-classical peoples of the Hellenic world under the name Pelasgian: "Croesus made inquiries as to which were the greatest powers in Hellas, with a view to securing their friendly support, and, as a result of these inquiries, he found that the Lacedaemonians and the Athenians stood out among the people of the Dorian and Ionian race respectively. Of these people that had thus made their mark, the latter was originally a Pelasgian and the former a Hellenic nationality....As regards the language spoken by the Pelasgians, I have no exact information; but it is possible to argue by inference from the still-existing Pelasgians who occupy the city of Creston in the hinterland of the Tyrrhennians; from the other Pelasgians who have settled in Placia and Scylace on the Hellespont; and from the various other communities of Pelasgian race which have changed their national name. If inferences may be legitimately drawn from this evidence, then the original Pelasgians were speakers of a non-Greek language, and the Athenian nation must have learned a new language at the time when they changed from Pelasgians into Hellenes. At all events, the inhabitants of Creston and of Placia, who in neither case speak the same language as their present respective neighbors, do speak the same language as one another…In contrast to this, the Hellenic race has employed an identical language continuously, ever since it came into existence. After splitting off from the Pelasgian race, it found itself weak, but from these small beginnings it has increased until it now includes a number of nationalities, its principal recruits being Pelasgians It is my further opinion that the non-Hellenic origin of the Pelasgians accounts for the complete failure of even this nationality to grow to any considerable dimensions" (Herodotus, Book I, chapters 56 to 58; translated by Arnold J. Toynbee). The rest, as they say, is silence (at least in the Classical sources), and we can see why this obscure people should appeal to the mythologizing "Golden Age" bent of Klages. Modern authorities regard the Pelasgians as inhabitants of a purely Neolithic culture pertaining only to the area of Thessaly bounded by Sesklo in the east and the Peneios valley in the west (the area which is now known as Thessaliotis). 

Although the philosopher’s alluring portrait of the Pelasgians was formulated before modern archaeology had completed our image of Ægean prehistory, the picture which Klages paints, in the Eros-book and in the "Magna Mater" chapter of Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele, of a vibrant, healthy, and physically beautiful people, in touch with the gods and with Nature, requires little—if any—correction in the wake of the new researches. The figures who move so gracefully through the enchanted atmosphere of the Palace frescoes at Knossos, as they carry their brightly-colored gifts of vase, flowers, and pyxis, to the Goddess, are straight out of a poet’s dream. The young women walk barefoot, and wear hip-hugging, flared skirts to which flounces are attached at knee and hem; their long raven-tresses are worn in a chignon, adorned with red and white ribbons, and their jackets are brightly colored, usually pink or sky-blue. The gifts that they bring to the Mother Goddess are also brilliantly colored: a porphyry pyxis; poppies of red and white, and a bottle striped with silver, gold, and copper bands. They wear bracelets and necklaces dressed with strands of beads. They appear graceful and serene with their white breasts in profile in the tholos tombs as well. 

This Minoan, or "Pelasgian," world was characterized by a dialectical fusion of two strains of religiosity: on the one hand, we meet with the Ægean worship of the Mother Goddess, with all that that entails with regard to ritual and style of living; and, on the other, we confront the Indo-European sky-god, or Father God, and the two strains seem to co-exist in an uneasy, unstable—but certainly fruitful—truce. Mythologists tell us that this heritage is reflected in the tales that indicate the marriages between the Indo-European sky-god Zeus with various incarnations of the Ægean Mother-Goddess (in some of the myths, Zeus is, himself, born on Crete!). In time, of course, the Father God will achieve dominance in the Hellenic world, but Klages is more interested in traces of the religion of the Goddess as it survives from the Stone Age into the world of the second millennium B.C. Our philosopher, in effect, merges the misty Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures of the ancient Aegean into a single magical world-space, wherein an innocent race lives at one with Nature and the Goddess. Klages treats the Pelasgians as the primeval Hellenes, who worshiped the Goddess, as she was embodied in female idols in the form of figurines of the famous steatopygous Fertility-Goddess type, with huge belly and swollen buttocks (even though this iconographic image, represented most clearly in the "Venus of Willendorf," proceeds from a much-earlier cultural stratum, the Palaeolithic. The later Greeks celebrated Demeter, the Life-Mother, in the Eleusinian mysteries). The Palace Culture of Minoan Crete would exemplify the matriarchalist style of the (late) Pelasgian world, especially as prehistoric Knossos had a far more sophisticated attitude toward women than did, say, the later Periclean Athens. For instance, in the legend of Ariadne, the fact that her presence is indicated at the funeral games shows us that women were free to mingle with men at their will, and the version of the myth which shows Ariadne as in charge of the palace in her father’s absence shows the great value which the Cretans placed on women. This centrality of woman is indicated in all of Minoan art, which depicts her as beautifully-animated; in fact, one of the most elegant of the ebon-tressed, slim-waisted, and crimson-lipped women depicted on the frescoes on the Palace of Knossos, was nicknamed La Parisienne by a French visitor at the turn of the century! Klages is drawn more toward the "pacifist," thalassocratic (sea-ruling) aspect of the Minoans of the second millennium B.C., than toward the covetous Bronze Age Greeks of the mainland with their heavily-fortified cities and unending wars (the Bronze Age mainlanders seem to have loved war for its own sake; another troubling element in their civilization is their reliance on slavery, especially of women). These are the Mycenaeans, who would eventually sack, and destroy, the Minoan Culture. It is a notable fact that most of our evidence about the "Pelasgian" religious beliefs and practices stems from Minoan Crete: very little material survives from Mycenae and the other mainland sites. On Crete, however, we find the dove-goddess image and the snake-goddess image, the stepped altars and shrine models, in religious sanctuaries overflowing with such sacred items. Clearly, the Goddess ruled on Minoan Crete, and, in fact, the Goddess Potnia, whose name crops up repeatedly in the Linear B tablets, might indeed be the "Lady of the Labyrinth," which is to say, the Lady of the Place of the labrys, or the double ax—the Palace of Knossos itself. Another Knossos cult-figure was the anemo ijereja, of "Priestess of the Winds"; there is also qerasija, which could well mean "the Huntress." According to some historians, offerings to the Goddess were entirely bloodless, and were usually gifts of honey, oil, wine, and spices like coriander and fennel; sheep and their shepherds were associated with Potnia, but certainly not in the aspect of blood-sacrifices. On the mainland, however, we find the Mycenaeans slaughtering rams, horses, and other animals in their vaulted tombs. We also find the cult of the Goddess on the Cycladic islands (to which "Greek islands" American "millionaires" and other arch-vulgarians habitually cart their flatulent girths on "vacations"). The famous Cycladic figurines represent the Mother Goddess as well, under the aspects of "the divine nurse" or the "Goddess of Blessing." In these figurines the Goddess is almost invariably represented with the pubic delta and the stomach emphasized. I will have more to say about this religion of the "Mother Goddess" later on, in the section devoted to the ideas of Bachofen, but for now I’d like to note that in the early phase of Minoan religion, the relationship of ruler and deity was not that of father-and-son, but of mother-and-son. For Minoan Crete, the Mother Goddess was represented on earth by the priest-king. Some lovely manifestations of this reverence for the Goddess can be found in the faience statuettes of the bare-breasted Mother Goddess which were found by Sir Arthur Evans in the Palace of Knossos: one of them shows the Goddess holding up a serpent in each of her hands; the other statuette shows the snakes entwining themselves around her arms. These figures appear in both "peak sanctuaries" and in household shrines, and have been designated by pre-historians as the "Snake Goddess" or the "Household Goddess." The "Household Goddess" is often associated with the motif of the double-axe, the emblem of the Palace at Knossos, and also with the horns-of-consecration, which associate her with the sacred bull of the Palace of King Minos. 

One inhabitant of the Palace of King Minos was the princess Ariadne, to whom we alluded briefly above. After the loss of Theseus, the fate of Ariadne would be intimately intertwined with that of Dionysus, the problematical Greek divinity whose cult excited so much controversy and such fierce opposition among the Greeks of the Classical Age. Dionysus was the orgiastic god in whom Klages, following Nietzsche, locates the site of an untrammeled sensuous abandon. This Thraco-Grecian deity, whose nature was so brilliantly interpreted by Nietzsche in the latter half of the 19th century, and by his worthy successor Walter F. Otto in the first half of the 20th century, becomes in the Klagesian view the ultimate symbol of heathen life, the epiphany of that frenzied ecstasy that the god’s followers achieved by means of the drunkenness and wild dancing of the maenads, those female adherents of the god of the vine, who experienced genuine enthusiasm, i.e., "the god within,’ as they followed the progress of their far-wandering god, who gave to man the inestimable gift of wine. These maenads celebrated their secret Dionysian cultic rituals far from the accustomed haunts of man, and any man was slaughtered on the spot if he should be apprehended whilst illicitly witnessing the ceremonies reserved for the gods’ female followers. These maenads were alleged to be in the possession of magical powers that enabled the god’s worshipers to bring about magical effects at great distances. And "all Eros is Eros of distance!"

Philosophical Roots and Biological Consequences

Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele contains a comprehensive survey of the philosophical literature that relates to "biocentric" concerns, and in these pages Klages closely scrutinizes the troubled seas and fog-shrouded moorlands of philosophy, both ancient and modern, over which we, unfortunately, have only sufficient time to cast a superficial and fleeting glance. We will, however, spend a profitable moment or two on several issues that Klages examined in some detail, for various pivotal disputes that have preoccupied the minds of gifted thinkers from the pre-Socratics down to Nietzsche were also of pre-eminent significance for Klages. 

One of the pre-Socratic thinkers in particular, Heraclitus of Ephesus (c. 536-470 B.C.E.), the "dark one," was looked upon by Ludwig Klages as the founding father of "biocentric," or life-centered, philosophy. Klages and Heraclitus share the conviction that life is ceaseless change, chaos, "eternal flux" [panta rhei]. Both thinkers held that it is not matter that endures through the ceaseless patterns of world-transformation: it is this ceaseless transformation itself that is the enduring process, which alone constitutes this ever-shifting vibrancy, this soaring and fading of appearances, this becoming and passing away of phenomenal images upon which Klages bestowed the name life. Likewise, Klages and Heraclitus were in complete accord in their conviction that natural events transpire in a succession of rhythmical pulsations. For both thinkers, nothing abides without change in the human world, and in the cosmos at large, everything flows and changes in the rhythmical and kaleidoscopic dance that is the cosmic process. We cannot say of a thing: "it is"; we can only say that a thing "comes to be" and that it "passes away." The only element, in fact, in the metaphysics of Heraclitus that will be repudiated by Klages is the great pre-Socratic master’s positing of a "Logos," or indwelling principle of order, and this slight disagreement is ultimately a trivial matter, for the Logos is an item which, in any case, plays a role so exiguous in the Heraclitean scheme as to render the notion, for all practical and theoretical purposes, nugatory as far as the basic thrust of the philosophy of the eternal flux.

Another great Greek philosopher, Protagoras of Abdera (c. 480-410 B.C.E.), is fulsomely acclaimed by Klages as the "father of European psychology and history’s pioneer epistemologist." When Protagoras asserted that the content of perception from moment to moment is the result of the fusion of an external event (the world) with an inner event (the experiencing soul), he was, in effect, introducing the Heraclitean flux into the sphere of the soul. No subsequent psychologist has achieved a greater theoretical triumph. The key text upon which Klages bases this endorsement is Sext. Emp., Pyrrh. I (217): "…matter is in flux, and as it flows additions are made continuously in the place of the effluxions, and the senses are transformed and altered according to the times of life and to all the other conditions of the bodies." (218) "Men apprehend different things at different times owing to their differing dispositions; for he who is in a natural state apprehends those things subsisting in matter which are able to appear to those in a natural state, and those who are in a non-natural state the things which can appear to those in a non-natural state." Thus, the entire sphere of psychical life is a matter of perception, which comprises the act of perception (in the soul) and the content of perception (in the object). This Protagorean insight forms the basis for the distinction between noumenon and phenomenon that will exert such a fructifying influence on Western thought, especially during the period of German Romanticism.

Greek thought has a significant bearing on crucial discoveries that were made by Klages. We have learned that there are two forces that are primordially opposed to each other, spirit and life; in addition, we have seen these forces cannot be reduced to each other, nor can they be reduced to any third term; body and soul constitute the poles of unified life, and it is the mission of spirit to invade that unity, to function as a divisive wedge in order to tear the soul from the body and the body from the soul. Thus, spirit begins its career as the disrupter of life; only at the end of history will it become the destroyer of life. We find a piquant irony in the oft-expressed view that accuses Klages of inventing this "spirit" out of whole cloth, for those who have sneered at his account of the provenance of spirit as a force that enters life from outside the sphere of life, dismissing the very idea from serious consideration by reducing the concept to a caricature ("Klagesian devil," "Klages with his spirit-as-‘space-invader’," and so on), offer quite an irresistible opening for a controversialist’s unbuttoned foil, because such statements reveal, at one and the same time, an ignorance of the history of philosophy in our professors and commentators that should curdle the blood of the most trusting students, as well as an almost incomprehensible inability, or unwillingness, to understand a scrupulously exact and closely-argued text. This intellectual disability possesses, one must confess, a certain undeniable pathos. As it happens, the question as to the provenance of spirit has always enjoyed a prominent position in the history of philosophical speculation (especially in the narrow field of epistemology, i.e., the "theory of cognition"), and the Klagesian viewpoint that has been so ignorantly and persistently excoriated is explicitly drawn from the philosophy of—Aristotle! It was Aristotle, "the master of those who know," who, in discussing the divided substance of man, discovered that he could only account for the origin of one of the components, viz., spirit [Gk. nous], by concluding that spirit had entered man "from outside"! Likewise, the idea of a "tripartite" structure of man, which seems so bizarre to novice students of biocentrism, has quite a respectable pedigree, for, once again, it was Aristotle who viewed man as having three aspects, viz., Psyche-Soma-Nous (Soul-Body-Spirit).

The speculations of the Greek philosophers who belonged to the Eleatic School provided the crucial insights that inspired Klages’s masterful formulation of the doctrine of the "actuality of the images." The specific problem that so exercised the Eleatics was the paradox of motion. The Eleatics insisted that motion was inconceivable, and they proceeded from that paradoxical belief to the conclusion that all change is impossible. One of the Eleatics, Zeno, is familiar to students of the history of philosophy as the designer of the renowned "Zeno’s Paradoxes," the most famous of which is the problem of Achilles and the Tortoise. Zeno provided four proofs against the possibility of motion: 1) a body must traverse in finite time an infinite number of spaces and, therefore, it can never ever begin its journey; 2) here we have Zeno’s application of his motion-theory to the "Achilles" problem that we’ve just mentioned—if Achilles grants a lead or "head start" (analogous to a "handicap") to the tortoise against whom he is competing in a foot-race, he will never be able to overtake the tortoise, because by the time Achilles has reached point A (the starting-point for the tortoise), his opponent has already reached point B. In fact, Achilles will never even reach point A, because before he can traverse the entire distance between his starting-point and point A, he must necessarily cover one-half of that distance, and then one-half of the remaining distance, and so on and so on ad infinitum, as it were! 3) the arrow that has just been launched by the archer is always resting, since it always occupies the same space; and 4) equivalent distances must, at equivalent velocity, be covered in the identical time. But a moving body will pass another body that is moving in the opposite direction (at the identical velocity) twice as quickly as when this body is resting, and this demonstrates that the observed facts contradict the laws of motion. Betraying a certain nervousness, historians of philosophy usually dismiss the Eleatics as superficial skeptics or confused souls, but they never condescend to provide a convincing refutation of their "obvious" or "superficial" errors.

Klages, on the other hand, finds both truth and error in the Eleatics’ position. From the standpoint of an analysis of things, the Eleatics’ are on firm ground in their insistence on the impossibility of change, but from the standpoint of an analysis of appearances, their position is utterly false. Their error arose from the fact that the Greeks of this period had already succumbed to the doctrine that the world of appearances is a world of deception, a reservoir of illusory images. This notion has governed almost every metaphysical system that has been devised by western philosophers down to our own time, and with every passing age, the emphasis upon the world of the things (Noumena) has increased at the expense of the world of appearances (Phenomena). Klages, on the other hand, will solve the "Problem of the Eleatics" by an emphatic demonstration that the phenomenal images are, in fact, the only realities. 

During the Renaissance, in fact, when ominous temblors were heralding the dawn of our "philosophy of the mechanistic apocalypse," there were independent scholars (among whom we find Giordano Bruno and Paracelsus) who speculated at length on the relationship that exists between the macrocosm and the microcosm, as well as on the three-fold nature of man and on the proto-characterological doctrine of the "Temperaments." 

But the key figure in the overturning of the triadic world-view is undoubtedly the French thinker and mathematician René Descartes (1596-1650), who is chiefly responsible for devising the influential schematic dualism of thinking substance and extended substance, which has dominated, in its various incarnations and permutations, the thinking of the vast majority of European thinkers ever since. Descartes explicitly insists that all of our perceptions as well as every "thing" that we encounter must be reduced to the status of a machine; in fact, he even suggests that the whole universe is merely a vast mechanism (terram totumque hunc mundum instar machinæ descripsi). It is no accident, then, that Cartesian thought is devoid of genuine psychology, for, as he says in the Discours de la méthode, man is a mere machine, and his every thought and every movement can be accounted for by means of a purely mechanical explanation. 

Nevertheless, there have been several revolts against Cartesian dualism. As recently as two centuries ago, the extraordinarily gifted group of "Nature Philosophers" who were active during the glory days of German Romanticism, pondered the question of the "three-fold" in publications that can be consulted with some profit even today. 

We have seen that the specifically Klagesian "triad" comprises body-soul-spirit, and the biocentric theory holds that life, which comprises the poles of body and soul, occurs as processes and events. Spirit is an intruder into the sphere of life, an invader seeking always to sever the poles, a dæmonic willfulness that is characterized by manic activity and purposeful deeds. "The body is the manifestation of the soul, and the soul is the meaning of the living body." We have seen that Klages was able to trace proleptic glimpses of this biocentric theory of the soul back to Greek antiquity, and he endeavored for many years to examine the residues of psychical life that survive in the language, poetry, and mythology of the ancient world, in order to interpret the true meanings of life as it had been expressed in the word, cult, and social life of the ancients. He brilliantly clarifies the symbolic language of myth, especially with reference to the cosmogonic Eros and the Orphic Mysteries. He also explores the sensual-imagistic thought of the ancients as the foundation upon which objective cognition is first erected, for it is among the Greeks, and only among the Greeks, that philosophy proper was discovered. During the peak years of the philosophical activity of the Greek thinkers, spirit still serves the interests of life, existing in an authentic relationship with an actuality that is sensuously and inwardly "en-souled" [beseelt]. The cosmological speculation of antiquity reveals a profound depth of feeling for the living cosmos, and likewise demonstrates the presence of the intimate bonds that connect man to the natural world; contemplation is still intimately bound-up with the primordial, elemental powers. Klages calls this "archaic" Greek view of the world, along with its later reincarnations in the history of western thought, the "biocentric" philosophy, and he situates this mode of contemplation as the enemy of the "logocentric" variety, i.e., the philosophy that is centered upon the Logos, or "mind," for mind is the manifestation of spirit as it enters western thought with the appearance of Socrates. From Plato himself, through his "neo-Platonic" disciples of the Hellenistic and Roman phases of antiquity, and down to the impoverished Socratic epigones among the shallow "rationalists" of 17th and 18th century Europe, all philosophers who attempt to restore or renew the project of a philosophical "enlightenment," are the heirs of Socrates, for it was Socrates who first made human reason the measure of all things. Socratic rationalism also gave rise to life-alien ethical schemes based upon a de-natured creature, viz., man-as-such. This pure spirit, this distilled ego, seeks to sever all natural and racial bonds, and as a result, "man" prides himself upon being utterly devoid of nobility, beauty, blood, and honor. In the course of time, he will attach his fortunes to the even more lethal spiritual plague known as Christianity, which hides its destructive force behind the hypocritical demand that we "love one’s neighbors." From 1789 onwards, a particularly noxious residue of this Christian injunction, the undifferentiating respect for the ghost known as "humanity," will be considered the hallmark of every moral being.

The heirs of the Socratic tradition have experienced numerous instances of factional strife and re-groupings in the course of time, although the allegiance to spirit has always remained unquestioned by all of the disputants. One faction may call itself "idealistic" because it considers concepts, ideas, and categories to be the only true realities; another faction may call itself "materialistic" because it views "things" as the ultimate constituents of reality; nevertheless, both philosophical factions give their allegiance, nolentes volentes, to the spirit and its demands. Logocentric thought, in fact, is the engine driving the development of the applied science that now rules the world. And by their gifts shall ye know them!

The bitterly antagonistic attitude of Klages towards one of the most illustrious heirs of Socrates, viz., Immanuel Kant, has disturbed many students of German thought who see something perverse and disingenuous in this opposition to the man whom they regard uncritically as the unsurpassed master of German thought. Alfred Rosenberg and the other offical spokesmen of the National Socialist movement were especially enraged by the ceaseless attacks on Kant by Klages and his disciple Werner Deubel. Nevertheless, Kant’s pre-eminence as an epistemologist was disputed as long ago as 1811, when Gottlob Ernst Schulze published his "Critique of Theoretical Philosophy," which was then, and remains today, the definitive savaging of Kant’s system. Klages endorses Schulze’s demonstration that Kant’s equation: actuality = being = concept = thing = appearance (or phenomenon) is utterly false, and is the main source of Kant’s inability to distinguish between perception and representation. Klages adds that he finds it astonishing that Kant should have been able to convince himself that he had found the ultimate ground of the faculty of cognition in—cognition! Klages cites with approval Nietzsche’s "Beyond Good and Evil," in which Kant is ridiculed for attempting to ground his epistemology in the "faculty of a faculty"! Klages shows that the foundation of the faculty of cognition lies not in cognition itself, but in experience, and that the actuality of space and time cannot have its origins in conceptual thought, but solely in the vital event. There can be no experienced colors or sounds without concomitant spatio-temporal characteristics, for there can be no divorce between actual space and actual time. We can have no experience of actual space without sensory input, just as we have no access to actual time without thereby participating in the ceaseless transformation of the phenomenal images. 

Formalistic science and its offspring, advanced technology, can gain access to only a small segment of the living world and its processes. Only the symbol has the power to penetrate all the levels of actuality, and of paramount importance to Klages in his elaborate expositions of the biocentric metaphysics is the distinction between conceptual and symbolic thought. We have previously drawn attention to the fact that drive-impulses are manifest in expressive movements that are, in turn, impelled by the influence of a non-conceptual power that Klages calls the symbol. Likewise, symbolic thinking is a tool that may profitably be utilized in the search for truth, and Klages contrasts symbolic contemplation with the logical, or "formalistic," cognition, but he is at pains to draw our attention to the errors into which an unwarranted, one-sided allegiance to either type of thought can plunge us. Although Klages has been repeatedly and bitterly accused by Marxists and other "progressives" as being a vitriolic enemy of reason, whose "irrationalism" provided the "fascists" with their heaviest ideological artillery, nothing could be further from the truth. On occasions too numerous to inventory, he ridicules people like Bergson and Keyserling who believe that "intuition" lights the royal road to truth. His demolition of the Bergsonian notion of the élan vital is definitive and shattering, and his insistence that such an entity is a mere pseudo-explanation is irrefutable and might have been published in a British philosophical journal. In the end, Klages says, "irrationalism" is the spawn of—spirit

Our ability to formulate and utilize concepts as well as our capacity to recognize conceptual identities is sharply opposed to the procedure involved in the symbolic recognition of identities. The recognition of such conceptual identities has, of course, a crucial bearing on the life of the mind, since it is this very ability that functions as the most important methodological tool employed by every researcher involved in the hard sciences. Symbolic identification, on the other hand, differs widely from its conceptual counterpart in that the symbolic type derives its meaning-content from the "elemental similarity of images." Thus, the process of substantive, or conceptual, identification confronts its opposite number in the "identity of essence" of symbolic thought. It is this "identity of essence," as it happens, which has given birth to language and its capacity to embody authentic meaning-content in words. Jean Paul was quite right, Klages tells us, in describing language as a "dictionary of faded metaphors," for every abstraction that is capable of verbal representation arose from the essentiality of the meaning-content of words.

He draws a sharp distinction between the true symbol (Gk. symbolon, i.e., token) and the mere sign whose significance is purely referential. The true meaning of an object resides in its presence, which Klages refers to as an aura, and this aura is directly communicated to a sensory apparatus that resists all purely linguistic attempts to establish formulas of equivalence or "correspondence." The sensual imagination participates in an unmediated actuality, and intuitive insight (Schauung) allows us to gain access to a realm of symbols, which rush into our souls as divine epiphanies. 

Life resists rules, for life is eternal flux. Life is not rigid being, and therefore life will always evade the man-traps of mind, the chains of the concept. Life, comprising the poles of body and soul, is the physical event as phenomenal expression of the soul. There can be no soul-less phenomena and there can be no souls without (phenomenal) appearances, just as there can be no word-less concepts and no words without meaning-content. The physical world is the image-laden appearance (phenomenon) that manifests a psychical substance. When the dæmonic object encounters the receptive, or "pathic," soul, the object becomes a symbol and acquires a "nimbus," which is a pulsating radiance surrounding the moment of becoming. This nimbus is referred to as an "aura" when applied to persons, and both nimbus and aura represent the contribution of the object to the act of perception. 

Non-symbolic, formalistic thought, on the other hand is irreverent, non- contemplative, and can best be characterized as an act that is enacted in the service of spirit, which imperiously and reductively ordains that the act of perception must also be an act of the will. Thus the will attains primacy even over the de-substantialized intellect, and Klages—who has persistently been dismissed as an obscurantist and irrationalist—never misses an opportunity to re-iterate his deep conviction that the essence of spirit is to be located in the will and not in the intellect.

As we’ve seen, Klages holds that the living soul is the antithesis of the spirit. The spirit seeks to rigidify the eternal flux of becoming, just as the soul, in yielding passively to the eternal flux, resists the raging Heracleic spirit and its murderous projects. Body and soul reach the peak of creative vitality when their poles are in equipoise or perfect balance, and the high point of life is reached in the experience of sensuous joy. Spirit’s assault upon the body is launched against this joy, and in waging war against the joy of the body, spirit also wages war against the soul, in order to expel the soul, to make it homeless, in order to annihilate all ecstasy and creativity. Every attempt that has been made by monistic thinkers to derive the assault on life from the sphere of life itself has misfired. Such troublesome anomalies as the supernatural visions and cases of dæmonic possession that transpired during the Middle Ages, as well the crippling cases of hysteria so familiar to psychologists in our own time, can never be satisfactorily explained unless we realize that the souls of these unfortunates were sundered by the acosmic force of spirit, whose very essence is the will, that enemy and murderer of life. The conceptual "Tower of Babylon" reared by monists in their ludicrous efforts to derive the force that wages war against life from life itself is no less absurd than would be the foredoomed attempt of a firefighter to extinguish a blaze by converting a portion of the fire into the water that will extinguish the fire!

There is, however, one privileged example of a manifestation of the will in the service of life, and this occurs when the will is enlisted for the purposes of artistic creation. The will, Klages insists, is incapable of creative force, but when the artist’s intuition has received an image of a god, the will functions "affirmatively" in the destructive assaults of the artist’s chisel upon the marble that is to embody the image of the divinity.

Actuality (the home of the soul) is experienced; being (the home of spirit) is thought. The soul is a passive surrender to the actuality of the appearances. Actuality is an ever-changing process of coming to be and passing away that is experienced as images. Spirit attempts to fix, to make rigid, the web of images that constitutes actuality by means of conceptual thought, whose concrete form is the apparatus of the scientist. Cognition represents identical, unfaltering, timeless being; life is the actuality of experience in time. When one says of time that it "is," as if it were something rigid and identical behind the eternal flux, then time is implicitly stripped of its very essence as that which is "temporal"; it is this temporal essence which is synonymous with becoming and transformation. When one speaks of a thing or a realm that is beyond, i.e., that "transcends," the unmediated, experienced actuality of the living world, one is merely misusing thought in order to introduce a conceptual, existential world in the place of the actual one, which has the inalienable character of transitoriness and temporality.

It is within the "pathic" soul that the categories of space and time originate. Acosmic spirit, on the other hand, invaded the sphere of life from outside the spatio-temporal cosmos. Klages scorns the schemes of philosophical "idealists" who attempt to ground the structures of space and time in some transcendental world. He also distinguishes a biocentric non-rational temporality from "objective" time. Biocentric thought, true to its immanentist ("this-worldly") status, recognizes that the images that pulsate in immanentist time are excluded by their very nature from any participation in objective time, for the images can only live within the instantaneous illumination of privileged moments. Klages savages the platitudes and errors of logocentric thinkers who adhere, with almost manic rigidity, to the conventional scheme of dual-axis temporality. In ordinary logic, time is viewed as radiating from the present (that extension-less hypostasis) backward into time-past and forward into time-to-come: but the whole scheme collapses in a heap as soon as we realize that the future, the "time-to-come," is nothing but a delirious void, a grotesque phantom, a piece of philosophical fiction. Only the past possesses true actuality; only the past is real. The future is merely a pale hallucination flitting about in deluded minds. True time is the relationship that binds the poles of past and present. This union occurs as a rhythmical pulsation that bears the moment’s content into the past, as a new moment is generated, as it were, out of the womb of eternity, that authentic depository of actual time. Time is an unending cycle of metamorphoses utterly unrelated to the processes of "objective" time. True time, cyclical time, is clocked by the moments that intervene between a segment of elapsed time and the time that is undergoing the process of elapsing. Time is the soul of space, just as space is the embodiment of time. Only within actual time can we apprehend the primordial images in their sensuous immediacy. Logic, on the other hand, can only falsify the exchange between living image and receptive soul. 

Let us examine the biological—or, more properly, ethological—implications of the doctrine of "primordial images" [Urbilder]. Bear in mind, of course, the crucial distinction that is drawn by Klages between the science of fact (Tatsachenwissenschaft) and the science of appearances (Erscheinungswissenschaft): factual science establishes laws of causality in order to explain, e.g., physiological processes or the laws of gravitation; thus, we say that factual science examines the causes of things. The science of appearances, on the other hand, investigates the actuality of the images, for images are the only enduring realities. 

The enduring nature of the image can be seen in the example of the generation of a beech-tree. Suppose a beech-tree sheds its seed upon the forest floor, in which it germinates. Can we say of the mother-tree that it lives within the child? Certainly not! We can chop down the mother tree and burn it to ashes, whilst the offspring continues to prosper. Can we say that the matter of which the old tree was composed survives intact within the younger tree? Again, no: for not an atom of the matter that made up the seed from which the young beech grew exists within it. Likewise, not an atom of the matter of which a man’s body is composed at the age of thirty survives from that same man’s body as it was on his tenth birthday. Now, if it is not the matter of which the organism is composed which endures through the ages, what then is it that so endures? "The one possible answer is: an image." Life and its processes occur outside the world of things. On the contrary: life comprises the events in the world of the images.

Thus, we see that the doctrine of the "actuality of the images" [Wirklichkeit der Bilder] holds that it is not things, but images, that are "en-souled" [beseelt], and this proposition, Klages tells us, forms the "key to his whole doctrine of life [Lebenslehre]." Things stand in a closed chain of causality, and there is no reciprocal action between the image and the thing, no parallelism, and no connection, and the attempts that have been undertaken by various philosophers to equate the thing and the image merely serve to rupture the chain of causality in its relevant sphere, i.e., the quantitative scientific method. The receptive soul is turned towards the actuality of the image, and when we say on one occasion that an object is "red," and on another that this same object is "warm," in the first case the reference is to the reality of things, whereas in the second case the reference is to the actuality of images. By using the name of a color, we indicate that we are differentiating between the superficial qualities, or surface attributes, of things; when we say that a colored object is "warm" or "cold," on the other hand, we are pointing to the phenomenal "presence" that has been received by the pathic soul. In fact, there are a whole host of common expressions in which this attribution of subjective, psychical states to visible phenomena occurs. We say, for instance, that red is "hot" and that blue is "cold." In the Vom Wesen des Bewusstseins (1921), a treatise on the nature of consciousness, Klages adduces an astonishingly vast inventory of words that are routinely utilized in descriptions of subjective as well as perceptual phenomena. Someone will speak of his a "bitter" feeling of resentment at some slight or injury. The expression that love is "sweet" occurs in almost every language. Likewise, joy is often described as "bright," just as grief or sorrow are often referred to as "dark." We also have "hot" anger (or the familiar variant, the "‘heat’ of the moment").

Images are the charged powers, or natures, that constitute the basis of all phenomena of cosmic and elemental life as well as of cellular, organic life. All that exists participates in the life of the images. Air, fire, earth, and water; rocks, clouds, planets and suns; plant, animal and man: all of these entities are alive and have souls that share in the life of the cosmos. It isn’t matter that constitutes the stuff of reality, for matter perishes; but the image, which remains alive as it wanders through the rhythmically pulsating cosmos, never dies. It changes through the processes of maturation and growth in the organism, and it transforms itself through the millennia in the species. The images alone have life; the images alone have meaning. The souls of those who now live are images that are temporarily wedded to matter, just as the souls of the dead are images that have been released from matter. The souls of the dead revisit us in their actual form in dreams (Wirklichkeitsform der Traumerscheinung), unconstrained by the limitations of material substance. The souls of the dead are not expelled from the world to live on as immortal "spirits" housed in some transcendent "beyond"; they are, instead, dæmonically vital presences, images that come to be, transform themselves, and vanish into the distance within the phenomenal world that is the only truly existing world.

The human soul recalls the material palpability of the archaic images by means of the faculty that Klages calls "recollection," and his view in this regard invites comparison with the Platonic process of "anamnesis." The recollection of which Klages speaks takes place, of course, without the intervention of the will or the projects of the conscious mind. Klages’s examination of "vital recollection" was greatly influenced by the thought of Wilhelm Jordan, a nineteenth century poet and pioneer Darwinist, whose works were first encountered by the young philosopher at the end of that century. In Jordan’s massive didactic poem Andachten, which was published in 1877, the poet espouses a doctrine of the "memory of corporeal matter." This work had such a fructifying influence on the thought of Klages, that we here give some excerpts: 
 

"It is recollection of her own cradle, when the red stinging fly glues grains of sand into a pointed arch as soon as she feels that her eggs have ripened to maturity. It is recollection of her own food during the maggot-state when the anxious mother straddles the caterpillar and drags it for long distances, lays her eggs in it, and locks it in that prison. The larva of the male stag-beetle feels and knows by recollection the length of his antlers, and in the old oak carves out in doubled dimensions the space in which he will undergo metamorphosis. What teaches the father of the air to weave the exact angles of her net by delicate law, and to suspend it from branch to branch with strings, as firm as they are light, according to her seat? Does she instruct her young in this art? No! She takes her motherly duties more lightly. The young are expelled uncared-for from the sac in which the eggs have been laid. But three or four days later the young spider spreads its little nest with equal skill on the fronds of a fern, although it never saw the net in which its mother caught flies. The caterpillar has no eye with which to see how others knit the silken coffins from which they shall rise again. From whence have they acquired all the skill with which they spin so? Wholly from inherited recollection. In man, what he learned during his life puts into the shade the harvest of his ancestors’ labors: this alone blinds him, stupefied by a learner’s pride, to his own wealth of inherited recollections. The recollection of that which has been done a thousand times before by all of his ancestors teaches a new-born child to suck aptly, though still blind. Recollection it is which allows man in his mother’s womb to fly, within the course of a few months, through all the phases of existence through which his ancestors rose long ago. Inherited recollection, and no brute compulsion, leads the habitual path to the goal that has many times been attained; it makes profoundest secrets plain and open, and worthy of admiration what was merely a miracle. Nature makes no free gifts. Her commandment is to gain strength to struggle, and the conqueror’s right is to pass this strength on to his descendants: her means by which the skill is handed down is the memory of corporeal matter."


The primordial images embody the memory of actual objects, which may re-emerge at any moment from the pole of the past to rise up in a rush of immediacy at the pole of the present. This living world of image-laden actuality is the "eternal flux" [panta rhei] of Heraclitus, and its cyclical transformations relate the present moment to the moments that have elapsed, and which will come around again, per sæcula sæculorum.

Thus we see that the cosmos communicates through the magical powers of the symbol, and when we incorporate symbolic imagery into our inmost being, a state of ecstasy supervenes, and the soul’s substance is magically revitalized (as we have already seen, genuine ecstasy reaches its peak when the poet’s "polar touch of a pathic soul" communicates his images in words that bear the meaning of the actual world within them).

When prehistoric man arrives on the stage, he is already experiencing the incipient stages of the fatal shift from sensation to contemplation. Spirit initiates the campaign of destruction: the receptor-activity is fractured into "impression" and "apperception," and it is at this very point that we witness, retrospectively, as it were, the creation of historical man. Before the dawn of historical man, in addition to the motor-processes that man possessed in common with the animal, his soul was turned towards wish-images. With the shift of the poles, i.e., when the sensory "receptor" processes yield power to the motor "effector" processes, we witness the hypertrophic development of the human ego. Klages is scornful of all egoism, and he repeatedly expressed bitter scorn towards all forms of "humanism," for he regards the humanist’s apotheosis of the precious "individual" as a debased kowtowing before a mere conceptual abstraction. The ego is not a man; it is merely a mask.) In the place of psychical wishes, we now have aims. In the ultimate stages of historical development man is exclusively devoted to the achievement of pre-conceived goals, and the vital impulses and wish-images are replaced by the driving forces, or interests. 

Man is now almost completely a creature of the will, and we recall that it is the will, and not the intellect, that is the characteristic function of spirit in the Klagesian system. However, we must emphasize that the will is not a creative, originating force. Its sole task is to act upon the bearer of spirit, if we may employ an analogy, in the manner of a rudder that purposively steers a craft in the direction desired by the navigator. In order to perform this regulative function, i.e., in order to transform a vital impulse into purposeful activity, the drive impulse must be inhibited and then directed towards the goal in view. 

Now spirit in man is dependent upon the sphere of life as long as it collaborates as an equal partner in the act of perception; but when the will achieves mastery in man, this is merely another expression for the triumph of spirit over the sphere of life. In the fatal shift from life to spirit, contemplative, unconscious feeling is diminished, and rational judgment and the projects of the regulative volition take command. The body’s ultimate divorce from the soul corresponds to the soullessness of modern man whose emotional life has diminished in creative power, just as the gigantic political state-systems have seized total control of the destiny of earth. Spirit is hostile to the demands of life. When consciousness, intellect, and the will to power achieve hegemony over the dæmonic forces of the cosmos, all psychical creativity and all vital expression must perish.

When man is exiled from the realm of passive contemplation, his world is transformed into the empire of will and its projects. Man now abandons the feminine unconscious mode of living and adheres to the masculine conscious mode, just as his affective life turns from bionomic rhythm to rationalized measure, from freedom to servitude, and from an ecstatic life in dreams to the harsh and pitiless glare of daylight wakefulness. No longer will he permit his soul to be absorbed into the elements, where the ego is dissolved and the soul merges itself with immensity in a world wherein the winds of the infinite cosmos rage and roar. He can no longer participate in that Selbsttödung, or self-dissolution, which Novalis once spoke of as the "truly philosophical act and the real beginning of all philosophy." Life, which had been soul and sleep, metamorphoses into the sick world of the fully conscious mind. To borrow another phrase from Novalis (who was one of Klages’s acknowledged masters), man now becomes "a disciple of the Philistine-religion that functions merely as an opiate." (That lapidary phrase, by the way, was crafted long before the birth of the "philosopher" Karl Marx, that minor player on the left-wing of the "Young Hegelians" of the 1840s; many reactionaries in our university philosophy departments still seem to be permanently bogged down in that stagnant morass—yet these old fogies of the spirit insist on accusing Fascists of being the political reactionaries!)

Man finally yields himself utterly to the blandishments of spirit in becoming a fully conscious being. Klages draws attention to the fact that there are in popular parlance two divergent conceptions of the nature of consciousness: the first refers to the inner experience itself; whilst the second refers to the observation of the experience. Klages only concerns himself with consciousness in the second sense of the word. Experiences are by their very nature unconscious and non-purposive. Spiritual activity takes place in a non-temporal moment, as does the act of conscious thought, which is an act of spirit. Experience must never be mistaken for the cognitive awareness of an experience, for as we have said, consciousness is not experience itself, but merely thought about experience. The "receptor" pole of experience is sharply opposed to the "effector" pole, in that the receptive soul receives sensory perceptions: the sense of touch receives the perception of "bodiliness"; the sense of sight receives the images, which are to be understood as pictures that are assimilated to the inner life. Sensation mediates the experience of (physical) closeness, whilst intuition receives the experience of distance. Sensation and intuition comprehend the images of the world. The senses of touch and vision collaborate in sensual experience. One or the other sense may predominate, i.e., an individual’s sense of sight may have a larger share than that of touch in one’s reception of the images (or vice versa), and one receptive process may be in the ascendant at certain times, whilst the other may come to the fore at other times. (In dreams the bodily component of the vital processes, i.e., sensation, sleeps, whilst the intuitive side remains wholly functional. These facts clearly indicate the incorporeality of dream-images as well as the nature of their actuality. Wakefulness is the condition of sensual processes, whilst the dream state is one of pure intuition.)

Pace William James, consciousness and its processes have nothing to do with any putative "stream of consciousness." That viewpoint ignores the fact that the processes that transpire in the conscious mind occur solely as interruptions of vital processes. The activities of consciousness can best be comprehended as momentary, abrupt assaults that are deeply disturbing in their effects on the vital substrata of the body-soul unity.These assaults of consciousness transpire as discrete, rhythmically pulsating "intermittencies" (the destructive nature of spirit’s operations can be readily demonstrated; recall, if you will, how conscious volition can interfere with various bodily states: an intensification of attention may, for instance, induce disturbances in the heart and the circulatory system; painful or onerous thought can easily disrupt the rhythm of one’s breathing; in fact, any number of automatic and semi-automatic somatic functions are vulnerable to spirit’s operations, but the most serious disturbances can be seen to take place, perhaps, when the activity of the will cancels out an ordinary, and necessary, human appetite in the interests of the will. Such "purposes" of the will are invariably hostile to the organism and, in the most extreme cases, an over-attention to the dictates of spirit can indeed eventuate in tragic fatalities such as occur in terminal sufferers from anorexia nervosa).

Whereas the unmolested soul could at one time "live" herself into the elements and images, experiencing their plenitudinous wealth of content in the simultaneous impressions that constitute the immediacy of the image, insurgent spirit now disrupts that immediacy by disabling the soul’s capacity to incorporate the images. In place of that ardent and erotic surrender to the living cosmos that is now lost to the soul, spirit places a satanic empire of willfulness and purposeful striving, a world of those who regard the world’s substance as nothing more than raw material to be devoured and destroyed. 

The image cannot be spoken, it must be lived. This is in sharp contradistinction to the status of the thing, which is, in fact, "speakable," as a result of its having been processed by the ministrations of spirit. All of our senses collaborate in the communication of the living images to the soul, and there are specific somatic sites, such as the eyes, mouth, and genitalia, that function as the gates, the "sacred" portals, as it were, through which the vital content of the images is transmitted to the inner life (these somatic sites, especially the genitalia, figure prominently in the cultic rituals that have been enacted by pagan worshipers in every historical period known to us). 

An Age of Chaos

In the biocentric phenomenology of Ludwig Klages, the triadic historical development of human consciousness, from the reign of life, through that of thought, to the ultimate empire of the raging will, is reflected in the mythic-symbolic physiognomy which finds expression in the three-stage, "triadic," evolution from "Pelasgian" man—of the upper Neolithic and Bronze Ages of pre-history; through the Promethean—down to the Renaissance; to the Heracleic man—the terminal phase that we now occupy, the age to which two brilliant 20th century philosophers of history, Julius Evola and Savitri Devi, have given the name "Kali Yuga," which in Hinduism is the dark age of chaos and violence that precedes the inauguration of a new "Golden Age," when a fresh cycle of cosmic events dawns in bliss and beauty. 

And it is at this perilous juncture that courageous souls must stiffen their sinews and summon up their blood in order to endure the doom that is closing before us like a mailed fist. Readers may find some consolation, however, in our philosopher’s expressions of agnosticism regarding the ultimate destiny of man and earth. Those who confidently predict the end of all life and the ultimate doom of the cosmos are mere swindlers, Klages assures us. Those who cannot successfully predict such mundane trivialities as next season’s fashions in hemlines or the trends in popular music five years down the road can hardly expect to be taken seriously as prophets who can foretell the ultimate fate of the entire universe! 

In the end, Ludwig Klages insists that we must never underestimate the resilience of life, for we have no yardstick with which to measure the magnitude of life’s recuperative powers. "All things are in flux." That is all. 
 
 


*   *   *



 
 
 

A NOTE ON AUSTRIAN, OR "CLASSICAL," THEORY AS BIOCENTRIC ECONOMICS


ALTHOUGH Ludwig Klages was one of the most rigorous libertarian thinkers in the history of the West, he can scarcely be said to have developed anything like a full-fledged economic theory of a biocentric cast. Nevertheless, his marked and life-long hostility to state-worship of any kind, when conjoined with his withering attitude towards all attempts to interpret living processes by means of formalistic mathematics, are completely consistent with the doctrines of the Austrian Classical School, which was founded at the end of the 19th Century by Carl Menger and Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk. The Austrian School subsequently flourished in America under the Austrian-born Ludwig von Mises and his most brilliant disciple, New York’s own Murray Rothbard, who, in addition to writing the dazzling formal treatise on economic theory entitled "Man, Economy, and State," was a brilliant essayist and gifted teacher.

The lecture entitled "Profit and Loss," which von Mises delivered to the Mont Pelerin Society in September, 1951, seems to proclaim the quintessentially biocentric version of economic theory: 
 

"The average man lacks the imagination to realize that the conditions of life and action are in a continual flux. As he sees it, there is no change in the external objects that constitute his well-being. His world-view is static and stationary. It mirrors a stagnating environment. He knows neither that the past differed from the present nor that there prevails uncertainty about future things...

"The imaginary construction of an evenly rotating economy is an indispensable tool of economic thinking. In order to conceive the function of profit and loss, the economist constructs the image of a hypothetical, although unrealizable, state of affairs in which nothing changes, in which tomorrow does not differ at all from today and in which no maladjustments can arise…The wheel turns spontaneously as it were. But the real world in which men live and have to work can never duplicate the hypothetical world of this mental makeshift.

"Now one of the main shortcomings of the mathematical economists is that they deal with this evenly rotating economy—they call it the static state—as if it were something really existing. Prepossessed by the fallacy that economics is to be treated with mathematical methods, they concentrate their efforts upon the anlysis of static states which, of course, allow a description in sets of simultaneous differential equations. But this mathematical treatment virtually avoids any reference to the real problems of economics. It indulges in quite useless mathematical play without adding anything to the comprehension of the problems of human acting and producing. It creates the misunderstanding as if the analysis of static states were the main concern of economics. It confuses a merely ancillary tool of thinking with reality."

 

mercredi, 16 septembre 2009

Concerning Louis-Ferdinand Céline

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Concerning Louis-Fredinand Celine

By Arno Breker  / http://meaus.com/

In the year 1940, I made the acquaintance of Louis-Ferdinand Celine in Paris at the German Institute. At that time he was considered among the most important writers of France. I knew his literary work; he, my sculptural work.

Celine was one of those who, notwithstanding existing differences between France and Germany, loved and understood my homeland. "The ultimate reconciliation and cooperation of our two countries--those are the things that matter most," he said to me during our first meeting.

The desire to do his portrait seized me at once. His facial features, strongly pronounced and enlivened, fascinated me. There was a physical peculiarity about him; this was the discrepancy between the volume of his head and the leanness of his neck, which was emanciated. A discrepancy which I wanted to make up for by means of a neck scarf, just as he always wore toward the end of his life.

Before the war I found Celine to be very elegant. And only afterward did he assume the behavior of a Bohemian of the 19th century. As everyone knows, he was surrounded by a number of cats and dogs and occupied in Meudon a large building that had already begun to decay a little. I visited him there one more time shortly before his death in 1961.

The atmosphere of his apartment was typically French. The furniture and objects that were around him, in their permanent appearance, had seemed for decades to be torpid and immovable. Dust and the patina of time began to cover them with a strange stillness.

On this afternoon Celine took a long look into my eyes, spoke very little, and really seemed to have said everything he had to say in his books. The few words he did say concerned human existence, its stay on earth, and eternity.

As I was leaving, Celine said to me, "This is not 'goodbye'! We shall remain." Taking his hand, I answered him full of emotion, "My dear, my great friend, so be it."

 

 Copyright 1999 Museum of European Art

samedi, 12 septembre 2009

Céline et l'homme européen

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« Céline et l’homme européen »

[1964]

Reproduit dans le "Bulletin célinien", n°262, mars 2005

 

Que pensait un jeune nationaliste européen de Céline dans les années soixante ? On peut s’en faire une idée en lisant cet article publié en 1964 dans la revue de Jean Thiriart (1922-1992), L’Europe communautaire. Céline n’échappait alors pas à une lecture très politisée de son œuvre. Un document.

 

   On a voulu tuer Céline, on a voulu faire taire ce corps et cette âme qui clamaient à la face du monde le dégoût qu’ils avaient des hommes, on a voulu éteindre cet incendie de vérité qui s’est allumé en 1932. Ils ont échoué dans leur entreprise criminelle ; aujourd’hui, plus que jamais, Céline revit en nous. Des livres, des études ont été consacrés au prophète de la décadence occidentale. La Pléiade lui consacre un ouvrage... Céline occupe dans l’histoire de la littérature européenne, avec Drieu La Rochelle et Brasillach, une place incontestable.

 

   Dans son œuvre, quelle est la place de l’Europe ; de cette Europe qu’avec beaucoup d’écrivains et d’hommes politiques, il prévoyait et espérait ?

 

   Le problème ici n’est pas de découvrir subitement un Céline politique : il avoue lui-même, dans plusieurs ouvrages et interviews, que seule la médecine l’intéressait et que, par ce biais, il a débouché dans un monde en folie, dans une France décadente, dans une Europe avortée. Plus qu’une conception politique, Céline avait de l’homme européen une conception quasi médicale ; plus que le continent, c’était l’homme qu’il voulait réformer.

   Dans D’un château l’autre il fustige les Français : « La sensibilité européenne s’émeut que pour tout ce qu’est bien anti-elle ! ennemis avérés ! tout son cœur ! masochisse à mort ! » Il prouvait par cette phrase qu’avant comme après la guerre, sa volonté de réforme était demeurée intacte.

 

De Bardamu au surhomme

 

   La première qualité que nous, Européens, devons reconnaître à Céline, c’est d’avoir dépeint magnifiquement et réellement nos défauts, vices et manies. Dès le Voyage au bout de la nuit, la fresque est esquissée ; à travers Bardamu, c’est le fond le plus lâche, timoré et vicieux de l’homme européen qu’il dépeint ; il en fait son credo, sa raison même de vivre : « Quand on sera au bord du trou faudra pas faire les malins, nous autres, mais faudra pas oublier non plus, faudra raconter tout sans changer un mot de ce qu’on a vu de plus vicieux chez les hommes et puis poser sa chique, puis descendre. Ça suffit comme boulot pour une vie tout entière » (Voyage au bout de la nuit).

 

   Le Français y est malmené, secoué comme un fétu de paille, submergé sous un flot de reproches assénés par une plume au vitriol. Mais l’homme malmené du Voyage au bout de la nuit à Nord n’est pas seulement le Français, c’est l’Allemand, l’Anglais, l’Américain... En un mot, l’homme blanc. Et si Céline s’emporte à propos des vices proprement spécifiques aux Français (le vin, poison national), il n’en néglige pas pour autant les tares de tous les autres Blancs. C’est cet homme qu’il attaque à travers des pages mouillées de bave rageuse, cet homme décadent. Bardamu – car c’est lui – si faible et si timoré dont le seul courage – mais un courage héroïque, propre à celui qui, se souvenant de sa grandeur passée se sent retomber dans la fange –, est une lucidité effroyable et cynique de son état. Bardamu, mais un Bardamu sans courage, c’est l’homme européen d’aujourd’hui, timoré, exclusivement jouisseur, négrophile, ayant perdu la fierté de son passé et de sa race ; et Céline de vaticiner une apocalyptique humanité de bâtards négrifiés, tous « ahuris par les Juifs au saccage, hypnotisés, dépersonnalisés, dressés aux haines absurdes, fratricides... » (L’École des cadavres). Ces Français, ces Européens, le docteur Céline les a bien connus, tâtés, diagnostiqués : foies cirrhosés, estomacs dilatés, yeux glauques... C’étaient eux, la race des seigneurs. Plus qu’un autre, il a réveillé les Aryens de leur torpeur à grands coups de gifles, il secouait leur apathie, leur incroyable naïveté, leur instinct de lucre et de jouissance...

   Mais mieux qu’un Savonarole, Céline a tracé le chemin de la Réforme.

 

Le Procès de l’Humanité

 

   Ce n’est pas tout de ramener l’homme à ce qu’il est vraiment, encore faut-il comparer les hommes entre eux, faire le procès de l’humanité, des races. Le mérite de Céline est d’avoir été scrupuleusement objectif ; s’il tempête contre les juifs, il lance à l’Aryen des épithètes peu flatteuses. Mais si l’Aryen est décadent, à qui la faute ? À son insatiable appétit de jouissance et, écrit Céline, si l’Aryen est devenu tellement jouisseur, la faute en revient aux juifs qui, poussés par le démon de l’argent, feraient n’importe quoi pour amener les gentils à acheter leurs marchandises et leurs idées. Le juif pour Céline est l’obsession, la hantise. Rendus responsables de tous les maux de l’humanité, Céline les aurait inventés s’ils n’avaient pas existé, tant ils nous apparaissent comme de parfaits boucs émissaires,  trop  parfaits  même.  Le  mot « juif », à force d’être écrit et martelé dans toutes les phrases, finit par devenir le symbole même de la décadence occidentale... Il n’émeut plus, et ce mot, dépassant son sens étymologique, constitue en fin d’analyse les quatre lettres symboliques de décadence, sans pour autant  qu’il faille  conclure  que le  mot « juif » signifie encore israélite.

 

   C’est à travers ces diatribes anti-juives qu’il fouette les Français, les Européens... Peuples paresseux, lâches, ahuris par l’argent, l’envie, l’alcool. « La France est extrêmement vendue, foie, nerf, cerveau, rognons aux grands intérêts vinicoles ». Peuple gourmand aussi, qui règle ses conflits diplomatiques autour d’une table bien garnie et dont les ministres promènent à l’envi leurs grosses bedaines satisfaites. Peuple où tout est conçu pour les sens... peu pour l’esprit. Et par-dessus cet amas de vices, viennent se greffer la haine et la méfiance, tous les hommes se méfient les uns des autres, construisent leur petit monde personnel, écartent le voisin. « Faire confiance aux hommes, c’est déjà se tuer un peu » (Voyage au bout de la nuit). Voilà pour le juif, voilà pour l’Aryen.

 

   Le nègre ne hante pas Céline : les Noirs, il les a connus tout au long de ses périples africains, nus et sauvages ; il a décrit leur situation dans les colonies avec réalisme et sincérité... ce qu’il n’aimait pas chez eux, a-t-il écrit dans Bagatelles pour un massacre, c’était surtout le bruit du tam-tam.

 

   Il ne pouvait deviner avant la guerre, la décolonisation, la « civilisation » ultra-rapide des fils de l’anthropophage. Il ne les prend guère au sérieux... Il a décrit avec sincérité certains mauvais traitements auxquels ils étaient soumis sous le drapeau français, il a fort bien raconté la vie des coloniaux, ces hommes d’Occident qui se décomposaient corps et âme sous le soleil meurtrier d’Afrique et qui se défoulaient parfois sur le nègre. Céline néglige le Noir, ce dernier ne peut être à l’heure actuelle un facteur de décadence, du moins tant qu’il reste en Afrique.

   Reste le Jaune : « Le jaune a toutes les qualités pour devenir le roi de la terre ». Céline ne cache pas l’admiration qu’il porte aux Asiatiques, il admire leur ascétisme, leur calme, leur impassibilité stoïque ; mais il les craint. Avant sa mort, le Jaune était devenu son obsession ultime, il voyait les hordes asiatiques jaillir en Europe et trucider allègrement les Aryens. Ce devait être sa dernière hantise.

 

Vers une ascèse européenne

 

   « On a honte de ne pas être plus riche en cœur et en tout et aussi d’avoir jugé quand même l’humanité plus  basse qu’elle  n’est vraiment au fond ». Après  avoir fait un procès terrible de l’humanité, Céline s’apaise et accorde aux hommes des qualités et des élans qui existent, cachés certes, mais qui, découverts, peuvent conduire un être vers le sommet de ses réalisations.

 

   L’ascétisme, voilà un grand mot pour définir une doctrine célinienne des hommes, ne voyons pas dans ce mot, somme toute fort bizarre, une forme mystique, a fortiori métaphysique ; Céline ne rêve pas de l’Européen ascète comme un Chinois ni comme un moine contemplatif, mais plutôt comme un guerrier nordique qui sait affronter la vie dans les meilleures conditions physiques et morales. L’homme devrait être une espèce de chevalier celtique qui sur son cheval se dirige dans une plaine battue par les vents, tout droit, l’œil fixé sur son but et indifférent à la tempête.

 

   Il ne faut pas non plus croire que l’homme européen devrait être « la belle bête sauvage » de Nietzsche, ou un surhomme en puissance ; ce serait se tromper lourdement sur les buts réformateurs de Céline. Buts qui ne visent qu’à rendre à l’homme une place conforme à ce qu’il est en réalité. Il n’y a pas de dépassement de la nature humaine souhaité par L.-F. Céline.

 

   Car s’il est vrai que l’homme est descendu bien bas, que l’Européen est menacé dans son existence même, il ne peut être sauvé qu’en vivant en conformité avec sa nature de mortel ; seul, écrit Céline, un ascétisme bien compris (un ascétisme à la Labiche, pour l’imiter) permettra à l’homme de contrôler et son corps et son esprit. Écoutons Céline répondre à l’écrivain belge Marc Hanrez qui lui demandait si, selon lui, la race future de l’humanité serait une race d’ascètes. « Ah, uniquement une race d’ascètes ! Des ascètes qui feraient une cure effroyable pour éliminer toutes ces tendances vers la tripaille... Autrement, c’est un monstre. On essayerait d’élever des cochons comme on élève les hommes ; personne n’en voudrait ; des cochons alcooliques ! Nous sommes plus mal élevés que les cochons, beaucoup plus mal élevés que les chiens, les canards ou les poules... Aucune race vivante ne résisterait au régime que suivent les humains. »

 

   Les fondements de cette doctrine de l’ascétisme se retrouvent à partir des pamphlets dont le style si différent des romans est lui-même un instrument éducateur. Comparer Bagatelles pour un massacre à La France juive d’Edouard Drumont serait comparer un volcan à un verre d’eau bouillante. Par le style même, Céline arrache le lecteur de sa béatitude bourgeoise, il le force à suivre, bon gré mal gré, un flot impétueux, dont les remous sont autant de coups infligés aux consciences reposées.

   C’est d’ailleurs la grande révolution des lettres françaises de ce siècle que ce style dont l’originalité et la subtilité ne sont plus à décrire... Car s’il y eut de grands moralistes, de grands réformateurs, force nous est de constater que pas un seul n’a remué autant ses lecteurs que Céline, pas un seul ne put être lu à la fois par l’ouvrier et l’intellectuel, aucun n’a osé appeler les choses par leur nom. La conception de l’homme chez Martin Heidegger – toute considération métaphysique mise à part – et chez Louis-Ferdinand Céline se rejoignent. L’existence de Bardamu, à cette différence près que le docteur Bardamu refuse de réaliser toutes ses possibilités, est que son long voyage au bout de la nuit n’est éclairé par aucun éclair de puissance extrahumaine.

 

La fraternité européenne

 

   « Haïr les Allemands est un acte contre nature ». Cette phrase de Céline que de Gaulle serait normalement le dernier à désapprouver est significative de l’esprit européen de son auteur. Voyageur, l’écrivain a connu l’Europe, l’Amérique et la Russie, il a vécu en Allemagne, en Angleterre, en Scandinavie. Spécialiste des hommes, Céline a compris combien au sein d’un groupe déterminé, les Européens par exemple, les différences artificielles s’estompent. C’est au nom de sa connaissance profonde de l’Européen qu’il se refusera à une guerre voulue – selon lui – par les juifs et les francs- maçons. Sa réponse à Maurras qui préconisait : « Ni Berlin ni Moscou » est significative, elle aussi, de son esprit européen... « Ce n’est pas “Ni Berlin, ni Moscou”, c’est “Avec les juifs ou contre les juifs' » (L’École des cadavres).

 

   Ayant vécu la guerre de 1914, il se permet tout contre elle, lui crache à la figure, l’engueule comme un charretier. Pol Vandromme devait écrire que Céline parle de la guerre non pas avec son cœur, mais avec ses entrailles. « Les Aryens d’Europe n’ont plus trente-six cartes dans leur jeu, deux seulement. La “carte anglaise”, et ils cèdent une fois de plus à l’Intelligence Service, se jetant une fois de plus dans le massacre franco-allemand, dans la plus pharamineuse, fulgurante, exorbitante, folle boucherie qu’on aura jamais déclenchée dans le cours des siècles (peut-être pour la dernière fois : les jaunes sont aux portes !) » (L’École des cadavres). Pourtant, contrairement aux pacifistes de nos jours, qui se prostitueraient au premier envahisseur venu, Céline, après avoir été le chantre du pacifisme, ira s’engager comme volontaire en 1939, opposant ainsi un démenti formel à ceux qui l’accusaient de lâcheté.

 

   Il désire ardemment une Europe « des Aryens » comme il l’appelle, ce qui dénote quand même un sens européen quelque peu obsessionnel.

 

   Mais ce qu’il désire par-dessus tout, c’est la fraternité européenne ; cette fraternité sans cesse violée le long de l’histoire par les caprices et les désirs des « grands » de ce monde. « Nous sommes séparés de l’Allemagne depuis 1100 ans de merde, de conneries furieuses, 1100 ans de mensonges sans arrêt, de trémolos ignobles, de palliatifs vaseux, de rémissions louches, de revanches toujours plus infectes, de solutions pourries » (L’École des cadavres).

 

   Et le voilà à vaticiner sur une Europe future franco-allemande. « Ensemble on commandera l’Europe » (L’École des cadavres), une Europe où toutes les haines «européennes seront sublimées contre les allogènes. Il faut de la haine aux hommes pour vivre, soit ! c’est indispensable, c’est évident, c’est l eur  nature.  Ils  n’ont  qu’à l’avoir pour les juifs, cette haine, pas pour les Allemands » (L’École des cadavres).«La guerre franco-allemande est la condition même, l’industrie suprême de l’Angleterre. C’est la prospérité anglaise toute cuite » (L’École des cadavres).

 

   Non, Céline ne comprenait pas fort bien toute la complexité du problème européen en 1939, et ce n’est certes pas en 1964 que nous devrions appliquer les idées d’un homme de génie, mais dont le « canular » était une raison d’être... Qu’on s’entende bien, je ne conteste pas un certain sens politique à Céline, mais de par son esprit sectaire et exclusif, Céline a faussé, consciemment ou non, beaucoup de données.

 

    Il n’empêche que les pages consacrées à la réconciliation européenne restent des exemples d’une volonté prête à tout faire pour réaliser cette union tant attendue.

 

La morale de l’histoire

 

    Et maintenant que ce souffle prodigieux qui ébranla l’Europe est tombé, que devons-nous attendre de celui qui écrivait dans Les beaux draps : « Une société civilisée, ça ne demande qu’à retourner à rien, déglinguer, redevenir sauvage, c’est un effort perpétuel, un redressement infini... »

   Tout d’abord, une grande leçon.

 

   Les prédictions de Céline se sont réalisées : depuis 1945, l’Europe agonise ; battue, divisée, des soldats étrangers se partagent son territoire, son indépendance économique et politique a disparu. À quand ce qui lui reste d’indépendance culturelle ? Partout nous avons été humiliés, en Algérie où nos soldats quasi vainqueurs ont amené le drapeau sous les huées de la foule et pour la plus grande gloire du communisme et du capitalisme international ; au Congo où nos femmes, nos filles, nos hommes ont été violés ou massacrés, alors que nous ministres traînant leurs gros ventres bégayaient vaguement à l’ONU des paroles de pleutres, de masochistes, de sous-hommes. Partout nous avons été chassés comme de la vermine sans que nous ayons accompli un geste d’homme fort, nous avons quitté le monde, honteux de nous-mêmes et de notre passé... Nous avons laissé au communisme et à l’américanisme l’Indochine française, l’Algérie française, le Congo belge, le Goa portugais, demain peut-être nous leur donnerons l’Angola portugais, l’Afrique du Sud européenne... À moins qu’un ultime sursaut de défense ne vienne nous tirer de notre béate torpeur – de notre merde, dirait Céline.

 

   Nos pays eux-mêmes sont en décomposition : putrides, ils sombrent dans la fange d’un démocratisme honteux et dégradant et dont la démagogie est le plus bel appel à la jouissance matérialiste et concupiscente que nous ayons eu en 2000 ans de Gloire et d’Histoire !

 

   Et que dire alors du peuple européen ahuri par la course à l’argent, par la furie de la jouissance qui le pousse à toutes les prostitutions, à tous les marchandages, à toutes les hontes possibles ?

   Que reste-t-il d’une jeunesse dévirilisée, « yéyétisée », ivre de « vivre », croupissant dans le bourbier du matérialisme jouisseur et despote qui règne en maître actuellement ?

 

   Il faut que le message de Céline résonne à nouveau, tel un oracle à nos oreilles, il faut que se relève de son ignominie l’homme d’Occident déchu. Le message de Céline doit être pour nous un message d’espoir et non le glas de notre destin.

   Revenons à un style de vie plus naturel, adapté à notre tempérament et à nos espérances. Retrouvons l’exacte mesure des choses et des hommes…

   Sinon, le jour de notre décadence, l’énorme rire dionysiaque et prophétique de Louis-Ferdinand Céline nous poursuivra jusque dans notre tombeau.

 

Georges DOMINIQUE

(L’Europe communautaire, 1964)

CD - Ludwig Klages: Das Problem des Menschen

klages-cd.jpg

CD - Ludwig Klages: Das Problem des Menschen  

 

   

Bestellungen: http://www.bublies-verlag.de/

Ludwig Klages
Das Problem des Menschen
Originaltonaufnahmen 1949/1952

1. Das Problem des Menschen (1952) 15:35

2. Grundlagen der Charakterkunde (1949) 28:37


Herausgegeben von Thomas Knoefel und Richard Reschika
Audio-CD, 45 Minuten



Der Lebensphilosoph Ludwig Klages (1872-1956) gehört zu den leidenschaftlichsten und zugleich umstrittensten deutschen Denkern des 20. Jahrhunderts. Als philosophische Prophetenfigur, als konservativer Revolutionär, als radikaler Vordenker der ökologischen Bewegung, aber auch als innovativer Psychologe, welcher der Charakterologie und Ausdruckskunde, insbesondere der anrüchigen Graphologie, wissenschaftliche Geltung verschaffte, hat Klages jenseits des akademischen Mainstream ein Werk von beeindruckender Vielfalt und Spannweite hinterlassen. Dieses kulminiert in dem epochalen Opus magnum "Der Geist als Widersacher der Seele".
Seine rigorose Kultur- und Zivilisationskritik kreist um die Gefährdung des Menschen durch die zersetzende Übermacht des Geistes, das heißt vor allem des rationalen Zweckdenkens, das sich in lebensfeindlicher Wissenschaft und Technik, devotem Mammonsdienst, psychischer Selbstverstümmelung sowie weitreichender Umweltzerstörung äußert.
In den beiden Radioessays "Grundlagen der Charakterkunde" (1949) sowie "Das Problem des Menschen" (1952), den einzig überlieferten Originaltonaufnahmen von Klages, kommt der wissenschaftlich argumentierende Psychologe zu Wort, kommt aber auch jenes Pathos hörbar zum Ausdruck, das für dessen Persönlichkeit und Denken prägend war: ausgefeilte Essays, mit denen Klages gegen die mathematisierenden, die Seele gleichsam austreibenden Tendenzen der akademischen Psychologie seiner Zeit, zum Beispiel in Form der experimentellen Psychologie, der Psychoanalyse oder des Behaviorismus, anschrieb. Kurzum, ein zu Unrecht vergessenes, an originellen und fruchtbaren Denkanstößen überreiches Kapitel der Psychologiegeschichte.

"Klages erinnert an einen protestantischen Pastor mit dem Temperament eines Condottiere: herausragend, explosiv, redegewandt und prophetisch, geheimnisvoll und zugleich hochgebildet. Er ist der am meisten verwirklichte Mensch, dem ich bisher begegnet bin. Dieser Mann gleicht einem Magier, seinem Charme kann sich niemand entziehen." (E.M. Cioran)

Stimmen der Kritik:

"Welch schneidende, harte, barsche, kalte und trotzdem nicht dialektfreie Stimme... Gratulation zu dieser Produktion!" (Ulrich Holbein)

"Die Stimme ist die Überraschung. Gestehen wir es nur, daß sie zunächst fatal an die Lehrer aus der "Feuerzangenbowle" erinnert, mit einem wahrhaft unerhörten, elementarisch gerollten "r", mit einer liebenswürdigen Unkenntnis der englischen Aussprache - Klages, 1872 geboren, kam aus einer Welt, in der das Englische noch nicht selbstverständliche Weltsprache war -, und so vernehmen wir denn die Lehre vom Gegensatz zwischen "bösiness" und Seele. Man kann diese Stimme aber auch ganz anders hören: Dann wirkt sie als Zeichen einer großen inneren Sammlung des Denkers. Sie ist eigentümlich artikuliert, melodisch und dabei ganz offensichtlich das Ergebnis eines bewußten Stilwillens. Es handelt sich hier um zwei Radiovorträge: Zusammen geben sie einen guten Einblick in die Grundideen von Klages und die Ergebnisse seiner Forschungen. Diese gingen vom "Ausdruck" aus, um einer Psychologie Paroli bieten zu können, die sich, um 1900, als Klages seine Theorie zu entwerfen begann, immer stärker an den naturwissenschaftlichen Methoden orientieren wollte. Aber auch zur älteren Physiognomik Lavaters wollte Klages nicht einfach zurückkehren. Die Erforschung des Ausdrucks sollte sich weniger auf feststehende Merkmale richten und dafür ein dynamisches Moment gewinnen, indem sie dem Rhythmus der Ausdrucksbewegungen folgte. Hier war vor allem Charles Darwin sein Vorläufer, der den Ausdruck der Gemütsbewegungen beim Tier und beim Menschen als Forschungsthema entdeckt hatte. Für solche vorbewußten, aus dem vitalen Kern stammenden Ausdrucksgestalten muß Klages ein großartiges Sensorium gehabt haben; man hat den Beweis dafür in der vielfältigen Rezeption, die er gefunden hat, und bei der das überraschende Zeugnis jenes von Sergej Eisenstein darstellt, der sich in seiner Regiearbeit immer wieder, nicht unkritisch, mit Klages' Ausdruckskunde beschäftigte. Und natürlich wäre die gesamte neuere Graphologie undenkbar ohne die Begriffe, die Klages zur Deutung der Handschrift beisteuerte. Diese waren aber keine Zufallsfunde. Hinter ihnen stand begründend eine zivilisationskritische Metaphysik, ja eine heidnische Anschauung vom Wesen des Menschen, deren Formulierung sein Lebenswerk darstellte. Klages unterschied zwischen dem Bewußtsein, dem Geist und dem Willen einerseits und der Spontaneität des Lebens auf der anderen Seite. Wenn Nietzsche in der "priesterlichen Moral" das Grundproblem entdeckt hatte, so verschärfte Klages diesen Gedanken zu einer Schuldgeschichte des Christentums, der alle zerstörerischen Wirkungen der technischen Welt aufgebürdet wurden. In der konzentriertesten, abgeklärtesten Version kann man diese Gedanken nun von ihm selbst hören." (Lorenz Jäger, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung)

mardi, 28 juillet 2009

Le débarquement à Dieppe fut-il un fiasco?

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Erich KÖRNER-LAKATOS:

 

Le débarquement à Dieppe fut-il un fiasco?

 

19 août 1942: dans le courant de l’après-midi la “radio grande-allemande” annonce une nouvelle depuis le quartier général du Führer, le Werwolf, situé alors près de Vinnitza en Ukraine. Après l’habituel morceau de musique, les auditeurs apprennent par leur poste qu’une “invasion” vient d’échouer à l’Ouest.

 

“Le Commandement suprême de la Wehrmacht fait savoir qu’un débarquement de grande ampleur de troupes anglaises, américaines, canadiennes et gaullistes, dont les effectifs s’élèvent à une division pour la première vague, a eu lieu dans les premières heures de la matinée près de Dieppe sur la côte française de la Manche; cette tentative de débarquement a bénéficié de l’appui de forces navales et aériennes importantes et a été soutenue par des blindés; les forces allemandes chargées de défendre la côte ont brisé l’élan de l’ennemi qui avait essuyé des pertes élevées et sanglantes (...)”.

 

Un mois plus tôt, le 22 juillet 1942, Staline avait exigé, sur le ton de l’ultimatum, que ses alliés  occidentaux ouvrissent un second front. En effet, le dictateur soviétique venait d’encaisser l’offensive estivale du groupe d’armées allemandes “Süd”: ses défenses étaient profondément ébranlées et il demandait qu’une offensive à l’Ouest soulage ses propres troupes. Ce sera surtout son représentant à Washington, son ancien ministre des affaires étrangères, Maxime Litvinov, qui insistera pour que les Occidentaux prennent des mesures concrètes. Winston Churchill temporise, promet aux Russes qu’il agira dans un an, car un débarquement exige des préparations de grande ampleur. La première tentative de s’incruster sur le sol français sera donc ce débarquement offensif, tenté sur les côtes normandes de la Manche, près de Dieppe.

 

Cette petite ville se situe dans le département de Seine-Maritime, à environ cent kilomètres au nord-est du Havre. Dès le départ, la tentative de débarquement des Alliés, dont le nom de code était “Jubilee”, connut la malchance. Une partie des trois à quatre cents navires de débarquement rencontra, quand la nuit était encore noire, un convoi de la marine allemande, chargé de surveiller le littoral. Elle perdit ainsi d’emblée tout effet de surprise.

 

A six heures du matin, le débarquement commence en trois endroits. 6100 hommes mettent pied à terre, pour la plupart appartenant à la 2ème Division canadienne du Général Roberts. Des unités de commandos de la Royal Navy les assistent.

 

L’ensemble de l’opération s’effectue sous un parapluie aérien de centaines de Spitfires et Hurricanes. Mais les attaquants se heurtent à une forte résistance, à laquelle ils ne s’attendaient pas: celle des hommes du 71ème Régiment d’infanterie du Lieutenant-Colonel allemand Bartel. L’artillerie côtière allemande est bien placée et les chasseurs Focke-Wulf procurent un appui-feu  appréciable.

 

Les Canadiens sont plus nombreux mais inexpérimentés: ils ne font pas le poids devant les soldats éprouvés de la Wehrmacht dans les combats rapprochés le long des plages. Dans le ciel, toutefois, aucun des deux camps n’a le dessus: les Anglais, les Polonais exilés et les Américains perdent 98 avions, tandis que les Allemands en perdent 91. Vers midi, les Canadiens doivent déjà se replier; leurs chefs décident que le réembarquement aura lieu vers 15 h. Peu parmi les soldats débarqués retourneront ce jour-là en Angleterre, seulement un petit tiers. 1179 attaquants (dont près de 900 Canadiens) tomberont au combat; 2190 seront prisonniers, dont 60 officiers canadiens. Six cents prisonniers sont blessés et soignés sur place. Les Alliés perdent 28 chars et de nombreux navires de débarquement, ainsi que quatre destroyers et sept navires de transport. La Wehrmacht annonce 311 morts ou disparus et 280 blessés.

 

Officiellement, Londres tente de minimiser l’échec de Dieppe comme étant “un exercice armé de reconnaissance”. Pour les Allemands, en revanche, ce 19 août est la journée qui a prouvé que le Mur de l’Atlantique pouvait tenir, sans qu’il ne faille, insistait le haut commandement de la Wehrmacht, engager des réserves supplémentaires, constituées de troupes aguerries.

 

Mais cette propagande allemande cachait la vérité: l’aventure de Dieppe n’est nullement l’échec allié qu’elle a décrit pour les besoins de la cause. L’objectif de l’Opération “Jubilee” n’était pas d’ouvrir un second front à l’Ouest comme le réclamait Staline (pour le faire, il aurait fallu des effectifs bien supérieurs à ceux d’une simple division); ce n’était pas davantage un exercice général en prévision du débarquement de 1944, car on aurait pu le faire à bien moindre prix en Angleterre sous la forme de manoeuvres. Non: l’objectif de “Jubilee” n’était ni plus ni moins “Freya”, la plus moderne des stations radar allemandes, installée près de Dieppe. Son rayon d’action dépassait les 200 km et couvrait une bonne partie de l’Angleterre, ce qui permettait aux Allemands de détecter le décollage des escadres de bombardiers alliés immédiatement après leur envol.

 

C’est pour mener à bien ce coup de main contre “Freya” que les Britanniques ont déployé cette opération commando surdimensionnée. Le personnage-clef de l’opération est un Canadien de 28 ans, d’origine juive-polonaise, Jack Nissenthal. Il était un expert en radar particulièrement doué. Il s’est retrouvé à la pointe des opérations, tout à l’avant, où cela “pétait” le plus. Il était l’un des rares savants qui connaissaient en tous ses détails la technologie alliée des radars. Lors du débarquement de Dieppe, il était flanqué de dix soldats d’élite, non seulement pour sa protection mais pour celle du savoir-faire allié en matières de radar, car ces hommes ont reçu aussi pour mission complémentaire  —et comme ordre strict—  de ne pas laisser Nissenthal tomber vivant aux mains des Allemands. Nissenthal avait d’ailleurs reçu à cette fin une capsule de cyanure.

 

Nissenthal, homme de beaucoup d’allant, athlétique et impétueux, est parvenu, sous une pluie de balles allemandes, en perdant sept de ses gardes-du-corps, à approcher par deux fois l’appareil “Freya” et d’en démonter d’importantes composantes qui ont fourni aux Alliés des connaissances précieuses sur les techniques radar allemandes.

 

Grâce à Dieppe et à Nissenthal, les attaques à grande échelle des bombardiers anglo-saxons sur l’Allemagne ont été rendues possible car les savants alliés avaient constaté qu’il suffisait de tromper les radars allemands en lançant de simple bandes de feuilles d’aluminium. L’effroyable attaque contre Hambourg, qui dura trois jours en 1943 et fut baptisée l’“Opération Gomorrhe”, eut lieu sans que les Allemands n’aient pu organisé la moindre défense sérieuse de la ville hanséatique.

 

Vu dans cette optique, le fiasco apparent de Dieppe est en réalité un succès préparé avec audace et obtenu au prix fort. C’est une entreprise de type “troupe d’assaut” qui a obligé par la suite les Allemands à garnir davantage le Mur de l’Atlantique, avec des forces qui leur ont cruellement manqué ailleurs.

 

Bien entendu, dans le contexte de l’époque, la propagande allemande ne pouvait voir l’affaire sous un tel angle. Dans les actualités allemandes, la “bataille victorieuse” de Dieppe a pris une ampleur considérable: on la passait et la repassait inlassablement au cinéma avant le film de fiction. En plus, les producteurs de reportages de guerre, issus des “PK” (les “compagnies de propagande”),ont publié une sorte de recueil, intitulé “Dieppe – die Bewährung des Küstenwestwalles”  (= “Dieppe – Comment le Mur de la côte occidentale a tenu”).

 

Erich KÖRNER-LAKATOS.

(article paru dans “zur Zeit”, Vienne, n°49/2005, trad. franç. : Robert Steuckers).

vendredi, 17 juillet 2009

W. Furtwängler and Music in the Third Reich

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Wilhelm Furtwängler and Music 

in the Third Reich

Antony Charles  - http://www.gnosticliberationfront.com/

Not only during his lifetime, but also in the decades since his death in 1954, Wilhelm Furtwängler has been globally recognized as one of the greatest musicians of this century, above all as the brilliant primary conductor of the Berlin Philharmonic orchestra, which he lead from 1922 to 1945, and again after 1950. On his death, the Encyclopaedia Britannica commented: "By temperament a Wagnerian, his restrained dynamism, superb control of his orchestra and mastery of sweeping rhythms also made him an outstanding exponent of Beethoven." Furtwängler was also a composer of merit

Underscoring his enduring greatness have been several recent in-depth biographies and a successful 1996 Broadway play, "Taking Sides," that portrays his postwar "denazification" purgatory, as well as steadily strong sales of CD recordings of his performances (some of them available only in recent years). Furtwängler societies are active in the United States, France, Britain, Germany and other countries. His overall reputation, however, especially in America, is still a controversial one.

Following the National Socialist seizure of power in 1933, some prominent musicians -- most notably such Jewish artists as Bruno Walter, Otto Klemperer and Arnold Schoenberg -- left Germany. Most of the nation's musicians, however, including the great majority of its most gifted musical talents, remained -- and even flourished. With the possible exception of the composer Richard Strauss, Furtwängler was the most prominent musician to stay and "collaborate."

Consequently, discussion of his life -- even today -- still provokes heated debate about the role of art and artists under Hitler and, on a more fundamental level, about the relationship of art and politics.

A Non-Political Patriot

Wilhelm Furtwängler drew great inspiration from his homeland's rich cultural heritage, and his world revolved around music, especially German music. Although essentially non-political, he was an ardent patriot, and leaving his fatherland was simply out of the question.

Ideologically he may perhaps be best characterized as a man of the "old" Germany -- a Wilhelmine conservative and an authoritarian elitist. Along with the great majority of his countrymen, he welcomed the demise of the ineffectual democratic regime of Germany's "Weimar republic" (1918-1933). Indeed, he was the conductor chosen to direct the gala performance of Wagner's "Die Meistersinger" for the "Day of Potsdam," a solemn state ceremony on March 21, 1933, at which President von Hindenburg, the youthful new Chancellor Adolf Hitler and the newly-elected Reichstag formally ushered in the new government of "national awakening." All the same, Furtwängler never joined the National Socialist Party (unlike his chief musical rival, fellow conductor Herbert von Karajan).

It wasn't long before Furtwängler came into conflict with the new authorities. In a public dispute in late 1934 with Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels over artistic direction and independence, he resigned his positions as director of the Berlin Philharmonic and as head of the Berlin State Opera. Soon, however, a compromise agreement was reached whereby he resumed his posts, along with a measure of artistic independence. He was also able to exploit both his prestigious position and the artistic and jurisdictional rivalries between Goebbels and Göring to play a greater and more independent role in the cultural life of Third Reich Germany.

From then on, until the Reich's defeat in the spring of 1945, he continued to conduct to much acclaim both at home and abroad (including, for example, a highly successful concert tour of Britain in 1935). He was also a guest conductor of the Vienna Philharmonic, 1939-1940, and at the Bayreuth Festival. On several occasions he led concerts in support of the German war effort. He also nominally served as a member of the Prussian State Council and as vice-president of the "Reich Music Chamber," the state-sponsored professional musicians' association.

Throughout the Third Reich era, Furtwängler's eminent influence on Europe's musical life never diminished.

Cultural Vitality

For Americans conditioned to believe that nothing of real cultural or artistic merit was produced in Germany during the Hitler era, the phrase "Nazi art" is an oxymoron -- a contradiction in terms. The reality, though, is not so simple, and it is gratifying to note that some progress is being made to set straight the historical record.

This is manifest, for example, in the publication in recent years of two studies that deal extensively with Furtwängler, and which generally defend his conduct during the Third Reich: The Devil's Music Master by Sam Shirakawa [reviewed in the Jan.-Feb. 1994 Journal, pp. 41-43] and Trial of Strength by Fred K. Prieberg. These revisionist works not only contest the widely accepted perception of the place of artists and arts in the Third Reich, they express a healthy striving for a more factual and objective understanding of the reality of National Socialist Germany.

Prieberg's Trial of Strength concentrates almost entirely on Furtwängler's intricate dealings with Goebbels, Göring, Hitler and various other figures in the cultural life of the Third Reich. In so doing, he demonstrates that in spite of official measures to "coordinate" the arts, the regime also permitted a surprising degree of artistic freedom. Even the anti-Jewish racial laws and regulations were not always applied with rigor, and exceptions were frequent. (Among many instances that could be cited, Leo Blech retained his conducting post until 1937, in spite of his Jewish ancestry.) Furtwängler exploited this situation to intervene successfully in a number of cases on behalf of artists, including Jews, who were out of favor with the regime. He also championed Paul Hindemith, a "modern" composer whose music was regarded as degenerate.

The artists and musicians who left the country (especially the Jewish ones) contended that without them, Germany's cultural life would collapse. High culture, they and other critics of Hitler and his regime arrogantly believed, would wither in an ardently nationalist and authoritarian state. As Prieberg notes: "The musicians who emigrated or were thrown out of Germany from 1933 onwards indeed felt they were irreplaceable and in consequence believed firmly that Hitler's Germany would, following their departure, become a dreary and empty cultural wasteland. This would inevitably cause the rapid collapse of the regime."

Time would prove the critics wrong. While it is true that the departure of such artists as Fritz Busch and Bruno Walter did hurt initially (and dealt a blow to German prestige), the nation's most renowned musicians -- including Richard Strauss, Carl Orff, Karl Böhm, Hans Pfitzner, Wilhelm Kempff, Elizabeth Schwarzkopf, Herbert von Karajan, Anton Webern, as well as Furtwängler -- remained to produce musical art of the highest standards. Regardless of the emigration of a number of Jewish and a few non-Jewish artists, as well as the promulgation of sweeping anti-Jewish restrictions, Germany's cultural life not only continued at a high level, it flourished.

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The National Socialists regarded art, and especially music, as an expression of a society's soul, character and ideals. A widespread appreciation of Germany's cultural achievements, they believed, encouraged a joyful national pride and fostered a healthy sense of national unity and mission. Because they regarded themselves as guardians of their nation's cultural heritage, they opposed liberal, modernistic trends in music and the other arts, as degenerate assaults against the cultural-spiritual traditions of Germany and the West.

Acting swiftly to promote a broad revival of the nation's cultural life, the new National Socialist government made prodigious efforts to further the arts and, in particular, music. As detailed in two recent studies (Kater's The Twisted Muse and Levi's Music in the Third Reich), not only did the new leadership greatly increase state funding for such important cultural institutions as the Berlin Philharmonic and the Bayreuth Wagner Festival, it used radio, recordings and other means to make Germany's musical heritage as accessible as possible to all its citizens.

As part of its efforts to bring art to the people, it strove to erase classical music's snobbish and "class" image, and to make it widely familiar and enjoyable, especially to the working class. At the same time, the new regime's leaders were mindful of popular musical tastes. Thus, by far most of the music heard during the Third Reich era on the radio or in films was neither classical nor even traditional. Light music with catchy tunes -- similar to those popular with listeners elsewhere in Europe and in the United States -- predominated on radio and in motion pictures, especially during the war years.

The person primarily responsible for implementing the new cultural policies was Joseph Goebbels. In his positions as Propaganda Minister and head of the "Reich Culture Chamber," the umbrella association for professionals in cultural life, he promoted music, literature, painting and film in keeping with German values and traditions, while at the same time consistent with popular tastes.

Hitler's Attitude

No political leader had a keener interest in art, or was a more enthusiastic booster of his nation's musical heritage than Hitler, who regarded the compositions of Beethoven, Wagner, Bruckner and the other German masters as sublime expressions of the Germanic "soul."

Hitler's reputation as a bitter, second rate "failed artist" is undeserved. As John Lukacs acknowledges in his recently published work, The Hitler of History (pp. 70-72), the German leader was a man of real artistic talent and considerable artistic discernment.

We perhaps can never fully understand Hitler and the spirit behind his political movement without knowing that he drew great inspiration from, and identified with, the heroic figures of European legend who fought to liberate their peoples from tyranny, and whose stories are immortalized in the great musical dramas of Wagner and others.

This was vividly brought out by August Kubizek, Hitler's closest friend as a teenager and young man, in his postwar memoir (published in the US under the title The Young Hitler I Knew). Kubizek describes how, after the two young men together attended for the first time a performance in Linz of Wagner's opera "Rienzi," Hitler spoke passionately and at length about how this work's inspiring story of a popular Roman tribune had so deeply moved him. Years later, after he had become Chancellor, he related to Kubizek how that performance of "Rienzi" had radically changed his life. "In that hour it began," he confided.

Hitler of course recognized Furtwängler's greatness and understood his significance for Germany and German music. Thus, when other officials (including Himmler) complained of the conductor's nonconformity, Hitler overrode their objections. Until the end, Furtwängler remained his favorite conductor. He was similarly indulgent toward his favorite heldentenor, Max Lorenz, and Wagnerian soprano Frida Leider, each of whom was married to a Jew. Their cultural importance trumped racial or political considerations.

Postwar Humiliations

A year and a half after the end of the war in Europe, Furtwängler was brought before a humiliating "denazification" tribunal. Staged by American occupation authorities and headed by a Communist, it was a farce. So much vital information was withheld from both the tribunal and the defendant that, Shirakawa suggests, the occupation authorities may well have been determined to "get" the conductor.

In his closing remarks at the hearing, Furtwängler defiantly defended his record:

The fear of being misused for propaganda purposes was wiped out by the greater concern for preserving German music as far as was possible ... I could not leave Germany in her deepest misery. To get out would have been a shameful flight. After all, I am a German, whatever may be thought of that abroad, and I do not regret having done it for the German people.

Even with a prejudiced judge and serious gaps in the record, the tribunal was still unable to establish a credible case against the conductor, and he was, in effect, cleared.

A short time later, Furtwängler was invited to assume direction of the Chicago Symphony. (He was no stranger to the United States: in 1927-29 he had served as visiting conductor of the New York Philharmonic.)

On learning of the invitation, America's Jewish cultural establishment launched an intense campaign -- spearheaded by The New York Times, musicians Artur Rubinstein and Vladimir Horowitz, and New York critic Ira Hirschmann -- to scuttle Furtwängler's appointment. As described in detail by Shirakawa and writer Daniel Gillis (in Furtwängler and America) the campaigners used falsehoods, innuendos and even death threats.

Typical of its emotionally charged rhetoric was the bitter reproach of Chicago Rabbi Morton Berman:

Furtwängler preferred to swear fealty to Hitler. He accepted at Hitler's hands his reappointment as director of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra. He was unfailing in his service to Goebbels' ministry of culture and propaganda ... The token saving of a few Jewish lives does not excuse Mr. Furtwängler from official, active participation in a regime which murdered six million Jews and millions of non-Jews. Furtwängler is a symbol of all those hateful things for the defeat of which the youth of our city and nation paid an ineffable price.

Among prominent Jews in classical music, only the famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin defended the German artist. After Furtwängler was finally obliged to withdrew his name from consideration for the Chicago post, a disillusioned Moshe Menuhin, Yehudi's father, scathingly denounced his co-religionists. Furtwängler, he declared,

was a victim of envious and jealous rivals who had to resort to publicity, to smear, to calumny, in order to keep him out of America so it could remain their private bailiwick. He was the victim of the small fry and puny souls among concert artists, who, in order to get a bit of national publicity, joined the bandwagon of professional idealists, the professional Jews and hired hands who irresponsibly assaulted an innocent and humane and broad-minded man ...

A Double Standard

Third Reich Germany is so routinely demonized in our society that any acknowledgment of its cultural achievements is regarded as tantamount to defending "fascism" and that most unpardonable of sins, anti-Semitism. But as Professor John London suggests (in an essay in The Jewish Quarterly, "Why Bother about Fascist Culture?," Autumn 1995), this simplistic attitude can present awkward problems:

Far from being a totally ugly, unpopular, destructive entity, culture under fascism was sometimes accomplished, indeed beautiful ... If you admit the presence, and in some instances the richness, of a culture produced under fascist regimes, then you are not defending their ethos. On the other hand, once you start dismissing elements, where do you stop?

In this regard, is it worth comparing the way that many media and cultural leaders treat artists of National Socialist Germany with their treatment of the artists of Soviet Russia. Whereas Furtwängler and other artists who performed in Germany during the Hitler era are castigated for their cooperation with the regime, Soviet-era musicians, such as composers Aram Khachaturian and Sergei Prokofiev, and conductors Evgeny Svetlanov and Evgeny Mravinsky -- all of whom toadied to the Communist regime in varying degrees -- are rarely, if ever, chastised for their "collaboration." The double standard that is clearly at work here is, of course, a reflection of our society's obligatory concern for Jewish sensitivities.

The artist and his work occupy a unique place in society and history. Although great art can never be entirely divorced from its political or social environment, it must be considered apart from that. In short, art transcends politics.

No reasonable person would denigrate the artists and sculptors of ancient Greece because they glorified a society that, by today's standards, was hardly democratic. Similarly, no one belittles the builders of medieval Europe's great cathedrals on the grounds that the social order of the Middle Ages was dogmatic and hierarchical. No cultured person would disparage William Shakespeare because he flourished during England's fervently nationalistic and anti-Jewish Elizabethan age. Nor does anyone chastise the magnificent composers of Russia's Tsarist era because they prospered under an autocratic regime. In truth, mankind's greatest cultural achievements have most often been the products not of liberal or egalitarian societies, but rather of quite un-democratic ones.

A close look at the life and career of Wilhelm Furtwängler reveals "politically incorrect" facts about the role of art and artists in Third Reich Germany, and reminds us that great artistic creativity and achievement are by no means the exclusive products of democratic societies.

Bibliography

Gillis, Daniel. Furtwängler and America. Palo Alto: Rampart Press, 1970

Kater, Michael H. The Twisted Muse: Musicians and Their Music in the Third Reich. New York: Oxford University Press, 1997

Levi, Erik. Music in the Third Reich. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1994

Prieberg, Fred K. Trial of Strength: Wilhelm Furtwängler in the Third Reich. Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1994

Shirakawa, Sam H. The Devil's Music Master: The Controversial Life and Career of Wilhelm Furtwängler. New York: Oxford University Press, 1992

A Note on Wartime Recordings

Among the most historically fascinating and sought-after recordings of Wilhelm Furtwängler performances are his live wartime concerts with the Berlin and Vienna Philharmonic orchestras. Many were recorded by the Reich Broadcasting Company on magnetophonic tape with comparatively good sound quality. Music & Arts (Berkeley, California) and Tahra (France) have specialized in releasing good quality CD recordings of these performances. Among the most noteworthy are:

Beethoven, Third "Eroica" Symphony (1944) -- Tahra 1031 or Music & Arts CD 814

Beethoven, Fifth Symphony (1943) -- Tahra set 1032/33, which also includes Furtwängler's performances of this same symphony from 1937 and 1954.

Beethoven, Ninth "Choral" Symphony (1942) -- Music & Arts CD 653 or Tahra 1004/7.

Brahms, Four Symphonies -- Music & Arts set CD 941 (includes two January 1945 performances, Furtwängler's last during the war).

Bruckner, Fifth Symphony (1942) -- Music & Arts CD 538

Bruckner, Ninth Symphony (1944) -- Music & Arts CD 730 (also available in Europe on Deutsche Gramophon CD, and in the USA as an import item).

R. Strauss, "Don Juan" (1942), and Four Songs, with Peter Anders (1942), etc. -- Music & Arts CD 829.

Wagner, "Die Meistersinger:" Act I, Prelude (1943), and "Tristan und Isolde:" Prelude and Liebestod (1942), etc. -- Music & Arts CD 794.

Wagner, "Der Ring des Nibelungen," excerpts from "Die Walküre" and "Gotterdämmerung" -- Music & Arts set CD 1035 (although not from the war years, these 1937 Covent Garden performances are legendary)

"Great Conductors of the Third Reich: Art in the Service of Evil" is a worthwhile 53-minute VHS videocassette produced by the Bel Canto Society (New York). Released in 1997, it is distributed by Allegro (Portland, Oregon). It features footage of Furtwängler conducting Beethoven's Ninth Symphony for Hitler's birthday celebration in April 1942. He is also shown conducting at Bayreuth, and leading a concert for wounded soldiers and workers at an AEG factory during the war. Although the notes are highly tendentious, the rare film footage is fascinating.

About the author:

Antony Charles is the pen name of an educator and writer who holds both a master's and a doctoral degree in history. He has taught history and is the author of several books. A resident of North Carolina, he currently works for a government agency.

Reproduced From:  The Institute of Historical Review

 

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mardi, 14 juillet 2009

Une étude néerlandaisesur Malraux, Drieu, Nizan et Brasillach

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Souffrir de l’air du temps...

Une étude néerlandaise sur Malraux, Drieu, Nizan et Brasillach

 

Un livre vient de sortir de presse aux Pays-Bas: celui de Marleen Rensen, professeur de “lettres européennes modernes” à l’Université d’Amsterdam. Il est intitulé: “Lijden aan de tijd – Franse intellectuelen in het interbellum” (= “Souffrir de l’air du temps – les intellectuels français pendant l’entre-deux-guerres”). Ce livre se vendra-t-il? Je ne sais pas. Il est la version grand public d’une thèse de doctorat portant sur la façon dont quatre écrivains français, André Malraux, Pierre Drieu la Rochelle, Paul Nizan et Robert Brasillach, affrontent leur époque dans leur oeuvre, songent au temps qui passe et en sont obsédés. Indubitablement, c’est là un bon sujet. Mais, hélas, le public potentiel me semble bien réduit aujourd’hui, qui s’intéresse encore à la littérature engagée de cette époque-là et qui, de surcroît, serait prêt à se farcir des considérations d’ordre philologique, bien difficiles à ingurgiter. Et nous sommes les premiers à le déplorer. En tout cas, l’éditeur prêt à tout, aux Pays-Bas, “Aspekt” de Soesterberg, mérite nos applaudissements pour avoir publié une fois de plus un ouvrage difficile, peu commercialisable. Il faut oser le faire.

 

L’analyse que propose Marleen Rensen de quatre romans d’avant-guerre, représentatifs de ce qu’elle appelle la “génération anti-Proust”, est remarquable, mais je formulerais tout de même quelques critiques sur l’un ou l’autre détail de son travail. Je rassure: mes critiques ne portent pas sur le fond mais sur des détails, des points et des virgules, de petites inexactitudes que Marleen Rensen aurait pu éviter.  Il est inexact d’affirmer, par exemple, que l’écrivain communiste Nizan ait d’abord été membre du “Faisceau” de Georges Valois dans les années 20. Il est tout aussi inexact d’étiqueter ce mouvement de “fascistoïde”, comme le fait Marleen Rensen: c’est à coup sûr une exagération. Le terme “fascistoïde” est vague; il relève du langage pamphlétaire et non pas de la terminologie scientifique; raison pour laquelle j’éviterais de l’utiliser dans une thèse. Valois entendait, faut-il le rappeler, dissoudre son mouvement dans le front des gauches vers le milieu des années 30, donc, sa milice ne peut guère être qualifiée de “fascistoïde”. De surcroît, dans une thèse, elle aurait dû signaler, pour être exhaustive, le fait très révélateur que pendant l’occupation, le fondateur du “Faisceau” a été déporté par les Allemands à Bergen-Belsen à la suite de ses activités jugées subversives. Il y est décédé le 16 février 1945.

 

Encore une inexactitude de la même veine: le “Parti Social Français”, d’inspiration chrétienne et nationaliste, placé sous la houlette du Colonel François de la Rocque, est qualifié de “fasciste” en page 95 de l’ouvrage. François Mitterrand en était un sympathisant quand il était étudiant. Cette affirmation n’est guère scientifique. Le PSF de droite catholique était certes une formation antiparlementaire mais ne s’est jamais égaré dans les eaux de l’antisémitisme comme le PPF de Jacques Doriot. François de la Rocque a subi lui aussi la déportation pour faits de résistance, d’abord vers un camp annexe de Flossenburg, ensuite au château d’Itter qui dépendait du camp de Dachau. Je tiens à rectifier, dans les cas de Valois et de de la Rocque, car il faut veiller à ne pas coller partout, et sans discernement, l’étiquette de “fasciste”.

 

Mais, en dépit de mon pointillisme, je ne dénigre nullement l’ensemble du travail de Marleen Rensen, constitué d’analyses hors pair de quatre romans intemporels que l’on lit aussi dans bon nombre d’universités, y compris en Flandre: “L’espoir” du “fellow traveller” André Malraux, “Le cheval de Troie” du communiste Paul Nizan, “Gilles” du fasciste Drieu la Rochelle et “Les sept couleurs” de Robert Brasillach, rédacteur en chef du journal collaborationniste “Je suis partout”, fusillé en 1945. Ces quatre hommes se connaissaient avant la guerre. Drieu et Malraux étaient de bons amis et le restèrent en dépit de leurs divergences d’opinion fondamentales sur le plan idéologique. Drieu, tempérament narcissique, s’est suicidé en mars 1945. Malraux, personnalité mythomane, s’est converti au gaullisme et a réussi à se hisser au poste de ministre de la culture après 1958. Nizan et Brasillach avaient tous deux fréquenté la fameuse “Ecole Normale Supérieure”, comme Sartre, et écrivaient des recensions sur leurs ouvrages respectifs. Nizan est devenu communiste vers 1930 mais a quitté le parti après le pacte de non-agression germano-soviétique d’août 1939. Il est mort en combattant devant Dunkerque. Le parti l’a stigmatisé ensuite, lui a collé l’étiquette de “traître”.

 

Les modes d’engagement de ces hommes étaient différents, mais “Lijden aan tijd” nous montre de manière fort convaincante que les quatre écrivains se heurtaient, dans leurs oeuvres, au thème du temps, plus exactement tentaient de donner des recettes à leurs contemporains pour qu’ils sachent comment vivre (intensément) leur époque. On retrouve ce souci dans les multiples essais que nos quatre auteurs ont rédigés. Le point de départ de leurs réflexions est sans nul doute aucun la première guerre mondiale, qui apporte, explique Marleen Rensen, aux quatre écrivains une conception historique du temps, laquelle marque une différence fondamentale entre leur démarche engagée et celle, esthétique et individualiste, d’un auteur comme Marcel Proust, dont le monumental “A la recherche du temps perdu” constitue, in fine, une introspection personnelle, non chronologique, soustraite au temps social, politique et historique, bien éloigné de tout engagement social. Mais s’il peut paraître paradoxal que Proust ait été largement apprécié par les deux “fascistes” que furent Drieu et Brasillach.

 

Proust était déjà considéré comme “suranné” en son temps, où, effectivement, avec nos quatre auteurs, toute une génération s’est dressée: elle voulait que la littérature épouse les passions de l’histoire.

 

Mais Proust va gagner, conclut Rensen. “On remarquera que le roman postmoderne actuel semble revenir aux oeuvres de Proust, Mann, Gide, Joyce et Woolf, sur les plans du style et de la composition... Tandis que l’esthétique des écrivains modernistes reste de nos jours un modèle littéraire important, le style -et le style romanesque- de Brasillach, Drieu, Malraux et Nizan ne sont restés qu’un phénomène éphémère, lié à une période historique restreinte”. Pourtant, ajouterais-je, la postmodernité est, elle aussi, phénomène de mode. Le temps peut tout changer.

 

“Guitry”/’t Pallieterke.

(article paru dans ’t Pallieterke, Anvers, 10 juin 2009, trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

 

 

dimanche, 12 juillet 2009

Knut Hamsun sauvé par Staline!

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Knut Hamsun sauvé par Staline!

 

Cette année 2009 célèbre le 150ème anniversaire de Knut Hamsun (1859-1952). Le romancier norvégien, né Knut Pedersen, est, avec Hendrik Ibsen, l’écrivain norvégien le plus lu et le plus traduit dans le monde. En 1890, Knut Hamsun fait ses début avec son roman “La faim” qui innove quant à la manière d’écrire. Ce roman fut d’emblée un grand succès et amorça une carrière littéraire longue et productive. En 1920, Knut Hamsun obtient le Prix Nobel de littérature. Son influence sur la littérature européenne et américaine est énorme et d’une importance inestimable. Des écrivains comme Ernest Hemingway, Henry Miller, Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Hermann Hesse, Franz Kafka, Thomas Mann et I. B. Singer ont été inspirés par le talent de Knut Hamsun. Singer l’appelait le “père de la littérature moderne”. En Flandre, deux écrivains, Felix Timmermans et Gerard Walschap, ont reçu l’inspiration du Prix Nobel norvégien.

 

En Norvège, le 150ème anniversaire de la naissance de Knut Hamsun sera célébré par des expositions, des productions théâtrales et une conférence internationale. L’une des principales places d’Oslo, située juste à côté de l’Opéra national, portera dorénavant son nom. On érigera enfin un monument en son honneur. On dirait que les Norvégiens viennent de découvrir le nom de leur très célèbre compatriote. Ces derniers temps, un grand nombre de villes et de villages ont donné son nom à une place ou à une rue. A l’endroit où il résidait, à Hamaroy, on ouvrira officiellement un “Centre Knut Hamsun”, le 4 août, jour de son anniversaire. Ce jour-là, un timbre poste spécial sera émis. Pourtant, Knut Hamsun a été conspué et vilipendé pendant des décennies par l’établissement norvégien.

 

Goebbels

 

Hamsun a mené une vie de nomade pendant la majeure partie de son existence. Il est né fils d’un pauvre tailleur. Son père, démuni, le confia à un oncle riche. Le garçonnet devait travailler pour cet oncle afin de rembourser les dettes que ses parents avaient contractées auprès de ce dernier, âpre au gain. Au bout de quatre ans, le jeune garçon, alors âgé de quatorze ans, en a eu assez de cet oncle et s’en alla de par le vaste monde. Deux fois, la faim le poussa à émigrer aux Etats-Unis où il exerça trente-six mille petits métiers. Avec, toujours, un même objectif en tête: devenir écrivain. Son modèle était son compatriote Björnstjerne Björnson.

 

Après sa percée littéraire avec “La faim”, Hamsun devint incroyablement productif. Il devait une large part de son succès aux traductions allemandes de son oeuvre. Ses livres y connaissaient des tirages fantastiques. Grâce à son éditeur allemand, Hamsun a enfin pu connaître, après tant d’années de misère noire, la sécurité financière. Mais il y eut plus. L’écrivain norvégien n’a jamais dissimulé sa germanophilie. Qui, de surcroît, prenait davantage de relief au fur et à mesure que grandissait son anglophobie. L’arrogance britannique le révulsait. Il ne put plus la tolérer après la Guerre des Boers et les interventions musclées en Irlande. A ses yeux, les Britanniques ne méritaient plus aucune attention, rien que du mépris. A cette anglophobie s’ajouta bien vite son anti-communisme.

 

Pendant l’occupation allemande de la Norvège (1940-45), il aida certes l’occupant mais demeura avant tout un patriote norvégien intransigeant. Dans ses articles, Knut Hamsun exhortait ses compatriotes à s’engager comme volontaires pour aider les Allemands à combattre le bolchevisme. Le Président américain Roosevelt était, à ses yeux, un “juif de service”. Il fut reçu par Hitler et Goebbels avec tous les honneurs. La rencontre avec Hitler eut des effets sur le long terme. D’abord, Hamsun, atteint de surdité, foula les règles du protocole aux pieds et exigea du Führer le renvoi du gouverneur allemand Terboven, craint et haï. Personne n’avait jamais eu le toupet de parler sur ce ton à Hitler et ne l’avait à ce point brusqué. L’intervention de Hamsun eut toutefois des effets: après sa visite à Hitler, les exécutions arbitraires d’otages ont cessé.

 

La potence?

 

Le 26 mai 1945, Hamsun et son épouse, une national-socialiste convaincue, sont mis aux arrêts à domicile. Pour des raisons peu claires, Hamsun est déclaré “psychiquement dérangé” et enfermé pendant un certain dans une clinique psychiatrique d’Oslo. Le gouvernement de gauche voulait se débarrasser de lui mais, mise à part sa germanophilie, on ne pouvait rien lui reprocher. Il n’avait jamais été membre de quoi que ce soit. Bien au contraire! Grâce à lui, bon nombre de vies avaient été épargnées. Certes, il avait refusé de nier la sympathie qu’il éprouvait pour Hitler. Fin 1945, le ministre soviétique des affaires étrangères, Molotov, fait savoir à son collègue norvégien Trygve Lie qu’il “serait regrettable de voir la Norvège condamner son plus grand écrivain à la potence”. Molotov avait entamé cette démarche avec l’accord de Staline. C’est après cette intervention que le gouvernement norvégien renonça à faire le procès de Hamsun et se borna à lui infliger une solide amende qui le mena quasiment à la faillite. La question reste ouverte: la Norvège aurait-elle condamné le vieillard Hamsun à la peine de mort? Les collaborateurs norvégiens ont tous été condamnés à de lourdes peines. Mais l’Union Soviétique pouvait exercer une influence forte et redoutée en Scandinavie dans l’immédiat après-guerre.

 

Jusqu’à sa mort en février 1952, le gouvernement norvégien a traité Hamsun comme un délinquent de droit commun. Il a fallu attendre soixante ans pour qu’il soit réhabilité.

 

(texte issu de l’hebdomadaire anversois “ ’t Pallierterke”, 24 juin 2009; trad. franç.: Robert Steuckers).

lundi, 06 juillet 2009

Wann war das Dritte Reich?

Wann war das Dritte Reich?

Betrachtungen zu Beginn und Ende der Imperii auf deutschem Boden

von Richard G. Kerschhofer - http://www.ostpreussen.de/

Von wann bis wann existierte das Dritte Reich. Von 1933 bis 1945, werden viele sagen und vielleicht ergänzen, von der Machtergreifung am 30. Januar 1933 bis zur Kapitulation am 9. Mai 1945. Leider unrichtig, wie zu zeigen ist. Außerdem ist Hitlers Bestellung zum Reichskanzler nicht „die Machtergreifung“, denn die war ein Vorgang, der lange vor 1933 begonnen hatte und sich danach noch fortsetzte. Bis alle gleichgeschaltet oder ausgeschaltet waren.

Begonnen haben kann das Dritte Reich erst nach dem Ende des Zweiten Reiches – doch wann war das? Ebenfalls eine schwierige Frage. Der Anfang hingegen ist eindeutig: Das Zweite Reich, das „Wilhelminische Deutschland“, begann am 18. Januar 1871, als König Wilhelm I. von Preußen zum Deutschen Kaiser ausgerufen wurde.

Ebenso eindeutig sind die Eckdaten beim „Ersten Reich“, auch „Altes Reich“ genannt. Es begann am 2. Februar 962, als der zum deutschen König gewählte Sachsenherzog Otto I. von Papst Johannes XII. in Rom zum Kaiser gekrönt wurde. Dieses Reich ist später als „Sacrum Imperium“ belegt, dann als „Sacrum Romanum Imperium“ – Heiliges Römisches Reich – und am Beginn der Neuzeit wurde „deutscher Nation“ hinzugefügt. Es endete am 6. August 1806, als Kaiser Franz II. die Reichskrone niederlegte. Er hatte bereits 1804 das Erzherzogtum Österreich zum Kaisertum gemacht und war Kaiser Franz I. von Österreich geworden. Aber durfte der Kaiser das Reich beenden? Ob er durfte oder nicht – er mußte, auf Druck Napoleons.

Das Alte Reich war kein Nationalstaat, nicht einmal ein Staat im modernen Sinn – und schon lange vor Napoleon nur mehr eine Fiktion. Goethe läßt in Auerbachs Keller den einen Saufkumpan ein Spottlied auf dieses Reich anstimmen. Ein anderer bringt ihn zum Schweigen: „Ein garstig Lied! Pfui! Ein politisch Lied.“ Aber das wahrhaft Garstige war der dynastische Egoismus deutscher Fürsten, der das Reich in den Untergang trieb und die Anrainer zum Raub von Reichsgebiet einlud.

Das Erste Reich nannte sich nie „Erstes Reich“, denn kein Reich nimmt an, daß danach noch eines kommt. Auch das Zweite Reich nannte sich nicht „Zweites Reich“, denn für die allermeisten war es keine Wiedergeburt des Ersten Reiches. Es war ein weltliches Reich, keines „von Gottes Gnaden“, und es verkörperte nur die „kleindeutsche Lösung“, war also eher ein „großpreußisches Reich“.

Woher stammen dann die Ausdrücke „Erstes Reich“, „Zweites Reich“, „Drittes Reich“ und „Tausendjähriges Reich“? Sie kommen allesamt aus der Religion. Sie hängen zusammen mit dem „Millenarismus“ (lateinisch) oder „Chiliasmus“ (griechisch), mit dem Glauben an die Wiederkunft des Messias. Für „Drittes Reich“ steht auch „Tausendjähriges Reich“ – wobei „tausendjährig“ nach Ablauf des ersten Jahrtausends nicht mehr wörtlich genommen wurde, sondern soviel wie „ewig“ bedeuten sollte.

Erstmals in politischem Sinn verwendete diese Ausdrücke der deutsche Kulturhistoriker und Politiktheoretiker Arthur MOELLER VAN DEN BRUCK in seinem Buch „Das dritte Reich“ (1923). „Parteigenosse“ war er keiner und er starb schon 1925. Ob man ihn als „Wegbereiter“ bezeichnen kann, ist Geschmackssache, aber sicher erleichterte er die Arbeit nationalsozialistischer Ideologen. „Drittes Reich“ und „Tausendjähriges Reich“ paßten trefflich in das mythisch-mystische Gedankengebäude, das der religionsartigen Überhöhung einer durchaus weltlichen Politik diente. „Drittes Reich“ wird heute zwar pauschal für die NS-Zeit verwendet, war aber nicht mehr als ein Schlagwort der Propaganda. Es hatte nie ein Territorium und war nie ein Völkerrechtssubjekt.

Eines ist noch offen: Wann endete das Zweite Reich? Sicher nicht 1918, wie das die Nationalsozialisten sahen. Denn 1918 wie 1933/34 änderte sich jeweils nur die Regierungsform. 1938 entstand ein „Großdeutsches Reich“, das beinahe den großdeutschen Vorstellungen des 19. Jahrhunderts entsprach. Aber auch wenn im „Anschluß-Gesetz“ (RGBl Nr. 28 vom 18.3.1938) „Großdeutsches Volksreich“ steht – völkerrechtlich blieb es wie 1918 das „Deutsche Reich“.

Der Ausdruck „Drittes Reich“ war jetzt nicht mehr erwünscht und ab 10. Juli 1939 auf Weisung von Goebbels den Medien sogar untersagt. „Großdeutsches Reich“ findet sich im Gesetz zur Einverleibung der Rest-Tschechoslowakei (RGBl Nr. 47 vom 16.3.1939) und in anderen amtlichen Texten. Jener Erlaß der Reichskanzlei, der das Deutsche Reich auch formell in „Großdeutsches Reich“ umbenannte (RK 7669 E vom 26. Juni 1943), wurde aber nicht mehr publiziert. „Großdeutsches Reich“ stand nur auf den Briefmarken.

Anders als das Heilige Römische Reich Deutscher Nation wurde das Deutsche Reich nie durch irgendeinen Formalakt für beendet erklärt – nicht durch die Kapitulation, nicht durch die Besatzungsmächte, nicht durch Gründung der Bundesrepublik Deutschland und der Deutschen Demokratischen Republik, ja nicht einmal durch den „Zwei-Plus-Vier-Vertrag“. So wurde die Bundesrepublik zwar Rechtsnachfolgerin des nie für tot erklärten Reiches – mit allen daraus erwachsenen Nachteilen. Friedensvertrag gibt es aber keinen. Und auch Österreich hat nur einen „Staatsvertrag“ mit Einschränkungen der Souveränität, darunter das „Anschlußverbot“.

vendredi, 19 juin 2009

Céline: le voyage à Berlin

Louis-Ferdinand Céline : Le voyage à Berlin

Le Bulletin célinien n°309, juin 2009 : C'est en mars 1942 que Céline effectua un voyage de cinq jours à Berlin. Échaudé par la confiscation de son or déposé en Hollande, l'écrivain avait pour objectif de confier à son amie danoise Karen Marie Jensen la clé et la combinaison de son coffre bancaire à Copenhague, et ce afin qu'elle mette l'argent en lieu sûr. C'est en compagnie de Lucette, Gen Paul et deux confrères médecins, Auguste Bécart et Jean-Claude Rudler, qu'il fit ce voyage. C'est donc sous le couvert d'un voyage scientifique et médical que Céline put se rendre en Allemagne. Au cours de ce séjour, on lui demanda de rendre une visite au Foyer des ouvriers français de Berlin et d'y prononcer une allocution. Après la guerre, Céline résuma à sa façon la teneur de son intervention : « Ouvriers français. Je vais vous dire une bonne chose, je vous connais bien, je suis des vôtres, ouvrier comme vous, ceux-là (les Allemands) ils sont moches, ils disent qu'ils vont gagner la guerre, j'en sais rien. Les autres, les russes, de l'autre côté, ne valent pas mieux. lis sont peut-être pires ! C'est une affaire de choix entre le choléra et la peste ! C'est pas drôle. Salut ! » Et d'ajouter : « La consternation au "Foyer" fut grande ». Le fait que la causerie de Céline laissa une impression mitigée n'est pas douteux. En témoigne le compte rendu, paru le 12 mars 1942, dans Le Pont, «hebdomadaire de l'amicale des travailleurs français en Allemagne» financé par le Reich. Le pessimisme de Céline, politiquement incorrect avant la lettre, ne fit assurément pas l'affaire de ceux qui l'avaient pressenti pour galvaniser ces travailleurs français qui avaient choisi de venir travailler outre-Rhin.

La séance hebdomadaire du groupe d'études sociales et politiques fut ouverte à 20 heures par notre camarade chargé de la direction du groupe. En quelques mots, il présenta Louis-Ferdinand Céline qui doit prendre la parole. C'est alors que le « docteur » se leva et vint s'asseoir à la table du conférencier.
Céline entra de suite dans le sujet. Sans détours, il ne cacha pas son opinion, acquise d'après une longue expérience personnelle, qu'il était très difficile de réunir les Français à l'étranger et de les faire s'entendre, sinon s'aimer.

Cependant, comme pour lui donner un démenti, la salle était fort bien remplie d'auditeurs avides de ses paroles. Et les débuts de son allocution furent quelque peu troublés par de nombreux retardataires qui faisaient grincer la porte d'entrée. En quelques mots, Céline eut vite fait de créer l'atmosphère, « son atmosphère ». « Je vais vous parler tout simplement, je ne vous ferai pas de discours, ni de conférence, mais vous parlerai comme en famille. Je suis un enfant du peuple, et suis resté tel. J'ai fait mes études de médecine, non pas comme étudiant mais comme travailleur. Je fais partie du peuple et le connais bien ». Et Céline commença immédiatement un diagnostic sévère de la maladie qui, selon lui, atteint chacun de nous. Faisant une allusion poétique, il fit remarquer qu'entre Villon et Chénier il y avait eu quatre siècles de « non lyrisme ». Cette période avait donc, à son avis, provoqué en partie du moins la sécheresse d'âme qui caractérise trop d'entre nous. Nous manquons d'idéal, c'est un fait ; mais nous a-t-on appris à en avoir, ou même à en désirer ? Non, et c'est pour cela que notre maladie est très grave. Et Céline ne craint pas de nous dire nos « quatre vérités ». Nous souffrons d'un mal très sérieux, par suite d'un manque quasi total de lyrisme, d'idéalisme.

Le docteur-écrivain nous dit ensuite son opinion sur les multiples causes de notre mal, et sa conviction qu'il avait de notre exploitation par les juifs qui « savent admirablement nous opposer les uns aux autres »...
L'intérêt du juif est de nous diviser en partis opposés, de façon à donner excuse à notre nonchalance. On rejette les fautes sur l'opposant, ainsi artificiellement créé. La lutte des partis n'est qu'une splendide invention d'Israël. Ensuite Céline montra combien nous avons été vexés de nous être laissés tromper. Il s'éleva alors contre la mentalité du joueur qui s'obstine. « J'ai perdu certes, mais il n'est pas possible qu'en persévérant je ne gagne pas, car j'ai tout bien misé, prévu, je dois donc finir par gagner. »
Céline s'adressa ensuite aux communistes éventuels, avec la franchise qui le caractérise. Que pensez-vous qu'il vous arriverait en cas d'une victoire des Soviets ? « Mais vous serez immédiatement déportés en Sibérie, avant les bourgeois même. Une fois votre "utilité" passée, vous deviendriez plus dangereux et inutiles que les modérés. »

Finalement, Céline dressa un très sombre tableau de la situation, et ne laissa entrevoir aucune issue. À un tel point, que les visages commençaient à montrer de l'étonnement, pour ne pas dire de l'indignation dans la salle comble. « Nous ne sommes tout de même pas aussi vils et laids qu'il veut bien nous le dire » aurait-on pu lire sur chaque face. Et Céline termina son spirituel exposé, ayant ainsi atteint le but qu'il cherchait. Il avait « piqué au vif », réveillé pour un moment nos sens endormis par cent cinquante ans de Déclaration des droits de l'homme, déclarations jamais suivies des « devoirs de l'homme ».

Le délégué du groupement d'études sociales et politiques du Foyer vint alors remercier le célèbre auteur des Beaux draps de son intéressant exposé, aussi spirituel que vivant. Il dit cependant sa conviction que « tout n'était pas perdu ». Si tout le monde n'a pas encore tout à fait
« compris », il n'en existe pas moins une minorité agissante et décidée, dont nous avons parmi nous ce soir un exemple en la personne d'un de nos camarades, de passage à Berlin, en permission, du front de l'Est. « J'aimerais beaucoup que notre camarade réponde à Céline », déclara alors l'orateur, et nous montre ainsi ce que pensent « ceux qui ont confiance quand même, parce qu'ils agissent ». C'est alors que se leva un jeune légionnaire français. En quelques paroles, il sut montrer à l'auditoire enthousiasmé que l'horizon n'était pas aussi sombre que Céline avait bien voulu nous le dépeindre. Il dit sa conviction personnelle, qui se trouvait être la nôtre d'ailleurs, que Céline avait voulu « piquer au vif » son auditoire.

« Certes, tout n'est pas le mieux dans le meilleur des mondes ; mais il ne faut pas désespérer, il faut agir, se montrer des hommes dignes des idées qu'ils prétendent avoir, et même défendre ces idées ; c'est ce que nous, volontaires contre le bolchevisme, faisons chaque jour. De même, vous qui travaillez en Allemagne, contribuez chaque jour efficacement à la lutte que l'Europe mène contre son ennemi d'aujourd'hui, le bolchevisme, et son ennemi de toujours, l'Angleterre. (Applaudissements sans fin.)
Après ce court et intéressant exposé d'un volontaire français du front de l'Est, M. Félix Allmend, du Comité franco-allemand, dont le dévouement au Foyer des ouvriers de langue française de Berlin est connu de chacun, prend la parole.

«Je voudrais ajouter quelques mots allemands à ce dialogue français, dit-il :
«Tout comme votre camarade légionnaire, je crois avoir compris le sens des paroles de Céline, qui veut certainement réveiller ceux qui se sont laissé endormir par des propagandistes trop zélés. Cette franchise est de beaucoup préférable à l'attitude qui consiste à vouloir jouer un rôle pour lequel on n'a plus de forces. À côté des paroles inutiles, il y a les faits. Or les Allemands sont bien davantage impressionnés par le travail de chaque jour de vous tous : ouvriers français qui vous faites apprécier par vos chefs, légionnaires qui avez quitté votre patrie pour vous joindre à l'Allemagne et à ses alliés dans un combat à mort, prisonniers donnant un magnifique exemple d'abnégation et de courage permanents, vous tous qui coopérez à la même cause qui est celle de nos pays et de l'Europe entière...
Toute cette franchise est de beaucoup préférable aux vieilles formules démagogiques, qui n'ont plus de place dans l'Europe nouvelle. »
Des applaudissements nourris accueillent cette dernière phrase du Dr Félix Allmend.

PICHE
(Le Pont, 12 mars 1942)

dimanche, 14 juin 2009

Ernst Jünger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch

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Ernst Junger: The Resolute Life of an Anarch

category

by Keith Preston - http://attackthesystem.com/

Perhaps the most interesting, poignant and, possibly, threatening  type of writer and thinker is the one who not only defies conventional categorizations of thought but also offers a deeply penetrating critique of those illusions many hold to be the most sacred. Ernst Junger (1895-1998), who first came to literary prominence during Germany’s Weimar era as a diarist of the experiences of a front line stormtrooper during the Great War, is one such writer. Both the controversial nature of his writing and its staying power are demonstrated by the fact that he remains one of the most important yet widely disliked literary and cultural figures of twentieth century Germany. As recently as 1993, when Junger would have been ninety-eight years of age, he was the subject of an intensely hostile exchange in the “New York Review of Books” between an admirer and a detractor of his work.(1) On the occasion of his one hundreth birthday in 1995, Junger was the subject of a scathing, derisive musical performed in East Berlin. Yet Junger was also the recipient of Germany’s most prestigious literary awards, the Goethe Prize and the Schiller Memorial Prize. Junger, who converted to Catholicism at the age of 101, received a commendation from Pope John Paul II and was an honored guest of French President Francois Mitterand and German Chancellor Helmut Kohl at the Franco-German reconciliation ceremony at Verdun in 1984. Though he was an exceptional achiever during virtually every stage of his extraordinarily long life, it was his work during the Weimar period that not only secured for a Junger a presence in German cultural and political history, but also became the standard by which much of his later work was evaluated and by which his reputation was, and still is, debated. (2)

 

Ernst Junger was born on March 29, 1895 in Heidelberg, but was raised in Hanover. His father, also named Ernst, was an academically trained chemist who became wealthy as the owner of a pharmaceutical manufacturing business, finding himself successful enough to essentially retire while he was still in his forties. Though raised as an evangelical Protestant, Junger’s father did not believe in any formal religion, nor did his mother, Karoline, an educated middle class German woman whose interests included Germany’s rich literary tradition and the cause of women’s emancipation. His parents’ politics seem to have been liberal, though not radical, in the manner not uncommon to the rising bourgeoise of Germany’s upper middle class during the pre-war period. It was in this affluent, secure bourgeoise environment that Ernst Junger grew up. Indeed, many of Junger’s later activities and professed beliefs are easily understood as a revolt against the comfort and safety of his upbringing. As a child, he was an avid reader of the tales of adventurers and soldiers, but a poor academic student who did not adjust well to the regimented Prussian educational system. Junger’s instructors consistently complained of his inattentiveness. As an adolescent, he became involved with the Wandervogel, roughly the German equivalent of the Boy Scouts.(3)

 

          It was while attending a boarding school near his parents’ home in 1913, at the age of seventeen, that Junger first demonstrated his first propensity for what might be called an “adventurist” way of life. With only six months left before graduation, Junger left school, leaving no word to his family as to his destination. Using money given to him for school-related fees and expenses to buy a firearm and a railroad ticket to Verdun,  Junger subsequently enlisted in the French Foreign Legion, an elite military unit of the French armed forces that accepted enlistees of any nationality and had a reputation for attracting fugitives, criminals and career mercenaries. Junger had no intention of staying with the Legion. He only wanted to be posted to Africa, as he eventually was. Junger then deserted, only to be captured and sentenced to jail. Eventually his father found a capable lawyer for his wayward son and secured his release. Junger then returned to his studies and underwent a belated high school graduation. However, it was only a very short time later that Junger was back in uniform. (4)

 

Warrior and War Diarist

 

Ernst Junger immediately volunteered for military service when he heard the news that Germany was at war in the summer of 1914. After two months of training, Junger was assigned to a reserve unit stationed at Champagne. He was afraid the war would end before he had the opportunity to see any action. This attitude was not uncommon among many recruits or conscripts who fought in the war for their respective states. The question immediately arises at to why so many young people would wish to look into the face of death with such enthusiasm. Perhaps they really did not understand the horrors that awaited them. In Junger’s case, his rebellion against the security and luxury of his bourgeoise upbringing had already been ably demonstrated by his excursion with the French Foreign Legion. Because of his high school education, something that soldiers of more proletarian origins lacked, Junger was selected to train to become an officer. Shortly before beginning his officer’s training, Junger was exposed to combat for the first time. From the start, he carried pocket-sized notebooks with him and recorded his observations on the front lines. His writings while at the front exhibit a distinctive tone of detachment, as though he is simply an observer watching while the enemy fires at others. In the middle part of 1915, Junger suffered his first war wound, a bullet graze to the thigh that required only two weeks of recovery time. Afterwards, he was promoted to the rank of lieutenant.(5)

 

At age twenty-one, Junger was the leader of a reconnaissance team at the Somme whose purpose was to go out at night and search for British landmines. Early on, he acquired the reputation of a brave soldier who lacked the preoccupation with his own safety common to most of the fighting men. The introduction of steel artifacts into the war, tanks for the British side and steel helmets for the Germans, made a deep impression on Junger. Wounded three times at the Somme, Junger was awarded the Iron Medal First Class. Upon recovery, he returned to the front lines. A combat daredevil, he once held out against a much larger British force with only twenty men. After being transferred to fight the French at Flanders, he lost ten of his fourteen men and was wounded in the left hand by a blast from French shelling. After being harshly criticized by a superior officer for the number of men lost on that particular mission, Junger began to develop a contempt for the military hierarchy whom he regarded as having achieved their status as a result of their class position, frequently lacking combat experience of their own. In late 1917, having already experienced nearly three full years of combat, Junger was wounded for the fifth time during a surprise assault by the British. He was grazed in the head by a bullet, acquiring two holes in his helmet in the process. His performance in this battle won him the Knights Cross of the Hohenzollerns. In March 1918, Junger participated in another fierce battle with the British, losing 87 of his 150 men. (6)

 

            Nothing impressed Junger more than personal bravery and endurance on the part of soldiers. He once “fell to the ground in tears” at the sight of a young recruit who had only days earlier been unable to carry an ammunition case by himself suddenly being able to carry two cases of missles after surviving an attack of British shells. A recurring theme in Junger’s writings on his war experiences is the way in which war brings out the most savage human impulses. Essentially, human beings are given full license to engage in behavior that would be considered criminal during peacetime. He wrote casually about burning occupied towns during the course of retreat or a shift of position. However, Junger also demonstrated a capacity for merciful behavior during his combat efforts. He refrained from shooting a cornered British soldier after the foe displayed a portrait of his family to Junger. He was wounded yet again in August of 1918. Having been shot in the chest and directly through a lung, this was his most serious wound yet. After being hit, he still managed to shoot dead yet another British officer. As Junger was being carried off the battlefield on a stretcher, one of the stretcher carriers was killed by a British bullet. Another German soldier attempted to carry Junger on his back, but the soldier was shot dead himself and Junger fell to the ground. Finally, a medic recovered him and pulled him out of harm’s way. This episode would be the end of his battle experiences during the Great War.(7)

 

In Storms of Steel

 

Junger’s keeping of his wartime diaries paid off quite well in the long run. They were to become the basis of his first and most famous book, In Storms of Steel, published in 1920. The title was given to the book by Junger himself, having found the phrase in an old Icelandic saga. It was at the suggestion of his father that Junger first sought to have his wartime memoirs published. Initially, he found no takers, antiwar sentiment being extremely high in Germany at the time, until his father at last arranged to have the work published privately. In Storms of Steel differs considerably from similar works published by war veterans during the same era, such as Erich Maria Remarque’s All Quiet on the Western Front and John Dos Passos’ Three Soldiers. Junger’s book reflects none of the disillusionment with war by those experienced in its horrors of the kind found in these other works. Instead, Junger depicted warfare as an adventure in which the soldier faced the highest possible challenge, a battle to the death with a mortal enemy. Though Junger certainly considered himself to be a patriot and, under the influence of Maurice Barres (8), eventually became a strident German nationalist, his depiction of military combat as an idyllic setting where human wills face the supreme test rose far above ordinary nationalist sentiments. Junger’s warrior ideal was not merely the patriot fighting out of a profound sense of loyalty to his country  nor the stereotype of the dutiful soldier whose sense of honor and obedience compels him to follow the orders of his superiors in a headlong march towards death. Nor was the warrior prototype exalted by Junger necessarily an idealist fighting for some alleged greater good such as a political ideal or religious devotion. Instead, war itself is the ideal for Junger. On this question, he was profoundly influenced by Nietzsche, whose dictum “a good war justifies any cause”, provides an apt characterization of Junger’s depiction of the life (and death) of the combat soldier. (9)

 

This aspect of Junger’s outlook is illustrated quite well by the ending he chose to give to the first edition of In Storms of Steel. Although the second edition (published in 1926) ends with the nationalist rallying cry, “Germany lives and shall never go under!”, a sentiment that was deleted for the third edition published in 1934 at the onset of the Nazi era, the original edition ends simply with Junger in the hospital after being wounded for the final time and receiving word that he has received yet another commendation for his valor as a combat soldier. There is no mention of Germany’s defeat a few months later. Nationalism aside, the book is clearly about Junger, not about Germany, and Junger’s depiction of the war simultaneously displays an extraordinary level detachment for someone who lived in the face of death for four years and a highly personalized account of the war where battle is first and foremost about the assertion of one’s own “will to power” with cliched patriotic pieties being of secondary concern.

 

Indeed, Junger goes so far as to say there were winners and losers on both sides of the war. The true winners were not those who fought in a particular army or for a particular country, but who rose to the challenge placed before them and essentially achieved what Junger regarded as a higher state of enlightenment. He believed the war had revealed certain fundamental truths about the human condition. First, the illusions of the old bourgeoise order concerning peace, progress and prosperity had been inalterably shattered. This was not an uncommon sentiment during that time, but it is a revelation that Junger seems to revel in while others found it to be overwhelmingly devastating. Indeed, the lifelong champion of Enlightenment liberalism, Bertrand Russell, whose life was almost as long as Junger’s and who observed many of the same events from a much different philosophical perspective, once remarked that no one who had been born before 1914 knew what it was like to be truly happy.(10) A second observation advanced by Junger had to do with the role of technology in transforming the nature of war, not only in a purely mechanical sense, but on a much greater existential level. Before, man had commanded weaponry in the course of combat. Now weaponry of the kind made possible by modern technology and industrial civilization essentially commanded man. The machines did the fighting. Man simply resisted this external domination. Lastly, the supremacy of might and the ruthless nature of human existence had been demonstrated. Nietzsche was right. The tragic, Darwinian nature of the human condition had been revealed as an irrevocable law.

 

In Storms of Steel was only the first of several works based on his experiences as a combat officer that were produced by Junger during the 1920s. Copse 125 described a battle between two small groups of combatants. In this work, Junger continued to explore the philosophical themes present in his first work. The type of technologically driven warfare that emerged during the Great War is characterized as reducing men to automatons driven by airplanes, tanks and machine guns. Once again, jingoistic nationalism is downplayed as a contributing factor to the essence of combat soldier’s spirit. Another work of Junger’s from the early 1920s, Battle as Inner Experience, explored the psychology of war. Junger suggested that civilization itself was but a mere mask for the “primordial” nature of humanity that once again reveals itself during war. Indeed, war had the effect of elevating humanity to a higher level. The warrior becomes a kind of god-like animal, divine in his superhuman qualities, but animalistic in his bloodlust. The perpetual threat of imminent death is a kind of intoxicant. Life is at its finest when death is closest. Junger described war as a struggle for a cause that overshadows the respective political or cultural ideals of the combatants. This overarching cause is courage. The fighter is honor bound to respect the courage of his mortal enemy. Drawing on the philosophy of Nietzsche, Junger argued that the war had produced a “new race” that had replaced the old pieties, such as those drawn from religion, with a new recognition of the primacy of the “will to power”.(11)

 

Conservative Revolutionary

 

Junger’s writings about the war quickly earned him the status of a celebrity during the Weimar period. Battle as Inner Experience contained the prescient suggestion that the young men who had experienced the greatest war the world had yet to see at that point could never be successfully re-integrated into the old bougeoise order from which they came. For these fighters, the war had been a spiritual experience. Having endured so much only to see their side lose on such seemingly humiliating terms, the veterans of the war were aliens to the rationalistic, anti-militarist, liberal republic that emerged in 1918 at the close of the war. Junger was at his parents’ home recovering from war wounds during the time of the attempted coup by the leftist workers’ and soldiers’ councils and subsequent suppression of these by the Freikorps. He experimented with psychoactive drugs such as cocaine and opium during this time, something that he would continue to do much later in life. Upon recovery, he went back into active duty in the much diminished Germany army. Junger’s earliest works, such as In Storms of Steel, were published during this time and he also wrote for military journals on the more technical and specialized aspects of combat and military technology. Interestingly, Junger attributed Germany’s defeat in the war simply to poor leadership, both military and civilian, and rejected the “stab in the back” legend that consoled less keen veterans.

 

After leaving the army in 1923, Junger continued to write, producing a novella about a soldier during the war titled Sturm, and also began to study the philosophy of Oswald Spengler. His first work as a philosopher of nationalism appeared the Nazi paper Volkischer Beobachter in September, 1923.

Critiquing the failed Marxist revolution of 1918, Junger argued that the leftist coup failed because of its lacking of fresh ideas. It was simply a regurgitation of the egalitarian outllook of the French Revolution. The revolutionary left appealed only to the material wants of the Germany people in Junger’s views. A successful revolution would have to be much more than that. It would have to appeal to their spiritual or “folkish” instincts as well. Over the next few years Junger studied the natural sciences at the University of Leipzig and in 1925, at age thirty, he married nineteen-year-old Gretha von Jeinsen. Around this time, he also became a full-time political  writer. Junger was hostile to Weimar democracy and its commercial bourgeiose society. His emerging political ideal was one of an elite warrior caste that stood above petty partisan politics and the middle class obsession with material acquisition. Junger became involved with the the Stahlhelm, a right-wing veterans group, and was a contributer to its paper, Die Standardite. He associated himself with the younger, more militant members of the organization who favored an uncompromised nationalist revolution and eschewed the parliamentary system. Junger’s weekly column in Die Standardite disseminated his nationalist ideology to his less educated readers. Junger’s views at this point were a mixture of Spengler, Social Darwinism, the traditionalist philosophy of the French rightist Maurice Barres, opposition to the internationalism of the left that had seemingly been discredited by the events of 1914, irrationalism and anti-parliamentarianism. He took a favorable view of the working class and praised the Nazis’ efforts to win proletarian sympathies. Junger also argued that a nationalist outlook need not be attached to one particular form of government, even suggesting that a liberal monarchy would be inferior to a nationalist republic.(12)

 

In an essay for Die Standardite titled “The Machine”, Junger argued that the principal struggle was not between social classes or political parties but between man and technology. He was not anti-technological in a Luddite sense, but regarded the technological apparatus of modernity to have achieved a position of superiority over mankind which needed to be reversed. He was concerned that the mechanized efficiency of modern life produced a corrosive effect on the human spirit. Junger considered the Nazis’ glorification of peasant life to be antiquated. Ever the realist, he believed the world of the rural people to be in a state of irreversible decline. Instead, Junger espoused a “metropolitan nationalism” centered on the urban working class. Nationalism was the antidote to the anti-particularist materialism of the Marxists who, in Junger’s views, simply mirrored the liberals in their efforts to reduce the individual to a component of a mechanized mass society. The humanitarian rhetoric of the left Junger dismissed as the hypocritical cant of power-seekers feigning benevolence. He began to pin his hopes for a nationalist revolution on the younger veterans who comprised much of the urban working class.

 

In 1926, Junger became editor of Arminius, which also featured the writings of Nazi leaders like Alfred Rosenberg and Joseph Goebbels. In 1927, he contributed his final article to the Nazi paper, calling for a new definition of the “worker”, one not rooted in Marxist ideology but the idea of the worker as a civilian counterpart to the soldier who struggles fervently for the nationalist ideal. Junger and  Hitler had exchanged copies of their respective writings and a scheduled meeting between the two was canceled due to a change in Hitler’s itinerary. Junger respected Hitler’s abilities as an orator, but came to feel he lacked the ability to become a true leader. He also found Nazi ideology to be intellectually shallow, many of the Nazi movement’s leaders to be talentless and was displeased by the vulgarity,  crassly opportunistic and overly theatrical aspects of Nazi public rallies. Always an elitist, Junger considered the Nazis’ pandering the common people to be debased. As he became more skeptical of the Nazis, Junger began writing for a wider circle of readers beyond that of the militant nationalist right-wing. His works began to appear in the Jewish liberal Leopold Schwarzchild’s Das Tagebuch and the “national-bolshevik” Ernst Niekisch’s Widerstand.

 

Junger began to assemble around himself an elite corps of bohemian, eccentric intellectuals who would meet regularly on Friday evenings. This group included some of the most interesting personalities of the Weimar period. Among them were the Freikorps veteran Ernst von Salomon, Otto von Strasser, who with his brother Gregor led a leftist anti-Hitler faction of the Nazi movement, the national-bolshevik Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam who had figured prominently in the early phase of the failed leftist revolution of 1918, the American writer Thomas Wolfe and the expressionist writer Arnolt Bronnen. Many among this group espoused a type of revolutionary socialism based on nationalism rather than class, disdaining the Nazis’ opportunistic outreach efforts to the middle class. Some, like Niekisch, favored an alliance between Germany and Soviet Russia against the liberal-capitalist powers of the West. Occasionally, Joseph Goebbels would turn up at these meetings hoping to convert the group, particularly Junger himself, whose war writings he had admired, to the Nazi cause. These efforts by the Nazi propaganda master proved unsuccessful. Junger regarded Goebbels as a shallow ideologue who spoke in platitudes even in private conversation.(13)

 

The final break between Ernst Junger and the NSDAP occurred in September 1929. Junger published an article in Schwarzchild’s Tagebuch attacking and ridiculing the Nazis as sell outs for having reinvented themselves as a parliamentary party. He also dismissed their racism and anti-Semitism as ridiculous, stating that according to the Nazis a nationalist is simply someone who “eats three Jews for breakfast.” He condemned the Nazis for pandering to the liberal middle class and reactionary traditional conservatives “with lengthy tirades against the decline in morals, against abortion, strikes, lockouts, and the reduction of police and military forces.” Goebbels responded by attacking Junger in the Nazi press, accusing him being motivated by personal literary ambition, and insisting this had caused him “to vilify the national socialist movement, probably so as to make himself popular in his new kosher surroundings” and dismissing Junger’s attacks by proclaiming the Nazis did not “debate with renegades who abuse us in the smutty press of Jewish traitors.”(14)

 

Junger on the Jewish Question

 

Junger held complicated views on the question of German Jews. He considered anti-Semitism of the type espoused by Hitler to be crude and reactionary. Yet his own version of nationalism required a level of homogeneity that was difficult to reconcile with the subnational status of Germany Jewry. Junger suggested that Jews should assimilate and pledge their loyalty to Germany once and for all. Yet he expressed admiration for Orthodox Judaism and indifference to Zionism. Junger maintained personal friendships with Jews and wrote for a Jewish owned publication. During this time his Jewish publisher Schwarzchild published an article examining Junger’s views on the Jews of Germany. Schwarzchild insisted that Junger was nothing like his Nazi rivals on the far right. Junger’s nationalism was based on an aristocratic warrior ethos, while Hitler’s was more comparable to the criminal underworld. Hitler’s men were “plebian alley scum”. However, Schwarzchild also characterized Junger’s rendition of nationalism as motivated by little more than a fervent rejection of bourgeoise society and lacking in attention to political realities and serious economic questions.(15)

 

The Worker

 

Other than In Storms of Steel, Junger’s The Worker: Mastery and Form was his most influential work from the Weimar era. Junger would later distance himself from this work, published in 1932, and it was reprinted in the 1950s only after Junger was prompted to do so by Martin Heidegger.

In The Worker, Junger outlines his vision of a future state ordered as a technocracy based on workers and soldiers led by a warrior elite. Workers are no longer simply components of an industrial machine, whether capitalist or communist, but have become a kind of civilian-soldier operating as an economic warrior. Just as the soldier glories in his accomplishments in battle, so does the worker glory in the achievements expressed through his work. Junger predicted that continued technological advancements would render the worker/capitalist dichotomy obsolete. He also incorporated the political philosophy of his friend Carl Schmitt into his worldview. As Schmitt saw international relations as a Hobbesian battle between rival powers, Junger believed each state would eventually adopt a system not unlike what he described in The Worker. Each state would maintain its own technocratic order with the workers and soldiers of each country playing essentially the same role on behalf of their respective nations. International affairs would be a crucible where the will to power of the different nations would be tested.

Junger’s vision contains a certain amount prescience. The general trend in politics at the time was a movement towards the kind of technocratic state Junger described. These took on many varied forms including German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Soviet Communism, the growing welfare states of Western Europe and America’s New Deal. Coming on the eve of World War Two, Junger’s prediction of a global Hobbesian struggle between national collectives possessing previously unimagined levels of technological sophistication also seems rather prophetic. Junger once again attacked the bourgeoise as anachronistic. Its values of material luxury and safety he regarded as unfit for the violent world of the future. (16)

 

The National Socialist Era

 

By the time Hitler took power in 1933, Junger’s war writings had become commonly used in high schools and universities as examples of wartime literature, and Junger enjoyed success within the context of German popular culture as well. Excerpts of Junger’s works were featured in military journals. The Nazis tried to coopt his semi-celebrity status, but he was uncooperative. Junger was appointed to the Nazified German Academcy of Poetry, but declined the position. When the Nazi Party’s paper published some of his work in 1934, Junger wrote a letter of protest. The Nazi regime, despite its best efforts to capitalize on his reputation, viewed Junger with suspicioun. His past association with the national-bolshevik Ersnt Niekisch, the Jewish anarchist Erich Muhsam and the anti-Hitler Nazi Otto von Strasser, all of whom were either eventually killed or exiled by the Third Reich, led the Nazis to regard Junger as a potential subversive. On several occasions, Junger received visits from the Gestapo in search of some of his former friends. During the early years of the Nazi regime, Junger was in the fortunate position of being able to economically afford travel outside of Germany. He journeyed to Norway, Brazil, Greece and Morocco during this time, and published several works based on his travels.(17)

 

Junger’s most significant work from the Nazi period is the novel On the Marble Cliffs. The book is an allegorical attack on the Hitler regime. It was written in 1939, the same year that Junger reentered the German army. The book describes a mysterious villian that threatens a community, a sinister warlord called the “Head Ranger”. This character is never featured in the plot of the novel, but maintains a forboding presence that is universal (much like “Big Brother” in George Orwell’s 1984). Another character in the novel, “Braquemart”, is described as having physical characteristics remarkably similar to those of Goebbels. The book sold fourteen thousand copies during its first two weeks in publication. Swiss reviewers immediately recognized the allegorical references to the Nazi state in the novel. The Nazi Party’s organ, Volkische Beobachter, stated that Ernst Jünger was flirting with a bullet to the head. Goebbels urged Hitler to ban the book, but Hitler refused, probably not wanting to show his hand. Indeed, Hitler gave orders that Junger not be harmed.(18)

         

Junger was stationed in France for most of the Second World War. Once again, he kept diaries of the experience. Once again, he expressed concern that he might not get to see any action before the war was over. While Junger did not have the opportunity to experience the level of danger and daredevil heroics he had during the Great War, he did receive yet another medal, the Iron Cross, for retrieving the body of a dead corporal while under heavy fire. Junger also published some of his war diaries during this time. However, the German government took a dim view of these, viewing them as too sympathetic to the occupied French. Junger’s duties included censorship of the mail coming into France from German civilians. He took a rather liberal approach to this responsibility and simply disposed of incriminating documents rather than turning them over for investigation. In doing so, he probably saved lives. He also encountered members of France’s literary and cultural elite, among them the actor Louis Ferdinand Celine, a raving anti-Semite and pro-Vichyite who suggested Hitler’s harsh measures against the Jews had not been heavy handed enough. As rumors of the Nazi extermination programs began to spread,  Junger wrote in his diary that the mechanization of the human spirit of the type he had written about in the past had apparently generated a higher level of human depravity. When he saw three young French-Jewish girls wearing the yellow stars required by the Nazis, he wrote that he felt embarrassed to be in the Nazi army. In July of 1942, Junger observed the mass arrest of French Jews, the beginning of implementation of the “Final Solution”. He described the scene as follows:

 

“Parents were first separated from their children, so there was wailing to be heard in the streets. At no moment may I forget that I am surrounded by the unfortunate, by those suffering to the very depths, else what sort of person, what sort of officer would I be? The uniform obliges one to grant protection wherever it goes. Of course one has the impression that one must also, like Don Quixote, take on millions.”(19)

         

An entry into Junger’s diary from October 16, 1943 suggests that an unnamed army officer had told  Junger about the use of crematoria and poison gas to murder Jews en masse. Rumors of plots against Hitler circulated among the officers with whom Junger maintained contact. His son, Ernstl, was arrested after an informant claimed he had spoken critically of Hitler. Ernstl Junger was imprisoned for three months, then placed in a penal battalion where he was killed in action in Italy. On July 20, 1944 an unsuccessful assassination attempt was carried out against Hitler. It is still disputed as to whether or not Junger knew of the plot or had a role in its planning. Among those arrested for their role in the attemt on Hitler’s life were members of Junger’s immediate circle of associates and superior officers within the German army. Junger was dishonorably discharged shortly afterward.(20)

 

Following the close of the Second World War, Junger came under suspicion from the Allied occupational authorities because of his far right-wing nationalist and militarist past. He refused to cooperate with the Allies De-Nazification programs and was barred from publishing for four years. He would go on to live another half century, producing many more literary works, becoming a close friend of Albert Hoffman, the inventor of the hallucinogen LSD, with which he experimented. In a 1977 novel, Eumeswil, he took his tendency towards viewing the world around him with detachment to a newer, more clearly articulated level with his invention of the concept of the “Anarch”. This idea, heavily influenced by the writings of the early nineteenth century German philosopher Max Stirner, championed the solitary individual who remains true to himself within the context of whatever external circumstances happen to be present. Some sample quotations from this work illustrate the philosophy and worldview of the elderly Junger quite well:

 

“For the anarch, if he remains free of being ruled, whether by sovereign or society, this does not mean he refuses to serve in any way. In general, he serves no worse than anyone else, and sometimes even better, if he likes the game. He only holds back from the pledge, the sacrifice, the ultimate devotion … I serve in the Casbah; if, while doing this, I die for the Condor, it would be an accident, perhaps even an obliging gesture, but nothing more.”

 

“The egalitarian mania of demagogues is even more dangerous than the brutality of men in gallooned coats. For the anarch, this remains theoretical, because he avoids both sides. Anyone who has been oppressed can get back on his feet if the oppression did not cost him his life. A man who has been equalized is physically and morally ruined. Anyone who is different is not equal; that is one of the reasons why the Jews are so often targeted.”

 

“The anarch, recognizing no government, but not indulging in paradisal dreams as the anarchist does, is, for that very reason, a neutral observer.”

 

“Opposition is collaboration.”

 

“A basic theme for the anarch is how man, left to his own devices, can defy superior force - whether state, society or the elements - by making use of their rules without submitting to them.”

 

“… malcontents… prowl through the institutions eternally dissatisfied, always disappointed. Connected with this is their love of cellars and rooftops, exile and prisons, and also banishment, on which they actually pride themselves. When the structure finally caves in they are the first to be killed in the collapse. Why do they not know that the world remains inalterable in change? Because they never find their way down to its real depth, their own. That is the sole place of essence, safety. And so they do themselves in.”

 

“The anarch may not be spared prisons - as one fluke of existence among others. He will then find the fault in himself.”

 

“We are touching one a … distinction between anarch and anarchist; the relation to authority, to legislative power. The anarchist is their mortal enemy, while the anarch refuses to acknowledge them. He seeks neither to gain hold of them, nor to topple them, nor to alter them - their impact bypasses him. He must resign himself only to the whirlwinds they generate.”

 

“The anarch is no individualist, either. He wishes to present himself neither as a Great Man nor as a Free Spirit. His own measure is enough for him; freedom is not his goal; it is his property. He does not come on as foe or reformer: one can get along nicely with him in shacks or in palaces. Life is too short and too beautiful to sacrifice for ideas, although contamination is not always avoidable. But hats off to the martyrs.”

 

“We can expect as little from society as from the state. Salvation lies in the individual.” (21)

 

Notes:

 

1. Ian Buruma, “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993. Hilary Barr, “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

2. Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germany: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996, pp. 1-7. Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974, preface.

 

3. Nevin, pp. 9-26. Loose, p. 21

 

4. Loose, p. 22. Nevin, pp. 27-37.

 

5. Nevin. p. 49.

 

6. Ibid., p. 57

 

7. Ibid., p. 61

 

8. Maurice Barrès (September 22, 1862 - December 4, 1923) was a French novelist, journalist, an anti-semite, nationalist politician and agitator. Leaning towards the far-left in his youth as a Boulangist deputy, he progressively developed a theory close to Romantic nationalism and shifted to the right during the Dreyfus Affair, leading the Anti-Dreyfusards alongside Charles Maurras. In 1906, he was elected both to the Académie française and as deputy of the Seine department, and until his death he sat with the conservative Entente républicaine démocratique. A strong supporter of the Union sacrée(Holy Union) during World War I, Barrès remained a major influence of generations of French writers, as well as of monarchists, although he was not a monarchist himself. Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maurice_Barr%C3%A8s

 

9. Nevin, pp. 58, 71, 97.

 

10. Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

11. Nevin, pp. 122, 125, 134, 136, 140, 173.

 

12. Ibid., pp. 75-91.

 

13. Ibid., p. 107.

 

14. Ibid., p. 108.

 

15. Ibid., pp. 109-111.

 

16. Ibid., pp. 114-140.

 

17. Ibid., p. 145.

 

18. Ibid., p. 162.

 

19. Ibid., p. 189.

 

20. Ibid., p. 209.

 

21. Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marion Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Bibliography

 

Barr, Hilary. “An Exchange on Ernst Junger”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 21, December 16, 1993.

 

Braun, Abdalbarr. “Warrior, Waldgaenger, Anarch: An Essay on Ernst Junger’s Concept of the Sovereign Individual”. Archived at http://www.fluxeuropa.com/juenger-anarch.htm

 

Buruma, Ian. “The Anarch at Twilight”, New York Review of Books, Volume 40, No. 12, June 24, 1993.

 

Hofmann, Albert. LSD: My Problem Child, Chapter Seven, “Radiance From Ernst Junger”. Archived at http://www.flashback.se/archive/my_problem_child/chapter7.html

 

Loose, Gerhard. Ernst Junger. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1974.

 

Hervier, Julien. The Details of Time: Conversations with Ernst Junger. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1986.

 

Junger, Ernst. Eumeswil. New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1980, 1993.

 

Junger, Ernst. In Storms of Steel. New York: Penguin Books, 1920, 1963, 2003.

 

Junger, Ernst. On the Marble Cliffs. New York: Duenewald Printing Corporation, 1947.

 

Nevin, Thomas. Ernst Junger and Germnay: Into the Abyss, 1914-1945. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1996.

 

Schilpp, P. A. “The Philosophy of Bertrand Russell”.  Reviewed Hermann Weyl, The American Mathematical Monthly, Vol. 53, No. 4 (Apr., 1946), pp. 208-214.

 

Stern, J. P. Ernst Junger. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1953.

 

Zavrel, Consul B. John. “Ernst Junger is Still Working at 102″. Archived at http://www.meaus.com/Ernst%20Junger%20at%20102.html

 

vendredi, 22 mai 2009

L. F. Céline : Siegmaringen: quel pittoresque séjour!

Louis-Ferdinand Céline - Siegmaringen : quel pittoresque séjour !

Ex: http://ettuttiquanti.blogspot.com/
Peut-être pas encore se vanter, Siegmaringen?... pourtant quel pittoresque séjour!... vous vous diriez en opérette... le décor parfait... vous attendez les sopranos, les ténors légers... pour les échos, toute la forêt!... dix, vingt montagnes d'arbres !... Forêt Noire, déboulées de sapins, cataractes... votre plateau, la scène, la ville, si jolie fignolée, rose, verte, un peu bonbon, demi-pistache, cabarets, hôtels, boutiques, biscornus pour « metteur en scène »... tout style « baroque boche » et « Cheval blanc »... vous entendez déjà l'orchestre !... le plus bluffant : le Château!... la pièce comme montée de la ville... stuc et carton-pâte !... pourtant... pourtant vous amèneriez le tout : Château, bourg, Danube, place Pigalle ! quel monde vous auriez !... autre chose d'engouement que le Ciel, le Néant et l'à Gil!... (1) les « tourist-cars » qu'il vous faudrait !... les brigades de la P. P. ! ce serait fou, le monde, et payant !

Nous là je dois dire l'endroit fut triste... touristes certainement ! mais spéciaux... trop de gales, trop peu de pain et trop de R. A. F. au-dessus!... et l'armée Leclerc tout près... avançante... ses Sénégalais à coupe-coupe... pour nos têtes !... pas les têtes à Dache!... je lis là actuellement tous nos « quotidiens » pleurer sur le sort des pauvres Hongrois... si on nous avait reçus comme eux ! tant larmoyé sur nos détresses, on l'aurait eu belle, je vous dis ! dansé des drôles de claquettes ! s'ils avaient eu au prose l'article 75 ces pathétiques fuyards hongrois Coty les garderait pas souper!... merde!... s'ils étaient simples Français de France il les ferait vite couper en deux!... en dix s'ils étaient mutilos! surtout médaillés militaires ! la sensibilité française s'émeut que pour tout ce qu'est bien anti-elle! ennemis avérés; tout son cœur! masochisse à mort !

Nous là dans les mansardes, caves, les sous d'escaliers, bien crevant la faim, je vous assure pas d'Opérette!... un plateau de condamnés à mort !... 1142 !... je savais exactement le nombre...

Je vous reparlerai de ce pittoresque séjour! pas seulement ville d'eau et tourisme... formidablement historique !... Haut-Lieu!... mordez Château!... stuc, bricolage, déginganderie tous les styles, tourelles, cheminées, gargouilles... pas à croire !... super-Hollywood !... toutes les époques, depuis la fonte des neiges, l'étranglement du Danube, la mort du dragon, la vidoire de SaintFidelis (2), jusqu'à Guillaume Il et Goering.

De nous autres, tous là, Bichelonne avait la plus grosse tête, pas seulement qu'il était champion de Polytechnique et des Mines... Histoire ! Géotechnie !... pardon !... un vrai cybernétique tout seul ! s'il a fallu qu'il nous explique le quoi du pour ! les biscornuteries du Château! toutes ! qu'il penchait plutôt sud que nord?... si il savait? pourquoi les cheminées, créneaux, pont-levis, vermoulus, inclinaient eux plutôt ouest?... foutu berceau Hohenzollern! pardi! juché qu'il était sur son roc ! ... traviole ! biscornu de partout !... dehors !... dedans ! ... toutes ses chambres, dédales, labyrinthes, tout! tout prêt à basculer à l'eau depuis quatorze siècles !... quand vous irez vous saurez !... repaire berceau du plus fort élevage de fieffés rapaces loups d'Europe ! la rigolade de ce Haut-Lieu! et qu'il vacillait je vous le dis sous les escadres qu'arrêtaient pas, des mille et mille « forteresses », pour Dresde, Munich, Augsburg... de jour, de nuit... que tous les petits vitraux pétaient, sautaient au fleuve !... vous verrez !...

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, D'un château l'autre, 1957.

Sur le sujet :

A voir :
>>>
Lucette à Sigmaringen, émission Le Fond et la forme de 1971.

A lire :
>>>
Céline, Degrelle et quelques autres à Sigmaringen

mardi, 19 mai 2009

Veit Harlan revisited

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Veit Harlan revisited

Martin LICHTMESZ - http://www.sezession.de/

Um meine kleine, ungeplante Harlan-Serie abzuschließen, möchte ich noch auf den sehr guten Dokumentarfilm „Harlan – Im Schatten von Jud Süß“ von Felix Moeller hinweisen, der zur Zeit im Kino zu sehen ist. Moeller hat den vielköpfigen Harlan-Söderbaum-Körber-Klan (Hilde Körber war Harlans zweite Ehefrau, Söderbaum die dritte) bis zu den Enkeln hinab zu dem berüchtigten Patriarchen befragt.

Dabei sind etwa dreiviertel der Interviewten ebenfalls im Film-und Showbusiness tätig, am bekanntesten wohl Stanley Kubricks Witwe Christiane, eine Nichte Harlans, und ihr Bruder Jan, Kubricks „Executive Producer“. Es ist interessant zu sehen, wie auf sie alle der „Schatten von Jud Süss“ gefallen ist,  und wie sich die ganze Familie immer noch mehr oder weniger daran abarbeitet.

Am extremsten ist dabei sicher der 1929 geborene älteste Sohn Thomas Harlan, seines Zeichens selbst Filmemacher,  für den die Bewältigung der tatsächlichen, vermuteten oder unterstellten Schuld des Vaters zur lebenslangen Obsession geworden ist.  Dafür wird er von seinen eher moderaten Geschwistern, die eine überwiegend positive emotionale Bindung zu ihren Eltern haben, auch recht kritisch betrachtet. Es ist erschütternd mitanzusehen, wie dieser nunmehr 80jährige Mann immer noch vom Gespenst des Vaters heimgesucht wird. Sein Film „Wundkanal“ aus dem Jahr 1984 gehört zu den wohl krassesten Exponaten einer auf die Spitze getriebenen, nahezu pathologischen Vergangenheitsbewältigung (die Edition Filmmuseum wird ihn im Juni auf DVD herausbringen). Harlan engagierte sich seit den Fünfziger Jahren auf der radikalen Linken, wovon nicht zuletzt „Wundkanal“ mit seiner offenen Sympathie für die RAF zeugt. Harlans anklägerische Besessenheit erinnerte mich an Horst Mahler und seine 180 Grad-Wendungen: beide sind für mich Zeugen, daß der deutsche Rechtsextremismus und Linksextremismus ein- und demselben Knacks entspringen, und der eine nur die Kehrseite des anderen ist.

„Harlan“ kann man als einen weiteren Eintrag in einem Subgenre des „Bewältigungsfilms“ sehen, das ich als die „Familiengeschichte“ bezeichnen möchte. Andere Beispiele der letzten Jahre waren Malte Ludins „Zwei oder Drei Dinge, die ich von ihm weiß“ (2004), Jens Schanzes „Winterkinder“ (2005) und Rosa von Praunheims „Meine Mütter“ (2008) . Dabei ist zu verzeichnen, daß die jüngeren filmischen Aufarbeitungen (Ludin ist natürlich das Gegenbeispiel) sich immer mehr von der Anklage weg zum Versuch des distanzierten Verstehens hin bewegen. So läßt auch Felix Moellers Film den unterschiedlichen Perspektiven und Urteilen der Familienmitglieder einen beträchtlichen Spielraum, ohne selbst Partei zu ergreifen.

Als exponierter, herausragender Künstler ist Veit Harlan bis heute einer der bevorzugten Sündenböcke des Dritten Reichs. Es mutet seltsam an, seine Kinder und Enkel, die allesamt unverkennbar seinen und Kristina Söderbaums physiognomischen Stempel tragen, im Banne der „Schuld“ ihres Ahnherren zu sehen. Diese Identifikation oder zumindest schandhafte Affizierung durch das „Blut“  ist ein ebenso irrationaler wie seelisch schlüssiger Vorgang. Eine der Enkelinnen Harlans merkt in dem Film an, daß es ihr natürlich lieber wäre, wenn ihr Großvater ein „Widerstandskämpfer“ gewesen wäre, aber rational betrachtet würde das genausowenig einen besseren oder einen schlechteren Menschen aus ihr machen wie ein „Nazi“-Großvater.

Dennoch bleibt diese eigentümliche Affizierung, gleich einer Art von Erbsünde zurück, wobei der Grad der Emotionalität bei den Familienmitgliedern sehr verschieden ist. Man kann Moellers Film auch als eine Art von „Familienaufstellen“ sehen, frei nach der therapeutischen Schule des („umstrittenen“) Psychologen Bert Hellinger. (Über dessen ebenso seltsames wie genialisches Konzept kollektiver seelischer Kausalitäten und Verstrickungen kann man „kritisch“ hier und hier nachlesen.)

Hellinger postuliert die Existenz einer Art „Familienkarma“, das über Generationen hinweg schicksalshaft fortwirkt. Man muß den Begriff nicht unbedingt „mystisch“ nehmen – mir gefällt er als Metapher, mit der man auch die seelische Verfassung der Deutschen als Volk beschreiben könnte, die sich immerhin aus der Gesamtheit von vielen Millionen Familiengeschichten- und -schicksalen speist. Wer das bis heute weitervererbte Schuldgefühl und Unbehagen der Deutschen an sich selbst allein auf „Umerziehung“ und politische Idoktrinierung zurückführt, greift meines Erachtens zu kurz. Die „Seelengeschichte“ der Deutschen, das ist etwas, das immer noch nicht in seiner Tiefe ergründet worden ist.

Erwähnen möchte ich noch, daß der Film auch die faszinierende Seite von Harlan nicht unterschlägt. Seine schwerblütigen, zum Teil kitschigen und morbiden Melodram-Exzesse in berauschendem Agfacolor wie „Die goldene Stadt“ (1942), „Immensee“ (1943) oder „Opfergang“ (1944) haben auch heute noch ihren eigentümlichen, unverwechselbaren Reiz bewahrt. Sie mit neuen Augen sehen lernen kann man mithilfe der exzellenten und materialreichen Harlan-Biographie „Des Teufels Regisseur“ von Frank Noack. Noack scheut sich nicht vor kühnen Urteilen, und wartet mit vielen, zum Teil überraschenden historischen Details auf, die einen hochdifferenzierten Blick auf den Regisseur und seine Arbeit erlauben.

Zum Schluß noch eine Abbitte. Neulich schrieb ich „Nach dem Krieg ließ Stalin heroische Filme drehen, die dem Stil von „Kolberg“ aufs Haar glichen und den Sieg über den „Faschismus“ feierten,  etwa 1948 in Farbe „Die Schlacht um Berlin“. Nachdem ich nun „Die Schlacht um Berlin“ (1949) zur Gänze gesehen habe, muß ich zu Harlans Gunsten sagen, daß „Kolberg“ auch nicht nur annähernd so plump und naiv ist wie diese stalinistische Sowjetproduktion.

dimanche, 17 mai 2009

Hans-Joachim Schoeps

Karlheinz WEISSMANN - http://www.sezession.de/

Vor einhundert Jahren wurde der Historiker Hans-Joachim Schoeps geboren

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Vor einhundert Jahren, am 30. Januar 1909, wurde Hans-Joachim Schoeps in Berlin geboren. Er kam als Sohn eines renommierten Berliner Arztes zur Welt, studierte nach dem Schulabschluß in Heidelberg, Marburg, Berlin und Leipzig Germanistik, Geschichte und vergleichende Religionswissenschaft. 1932 wurde er zum Dr. phil. promoviert. Gleichzeitig hatte er das Erste Staatsexamen abgelegt, konnte aber im folgenden Jahr wegen der nationalsozialistischen Machtübernahme nicht mehr in das Referendariat eintreten; aus denselben Gründen scheiterte auch der Versuch, sich zu habilitieren.

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Schoeps war in den zwanziger Jahren mit der Jugendbewegung in Berührung gekommen und hatte Kontakt zu verschiedenen Gruppen der „Konservativen Revolution“. Er gehörte damit zu dem kleinen Kreis deutsch-jüdischer Intellektueller, die dieser Bewegung nahestanden, so etwa Rudolf Borchardt, Ernst Kantorowicz und Hans Rothfels. Verbindungen bestanden vor allem zu Zeitschriften wie Die Tat, in der 1930 ein erster im eigentlichen Sinn politischer Aufsatz aus seiner Feder erschien, und Der Ring, die nachhaltig durch die Ideen Moeller van den Brucks geprägt war. Bemerkenswert ist auch, daß Schoeps die unter Konservativ-Revolutionären verbreitete Einschätzung  des Nationalsozialismus teilte, wenn er einerseits den „aufgeregten Kleinbürger Hitler“ verabscheute, andererseits meinte, daß man nur in der HJ noch „Gläubigkeit, Begeisterung und Leidenschaft“ finde, wenngleich sie für die falschen Ziele eingesetzt würden. Diese Bemerkungen stammen aus einem Brief, den Schoeps im November 1932 an den von ihm – trotz seiner scharf antijüdischen Position – hoch verehrten Hans Blüher schrieb. Beide hatten in Korrespondenzform ein Streitgespräch geführt, das noch 1933 unter dem Titel Streit um Israel als Buch veröffentlicht wurde. Darin betonte Schoeps einerseits sein Deutschtum im Sinne des preußischen Staatsethos, andererseits seine jüdische Identität. Diese verstand er allerdings nicht im zionistischen Sinn – das jüdische „Weltvolk“ war seiner Meinung nach im Jahre 70 mit der Zerstörung des Tempels und Jerusalems untergegangen –, sondern theologisch, wobei er neben dem Bundesschluß am Sinai auch die Möglichkeit anerkannte, daß Gott mit anderen Völkern ähnliche Bünde abgeschlossen habe.

Und was nun gar heute alles konservativ ist: Dieses vermickerte Kleinbürgertum, das Ruhe und Ordnung will, die Leute, die Angst haben, daß man ihnen ihre Geldsäcke klaut – aber darüber hinaus für keinen Sechser Haltung und Courage. – Schoeps 1932

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Dieser „theonome Konservatismus“ ähnelte sehr stark der in den zwanziger Jahren von evangelischen Theologen entwickelten „Volksnomoslehre“ und führte Schoeps mit seinen politischen Vorstellungen in eine weltanschauliche Position zwischen allen Fronten. Daraus erklärte sich letztlich seine heute so stark irritierende Bemühung, für die deutschen Juden im „Dritten Reich“ eine selbständige Position als „Stand“ zu erreichen, weshalb er von Regierungsstellen ebenso wie von den an „Dissimilation“ interessierten Zionisten wie von der Emigration mit Feindseligkeit verfolgt wurde.

Der von Schoeps zu Ostern 1933 gegründete „Vortrupp. Gefolgschaft deutscher Juden“ sollte zusammen mit anderen konservativen jüdischen Organisationen, vor allem dem „Nationalverband deutscher Juden“, trotz dauernder Zurückweisung die patriotische Einsatzbereitschaft der verfemten Minderheit demonstrieren, hatte damit aber keinen Erfolg. Im Dezember 1938 mußte Schoeps fluchtartig das Land verlassen und emigrierte nach Schweden. Seine Eltern kamen in den Lagern ums Leben, sein Vater, der während des Ersten Weltkriegs als Regimentsarzt des Garde du Corps gedient hatte, konnte bis zum Schluß nicht glauben, daß eine „nationale Regierung“ Hand an ihn und seine Familie legen würde.

Die erzwungene Muße im skandinavischen Exil nutzte Schoeps, um seine Studien zur vergleichenden Religionsgeschichte fortzusetzen. Er arbeitete als Dozent an der Universität Uppsala und soll bei seiner Rückkehr mehr als dreizehn Kilogramm Manuskriptpapier bei sich gehabt haben, Material für sieben wissenschaftliche Werke. Den häufig kommunistisch orientierten Gruppen des Exils stand er ablehnend gegenüber. Unermüdlich versuchte er die Differenz zwischen Deutschland und dem NS-Regime klarzustellen. Insofern war es nur konsequent, daß er unmittelbar nach Kriegsende in das zerstörte Deutschland zurückkehrte. Er habilitierte sich 1946 in Marburg und wurde ein Jahr später auf den eigens geschaffenen Lehrstuhl für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte an der Universität Erlangen berufen, zeitgleich begann er mit der Herausgabe der Zeitschrift für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte.

Schoeps‘ Vorstellung von „Geistesgeschichte“ knüpfte zwar an Dilthey an, verstand sich aber darüber hinausgehend als „Zeitgeistforschung“. In mehr als drei Jahrzehnten publizierte er zahreiche Monographien und Sammelwerke auf diesem Gebiet. Dabei zeichneten sich sehr deutlich zwei Schwerpunkte ab: die Geschichte des Urchristentums – insbesondere der „Judenchristen“ – und die Geschichte des preußischen Staates, vor allem seiner konservativen Denker.

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Dieses Interesse am „anderen Preußen“ hing vor allem mit der Sympathie zusammen, die Schoeps nach wie vor der konservativen preußischen Tradition entgegenbrachte. Fast alle seine politischen Stellungnahmen in der Nachkriegszeit müssen aus diesem Zusammenhang heraus verstanden werden. Bereits seine Rede zum 250. Jahrestag der ersten preußischen Königskrönung, dem 18. Januar 1951, über „Die Ehre Preußens“ (so der Titel der gedruckten Fassung) sorgte für Aufsehen. Zu Beginn der Ansprache hieß es: „Ich möchte mit der Feststellung beginnen, daß wir eines teuren Toten hier gedenken, der, vom Strome der Geschichte zum Licht getragen, in diesen Strom wieder zurückgetaucht ist. Staaten werden immer nur durch die Kräfte getragen und erhalten, durch die sie geschaffen worden sind. Preußen war ein königlicher Staat, und darum mußte Preußen sterben, als sein Königtum dahinstarb. Preußen hat am 9. November 1918 zu bestehen aufgehört und nicht erst 1933 oder gar 1945. Als durch Beschluß des Alliierten Kontrollrates vom 25. Februar 1947 der Staat Preußen, dessen Stammlande damals aber zum großen Teil unter fremder Herrschaft standen, offiziell aufgelöst wurde, haben alle alten Preußen dies als einen seltsamen Akt der Leichenschändung empfunden.“

Eine ähnlich irritierende Wirkung wie das Plädoyer eines deutschen Juden für den preußischen Staat hatten auch Schoeps’ später erhobene Forderung nach Einrichtung eines „Oberhauses“ und sein Eintreten für die Wiederherstellung der Monarchie. Je weiter sich die Linkstendenzen in der westdeutschen Gesellschaft in den sechziger Jahren verstärkten, desto schärfer wurde Schoeps im Ton und desto weniger schützte ihn seine jüdische Herkunft. Die Angriffe kamen dabei von verschiedenen Seiten: einmal von dem notorischen Ariel Goral, der Schoeps in einem Flugblatt wegen seiner Bemühungen um den jüdischen „Stand“ zwischen 1933 und 1936 als „braunen Juden“ beschimpfte, und zum anderen von der APO, der endlich eine Handhabe gegen den Konservativen zur Verfügung stand, der schon verschiedentlich energische Maßnahmen gegen den neuen linken Extremismus verlangt hatte und sich jetzt als „erfahrener Faschist“, „Nazi-Jude“ oder „jüdischer Obersturmbannführer“ verunglimpft sah.

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Auf Unterstützung brauchte Schoeps nicht zu hoffen. Die Philosophische Fakultät seiner Universität hatte schon 1968 eine Solidaritätserklärung mit 33 gegen 5 Stimmen abgelehnt. Der „Fall Schoeps“ erregte bundesweit Aufsehen und zog jetzt Angriffe auch in der überregionalen Presse, etwa in Zeit und Spiegel, nach sich. Schließlich nahm unter der neuen sozialliberalen Regierung das Verteidigungsministerium die Vereinbarung über eine Sonderausgabe des Buches Preußen. Geschichte eines Staates für die Bundeswehr zurück. Schoeps geriet in den folgenden Jahren immer weiter in die Isolation.

Als er im Wintersemester 1976/77 zur Emeritierung anstand, versuchte er alles, um eine geplante Umwidmung seines Lehrstuhls zu verhindern. Im Rahmen der Vereinbarung zwischen der katholischen Kirche und dem bayerischen Staat über die sogenannten Konkordatslehrstühle war vorgesehen, an die Stelle des Erlanger Lehrstuhls für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte einen solchen für Politische Wissenschaften treten zu lassen.
Alle Versuche von Schoeps, das – und damit die Beschädigung seiner intellektuellen Hinterlassenschaft – zu verhindern, schlugen fehl, bis es ihm gelang, durch direkte Intervention bei der bayerischen Regierungsspitze wenigstens zu erreichen, daß die Geistesgeschichte im Rahmen der künftigen Lehrveranstaltungen einen besonderen Schwerpunkt bilden sollte. Vor allem auf Betreiben des landläufig als „konservativ“ geltenden Historikers Michael Stürmer wurde nach dem Tod von Schoeps am 8. Juli 1980 das noch bestehende „Seminar für Religions- und Geistesgeschichte“ liquidiert, sein Lehrstuhl eingezogen beziehungsweise umgewidmet und 1994 sogar die Bibliothek – darunter neunhundert von den Erben leihweise übergebene Titel – an ein Antiquariat verkauft.

Die ’Überwindung der Massengesellschaft’ wird in unserem Geschichtsraum vielleicht überhaupt nur noch vom Geist, von den Ideen und Institutionen des Preußentums her möglich sein. Denn Preußen war der einzige deutsche Staat, der mehr als ein Staat war, mit dem sich eine Idee verknüpft hat, durch die Menschen gebunden wurden und noch heute gebunden werden können. … Derlei ist heute vollkommen unzeitgemäß – aber gefordert. Gerade die Unzeitgemäßheit ist paradoxerweise die größte Chance für Preußens Wiederkehr. Erst in der Zukunft wird man das klar erkennen können. – Schoeps 1982

Man hat Hans-Joachim Schoeps immer wieder seine unkritische Haltung gegenüber der preußischen Vergangenheit vorgeworfen, seinen anachronistischen Royalismus, und selbst Wohlwollende glaubten, daß er sich allzu sehr nach Schnallenschuh und Perücke am Hof zu Sanssouci sehnte. Aber damit trifft man nicht den Kern der Sache. Hier hat einer mit bemerkenswerter Unbeirrbarkeit nicht nur daran festgehalten, daß es möglich sein müsse, Deutscher und Jude, Preuße und Jude zu sein, sondern auch darauf beharrt, daß „unser armes Land“ seine Wunden heilen lassen sollte und daß ohne die preußische Substanz staatliche Existenz gar nicht möglich sei. Damit war er in der ersten Nachkriegszeit durchaus repräsentativ für eine starke Minderheit der Deutschen, die eine Totalrevision der Geschichte für unwahrscheinlich hielt, dann akzeptabel, weil ihm Herkunft und Schicksal einen gewissen Schutz gewährten, schließlich einsam wie jeder, der im Ernst auf dem Wert der preußischen Lektion beharrte.


vendredi, 15 mai 2009

Cento anni Robert Brasillach

Cento anni Robert Brasillach

Tratto da http://www.ladestra.info/

Quando si dice Brasillach, di solito parte la retorica. È un vizio antico in uso dalle nostre parti. È morto giovane, d’accordo. Gli hanno fucilato l’animo di ragazzo, gonfio di romanticismi e sogni belli. Certamente. Ma oggi questo giovanotto di cent’anni è più vero di ieri. Nato nel 1909, morto nel 1945: si è risparmiato di scendere tutti i gradini della degradazione, all’opera nella vecchia Europa da allora in poi. Si è sottratto al destino di chi, come noi, è cresciuto nell’impenetrabile nebbione del mito mitizzato senza mai veramente conoscerlo, viverlo, vederlo a colori. La fortuna dei martiri è questa. Aver trovato qualcuno che ti fucila al momento giusto. E così ha mantenuto intatto l’alone di gloria, suo è l’esempio. Per sempre. Versato ad ammirare chiunque concepisca l’impegno come un ribollire di energia, Brasillach cantò la giovinezza in quanto contenitore naturale di forza e di tensione… e ad esempio di Codreanu richiamava lo spirito monastico e militare, la «poesia rude e piena di colore… lo stato di illuminazione collettiva…»; dei rexisti celebrava «l’elemento più spettacolare e più attraente del mondo nuovo: la giovinezza. L’universo fiammeggiava, l’universo cantava e si radunava…». Del Fascismo, dunque, coglieva non tanto le dottrine politiche, i corporativismi, le sociologie, ma soprattutto la capacità di radunare, animare e galvanizzare masse giovanili soffiando nei loro cuori uno spirito di vita… questo Fascismo-dio, che muove l’argilla e la rende carne pulsante, Brasillach lo volle vedere come il mito del secolo.

E disse cose inaudite per qualunque orecchio sordo e avvizzito. Pronunciò frasi sbalorditive per chiunque abbia venduto l’anima al perbenismo. Trinciò definizioni ingiuriose per tutti i preti laici del conformismo. Scrisse che «il fascismo è spirito. È uno spirito anticonformista in primo luogo, antiborghese e l’irriverenza vi aveva la sua parte. È uno spirito opposto ai pregiudizi, a quelli di classe come a tutti gli altri…». Che parole! E che sintesi! Che solenne poesia dello squadrismo, del darsi e del darsi altrimenti! Citò Sorel, e ne estrasse un programma politico ristretto in un’unica, brevissima frase: «…i miti non sono cabale astrologiche… Bisogna considerarli modi di agire sul presente». Come l’amore inetto e sterile, il mito mitizzato è funereo e castrante, immobilizza mentre è nato per sospingere. Il mito vivente deve dunque essere storia, società, uomo vero in carne e ossa. Dedichiamo la riflessione a quanti spesso hanno fatto di Brasillach, e di tutto quanto il Fascismo, la retorica degli imbelli e un cartone inanimato.

L’accademico di Francia Thierry Maulnier, nel 1964, paragonò la morte di Brasillach alla malattia del genio, quella che ne interrompe il volo, che inspiegabilmente spezza all’improvviso un destino attraverso la «stupida ferocia della storia». Come per Chénier o per Kleist, la morte per Brasillach è stata un annuncio: «attraverso la grazia e la tenerezza colma di tristezza del gesto con cui hanno accarezzato le forme visibili ed invisibili della vita: di quella vita che Robert amava troppo per rassegnarsi alla sua usura». Dunque il poeta Brasillach ha consapevolmente accettato la morte nel momento in cui si rese conto che, da un certo momento in poi, la sua vita si sarebbe logorata e sciupata. Lo si direbbe proprio un prescelto dagli dèi, che sono soliti infliggere ai sopravvissuti o ai posteri la condanna inespiabile di lunghe esistenze deprivate di grazia.

Le inquadrature da cui è possibile osservare oggi Brasillach sono quelle di un altorilievo neo-classico. Saint-Loup provò a sintetizzare: «Un essere tutto luce come lui non poteva sostenere il combattimento con armi comuni. Gliene occorrevano altre, più temprate di quelle degli Spartani che ammirava. Le ha trovate nel supplizio e la sua morte mira più alto della sua vita; il suo sacrificio conduce infinitamente più lontano della sua penna. Ha persino “trasfigurato” il fascismo che egli sosteneva». Una mistica di questo genere è il pane quotidiano per ogni religione. Perfino per quelle che predicano l’umiltà e sono tronfie, elogiano la povertà, ma vivono di sfarzo e di potere… Di mistica si nutrono i devoti, come dell’esempio cui rifarsi, del santo cui appellarsi. E poco importa se storicamente l’Idea ha prodotto contraddizioni, atroci disinganni, menzogne. Gli uomini vivono nel fango ma, ogni tanto, hanno bisogno di alzare lo sguardo e di pensare alto. Dura un attimo, ma conta. Come ogni religione che abbia mosso uomini alla milizia e al martirio di sé, anche il Fascismo ha i suoi santi. E Brasillach, mandato a morte mondo di peccato, conserva il suo alone di sorridente volontà di sacrificio. Non un “santino”, ma un uomo capace di assoluto. Giano Accame, invece, e con parole straordinariamente suggestive, ne fece un “inattuale”: «Perchè Drieu è attuale, Céline è ancora attuale, e Brasillach non lo è?». Scrisse che il suo ottimismo gli faceva un po’ pena, che le sue ingenue enfatizzazioni sul Fascismo e sul Nazionalsocialismo ne fecero un illuso. Un’anima semplice? Noi oggi, a tutto questo, vorremmo aggiungere l’elogio dell’ingenuo. Colui che rimane nel proprio gene. Che ne resta imbozzolato e non conosce l’altrove, bastando a se stesso. Wagner fece un poema dell’ingenuità di Sigfrido. E Parsifal non era forse un ingenuo? Quali figure, più di queste, richiamano alla mente la radicale opposizione col mondo moderno e con i suoi personaggi falsi, ottusi, materiali e gonfi di vuoto?

Brasillach ebbe la colpa di immaginare un mondo ribattezzato dal Fascismo come fosse una rivoluzione dello spirito, capace di rifare l’uomo dalla testa ai piedi. Parlando di Brasillach, Accame faceva del sarcasmo, alla sua maniera: «L’uomo nuovo che avevamo sognato non è diventato né migliore, come si sperava, né peggiore, come si temeva… abbiamo tirato fuori la testa dal disastro e ci siamo ritrovati adulti, sciatti, moralmente grigi, ma ben presto compiaciuti di noi stessi, dei nostri utensili, dei nostri guadagni, delle nostre ferie, sotto un cielo vuoto». Che terribile cantico al tracollo dello spirito poetico e che terribile denuncia circa il dilagare della più vile delle prose!

E poi è anche possibile che Brasillach fosse meno ingenuo di quanto pensiamo noi. Magari volle e si impose di essere poeta proprio perchè comprese alla perfezione che altrimenti sarebbe morto anche se avesse continuato a sopravvivere. Tra i non conformisti degli anni Trenta aleggiavano proiezioni e immaginative di cui noi oggi non possiamo comprendere che poche cose. Nella sua famosa Lettera a un soldato della classe ‘40, Brasillach in qualche modo ci spiega quanto poco fosse un illuso o un ingenuo. Il “caro ragazzo” a cui si rivolge è il giovane del dopoguerra e di tutti i dopoguerra. «Ti chiedo solo di non disprezzare le verità che noi abbiamo cercato, gli accordi che abbiamo sognato al di là di ogni disaccordo, e di conservare le due sole virtù alle quali io credo: la fierezza e la speranza».

Se pensiamo un attimo a quanto poco si aggirino per l’Europa mondializzata la fierezza e la speranza, si capisce che Brasillach non parlava il linguaggio etereo del metafisico con la testa tra le nuvole, ma quello concreto dell’uomo in cerca, sorretto dalla volontà di adornare l’esistenza di qualcosa, anche minima, per cui valga davvero la pena di essere vissuta. La fierezza e la speranza – ma non sarebbe un ottimo titolo per un libro postumo di Oriana Fallaci, certo ad altissima tiratura? - sono precisamente quelle cose di cui oggi manca completamente la povera Europa che ha fucilato Brasillach, colpendone ben più lo spirito che il corpo. Uomo tutt’altro che spaesato e abbandonato a sogni adolescenziali, Brasillach fu al contrario attento alla modernità, ne annusò certi segnali, ne apprezzò non poche manifestazioni, ne assaporò molti lati. Dal cinema alla musica jazz, al teatro, persino ai cartoni animati… e non gli fece difetto una “normalissima” inclinazione per la vita bella, suadente, rallegrante, esteticamente ricca e stimolante. E quando fu il momento, con la morte in faccia, mantenne quel sangue freddo che si addice più al navigato avventuriero che al semplice e al sognatore.

Noi gli perdoniamo facilmente di aver preso qualche memorabile “cantonata”. Non fu l’unico. Si tratta anzi di una regola storica. Rileggiamo volentieri le sue pagine visionarie, lisergiche, pregne di santa e sana allucinazione: via di fuga dalle miserie borghesi. Ripercorriamo insieme a lui l’arduo cammino di quanti furono per una lunga stagione al centro degli eventi e vi si tuffarono a capofitto secondo istinto. E confessiamo invidia per chi, come lui e molti della sua generazione, ha avuto in dono dal destino la possibilità di commettere anche grandi sbagli, potendosi dare l’aria di aver centrato il senso della storia. A noi è toccato in sorte di frugare tra gli avanzi degli altri, senza trovare nulla che non fosse avvilimento.
«Un accampamento di giovinezza nella notte, l’impressione di essere un tutt’uno con la propria Patria, il collegarsi ai santi e agli eroi del passato, una festa di popolo, ecco taluni elementi della poesia fascista, in cui è consistita la follia e la saggezza del nostro tempo. Ecco ciò, ne sono sicuro, cui la gioventù tra vent’anni, dimentica di tare e di errori, guarderà con oscura invidia e con inguaribile nostalgia…». Queste parole, effettivamente, nascondono un errore di valutazione. Ma non riguarda l’analisi del suo tempo, bensì la prognosi di quello a venire. Nessuno ha dimenticato le tare e gli errori, ma tutti ricordano soltanto quelli… e nessuno si azzarda a provare invidia o nostalgia per idee che, nel frattempo, lavorate a lungo da eserciti di termiti giganti, sono state ridotte a relitti terribili e a minacciose mostruosità.

Di Brasillach ci piacciono ancora e nonostante tutto e in faccia al mondo alcuni suoi fondamentali. L’Europa è uno di questi. Un asse latino-germanico, un pullulare di patrie e di identità rivendicate, un mito da agitare, e ancora oggi, e proprio nel momento in cui la parola “identità” è diventata una colpa e un insulto e al mito si affibbia la maschera tragica del delirio. Di Brasillach ci piace poi il suo anarchismo. La sua voglia mobile di raccontare storie di radicamento: «Voglio restare… restare nella tua ombra, ingannare l’attesa, il ricordo di avere atteso, sperare, attendere ancora…», fa dire a Berenice l’errante. Questo “restare” potrebbe diventare all’improvviso una parola d’ordine e un grido. Di pochi oppure magari di molti. Magnifica illusione o scelta pesante? Dopo tutto, lo aveva scritto ne I sette colori: «Ad altri gli entusiasmi della illusione, la certezza che mai ha dubitato di sé. Per noi, il nostro solo merito, in tutti i campi, è di esserci accettati, di avere scelto».

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Tratto da Linea del 24 aprile 2009.

Luca Leonello Rimbotti

mardi, 12 mai 2009

Pierre Drieu la Rochelle: Melancholy Rebel

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PIERRE DRIEU LA ROCHELLE -Melancholy Rebel

 

by Radbod - http://www.geocities.com/integral_tradition/

Pierre Drieu La Rochelle (1893-1945) was born into a middle class, politically conservative, Catholic family. Drieus childhood seems to have been particularly unpleasant, for he feared and hated his father, an unsuccessful lawyer, who constantly ridiculed him for any displays of weakness or cowardice. Drieu loved his mother dearly, but she often neglected him in the pursuit of her active social life. Consequently, Drieu spent much of his childhood immersed in books and daydreams about Napoleonic grandeur, military heroism, and colonial adventure, which he readily contrasted with his own familys decadent and pusillanimous bourgeois lifestyle. Drieu was very conscious of his familys social status, especially after his fathers shady financial dealings had resulted in a sharp decline in the familys economic status while Drieu was an adolescent. Drieu confessed that "family life offered me nothing but repugnant trials, I lived between a father and a mother who were torn apart by adultery, jealousy and financial troubles."

Drieu was able to separate himself from the negative influence of his early family life and began to assert himself in both the upper-bourgeois Catholic collége and the École des Sciences Politiques. He enjoyed the "group experience" of his school days, but was often wary of his inferior social position. While he was invited into the upper-class homes of his friends, he often assumed an air of intellectual superiority to compensate for his sense of class inferiority.


Drieu was heavily influenced by his trip to England at the age of fifteen, where he first cultivated a life-long love for all things English. He discovered there an energy and dynamism, evident in the British love for physical sports, which he readily contrasted against his view of France as a weak and decadent country. It was in England that Drieu first discovered the work of Nietzsche, which further reinforced his growing interest in the role of power and responsibility of the individual will and the man of action in society. Drieu reports that his intellectual awakening came at the rebellious age of seventeen when:


Drieu was fervently drawn to the call of the nationalistic writers of the older generation, particularly the novelist and political thinker, Maurice Barrès. He admired the Barrèsian emphasis on the individual will, the "Self," which stressed the union of the intellectual life with the life of action and political "engagement." Drieu was inspired by the Barrèsian cult of national energy that glorified "eternal France," but never truly subscribed to the Barrèsian idea of "integral nationalism" which celebrated the intrinsic and native-born qualities of all Frenchmen. He was also drawn to some of the ideas of Charles Maurras and Georges Sorel. For a time between 1911 and 1914, Drieu was a member of the Cercle Proudhon, an antidemocratic, nationalistic, monarchist organization of young right-wing students, many of whom attended the prestigious École des Sciences Politiques with Drieu. Founded in 1911, it sought to revitalize the nation according to the "best" in French tradition, including the ideas of Proudhon, Maurras, and Sorel. Like many of his generation, Drieu was drawn to a rightist stance in reaction to the liberalism, democracy, pacifism, positivism, and narrow rationalism of the older generation. Drieus membership in the Cercle Proudhon exposed him to elitist ideas concerning the virility of youth, the value of hierarchy, and the preservation of order and tradition. Looking back on the period immediately prior to the First World War in 1936, Drieu La Rochelle recalled: "One sees that certain elements of a fascist atmosphere came together in France around 1913, before they did elsewhere. There were young people from various classes of society who were filled with a love of heroism and violence, and who dreamed of fighting what they called the evil on two fronts: capitalism and parliamentary socialism, and who were similarly disposed toward both. There were, I think, people in Lyons who called themselves socialist-royalists or something of that nature. A marriage of nationalism and socialism was already being envisaged. Yes, in France, in the groups surrounding Action Française and Péguy, there was already a nebulous form of fascism." For Drieu, intellectual and political initiations seemed to have come less from proper bourgeois institutions of learning than from the wealth of literature and ideas fermenting in the prewar years. Both would draw on these ideas in the formation of their intellectual and political revolt against the bourgeois values of their youth. "
I am a fascist because I have measured the progress of decadence in Europe. I saw in fascism the only means of containing and reducing that decadence, and moreover, scarcely believing in the political resources of France, I saw no other recourse than that of the genius of Hitler and Hitlerism." "With a dull nonchalance, I turned back upon myself and plunged into melancholy. Timid and mistrustful, I did not dare to go out into the world. At last, as I swore to kill myself before I was twenty-five if I had not loved a beautiful woman, written a beautiful book and accomplished a beautiful action, I learned...that war had broken out."
Like so many, Drieu longed for the "realism" of direct energetic action and the glamour of war. Certainly the war helped to intensify many of Drieus beliefs concerning the decline of Western civilization, yet there is evidence that his fascist roots pre-dated 1914. Drieu was drafted in 1913 at the age of twenty and spent the next few months tied to the routines of barracks life, until war was declared in 1914. "What had I felt when war had been declared? Liberation from the barracks, the end of the old laws, the arrival of possibilities for me, for life, for new laws, young laws, bold and surprising." Free from the stifling bourgeois conventions of his family, Drieu rejoiced in the "savage liberty" that military service promised from "social convention, preparations for life, for a career, and for the distant future."
Drieus romantic notion of war soon changed on the battlefield of Charleroi, where Drieu mused, "war today means being prostrate, wallowing in the mud flattened. Before, war meant men standing upright. War today means every possible position of shame." While Drieu got to know the discomforts and horrors of war, he also discovered its ability to liberate the most primal, virile, and "noble" instincts in man. Achieving the rank of sergeant and serving as a platoon leader, Drieu received three battle wounds in the course of his distinguished service at Charleroi, the Marne, Artois, Verdun, and the Dardenelles. He would always remember fondly the exhilaration of a bayonet charge that he had led in 1914 at Charleroi, where "all of a sudden, I found myself, I found my life. This was now me, this strong man, this free man, this hero. So, this was my life, this sudden joyous surge that would never ever stop." Drieu emerged from the war acutely aware of his own courage and virility, and was determination to find a means of expression that would communcate the intensity of his wartime experiences.
Recovering in a hospital from battle wounds, Drieu discovered the work of the poet Paul Claudel and developed a taste for more "modern" styles of literature. He was done with flowery bourgeois literary styles, and adopted a more direct, abrupt approach: "I had some urgent things to cry about the war, about man in war, about the confrontation of life and death, and it was absolutely necessary that I find a means that measures up to the violence of my cry."
Drieus first collection of poems, Interrogation, was published in 1917 and was very favorably received. Drieu was soon being touted as one of Frances most versatile young writers. His early writings revealed a discreet but passionate "cult of France," and a sense of fraternity or love for his comrades in the trenches, the death of whom solidified and internalized his love for his country. Drieu had high expectations for the regeneration of France by the new generation of youth tempered by war and ready to seize political power. He was convinced that his generation had proven itself superior to the older one, for they had held at Verdun and the Marne, while their elders had lost at Sedan. He believed that "now we have the right to speak . . . strong from thousands and thousands of energetic acts . . . and our elders have only to keep quiet."
However, for most veterans, energetic acts had been exhausted on the battlefield. While enough veterans were elected to the Chamber in 1919 to dub it the "blue horizon chamber" after the color of the French army uniform, the victory of the rightist Bloc national marked a return to traditional democratic conservatism. Drieu had hoped that his generation would seize power, "[b]ut no. We allowed them to continue and keep their places. The veterans had let themselves be totally frustrated." Drieu was disgusted with the inability of his generation to act, and continued to look for a group dynamic enough to transform French society. Drieu became thoroughly disenchanted with the condition in which they found post-war France, and decided that politically, morally, and intellectually, French society was bankrupt. Drieu La Rochelle was also disappointed by the failure of his generation to take action, and was disgusted with a post-war France that was all too identical to pre-war France. In 1922 he wrote that while France had won the war: "It took half the world to contain a people that my people, alone, had tread on with ease for centuries. . . . On our soil, our flesh no longer held its place. . . . Behind us in each house in the place of those who were dead or of those who had not yet been born there was a foreigner. He was alone with our women. . . . We did not go to bed alone with Victory." Drieu was disgusted with Frances declining population growth, which was made shockingly apparent by the war. He also was ashamed at French weakness in the face of stronger powers and resented the influx of foreign labor following the war. Drieu was sickened by what he saw as the decadence of French society, for he believed that sterility, onanism, [and] homosexuality are spiritual maladies. Alcoholism, drugs are the first steps that lead to this failing of the imagination, to this decadence of the creative spirit, when men prefer to submit rather than to assert themselves. Thoroughly disgusted with the bankrupt society which sent them off to a war that had accomplished so little, Drieu declared war on the decadence that had created it. He proposed to initiate a thorough regeneration of France and Western society through force and violence, by first wiping the slate clean and starting anew.
Drieus search for a group that would transform society with "thousands of energetic acts" led him to the early Dada and later Surrealist group of André Breton. Having found a group of young men with whom he could relate, Drieu La Rochelle began to identify with the early Surrealists urge to destroy bourgeois society. Having befriended Louis Aragon in 1916, Drieu was introduced to the Dada group after the war. He was impressed not only by the groups literary boldness, but also by their youthful energy and independence, their antirationalism, their internationalist opposition to xenophobic nationalism, and hostility towards the older decadent generation. Drieu later wrote that his period with the Dadaists/ Surrealists was one of great pleasure, as he believed that this prodigious troop of young men and poets, I firmly believe, are the most alive group in the world today. . . . This encounter has been for me an enormous event."
The role that Drieu played in the group is sketchy and it is unclear to what extent he participated in Dada and later Surrealist group activities. While he lent his name to a number of Dada/Surrealist documents, Drieu did not always feel comfortable in the group, for he was often torn between both revolutionary and reactionary rebellion. When the Dadaists held a mock trial of Barrès in 1921, Drieu was reluctant to participate. The Dadaists abhorred Barrès as the symbol of stagnant cultural traditionalism and rabid nationalism, yet Drieu was unwilling to denounce his idol. When bluntly prodded by André Breton to confess whether or not he still found Barrès appealing, Drieu replied evasively that he retained a sense of respect for Barrès. For the time being however, he had found a much needed friendship and camaraderie with the Dada/Surrealist group--a sense of attachment and belonging that he had craved since his days in the trenches.
He also expressed the belief that the old order had to be eliminated before a regeneration could begin. Drieu was no stranger to the idea of violence, for even before his days with the Dadaists, he had been drawn to the philosophical language of violence preached by Nietzsche, Barrès, Péguy, Maurras, and Sorel, the renowned author of Réflexions sur la Violence (1908). Drieu marvelled that "all of them sang to me of violence. Without doubt I was born to reverberate to this call rather than to some other." Drieus notion of violence saw no exceptions in its need to destroy traditional society, and often directed itself towards the old order as it was defined through its art and culture: "We will destroy. . . . With a bitter joy, we will strike down this civilization. . . . What will remain of beauty? Of that which our ancestors brought into the world? . . . We will put that beauty to the torch in the houses of the rich where its presence for us is a malediction. Too bad if the flames do not stop, too bad if they consume everything." Drieu cherished his bonds of friendship with the Surrealists and admitted that "I found among you a nourishment more substantial than ever before." However, while Drieu was not a monarchist or a racist, he was also attracted in the early 1920s to the friendship offered by the Action Française on the extreme Right. Drieu was torn between two poles: "I have been solicited by the only two groups that exist in France in our time, where one can think and where one can act passionately." He rightly feared that fully embracing one would irrevocably alienate him from the other. However, Drieu realized that the two were incompatible, and regretted that "I can no longer hold them in balance."
In many ways the Surrealists made his choice for him when they embraced communism in 1925. Drieu was too much a man of his class and was repulsed by communism which he regarded as too materialistic, rational, egalitarian, and non-European. He believed that communism promoted intellectual and artistic mediocrity and stressed a naive collectivity that denied the value of the individual will. Interestingly, he established his political position in response to the leftist turn of the Surrealists: "I called myself a man of the Right, by a scruple that, not without irony, imitated your inconsiderate dash towards communism. . . . [T]he moment that I was not communist, I was against communism, and therefore a man of the Right."
However, Drieus notion of the Right evidently did not include the Action Française, for he found it and other right-wing groups too nationalistic, monarchist, and decadent. In addition, the threat from the extreme Left seemed reduced since the return to moderate policies after the fall of the Cartel des Gauches in 1926. Having left the Surrealists, Drieu announced in an open letter to them that he had taken a political stand "equal distance between M. Bainville [of the Action Française] and M. Francois Poncet [Radical Party politician]." He proclaimed himself a "national republican" with an eye towards the "elegant possibilities of a modern conservatism." In reality, Drieu was disenchanted with parties on both the Left and Right, and was more confused than firmly committed. Drieu began to formulate his own political position after 1925 which would take nearly a decade to materialize into his own brand of fascism.
So Drieu La Rochelle moved from an interest in Communism in 1917 to an admiration for fascism in the interwar period (publishing Socialisme fasciste in 1934). His 1922 novel, Mesure de la France, explored the disillusionment of French youth after the First World War. He sided with the Nazis after France's defeat (he was a friend of the German ambassador, Otto Abetz) and became editor of La Nouvelle Revue française.
Drieu wanted to rejuvenate and reinvigorate France, a task accomplished only by joining in federation with all of Europe to resist outside threats posed by expanding foreign empires. Drieu saw fascism as the only way to impose this new strength upon a weak and decadent France. He was drawn to the notion of Spartan sacrifice entailed in fascism. He believed that "fascism facilitates the open recognition of one fact: universal impoverishment, the necessary reduction of the universal standard of living," for he felt that there was "at the basis of the moral force in all fascism, a disposition for sacrifice, a willingness to fight." In the mid 1930s, Drieu observed this propensity for sacrifice and deprivation in totalitarian Germany and wondered "if the poverty that shows itself in Germany does not hide a moral richness," for he believed that the only real hope for Europe could be found "under the sign of stoicism."
Drieu became a proponent of violent rebellion based on vigorous action, change, and renewal. He was more concerned with a "spiritual" revolution than a material one--placing morals, aesthetics, and ideals above economics, finance, and production. Determined to pursue his own political ideology, Drieu founded in 1927 with his friend Emmanuel Berl, the journal Les Derniers Jours (The Last Days). Drieu hoped to save France from sinking into utter decadence by cutting across traditional party lines in creating an amalgamation of the best in capitalism and communism to achieve a political monopoly by the big capitalists of the upper bourgeoisie. Political control in the hands of big capitalist cartels would lead to greater European unity, perhaps a United States of Europe, which would abolish in turn the evils of parliamentary democracy, petit bourgeois capitalism, and chauvinistic nationalism.
Finally, in 1934, Drieu abandoned all reservations towards fascism following the nights of bloody rioting in Paris from 6-12 February which arose out of the Stavisky scandal. Drieu was exhilarated by the apparent solidarity between communists and fascist leagues fighting together in the streets against the corrupt liberal Third Republic: "And then all at once there was fascism. Everything was possible again. Oh, how my heart soared!" Drieu believed that he had finally found the means to combat decadence and to propel France towards spiritual regeneration.
Drieu ultimately conceived of revolution in "spiritual" terms and had "spiritual" conceptions of a future re-generated society that would give birth to new conceptions of man himself. Once Drieu accepted fascism in 1934, he promptly presented his political position as "fascist socialism." While his political position was fascist, it was nevertheless one of his own invention and was socially and economically quite conservative. Drieu generally believed in a social revolution of the petite bourgeoisie, for he saw the modern French proletariat as too decadent and oppressed to act heroically as a revolutionary force. He believed that Marx' faith in a revolutionary proletariat was based on an obsolete nineteenth-century class of artisans and peasants rather than an actual urban proletariat. Drieu also rejected the Marxist view of class struggle as the real inspiration for historical change. Refuting the very idea of a proletarian class, he also denied the existence of a bourgeois ruling class, for he saw a clear separation between political power (controlled by a political elite), and economic power (controlled by the bourgeoisie). Against the Marxist view, Drieu proposed a fascist revolution by an elite drawn from the petite bourgeoisie and peasantry. Drieu saw these groups, threatened with extinction by big capitalism above and marxism below, as receptive to revolutionary action leading to a return to a "heroic" vision of nineteenth-century artisan and peasant society. Political power would be more "elitist" than democratic, residing in the natural leaders of society (an elitism in keeping with the Maurrasian tradition), motivated by noblesse oblige rather than democratic electoral politics. The upper bourgeoisie and aristocracy, who controlled big business, would retain their economic hegemony, but political power would be relinquished to the fascist elite of the petite bourgeoisie. In his article "The Young Man and the Older Man," written in 1935, Drieu revealed through the young man that: "Fascism will be nothing other than a new Radicalism, . . . a new movement of the petite bourgeoisie, disciplined and organized in a party that inserts itself between Big Capitalism, the peasantry, and the proletariat, and that, through terror and authority, imposes on these different interest groups an old charter under a renovated form. But this new charter instead of being liberal, will this time be socialist."
Drieus concept of "socialism" was political rather than economic, meaning an authoritarianism imposed by the petite bourgeoisie rather than a socialism of humanitarian concerns, social reforms, or working class interests. This socialism was also in many ways nationalist, in that it did not serve the interests of foreign powers such as the Soviet Union, as Drieu believed international socialism and communism did.
While Drieus economic and social views were reactionary, his political and cultural conceptions were radical. Economic systems were less to blame for present conditions than the bodies and minds of Frenchmen that had grown soft and decadent. Drieu now saw fascism not only as the best way to combat decadence, but also as a way to reconcile and elevate both the physical body and the spiritual mind: "The deepest definition of Fascism is this: it is the political movement which leads most frankly, most radically towards the restoration of the body--health, dignity, fullness, heroism--towards the defense of man against the large town and the machine." Drieu saw the need for the emergence of a "new man" created from the ground up, a man able to combine political idealism and physical strength, both a militant and an athlete. Drieu hoped fascism would produce a man of a new "virile disposition" who would only reach his fullest potential by acquiring the courage "to have advanced his body to reach the point to which he has advanced his thought."
Drieu was like many fascist writers who expected the creation of a fascist state to bring about a new breed of man, the homo fascista, a "complete" man overcoming the fragmenting forces of mass society and industrialization. Standing triumphant in a Darwinian world where might always makes right, he was to be a man of energy, virility, force, and action--a hero, yet an individual who recognized the value and strength of the cohesive group, of order, discipline, and authority.
Drieus conception of the "new man" first found its concrete form in the person of his friend, André Malraux. In 1930, Drieu had published "Malraux, the New Man," praising Malraux for boldly addressing the most fundamental problems of the times. Malrauxs leftist leanings did not initially bother Drieu, because he saw in him the "raw man" who had found the perfect union of a life of vigorous action with a life of intense thought, which gave his writing the force and conviction of reality.
By the late 1930s, Drieu seemed to think Jacques Doriot of the Parti Populaire Française (PPF) was also an embodiment of this "new man." Doriot had been a communist mayor of Saint-Denis, but had been expelled from the party due to conflicts with Party discipline. Formed in 1936 in reaction to the leftist Popular Front government, the PPF was an amalgamation of rightist ideology and communist organizational structures which drew from both Right and Left. Drieu was inspired by Doriots physical vigor and athletic appearance, and rejoiced that Doriot "stands before France not as a fat-bellied intellectual of the last century watching his sick mother and puffing at his radical pipe, but as an athlete squeezing this debilitated body, breathing his own health into its mouth."
With the failure of the PPF or any other French fascist party to seize power, along with French appeasement of Hitler in 1938, Drieu realized that "in France, a revolution instituted by Frenchmen was impossible. A revolution could come only from outside." No longer believing in the political resources of France or England, and fearing the intrusion of foreign empires such as the United States and the Soviet Union, Drieu lamented that "I have seen no other recourse than in the genius of Hitler and Hitlerism. . . . Hitlerism appeared to me more than ever as the last rampart of any liberty in Europe." Drieu had visited Nazi Germany in 1934 and had attended the Nuremberg rallies. Visiting again in 1936, he was impressed by the fascists ability to galvanize and remold the state and inject it with a sense of rediscovered spiritual values. Drieu believed that the German fascists were moving towards a "spiritual" and aesthetic conception of society.
Drieu had now put his faith in "Hitlerian man", a new breed of German youth--tough, athletic, and Spartan. He believed that Germany had produced legions of this new prototype which had surpassed the physically and morally inferior Anglo-Saxon man. He conjured up images of a German "wolf-man" from ancient German lore, but this time clad in black leather and armed with American gangster machine guns. While Germany had succeeded in cultivating this "new man," Drieu also pictured various antecedents, such as the Christian crusader, the Spanish conquistador, the colonial adventurer of the nineteenth century, and the American gangster of the 1920s.
With the fall of France in 1940, Drieu had thrown in his lot with the Nazis as the greatest possibility for the political federation of Europe and the spiritual regeneration of Frenchmen. By the end of 1940 Drieu was the editor of the collaborationist Nouvelle Revue française in Paris and the close friend of Otto Abetz, the German ambassador to France. Drieu never saw his collaboration as treason, for he believed that France had to be radically transformed by the violent revolution of an outside force in order to survive. In 1945 he explained, "I have always been a nationalist and an internationalist at the same time." He argued that "ever since my first poems written in the trenches and the hospitals in 1915 and 1916, I have aligned myself as a French patriot and a European patriot," and that even "after the First World war, I continued to concern myself with France, her survival, herpride." Drieu claimed to be devoted to France, but as Grover points out, his passion had the characteristics of an illness, as his concern for France was often expressed in anxiety, spite, and even hatred.
Drieus hatred was at times directed against his own countrymen. As his collaboration deepened, he accepted and supported the anti-Semitic policies of the Nazis. He identified Jews with a decadence that he had previously blamed on all Frenchmen. Despite his acceptance of racial theories in the abstract, Drieu did use his influence to save several Jewish friends, including his first wife, from the hands of the Gestapo. In Fascist Intellectual Drieu La Rochelle, Robert Soucy points out that Drieus acceptance of racism contradicted basic conceptions of man and nationalism that he had embraced most of his life. The late adoption of anti-Semitism seems to have been a reflection of personal weakness in failing to resist adherence to the "intellectual vogue" of the Nazi ideology of the 1940s.
By 1942 the Allies had turned the tide of the war by landing in North Africa and Hitler had been put on the defensive. Drieu now expressed disgust with the Nazis for failing to bring about social revolution, European unity, or spiritual regeneration. While many collaborators were withdrawing their support from Hitler after 1942, Drieu increased his by rejoining the PPF, by now one of the most committed collaborationist organizations.
Yet, in the face of such trying times, Drieu lamented that he had not remained outside of political affairs. In his diary of 1944-45, Drieu revealed that "politics were only really a source of curiosity for me and the object of distant speculation. I have a horror of everyday affairs and men quickly disgust or bore me." Had he afforded himself the luxury, Drieu might have lived his life in utter detachment from political affairs. Yet, in addition to rejoining the PPF, Drieu also claimed in the last weeks of his life to support Stalin as the last hope for Europe. The eleventh-hour conversion to these positions was most likely an act of exasperation and a parting shot at his critics, as he once told a friend that he just wanted to give his many enemies a good reason for loathing and killing him. He also realized that upon the liberation of France, the Resistance, including many communists, would instigate a bloody purge of all collaborators. Drieu turned down chances to seek asylum in Spain, Argentina, England, or Switzerland and decided to stay in France to face defeat. In his Exorde (Final reckoning), he presented a hypothetical trial defense in which he explained his duty as an intellectual to take risks, to act outside of the crowd, as a Europeanist, not just a nationalist; yet in the end he insisted on perishing with his cause by demanding that his jurors: "Be true to the pride of the Resistance as I am true to the pride of the Collaborators. . . . [W]e played and I lost. I demand the death penalty." Rather than facing a real trial, Drieu played the part of his own executioner by taking fatal doses of poison on 15 March 1945. Drieus commitment to his cause and acceptance of death reveals that to Drieu, fascism as he knew it was much more than a political expedient, but a way of life based on heroism, risk, and ultimately, sacrifice.
In seeking to understand the political and intellectual evolution of Drieu La Rochelle, one must examine the forces that turned Drieu towards fascism, and when exactly he can be said to have become fascist. Drieu had been hesitant about fascism before 1934, as fascism was not as prevalent in France as it was in Germany and Italy. However, he became convinced of the dynamic and virile possibilities of fascism after the 1934 Paris riots. While Drieu may not have fully realized his fascistic tendencies until 1934, Frederic Grover argues that Drieu was fascist ever since the Great War. Grover notes that a number of Drieus wartime writings, such as Interrogation (1917) and La Comédie de Charleroi (1934), reflected an underlying fascism. Grover notes that these works emphasized such themes as an antibourgeois sentiment, hatred of the old generation, a general antirationalism, a preoccupation with death, a sense of social elitism, and a clear hierarchical sense of the leader/follower relationship. In La Comédie de Charleroi, Drieu depicted his fellow soldiers as "mediocre" and weak, and boasted of the courage and social position that allowed him to rise in the heat of battle to assert his natural leadership abilities. Having proven himself a leader, he believed that men "would be unable to refuse me anything I might ask from them. . . . [D]eep down . . . they were only waiting to be called." Indeed, Drieu later wrote in 1934 that "In my first civilian suit, holding the passionate ideas of Interrogation, the collection of my war poems, I was entirely fascist without being aware of it."

"On the eve of my baccalaureate exam . . . [a]bruptly I discovered reactionary thought. Thereafter it was Maurras, the Action française, [Jacques] Bainville, Georges Sorel, and by way of them I linked myself to a long chain of French reactionaries. . . . All had the effect of multiplying the formidable blow that I had received at Oxford when I was sixteen: Nietzsche."