[Marxism] Nazism: The "Critic" of Integumental Reason

Jeff Rubard jeffrubard at fusemail.com
Wed Mar 10 20:37:48 MST 2004


As there has recently been some discussion here of past extreme-right
elements persisting within the political body *per se*, I would like to
offer an analysis of Nazism which is both more and less equivocal than the
traditional story offered, a story which is to my mind too modern by half.
 The NSDAP (National Socialist German Worker's Party) is traditionally
presented as having been the "backbone" of the extreme-right elements
permeating Europe during the interregnum: Fascism, Mosleyism,
Maurrasianism even the "social-fascism" of the Western European SI parties
if certain elements are to be believed.  But although no force opposing
the dictates of liberal democracy was as compelling as the Nazis, perhaps
both this and their continuing hold on the "political unconscious" are
best explained if we stop this series at its third entry for the nonce.

The views of Maurras are actually better-understood than is commonly
understood; "unorthodox" leftists with a great deal of respect for
existing institutions of particularity, like the *Telos* group after
losing its Habermasians, basically espouse a theoretical line close to
Maurras' ("Sorel without violence", to be "definitive").  But given the
rather incredible amount of lip service paid to liberal ideals such as the
rule of law, from this vantage point it is actually rather easy to
understand what is appealing about Maurrasianism: essentially, it is an
all-out war on *Kernloesigkeit*, the loss by human beings of their
*integumental* characteristics (health and culture) -- and when confronted
with someone who has obviously lost a great deal of such, it is hard to
understand what is *not* appealing about such views.  However, perhaps the
rather palpable disconnect between the respect Maurras demands from even
the most "sympathique" of French leftists and the "blood and soil"
ideology it espoused can be understood through the Nazis, and much to our
benefit.

Specifically, this can be done by paring away prominent German
intellectuals (Heidegger, Schmitt, Gentzen) generally considered in terms
of their connection to the Nazi party -- somewhat to the party's benefit
-- leaving the probable proximate influences to account for the actual
political doctrines contained within.  What are we left with?  A movement
concerned with cyclical analyses of history (a la Spengler), "science and
sanity" (Count Alfred Korzybski being a funny enough joke taken neat at
one time), *and* also the "reflexivity" espoused by then-fashionable
Neo-Kantians (including those darn feuilletonists "we" make a positive
effort to forget today).  In other words, the Nazis were a "meta-movement"
'founded' upon recursion upon beliefs about the SPD -- and their aspect as
a "mistake that turned out great" bears some thinking upon, both in terms
of the "ideological realities" of Weimar and the well-known *material
futility* of the German war effort.

What I am saying here is that Hitler's irrationalist politics (funded by
the anti-Semitic, *anti-war* "doxastic surround" of the original DAP)
cannot be "properly" understood in terms of the now-less-famous John
Heartfield salute montage, rather in terms of Heidegger's acclaim for his
"fierce resolve": to unpack the metaphor, he was a proletarian who set an
"uncommonly good" price-point for the proletariat qua *habitus* (that is
to say, conduct exemplified and intimated) -- then invited those
unconcerned about bad habits to operate within a "fold".  That is to say,
in defiance of the "ungovernable" realities of joint production: that is
to say, on a wing and a prayer, with hope and heart (and no elbow grease,
not to mention...)  And so what has previously been mentioned here, the
NSDAP's critique of capitalism, was indeed *immanent* in their reasoning
if never actually implemented for a very good reason: the party's
parliamentary support came from "grey-collar" shopkeepers and other
petits-bourgeois in parochial cities (due to the little-known fact that
KPD council strength in metropoles continually rose until 1933 and the
well-known fact that other parties to the "nominal right" of the SPD, like
the Catholic Center, played "show-stopping" roles in the defense of
constitutional democracy during the 20s while the post-Munich Nazis
mouldered).

Since the *conditio sine qua non* of American government is that there be
no "system-subject" with "conditions handsome or unhandsome" in the style
of John Austin, all of us here are very much entitled to say: what of it? 
Why continue to dissect a "time" proximally understood through a glass
darkly?  I think the defensible reason can be concocted from a rather
marvelous piece of middlebrow history, *Nazi Psychoanalysis*, together
with the understanding of economic activity effectively permitted to the
American worker today -- if Ron is to tell you how I feel for the benefit
of bossman, perhaps Sigmund's role was to tell you how he didn't feel (the
history of Nazi footsie with notable German Jews and ostensible
sympathizers is no twice told tale, either).  In other words, what
occurred during the *Nazi-Zeit* was an effective "burial" of the
intellectual past, such that authorities "did not speak" (a complicity
bespoken in that rarely-mentioned document of culture recording the cold
comfort offered at a camp, "tomorrow you shall rise as smoke to the
heavens" -- a forced complicity, that is to say a world of friendly
interpretable objects possessing more "decision" -- more in line in with
that famous "substantival" misconstrual of Kant's categorial imperative
than "live" traces of intellectual culture in the hands of the fairly
honest *Ordinarius*).

What are we to say regarding similar phenomena in the cultural present? 
"More" and "better" come to mind.

Rubard





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