Against the Conservative Revolutionaries, The Conservative Revolutionaries and modern society.
Unlike most I think that the Conservative Revolutionary literary and political movement in Germany was paradigmatic for the modern age.
When people have lost their moorings due to modern, industrial, and capitalist, society, when they've been proletarianized and connections to a real community start to be lacking there exists the possibility that myth and mythic interpretations of society will come to replace the real society and real social understanding which existed before.
There's the possibility that within a technologized society without referants that people will look to more primal understandings of things to give them guidance, and that leaders will be more than happy to avail them of this.
It happened in Germany and, in an attenuated form, is happening now in the U.S. The war machine is simultaneously being praised for its efficiancy and for the liberation of previously suppressed desires to manliness and to domination which belong to the mythic mode of thought more than to the 'modern', or what we think of as modern, mode of thought.
And the handmaiden of this is the proletarianization that Marx so wanted. The proletarianization of society, the reduction of more and more people to wage laborers employed as 'variable capital' by big business and the takeover of society, and the administration of it, by corporate concerns, veritably creating a synthetic society to replace that of nature, reduces people to impotence in the face of confronting reality. Enter myth as a way for people to get their bearings.
As opposed to Marx I don't think that proletarianization is a good thing, nor that it has totally taken over society. In fact, I would argue along with the Italian Autonomists that the biggest locust of working class resistance has been against the proletarianization of people and against the reduction of them into 'workers'. This is a good thing, and it's probably the hope of our society.
The biggest argument against the proletariat that I can think of is the fact that whenever workers have actually revolted and gotten power the forms which they've chosen haven't been in line with Marx's 'reserved army of labor' but have instead been composed of councils and neighborhood institutions....in otherwords institutions that are decentralized, anti-discipline oriented, community based. In other words, anarchist.
The iron discipline of capital is a tradgedy, not something to be desired or emulated, especially not for the third world (which has different traditions altogether). If the capitalist revolution was a good thing it was good in the time when it meant freedom to have whatever job you wanted and freedom to rise socially, the sort of freedom which existed, in whatever form, before the trusts and industrial concerns which make up Capitalism proper came into being.
Fascism provides a simluacra for society, something which claims to address all of the needs unmet by industrial life in an ideology which incorporates all. This is not simply the 'covering up of the facts' by capitalists but serves a genuine purpose in the maintenance of an industrial society with no rootedness in community or traditional economy to back it up.
The solution is to get beyond this by reestablishing those links, by keeping free of the system or trying to dismantle it and create more human (and natural world) oriented institutions, and then to create the sort of meaningful cultural space where reform and the pursuit of meaningful personal freedom, if people choose that, can happen.
If we reintegrate ourselves with history we can make meaningful historical changes to our society if we want, the liberalism of the early capitalist revolution can be pursued....or people can choose to stay more conservative and chart another course. But the point is that without this rootedness neither option can be pursued with any meaning behind it. I believe that people should be free to pursue what they want...and if they choose to be conservative so be it. That's democracy.
When the planes hit the twin towers and the Pentagon we were already in a situation where the patina of liberal-bourgeois democracy was fading....Clinton had created a climate where progressive liberals could not push their aims and instead made the only way possible a pro-capitalist neo-liberal choice...against this were the conservatives, who had the proto-beliefs of mythic industrialism already in place. With no other option presenting itself the terrorist attack put the final sword in the stale liberal state which Clinton oversaw. Nothing to balance it out we embarked on a mythic and proto-fascist, possibly proto-totalitarian, course of action.
The way this thing is being opposed is by the very grass roots oriented people to people type of movement which industrial democracy tends to oppose. This is not a mass movement of people showing their strength in raw numbers but a movement of neighborhoods, workplaces, towns, and communities. This is our way out. If only the decentralization and human inititiative by regular people could be adopted by the left as a whole as the way to push socialism and social reform we would be in a pretty good situation. Only, though, and this is the big thing, if the doyens of the left truely pursue this and don't see a grass roots movement as something to pursue in order to get themselves into power and turn it into a corporatist model where the soviets (councils) become the transmission belts of power, as they did in the Leninist era of the Soviet Union. Lenin coined the idea of democratic institutions as transmission belts for decisions made above.
The Culture of Narcissism gives way to the Culture of Fascism. Let's fight against both and towards a more balanced, simpler, more equal, world, where social justice reigns and worker self control and self administration, combined with real community and radical democracy, is the new state of things.
The Conservative Revolutionaries, to get back to the title of this post, are important in that they chose fascism as a model based on their reaction to the modern condition; in so doing they led the way for the actual assumption of power by those people. The fact that they were wrong in praising what I see as the tragic aspects of the modern age does not reduce their importance as tools for understanding our current situation.
By understanding what people have thought in the past we can hope to chart a different course.