Is National Socialism Type I Fascism? – the case of Latvia.
Read this. Excerpts (emphasis added) and comments:
Aside from equating it with Hitlerism, there have been few scholarly attempts to define national socialism and specify its relation to the broader category of fascism. This article posits that national socialisms are a sub-genus of fascism, where the distinguishing feature is an ultaranationalism based on a palingenetic völkisch racism, of which anti-Semitism is an essential element. Thus, national socialism is not just mimetic Hitlerism, as Hitler is not even necessary. National socialist movements may even conceivably be opposed to the goals and actions of Hitlerism. To test this definition, the case of Latvia’s Pērkonkrusts [Thunder Cross] movement is analysed. Based on an analysis of its ideology, Pērkonkrusts is a national socialist movement with a völkisch racialist worldview, while also being essentially anti-German. The case study even addresses the apparent paradox that Pērkonkrusts both collaborated in the Holocaust, and engaged in resistance against the German occupation regime.
A problem for my own definition of national socialism is the emphasis here on völkisch racism. See below for more detailed discussion of this..
National Socialisms as a Fascist Sub-Genus
Of the vast and growing corpus of scholarly and popular literature on national socialism – usually pertaining to Nazi Germany – very rarely is this fundamental concept defined. The reasons for this could be twofold. Firstly, it might be assumed as self-evident that ‘national socialism’ is simply synonymous with the mid-twentieth century German version of National Socialism (also known as ‘Nazism’ or ‘Hitlerism’) associated with Adolf Hitler and his nsdap. In the case of national socialist organisations outside of Germany, these are either de facto subsidiaries of the German mother party, or derivative, mimetic movements. In this view, any party with a swastika as its emblem and a violently anti-Semitic ultranationalist platform simply could be assumed an unoriginal copycat, seeking to exploit the success of the nsdap in Germany.
That is the general “normie” viewpoint – national socialism is merely Hitlerism.
Should one observe European history in the years between 1920 and 1945 from the periphery, or even simply from a non-Germanocentric perspective, this assumption of subordination or mimesis quickly proves itself unsatisfactory for explaining aspects of, for example, local collaboration in those countries occupied by Nazi Germany during the Second World War. How could there have existed what my colleague Terje Emberland has termed an ‘oppositional national socialism’ in wartime Norway, which both collaborated closely with the ss, and also opposed many of the policies of the German nsdap and the collaborationist Nasjonal Samling [ns; National Unity] regime of Vidkun Quisling? Our research on Norway thus suggests that not only amongst Norwegians were there different, competing understandings of national socialism, but that also within German Nazism there were even significant differences between Himmler’s ss and the mainstream nsdap ideology. Thus, it would be preferable to speak not of a single National Socialism, but of national socialisms in the plural.
The key point is this: “Thus, it would be preferable to speak not of a single National Socialism, but of national socialisms in the plural.” Up to this point, I agree. The problem will be a specific interpretation of national socialism in terms of a Nordicist, Germanocentric, völkisch racialism.
Another significant obstacle to the formulation of a general definition of national socialism stems from the resistance in certain circles to accepting it as a phenomenon within the broader category of fascism.
Type I “movement” retards are prominent in this resistance.
Ian Kershaw, however, makes convincing arguments for why German National Socialism should be properly included within the family of fascisms, all of which had their own unique and particular characteristics.
This is in my opinion the correct view. Fascism is the more generic political genus – palingenetic ultra-nationalism; national socialism is a more specifically “racist” – in the sense of a strong focus on biological racism – form of fascism. The question is whether this racism has to be specifically “völkisch.”
To assume that there is a generic fascism of which German National Socialism is a specific expression, and that there are not just one, but several national socialisms, would sooner or later necessitate augmenting the taxonomy by defining a national socialist sub-genus. Building on the definition of generic fascism proposed by Roger Griffin, the following general definition of national socialism is proposed: Given that ‘[f]ascism is a genus of political ideology whose mythic core in its various permutations is a palingenetic form of populist ultra-nationalism’, then national socialism is a type of fascism where the populist ultranationalism is based on palingenetic völkisch racism, of which anti-Semitism is an essential element. Thus, I posit that the distinguishing feature of national socialisms within the broader family of fascisms is the centrality of a völkisch, racialist worldview.
Here is where I strongly disagree. The racialist (or racist) national socialist worldview does not have to be specifically völkisch as it is defined below – i.e., a specifically Nordicist, Type I, Ostara, “runes and boots” Germanic racialism. Instead, the racialism can be for any group – at least, any European group – and can be evaluated in a empiricist, scientific manner. It can also incorporate certain non-biological, Yockeyian, High Culture components.
As Griffin has pointed out, all fascisms are to some degree ‘racist’, insofar as ultranationalism celebrates the greatness of one’s own nation and culture, thereby fostering a sense of superiority over other peoples. Fascist ideology is thus intrinsically hostile to liberal multiculturalism, free migration, and other individual-driven mixings of peoples, religions, and cultures. At the same time, this does not necessarily mean that all fascisms must embrace racist positions – e.g. social Darwinism, eugenics, or even anti-Semitism – as central to their understanding of their nation’s relation to society and the world.
Within national socialism, however, the nation is always organically linked to the race: just as the organically conceived nation (Volk) provides the genotype for the individual’s phenotype, so, too, does each nation reflect a phenotype of the genotype provided by the common racial identity. Maintaining the racial Erbbild [genotype] and improving the Erscheinungsbild [phenotype] of both individuals and the entire Volk was a key concern of German National Socialism, particularly for Heinrich Himmler and the ss.
Fine – but this does have to be völkisch?
Even though this impetus to improve the racial stock of the nation can lead national socialists to support the introduction of eugenic policies in the name of ‘racial hygiene’, this should not be taken as evidence that national socialists subscribe to a rationalist, positivist view of race as a supposedly biological phenomenon. Upon closer inspection, racial ideology in national socialism has only relatively superficial traits in common with, for example, the ‘scientific’ racial biology and eugenics practised in interwar Scandinavia, which was connected to the social engineering of a new, modern society.
In a sense, this criticism is correct – the Type I Nordicist Ostara view has little to do with genuine racial science. In that sense, it is akin to HBD – perhaps why there is a degree of association and compatibility between Nordicism and HBD.
Racialist thinking in national socialism is neither rationalist, nor aiming towards modernisation. Instead, it is völkisch racialism, derived from the ideological worldview of the völkisch movement that began in the late nineteenth century. Völkisch racism fostered a sacralised view of an assumed prehistoric Aryan race, from whence the most advanced nations and civilizations of the world arose. In the case of the inter-war German and Scandinavian national socialists, the highest rungs of the racial hierarchy were seen as being occupied by Germanic or Nordic peoples; however among national socialist movements since 1945 the emphasis is more on global ‘white supremacy’ of light-skinned groups of Europeans generally. Nevertheless, a clear bias towards an idealized ‘Nordic’ identity infuses national socialism, even in societies that are not usually considered ‘Germanic’.
Here we see a definition of völkisch racism that is more or less accurate. That nonsense was, is, and always will be, an embarrassment. While national socialism has traditionally been linked to that nonsense, my argument is that it does not have to be. The racism – or racialism – of national socialism can have positivist, scientific, and rational bases. It can also have, as argued above, a Yockeyian component that is based on an honest reading of history and fundamentally even with more mainstream cultural/civilizational paradigms, such as Huntington’s civilizations. Thus, national socialism as a genus of fascism focused on specific Race-Cultures, with a strong, but not exclusive, biological component, can be broader than just völkisch racism.
Coupled with the mythology of race…
Mythology? Well, the völkisch interpretation is mythology, but the empirical interpretation is not.
…is a view that races and nations are formed in symbiosis with their physical surroundings, with the land being the source of many of the physical and spiritual characteristics of the Volk. A strong connection to both the natural and cultural landscape is thus important for maintaining the vigour of the nation. Life in cities alienates the individual from the moral compass that being one with the soil provides, leading to racial and cultural dilution and degeneration. In its völkisch racism, national socialism thus is an ideology of Blut und Boden [blood and soil], favouring the pure, healthy peasant ways to the modern, urban, materialistic lifestyle that was both morally and physically hazardous.
Here we see how “traditional” völkisch national socialism is definitely a Type I fascism of the “runes and boots” type, with underlying themes of Tolkienism, anti-technics, anti-urbanism, anti-empiricism, anti-modernity, a backwards – and backwoods – “traditionalism.” That’s pure Type Ism.
Selecting a Test Case of Non-Hitlerite National Socialism
The definition of national socialism as a sub-genus of fascism presented above will herein be tested using a case chosen to collide head-on with the prior assumption of mimesis with the German nsdap. If it can be adequately proven that the Latvian Pērkonkrusts [Thunder Cross] meets the definition’s criteria, then this will be an example of an explicitly anti-German national socialist movement.
Although Pērkonkrusts is not entirely unknown in the literature on fascism, few scholars have researched this movement in detail. Even fewer still have asked the question whether Pērkonkrusts constitutes a Latvian form of national socialism. One of the few to do so is German historian Björn Felder. A sub-chapter to one of his books is even entitled, ‘The Pērkonkrusts Movement: “Latvian National Socialists”?’ While admitting that Pērkonkrusts exhibited many ideological affinities to German National Socialism, in his analysis, Pērkonkrusts looked more to Italian Fascism for inspiration, or more closely resembled Corneliu Codreanu’s Iron Guard in Romania.
You can read more on this in the essay. The point made is that this Latvian movement had characteristics of an anti-Hitlerian – or at least non-Hitlerian – völkisch national socialism, although identification with the more Type II Italian and Romanian variants are fascism confuses the issue, since those variants are at odds with Type I völkisch fascism (i.e., traditional national socialism).
…Pērkonkrusts did not see itself as an appendage or copycat of German National Socialism; at the same time, the ambiguity of these statements can be interpreted as reinforcing the argument that Pērkonkrusts was national socialist.
Similar rhetorical distancing was used regarding fascism. In an unsigned article from 1933, ‘What is fascism?’, the party newspaper asserts: ‘Even though Pērkonkrusts is far from being fascism, and admits that this is a system suited only to Italy, nevertheless…’ By equating fascism exclusively with Italian Fascism, Pērkonkrusts could deny – despite the charges of its liberal and leftist opponents – that it is, indeed, fascism, while at the same time freely expressing its admiration for the accomplishments of Mussolini’s regime. Needless to say, contemporary political opponents were not convinced.
Silly semantics on the part of the Latvians.
The Pērkonkrusts Ideology: Palingenetic Völksich Racialism or Not?
To what extent was Pērkonkrusts national socialist, that is, a type of fascism where the populist ultranationalism is based on palingenetic völkisch racism, of which anti-Semitism is an essential element? One of the first problems to address is whether Pērkonkrusts had a racist ideology, and whether it was völkisch. Did, for example, Pērkonkrusts contrast the Aryan race to the Jewish one in its worldview? Historian Uldis Krēsliņš contrasts Pērkonkrusts with Štelmachers’s alnsp, which proclaimed Latvians to be the ‘purest’ Aryans, by citing a passage from a speech where Celmiņš dismisses the idea of ‘biologically pure’ Latvians, since ‘a pure Latvian type does not even exist [nemaz nav]’. For Krēsliņš, with the exception of Štelmachers, the racial terminology employed by Pērkonkrusts and other Latvian radical nationalists was ‘more an expression of an historical, religious, or moral-ethical’ signifier.
That is all not very empiricist. However:
Elsewhere, this sentiment is reiterated by the deputy leader of Pērkonkrusts, Prof. J. Plāķis: after discussing the negative influence of secret organisations controlled by the Jews, it was stressed that ‘only by keeping our race pure, protecting and maintaining our people’s traits and traditions, can Latvians persist as a people’. This was clearly a palingenetic racialist nationalism.
But, how was race defined? Never mind that “racial purity” is unrealistic. Preservation and advancement (improvement) of the stock that actually exists is realistic.
A formulation from the 1933 article, ‘Who Are the Latvians of Pērkonkrusts’, is immediately recognizable as belonging to the ideological worldview of national socialism: ‘In addition, one must particularly mention those tendencies created by Jews to conquer the world and destroy nationalism and the Aryan peoples.’…This contradistinction between Jews and Aryans could even take improbable forms: for example, when an editorial in Ugunskrusts explained that, of course, the Germans wanted to turn Latvia into a colony with the Latvians as their minions, but, being Aryans, at least they were forthright in this; Jews, on the other hand, were disingenuous and surreptitious in their plans to subjugate other peoples.
Der Movement has always “marched on.”
Furthermore, the Pērkonkrusts party press clearly identified the Latvians’ ancient forebears, the Baltic tribes, with the primeval Aryans, particularly in context of discussions of the neopagan religion of Ernests Brastiņš, Dievturība. An article in Ugunskrusts on Dievturība reports Brastiņš’s view that the Germanic, Slavic, Baltic, and Indic peoples arose from the original Aryans, and that the Latvians are the direct descendants of the Aryans in their language and religious worldview.
Note the inclusion of “Indic.” Pure Type I retarded “traditionalist” esoteric nonsense. That’s völkisch to the core, I suppose.
Thus, from its very beginnings, Pērkonkrusts was infused with an intrinsically racialist worldview that fits well with the definition of national socialist völkisch racialism. Völkisch ultranationalism, however, is not only about the Aryan ‘blood’; there is also the sacralization of the relationship to the ‘soil’. The Latvian land, saturated in the sweat and blood of the forefathers, was sacred: it was here their heroic ancient forebears fought; here their ancestors’ remains are buried. None is more closely entwined with the beloved landscape than the Latvian arājs – ‘ploughman’. The official party programme of Pērkonkrusts already lists as its second point: ‘Latvia is and shall remain an agricultural country. Its economic policy should conform solely to this rule.’ The state should actively support and develop agriculture, while limiting and controlling industrialisation.
Again, we see the pure Type Ism there, the ultra-“traditionalist” “twigs and branches” “hobbit hole in the forest” anti-modernism that I despise. If that is national socialism, then I want no part of it. But such völkisch nonsense should not define the fundamental essence of national socialism.
Nevertheless, this racialism is tempered by nationalism: ‘The Latvian nation is our faith, the boundary of our understanding of race.’ Latvians in the southeast of the country that had over the generations opted to identify as Poles or Belarusians would need to be won back to the nation; this was part of the campaign to regain ground ‘everywhere the Latvian language is or has been heard’
“Latvian language” = “Latvian speakers?” Does this emphasis on language rather than “blood” sound familiar? One hears it today coming from a part of the world geographically close to Latvia.
The goal was a Latvian Latvia in the traditional of the ethnic Latvians, ‘where the question of minorities [would] not exist [nemaz nebūs]’. The two main minorities targeted by Pērkonkrusts were the Baltic Germans and the Jews: the former, as descendants of the Teutonic Knights, represented the historical foes of Latvian national aspirations, while the latter represented the forces of degenerative modernity. Echoing the later ethno-pluralism of Alain de Benoist, Celmiņš says that ‘non-Latvians’ – Germans, Poles, Russians, and Jews (sic)…
Why “sic?” Denying that Jews are an ethnic group? “Latvian” Jews are genetically distinct from Latvians – that is a scientific fact. “Latvian” Jews are Ashkenazim, who are genetically distant from the Baltic peoples.
…– have their own homelands, so they should leave the territory of Latvia to the Latvians. Interestingly, neither Estonians nor Lithuanians are to be considered ‘foreign nationalities’ in the Latvian Latvia envisioned by Pērkonkrusts…Celmiņš expanded this to the idea of a possible Nordic-Baltic bloc together with Finland and Sweden.
Herein, I have not only proposed a definition of national socialism that is not dependent on Hitler, I have also argued that Pērkonkrusts from Latvia constituted an anti-German form of national socialism. The defining feature of national socialism as a sub-genus of fascism is that its palingenetic ultranationalism is based on völkisch racialism. As such race and nation are essentially linked, but in a metaphysical way as much as a biological one. For national socialism, the Jews as a race are hostile to the aspirations of the Aryan family of nations, seeking to enslave and degrade them through various of phenomena of modernity, including capitalist materialism, hedonist consumerism, and Bolshevism. In order for society to move forward, national socialism requires a reconnection to the soil and the core values of the ancestors. The völkisch ideology idealizes the qualities of the northern European peoples, but in its various expressions can be more or less Nordicist or pan-Germanic, as the pro-Baltic and pro-Nordic, but anti-German nature of Pērkonkrusts ideological worldview demonstrates. This fact also offers a way of explaining the heretofore paradoxical issue of why Pērkonkrusts could collaborate with the German Nazi occupiers in unleashing genocide against the Jews of Latvia, while at the same time engaging in activities that ranged from subversive to resistance in pursuit of their own anti-German political agenda. It is thus my hope that we can move on to a comparative study of various national socialisms that allows the research to move beyond the dead-end assumptions of mimetic Hitlerism.
If national socialism can be anti/non-Hitlerian/German, it can, in theory, also be anti/non-Nordicist and anti/non-völkisch. Note: “The völkisch ideology idealizes the qualities of the northern European peoples, but in its various expressions can be more or less Nordicist or pan-Germanic, as the pro-Baltic and pro-Nordic, but anti-German nature of Pērkonkrusts ideological worldview demonstrates.” OK, fine, that is völkisch, but one does not need to define national socialism solely in terms of “the völkisch ideology.” I define it differently above, in a manner that focuses on Race-Culture, with a strong but certainly not exclusive biological emphasis, with the “biological” being positivist and empirical, not dealing with mythical “racial purity” and certainly compatible with a militant pan-Europeanism. The Race-Culture in question can be broadly European, with smaller sub-groups having their own particularisms preserved as well. I object to a specifically völkisch national socialism. True enough, historically speaking, national socialism has been a particularly moronic form of Type I fascism, but it does not have to be. We can make of it what best suits us, as long as it is consistent with the core ideology, as I have outlined above. If fascism can have “protean” aspects, and a degree of flexibility in its expression, why not the national socialist sub-genus of the fascist genus?
The difference is perhaps that of descriptive vs. prescriptive perspectives. The author of the piece being reviewed is focused on describing how national socialism was historically manifested in the past (descriptive, while ignoring more modern manifestations of that political sub-genus), while my outlook is one of prescription, e.g., what national socialism should be. Thus, EGI Notes/Western Destiny, as a Type II fascist groupuscule, promotes a Type II pan-European form of national socialism.