Thursday, December 16, 2004

Reflections on “Where we stand"

Unser Standort is perhaps not the best choice of text when it comes to introducing Ernst Niekisch. As stated before it can be labeled as “proletarian nationalism” and in that capacity contributes little positive knowledge. Of course it is not only of biographical and historical interest as some parts of it connects to the age in which we live today.

What Niekisch basically says in Unser Standort is first Versailles, then the capitalists. When we look at Niekisch' later work we se that Hitler is condemned as “West”, “Versailles” and “bourgeoisie” at the same time. (And for the later Niekisch these three was more or less the same.) We have there the insight that the “treaty” of Versailles and the bourgeoisie can't be separated.

As can be seen, Niekisch' position in Unser Standort has striking resemblances to various forms of “two-step-revolutions” in marxist thought. First national liberation, together with the “progressive bourgeoisie”, then socialism. First democratic revolution, then socialist revolution. Those who advocate various forms of two step models today should have little problem with Niekisch. Still, many of those who, for example, support popular fronts between islamists and socialists in Iraq slander Niekisch as “reactionary” or even “fascist”.

It seems as if nationalism for marxists is a privilege reserved for “the third world”. Nationalism as privilege because in nationalism, as in socialism, there is an immense source of energy ready to be harvested. The question is if it can be used for post-national goals. However if we listen to Lenin it is no doubt that the Weimarian “Germany” was to be counted among the oppressed nations. Let us repeat what Lenin said on the Third International's second congress: “By means of the Treaty of Versailles, the war imposed such terms upon these countries [Germany, Austria-Hungary, Russia and Bulgaria] that advanced peoples have been reduced to a state of colonial dependence, poverty, starvation, ruin, and loss of rights [...]”

The problem with “second revolutions” is that they are rare indeed. Seldom, if ever, has the national revolution been followed by a socialist revolution. Let us again take a look at what Lenin has to say: “[N]o Versailles treaties will subdue the power of the workers and peasants once they have learnt to deal with the landowners and capitalists.” As Niekisch later realized, the dictate of Versailles was bourgeoisie. Therefore no querfront with the “German” bourgeoisie was possible. On the contrary - socialism is national liberation (as well as liberation from the nation).

1 comment:

Stanislaus Turba said...

Deutscher Widerstand ist dort, wo man die Verantwortung dafür trägt, dass dem sozialrevolutionären Einsatz nicht die nationalrevolutionäre Hinterabsicht fehle, dass der Sturz der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft zugleich der Aufbruch der Auferstehung Deutschlands sei.

Ernst Niekisch [Der politische Raum deutschen Widerstandes, 1931]