A bit of Moller van den Bruck’s writing was touched upon in our last post about the difference between being a conservative and being a reactionary, the concept of the ‘Conservative Revolution’ was also approached as well. His book Germany’s Third Empire could be seen in the same vein as most of the writings during the interwar period, however Moller’s book has a very interesting introduction as to why he has written this book.
“The attempt this book makes was not possible from any party standpoint; it ranges over all our political problems, from the extreme Left to the extreme Right. It is written from the standpoint of a Third Party, which is already in being.”
He goes on to say “only such an attempt could address itself to the nation while attacking all the parties.” It sounds a bit like the situation our own country is in. I’ll leave a link to the full book below, it’s a very interesting read and should expand a lot of thinking with regards to what Germans were thinking in the interwar period.
It’s interesting to point out however that when speaking about the revolutionaries of the time Moller says that they betrayed the revolution, they betrayed socialism by reverting to parliamentarianism. Let’s see his thoughts on the subject.
Germany’s Third Empire
Chapter 1, section 5
The foundation of Bismarck’s Empire, a state that was the personification of order, seemed to put all revolution beyond the bounds of possibility.
Fate decreed otherwise. We were doomed to have our revolution after all. And we chose for it the most inopportune moment conceivable, a moment when we were threatened from without as never yet a nation has been threatened. We sought to escape this foreign menace by domestic upheaval; we hoped to evade it by overthrowing the state. And now we are face to face with ruin, a ruin which even those who caused it cannot deny. There is nothing left to us but to try and whether this luckless Revolution which cannot be transformed from an episode of domestic politics into an episode of foreign politics, from a German event into a world event- transformed, and rendered fruitful.
The authors of the Revolution themselves can do nothing. They have failed us. There is nothing for us to do but to take the Revolution out of the hands of the revolutionaries. Shall we pursue it any further? No. We must weave it into our history. A revolution is always a turning-point. The inevitable element in it cannot pass away. That must remain and modify the thought of all people for all time. The German Insurrection of the Ninth of November will never this exercise the force of a tradition. It will forever remain for ever an unsightly blot on German history, which deserves the silence in which we shall endeavor to shroud it. If the German nation is to learn through its sufferings to become politically-minded, it must also see the Ninth of November in the light of all the terrible experiences of the four preceding years.
The revolutionaries sedulously endeavoured to make the German people forget those experiences. To a superficial observer it might we have seemed that these experiences had left no memory at all. A time came when we appeared to court forgetfulness. We had victories behind us; we made no attempt to celebrate them. As a nation we had done the utmost that our country demanded of us. Now we did not want to recall the fact; it was too painful. Whatever the reason, we erected no symbolic memorial of gratitude to our Unknown Soldier. Two millions of our dead, on the Marne, on the Somme, in Flanders, in Russia, Finland, Poland, in Italy, Romania, Asia Minor and in all the seas, seemed to have died for their country in vain: and to have been forgotten. we did not meet the taunts of our enemies, nor counter their self-laudations, by pointing out, simply, proudly- a shade contemptuously- that WE are the people of the World War, as history will in due course record. We failed to repeat, and to repeat again, that we held our own: One against ten. We failed to reiterate that we had been decoyed by the lure of international ideals into a Revolution to which alone the Ten owed their final triumph. On the contrary; we allowed our German intellectuals, our pacifists, to chant us their insane hymn of Gloria Victis, in most cynical mockery of an unpolitical people whom they had deluded for once into political action.
After 1918 there were many men, their names unknown to fame, officers of the old army, officials of the old state, who voluntarily quitted a country and an epoch in which life for them was void of purpose. We have yet to hear of any revolutionary, any democrat, any pacifist- whose ideologies had brought the Revolution on us- who refused to survive the Betrayal of Versailles, because for him the empire of his dreams had set in treachery and self-deception
Let us not compare what we Germans were in 1914 and are since 1918. Let us rather take note of a curious, present fact: on every side, on the Right no less than the Left, a conviction is growing, a conviction which is one of the few held in common by our disintegrated nation, that we have turned our backs forever on everything connected with the age of William II. Restorations are futile things, valued only by émigrés who have cut loose from patriotism but are willing enough to return to their own armchairs. Of all resorations, that of William UII would be the most futile. History will do him justice. He is the type and figurehead and representative of an epoch to which his name is given. He was the most significant expression of an insignificant background. He led his age, a capricious and irresponsible leader. The future will judge him more leniently than the present. We have seen the verification of Hermann Conradi’s prophecy, written one year after the last Kaiser’s accession: “The future will rain wars and revolutions on us. What will the upshot be? We know only that property will be at stake, civilization will be at stake. One thing is certain: the Hohenzollerns will march at our head into the mists of this mystery-enshrouded future. Will a new age still have use for them?….. That we cannot foresee.”
If we were to bring William II back to this mutilated empire which he had once ruled as a German World-Empire, we should feel the contrasts of our life even more painfully than we do.
We are an immature people. We have perhaps a long history ahead of us. We have always taken round-about roads to find ourselves. World history did not end with our Revolution, as utopian dreamers, believers in world-justice, assured us that it would. They promised us an earthly paradise in which all peoples and nations and tongues would enjoy their lives in perpetual peace. With the Revolution, the disillusionment that followed the Revolution, a new epoch in our history begins: a decisive epoch in which we are faced by a supreme and final test. We must as a people complete our transformation into a politically-minded nation: or as a nation we shall cease to exist. From our critical scrutiny of the Revolution we can gain something: from the uttermost humiliation with which these last eight years- and how many more to come?- Have been overfilled, we can learn to distinguish what things have been our real loss, and what our real gain, and what perhaps both gain and loss.
One thing we have gained by the Revolution, which can, however, be only emotionally perceived. Yet it is unmistakably there. A subtle change has come over us all. A decision has been reached. The people are faced by problems which cannot be solved for them, problems which they themselves must solve. This change must not be confused with democracy which passes so easily over into demagogy. This change has since the Revolution dominated our public life, and the private life of each individuals. It has brought people nearer together, brought them into all sorts of relationships which would before have been socially impossible. It has given them spirit de corps. The war obliterated many distinctions which had existed, based for the most part on prejudices. In spite of hatreds, of hostilities, of class distinctions, of party politics, every German in Germany feels a fate-fraught sense of cohesion, which suggests that our people is a nation in the making.
When we come to think it out, we realize that the burden that has fallen from us was the incubus of amateurishness which lay like a curse over the nation during the epoch of William II. If he had won the War we might perhaps ultimately have overcome it by our own efforts. Returning triumphant from the battlefields where it had proved its prowess, our Youth might have set us free. But we have lost the World War which was to have opened the gates of the world to us. The Revolution has flung a people of sixty millions back into prison behind guarded boundaries. Yet these events have worked a spiritual conversion and made the German- who had become a slave to his dream of perfection, to his traditions and to his wealth- a man again.
We are a people with no actual present. We possess nothing but possibilities, distant and difficult of attainment. Yet we believe that the Revolution has opened up a path to these distant goals: a path which without the Revolution would not have been open: if the nation itself does not close it to itself once more.
The Revolutionaries of 1918 lost the War of 1914 because their Revolution was not a Garman revolution. They thought they had done all that was required of them when they imitated what the west had done before. They were far indeed from grasping, as the Russian Revolutionaries had done- more and more clearly with each passing year- that a people’s revolution must be a national revolution, and acting consistently with this in mind.