Socialism from the right?: aesthetics, politics and the counter-revolution in Weimar Germany

Winter 2011

The early years of the Weimar period in Germany (1918-33) saw radical right paramilitaries and other activists engage in a violent struggle to roll back the post-war advances of the revolutionary left. This article examines the writings of Ernst Jünger and a number other writers from the period, arguing that their work elaborated a violently misogynist pedagogy of the body and subjectivity designed to engineer these counter-revolutionary fighters. What is frequently missed in commentary on these writers, however, is the extent to which their work was not simply about the repression of the left, but involved the production of a radical right ‘socialism’ whose powerful dynamic was crucial in breaking down the left socialist project over the course of the Weimar years; this dynamic was recognized at the time by critics like Walter Benjamin and Ernst Bloch. Drawing on the work of these theorists, this paper traces the logic of fascist mobilization, arguing that the appropriation of the revolutionary energies of a left in crisis shaped the trajectory of the radical right, and drove their production of a masculinist, aestheticized ‘state of total mobilization’ (Jünger).

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