Otto Strasser’s blueprint for a German Socialist ‘authoritarian democracy’
The excerpt below comprises the entirety of Part Three, Chapter Three of Otto Strasser’s 1940 book Germany Tomorrow, and is probably one of the most detailed descriptions for how a National Socialist state system would function in practice. Germany Tomorrow is itself an expanded, English-language translation of Strasser’s earlier work Aufbau des Deutschen Sozialismus (‘Construction of German Socialism’), originally published in 1931 about a year after Otto left the NSDAP. Part Three of Germany Tomorrow, ‘The New Order’, is a mostly-complete translation of the 1936 2nd edition of Strasser’s original Aufbau, while Parts One and Two (dealing with the Hitler government, prospects for revolution, and the potential post-War situation) were new material supposedly written expressly for the book and for its English-language audience. There are some differences between the two German editions of Aufbau and its later English adaptation (most notably in its discussion of the ‘Jewish question’), but on the whole Part Three of Germany Tomorrow seems to me an accurate translation of the 1936 edition of Aufbau, hence my reproduction of it here. The type of state Strasser describes (an ‘authoritarian democracy’ which mixes both council-nationalist and corporatist concepts) is interesting, although perhaps a little unwieldy with its federalist system and its three levels of government. Some of the council features it describes are reminiscent of Rudolf Jung’s original work on National Socialist ideology, although unlike with William Joyce this is less likely to be simple coincidence. Jung kept up a correspondence with both Strasser brothers throughout their careers, so some level of influence should not be surprising – although apparently Jung’s ideological worldview generally lined up more with Gregor’s than with that of Gregor’s radical “ink-slinging kid brother”.
THE GERMAN SOCIALIST STATE
I. MATTERS OF PRINCIPLE
In accordance with the organic conception that all institutions must be judged by the extent to which they favour organic life, we regard the State, not as something that stands above the community at large, but as nothing else than the organizational form of the people, the form that will ensure the fullest possible development of the organism known as the ‘German people’. The State is not an end in itself, but something whose aim is (or should be) so to deal with the organism of the ‘people’ (or ‘Nation’) that it may most effectively utilize all the energies that will enable the community to maintain itself as against other communities in the world.
It follows from this that the State is always determined by the peculiarities of the people. No people can take over intact the State-forms of another. When the form of the State is adapted to the peculiarities of the people of one country, our organic outlook makes it plain that this form of State cannot be perfectly adapted to the peculiarities of any other people. If, for instance, fascism is the form of State best suited to the Italian people (and the fact that the Italian people tolerates it makes this probable), then fascism cannot be the form of State best suited to the German people. The same considerations apply to the bolshevik form of State which prevails in Russia, which cannot possibly be the best form of State for the German people.
The State must originate out of the nature of the people; it should arrange the people’s life, and reduce internal friction to a minimum, for then the outwardly directed energies will grow more powerful. The athlete who trains for some great achievement, who makes his nerves and muscles cooperate without friction, and who by the regular practice of graduated exercises also cultivates the mental powers of self-confidence and will-to-victory, is the model of an organism in prime condition. A team trained for success in some particular sport, such as football, is a community whose chances of victory depend on the same presupposition – the reducing of internal friction to a minimum, in order to secure the maximum output of well-directed energy.
The conception of the State as the best possible organization of the people involves the rejection on principle of the demigod role which all dictators and would-be dictators ascribe to the State, and implies the frank avowal of the ‘people’s State’. The organic connexion between people and State which underlies the latter notion imposes upon the conservative revolutionary as a necessary deduction that the forms of the State must adapt themselves to the internal and external transformation of the people, of the popular consciousness, of the popular degree of maturity. It also follows as a matter of principle that those forms of the State are ‘good’, i.e. suitable, which are favourable to the bodily and mental health and development of the organism that is the people; even as those forms of the State are ‘bad’, i.e. unsuitable, that are unfavourable and inhibitive in these respects.
For the people is the content, the living, the organic; the State is the form, the dead, the organizational. Continue reading