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Continental Imperialism, by Hannah Arendt (1951)

Continental Imperialism, by Hannah Arendt

Nazism and Bolshevism owe more to Pan-Germanism and Pan-Slavism
(respectively) than to any other ideology or political movement. This is most
evident in foreign policies, where the strategies of Nazi Germany and Soviet
Russia have followed so closely the well-known programs of conquest outlined
by the pan-movements before and during the first World War that
totalitarian aims have frequently been mistaken for the pursuance of some
permanent German or Russian interests. While neither Hitler nor Stalin ever
acknowledged his debt to imperialism in the development of his methods of
rule, neither hesitated to admit his indebtedness to the pan-movements' ideology
or to imitate their slogans. 1
The birth of the pan-movements did not coincide with the birth of imperialism;
around 1870, Pan-Slavism had already outgrown the vague and confused
theories of the Slavophiles,1 and Pan-German sentiment was current in
Austria as early as the middle of the nineteenth century. They crystallized
into movements, however, and captured the imagination of broader strata
only withthe triumphant imperialist expansion of the Western nations in the
eighties. The Central and Eastern European nations, which had no colonial
possessions and little hope for overseas expansion, now decided that they
"had the same right to expand as other great peoples and that if [they were]
not granted this possibility overseas, [they would] be forced to do it in
Europe."3 Pan-Germans and Pan-Slavs agreed that, living in "continental
states" and being "continental peoples," they had to look for colonies on the
continent, 4 to expand in geographic continuity from a center of power,! that
against "the idea of England ... expressed by the words: I want to rule the
sea, [stands] the idea of Russia [expressed] by the words: I want to rule
the land,"6 and that eventually the "tremendous superiority of the land to the
sea ... , the superior significance of land power to sea power ..• ," would
become apparent.7
The chief importance of continental, as distinguished from overseas,
imperialism lies in the fact that its concept of cohesive expansion does not
allow for any geographic distance between the methods and institutions of
colony and of nation, so that it did not require boomerang effects in order to
make itself and all its consequences felt in Europe. Continental imperialism
truly begins at home.8 IT it shared with overseas imperialism the contempt

for the narrowness of the nation-state, it opposed to it not so much economic
arguments, which after all quite frequently expressed authentic national
needs, as an "enlarged tribal consciousness .. 9 which was supposed to unite all
people of similar folk origin, independent of history and no matter where
they happened to live.'o Continental imperialism, therefore, started with a
much closer affinity to race concepts, enthusiastically absorbed the tradition
of race-thinking,I1 and relied.very little on specific experiences. Its race concepts
were completely ideological in basis and developed much more quickly
into a convenient political weapon than similar theories expressed by overseas
imperialists which could always claim a certain basis in authentic experience.
The pan-movements have generally been given scant attention in the
discussion of imperialism. Their dreams of continental empires were overshadowed
by the more tangible results of overseas expansion, and their lack
of interest in economics 1:& stood in ridiculous contrast to the tremendous
profits of early imperialism. Moreover, in a period when almost everybody
. had come to believe that politics and economics were more or less the same
thing, it was easy to overlook the similarities as well as the significant differences
between the two brands of imperialism. The protagonists of the
pan-movements share with Western imperialists that awareness of all

foreign-policy issues which had been forgotten by the older ruling groups
of the nation-state. '3 Their influence on intellectuals was even more
pronounced-the Russian intelligentsia, with only a few exceptions, was
Pan-Slavic, and Pan-Germanism started in Austria almost as a students'
movement.'4 Their chief difference from the more respectable imperialism
of the Western nations was the lack. of capitalist support; their attempts to
expand were not and could not be preceded by export of sup~rfluous money
and superfluous men, because Europe did not offer colonial opportunities for
either. Among their leaders, we find therefore almost no businessmen and
few adventurers, but many members of the free professions, teachers, and
civil servants.'5
While overseas imperialism, its antinational tendencies notwithstanding,
succeeded in giving a new lease on life to the antiquated institutions of the
nation-state, continental imperialism was and remained unequivocally hostile
to all existing political bodies. Its general mood, therefore, was far more
rebellious and its leaders far more adept at revolutionary rhetoric. While
overseas imperialism had offered real enough panaceas for the residues of all
classes, continental imperialism had nothing to offer except an ideology and
a movement. Yet this was quite enough in a time which preferred a key
to history to political action, when men in the midst of communal disintegration
and social atomization wanted to belong at any price. Similarly, the
visible distinction of a white skin, whose advantages in a black. or brown
environment are easily understood, could be matched successfully by a
purely imaginary distinction between an Eastern and a Western, or an Aryan
and a non-Aryan soul. The point is that a rather complicated ideology and an
organization which furthered no immediate interest proved to be more
attractive than tangible advantages and commonplace convictions.

Despite their lack of success, with its proverbial appeal to the mob, the
pan-movements exerted from the beginning a much stronger attraction than
overseas imperialism. This popular appeal, which withstood tangible failures
and constant changes of program, foreshadowed later totalitarian groups
which were similarly vague as to actual goals and subject to day-to-day
changes of political lines. What held the pan-movements' membership
together was much more a general mood than a clearly defined aim. It is true
that overseas imperialism also placed expansion as such above any program
of conquest and therefore took possession of every territory that offered
itself as an easy opportunity. Yet, however capricious the export of superfluous
money may have been, it served to delimit the ensuing expansion; the
aims of the pan-movements lacked even this rather anarchic element of human
planning and geographic restraint. Yet, though they had no specific
programs for world conquest, they generated an all-embracing mood of
total predominance, of touching and embracing all human issues, of "panhumanism,"
as Dostoevski once put it.'6
In the imperialist alliance between mob and capital, the initiative lay mostly
with the representatives of business-except in the case of South Mrica,
where a clear-cut mob policy developed very early. In the pan-movements, on
the other hand, the initiative always lay exclusively with the mob, which was
led then (as today) by a certain brand of intellectuals. They still lacked the
ambition to rule the globe, and they did not even dream of the possibilities of
total domination. But they did know how to organize the mob, and they were
aware of the organizational, not merely ideological or propaganda, uses to
which race concepts can be put. Their significance is only superficially grasped
in the relatively modest theories of foreign policy-a Germanized Central
Europe or a Russianized Eastern and Southern Europe--which served as
starting points for the world-conquest programs of Nazism and Bolshevism.'
7 The "Germanic peoples" outside the Reich and "our. minor Slavonic
brethren" outside Holy Russia generated a comfortable smoke screen of
national rights to self-determination, easy stepping-stones to further expansion.
Yet, much more essential was the fact that the totalitarian governments
inherited an aura of holiness: they had only to invoke the past of "Holy Rus-

sia" or "the Holy Roman Empire" to arouse all kinds of superstitions in Slav
or German intellectuals. ,8 Pseudomystical nonsense, enriched by countless
and arbitrary historical memories, provided an emotional appeal that seemed
to transcend, in depth and breadth, the limitations of nationalism. Out of it,
at any rate, grew that new kind of nationalist feeling whose violence proved
an excellent motor to set mob masses in motion and quite adequate to replace
the older national patriotism as an emotional center.
This new type of tribal nationalism, more or less characteristic of all Central
and Eastern European nations and nationalities, was quite different in
content and significance--though not in violertce--from Western nationalist
excesses. Chauvinism-now usually thought of in connection with the
"nationalisme integral" of Maurras and Barres around the turn of the century,
with its romantic glorification of the past and its morbid cult of the
dead--even in its most wildly fantastic manifestations, did not hold that men
of French origin, born and raised in another country, without any knowledge
of French language or culture, would be "born Frenchmen" thanks to
some mysterious qualities of body or soul. Only with the "enlarged tribal
consciousness" did that peculiar identification of nationality with one's own
soul emerge, that turned-inward pride that is no longer concerned only with
public affairs but pervades every phase of private life until, for example, "the
private life of each true Pole ... is a public life of Polishness. ,,'9
In psychological terms, the chief difference between even the most violent
chauvinism and this tribal nationalism is that the one is extroverted,
concerned with visible spiritual and material achievements of the nation,
whereas the other, even in its mildest forms (for example, the German youth
movement) is introverted, concentrates on the individual's own soul which is
considered as the embodiment of general national qualities. Chauvinist mystique
still points to something that really existed in the past (as in the case of
the nationalisme integral) and merely tries to elevate this into a realm beyond

human control; tribalism, on the other hand, starts from nonexistent pseudomystical
elements which it proposes to realize fully in the future. It can be easily
recognized by the tremendous arrogance, inherent in its self-concentration,
which dares to measure a people, its past and present, by the yardstick. of
exalted inner qualities and inevitably rejects its visible existence, tradition,
institutions, and culture.
Politically speaking, tribal nationalism always insists that its own people is
surrounded by "a world of enemies," "one against all," that a fundamental
difference exists between this people and all others. It claims its people to
be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically
the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy
the humanity of man.

Tribal Nationalism

Just as continental imperialism sprang from the frustrated ambitions of countries
which did not get their share in the sudden expansion of the 1880s, so
tribalism appeared as the nationalism of those peoples who had. not participated
in national emancipation and had not achieved the sovereignty of a
nation-state. Wherever the two frustrations were combined, as in multinational
Austria-Hungary and Russia, the pan-movements naturally found
their most fertile soil. Moreover, since the Dual Monarchy harbored
both Slavic and German irredentist nationalities, Pan-Slavism and PanGermanism
concentrated from the beginning on its destruction, and AustriaHungary
became the real center of pan-movements. Russian Pan-Slavs
claimed as early as 1870 that the best possible starting point for a Pan- .
Slav empire would be the disintegration of Austria,:W and Austrian PanGermans
were so violently aggressive against their awn government that

even the AIldeutsche Verband in Germany complained frequently about
the "exaggerations" of the Austrian brother movement.~1 The Germanconceived
blueprint for the economic union of Central Europe under German
leadership, along with all similar continental-empire projects of the
German Pan-Germans, changed at once, when Austrian Pan-Germans got
hold of it, into a structure that would become "the center of German life all
over the earth and be allied with all other Germanic states. "n
It is self-evident that the expansionist tendencies of Pan-Slavism were as
embarrassing to the Czar as the Austrian Pan-Germans' unsolicited professions
of loyalty to the Reich and disloyalty to Austria were to Bismarck. ~3
For no matter how high national feelings occasionally ran, or how ridiculous
nationalistic claims might become in times of emergency, as long as they
were bound to a defined national territory and controlled by pride in a limited
nation-state they remained within limits which the tribalism of the panmovements
overstepped at once.
The modernity of the pan-movements may best be gauged from their
entirely new position on antisemitism. Suppressed minorities like the Slavs in
Austria and the Poles in Czarist Russia were more likely, because of their
conflict with the government, to discover the hidden connections between
the Jewish communities and the European nation-states, and this discovery
could easily lead to more fundamental hostility. Wherever antagonism to the
state was not identified with lack of patriotism, as in Poland, where it was a
sign of Polish loyalty to be disloyal to the Czar, or in Austria, where Germans
looked upon Bismarck as their great national figure, this antisemitism
assumed more violent forms because the Jews then appeared as agents not
only of an oppressive state machine but of a foreign oppressor. But the fundamental
role of antisemitism in the pan-movements is explained as little by

the position of minorities as by the specific experiences which Schoenerer,
the protagonist of Austrian Pan-Germanism, had had in his earlier career
when, still a member of the Liberal Party, he became aware of the connections
between the Hapsburg monarchy and the Rothschilds' domination of
Austria's railroad system."" This by itself would hardly have made him announce
that "we Pan-Germans regard antisemitism as the mainstay of our
national ideology,"~5 nor could anything similar have induced the Pan-Slav Russian
writer Rozanov to pretend that "there is no problem in Russian life in which
like a 'comma' there is not also the question: How to cope with the Jew.,,26
The clue to the sudden emergence of antisemitism as the center of a
whole outlook on life and the world--as distinguished from its mere political
role in France during the Dreyfus Affair or its role as an instrument of
propaganda in the German Stoecker movement-lies in the nature of tribalism
rather than in political facts and circumstances. The true significance of
the pan-movements' antisemitism is that hatred of the Jews was, for the first
time, severed from all actual experience concerning the Jewish people, political,
social, or economic, and followed only the peculiar logic of an ideology.
Tribal nationalism, the driving force behind continental imperialism, had little
in common with the nationalism of the fully developed Western nationstate.
The nation-state, with.its claim to popular representation and national
sovereignty, as it had developed since the French Revolution through the
nineteenth century, was the result of a combination of two factors that were
still separate in the eighteenth century and remained separate in Russia and
Austria-Hungary: nationality and state. Nations entered the scene of history
and were emancipated when peoples had acquired a consciousness of themselves
as cultural and historical entities, and of their territory as a permanent
home, where history had left its visible traces, whose cultivation was the
product of the common labor of their ancestors and whose future would
depend upon the course of a common civilization. Wherever nation-states
came into being, migrations came to an end, while, on the other hand, in the

Eastern and Southern European regions the establishment of nation-states
failed because they could not fall back upon firmly rooted peasant classes. ~7
Sociologically the nation-state was the body politic of the European emancipated
peasant classes, and this is the reason why national armies could keep
their permanent position within these states only up to the end of the nineteenth
century, that is, only as long as they were truly representative of the
rural class. "The Army," as Marx has pointed out, "was the 'point of honor'
with the allotment farmers: it was themselves turned into masters, defending
abroad their newly established property .... The uniform was their state costume,
war was their poetry; the allotment was the fatherland, and patriotism
became the ideal form of property. "28 The Western nationalism which culminated
in general conscription was the product of firmly rooted and emancipated
peasant classes.
While consciousness of nationality is a comparatively recent development,
the structure of the state was derived from centuries of monarchy and enlightened
despotism. Whether in the form of a new republic or of a reformed
constitutional monarchy, the state inherited as its supreme function the protection
of all inhabitants in its territory no matter what their nationality, and
was supposed to act as a supreme legal institution. The tragedy of the nationstate
was that the people's rising national consciousness interfered with these
functions. In the name of the will of the people the state was forced to recognize
only "nationals" as citizens, to grant full civil and political rights only to
those who belonged to the national community by right of origin and fact of
birth. This meant that the state was partly transformed from an instrument of .
the law into an instrument of the nation.
The conquest of the state by the nation~9 was gready facilitated by the
downfall of the absolute monarchy and the subsequent new development of
classes. The absolute monarch was supposed to serve the interests of the
nation as a whole, to be the visible exponent and proof of the existence of
such a common interest. The enlightened despotism was based on Rohan's
"kings command the peoples and interest commands the king" with the

abolition of the king and sovereignty of the people, this common interest
was in constant danger of being replaced by a permanent conflict among
class interests and struggle for control,of the state machinery, that is, by a
permanent civil war. The only remaining bond between the citizens of a
nation-state, without a monarch to symbolize their essential community,
seemed to be national, that is, common origin. So that in a century when
every class and section in the population was dominated by class or group
interest, the interest of the nation as a whole was supposedly guaranteed in a
common origin, which sentimentally expressed itself in nationalism.
The secret conflict between state and nation came to light at the very birth of
the modem nation-state, when the French Revolution combined the declaration
of the Rights of Man with the demand for national sovereignty. The same
essential rights were at once claimed as the inalienable heritage of all human
beings and as the specific heritage of specific nations; the same nation was at
once declared to be subject to laws, which supposedly would flow from the
Rights of Man, and sovereign, that is, bound by no universal law and acknowledging
nothing superior to itself.31 The practical outcome of this contradiction
was that from then on human rights were protected and enforced only as
national rights, and that the very institution of a state, whose supreme task was
to protect and guarantee man his rights as man, as citizen, and as national, lost
its legal, rational appearance and could be interpreted by the romantics as the
nebulous representative of a "national soul" which through the very fact of its
existence was supposed to be beyond or above the law. National sovereignty,
accordingly, lost its original connotation of freedom of the people and was
being surrounded by a pseudomystical aura of lawless arbitrariness.
Nationalism is essentially the expression of this perversion of the state
into an instrument of the nation and the identification of the citizen with the
member of the nation. The relationship between state and society was determined
by the fact of class struggle, which had supplanted the former feudal
order. Society was pervaded by liberal individualism which wrongly believed
that the state ruled over mere individuals, when in reality it ruled over
classes, and which saw in the state a kind of supreme individual before which
all others had to bow. It seemed to be the will of the nation that the state pro-

tect it from the consequences of its social atomization and, at the same
time, guarantee its possibility of remaining in a state of atomization. To be
equal to this task, the state had to enforce all earlier tendencies toward centralization;
only a strongly centralized administration which monopolized
all instruments of violence and power-possibilities could counterbalance the
centrifugal forces constantly produced in a class-ridden society. Nationalism,
then, became the precious cement for binding together a centralized
state and an atomized society, and it actually proved to be the only working,
live connection between the individuals of the nation-state.
Nationalism always preserved this initial intimate loyalty to the government
and never quite lost its function of preserving a precarious balance
between nation and state on the one hand, between the nationals of an atomized
society on the other. Native citizens of a nation-state frequently looked
down upon naturalized citizens, those who had received their rights by law
and not by birth, from the state and not from the nation; but they never went
so far as to propose the Pan-German distinction between "Staatsftemde,"
aliens of the state, and "Volkrftemde," aliens of the nation, which was later
incorporated into Nazi legislation. Insofar as the state, even in its perverted
form, remained a legal institution, nationalism was controlled by some law,
and insofar as it had sprung from the identification of nationals with their
territory, it was limited by definite boundaries.
Quite different was the first national reaction of peoples for whom nationality
had not yet developed beyond the inarticulateness of ethnic consciousness,
whose languages had not yet outgrown the dialect stage through which
all European languages went before they became suited for literary purposes,
whose peasant classes had not struck deep roots in the country and
were not on the verge of emancipation, and to whom, consequently, their
national quality appeared to be much more a portable private matter, inherent
in their very personality, than a matter of public concern and civilization.
31 If they wanted to match the national pride of Western nations, they

had no country, no state, no historic achievement to show but could only
point to themselves, and that meant, at best, to their language--as though
language by itself were already an achievement-at worst, to their Slavic,
or Germanic, or God-knows-what soul. Yet in a century which naively
assumed that all peoples were virtually nations there was hardly anything
else left to the oppressed peoples of Austria-Hungary, Czarist Russia, or the
Balkan countries, where no conditions existed for the realization of the Western
national trinity of people-territory-state, where frontiers had changed
constantly for many centuries and populations had been in a stage of more or
less continuous migration. Here were masses who had not the slightest idea
of the meaning of patria and patriotism, not the vaguest notion of responsibility
for a common, limited community. This was the trouble with the "belt
of mixed populations" (Macartney) that stretched from the Baltic to the
Adriatic and found its most articulate expression in the Dual Monarchy.
Tribal nationalism grew out of this atmosphere of rootlessness. It spread
widely not only among the peoples of Austria-Hungary but also, though on a
higher level, among members of the unhappy intelligentsia of Czarist Russia.
Rootlessness was the true source of that "enlarged tribal consciousness"
which actually meant that members of these peoples had no definite home but
felt at home wherever other members of their "tribe" happened to live. "It is
our distinction," said Schoenerer, " ... that we do not gravitate toward Vienna
but gravitate to whatever place Germans may live in. "33 The hallmark of the
pan-movements was that they never even tried to achieve national emancipation,
but at once, in their dreams of expansion, transcended the narrow
bounds of a national community and proclaimed a folk community that
would remain a political factor even if its members were dispersed all over the
earth. Similarly, and in contrast to the true national liberation movements of
small peoples, which always began with an exploration of the national past,
they did not stop to consider history but projected the basis of their community
into a future toward which the movement was supposed to march.
Tribal nationalism, spreading through all oppressed nationalities in Eastern
and Southern Europe, developed into a new form of organization, the
pan-movements, among those peoples who combined some kind of national
home country, Germany and Russia, with a large, dispersed irredenta, Ger-

mans and Slavs abroad.34 In contrast to overseas imperialism, which was content
with relative superiority, a national mission, or a white man's burden,
the pan-movements started with absolute claims to chosenness. Nationalism
has been frequendy described as an emotional surrogate of religion, but only
the tribalism of the pan-movements offered a new religious theory and a new
concept of holiness. It was not the Czar's religious function and position in
the Greek Church that led Russian Pan-Slavs to the affirmation of the Christian
nature of the Russian people, of their being, according to Dostoevski,
the "Christopher among the nations" who carry God direcdy into the affairs
of this world.3s It was because of claims to being "the true divine people of
modern times"36 that the Pan-Slavs abandoned their earlier liberal tendencies
and, notwithstanding governmental opposition and occasionally even persecution,
became staunch defenders of Holy Russia.
Austrian Pan-Germans laid similar claims to divine chosenness even
though they, with a similar liberal past, remained anticlerical and became
anti-Christians. When Hider, a self-confessed disciple of Schoenerer, stated
during the last war: "God the Almighty has made our nation. We are defending
His work by defending its very existence,  37 the reply from the other
side, from a follower of Pan-Slavism, was equally true to type: "The German
monsters are not only our foes, but God's foes.  38 These recent formulations
were not born of propaganda needs of the moment, and this kind
of fanaticism does not simply abuse religious language; behind it lies a veri-

table theology which gave the earlier pan-movements their momentum and
retained a considerable influence on the development of modern totalitarian
The pan-movements preached the divine origin of their own people as
against the Jewish-Christian faith in the divine origin of Man. According to
them, man, belonging inevitably to some people, received his divine origin
only indirecdy through membership in a people. The individual, therefore,
has his divine Value only as long as he belongs to the people singled out for
divine origin. He forfeits this whenever he decides to change his nationality,
in which case he severs all bonds through which he was endowed with divine
origin and falls, as it were, into metaphysical homelessness. The political
advantage of this concept was twofold. It made nationality a permanent
quality which no longer could be touched by history, no matter what happened
to a given people--emigration, conquest, dispersion. Of even more
immediate impact, however, was that in the absolute contrast between the
divine origin of one's own people and all other nondivine peoples all differences
between the individual members of the people disappeared, whether
social or economic or psychological. Divine origin changed the people into a
uniform "chosen" mass of arrogant robots.39
The untruth of this theory is as conspicuous as its political usefulness. God
created neither men-whose origin clearly is procreation-nor peopleswho
came into being as the result of human organization. Men are unequal
according to their natural origin, their different organization, and fate in history.
Their equality is an equality of rights only, that is, an equality of human
purpose; yet behind this equality of human purpose lies, according to JewishChristian
tradition, another equality, expressed in the concept of one common
origin beyond human history, human nature, and human purpose--the common
origin in the mythical, unidentifiable Man who alone is God's creation.
This divine origin is the metaphysical concept on which the political equality
of purpose may be based, the purpose of establishing mankind on earth.
Nineteenth-century positivism and progressivism perverted this purpose of

human equality when they set out to demonstrate what cannot be demonstrated,
namely, that men are equal by nature and different only by history
and circumstances, so that they can be equalized not by rights, but by circumstances
and education. Nationalism and its concept of a "national mission"
perverted the national concept of mankind as a family of nations into a
hierarchical structure where differences of history and organization were
misinterpreted as differences between men, residing in natural origin. Racism,
which denied the common origin of man and repudiated the common
purpose of establishing humanity, introduced the concept of the divine origin
of one people as contrasted with all others, thereby covering the temporary
and changeable product of human endeavor with a pseudomystical
. cloud of divine eternity and finality.
This finality is what acts as the common denominator between the panmovements'
philosophy and race concepts, and explains their inherent affinity
in theoretical terms. Politically, it is not important whether God or nature
is thought to be the origin of a people; in both cases, no matter how exalted
the claim for one's own people, peoples are transformed into animal species
so that a Russian appears as different from a German as a wolf is from a fox.
A "divine people" lives in a world in which it is the born persecutor of all
other weaker species, or the born victim of all other stronger species. Only
the rules of the animal kingdom can possibly apply to its political destinies.
The tribalism of the pan-movements with its concept of the "divine origin"
of one people owed part of its great appeal to its contempt for liberal
individualism,40 the ideal of mankind and the dignity of man. No human
dignity is left if the individual owes his value only to the fact that he happens
to be born a German or a Russian; but there is, in its stead, a new coherence,
a sense of mutual reliability among all members of the people which indeed
was very apt to assuage the rightful apprehensions of modern men as to what
might happen to them if, isolated individuals in an atomized society, they
were not protected by sheer numbers and enforced uniform coherence. Similarly,
the "belt of mixed populations," more exposed than other sections of
Europe to the storms of history and less rooted in Western tradition, felt earlier
than other European peoples the terror of the ideal of humanity and of

the Judaeo-Christian faith in the common origin of man. They did not harbor
any illusions about the "noble savage," because they knew something of
the potentialities of evil without research into the habits of cannibals. The
more peoples know about one another, the less they want to recognize other
peoples as their equals, the more they recoil from the ideal of humanity.
The appeal of tribal isolation and master race ambitions was partly due to
an instinctive feeling that mankind, whether a religious or humanistic ideal,
implies a common sharing of responsibility.41 The shrinking of geographic
distances made this a political actuality of the Drst order.42 It also made idealistic
talk. about mankind and the dignity of man an affair of the past simply
because all these fine and dreamlike notions, with their time-honored traditions,
suddenly assumed a terrifying timeliness. Even insistence on the sinfulness
of all men, of course absent from the phraseology of the liberal
protagonists of "mankind," by no means suffices for an understanding of
the fact-which the people understood only too well-that the idea of humanity,
purged of all sentimentality, has the very serious consequence that in
one form or another men must assume responsibility for all crimes committed
by men, and that eventually all nations will be forced to answer for the
evil committed by all others.
Tribalism and racism are the very realistic, if very destructive, ways of
escaping this predicament of common responsibility. Their metaphysical
rootlessness, which matched so well the territorial uprootedness of the
nationalities it first seized, was equally well suited to the needs of the shifting
masses of modern cities and was therefore grasped at once by totalitarianism;
even the fanatical adoption by the Bolsheviks of the greatest antinational doc-

trine, Marxism, was counteracted and Pan-Slav propaganda reintroduced in
Soviet Russia because of the tremendous isolating value of these theories in
It is true that the system of rule in Austria-Hungary and Czarist Russia
served as a veritable education in tribal nationalism, based as it was upon
the oppression of nationalities. In Russia this oppression was the exclusive
monopoly of the bureaucracy which also oppressed the Russian people with
the result that only the Russian intelligentsia became Pan-Slav. The Dual
Monarchy, on the contrary, dominated its troublesome nationalities by giving
to them just enough freedom to oppress other nationalities, with the
result that these became the real mass basis for the ideology of the panmovements.
The secret of the survival of the House of Hapsburg in the
nineteenth century lay in careful balance and support of a supranational
machinery by the mutual antagonism and exploitation of Czechs by Germans,
of Slovaks by Hungarians, of Ruthenians by Poles, and so on. For all
of them it became a matter of course that one might achieve nationhood at
the expense of the others and that one would gladly be deprived of freedom
if the oppression came from one's own national government.
The two pan-movements developed without any help from the Russian or
German governments. This did not prevent their Austrian adherents from
indulging in the delights of high treason against the Austrian government. It
was this possibility of educating masses in the spirit of high treason which
provided Austrian pan-movements with the sizable popular support they
always lacked in Germany and Russia proper. It was as much easier to induce
the German worker to attack the German bourgeoisie than the government,
as it was easier in Russia "to arouse the peasants against squires than against
the Czar.,,44 The difference in the attitudes of German workers and Russian
peasants were surely tremendous; the former looked upon a not too beloved
monarch as the symbol of national unity, and the latter considered the head

of their government to be the true representative of God on earth. These differences,
however, mattered less than the fact that neither in Russia nor in
Germany was the government so weak as in Austria, nor had its authority
fallen into such disrepute that the pan-movements could make political capital
out of revolutionary unrest. Only in Austria did the revolutionary impetus
find its natural outlet in the pan-movements. The (not very ably carried
out) device of divide et impera did little to diminish the centrifugal tendencies
of national sentiments, but it succeeded quite well in inducing superiority
complexes and a general mood of disloyalty.
Hostility to the state as an institution runs through the theories of all panmovements.
The Slavophiles' opposition to the state has been rightly described
as "entirely different from anything to be found in the system of
official nationalism";4~ the state by its very nature was held to be alien to the
people. Slav superiority was felt to lie in the Russian people's indifference to
the state, in their keeping themselves as a corpus separatum from their own
government. This is what the Slavophiles meant when they called the Russians
a "stateless people" and this made it possible for these "liberals" to reconcile
themselves to despotism; it was in accord with the demand of despotism
that the people not "interfere with state power," that is, with the absoluteness of
that power.46 The Pan-Germans, who were more articulate politically, always
insisted on the priority of national over state interest47 and usually argued
that "world politics transcends the framework of the state," that the only
permanent factor in the course of history was the people and not states; and
that therefore national needs, changing with circumstances, should determine,
at all times, the political acts of the state.48 But what in Germany and
Russia remained only high-sounding phrases up to the end of the first World
War had a real enough aspect in the Dual Monarchy, whose decay generated
a permanent spiteful contempt for the government.

It would be a serious error to assume that the leaders of the pan-movements
were reactionaries or "counter-revolutionaries." Though as a rule not too
interested in social questions, they never made the mistake of siding with
capitalist exploitation and most of them had belonged, and quite a few continued
to belong, to liberal, progressive parties. It is quite true, in a sense,
that the Pan-German League "embodied a real attempt at popular control in
foreign affairs. It believed firmly in the efficiency of a strong nationally
minded public opinion ... and initiating national policies through force of
popular demand. "49 Except that the mob, organized in the pan-movements
and inspired by race ideologies, was not at all the same people whose revolutionary
actions had led to constitutional government and whose true representatives
at that time could be found only in the workers' movements, but
with its "enlarged tribal consciousness" and. its conspicuous lack of patriotism
resembled much rather a "race."
Pan-Slavism, in contrast to Pan-Germanism, was formed by and permeated
the whole Russian intelligentsia. Much less developed in organizational
form and much less consistent in political programs, it maintained for a
remarkably long time a very high level of literary sophistication and philosophical
speculation. While Rozanov speculated about the mysterious differences
between Jewish and Christian sex power and came to the surprising
conclusion that the Jews are "united with that power, Christians being separated
from it,"SO the leader of Austria's Pan-Germans cheerfully discovered
devices to "attract the interest of the little man by propaganda songs, post
cards, Schoenerer beer mugs, walking sticks and matches."s' Yet eventually
"Schelling and Hegel were discarded and natural science was called upon to
furnish the theoretical ammunition" by the Pan-Slavs as well. S2
Pan-Germanism, founded by a single man, Georg von Schoenerer, and
chiefly supported by German-Austrian students, spoke from the beginning a
strikingly vulgar language, destined to appeal to much larger and different
social strata. Schoenerer was consequently also "the first to perceive the pos-

sibilities of antisemitism as an instrument for forcing the direction of foreign
policy and disrupting ... the internal structure of the state."53 Some of the
reasons for the suitability of the Jewish people for this purpose are obvious:
their very prominent position with respect to the Hapsburg monarchy
together with the fact that in a multinational country they were more easily
recognized as a separate nationality than in nation-states whose citizens, at
least in theory, were of homogeneous stock. This, however, while it certainly
explains the violence of the Austrian brand of antisemitism and shows
how shrewd a politician Schoenerer was when he exploited the issue, does
not help us understand the central ideological role of antisemitism in both
"Enlarged tribal consciousness" as the emotional motor of the panmovements
was fully developed before antisemitism became their central and
centralizing issue. Pan-Slavism, with its longer and more respectable history
of philosophic speculation and a more conspicuous political ineffectiveness,
turned antisemitic only in the last decades of the nineteenth century;
Schoenerer the Pan-German had already openly announced his hostility to
state institutions when many Jews were still members of his party. S41n Germany,
where the Stoecker movement had demonstrated the usefulness of antisemitism
as a political propaganda weapon, the Pan-German League started
with a certain antisemitic tendency, but before 1918 it never went so far as
to exclude Jews from membership.ss The Slavophiles' occasional antipathy to
Jews turned into antisemitism in the whole Russian intelligentsia when, after
the assassination of the Czar in 1881, a wave of pogroms organized by the
government brought the Jewish question into the focus of public attention.
Schoenerer, who discovered antisemitism at the same time, probably
became aware of its possibilities almost by accident: since he wanted above
all to destroy the Hapsburg empire, it was not difficul~ to calculate the effect
of the exclusion of one nationality on a state structure that rested on a
multitude of nationalities. The whole fabric of this peculiar constitution, the
precarious balance of its bureaucracy, could be shattered if the moderate

oppression under which all nationalities enjoyed a certain amount of
equality was undermined by popular movements. Yet, this purpose could
have been equally well served by the Pan-Germans' furious hatred of the
Slav nationalities, a hatred which had been well established long before the
movement turned antisemitic and which had been approved by its Jewish
What made the antisemitism of the pan-movements so effective that it
could survive the general decline of antisemitic propaganda during the deceptive
quiet that preceded the outbreak of the first World War was its
merger with the tribal nationalism of Eastern Europe. For there existed an
inherent affinity between the pan-movements' theories about peoples and the
roodess existence of the Jewish people. It seemed the Jews were the one perfect
example of a people in the tribal sense, their organization the model the
pan-movements were striving to emulate, their survival and their supposed
power the best proof of the correctness of racial theories.
IT other nationalities in the Dual Monarchy were but weakly rooted in the
soU and had litde sense of the meaning of a common territory, the Jews were
the example of a people who without any home at all had been able to keep
their identity through the centuries and could therefore be cited as proof that
no territory was needed to constitute a nationality. S6 IT the pan-movements
insisted on the secondary importance of the state and the paramount importance
of the people, organized throughout countries and not necessarily represented
in visible institutions, the Jews were a perfect model of a nation
without a state and without visible institutions. f7 IT tribal nationalities pointed
to themselves as the center of their national pride, regardless of historical
achievements and partnership in recorded events, if they believed that some
mysterious inherent psychological or physical quality made them the incarnation
not of Germany but Germanism, not of Russia, but the Russian soul,
they somehow knew, even if they did not know how to express it, that the
Jewishness of assimilated Jews was exactly the same kind of personal individual
embodiment of Judaism and that the peculiar pride of secularized

Jews, who had not given up the claim to chosenness, really meant that they
believed they were different and better simply because they happened to be
born as Jews, regardless of Jewish achievements and tradition.
It is true enough that this Jewish attitude, this, as it were, Jewish brand of
tribal nationalism, had been the result of the abnormal position of the Jews
in modern states, outside the pale of society and nation. But the position
of these shifting ethnic groups, who became conscious of their nationality
only through the example of other-Western-nations, and later the position
of the uprooted masses of the big cities, which racism mobilized so efficiendy,
was in many ways very similar. They too were outside the pale of
society, and they too were outside the political body of the nation-state which
seemed to be the only satisfactory political organization of peoples. In the
Jews they recognized at once their happier, luckier competitors because, as
they saw it, the Jews had found a way of constituting a society of their own
which, precisely because it had no visible representation and no normal
political oudet, could become a substitute for the nation.
But what drove the Jews into the center of these racial ideologies more
than anything else was the even more obvious fact that the pan-movements'
claim to chosenness could clash seriously only with the Jewish claim. It did
not matter that the Jewish concept had nothing in common with the tribal
theories about the divine origin of one's own people. The mob was not much
concerned with such niceties of historical correctness and was hardly aware
of the difference between a Jewish mission in history to achieve the establishment
of mankind and its own "mission" to dominate all other peoples on
earth. But the leaders of the pan-movements knew quite well that the Jews
had divided the world, exacdyas they had, into two halves--themselves and
all the others. S8 1n this dichotomy the Jews again appeared to be the luckier
competitors who had inherited something, were recognized for something
which Gentiles had to build from scratch. 59

It is a "truism" that has not been made truer by repetition that antisemitism
is only a form of envy. But in relation to Jewish chosenness it is true
enough. Whenever peoples have been separated from action and achievements,
when these natural ties with the common world have broken or do not
exist for one reason or another, they have been inclined to turn up'on themselves
in their naked natural givenness and to claim divinity and a mission to
redeem the whole world. When this happens in Western civilization, such
peoples will invariably find the age-old claim of the Jews in their way. This is
what the spokesmen of pan-movements sensed, and this is why they
remained so untroubled by the realistic question of whether the Jewish problem
in terms of numbers and power was important enough to make hatred of
Jews the mainstay of their ideology. As their own national pride was independent
of all achievements, so their hatred of the Jews had emancipated
itself from all specific Jewish deeds and misdeeds. In this the pan-movements
were in complete agreement, although neither knew how to utilize this ideological
mainstay for purposes of political organization.
The time-lag between the formulation of the pan-movements' ideology
and the possibility of its serious political application is demonstrated by the
fact that the "Protocols of the Elders of Zion"-forged around 1900 by
agents of the Russian secret police in Paris upon the suggestion of Pobyedonostzev,
the political adviser of Nicholas IT, and the only Pan-Slav ever
in an influential position-remained a half-forgotten pamphlet until 1919,
when it began its veritably triumphal procession through all European countries
and languages; 60 its circulation some thirty years later was second only
to Hitler's Mein Kampf Neither the forger nor his employer knew that a
time would come when the police would be the central institution of a society
and the whole power of a country organized according to the supposedly
Jewish principles laid down in the Protocols. Perhaps it was Stalin who was
the first to discover all the potentialities for rule that the police possessed;
it certainly was Hitler who, shrewder than Schoenerer his spiritual father,
knew how to use the hierarchical principle of racism, how to exploit the antisemitic
assertion of the existence of a "worst" people in order properly to
organize the "best" and all the conquered and oppressed in between, how to
generalize the superiority complex of the pan-movements so that each peo-

pIe, with the necessary exception of the Jews, could look down upon one that
was even worse off than itself.
Apparently a few more decades of hidden chaos and open despair were
necessary before large strata of people happily admitted that they were going
to achieve what, as they believed, only Jews in their innate devilishness had
been able to achieve thus far. The leaders of the pan-movements, at any rate,
though already vaguely aware of the social question, were very one-sided in
their insistence on foreign policy. They therefore were unable to see that
antisemitism could form the necessary link connecting domestic with external
methods; they did not know yet how to establish their "folk community,"
that is, the completely uprooted, racially indoctrinated horde.
That the pan-movements' fanaticism hit upon the Jews as the ideological
center, which was the beginning of the end of European Jewry, constitutes
one of the most logical and most bitter revenges history has ever taken. For
of course there is some truth in "enlightened" assertions from Voltaire to
Renan and T aine that the Jews' concept of chosenness, their identification of
religion and nationality, their claim to an absolute position in history and
a singled-out relationship with God, brought into Western civilization an
otherwise unknown element of fanaticism (inherited by Christianity with its
claim to exclusive possession of Truth) on one side, and on the other an element
of pride that was dangerously close to its racial perversion.61 Politically,
it was of no consequence that Judaism and an intact Jewish piety always were
notably free of, and even hostile to, the heretical immanence of the Divine.
For tribal nationalism is the precise perversion of a religion which made
God choose one nation, one's own nation; only because this ancient myth,
together with the only people surviving from antiquity, had struck deep
roots in Western civilization could the modern mob leader, with a certain
amount of plausibility, summon up the impudence to drag God into the petty
conflicts between peoples and to ask His consent to an election which the
leader had already happily manipulated.6
2. The hatred of the racists against
the Jews sprang from a superstitious apprehension that it actually might

be the Jews, and not themselves, whom God had chosen, to whom success
was granted by divine providence. There was an element of feeble-minded
resentment against a people who, it was feared, had received a rationally
incomprehensible guarantee that they would emerge eventually, and in spite
of appearances, as the final victors in world history.
For to the mentality of the mob the Jewish concept of a divine mission to
bring about the kingdom of God could only appear in the vulgar terms of
success and failure. Fear and hatred were nourished and somewhat rationalized
by the fact that Christianity, a religion of Jewish origin, had already
conquered Western mankind. Guided by their own ridiculous superstition,
the leaders of the pan-movements found that little hidden cog in the mechanics
of Jewish piety that made a complete reversion and perversion possible,
so that chosenness was no longer the myth for an ultimate realization of the
ideal of a common humanity~ut for its final destruction.

The Inheritance of Lawlessness

Open disregard for law and legal institutions and ideological justification of
lawlessness has been much more characteristic of continental than of overseas
imperialism. This is partly due to the fact that continental imperialists
lacked the geographical distance to separate the illegality of their rule on foreign
continents from the legality of their home countries' institutions. Of
equal importance is the fact that the pan-movements originated in countries
which had never known constitutional government, so that their leaders
naturally conceived of government and power in terms of arbitrary decisions
from above.
Contempt for law became characteristic of all movements. Though more
fully articulated in Pan-Slavism than in Pan-Germanism it re6ected the actual
conditions of rule in both Russia and Austria-Hungary. To describe
these two despotisms, the only ones left in Europe at the outbreak of the first

World War, in ternis of multinational states gives only one part of the picture.
As much as for their rule over multinational territories they were distinguished
from other governments in that they governed the peoples directly
(and not only exploited them) by a bureaucracy; parties played insignificant
roles, and parliaments had no legislative functions; the state ruled through an
administration that applied decrees. The significance of Parliament for the '
Dual Monarchy was little more than that of a not too bright debating society.
In Russia as well as pre-war Austria serious opposition could hardly be found
there but was exerted by outside groups who knew that their entering
,the parliamentary system would only detract popular attention and support
from them.
Legally, government by bureaucracy is government by decree, and this
means that power, which in constitutional government only enforces the
law, becomes the direct source of all legislation. Decrees moreover remain
anonymous (while laws can always be traced to specific men or assemblies),
and therefore seem to flow from some over-all ruling power that needs no
justification. Pobyedonostzev's contempt for the "snares" of the law was the
eternal contempt of the administrator for the supposed lack of freedom of
the legislator, who is hemmed in by principles, and for the inaction of the
executors of law, who are restricted by its interpretation. The bureaucrat,
who by merely administering decrees has the illusion of constant action,
feels tremendously superior to these "impractical" people who are forever
entangled in "legal niceties" and therefore stay outside the sphere of power
which to him is the source of everything.
The administrator considers the law to be powerless because it is by definition
separated from its application. The decree, on the other hand, does not
exist at all except if and when it is applied; it needs no justification except
applicability. It is true that decrees are used by all governments in times of
emergency, but then the emergency itself is a clear justification and automatic
limitation. In governments by bureaucracy decrees appear in their
naked purity as though they were no longer issued by powerful men, but
were the incarnation of power itself and the administrator only its accidental
agent. There are no general principles which simple reason can understand
behind the decree, but ever-changing circumstances which only an expert
can know in detail. People ruled by decree never know what rules them
because of the impossibility of understanding decrees in themselves and the

carefully organized ignorance of specific circumstances and their practical
significance in which all administrators keep their subjects. Colonial imperialism,
which also ruled by ·decree and was sometimes even defined as the
"regime des decrets~ ,,6~a was dangerous enough; yet the very fact that the administrators
over native populations were imported and felt to be usurpers
Initigated its influence on the subject peoples. Only where, as in Russia
and Austria, native rulers and a native bureaucracy were accepted as
the legitimate government, could rule by decree create the atmosphere of
arbitrariness and secretiveness which effectively hid its mere expediency.
Rule by decree has conspicuous advantages for the domination of farflung
territories with heterogeneous populations and for a policy of oppression.
Its efficiency is superior simply because it ignores all intermediary
stages between issuance and application, and because it prevents political
reasoning by the people through the withholding of information. It can
easily overcome the variety of local customs and need not rely on the necessarily
slow process of development of general law. It is most helpful for the
establishment of a centralized administration because it overrides automatically
all matters of local autonomy. If rule by good laws has sometimes been
called the rule of wisdom, rule by appropriate decrees may rightly be called
the rule of cleverness. For it is clever to reckon with ulterior motives and
aims, and it is wise to understand and create by deduction from generally
accepted principles.
Government by bureaucracy has to be distinguished from the mere outgrowth
and deformation of civil services which frequently accompanied the
decline of the nation-state--as, notably, in France. There the administration
has survived all changes in regime since the Revolution, entrenched itself
like a parasite in the body politic, developed its own class interests, and
become a useless organism whose only purpose appears to be chicanery and
prevention of normal econoInic and political development. There are of
course many superficial siInilarities between the two types of bureaucracy,
especially if one pays too much attention to the striking psychological similarity
of petty officials. But if the French people have made the very serious
Inistake of accepting their administration as a necessary evil, they have never

comInitted the fatal error of allowing it to rule the country--even though
the consequence has been that nobody rules it. The French atmosphere of
government has become one of inefficiency and vexations; but it has not created
an aura of pseudomysticism.
And it is this pseudomysticism that is the stamp of bureaucracy when it
becomes a form of government. Since the people it dominates never really
know why something is happening, and a rational interpretation of laws
does not exist, there remains only one thing that counts, the brutal naked
event itself. What happens to one then becomes subject to an interpretation
whose possibilities are endless, unliInited by reason and unhampered by
knowledge. Within the framework of such endless interpretative speculation,
so characteristic of all branches of Russian pre-revolutionary literature,
the whole texture of life and world assume a mysterious secrecy and
depth. There is a dangerous charm in this aura because of its seemingly inexhaustible
richness; interpretation of suffering has a much larger range than
that of action for the former goes on in the inwardness of the soul and
releases all the possibilities of human imagination, whereas the latter is constantly
checked, and possibly led into absurdity, by outward consequence
and controllable experience.
One of the most glaring differences between the old-fashioned rule by
bureaucracy and the up-to-date totalitarian brand is that Russia's and Austria's
pre-war rulers were content with an idle radiance of power and, satisfied
to control its outward destinies, left the whole inner life of the soul
intact. Totalitarian bureaucracy, with a more complete understanding of the
meaning of absolute power, intruded upon the private individual and his
inner life with equal brutality. The result of this radical efficiency has been
that the inner spontaneity of people under its rule was killed along with their
social and political activities,'so that the merely political sterility under the
older bureaucracies was followed by total sterility under totalitarian rule.
The age which saw the rise of the pan-movements, however, was still happily
ignorant of total sterilization. On the contrary, to an innocent observer
(as most Westerners were) the so-called Eastern soul appeared to be incomparably
richer, its psychology more profound, its literature more meaningful
than that of the "shallow" Western democracies. Thi~ psychological and
literary adventure into the "depths" of suffering did not come to pass in
Austria-Hungary because its literature was mainly German-language litera

ture, which after all was and remained part and parcel of German literature
in general. Instead of inspiring profound humbug, Austrian bureaucracy
rather caused its greatest modem writer to become the humorist and critic of
the whole matter. Franz Kafka knew well enough the superstition of fate
which possesses people who live under the perpetual rule of accidents, the
inevitable tendency to read a special superhuman meaning into happenings
whose rational significance is beyond the knowledge and understanding
of the concerned. He was well aware of the weird attractiveness of such peoples,
their melancholy and beautifully sad folk tales which seemed so superior
to the lighter and brighter literature of more fortunate peoples. He exposed
the pride in necessity as such, even the necessity of evil, and the nauseating
conceit which identifies evil and misfortune with destiny. The miracle is only
that he could do this in a world in which the main elements of this atmosphere
were not fully articulated; he trusted his great powers of imagination
to draw all the necessary conclusions and, as it were, to complete what reality
had somehow neglected to bring into full focus.63
Only the Russian Empire of that time offered a complete picture of rule
by bureaucracy. The chaotic conditions of the country-too vast to be
ruled, populated by primitive peoples without experience in political organization
of any kind, who vegetated under the incomprehensible overlordship
of the Russian bureaucracy,..---conjured up an atmosphere of anarchy and
hazard in which the conflicting whims of petty officials and the daily accidents
of incompetence and inconsistency inspired a philosophy that saw in
the Accident the true Lord of Life, something like the apparition of Divine
Providence.6.t To the Pan-Slav who always insisted on the so much more
"interesting" conditions in Russia against the shallow boredom of civilized

countries, it looked as though the Divine had found an intimate immanence
in the soul of the unhappy Russian people, matched nowhere else on earth.
In an unending stream of literary variations that Pan-Slavs opposed the profundity
and violence of Russia to the superficial banality of the West, which
did not know suffering or the meaning of sacrifice, and behind whose sterile
civilized surface was hidden frivolity and triteness.65 The totalitarian
movements still owed much of their appeal to this vague and embittered
anti-Western mood that was especially in vogue in pre-Hitler Germany and
Austria, but had seized the general European intelligentsia of the twenties as
well. Up to the moment of actual seizure of power, they could use this passion
for the profound and rich "irrational,» and during the crucial years
when the exiled Russian intelligentsia exerted a not negligible influence upon
the spiritual mood of an entirely disturbed Europe, this purely literary attitude
proved to be a strong emotional factor in preparing the ground for
Movements, as contrasted to parties, did not simply degenerate into bureaucratic
machines,67 but saw in bureaucratic regimes possible models of organization.
The admiration which inspired the Pan-Slav Pogodin's description
of the machine of Czarist Russian bureaucracy would have been shared by
them all: "A tremendous machine, constructed after the simplest principles,
guided by the hand of one man ... which sets it in motion at every moment
with a single movement, no matter which direction and speed he may choose.
And this is not merely a mechanical motion, the machine is entirely animated
by inherited emotions, which are subordination, limitless confidence and

devotion to the Czar who is their God on earth. Who would dare to attack us
and whom could we not force into obedience?,,68
Pan-Slavists were less opposed to the state than their Pan-Germanist colleagues.
They sometimes even tried to convince the Czar to become the head
of the movement. The reason for this tendency is of course that the Czar's
position differed considerably from that of any European monarch, the
Emperor of Austria-Hungary not excluded, and that the Russian despotism
never developed into a rational state in the Western sense but remained fluid,
anarchic, and unorganized. Czarism, therefore, sometimes appeared to the
Pan-Slavists as the symbol of a gigantic moVing force surrounded by a halo
of unique holiness.69 Pan-Slavism, in contrast to Pan-Germanism, did not
have to invent a new ideology to suit the needs of the Slavic soul and its
movement, but could interpret-and make a mystery o£-Czarism as the
anti-Western, anticonstitutional, antistate expression of the movement itself.
This mystification of anarchic power inspired Pan-Slavism with its most pernicious
theories about the transcendent nature and inherent goodness of all
power. Power was conceived as a divine emanation pervading all natural and
human activity. It was no longer a means to achieve something: it simply
existed, men were dedicated to its service for the love of God, and any law
that might regulate or restrain its "limitless and terrible strength" was clearly
sacrilege. In its complete arbitrariness, power as such was held to be holy,
whether it was the power of the Czar or the power ~f sex. Laws were not
only incompatible with it, they were sinful, manmade "snares" that prevented
the full development of the "divine.,,70 The government, no matter
what it did, was still the "Supreme Power in action,,,71 and the Pan-Slav

movement only had to adhere to this power and to organize its popular
support, which eventually would permeate and therefore sanctify the whole
people--a colossal herd, obedient to the arbitrary will of one man, ruled neither
by law nor interest, but kept together solely by the cohesive force of
their numbers and the conviction of their own holiness.
From the beginning, the movements lacking the "strength of inherited
emotions" had to differ from the model of the already existing Russian despotism
in two respects. They had to make propaganda which the established
bureaucracy hardly needed, and did this by introducing an element of violencet
and they found a substitute for the role of "inherited emotions" in
the ideologies which Continental parties had already developed to a considerable
extent. The difference in their use of ideology was that they not only
added ideological justification to interest representation, but used ideologies
as organizational principles. If the parties had been bodies for the organization
of class interests, the movements became embodiments of ideologies. In
other words, movements were "charged with philosophy" and claimed they
had set into motion "the individualization of the moral universal within a
It is true that concretization of ideas had first been conceived in Hegel's
theory of state and history and had been further developed in Marx's theory
of the proletariat as the protagonist of mankind. It is of course not accidental
that Russian Pan-Slavism was as much influenced by Hegel as Bolshevism

was in1luenced by Marx. Yet neither Marx nor Hegel assumed actual human
beings and actual parties or countries to be ideas in the flesh; both believed in
the process of history in which ideas could be concretized only in a complicated
dialectical movement. It needed the vulgarity of mob leaders to hit
upon the tremendous possibilities of such concretization for the organization
of masses. These men began to tell the mob that each of its members could
become such a lofty all-important walking embodiment of something ideal if
he would only join the movement. Then he no longer had to be loyal or generous
or courageous, he would automatically be the very incarnation of Loyalty,
Generosity, Courage. Pan-Germanism showed itself somewhat superior
in organizational theory, insofar as it shrewdly deprived the individual German
of all these wondrous qualities if he did not adhere to the movement
(thereby foreshadowing the spiteful contempt which Nazism later expressed
for the non-Party members of the German people), whereas Pan-Slavism,
absorbed deeply in its limidess speculations about the Slav soul, assumed that
every Slav consciously or unconsciously possessed such a soul no matter
whether he was properly organized or not. It needed Stalin's ruthlessness to
introduce into Bolshevism the same contempt for the Russian people that the
Nazis showed toward the Germans.
It is this absoluteness of movements which more than anything else separates
them from party structures and their partiality, and serves to justify their
claim to overrule all objections of individual conscience. The particular reality
of the individual person appears against the background of a spurious reality of
the general and universal, shrinks into a negligible quantity or is submerged
in the stream of dynamic movement of the universal itself. In this stream the
difference between ends and means evaporates together with the personality,
and the result is the monstrous immorality of ideological politics. All that
matters is embodied in the moving movement itself; every idea, every value
has vanished into a welter of superstitious pseudoscientific immanence.

Pa~ and Movement

The striking and fateful difference between continental and overseas imperialism
has been that their initial successes and failures were in exact opposition.
While continental imperialism, even in its beginnings, succeeded in realizing
the imperialist hostility against the nation-state by organizing large strata of
people outside the party system, and always failed to get results in tangible
expansion, overseas imperialism, in its mad and successful rushes to annex
more and more far-flung territories, was never very successful when it
attempted to change the home countries' political structure. The nation-state
system's ruin, having been prepared by its own overseas imperialism, was
eventually carried out by those movements which had originated outside its
own realm. And when it came to pass that movements began successfully to
compete with the nation-state's party system, it was also seen that they could
undermine only countries with a multiparty system, that mere imperialist tradition
was not sufficient to give them mass appeal, and that Great Britain, the
classic country of two-party rule, did not produce a movement of either Fascist
or Communist orientation of any consequence outside her party system.
The slogan "above the parties," the appeal to "men of all parties," and the
boast that they would "stand far removed from the strife of parties and represent
only a national purpose" was equally characteristic of all imperialist
groups,74 where it appeared as a natural consequence of their exclusive interest
in foreign policy in which the nation was supposed to act as a whole in any
event, independent of classes and parties. 7' Since, moreover, in the Conti- .
nental systems this representation of the nation. as a whole had been the
"monopoly" of the state,?6 it could even seem that the imperialists put the
state's interests above everything else, or that the interest of the nation as a
whole had found in them its long-sought popular support. Yet despite all such

claims to true popularity the "parties above parties" remained small societies
of intellectuals and well-to-do people who, like the Pan-German League,
could hope to find a larger appeal only in times of national emergency.77
The decisive invention of the pan-movements, therefore, was not that
they too claimed to be outside and above the party system, but that they
called themselves "movements," their very name alluding to the profound
distrust for all parties that was already widespread in Europe at the turn of
the century and finally became so decisive that in the days of the Weimar
Republic, for instance, "each new group believed it could find no better legitimization
and no better appeal to the masses than a clear insistence that it
, , b' , ,,78 was not a party ut a movement.
It is true that the actual disintegration of the European party system was
brought about, not by the pan- but by the totalitarian movements. The panmovements,
however, which found their place somewhere between the small
and comparatively harmless imperialist societies and the totalitarian movements,
were forerunners of the totalitarians, insofar as they had already discarded
the element of snobbery so conspicuous in all imperialist leagues,
whether the snobbery of wealth and birth in England or of education in Germany,
and therefore could take advantage of the deep popular hatred for
those institutions which were supposed to represent the people.79 It is not
surprising that the appeal of movements in Europe has not been hurt much
by the defeat of Nazism and the growing fear of Bolshevism. As matters
stand now, the only country in Europe where Parliament is not despised and
the party system not hated is Great Britain.80

Faced with the stability of political institutions in the British Isles and the
simultaneous decline of all nation-states on the Continent, one can hardly
avoid concluding that the difference between the Anglo-Saxon and the Continental
party system must be an important factor. For the merely material
differences between a gready impoverished England and an undestroyed
France were not great after the close of this war; unemployment, the greatest
revolutionizing factor in prewar Europe, had hit England even harder than
many Continental countries; and the shock to which England's political stability
was being exposed right after the war through the Labor Government's
liquidation of imperialist government in India and its tentative efforts
to rebuild an English world policy along nonimperialist lines must have been
tremendous. Nor does mere difference in social structure account for the
relative strength of Great Britain; for the economic basis of her social system
has been severely changed by the socialist Government without any decisive
change in political institutions.
Behind the external difference between the Anglo-Saxon two-party and
the Continental multiparty system lies a fundamental distinction between the
party's function within the body politic, which has great consequences for
the party's attitude to power, and the citizen's position in his state. In the
two-party system one party always represents the government and actually
rules the country, so that, temporarily, the party in power becomes identical
with the state. The state, as a permanent guarantee of the country's unity, is
represented only in the permanence of the office of the KingSI (for the permanent
Undersecretaryship of the Foreign Office is only a matter of continuity).
As the two parties are planned and organized for alternate rule,S:> all
branches of the administration are planned and organized for alternation.
Since the rule of each party is limited in time, the opposition party exerts a
control whose efficiency is strengthened by the certainty that it is the ruler of
tomorrow. In fact, it is the opposition rather than the symbolic position of
the King that guarantees the integrity of the whole against one-party dicta-

torship. The obvious advantages of this system are that there is no essential
difference between government and state, that power as well as the state
remain within the grasp of the citizens organized in the party, which represents
the power and the state either of today or of tomorrow, and that consequendy
there is no occasion for indulgence in lofty speculations about Power
and State as though they were something beyond human reach, metaphysical
entities independent of the will and action of the citizens.
The Continental party system supposes that each party defines itself consciously
as a part of the whole, which in turn is represented by a state above
parties.83 A one-party rule therefore can only signify the dictatorial domination
of one part over all others. Governments formed by alliances between
party leaders are always only party governments, clearly distinguished from
the state which rests above and beyond them. One of the minor shortcomings
of this system is that cabinet members cannot be chosen according
to competence, for too many parties are represented, and ministers are necessarily
chosen according to party alliances; 84 the British system, on the other
hand, permits a choice of the best men from the large ranks of one party.
Much more relevant, however, is the fact that the multiparty system never
allows anyone man or anyone party to assume full responsibility, with the
natural consequence that no government, formed by party alliances, ever
feels fully responsible. Even if the improbable happens and an absolute
majority of one party dominates Parliament and results in one-party rule,
this can only end either in dictatorship, because the system is not prepared
for such government, or in the bad conscience of a still truly democratic
leadership which, accustomed to thinking of itself only as part of the whole,

will naturally be afraid of using its power. This bad conscience functioned in
a well-nigh exemplary fashion when, after the first World War, the German
and Austrian Social Democratic parties emerged for a short moment as
absolute majority parties, yet repudiated the power which went with this
• • 8S
Since the rise of the party systems it has been a matter of course to identify
parties with particular interests, econoInic or others,86 and all Continental
parties, not only the labor groups, have been very frank in adInitting this
as long as they could be sure that a state above parties exerts its power more
or less in the interest of all. The Anglo-Saxon party, on the contrary, founded
on some "particular principle" for the service of the "national interest, "87 is
itself the actual or future state of the country; particular interests are represented
in the party itself, as its right and left wing, and held in check by the
very necessities of government. And since in the two-party system a party
cannot exist for any length of time if it does not win enough strength to
assume power, no theoretical justification is needed, no ideologies are developed,
and the peculiar fanaticism of Continental party strife, which springs
not so much from conflicting interests as from antagonistic ideologies, is
88 completely absent.
The trouble with the Continental parties, separated on principle from

government and power, was not so much that they were trapped in the narrowness
of particular interests as that they were ashamed of these interests
and therefore developed those justifications which led each one into an ideology
claiming that its particular interests coincided with the most general
interests of humanity. The conservative party was not content to defend the
interests of landed property but needed a philosophy according to which
God had created man to till the soil by the sweat of his brow. The same is
true for the progress ideology of the middle-class parties and for the labor
parties' claim that the proletariat is the leader of mankind. This strange combination
of lofty philosophy and down-to-earth interests is paradoxical only
at first glance. Since these parties did not organize their members (or educate
their leaders) for the purpose of handling public affairs, but represented
them only as private individuals with private interests, they had to cater to all
private needs, spiritual as well as material. In other words, the chief difference
between the Anglo-Saxon and the Continental party is that the former
is a political organization of citizens who need to "act in concert" in order
to act at all,89 while the latter is the organization of private individuals
who want their interests to be protected against interference from public
It is consistent with this system that the Continental state philosophy recognized
men to be citizens only insofar as they were not party members, i.e.,
in their individual unorganized relationship to the state (Staatshiirget;) or in
their patriotic enthusiasm in times of emergency (citoyens). 9° This was the
unfortunate result of the transformation of the citoyen of the French Revolution into the hourgeois of the nineteenth century on one hand, and of the
antagonism between state and society on the other. The Germans tended to
consider patriotism an obedient self-oblivion before the authorities and the
French an enthusiastic loyalty to the phantom of "eternal France." In both
cases, patriotism meant an abandonment of one's party and partial interests
in favor of the government and the national interest. The point is that such
nationalistic deformation was almost inevitable in a system that created political
parties out of private interests, so that the public good had to depend
upon force from above and a vague generous self-sacrifice from below which
could be achieved only by arousing nationalistic passions. In England, on the
contrary, antagonism between private and national interest never played a
decisive role in politics. The more, therefore, the party system on the Continent
corresponded to class interests, the more urgent was the need of the
nation for nationalism, for some popular expression and support of national
interests, a support which England with its direct government by party and
opposition never needed so much.
If we consider the difference between the Continental multiparty and the
British two-party system with regard to their predisposition to the rise of
movements, it seems plausible that it should be easier for a one-party dictatorship
to seize the state machinery in countries where the state is above the
parties, and thereby above the citizens, than in those where the citizens by
acting "in concert," i.e., through party organization, can win power legally
and feel themselves to be the proprietors of the state either of today or of
tomorrow. It appears even more plausible that the mystification of power
inherent in the movements should be more easily achieved the farther removed
the citizens are from the sources of power---easier in bureaucratically
ruled countries where power positively transcends the capacity to
understand on the part of the ruled, than in constitutionally governed countries
where the law is above power and power is only a means of its enforcement;
and easier yet in countries where the state power is beyond the reach of
the parties and therefore, even if it remains within the reach of the citizen's
intelligence, is removed beyond the reach of his practical experience and

The alienation of the masses from government, which was the beginning
of their eventual hatred of and disgust with Parliament, was different in
France and other Western democracies on one hand, and in the Central
European countries, Germany chiefly, on the other. In Germany, where the
state was by definition above the parties, party leaders as a rule surrendered
their party allegiance the moment they became ministers and were charged
with official duties. Disloyalty to one's own party was the duty of everyone
in public office.91 1n France, ruled by party alliances, no real government has
been possible since the establishment of the Third Republic and its fantastic
record of cabinets. Her weakness was the opposite of the German one; she
had liquidated the state which was above the parties and above Parliament
without reorganizing her party system into a body capable of govert}ing. The
government necessarily became a ridiculous exponent of the ever-changing
moods of Parliament and public opinion. The German system, on the other
hand, made Parliament a more or less useful battlefield for conflicting interests
and opinions whose main function was to influence the government but
whose practical necessity in the handling of state affairs was, to say the least,
debatable. In France, the parties suffocated the government; in Germany, the
state emasculated the parties.
Since the end of the nineteenth century, the repute of these Constitutional
parliaments and parties has constantly declined; to the people at large they
looked like expensive and unnecessary institutions. For this reason alone
each group that claimed to present something above party and class interests
and started outside of Parliament had a great chance for popularity. Such
groups seemed more competent, more sincere, and more concerned with
public affairs. This, however, was so in appearance only, for the true goal of
every "party above parties" was to promote one particular interest until it
had devoured all others, and to make one particular group the master of the
state machine. This is what finally happened in Italy under Mussolini's Fascism,
which up to 1938 was not totalitarian but just an ordinary nationalist

dictatorship developed logically from a multiparty democracy. For there is
indeed some truth in the old truism about the affinity between majority rule
and dictatorship, but this affinity has nothing whatever to do with totalitarianism.
It is obvious that, after many decades of inefficient and muddled multiparty
rule, the seizure of the state for the advantage of one party can come
as a great relief because it assures at least, though only for a limited time,
some consistency, some permanence, and a little less contradiction.
The fact that the seizure of power by the Nazis was usually identified with
such a one-party dictatorship merely showed how much political thinking
was still rooted in the old established patterns, and how little the people were
prepared for what really was to come. The only typically modern aspect of
the Fascist party dictatorship is that here, too, the party insisted that it was a
movement; that it was nothing of the kind, but merely usurped the slogan
"movement" in order to attract the masses, became evident as soon as it
seized the state machine without drastically changing the power structure of
the country, being content to fill all government positions with party members.
It was precisely through the identification of the party with the state,
which both the Nazis and the Bolsheviks always carefully avoided, that the
party ceased to be a "movement" and became tied to the basically stable
structure of the state.
Even though the totalitarian movements and their predecessors, the panmovements,
were not "parties above parties" aspiring to seize the state machine
but movements aiming at the destruction of the state, the Nazis found
it very convenient to pose as such, that is, to pretend to follow faithfully the
Italian model of Fascism. Thus they could win the help of those upper-class
and business elite who mistook the Nazis for the older groups they had themselves
frequently initiated and which had made only the rather modest pretense
of conquering the state machine for one party.92 The businessmen who
helped Hitler into power natvely believed that they were only supporting a
dictator, and one of their own making, who would naturally rule to the
advantage of their own class and the disadvantage of all others.
The imperialist-inspired "parties above parties" had never known how to

profit from popular hatred of the party system as such; Germany's frustrated
pre-war imperialism, in spite of its dreams of continental expansion and its
violent denunciation of the nation-state's democratic institutions, never
reached the scope of a movement. It certainly was not sufficient to haughtily
discard class interests, the very foundation of the nation's party system, for
this left them less appeal than even the ordinary parties still enjoyed. What
they conspicuously lacked, despite all high-sounding nationalist phrases, was
a real nationalist or other ideology. After the first World War, when the German
Pan-Germans, especially Ludendorff and his wife, recognized this error
and tried to make up for it, they failed despite their remarkable ability to
appeal to the most superstitious beliefs of the masses because they clung to
an outdated nontotalitarian state worship and could not understand that the
masses' furious interest in the so-called "suprastate powers" (iiherstaatlicke
Machte)-i.e., the Jesuits, the Jews, and the Freemasons--did not spring
from nation or state worship but, on the contrary, from envy and the desire
also to become a "suprastate power.,,93
The only countries where to all appearances state idolatry and nation
worship were not yet outmoded and where nationalist slogans against the
"suprastate" forces were still a serious concern of the people were those
Latin-European countries like Italy and, to a lesser degree, Spain and Portugal,
which had actually suffered a definite hindrance to their full national
development through the power of the Church. It was partly due to this
authentic element of belated national development and partly to the wisdom
of the Church, which very sagely recognized that Fascism was neither
anti-Christian nor totalitarian in principle and only established a separation
of Church and State which already existed in other countries, that the initial
anticlerical flavor of Fascist nationalism subsided rather quickly and gave
way to a modus vivendi as in Italy, or to a positive alliance, as in Spain and
Mussolini's interpretation of the corporate state idea was an attempt to
overcome the notorious national dangers in a class-ridden society with a new
integrated social organization94 and to solve the antagonism between state

and society, on which the nation-state had rested, by the incorporation of the
society into the state.9S The Fascist movement, a "party above parties," because
it claimed to represent the interest of the nation as a whole, seized
the state machine, identified itself with the highest national authority, and
tried to make the whole people "part of the state." It did not, however, think
itself "above the state," and its leaders did not conceive of themselves as
"abo ve the nati. on. ,,96 A s regard s the 'r[;a' sCl.s ts, the·r r movement h ad com. e to an
end with the seizure of power, at least with respect to domestic policies; the
movement could now maintain its motion only in matters of foreign policy,
in the sense of imperialist expansion and typically imperialist adventures.
Even before the seizure of power, the Nazis clearly kept aloof from this Fascist
form of dictatorship, in which the "movement" merely serves to bring
the party to power, and consciously used the party "to drive on the movement,"
which, contrary to the party, must not have any "definite, closely
determined goalS.,,97
The difference between the Fascist and the totalitarian movements is best
illustrated by their attitude toward the army, that is, toward the national institution
par excellence. In contrast to the Nazis and the Bolsheviks, who
destroyed the spirit of the army by subordinating it to the political commissars
or totalitarian elite formations, the Fascists could use such intensely
nationalist instruments as the army, with which they identified themselves as
they had identified themselves with the state. They wanted a Fascist state and

a Fascist army, but still an army and a state; only in Nazi Germany and Soviet
Russia army and state became subordinated functions of the movement. The
Fascist dictator-but neither Hider nor Stalin-was the only true usurper in
the sense of classical political theory, and his one-party rule was in a sense
the only one still intimately connected with the multiparty system. He carried
out what the imperialist-minded leagues, societies, and "parties above
. parties" had aimed at, so that it is particularly Italian Fascism that has become
the only example of a modern mass movement organized within the framework
of an existing state, inspired solely by extreme nationalism, and which
transformed the people permanendy into such Staatshiirger or patriotes as the
nation-state had mobilized only in times of emergency and union sacree.98
There are no movements without hatred of the state, and this was virtually
unknown to the German Pan-Germans in the relative stability of prewar
Germany. The movements originated in Austria-Hungary, where hatred
of the state was an expression of patriotism for the oppressed nationalities
and where the parties--with the exception of the Social Democratic Party
(next to the Christian-Social Party the only one sincerely loyal to Austria)were
formed along national, and not along class lines. This was possible
because economic and national interests were almost identical here and because
economic and social status depended largely on nationality; nationalism,
therefore, which had been a unifying force in the nation-states, here
became at once a principle of internal disruption, which resulted in a decisive
difference in the structure of the parties as compared with those of nationstates.
What held together the members of the parties in multinational
Austria-Hungary was not a particular interest, as in the other Continental
party systems, or a particular principle for organized action as in the AngloSaxon,
but chiefly the sentiment of belonging to the same nationality. Stricdy
speaking, this should have been and was a great weakness in the Austrian
parties, because no definite goals or programs could be deduced from the
sentiment of tribal belonging. The pan-movements made a virtue of this
shortcoming by transfOrming parties into movements and by discovering that
form of organization which, in contrast to all others, would never need a

goal or program but could change its policy from day to day without harm to
its membership. Long before Nazism proudly pronounced that though it had
a program it did not need one, Pan-Germanism discovered how much more
important for mass appeal a general mood was than laid-down oudines and
platforms. For the only thing that counts in a movement is precisely that it keeps
itself in constant movement. 99 The Nazis, therefore, used to refer to the fourteen
years of the Weimar Republic as the "time of the System" -SysteTn{ei~-the
implication being that this time was sterile, lacked dynamism, did not "move,"
and was followed by their "era of the movement."
The state, even as a one-party dictatorship, was felt to be in the way of the
ever-changing needs of an ever-growing movement. There was no more
characteristic difference between the imperialist "above party group" of the
Pan-German League in Germany itself and the Pan-German movement in
Austria than their attitudes toward the state: 100 while the "party above parties"
wanted only to seize the state machine, the true movement aimed at its
destruction; while the former still recognized the state as highest authority
once its representation had fallen into the hands of the members of one party
(as in Mussolini's Italy), the latter recognized the movement as independent
of and superior in authority to the state.
The pan-movements' hostility to the party system acquired practical significance
when, after the first World War, the party system ceased to be a working
device and the class system of European society broke down under the
weight of growing masses entirely declassed by events. What came to the
fore then were no longer mere pan-movements but their totalitarian successors,
which in a few years determined the politics of all other parties to such
a degree that they became either anti-Fascist or anti-Bolshevik or both. 101 By

this negative approach seemingly forced upon them from the outside, the
older parties showed clearly that they too were no longer able to function as
representatives of specific class interests but had become mere defenders
of the status quo. The speed with which the German and Austrian PanGermans
rallied to Nazism has a parallel in the much slower and more
complicated course through which Pan-Slavs finally found out that the liquidation
of Lenin's Russian Revolution had been thorough enough to make it
possible for them to support Stalin wholeheartedly. That Bolshevism and
Nazism at the height of their power outgrew mere tribal nationalism and had
little use for those who were still actually ~onvinced of it in principle, rather
than as mere propaganda material, was neither the Pan-Germans' nor the
Pan-Slavs' fault and hardly checked their enthusiasm.
The decay of the Continental party system went hand in hand with a
decline of the prestige of the nation-state. National homogeneity was severely
disturbed by migrations and France, the nation par excelknce~ became
in a matter of years utterly dependent on foreign labor; a restrictive immigration
policy, inadequate to new needs, was still truly "national," but made
it all the more obvious that the nation-state was no longer capable of facing
the major political issues of the time.'01 Even more serious was the ill-fated
effort of the peace treaties of 1919 to introduce national state organizations
into Eastern and Southern Europe where the state people frequendy had
only a relative majority and were outnumbered by the combined "minorities."
This new situation would have been sufficient in itself to undermine
seriously the class basis of the party system; everywhere parties were
now organized along national lines as though the liquidation of the Dual
Monarchy had served only to enable a host of similar experiments to start on
a dwarfed scale.'03 In other countries, where the nation-state and the class
basis of its parties were not touched by migrations and heterogeneity
of population, inflation and unemployment caused a similar breakdown; and
it is obvious that the more rigid the country's class system, the more class-

conscious its people had been, the more dramatic and dangerous was this
This was the situation between the two wars when every movement had a
greater chance than any party because the movement attacked the institution
of the state and did not appeal to classes. Fascism and Nazism always boasted
that their hatred was directed not against individual classes, but the class system
as such, which they denounced as an invention of Marxism. Even more
significant was the fact that the Communists also, notwithstanding their
Marxist ideology, had to abandon the rigidity of their class appeal when,
after 1935, wider the pretext of enlarging their mass base, they formed Popular
Fronts everywhere and began to appeal to the same growing masses outside
all class strata which up to then had been the natural prey to Fascist
movements. None of the old parties was prepared to receive these masses,
nor did they gauge correcdy the growing importance of their numbers and
the growing political influence of their leaders. This error in judgment by
the older parties can be explained by the fact that their secure position in Parliament
and safe representation in the offices and institutions of the state
made them feel much closer to the sources of power than to the masses; they
thought the state would remain forever the undisputed master of all instruments
of violence, and that the army, that supreme institution of the nationstate,
would remain the decisive element in all domestic crises. They therefore
felt free to ridicule the numerous paramilitary formations which had sprung
up without any officially recognized help. For the weaker the party system
grew under the pressure of movements outside of Parliament and classes,
the more rapidly all former antagonism of the parties to the state disappeared.
The parties, laboring under the illusion of a "state above parties,»
misinterpreted this harmony as a source of strength, as a wondrous relationship
to something of a higher order. But the state was as threatened as the
party system by the pressure of revolutionary movements, and it could no
longer afford to keep its lofty and necessarily unpopular position above
internal domestic strife. The army had long since ceased to be a reliable bulwark
against revolutionary unrest, not because it was in sympathy with the
revolution but because it had lost its position. Twice in modern times, and
both times in France, the nation par excellence, the army had already proved
its essential unwillingness or incapacity to help those in power or to seize
power by itself: in 1850, when it permitted the mob of the "Society of De

cember 10" to carry Napoleon m to power,'04 and again at the end of the
nineteenth century, during the Dreyfus Affair, when nothing would have
been easier than the establishment of a military dictatorship. The neutrality
of the army, its willingness to serve every master, eventually left the state in
a position of "mediation between the organized party interests. It was no
longer above but between the classes of society.",05 In other words, the state
and the parties together defended the status quo without realizing that this
very alliance served as much as anything else to change the status quo.
The breakdown of the European party system occurred in a spectacular
way with Hitler's rise to power. It is now often conveniently forgotten that at
the moment of the outbreak of the second World War, the majority of European
countries had already adopted some form of dictatorship and discarded
the party system, and that this revolutionary change in government had been
effected in most countries without revolutionary upheaval. Revolutionary
action more often than not was a theatrical concession to the desires of violently
discontented masses rather than an actual battle for power. After all, it
did not make much difference if a few thousand almost unarmed people
staged a march on Rome and took over the government in Italy, or whether
in Poland (in 1934) a so-called "partyless bloc," with a program of support
for a semifascist g~vernment and a membership drawn from the nobility and
the poorest peasantry, workers and businessmen, Catholics and orthodox
Jews, legally won two-thirds of the seats in Parliament. 106
In France, Hitler's rise to power, accompanied by a growth of Communism
and Fascism, quickly cancelled the other parties' original relationships
to each other and changed time-honored party lines overnight. The French
Right, up to then strongly anti-German and pro-war, after 1933 became the
vanguard of pacifism and understanding with Germany. The Left switched
with equal speed from pacifism at any price to a firm stand against Germany
and was soon accused of being a party of warmongers by the same parties
which only a few years before had denounced its pacifism as national treachery.'
07 The years that followed Hitler's rise to power proved even more disastrous
to the integrity of the French party system. In the Munich crisis each

party, from Right to Left, split internally on the only relevant political issue:
who was for, who was against war with Germany.'oB Each party harbored a
peace faction and a war faction; none of them could remain united on major
political decisions and none stood the test of Fascism and Nazism without
splitting into anti-Fascist on one side, Nazi fellow-travelers on the other.
That Hitler could choose freely from all parties for the erection of puppet
regimes was the consequence of this pre-war situation, and not of an especially
shrewd Nazi maneuver. There was not a single party in Europe that did
not produce collab~rators.
Against the disintegration of the older parties stood the clear-cut unity of
the Fascist and Communist movements everywhere--the former, outside of
Germany and Italy, loyally advocating peace even at the price of foreign
domination, and the latter for a long while preaching war even at the price of
national ruin. The point, however, is not so much that the extreme Right
everywhere had abandoned its traditional nationalism in favor of Hitler's
Europe and that the extreme Left had forgotten its traditional pacifism in
favor of old nationalist slogans, but rather that both movements could count
on the loyalty of a membership and leadership which would not be disturbed
by a sudden switch in policy. This was dramatically exposed in the GermanRussian
nonaggression pact, when the Nazis had to drop their chief slogan
against Bolshevism and the Communists had to return to a pacifism which
they always had denounced as petty-bourgeois. Such sudden turns did not
hurt them in the least. It is still well remembered how strong the Communists
remained after their second volte-face less than two years later when the
Soviet Union was attacked by Nazi Germany, and this in spite of the fact that
both political lines had involved the rank and file in serious and dangerous
political activities which demanded real sacrifices and constant action.
Different in appearance but much more violent in reality was the breakdown
of the party system in pre-Hitler Germany. This came into the open
during the last presidential elections in 1932 when entirely new and complicated
forms of mass propaganda were adopted by all parties.
The choice of candidates was itself peculiar. While it was a matter of
course that the two movements, which stood outside of and fought the par-

liamentary system from opposite sides, would present their own candidates
(Hider for the Nazis, and Thalmann for the Communists), it was rather surprising
to see that all other parties could suddenly agree upon one candidate.
That this candidate happened to be old Hindenburg who enjoyed the matchless
popularity which, since the time of MacMahon, awaits the defeated general
at home, was not just a joke; it showed how much the old parties wanted
merely to identify themselves with the old-time state, the state above the parties
whose most potent symbol had been the national army, to what an extent,
in other words, they had already given up the party system itself. For in the
face of the movements, the differences between the parties had indeed become
quite meaningless; the existence of all of them was at stake and consequendy
they banded together and hoped to maintain a status quo that guaranteed
their existence. Hindenburg became the symbol of the nation-state and the
party system, while Hider and Thalmann competed with each other to become
the true symbol of the people.
As significant as the choice of candidates were the electoral posters. None
of them praised its candidate for his own merits; the posters for Hindenburg
claimed merely that "a vote for Thalmann is a vote for Hider"-warning the
workers not to waste their votes on a candidate sure to be beaten (Thalmann)
and thus put Hider in the saddle. This was how the Social Democrats reconciled
themselves to Hindenburg, who was not even mentioned. The parties
of the Right played the same game and emphasized that "a vote for Hider is
a vote for Thalmann. " Both, in addition, alluded quite clearly to the instances
in which the Nazis and Communists had made common cause, in order to
convince all loyal party members, whether Right or Left, that the preservation
of the status quo demanded Hindenburg.
In contrast to the propaganda for Hindenburg that appealed to those who
wanted the status quo at any price--and in 1932. that meant unemployment
for almost half the German people--the candidates of the movements had to
reckon with those who wanted change at any price (even at the price of destruction
of all legal institutions), and these were at least as numerous as
the ever-growing millions of unemployed and their families. The Nazis
therefore did not wince at the absurdity that "a vote for Thalmann is a vote
for Hindenburg," the Communists did not hesitate to reply that "a vote for
Hider is a vote for Hindenburg," both threatening their voters with the men-

ace of the status quo in exacdy the same way their opponents had threatened
their members With the specter of the revolution.
Behind the curious uniformity of method used by the supporters of all the
candidates lay the tacit assumption that the electorate would go to the polls
because it was frightened-afraid of the Communists, afraid of the Nazis, or
afraid of the status quo. In this general fear all class divisions disappeared
from the political scene; while the party alliance for the defense of the status
quo blurred the oldE:r class structure maintained in the separate parties, the
rank and file of the movements ~ completely heterogeneous and as dynamic
and fluctuating as unemployment itself.'09 While within the framework of
the national institutions the parliamentary Left had joined the parliamentary
Ri~t, the two movements were busy organizing together the famous transportation
strike on the streets of Berlin in November, 1932..
When one considers the extraordinarily rapid decline of the Continental
party system, one should bear in mind the very short life span of the whole
institution. It existed nowhere before the nineteenth century, and in most
European countries the formation of political parties took place only after
1848, so that its reign as an unchallenged institution in national politics lasted
hardly four decades. During the last two decades of the nineteenth century,
all the significant political developments in France, as well as in AustriaHungary,
already took place outside of and in opposition to parliamentary
parties, while everywhere smaller imperialist "parties above parties" challenged
the institution for the sake of popular support for an aggressive, expansionist
foreign policy.
While the imperialist leagues set themselves above parties for the sake of
identification with the nation-state, the pan-movements attacked these same
parties as part and parcel of a general system which included the nationstate;
they were not so much "above parties" as "above the state" for the sake
of a direct identification with the people. The totalitarian movements even-

tually were led to discard the people also, whom, however, following closely
in the footsteps of the pan-movements they used for propaganda purposes.
The "totalitarian state" is a state in appearance only, and the movement no
longer truly identifies itself even with the needs of the people. The Movement
by now is above state and people, ready to sacrifice both for the sake of
its ideology: "The Movement ... is State as well as People, and neither the
present state ... nor the present German people can even be conceived without
the Movement. ""0
Nothing proves better the irreparable decay of the party system than the
great efforts after this war to revive it on the Continent, their pitiful results,
the enhanced appeal of movements after the defeat of Nazism, and the obvious
threat of Bolshevism to national independence. The result of all efforts
to restore the status quo has been only the restoration of a political situation
in which the destructive movements are the only "parties" that function
properly. Their leadership has maintained authority under the most trying
circumstances and in spite of constantly changing party lines. In order to
gauge correctly the chances for survival of the European nation-state, it
would be wise not to pay too much attention to nationalist slogans which the
movements occasionally adopt for purposes of hiding their true intentions,
but rather to consider that by now everybody knows that they are regional
branches of international organizations, that the rank and file is not disturbed
in the least when it becomes obvious that their policy serves the
foreign-policy interest of another and even hostile power, and that denunciations
of their leaders as fifth columnists, traitors to the country, etc., do not
impress their members to any considerable degree. In contrast to the old parties,
the movements have survived the last war and are today the only "parties"
which have remained alive and meaningful to their adherents.

(c)Mitzub'ixi Quq Chi'j. Copy&wright[not rights] 2015

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