An excerpt from Hans Freyer’s 1931 booklet ‘Revolution from the Right’
Born in Leipzig in 1887, Hans Freyer earned his doctorate in Sociology at the University of Leipzig in 1911, becoming something now rarely seen in today’s modern world – a right-wing sociologist. Freyer’s inclinations were towards conservatism, nationalism, and traditionalism, his philosophical ideals arguing for a historical worldview in which hierarchy, elitism, the leader-state, and collectivism were the inevitable highest stage of man’s social development. Freyer’s work in German academia proved influential – his ideas inspired not only sections of the romantic, nationalist-inclined Jugendbewegung (youth movement), but also the growing circle of writers and philosophers extolling the revolutionary ‘new nationalism’ of the time – the Conservative Revolutionaries.
Freyer’s pamphlet Revolution von Rechts, a brief extract of which is reproduced below, in fact came to be one of the most important and influential contributions to the cause of the Conservative Revolutionaries. In Revolution Freyer describes the concept of the “revolution of the right”, a new revolutionary dialectic in which the Volk as a whole – rather than the bourgeoisie or the proletariat – would, under direction from an elite, sweep away the old order and build a new Total State which would harmonize technology with society and end the primacy of commercial interests over politics. Interestingly, despite the overlap of his ideas with those of the NSDAP, Hans Freyer was never a card-carrying National Socialist, although at the time Revolution was written he was not unsympathetic. Freyer in fact saw the growing influence and strength of the NSDAP and hoped with Revolution to direct it, to provide the movement with clarity about its historical purpose and to guide it away from being co-opted either by “the masses” (like many in conservative intellectual circles, Freyer regarded the NSDAP as too vulgarly violent, too populist, too plebeian) or by the bourgeois reactionaries of the “old right” (monarchists, industrialists, the petite bourgeoisie, etc.). Such elitist purism is typical of the members of the Conservative Revolutionary intellectual tradition.
A new front is taking shape on the battlefields of bourgeois society: the revolution from the right. With the magnetic force inherent in a watchword of the future before it is pronounced, it draws from all camps the hardest, the most alert, the most contemporary of people into its ranks. It is still gathering its forces, but it will strike. Its movement is still a mere assembly of minds, without consciousness, without symbols, without leadership. But overnight the front will be established. It will undermine the old parties, their stagnated programs and their antiquated ideologies. It will successfully dispute not the reality of the tangled class contradictions of a society become everywhere petit-bourgeois but the arrogance of the claim that they can be politically productive. It will clear away the remnants of the nineteenth century where they persist and free the way for the history of the twentieth.
Those who think in the day-before-yesterday terms of bourgeoisie and proletariat, of class struggle and economic peace, of progress and reaction, who see nothing in the world but problems of distribution and insurance premiums for the have-nots, nothing but opposing interests and a state that mediates among them, they naturally fail to see that since yesterday there has been a regrouping of goals and forces underway. They confuse the revolution from the right with all sorts of honest but harmless troublemakers and eccentrics from the old world: with nationalist romantics, with counterrevolutionary activism, with an idealistically embellished juste milieu, or with the splendid notion of a state above the parties. They think that fascism is being imitated here, bottled Action Française in Germany, or a Soviet Germany, made enticing to romantics too through the assistance of certain reminiscences from German legal history. That which unites us with these is that, despite their confusions, they themselves have a troubled conscience. In the end they sense merely that something incomprehensible is drumming on their blinders from outside. In this, insofar as they are involved, they have hit upon the truth. Continue reading