The “Das Kapital” of National Socialism… kind of
Slightly over a year ago, I began work on translation of Rudolf Jung’s 1922 work National Socialism: Its Foundations, Development, and Goals, the first book which sought to offer a full, systematic exposition of the entire breadth of the National Socialist ideological worldview. I can now announce that the translation is complete – it can be downloaded directly from WordPress using this link: Jung – National Socialism – Its Foundations, Development, and Goals (2nd ed., 1922)
Alternatively, I’ve also uploaded a copy for access via the Internet Archive.
One of the first articles I ever posted on this blog was a profile of Jung, so I won’t go into too much detail about his personal background here. People who are interested in knowing more about Jung’s life can read that article, or they can read the introduction I included within the translation. The book itself is significant for a number of reasons. Primarily this is because, as mentioned, it constituted the first genuine attempt by a member of the National Socialist movement to actually set out the theoretical aspects of National Socialist doctrine on any kind of comprehensive, intellectual level. Articles or pamphlets had been written on NS ideology in the past, but nothing of the range or scope (or length) of Jung’s book. Jung’s ambition was to be the ‘Karl Marx’ of National Socialism, and his stated hope to those who knew him was that his book would serve as the movement’s Das Kapital. Some historians tend to be fairly dismissive of this aspiration, claiming that Jung’s book is intellectually shallow in comparison with Marx’s works. While it’s true that Jung’s book isn’t on the same level as Kapital (for one thing, Kapital comprises three pretty dense volumes of critique and theory – National Socialism is a pamphlet by comparison), I don’t think the dismissive attitude affected by some writers is really warranted. There are interesting historical arguments in National Socialism, some thought-provoking analyses of capitalist economics and property relations (a good chunk of the book is focused on outlining the bases of NS economic theory, particularly issues relating to land ownership), and Jung’s book is (at least in my opinion) far more readable than Marx’s. The intellectual foundations of Jung’s work are solid enough for their purpose, even if they don’t have quite the grandeur that the author may have hoped for or intended. In any event, now that the book is available in English, readers will be able to make such assessments for themselves.
The other major reason why Jung’s book is so important is due to the fact that it is technically “pre-Hitlerian” in terms of its content and perspective. The first edition of National Socialism appeared in 1919, before anyone outside of Munich had really heard of Hitler (and even within Munich’s völkisch circles he was not yet really well-known at that time). Even when the second edition – the edition which I have translated – appeared in 1922, Hitler was still just one leader among many within the National Socialist milieu. By 1922 Hitler had grown to be well-respected and influential within the movement, but he was not yet its infallible Führer, and he was still roughly a year away from being widely acknowledged as such. National Socialists in 1922 (especially those from the Sudetenland, where National Socialism had been born almost two decades before) were not afraid to disagree with Hitler. They were not afraid to criticize him, either. Hitler’s own personal views had not yet permeated the ideology to the extent that major questions of theory or strategy were being determined chiefly from Munich – Jung at that time was arguably the more dominant figure within the movement. His book is not just one of the earliest and most complete explorations of the NS theory and worldview, it is the earliest and most complete exploration of the original strand of National Socialist thought, before it was subsumed by the tide of Hitler’s rising prestige and personality.
As stated, my translation is of the 1922 second edition of Jung’s book. Unfortunately I have never been able to acquire a copy of the original 1919 first edition, although I own a small collection of additional works by Jung and by the pre-Hitlerian and Sudeten-Austrian National Socialists. During the course of the translation I frequently compared the content of the second and third editions, and the differences between the two are fairly interesting. While much of the content in each is the same, the third edition has been very specifically rewritten in various places to reflect a much more overtly ‘Hitlerist’ perspective. Between the publishing of the two editions Hitler’s status had risen meteorically within the movement, and by 1923 he had essentially attained the status of Führer, going from just the (rather troublesome) leader of National Socialism’s Munich branch to the most dominant and influential NS personality within every German-speaking territory. The older parties in Austria, Silesia, and the Sudetenland had consequently bent the knee and accepted the leadership of Hitler and the NSDAP over their own organizations, hailing him as “Our Reichsdeutsche Führer!” at an Inter-State Congress in Vienna. The third edition reflects these changes fairly explicitly – the book is now dedicated to Hitler, several chapters have been rewritten to focus around the NSDAP (which is barely mentioned at all in the 2nd edition), the principle of Führerprinzip is much more explicitly stated, and so on. The third edition could thus be seen as representing the ideological transition from pre-Hitlerian National Socialism to Hitlerism. At some point in the future I will probably look at translating it as well – it would form a useful supplement to this translation, and to the translations some of the other works from this period which I’ve made so far.