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Conservative Revolutionary movement

The Conservative Revolutionary movement was a German national conservative movement, prominent in the years following the First World War. The Conservative Revolutionary school of thought advocated a "new" conservatism and nationalism that was specifically German, or Prussian in particular. Like other conservative movements in the same period, they sought to put a stop to the rising tide of communism, partially they advocated their own brand of "conservative socialism".


[edit] History

The Conservative Revolutionaries based their ideas on organic rather than materialistic thinking, on quality instead of quantity, and on Volksgemeinschaft ("folk-community") rather than class conflict and ochlocracy. These writers produced a profusion of radical nationalistic literature that consisted of war diaries, combat fictional works, political journalism, manifestos, and philosophical treatises outlining their ideas for the transformation of German cultural and political life. Outraged by liberalism and egalitarianism, and rejecting the commercial culture of industrial, urban civilization, they advocated the destruction of the liberal order, by revolutionary means if necessary, in order to make way for the establishment of a new order, founded on conservative principles. The movement had a wide influence among many of Germany's most gifted youth, universities, and middle classes.

The term "Conservative Revolution" predates the First World War, but the writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the political theorist Edgar Julius Jung were instrumental in making this term an established concept of the Weimar period. Jung who became inspired by fascism promoted a fascist version of Conservative Revolution from the 1920s to the 1930s, which like fascism: spoke of nation as being singular organic entities; attacked individualism while promoting militarism and war; promoted "total mobilization" of human and industrial resources; and promoting the productive power of modernity, similar to the futurism espoused by Italian Fascism.[1] While Schmitt promoted anti-Semitic views, he claimed that he held no fondness towards the National Socialism of Adolf Hitler which he considered to be too vulgar.[2]

The Conservative Revolutionaries, many of whom were born in the last decade of the nineteenth century, were all basically formed by their experiences of the First World War. The war and the German Revolution was for them a clean break from the past, which left them greatly disillusioned. First, the experience of the horrors of trench warfare, the filth, the hunger, the negation of heroism to a man's effort to stay alive on the battlefield and the random death led to many recognizing that there was no meaning to this war, or to life itself. They also had to contend with the Dolchstoßlegende ("stab-in-the-back legend") of the end of the war. Second, in this Kriegserlebnis, they sought to re-establish the Frontgemeinschaft (the frontline camaraderie) that defined their existence on the warfront. They felt that they were "like a puppet which has to dance for the demonic entertainment of evil spirits". Some were attracted to nihilist ideas. In their Froschperspektive writings, they sought to give their experience meaning.

After 1933 some of the proponents of the conservative revolutionary movement were persecuted by the Nazis, most notably by the SS of Heinrich Himmler, who wanted to prevent reactionaries from opposing or deviating the Hitler regime in this early time. Many noblemen were anti-democratic, and were happy with a Nazi abolition of democracy, but they also opposed the revolutionary and extremely radical socialistic and racistic aspects inside the Nazi Party [3]. Other conservative revolutionary movement members went into anonymity, some arranged themselves with the new regime and became NSDAP members. Others, like Claus von Stauffenberg, remained inside the Reichswehr and later Wehrmacht, to silently conspire in the 20 July plot of 1944.

[edit] Notable members

[edit] Bibliography

  • Travers, Martin (2001). Critics of Modernity: The Literature of the Conservative Revolution in Germany, 1890-1933. Peter Lang Publishing. ISBN 0-82044-927-X. 
  • Herf, Jeffrey (2002). Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich (reprint edition ed.). Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-52133-833-6. 
  • Stern, Fritz (1974). The Politics of Cultural Despair: A Study in the Rise of the Germanic Ideology (New Ed edition ed.). University of California Press. ISBN 0-52002-626-8. 
  • Woods, Roger (1996). The Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-33365-014-X. 

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  • The Conservative Revolution in the Weimar Republic, pg 29.
  1. ^ Griffen, Roger (ed). 1995. "The Legal Basis of the Total State" - by Carl Schmitt. Fascism. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 109.
  2. ^ Griffen, Roger (ed). 1995. "The Legal Basis of the Total State" - by Carl Schmitt. Fascism. New York: Oxford University Press. Pp. 108.
  3. ^ citation needed

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