by Matthew Neville

ArabSpringEggs

1.         Political birthdays and the alternative to liberal democracy

Recently, an AFP report appeared:

BUDAPEST (AFP)—A Hungarian online news channel backed by the extreme-right parliamentary party Jobbik paid tribute to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler on his birthday, online observers reported.

The 30-second report, which originally aired on Wednesday evening on

Hitler’s 122nd birthday, praised the “German politician” for his economic and

moral contribution to his adopted country.

Hitler “rapidly relaunched the destroyed, impoverished Germany, where an

unprecedented upturn started in the economic, social, moral and cultural

spheres,” the news piece gushed.

However, it added that since the defeat of Nazi Germany, “the probably

best-known politician in history has been the principal target of a political

witch-hunt of the victorious powers,” which it referred to as “the Anglo-Saxon

and bolshevik allies.”

By itself, this is unremarkable: had Jobbik been a communist group marking the birthday of a Stalin or Lenin or Mao, the media would not have noticed. But, when it comes to celebrating Hitler’s birthday, the media sits up and takes notice. Why? The answer is, I think, significant. The political system of the West, for the past hundred years, has been liberal democracy (with a few excursions into conservative, military dictatorship, e.g., Portugal and Spain). There has been only one alternative to appear, in the West’s recent history, to liberal democracy and that is fascism. (And by fascism, I mean the ideology of German National Socialism, Italian Fascism, Mosley’s British Union of Fascists, Degrelle’s Belgian Rex movement, and others).

Mussolini picture

It is true that, at a few points in history, it seemed as though Soviet Communism was an alternative to liberal democracy in Europe, and, as we know, the communists had control of one half of the leading nations of the West – Germany – for nearly half a century. But Soviet Communism was a foreign import, and Russified to the core; fascism was home-grown. (Intellectually, of course, communism had its roots in the West, which was one of the reasons why it built up such a following in pre-war Germany and elsewhere in Western Europe). Liberal democracy has to fight to preserve itself, politically; and one of the ways it does so is by demonising the alternative, the ‘other’, which is fascism. Liberal democracy understands, on an instinctive level, that fascism is a competitor, and a dangerous and seductive one at that.  Hence the non-stop anti-Hitler, anti-Nazi propaganda which continues in the news media to this day, and the host of special anti-nationalist, anti-racist, anti-Holocaust Revisionist laws in Europe.

In contrast, not so much attention is paid to the militant Left. After the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, and China’s ‘backsliding’ into Western-style capitalism after 1979, the Left was thrown into turmoil. Now it makes itself felt primarily through hooliganism. The May Day demonstrations in Germany every year, for example, are an excuse for the militant Left (in particular, the anarchists) to go on a hooligan rampage, destroying property, assaulting police officers and causing millions of euros in damage.

The truth is that the old (mainly Trotskyite) communist parties are in decline, and the hooligan-anarchist element is on the ascendant (anarchists, for instance, threatened to disrupt the recent Royal Wedding in Britain, and assembled to do so (but were apprehended by the police in time)). With the recent riots against austerity measures in Europe, the old-style, hooligan, violent brand of Leftism – anarchism – is back, for the first time in around a hundred years.

The bottom line is, the Left will continue to be unpersecuted by the liberal democratic state so long as it does not break the law directly (i.e., commit acts of property damage and arson). The Left can continue to publish incendiary newspapers, demanding the overthrow of capitalism and the founding of a Trotskyite-style communist dictatorship; but liberal democracy tolerates this, for the simple reason that it does not see the Left as a serious competitor.

2.         The political use-by date

Fascism, on the other hand, is a serious threat. Part of this is to do with the passage of time. The fall of communism in East Germany, and Eastern Europe, was only recent, and so those countries still have fresh memories of what life in those countries was like. For the most part, those memories are not good. Communism failed because it failed to provide people with a decent standard of living. Substandard clothes, housing and other consumer items, shortages of basic necessities at state-owned supermarkets, endless queues… The problem was not so much lack of political rights (e.g., civil liberties, the right to form political parties and run in elections, press censorship) but the grinding misery and sub-standardness of it all. We see the same phenomena in North Korea and Cuba today.

In contrast, fascism never got a decent innings. German National Socialism survived for 12 years; Italian Fascism, 22; the occupation fascist regimes of Norway, Hungary, Croatia, etc., even less. Because the fascist regimes never survived the war, they never got the chance to grow old, degenerate and become decadent. An analogy could be made with the careers of the Beatles and the Rolling Stones: the Beatles broke up, in 1971, in their prime; the Stones, in contrast, are around to this day – and have produced a great number of substandard albums and played a great many substandard concerts. No wonder, then, that rock music fans only have golden memories of the Beatles.

In politics, one can outstay one’s welcome. We have seen that, recently, in the uprisings in the Arab states against regimes which have been in power for decades (Mubarak had been in power in Egypt for about 30 years, Saleh in Bahrain for about 30, Gaddafi for 40, and the Assad dynasty in Syria for over 40). One can sympathise with the Egyptian people’s impatience, for instance, with Mubarak: the best way for an Australian to think of it is to  imagine if former Australian prime minister Bob Hawke – who won the federal election of 1983 – was still in power. Hawke (despite his noxious views on Israel, South Africa, multiculturalism and the rest) was the man of the moment in 1983, Australia’s answer to Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, the man to lead Australia out of the terrible recession of the 1980s and into a new period of national confidence. But, while he was fresh, and very much the man of the moment in the 1980s, as soon as 1990 came around, he was old hat. Like Thatcher, he was unable to cope with the recession his policies helped brought about, and so was toppled in a party coup. Liberal democratic parties – and the liberal democratic system – has that advantage over dictatorship: it punishes failure, and manages, by introducing new players into the political system, to stay fresh (for the most part). Liberal democracy, for example, gave American voters in 2008 the chance to expel the then-unpopular Republican Party from the White House and give the presidency to the dynamic , innovative unknown, Barack Obama. (Unfortunately, Obama proved to be just as bad as, if not worse than, Bush Jr., but that is another story).

3.         Good and bad authoritarianism

Not only have the regimes of the Middle East been long-lived, they have been extremely authoritarian (and, as we have recently seen, willing to use ferocious violence against their own people). They are as authoritarian as the Italian and German fascist states, and rely upon a secret police, phone tapping, emergency laws which override constitutional law, press censorship, arrest, detention and imprisonment for political crimes, the annulment of the parliament as a legislative body, the dissolution (or neutering) of rival political parties… The intellectual arguments made in order to justify this authoritarianism are similar to those made under fascism. The first is ‘We are at war’ argument (in fascism, the enemy was communism, in the Arab states, militant Islam); the second is that ‘liberal democracy leads to chaos’.

In such a political climate, we see the ‘cult of the leader’ emerge, just as under fascism. (The leaders, in question, are Ghaddafi, El-Fadine, Mubarak, Assad Sr. and Jr…). The leaders act according to the Führerprinzip, and, as such, are responsible for all the country’s successes (and failures). One of the reasons why so much public anger in Egypt was directed at Mubarak was because he was held personally responsible for everything that had gone wrong in the Egyptian state. (According to Hitler’s theory in ‘Mein Kampf’, in a democratic system, the political leader can eschew all responsibility and slough it off on to others, which is why the Führerprinzip is so much better).

Authoritarianism, and phenomena such as the cult of the leader, are not unique to fascism, of course. There have been many military dictatorships since WWII, and of course, communism was an authoritarian, illiberal ideology which also practised the ‘cult of the leader’ – in China and North Korea, to an insane extent. In addition, even liberal democratic states have used authoritarian methods. Yockey writes, in his ‘Enemy of Europe’, of the American occupation of Western Europe after the war:

[America] proclaimed to Europe that the Americans had come as a Herrenvolk, possessed of great understanding for political realities and morality, to liberate “Europeans” and “educate” them up to True Democracy.

Although the American occupation used the slogan “democracy”, it did not make even a pretence of introducing 19th century democratic forms. The press, political parties, every kind of gathering, every move – everything required a “Licence”. This was the substitution of a negative, mechanical Führerprinzip for the natural, organic Authoritarian State [i.e., European fascist state] founded upon the inwardly imperative principles of Ethical Socialism [i.e., European neofascism], which is the destined state-form of Europe in this Age of Absolute Politics. This was the tyranny of capitalist liberalism, using the mere methods of the European state-form without understanding their spiritual content… [Yockey, The Enemy of Europe, ‘The American Occupation of Europe’].

Germany, today, is very much the same as the American occupiers left it, still operating under the same “mechanical Führerprinzip” system. In fact, it is a kind of anomaly unique in the world: a hybrid between a normal liberal democracy and a Syrian or Egyptian-style police state.

As can be gleaned from the quotation from Yockey, he seeks to distinguish between ‘good’ authoritarianism (of the European fascist sort) and ‘bad’ authoritarianism. Evola makes the same distinction in his ‘Men Among the Ruins’ (1972). He contrasts the true and good authoritarianism of what he calls ‘Tradition’ with the ‘inwardly dead’ totalitarian regimes of communism. (He makes the intriguing comment that the communist totalitarian regimes are unconscious parodies of the ‘Traditionalist’ political system: the Kim Il-Sung or Mao type is portrayed, by communist propaganda, as a divinely inspired monarchical ruler with almost god-like powers).

Both of these ideologues of post-war Euro-neofascism would, were they alive today, hasten to assure their readers that their ideal political state form would not bring about a Syria, Egypt, Libya, Cuba, North Korea or Burma. They make long and complex arguments to the effect that their state would not be ‘inwardly dead’ or ‘mechanical’. In essence, the arguments boil down to the contention that their neofascist states would be ‘youthful’, ‘vigorous’, ‘fresh’ and ‘alive’ – much like the German and Italian ones they admired. (Yockey makes frequent disparaging remarks about the age of the post-war European liberal democrats installed by the Allies – that they were older, as a rule, then the fascists and Far Right collaborationists they replaced). I would argue that yes, the European fascist states were certainly modernist, fresh, forward-moving, and so forth. But this could be either due to the fascist ideology itself, or to the fact that the fascist states – unlike Mubarak’s Egypt, Ghaddafi’s Libya or Assad’s Syria – never got the chance to age and ossify.

MiddleEastRevolution

3.         An anecdote from Syria

An Arab correspondent in Syria, Sasha Ghosh-Siminoff, relates this anecdote regarding life in Syria in ‘The Guardian’ newspaper (‘Life in Syria’s psychological prison of fear’, The Guardian, 29/04/2011). It concerns a young man he befriended in Syria called Yusuf. It is a poignant story which describes some of the bad things that can happen to ordinary, apolitical people in authoritarian regimes:

At 26 years, he was neither engaged nor married.

Marriage is an important step in Syrian culture and an individual is not really considered a man until he is married, owns an apartment and has a job. But marriage is a tricky thing in Syrian society. Assuming the girl’s family agrees to the marriage, Syrian men need to pay a dowry of roughly $4,000. Not only that, but the groom is expected to provide an apartment for the new couple. Housing in recent years has become very costly and between the dowry and the cost of housing, many young men do not have the means. Before the current wave of protests, the Syrian government was aware of this and was in the process of building thousands of new apartments to help bring down the price of housing.

Eventually my friend confided in me a story that illustrates how the arbitrariness and thoughtlessness of the Syrian regime combines with other social pressures. For a number of years, Yusuf was in love with a girl from his village. When he finally decided to ask her father for permission to marry, her father said no and proceeded to engage his daughter to another man. Yet my friend could not forget his love so easily and continued to see her even though he had been forbidden to do so. Unfortunately, her father was an important man in the internal security services. When he found out that Yusuf was still seeing his daughter, he wrote a false report that landed Yusuf in jail for several days, where he was beaten.

Even that was not enough. Yusuf was then sent to Damascus where he was held and tortured for another 11 days – until his father intervened and convinced high officials within the internal security services that my friend was a genuine supporter of President Bashar al-Assad and the regime. As proof, he showed them a poem my friend had written about the president. A general saw the poem and loved it so much that Yusuf was released.

assad_opt_140133898

Now, could have such a thing have happened in Hitler’s Germany or Mussolini’s Italy? According to the propaganda of the time (e.g., Hollywood movies produced by Jews, British wartime propaganda from the BBC), men were arrested all the time in Italy and Germany, for arbitrary reasons, and beaten, tortured, etc., and only released after they wrote poetic and fulsome tributes to Hitler or Mussolini. We can, in 2011, write off most, if not all, of these stories as rubbish. But, having said that: suppose that both Germany and Italy had managed to survive the war and both Hitler and Mussolini died of old age – would fascist Italy and Germany have turned into Egypt or Syria, after thirty or forty years?

The trouble with authoritarian states is that they can begin life as progressive, forward-moving (Ghaddafi was a young colonel, on the political Left, and a progressive and a reformer, when he seized power in 1969). But then, after a time, the negative side of authoritarianism kicks in. A power élite forms around the leader, and becomes entrenched, and develops a monopoly on political power and the economy. One result is that fresh young people do not attain positions of power and leadership. In order to obtain money for a house, a dowry, etc., one has to curry favour with that élite. What is more, the same élite begins to act in a capricious and self-indulgent manner. In National Socialist Germany, this process was already underway, as shown in David Irving’s (largely neutral) biographies of Goebbels and Goering. The average German, of course, in the 1930s was materially better off than the average Egyptian, Tunisian, Libyan or Syrian is now. But all the negative sides of authoritarianism of the Ghaddafi sort were becoming apparent. Presumably, over the course of decades, that negative side would have become grating – Italians and Germans may, for instance, have come to resent the vast fortunes amassed by National Socialist and Fascist leaders.

4.         Can ‘Prussian Socialism’ work?

I am unfamiliar with Jobbik’s party platform, and am not aware if there is a demand, in there, for a return to the wartime Ferenc Szalasi/Arrow Cross style of rule. (As for the German, French and Italian nationalists, in those countries, one is forbidden, by law, to endorse fascist-type dictatorship). My impression is that nationalist groups in the West tend to brandish the old fascism (and, in particular, its symbols – the SS runes, the Italian fasces, the Arrow Cross, Mosley’s BUF ‘lightning-bolt’ logo, etc.) like an amulet, as a means of warding their liberal democratic and communist enemies. The thought of a ‘return’ to the old fascism fills liberal democrats and communists with fear. And while liberal democracy has (rightly so) written off communism for dead, it still sees the old fascism as a threat.

The question is, whether the authoritarian political models – built around fascism – of Yockey, Evola, Bardèche, Thiriart and other post-war neofascist intellectuals can work, whether or not they can survive in the long run. The problem is not deciding, whether or not, if they are good alternatives to Obama or David Cameron-style liberal democracy; of course they are – almost anything is. Liberal democracy, for one, has proved to be a massive failure in one particular field: immigration. If present immigration continues at the present pace (as set by our liberal democratic politicians, all elected in free and fair elections), white people of Western European descent will be minorities in their own countries by about 2050. And then there is the question of what to do with the many millions of immigrants who already upon our soil: no amount of electioneering and parliamentary debates will get rid of them. While the recent successes of the Far Right populists in Europe are heartening, there is no sign, at present, that we can simply vote our way out of our difficulties. (And then, there are no guarantees: suppose that the French Front National, or the Swedish Democrats, were voted in – but lost the next election?).

But just because the existing system is bad is not to say that ours is any better. And fascism, and neofascism, are the only real alternatives we in the West have advanced to liberal democracy in the past hundred years. The runes and other symbols of the skinhead and National Socialist Black Metal bands are uniquely ‘ours’ – uniquely Western, uniquely our own creation. Nothing else, aside from neofascism, inspires the same level of intensity and devotion on the Far Right nationalist scene, and certainly, in the nationalist scene, our best intellectuals have been of a neofascist orientation. Without a doubt, if nationalists ever came to power, in Europe, America and Australia, it would be a revolution – driven by dedicated young men – which would blow the opposition away with its intensity and conviction, and it would be a total revolution at all levels, political, economic, cultural, intellectual. But how would nationalists prevent a nationalist state from descending into the authoritarianism, capriciousness, corruption, self-indulgence, ossification and petty tyranny of the Ghaddafi and Assad variety? Would we ever be in the situation of sending in the army to fire at our own people in the streets?

Muammar_Al-Gaddafi-0794

Perhaps what is needed is a synthesis of liberal democracy and Yockeyist/Bardèchean euro-neofascism – taking the best elements from each. This essay is not intended to come up with a comprehensive answer, merely to state, in clear and precise terms, the question.

Comments are closed.