Books / Digital Text


2. National (Anti-Marxian) Socialism

Marxian socialism is beckoning: “Class war, not national war!” It is proclaiming: “Never again [imperialistic] war.” But it is adding in thought: “Civil war forever, revolution.”

National socialism is beckoning: “National unity! Peace among classes!” And it is adding in thought: “War on the foreign enemy!”17

These solutions distill the ideas which are dividing the German nation into two hostile camps.

The great political problem of Germany is the national one. It appears in three different forms: as the problem of the linguistically mixed territories at the borders of German settlement in Europe, as the problem of German emigration (a creation of German settlements overseas), and as the problem of foreign trade that must provide the material support for the German population.

Marxism did not see these problems at all. It could say only that in the socialistic paradise of the future there will be no national struggle. “National hatred is transformed class hatred,” its holder is “the middle class,” its beneficiary the “bourgeoisie,” proclaim the party literati.18How could there be national conflicts after class distinctions and exploitation have been abolished?

The national problem is a world political problem, the greatest world problem in the foreseeable future. It concerns all nations, not just the German nation. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, when the English and French formulated modern political doctrines, it had a different meaning for them than it has today. The first civilized country for which the national problem became important in its present form was Germany. It should have been the task of German political theory to deal with it and find a solution through practical politics. The British and French did not know all those problems of nationalism for which the formula of national self-determination does not suffice. German politics did face these problems for decades, and should have met the challenge by finding a solution. But German theory and practice could only proclaim the principle of force and struggle. Its application isolated the German nation from the world, and led to its defeat in the Great War.

Where the areas in which the German people settled meet with those occupied by the Danes, Lithuanians, Poles, Czechs, Hungarians, Croats, Slovaks, Italians, and French, the population borders are not clearly marked out. In wide sections the peoples are mixed, and individual linguistic islands, especially urban centers, reach far into foreign areas. Here the formula of “self-determination of nations” no longer suffices. For here are national minorities who fall under foreign rule if the majority principle determines political government. If the state is a liberal state under the rule of law, merely protecting the property and personal safety of its citizens, the alien rule is less palpable. It is felt more keenly the more society is governed, the more the state becomes a welfare state, the more etatism and socialism gain a footing.

For the German nation a violent solution to the problem is least satisfactory. If Germany, a nation surrounded by other nations in the heart of Europe, were to assault in accordance with this principle, it would invite a coalition of all its neighbors into a world-political constellation: enemies all around. In such a situation Germany could find only one ally: Russia, which is facing hostility by Poles, Lithuanians, Hungarians, and possibly Czechs, but nowhere stands in direct conflict with German interests. Since Bolshevist Russia, like Czarist Russia, only knows force in dealing with other nations, it is already seeking the friendship of German nationalism. German Anti-Marxism and Russian Super-Marxism are not too far apart. But various attempts at reconciling German Anti-Marxian nationalism with the Anti-Marxian nationalism of Fascist Italy must fail in dealing with South Tirol, just as a reconciliation of Hungarian chauvinism must fail in dealing with the West-Hungarian problem.

A violent solution to the question of border Germans would be less acceptable for the German nation itself than for its neighbors, even if there were prospects for its realization. In fact, Germany, even if victorious on all sides, would need to be prepared for war at any time, would have to brace itself for another war of submission through starvation, and would have to prepare its economy for such an eventuality. This would impose a burden which, in the long run, could not be borne without serious consequences.

The trade problem, which Germany needed to solve during the nineteenth century, grew from a worldwide shifting of production to areas with more favorable production conditions. If there had been complete freedom of movement, a part of the German population would have emigrated, for German agriculture and some branches of industry could no longer compete with newly opened, more fertile countries offering more favorable production conditions. For national political reasons Germany sought to prevent this emigration through tariff policies. We cannot elaborate here why this attempt was doomed to failure.19

The migration problem is the third form of the practical political problem for Germany. Germany lacks territory for its excess population. And again, the prewar theory of German nationalism discovered no better solution than violence through conquest of suitable territory.

In Europe, tens of millions of people live poorly who would do much better in America and Australia. The difference in the living conditions between a European and his descendants overseas continues to grow. European emigrants could find overseas what their native countries failed to offer: a place at the banquet of nature. But they are too late. The descendants of those who, one, two, or three generations ago chose the New World over Europe, do not welcome them. The organized laborers of the United States and the British Commonwealth countries permit no addition of new competitors. Their labor union movement is not aimed at employers, as the Marxian doctrine prescribes; they are waging their “class war” against European workers whose immigration would reduce the marginal productivity of labor, and thus wage rates. The labor unions of the Anglo-Saxon countries favored participation in the Great War in order to eliminate the last remnants of the liberal doctrine of free movement and migration of labor. This was their war objective, which they adhered to completely. Countless Germans living abroad were uprooted, deprived of their possessions and earnings, and “repatriated.” Today, strict laws either prohibit or limit immigration not only to the United States, but even to important European areas. And the labor unions of the United States and Australia unhesitatingly would favor a new, more horrible and bloody world war if it should become necessary to defend the immigration restrictions against an aggressor, such as the Japanese or a rearmed Germany.

Here are insurmountable difficulties for the Marxian doctrines and the policy of the Communist International. Theorists sought to escape the difficulties by not mentioning them. It is characteristic that the copious prewar German literature on economic and social policy, which again and again dealt with the same matter in tiring detail, contains no work that could explain the policy of immigration restrictions. And abroad only a few writers dared touch a topic that obviously did not harmonize with the doctrine of the workers’ class solidarity.20This silence, better than anything else, reveals the Marxian bias in social literature, especially German literature. When, finally, the international conventions of socialists could no longer escape dealing with this question, they skillfully circumvented it. Let us, for instance, read the minutes of the International Convention of Socialists in Stuttgart, in 1907. It adopted a lame resolution characterized by the recorder himself as rather “awkward and hard.” But this should be blamed on circumstances. A socialistic convention is not held “to write novels. Hard realities are colliding, which finds expression in this hard and awkward resolution.” (This is a euphemistic way of admitting that something is wrong with the harmonious thoughts of the international solidarity of workers.) The writer therefore recommends that “this resolution so painfully constructed on the middle of the road be adopted unanimously.” But the Australian representative Kröner crisply declared, “The majority of the Australian Labor Party opposes the immigration of colored workers. As a socialist, I personally recognize the duty of international solidarity and hope that in time we shall succeed in winning all nations of the world for the idea of socialism.”21Translated from the Australian to English it means: Make as many resolutions as you please; we shall do as we please. Since the Labor Party has come to power, Australia, as is well known, has the strictest immigration laws against colored and white workers.

The nationalistic Anti-Marxists of Germany could perform a great service by solving the emigration problem. The German mind could develop a new doctrine of universal freedom and free movement that would evoke an echo with Italians, Scandinavians, Slavs, Chinese, and Japanese, and which in the long run no nation could resist. But no beginning has yet been made of what needs to be done, and surely nothing has been accomplished.

National Anti-Marxism proved to be unproductive in the very point on which its greatest emphasis must be placed: the problem of foreign policy. Its program for the integration of the German nation in the world economy and world policy does not basically differ from the precept of German policy in recent decades. In fact, it does not differ from recent policy more than any theoretical doctrine differs from the realities faced by the statesman who is kept from his intended course by his daily tasks. But a violent solution is even less applicable today than it was in prewar Germany. Even a victorious Germany would be powerless to face the real problems of the German nation. In the present state of world affairs, Germany could never prevail over the opposing national interests of other nations, that is, it could not acquire overseas territory for German settlement and open up favorable markets for German industry. Above all, it could never be safe from a resumption of the war by a new coalition of enemies.

National Anti-Marxism is failing as well in providing suitable German policy for pressing present problems. In their struggle against forced integration, the German minorities in foreign countries must demand the most comprehensive democracy because only self-government can protect them from losing their German identity. They must demand full economic freedom because every intervention in the hands of the foreign state becomes a means of discrimination against the German population.22But how can the German population in the border territories fight for democracy and economic freedom if the Reich itself conducts a contrary policy?

National Anti-Marxism has also failed on scientific grounds. The fact that the Marxian theories of value and distribution have lost their prestige is not the achievement of Anti-Marxism, but that of the Austrian School, especially Böhm-Bawerk’s critique which the young friends of theoretical economics in Germany could no longer overlook. Surely, the attempts by some writers to confer prestige on Marx as a philosopher have little prospect for success, because, after all, philosophical knowledge in Germany has reached a level that makes scholars somewhat immune to the naivetés of the “philosophy” of Marx, Dietzgen, Vorländer, and Max Adler. However, in the field of sociology the categories and thoughts of Marxian materialism continue to spread. Here, Anti-Marxism could have solved an important task; but it was content with attacking those final conclusions of Marxism that appeared to be objectionable politically, without refuting its foundation and replacing it with a comprehensive doctrine. It had to fail, because for political reasons it sought to show that Marxism is animated by the spirit of the West, that it is an offspring of individualism—a concept alien to German character.

The very starting point is fallacious. We already mentioned that it is not permissible to contrast the universalistic (collectivistic) with the individualistic (nominalistic) systems of social doctrine and policy, as set forth by Dietzel and Pribram, and now advocated by Spann with his nationalistic German Anti-Marxism. It is also erroneous to view Marxian socialism as the successor to the liberal democracy of the first half of the nineteenth century. The connection between the socialism of Marx and Lassalle and the early democratic program was rather superficial, and was discarded as serving no further purpose as soon as the Marxian parties came to power. Socialism is no improvement over liberalism; it is its enemy. It is illogical to deduce a similarity of the two from an opposition to both.

Marxism does not spring from Western thought. As mentioned above, it failed to find followers in Western countries because it could not overcome the utilitarian sociology. The greatest difference between German ideas and those of the West is the great influence of Marxian thought in Germany. And German thought will not be able to overcome Marxism until it sheds its hostility toward British, French, and American sociology. To be sure, it cannot just adopt the sociology of the West, but it must continue and build anew on its foundation.

  • 17. We must not search for ideas of national socialism just within the National So­cialist Party, which is merely a part—in questions of party tactics an especially radical part—of the greater movement of national socialism that comprises all people’s parties. The most eminent literary spokesmen for national socialism are Oswald Spengler and Othmar Spann. A short and very instructive summary of the ideas of national socialism is contained in the program of the Greater German Peo­ple’s Party of Austria written by Otto Conrad, Richtlinien deutscher Politik. Pro gram­matische Grundlagen der Grossdeutschen Volkspartei [Guidelines for German policy. Program principles of the greater German people’s party], Vienna, 1920.
  • 18. See O. Bauer, Die Nationalitätenfrage und die Sozialdemokratie [The nationality problem and social democracy], Vienna, 1907, pp. 263, 268.
  • 19. I sought to explain it in my book Nation, Staat und Wirtschaft [Nation, state, and economy], Vienna, 1919, p. 45 et seq.
  • 20. The most comprehensive treatment is given by Prato, Il proteezionismo operaio, Turin, 1910. (French translation by Bourgin, Paris, 1912.) The book remained almost unknown in Germany.
  • 21. International Convention of Socialists at Stuttgart, August 18–24, 1907, Berlin, 1907, p. 57–64.
  • 22. See the excellent discussions by F. Wolfrum, “Der Weg zur deutschen Frei­heit” [The road to German freedom], Freie Welt, Gablonz, vol. IV, Booklet 95, and “Staatliche Kredithilfe” [Credit assistance by the state], Freie Welt, Booklet 99. In Czechoslovakia every government intervention serves to make the minorities Czech; in South Tirol and in Poland the Italians and Poles do not act any dif­ferently.
Shield icon library