Capitalist Power and German Socialism

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.

Capitalist Power
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! Continue reading

Mussolini on the Corporate State

Benito Mussolini’s resolution and speech of 13-14 November, 1933, outlining the shortcomings of capitalism and presenting the corporatist alternative

The_DuceDespite the Corporate State being the centerpiece of fascist economic ideology, its implementation in Italy occurred gradually, in piecemeal fashion over more than a decade. Mussolini’s primary concern upon attaining the Prime Ministership in 1922 was, much like Hitler’s over a decade later, the maintenance of economic and political stability. He had little time or inclination for radical economic or political experimentation during his early years in power, and until 1925 the government maintained a policy of minimal state intervention that some historians have classified as “laissez-faire”. The murder of Matteotti in late 1924 and the regime’s subsequent embrace of dictatorship and totalitarianism led to a change in emphasis, a shift towards making real the corporatist promises of fascist theory & propaganda in a fashion that was measured and would not alarm industry or the “productive bourgeoisie”. The Palazzo Vidoni Pact of 1925 and ‘Rocco’s Law’ of 1926 helped cement the official status of the various workers’ and employers’ syndicates, while the Legge Sindacale of the same period formally established the Corporate State in principle, if not in actual fact. Further impetus towards corporatism was provided through the promulgation of the 1927 Labour Charter (which, while not legally binding, set out the principles by which the government aimed to establish equal relations between workers, management, and state) and the creation in 1930 of the National Council of Corporations, intended as a consultative body representing the voices of both labor and producer. It wasn’t until the 1933-34 period, however, that the Corporate State became solid reality rather than a series of inspiring articles and decrees. The resolution and speech given by Mussolini to the National Council of Corporations in November 1933, transcribed in full below, finally provided Italian lawmakers with an official definition of the envisioned corporations and their actual functions (as well as an interesting critique of capitalism from the Duce). The machinery of the Corporate State was at last set in motion the following year, when the ‘Act of February 5th 1934 (N.163)’ legally established the 22 Corporations which henceforth were intended to direct every sector of Italy’s economic life.

ON THE CORPORATE STATE
Resolution and Speech by Benito Mussolini before the
National Council of Corporations,
November 13-14, 1933

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Resolution on the Definition and Attribution of Corporations
November 13, 1933

This resolution drafted by the Head of the Italian Government and read by him on November 13th 1933, before the Assembly of the National Council of Corporations, on the eve of his great speech:

The National Council of Corporations:

  • define Corporations as the instrument which, under the aegis of the State, carries out the complete organic and unitarian regulation of production with a view to the expansion of the wealth, political power, and well-being of the Italian people;
  • declare that the number of Corporations to be formed for the main branches of production should, on principle, be adequate to meet the real needs of national economy;
  • establish that the general staff of each Corporation shall include representatives of State administration, of the Fascist Party, of capital, of labour, and of experts;
  • assign to the Corporations as their specific tasks: conciliation, consultations (compulsory on problems of major importance), and the promulgation, through the National Council of Corporations, of laws regulating the economic activities of the country;
  • leave to the Grand Council of Fascism the decision on the further developments, of a constitutional and political order, which should result from the effective formation and practical working of the Corporations.

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Speech on the Corporate State to the National Council of Corporations
November 14, 1933

The applause with which the reading of my resolution was received yesterday evening, made me wonder this morning whether it was worth while to make a speech in order to illustrate the document which had gone straight to your intelligence, had interpreted your own convictions, and had appealed to your revolutionary spirit. Continue reading

National Socialists Before Hitler, Part V: The German Socialist Party

“Our demands are more radical than those of the Bolshevists” – The 1918 programme outline of Alfred Brunner’s German Socialist Party

Deutsch_volkisch

As has been established so far in this series, the party which Hitler joined in September 1919 was not the first National Socialist party ever founded. It was not even the first National Socialist party on the soil of the German Reich. That honor instead goes to the German Socialist Party (Deutschsozialistische Partei, DSP), the brainchild of Düsseldorf engineer Alfred Brunner. Brunner, born 1871, had been in contact with the Austro-Hungarian National Socialists since the early days of 1904. Distraught by the consequences of Germany’s surrender and revolution, he finally decided to found his own völkisch-socialist party, and for this purpose drafted on 1 December 1918 the programme which I have translated below. Brunner’s programme outlined the foundations for a new German Socialist Party, one drawing influence from the land-reform ideals of Adolf Damaschke as well as from the philosophy of the National Socialists across the border. Brunner’s central emphasis in fact was on mass land nationalization, viewing this revolutionary socio-economic reform as the basis for eliminating capitalist power and for negating the ‘Jewish influence’ which he saw behind every social ill. Such was Brunner’s focus on social issues that he in fact considered himself “far-left”, as “more radical than the Bolshevists”, the guarantor of an idealistic, biologically-constituted “socialism of the deed” opposed to the Jewish, materialistic “pseudo-socialism” of the Marxists. Brunner was supported in his endeavors by the Germanic Order, a branch of the Thule Society who presented his programme at their 1918 Christmas conference, published it in their journal Allgemeine Ordens-Nachrichten, and provided both funding and a party newspaper (the Münchner Beobachter). The DSP was thus linked from the very beginning to the German Workers’ Party (DAP) of Drexler and Hitler, another group which owed its origins to Thule Society funding and support. For a time however the DSP was in fact the far more successful of the two parties. While the (NS)DAP initially struggled to expand outside Munich, the DSP by mid-1920 had 35 local groups throughout the country and close to 2000 members, including a strong base in Germany’s north where for many years the Hitler-Drexler party was unable to gain a foothold. What undid the DSP in the end was its decentralized organizational structure, combined with its culture of internal party democracy; lacking the dynamism and internal authority of the Hitler-Drexler party, the DSP soon lost ground to its rival and in 1922 finally disbanded and absorbed its resources and membership into the NSDAP.

Outline for the Founding of a
German Socialist Party
on a Jew-free and Capital-free Foundation
Drafted by Engineer Alfred Brunner on 1 December, 1918
Presented at the 1918 Christmas conference of the Germanic Order

NS_Swastika

To the German Volk!

World war, revolution, and turmoil lie behind us! We have waded through misery, blood and humiliation, and yet everything has remained the same; yes, things even threaten to be worse than they were before. Merely the form of government and the men in charge have changed, while capitalism and Jewry rear their heads higher than ever under democracy. As before, you, the German Volk, will be leeched dry, plundered and condemned to toil and worry. How did it come to this, and shall it remain this way forever? The cause of this failure lies in the fact that the struggle against these two powers has hitherto been conducted separately. Yet both are intimately connected.

Social-Democracy only engages in a mock-battle against capitalism, for its leaders are Jews and capitalists!

Yet the Jew-wise1 struggle in vain against Jewry, because they stand firmly on the ground of the capitalist state order; hence both fronts are bound to collapse.

The change required to finally establish real freedom for the German Volk is to form a German Socialist Party.

German-Völkisch and Socialist

Lassalle, the founder of German Social-Democracy, must as a Jew have known his racial kin [Rassegenossen] well when he said: “A popular movement has to keep its distance from capitalists and Jews where they appear as guides and leaders, and must pursue its own aims.”

The new socialist party accepts German-born men only. It stands naturally upon the ground of political transformation; democracy will not at first be tampered with, but the party does however not want a Western-style democracy with a Jewish-plutocratic apex, but instead a free Peoples’ State [Volksstaat] in which both capitalism and Jewry have been vanquished.

Continue reading

The ‘Strasser Program’

Too moderate, too democratic, too Marxist? The 1926 NSDAP draft program proposed (and rejected) as a replacement to the ’25 Points’

On January 5th, 1926, a meeting was convened in Hanover between members of the ‘National Socialist Working Group’, an association of prominent National Socialists from the north and west of Germany, including such figures as Goebbels, Ley, Pfeffer von Salomon, and Gregor & Otto Strasser. What united these National Socialists was their belief in National Socialism as an anticapitalist force, and their concern that the NSDAP was drifting in the wrong direction. At Hanover the group circulated a document which it was hoped would help address these issues: a new draft for a Party program that would replace the ‘outdated’ 25 Points of 1920, would more explicitly spell out the Party’s anticapitalist principles, and would more clearly describe the structure of the future NS-state. It was also felt that binding Hitler to a more concrete program would set stricter boundaries on his role as Führer. The draft program was primarily written by Gregor Strasser, based on the ideas of the Working Group, with some revisions to the text by Otto and Goebbels. It was contentious even within the Working Group, where it was criticized for being too ‘mild’ and lacking völkisch spirit, and its existence created some small turmoil within the Party. Hitler, seeing a threat to his authority, called a meeting at Bamberg on February 14th, 1926, where the draft program was soundly rejected; the 25 Points declared ‘inviolable’; and the foundations of Führerprinzip more firmly entrenched. The full text of the draft ‘Strasser program’ is reproduced below, partially transcribed from Barbara Lane’s and Leila Rupp’s Nazi Ideology Before 1933, and partially translated by myself from the German Quarterly Journal for Contemporary History. 

National Socialism

Draft design of a comprehensive program of National Socialism

I. Introduction

(A nation is a community of fate, need, and bread!)

a.)  In brief the disorder of conditions:

  • in foreign policy
  • in domestic policy
  • in economic policy

b.)  Characterization of National Socialism as a wholly new, comprehensive view of political economy (synthesis of a politically creative nationalism and of a socialism which guarantees the support and development of the individual).  

c.)  Prerequisite for carrying out this mighty project is the national dictatorship. Fateful and causal connection between the economic emancipation of German employees and the political emancipation of the German people.

II. Foreign Policy

a.)  Borders of 1914, including colonies, and the unification of all German Central Europe in a Greater Germanic Reich (including Austria, the Sudetenland, and South Tyrol).

b.)  Tariff union with Switzerland, Hungary, Denmark, Holland, and Luxembourg.

c.)  Colonial empire in central Africa (former German colonies, the Congo, Portuguese colonies, portions of French colonies).

d.)  United States of Europe as a European league of nations with a uniform system of measurement and currency. Preparation for a tariff union with France and the other European states; otherwise, reciprocal most favored nation status.

III. Domestic Policy

A. Reich

1. Levels of office:

a.)  Reichspresident with a seven-year term (first Reichspresident the dictator), with    broad powers, comparable to the American President. His specific functions:

    • designation of the presidents of the individual regions,
    • appointment of ministers,
    • contracting of treaties, declaring of war and peace in cooperation with the ministry.

b.)  Reichsministry: led by the Reichschancellor, who heads the individual ministries and is responsible to the Reichspresident and, to a certain extent, to the Reich Chamber of Corporations.  (In the case of a two votes of no confidence, which must be a period of at least one year apart, the Cabinet must resign; likewise individual Ministers).   Continue reading