Tag: <span>The Nazi movement</span>

Populism Book Reviews

Transformation of Populism in Europe and the Americas: History…

Featured Image: 1896 Judge cartoon shows William Jennings Bryan/Populism as a snake swallowing up the mule representing the Democratic party. By US “Judge” magazine, 1896., Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

John Abromeit, Bridget M. Chesterton, Gary Marotta, York Norman (Eds).

Transformation of Populism in Europe and the Americas: History and Recent Tendencies (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2016, 354pp.)

On 12 December 2015, Benedict Anderson;  the British historian, author of the widely cited 1983 book:  Imagined Communities died. In this influential study of nationalism;  he saw nationalism as a possible imaginative process that allows to feel solidarity for strangers.

He wrote: 

“In an age when it is so common for progressives, cosmopolitan intellectuals (particularly in Europe?) to insist on the near-pathological character of nationalism;  its roots in fear and hatred of the Other, of its affinities with racism;  it is useful to remind ourselves that nations inspire love and often profoundly self-sacrificing love…The cultural products of nationalism − poetry, prose fiction, music, plastic arts − show this love very clearly in thousands of different forms and styles.”

The rise of Hitler and the Nazis.

However, as a cosmopolitan intellectual, looking at the reactions to the flow of migrants and refugees to Europe,  and to the results of some recent elections with a sharp rise in populist nationalism;  I am among those who stress the near-pathological character of nationalism. 

The editors share my fears. The longest section of the book is devoted to the way scholars analyze the rise of Hitler and the Nazis during the Weimar Republic. While nationalist sentiments and the Staklhelm predated Hitler;  Hitler and the small group around him were able to mobilize the periphery against the center;  even the conservative center;  and thus to give voice to those who found themselves excluded from a meaningful role in German political life.

Yet as Larry Jones notes,  in his contribution-one must not lose sight of the fact that:

the Nazi assault against the Weimar Republic was not a movement that somehow arose spontaneously out of the frustration, hardship, and suffering  of those in German society;  who had been marginalized by the course of German political and economic;  development since the beginning of the First World War;  but a highly centralized and carefully controlled campaign that relied upon a party organization”… with an iron discipline that left little autonomy or capacity for spontaneity.

Larry Jones

At Institute for Humanist Studies dinner honoring Larry Jones’s Humanism, Aug. 24, 2013. By Roy Speckhardt, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Populism as an Identity: Four Propositions on Peronism”.

Only Juan Peron;  who came to power in a military coup in 1943 in Argentina;  consciously incorporated many of the Nazi techniques and symbols. However, as Mathew Karush stresses in his chapter “Populism as an Identity: Four Propositions on Peronism”;  Peron drew support from a fairly wide group of people,  which made his populism lack a specific and consistent ideology.  While Peron and similar Latin American leaders were not democrats;  they did not have the ability to kill those with different ideas on the scale of the Nazi.

Juan Domingo Perón

 

General Juan Domingo Perón has a coffee. By Pinélides A. Fusco, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons.

“Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe Today”.

Therefore, as Cas Mudde in his analysis of “Populist Radical Right Parties in Europe Today” notes “Today populist radical right parties share a core ideology ; that combines (at least) three features: nativism, authoritarianism, and populism”.  Nativism entails a combination of nationalism and xenophobia − an ideology that holds that a State should be inhabited exclusively by members of “the nation” and that “alien” elements, whether persons or ideas, are fundamentally threatening to the homogeneous “nation-state”.

Populist radical-right parties are experiencing their biggest electoral and political success in post-war Europe,  but fortunately, neither Marine Le Pen, nor Geert Wilders is Adolf Hitler. Therefore, there is a crucial role for us “cosmopolitan intellectuals”

Cas Mudde

Cas Mudde at Forum / Debate in KulturhusetStadsteatern in Stockholm on March 5, 2018 in a conversation about how liberal democracies can defend themselves against extremism without giving up basic values. By Frankie Fouganthin, CC BY-SA 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons.

Non-Governmental Organization and The “National Heros”.

The populist right parties play on a loss of confidence in the major political parties, as well as in the civil servants of the European Union. We have little influence on the ways the major political parties operate and even less influence on the European Union secretariat. 

Thus, our role is to develop strong civil society – non-governmental organization walls by protecting human rights;  and by dealing creatively with migrants and refugees. Our role is not only to defend but also to counter-attack. We need to develop more strongly our cosmopolitan ethos.

We need to develop counter-myth figures to the “national heros”. We need to stress the unity of humanity as opposed to national-ethnic identities. We must take the current  populist-nationalist efforts seriously and to develop an organized response.

 

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens.

 

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

The Uprooted.

Increasing numbers of people in countries around the world, have been forced from their homes, by armed conflicts and systematic violations of human rights. Those who cross internationally recognized borders…

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Denis de Rougemon Rapprochement of Cultures.

Denis de Rougemont (1906-1985), The Future is within us.

By Dr. Rene Wadlow.

Self-government will be; first of all; the art of getting people to meddle in things which concern them.  It will soon call for the skill of challenging once again; decisions which concern them; and which have been taken without them…Self-government specifically consists in finding one’s own way along uncharted paths.       


Denis de Rougemont.

         Denis de Rougemont; was an intellectual leader among world citizens often walking on uncharted paths.  A French-speaking Swiss; after his studies of literature at the University of Geneva; at 25, he moved to Paris where he quickly became part of a group of young; unorthodox thinkers who were developing a “Personalist” philosophy. 

The Personalists around Emmanuel Mounier, Alexandre Marc, Robert Aron and Arnaud Dandieu were trying to develop an approach based on the ‘Person’ to counter the strong intellectual currents of communism and fascism; then at their height in European society. (1)  De Rougemont was one of the writers of the 1931; Manifesto of the New Order; with its emphasis on developing a new cultural base for society.

Robert Aron. By Norabrune, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

The Powers of the State.

         For de Rougemont; revolutionaries attempting to seize power; even from the most repressive regimes; invariably fall into the power structures; they hoped to eliminate.  Only the power we have over ourselves is synonymous with freedom.  For the first time; the person has not only the need; but also the power and ability to choose his future.

He wrote; “The powers of the State are in direct proportion to the inertia of the citizens.  The State will be tempted to abuse them; as soon as it thinks there are signs that the citizens are secretly tempted; to let themselves slide back into the conditions of subjects…Dictatorship requires no imagination: all we have to do is to allow ourselves to slide.  But the survival of mankind in an atmosphere; we can breath presupposes the glimpsed vision of happiness to be achieved; a ridge to be crossed; a horizon.

         “ The model of society; which Napoleon established by a stroke of genius with a view to war and nothing else; is the permanent state of emergency; which was to be the formula of the totalitarian states from 1930 onward. Everything is militarized; that is, capable of being mobilized at any time, spirit, body and goods.”

The Nazi movement.

         In 1935; De Rougemont lived in Germany as a university lecturer in Frankfurt.  There he was able to see the Nazi movement; at first hand and had seen Hitler speaking to crowds. He later wrote of this experience. “The greatest theologian of our time, Karl Barth wrote:

A prophet has no biography; he rises and falls with his mission.”

This may be said of Hitler; the anti-prophet of our time, the prophet of an empty power, of a dead past, of a total catastrophe; whose agent he was to become.  Hitler; better than orthodox  Communists, Fascists, Falangists and Maoists; answered the basic question of the century; (which is religious in the primary sociological sense of rebinding) by offering a comradeship, a togetherness, rituals, from the beat of drums by night, and by day to the sacred ceremonies of Nuremberg.”

         One of de Rougemont’s early essays was “Principes d’une politique de pessimisme active”. He and those around him saw the dangers and the opportunities; but were unable to draw together a large enough group of people to change the course of events.  As he wrote “From the early thirties of this century; young people who were awakened; but without ‘resources’ were laying the foundations of the personalist movement.  They knew that the totalitarians were going to win — at least for a tragic season — and tried to put into words the reasons for their refusal; in the face of this short-lived triumph.”

covershot. By CHRIS DRUMM, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Love in the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident).

         In 1939, he published his most widely read book Love in
the Western World (L’Amour et l’Occident)
where he traced the idea of
romantic love from the Manichaeins, through theBogomiles, to the
Cathari to the poetry of the troubadours.

         During the war years, he lived in the USA writing and broadcasting on the French section of the Voice of America. In 1946 he returned to Europe, living most of the rest of his life near Geneva.

There he became highly active in the movement for European federalism, but he was critical of the concepts of a European Union as integration of existing States; He remained loyal to the position he set out in the mid-1930s. “Man is not made on the scale of the huge conglomerates which one tries to foist on him as ‘his fatherland’; they are far too large or too little for him.  Too little, if one seeks to confine his spiritual horizons to the frontiers of the Nation-State; too large if one tries to make them the locus of this direct contact with the flesh and with the earth which is necessary to Man”.

The Federalism.

         He put an emphasis on culture stressing a common European civilization but with great respect for the contributions of different European regions.  His idea of federalism was to build on existing regions, especially trans-frontier regions.  He was an active defender of ecological causes, seeing in the destruction of nature one of the marks of the over-centralization of State power. 

Thus he was stringing against the nuclear power industry which he saw as leading to State centralism.  As he wrote:

Starting afresh means building a new parallel society, a society whose formulae will not be imposed on us from above, will not come down to us from a capital city, but will on the contrary be improvised and invented on the plane of everyday decision-making and will be ordered in accordance with the desire for liberty which alone unites us when it is the objective of each and all.”

  • See
    Jean-Louis Loubet Del Bayle Les Non-Conformistes des années 30 (Paris :
    Seuil, 1969)

Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

Here are other publications that may be of interest to you.

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