Preussentum und Sozialismus

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Preußentum und Sozialismus (English: Prussiandom and Socialism, or Prussianism and Socialism) is a book by Oswald Spengler published in 1919 that addressed the connection of the Prussian character with socialism.[1]

Spengler responded to the claim that socialism's rise in Germany had not begun with the Marxist rebellions of 1918 to 1919, but rather in 1914 when Germany waged war, uniting the German nation in a national struggle that he claimed was based on socialistic Prussian characteristics, including creativity, discipline, concern for the greater good, productivity, and self-sacrifice.[2] Spengler claimed that these socialistic Prussian qualities were present across Germany and stated that the merger of German nationalism with this form of socialism while resisting Marxist and internationalist socialism would be in the interests of Germany.[3]

Spengler's Prussian socialism was popular amongst the German political right, especially the revolutionary right who had distanced themselves from traditional conservatism.[4] His notions of Prussian socialism influenced Nazism and the Conservative Revolutionary movement.[5]

Concepts[edit]

Spengler utilized the anti-English ideas addressed by Johann Plenge and Werner Sombart during World War I that condemned English liberalism and English parliamentarianism while advocating a national socialism that was free from Marxism that would connect the individual to the state through corporative organization.[6]

Prussian character and socialism[edit]

Further information: Prussian virtues

Spengler claimed that socialistic Prussian characteristics existed across Germany that included creativity, discipline, concern for the greater good, productivity, and self-sacrifice.[7] Spengler described socialism outside of a class conflict perspective and said "The meaning of socialism is that life is controlled not by the opposition between rich and poor, but by the rank that achievement and talent bestow. That is our freedom, freedom from the economic despotism of the individual."[8] Spengler addressed the need of Germans to accept Prussian socialism to free themselves from foreign intrigue.

Prussiandom and socialism stand together against the inner England, against the world-view that infuses our entire life as a people, crippling it and stealing its soul…The working class must liberate itself from the illusions of Marxism. Marx is dead. As a form of existence, socialism is just beginning, but the socialism of the German proletariat is at an end. For the worker, there is only Prussian socialism or nothing... For conservatives, there is only conscious socialism or destruction. But we need liberation from the forms of Anglo-French democracy. We have our own.[9]

Spengler went further to demonstrate the difference between England's capitalist nature and Prussian socialism by saying:

English society is founded on the distinction between rich and poor, Prussian society on the distinction between command and obedience...Democracy in England means the possibility for everyone to become rich, in Prussia the possibility of attaining to every existing rank.[10]

Spengler claimed that Frederick William I of Prussia became the "first conscious socialist" for having founded Prussian tradition of military and bureaucratic discipline.[11] Spengler claimed that Otto von Bismarck pursued Prussian socialism through his implementation of social policy that complemented his conservative policies rather than contradicted them as claimed by others.[12]

Rebuke of Marxism and definition of "true socialism"[edit]

Spengler denounced Marxism for having developed socialism from an English perspective, while not understanding Germans' socialist nature.[13] Spengler accused Marxism as following the British tradition of the poor envying the rich.[14] Spengler claimed that Marxism sought to train the proletariat to "expropriate the expropriator", the capitalist, and then to let them live a life of leisure on this expropriation.[15] In summary, Spengler concluded that "Marxism is the capitalism of the working class" and not true socialism.[16]

In contrast to Marxism, Spengler claimed that "true socialism" in its German form "does not mean nationalization through expropriation or robbery."[17] Spengler justified this claim by saying:

In general, it is a question not of nominal possession but of the technique of administration. For a slogan’s sake to buy up enterprises immoderately and purposelessly and to turn them over to public administration in the place of the initiative and responsibility of their owners, who must eventually lose all power of supervision—that means the destruction of socialism. The old Prussian idea was to bring under legislative control the formal structure of the whole national productive force, at the same time carefully preserving the right of property and inheritance, and leaving scope for the kind of personal enterprise, talent, energy, and intellect displayed by an experienced chess player, playing within the rules of the game and enjoying that sort of freedom which the very sway of the rule affords….Socialization means the slow transformation—taking centuries to complete—of the worker into an economic functionary, and the employer into a responsible supervisory official.[18]

True socialism according to Spengler would be in the form of corporatism, stating that "local corporate bodies organized according to the importance of each occupation to the people as a whole; higher representation in stages up to a supreme council of the state; mandates revocable at any time; no organized parties, no professional politicians, no periodic elections."[19]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ Blamires, Cyprian; Jackson, Paul. World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2006. p. 628.
  2. ^ Eric D. Weitz. Weimar Germany: promise and tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. 336-337.
  3. ^ Eric D. Weitz. Weimar Germany: promise and tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. 337.
  4. ^ Eric D. Weitz. Weimar Germany: promise and tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. 337.
  5. ^ Heinrich August Winkler, Alexander Sager. Germany: The Long Road West. English edition. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 414.
  6. ^ Blamires, Cyprian; Jackson, Paul. World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Volume 1. Santa Barbara, California, USA: ABC-CLIO, Inc, 2006. p. 628.
  7. ^ Eric D. Weitz. Weimar Germany: promise and tragedy. Princeton, New Jersey, USA: Princeton University Press, 2007. Pp. 336-337.
  8. ^ Heinrich August Winkler, Alexander Sager. Germany: The Long Road West. English edition. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 414.
  9. ^ Heinrich August Winkler, Alexander Sager. Germany: The Long Road West. English edition. Oxford, England, UK: Oxford University Press, 2006. Pp. 414.
  10. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  11. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  12. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  13. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  14. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  15. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  16. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 108.
  17. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 109.
  18. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 109.
  19. ^ H. Stuart Hughes. Oswald Spengler. New Brunswick, New Jersey, USA: Transaction Publishers, 1992. Pp. 109.

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