The völkisch-radical German Socialist Party on capitalism, right-wingers, and the power of money
The German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP) is largely forgotten now, but for a brief period in history it was the pre-eminent National Socialist party within the German Republic. The party’s guiding light was Düsseldorf engineer Alfred Brunner, a Thule Society member with a determination to found a völkisch-socialist movement which could rescue Germany from its post-War mire. In December 1918 Brunner’s draft programme outline for such a movement was published. Völkisch activists consequently heeded Brunner’s call and began founding their own independent German Socialist working-groups and party cells, and by 1919 there were German Socialist organizations in Düsseldorf, Kiel, Frankfurt, Dresden, Nuremberg, and Munich. Although ideologically extremely similar to the NSDAP (something recognized by both groups), the DSP’s organizational beginnings made it a very different party from the outset. Because of the way it had been founded, the DSP early on had a much broader base than the NSDAP, which did not establish a chapter outside Munich until April 1920. By contrast, by the time the DSP held its first official convention to bring all the independent German Socialist groups under one national organization (also in April 1920), there numbered about 35 German Socialist local chapters across Germany with a combined total of around 2,000 members. Although this appeared impressive in comparison to the NSDAP, the DSP did not actually have the resources to manage a national party and many of the local groups were heavily under-resourced, resulting in gradual stagnation and inactivity. This hindered the DSP’s central tactical focus on electioneering and parliamentary work; unlike the still-revolutionary NSDAP, the DSP sought a “legal” dismantling of the existing system through “reformist-evolutionary” methods. A side-effect of this parliamentary orientation was that the DSP put far more emphasis on issuing programmatic resolutions and debating policy proposals than it did on active organization and propaganda. Although this approach ultimately proved ineffective and harmed the party’s dynamism, it did result in the publication of a number of distinctive theoretical documents, such as the short leaflet translated below. This leaflet, titled “Capitalist Power” (Kapitalistische Macht), is undated, but if I had to guess I would say that it was probably released in 1920 for the June Reichstag election (the DSP received a mere ~7,000 votes nationwide, or 0.03%). It is an interesting little document, with its anti-capitalist rhetoric and its strong attacks on the “right,” and helps to illustrate why DSP members considered themselves the “left-wing” of the völkisch movement.
An undated flyer from the German Socialist Party
In our publications we often discuss the power of capitalism – which we understand above all to mean the overriding predominance of loan-capitalism – as against working capital,1 which we German Socialists acknowledge, in a controlled and restricted form, within an economy built upon a purely German foundation.
But that even this form of capital, under today’s conditions, holds a power which detracts from Rightness and Truth, is shown by the modern parties of the right who, on the basis of an intrinsically and thoroughly capitalist programme, are able to bind hundreds of thousands of people to themselves, people who are suffering as a result of capitalism and the capital of today.
And that they can do this is purely because both these parties2 possess enough money to enable the press and their public speakers to socially disguise their programmes and to strike an anti-Semitic tone, a tone which becomes all the livelier the closer they draw to the elections.
In doing so, these parties do not possess a single, fundamental, sweeping demand which would bring about an alleviation of the social situation and a liberation from the pressure of capitalism!
Neither with the Jewish question, nor with the issues of law, land, and money,3 do they show any of their true colors, nor do they demonstrate a willingness to abandon their present capitalist course.
Under conditions such as these, their call to strive for a Volksgemeinschaft naturally remains little more than a slogan, just as their demand for workers and white-collar employees to share in industrial profits is anything but the solution to the social question; quite the contrary, the proposed introduction of small shares would actually drive the capitalist poison into hitherto unspoiled circles, thereby perpetuating the capitalist system.
Just as ordinary people were largely reconciled with the unsocial interest-economy through the enjoyment of interest on small savings, so would the introduction of small shares have a similar impact upon capitalist industrialism!
The Centre, Social-Democratic, and right-wing parties are all alike, in the sense that each of these parties possesses a certain slogan by means of which they have succeeded, over and over again, in binding the skeptical masses to their own party-banners.
Just as the Centre always plays up the perils facing religion, and Social-Democracy always beats the drum over the threat of Reaction, so do the right-wing parties also act with their declarations about the Fatherland being in danger. Unfortunately this appeal of theirs is today, in and of itself, actually all too justified. It is therefore doubly regrettable that by this means those who are nationally-inclined are diverted away from the social forms which alone would be capable of truly and permanently rescuing the Fatherland, and of guaranteeing for themselves a free and comfortable life!
Thus we see hundreds of thousands who are held fast to the wrong side through the power of money, all of whom would have long since recognized that they belong to us if our movement had only a portion of the money which those parties have at their disposal for marketing purposes.
And so we are faced with the distressing fact that within nationalist circles the lack of socialism, synonymous with selfishness, and the tendency towards capitalism, synonymous with greed, weaken the entirety of the völkisch movement and strengthen Marxism and Bolshevism.
As has been shown, the power of capital within these parties acts indirectly upon the masses via word and speech – but it acts more directly upon the leaders of those organizations (workers, employees, civil servants) which have aligned themselves with the nationalist parties, because with such financially-powerful parties the prospect of well-paid offices and seats in the Reichstag is far more secure than it is with a still up-and-coming movement.
So we see how essential it is that Mammonism4 is also overcome internally, and that men are found who are willing to take up and pursue the cause of the Volk simply for its own sake.
Everywhere and always, capitalism and unrestricted capital counteract the genuine truth, and one is reminded of Christ’s words that a camel would sooner pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man would enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
Despite this clear recognition of the blatant facts, we German Socialists will not allow ourselves to lose heart, since we know that only light conquers the darkness, that only German Socialism can overcome the lies of Marxism and of bogus nationalism.
Jewish capitalism and German capital will not be able to hold back the truth in the long run. This is our promise.
German Socialist Party
Wanne i.W., Post Office Box 9.
1. “Working capital” or “active capital” (tätigen Kapital) is, in this context, an alternate term for the völkisch concept of “productive capital” (schaffendes kapital). Unlike Marxism, National Socialist economic theory drew a distinction between “productive” or “working” capital (labor and certain forms of industry and agriculture; i.e. capital bound to German territory, made up largely of immobile assets, providing work and benefiting the Volk as a collective whole) and “rapacious” capital (chiefly stock-market-capital, finance-capital, and loan-capital; i.e. capital with an international basis, mobile assets which produce nothing material but which generate large profits for a small clique through exploitative money manipulation). National Socialists recognized that productive capital under the capitalist system had been allowed to develop in a deleterious way, but argued that on the whole it still had advantageous properties for the Volk which necessitated its retention, so long as it was kept in check through a raft of regulative economic measures (nationalization of financial institutions, labor regulation, land redistribution, collective ownership, price and wage controls, etc. etc.).
2. A reference to the German National Peoples’ Party (Deutschnationale Volkspartei, DNVP) and the German Peoples’ Party (Deutsche Volkspartei, DVP), the two major conservative parties during the Weimar era. The DVP represented the conservative-liberal tradition, while the DNVP represented a more overtly monarchist, bourgeois-nationalist orientation.
3. “Law, land, and money” were all central concerns of the German Socialist Party, and of National Socialism in general during this early period. The opening portion of the original DSP draft programme covers each of these subjects in turn, and affords them the most detail and emphasis out of all its points. The three issues were viewed as being inherently intertwined, with the subtext of anti-Semitism running through them all like a connective thread. Ideologically there was little to really separate the DSP and NSDAP, especially on these topics – most NSDAP members would have found the DSP programme perfectly agreeable, and vice versa. The DSP, however, tended to be more ideologically consistent, simply because it put far greater emphasis on programmatic issues and on written advocacy for specific social reforms, while the NSDAP in this period was far more focused on active propaganda work. This was a side-effect of the key difference between the parties, which was organizational.
4. “Mammonism” is another core concept within National Socialist ideology, one which the National Socialists inherited from the völkisch movement and from other similar movements which eschewed both Marxism and capitalism. German land-reformer Adolf Damaschke, for instance, was a great influence upon early National Socialism, and had famously proclaimed that he was for, “Neither Mammonism nor Communism, but instead social justice and personal freedom!” Gottfried Feder probably defined the concept best in his Manifesto for Breaking the Financial Slavery to Interest: “Mammonism is the sinister invisible secret rule of the big international financial powers. But Mammonism is also a frame of mind, it is the worship of these financial powers on the part of all those who have been infected with the Mammonistic poison… Mammonism is the greed for money that has become a mania, that knows no higher goal than piling up money on money, that seeks with a brutality without equal to force all the powers of the world into its service and that must lead to the economic enslavement, to the exploitation of the workers of all nations of the world.” The National Socialist goal was the elimination of Mammonism and the establishment of an economic system whose primary function was to be “fulfilment of demand” rather than pure profit maximization.