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Edgar J. Jung, "Germany and the Conservative Revolution" (1932)

The “Conservative Revolution” was not a firmly established movement. It consisted of a number of nationalist writers and intellectuals – such as Arthur Moeller van den Bruck and Edgar Julius Jung – whose individual ideologies differed significantly, but who were joined together by their opposition to Marxism and liberalism (a term used to denote parliamentarianism, democratic parties, and Western democracy in general). The “Conservative Revolution” also rejected the kind of reactionary conservatism that aimed solely to restore the monarchy. In addition, its members criticized the Western version of capitalism, though it is important to note that they never fully defined the “German” style of socialism that they propagated as a counter-model. Edgar Julius Jung, a political adviser to Franz von Papen, favored rule by the elite, as opposed to what he described as “rule by the inferior” in Weimar democracy.

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Germany and the Conservative Revolution

[ . . . ]

We currently find ourselves in the midst of a German revolution that can scarcely be expected to manifest itself in such forms as the French did through the storming of the Bastille. It will be protracted, like the Reformation, but it will still leave its mark all the more fundamentally on the countenance of humanity. It will prompt a ruthless revision of all human values and dissolve all mechanical forms. It will oppose the driving intellectual forces, the formulas, and the goals born of the French Revolution. It will be the great conservative revolution that puts an end to the decline of occidental humanity, founding a new order, a new ethos, and a new unity in the West under German leadership. However, just as the new leadership within state and society is based not on force but on the voluntary compliance with the noble authority of those persons who are prepared to assume responsibility, so will the new leadership of Europe lie beyond the conceptual world denoted by conquest, imperialism, militarism, or denationalization. As the French Revolution shifted the center of European gravity to the west, so will the German allow the heart of Europe, its center, to come back into its own. However obstinately France might press its will for the “order” of Versailles, that nation will not be preserved from the bitter realization that issued from the world war and has inclined France today toward a politics of pure power: the realization that, biologically, the most powerful people in Europe are the Germans. [ . . . ]

By “conservative revolution” we mean the return to respect for all of those elementary laws and values without which the individual is alienated from nature and God and left incapable of establishing any true order. In the place of equality comes the inner value of the individual; in the place of socialist convictions, the just integration of people into their place in a society of rank; in place of mechanical selection, the organic growth of leadership; in place of bureaucratic compulsion, the inner responsibility of genuine self-governance; in place of mass happiness, the rights of the personality formed by the nation.

The fundamental attitude of the new individual who will be responsible for establishing this order—which recreates the inherent particularity of personality by setting the latter into a humble relationship to the whole, by blending together microcosmic value and macrocosmic preeminence—is a religious one. The present examination will venture neither into the philosophy of religion nor even into theological concerns. It seeks solely to make clear that the humble individual, who can assume the role of the master for precisely the reason that he feels himself to be the tool of God, will be the carrier of the coming new order. I measure the fitness of an individual to be the pathbreaker of the German revolution by his degree of personal humility, which is proportional to his unbroken pride in relation to the mass tendencies of our age. The great divide that is looming does not concern moral values, social attitudes, or nationalist conviction. It concerns who is a true master because he is capable of being a servant. It concerns the question of the extent to which the individual—independently of the external force of law—establishes laws for himself. The horrible moral degeneration of our time is, in the first instance, not at all to be explained on the plane of ecclesiastical faith, obedience to state law, or any other superficial code of honor. The chaos stems much more from the absence of a “caste” that unfailingly establishes laws for itself, which are also unfailingly carried out. That is the one side. The other is equal standards for all. Who can wonder, given the current predominance of these equal standards, that the “sense of honor” of the rabble will ultimately destroy that of the elite? What can a word of honor still mean in a time when words of honor are strewn about by a streetwalker? Who can wonder at disappointments over presumed friends in a time when even the worst blood forces its way without reservation into social strata that are simply incompatible with the conceptual world of such illegitimate upstarts? Who can greet the general lack of honor with astonishment, given that there no longer exists a stratum that enforces an iron discipline upon itself to keep it ranks pure? And what, finally, has happened to that dynamic model without which it is impossible for a social ethos to influence the broad masses, such as English society succeeds in imprinting its message upon the simple man?

Humility toward higher things, freely accepted responsibility, and, for that, a claim to dominion—such is the expression of the fundamental religious attitude that only individuals of good breeding are able to muster. From this attitude, this new faith, a compelling religious world of forms will mature. When it was said above that the conservative revolution was in all ways the opposite of the French Revolution, this opinion also comprehended the hope that the conservative revolution will erect a new altar to God, as the French erected one to the goddess of reason.

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