Conservative or right-wing socialism was given a definition by Jesús Huerta de Soto as a type of socialism in which institutional aggression is employed to maintain the social status quo and the privileges certain people or groups of people enjoy.
The term has been used by right-wing movements and politicians to describe support for social solidarity and paternalism as opposed to individualism, commercialism, and laissez-faire economics. The fundamental objective of “right-wing socialism" is to maintain the status quo by preventing the free exercise of entrepreneurship and creative human action from disrupting the pre-established framework of social organization. It supports social hierarchy and certain people and groups to hold higher status in such a hierarchy.
It has also been used to indicate a centrist divide between Marxism-Leninism and a social democratic type of socialism, as in Japan.
Military socialism, guild socialism, agrarian socialism, and some forms of Christian socialism are also termed "right-wing socialism" by various authors. Murray Rothbard considered Bismarckism and later fascism and Nazism examples of an amalgamation of conservatism with right-wing socialism.
- 1 Usage of "Conservative socialism" by various authors
- 2 Right-wing Catholic socialism
- 3 "War Socialism" during World War I
- 4 Fascism
- 5 Right-wing socialism in France
- 6 Right-wing socialism in Germany
- 7 Peronism
- 8 Japan
- 9 References
An early proponent of self-described "conservative socialism" was 19th century Austrian politician Klemens von Metternich as early as 1847. Monarchists had begun to use "socialist" as an antithesis of "bourgeois laissez-faire" indicating reliance on a "social conscience" as opposed to pure individualism. Metternich said the aims of such a conservative socialism were "peaceful, class-harmonizing, cosmopolitan, traditional". "Monarchic socialism" promoted social paternalism portraying the monarch as having a "fatherly" duty to protect his people from the effects of free economic forces. Metternich's "conservative socialism" saw liberalism and nationalism as forms of middle-class dictatorship over the masses.
Johann Karl Rodbertus, a monarchist conservative landowner and lawyer who briefly served as minister of education in Prussia in 1848, promoted a form of state socialism led by an enlightened monarchy supporting state regulation of the economy. Rodbertus supported the elimination of private ownership of land, with the state in control of "national capital" rather than redistribution of private capital. In the 1880s, Rodbertus' conservative socialism was promoted as a nonrevolutionary alternative to social democracy and a means to justify the acceptance of Bismarck's social policies.
In Europe, right-wing Catholic socialism was created by Catholic Church officials in the 19th century in response to widespread deterioration of social conditions and rising anti-clerical and democratic tendencies amongst artisans and workers. It mixed "social commitment, paternalistic social welfare, and authoritarian patronage from above, it was also based on deepening popular piety". In France, the influence of these doctrines can be seen in the conservative socialism of Albert de Mun and René de La Tour du Pin. The German conservative Lutheran figure Adolf Stoecker founded the Christian Social Workers' Party in 1878 that aimed to align workers with Protestant Christianity and the German monarchy. Stoecker respected existing social hierarchies but also desired a state that would be active in protecting the poor and vulnerable citizens. Stoecker on occasion used antisemitic rhetoric to gain support, though he urged supporters to practice Chrisitian love, even towards Jews.
"War Socialism" during World War I
During World War I, the German government issued total mobilization of the economy and social sphere for war, resulting in government regulation of the private and public sector. This was referred to in Germany as the war economy (Kriegswirtschaft) or "War Socialism" (Kriegssozialismus). The term "War Socialism" was created by the prominent proponent of the system itself, General Erich Ludendorff. War Socialism was a militarized state socialism in which the state exercised controls and regulations over the entire economy. The German War Socialist economy was operated by conservative military men and industrialists who had historically been hostile to socialism. Its goal was to maximize war production and to control worker discontent that was growing amongst the organized labour movement. A leading proponent of War Socialism in Germany was General Wilhelm Groener who insisted against objections of business leaders, that labour union representatives be included in factory labour committees as well as regional food and labour boards; this was achieved and gave German unions collective bargaining rights and official functions in the German state for the first time in history.
War Socialism also existed in other European countries involved in the war. In the United Kingdom a number of public figures promoted the adoption of War Socialism, including Winston Churchill and was adopted by Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Tsarist Russia had War Socialism. Sociologist Pitirim Sorokin claims that Tsarist Russian War Socialism had existed for two hundred years in support of the Tsarist regime until their overthrow in 1917. The War Socialist economy of Russia was based upon that in Germany, was supported by non-socialist and socialist parties alike.
Fascism has been described by historian Ze'ev Sternhell as a nationalist socialism associated with anti-bourgeois, anti-democratic, anti-liberal, and anti-Marxist views. The original Italian Fascism has origins in the revolutionary syndicalism of Georges Sorel, who promoted an anti-materialist, voluntarist, and vitalist revolutionary socialist movement to produce a general strike to overthrow bourgeois society and establish a proletarian society. Sorelianism split from Marxism and adopted a national, moral, and psychological revolution rather than class revolution. Georges Sorel himself became associated with the political right by supporting Charles Maurras' French nationalist and royalist Action Française and turned to Maurrasian nationalism.
Charles Maurras and National Syndicalism
French right-wing nationalist and monarchist Charles Maurras held interest in merging his nationalist ideals with Sorelian syndicalism as a means to confront liberal democracy. Maurras famously stated "a socialism liberated from the democratic and cosmopolitan element fits nationalism well as a well made glove fits a beautiful hand". Georges Sorel himself was impressed by the significant numbers of "ardent youth" that enrolled in Maurras' Action Française and turned to Maurrasian nationalism. In 1911, on the issue of Sorelian syndicalism, Georges Valois announced to the Fourth Congress of Action Française that "It was not a mere accident that our friends encountered the militants of syndicalism. The nationalist movement and the syndicalist movement, alien to another though they may seem, because of their present positions and orientations, have more than one common objective." Valois and Sorel founded the Cercle Proudhon in 1911, an organization that Valois declared to provide "a common platform for nationalists and leftist antidemocrats". Cercle Proudhon announced that it supported the replacement of bourgeois ideology and democratic socialism with a new ethic of an alliance of nationalism with syndicalism, as those "two synthesizing and convergent movements, one at the extreme right and the other at the extreme left, that have begun the siege and assault on democracy". Cercle Proudhon supported the replacement of the liberal order with a new world that was "virile, heroic, pessimistic, and puritanical—based on the sense of duty and sacrifice: a world where the mentality of warriors and monks would prevail". The society would be dominated by a powerful avant-garde proletarian elite that would serve as an aristocracy of producers, and allied with intellectual youth dedicated to action against the decadent bourgeoisie.
19th-century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck adopted policies of state-organized compulsory insurance for workers against sickness, accident, incapacity, and old age in what has been nicknamed "Bismarckian socialism". Bismarck himself was not a socialist and enacted the Anti-Socialist Laws, his actions were designed to offset the growth of the Social Democratic Party of Germany. Bismarck's policies have been viewed as a form of state socialism. The state socialism of Bismarck was based upon Romantic political thought in which the state was supreme and carried out Bismarck's agenda of supporting "the protest of collectivism against individualism" and of "nationality against cosmopolitanism" and stated that "the duty of the State is to maintain and promote the interests, the well-being of the nation as such."
The academic equivalent of Bismarck's state socialism at the time was Kathedersozialismus of Gustav Schmoller and Adolf Wagner. Schmoller was an opponent of both liberalism and Marxian proletarian socialism. Wagner had originally been a Manchester liberal but had developed into a far-right conservative and antisemite. Kathedersozialists held in common three tenets: that "economic freedom cannot be absolute, the economy must obey ethical as well as practical demands, and that the state must intervene to provide a degree of social justice". Schmoller denied that free trade and laissez faire economics were suitable for Germany, instead advocating state intervention in the economy to foster industrialism and improving conditions for labourers. Schmoller endorsed the Prussian monarchy as historically being a "benevolent and socially mediating institution". Schmoller stated "A firm monarchy is a great blessing when it is bound up with traditions like those of the Prussian monarchy, which recognizes its duties."
Pre-Nazi Right-wing National Socialism
During World War I, sociologist Johann Plenge spoke of the rise of a "National Socialism" in Germany within what he termed the "ideas of 1914" that were a declaration of war against the "ideas of 1789"—the French Revolution. According to Plenge, the "ideas of 1789" that included rights of man, democracy, individualism and liberalism were being rejected in favour of "the ideas of 1914" that included "German values" of duty, discipline, law, and order. Plenge believed that ethnic solidarity (volksgemeinschaft) would replace class division and that "racial comrades" would unite to create a socialist society in the struggle of "proletarian" Germany against "capitalist" Britain. He believed that the "Spirit of 1914" manifested itself in the concept of the "People's League of National Socialism". This National Socialism was a form of state socialism that rejected the "idea of boundless freedom" and promoted an economy that would serve the whole of Germany under the leadership of the state. This National Socialism was opposed to capitalism due to the components that were against "the national interest" of Germany, but insisted that National Socialism would strive for greater efficiency in the economy. Plenge advocated an authoritarian rational ruling elite to develop National Socialism through a hierarchical technocratic state.
Plenge's arguments at the time were recognized by a diverse group of people as an important argument in favour of social justice promoted within a strong state, including: right-wing Social Democrats Konrad Haenisch, Heinrich Cunow, Paul Lench and Kurt Schumacher; Conservative Revolutionaries including Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Max Hildebert Boehm; and Nazis including Ernst Krieck, Gottfried Feder and Eduard Stadtler. Plenge's ideas formed the basis of Nazism.
Werner Sombart wrote of a "national socialism" in which he emphasized the "new spirit" in Germany that was both "national" and "social". Sombart denounced the French Revolution and Chartism for having created "mammonism, selfishness, and forgetfulness of obligations" and for these being a "eudenmonistic utilitarian philosophy". Sombart said that these should be replaced by "idealism", "faith", and "social interest".
Sombart described the "capitalist spirit" as a combination of two main "spirits": First, the "spirit of enterprise" that is "a synthesis of the greed of gold, the desire for adventure", "the love of exploration." Second, "the bourgeois spirit" identified by its "calculation, careful policy, reasonableness, and economy". He said that socialism in turn should be conceived of as "a definite manner of forming a socially united life which deeply imbeds itself in social institutions". Sombart asserted that there are two main types of socialism: an egalitarian socialism and a non-egalitarian socialism. While "egalitarian socialism" such as Marxism says "that all should be partners". "non-egalitarian socialism" views the community as a whole, from a concrete organizing idea (Gestaltungsidee), whose realization consists in assigning a definite place to the individual in the strata of the whole. This leads to an organized association of individuals and, accordingly, to inequality."
Sombart describes his concept of socialism in his 1934 book Deutscher Sozialismus ("German Socialism"). Sombart announces that "'a new spirit' is beginning to rule mankind", a spirit that marked the end of the "economic age" that he viewed as the epoch of capitalism and proletarian socialism that was atheist, materialist, and egotistic in its values. The "new spirit" was embodied in what he called "German Socialism". He said that German Socialism was not confined to an economic sphere but to all aspects of social life and supported the "total ordering of life" as well as coordination of people according to their estates. He said "there can be no universally valid social order but only one that is particularly suited to a particular nation." He contrasted German Socialism with liberalism where German Socialism places "the welfare of the whole over the welfare of the individual". He attributed past exponents of this form of socialism to Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Ferdinand Lassalle, Friedrich Nietzsche, Plato, Lorenz von Stein, Adolf Stoecker, and Adolf Wagner. Sombart said the contemporary exponents included Italian Fascists and the German Nazis.
In 1919, Oswald Spengler in the book Preussentum und Sozialismus ("Prussiandom and Socialism") traced German socialism to 1914 during WW I, which united the Germany in a struggle that he said was based on socialistic Prussian characteristics, including creativity, discipline, concern for the greater good, productivity, and self-sacrifice. Spengler said that these socialistic Prussian qualities were present across Germany and that the merger of German nationalism with this form of socialism while resisting Marxist and internationalist socialism would be in the interests of Germany.
Spengler 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 Corporatism. He opposed Marxism for having developed its socialism from an English perspective, while not understanding Germans' socialist nature. Spengler said 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. He concluded that "Marxism is the capitalism of the working class" and not true socialism.
Spengler described socialism, stating "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."
Spengler's "Prussian socialism" was popular among the German political right, especially the revolutionary right who had distanced themselves from traditional conservatism. His notions of Prussian socialism influenced Nazism and the Conservative Revolutionary movement.
Juan Perón in Argentina founded the Peronism movement, which is widely regarded as a form of corporate socialism, or "right-wing socialism".
After his return from exile in Spain, Peron regained power in Argentina. The left wing of his movement opposed both liberal democracy and political pluralism. The right wing Peronism supported the Peronist return to a "Christian and humanist, popular, national socialism" and corporatism.
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