Rudolf Jung’s 1922 vision of a future representative, National Socialist council-state
Over the next few weeks ARPLAN will be publishing a number of articles exploring the often difficult concept of democracy’s place within National Socialist ideology. On the face of it one might think that there is no place for democracy in National Socialism; today the Hitlerian regime and its guiding philosophy are typically presented as the archetypal antithesis of democratic values. What complicates this perception are the thoughts and words of the National Socialists themselves – on the one hand they cursed democracy, while on the other they claimed to be bringing a true, Germanic democracy to the German people. The National Socialist interpretation of democracy, like the Soviet, was characterized by a difference of interpretation – for them democracy lay not with parliaments and parties, but with more traditional forms of popular rule drawn from the Germanic past. When activists set out to write their blueprints for a possible future National Socialist state, they rarely spoke of dictatorship – and more often spoke of voting, and elections, and representative government, all shorn of the trappings of bourgeois Western parliamentarism. These visions of ‘National Socialist democracy’ are what ARPLAN will be exploring in the coming weeks. Our first vision is excerpted from Rudolf Jung’s 1922 (2nd ed.) book Der nationale Sozialismus, the earliest work of National Socialist political philosophy, which describes a future NS-state built on a kind of ‘council-nationalism.’ The text below was translated by myself from two separate chapters of Jung’s work, ‘Parliament or Council?’ (Parlament oder Räte?) and ‘The German Peoples’ State’ (Der deutsche Volkstaat). The first chapter is abridged for purposes of brevity, the second included in full.
Parliament or Councils?
How were things in 1918? Absolutism – it was declared at the time – must disappear, democracy should take its place. The very fact that no one could find a German word to describe what was desired indicated that the goal was quite unclear and hazy. In essence, the autocracy of the individual, which had been severely limited by constitutional institutions, was simply replaced by the far more ruthless rule of the major parties. And even then, sometimes only ostensibly. The sceptres rolled into the dust, the moneybag took their place; in lieu of dynastic power struggles, which still here and there had to be reconciled with the public welfare, the naked selfishness of the parties appeared. The urge to feed at the trough has brought about the most untenable alliances between parties, in which each has no faith in the other, in which each seeks advantage over the other. It does not matter to them whether the state whose leadership they have been entrusted with falls apart as a result, so long as the party’s fortunes prosper…
…Every method is pursued in the attempt to alleviate this malady, from unity parties here to untenable party alliances there. But it is incurable. The system instead must be transformed completely. Today’s parliamentarism, with its unicameral structure, requires urgent supplementation by the old German system of representation via the estates, a system which is far better suited to the nature of our Volk. Of course, this system will not appear as it did in former times, because the old estates have either partly changed or have vanished completely. Nobody today, for example, would be able to sufficiently exemplify the concept of Bürgertum. But there are occupational groups which can provide us with a suitable basis for estatist representation, a representation whose modern form of expression is the council system – by which, however, we do not intend to mean the Russian caricature, because the concept of a council dictatorship is as untenable as any dictatorship, i.e., tyranny. But the council concept [Rätegedanke] itself is good, and it will be realized in the most diverse range of forms within political, intellectual, and economic life! But here, too, one needs to be on guard against one-sidedness and overestimation. There are no panaceas; every illness requires different remedies. Life is manifold, and colorful and manifold are therefore also its manifestations. Continue reading