Which is the best communism or nationalism

The totalitarian systems of the 20th century were ideologically based systems. National Socialism and Communism demanded human sacrifices on an unprecedented scale. But how are ideological theory and criminal practice related? In the case of National Socialism, the crime is understood as programmatic. Nevertheless, its theoretical foundations are generally regarded as so poor that they would not have been suitable as a foundation for the system. In the case of communism, the crimes are often interpreted as being based on power politics or as historically accidental. A necessary connection with the underlying ideology, Marxism, is thus negated. Although both systems were characterized by the fact that a worldview should be transformed into practical politics in them, the importance of this worldview is being put into perspective by research. Ultimately, the crimes find no explanation in this way, although in the form they have been carried out as class murder and as racial murder they can hardly be understood as otherwise than ideologically motivated. This paradox has now been thematized by the interdisciplinary annual conference of the German Society for Research into Political Thought (DGEPD) - carried out in cooperation with the Academy for Politics and Current Affairs of the Hanns Seidel Foundation - the political, historical, philosophical, sociological and legal Connected perspectives.

It is not undisputed in research that a genuine connection between ideology and crime can be established at all. In relation to National Socialism, shouldn't it be assumed that the violence has its own dynamism? A psychological approach alone, however, would not go far enough to try to explain the crimes committed by totalitarian systems, explained BARBARA ZEHNPFENNIG (Passau) in the introduction. The conference therefore tried to develop more comprehensive explanatory models in three successive sections. In the first thematic block under the heading “Ideological Thinking”, ROLF ZIMMERMANN (Constance) devoted himself to the tension between the two from a moral-philosophical perspective. The Nazi ideology with its genocidal mentality established its own morality as the normative basis for crimes and rejected previous moral traditions. In view of the “generic failure” of conventional moral concepts, it thus represents a “moral generic break”. In Bolshevism, on the other hand, a “sociocidal” tendency and thus a “generic fragmentation” can be recognized. The universalistic claim of this ideology must therefore be rejected. Both systems had a common basic trait as “redemption morals”, which aimed at a “redemption of man in this world”.

In this context, HENDRIK HANSEN (Regensburg / Passau) tried to answer the question of whether Karl Marx could be described as an ideologist. It is true that such an attribution is usually rejected, since Marx precisely stands for scientific objectivity. According to Hansen, however, “Marx's total theory already fulfills all the characteristics of a totalitarian ideology”. According to his own understanding of the term, the author must be understood as an ideologist who has immunized his theory against any criticism and thus decoupled it from reality. Any objections to such a characterization - for example on the basis of Marx's image of man or the claim that he was "only" a theorist - can be refuted with a view to Marx's publications. Here the will becomes clear to radically impose one's own ideas on those who think differently, whereby all appropriate measures up to the use of force would appear ethically required. The transition from the “class struggle” to the “race struggle” is already laid out here with a view to the Slavic peoples.

HANS-CHRISTOF KRAUS (Passau) devoted himself to a practical example of conveying ideology in his consideration of the educational implementation of the National Socialist “struggle for existence” concept. Political education and indoctrination would have formed a basis for the later perpetration of crimes. An important element here were social Darwinist views, which, in a deliberately coarse application of Darwin’s principles, had the "preservation of racial existence" as their purpose. In order to educate the youth, this should be fully recorded in organizational terms. The ideological content was conveyed, for example, with the help of reading sheets, which constructed clear enemy images through naturalistic, anthropological and moral reductions.

Contrary to the widespread opinion that Adolf Hitler's “Mein Kampf” was a contradictory and confused work, BARBARA ZEHNPFENNIG (Passau) interpreted the dictator's worldview as a closed, monistic system, consciously constructed against Bolshevism. It would have a “rational core” on an apparently “irrational underground”. Its genesis would have experienced this view in Hitler's Viennese years. The national and social tensions of the late k.u.k., which he perceived as anti-German. In his opinion, the monarchy would have been fueled systematically by “Marxist-Jewish activities”. Faced with this threat, a “final battle” was imminent, in which the Aryan race would have to assert itself as “creative force” against the “destructive force” of Marxism led by Jews. The extermination of the Jews was therefore ideologically the primary goal of Hitler - all other goals were subordinate to this.

This moved on to the second section of the conference, in which the practical effects of these ideological statements were discussed. FRANK-LOTHAR KROLL (Chemnitz) dealt with the very anti-Semitic core of the National Socialist ideology that prepared the ground for the “final solution”. On the basis of anti-Semitic tendencies of the late 19th century - which represented an innovation compared to "classic" anti-Judaism - and promoted by the experiences of the First World War, different forms of "paranoid anti-Semitism" of the National Socialists developed, but all of them based on the Aimed at the downfall of Judaism. With Adolf Hitler was one more racial Demonstrate anti-Semitism that emphasizes the need to "exterminate" the Jews. Joseph Goebbels, on the other hand, would have one associated with anti-bourgeois and anti-capitalist elements socio-economic Propagated anti-Semitism. In Alfred Rosenberg's case, on the other hand, there would have been a link to “classical” anti-Judaism religious Conception prevailed.

MICHAEL STOLLEIS (Frankfurt am Main) discussed the connection between ideology and crime using the example of public law in the GDR. As of 1949, more than 80 percent of the staff working in this field were replaced as part of the establishment of a “socialist legal system”, the universities and libraries were cleaned “critically of ideology”, and the protagonists were put under massive state pressure. An important turning point was the “Babelsberg Conference” of April 1958, with which any autonomy of the legal sciences was to be eliminated and administrative jurisdiction to be eliminated. A “de-Stalinization” of the legal system, as in other countries of the Eastern Bloc, would not have taken place in the GDR, only after the construction of the wall was there a certain relaxation. There would have been some “ideology-remote” refuges such as legal history, but here too, “ideologically correct” work was largely carried out.

The third section of the conference asked about ideological theoretical and practical analogies between communism and National Socialism. FRIEDRICH POHLMANN (Freiburg im Breisgau) described both ideologies as products of the First World War, as dogmatic systems of worldview on a pseudo-scientific basis that developed Manichean friend-foe relationships. Leninism and Stalinism as totalitarian formations in connection with religious cult elements would have developed from Marx’s total theory as a “philosophical structure of thought without an empirical basis”. Such elements of an “anthropocentric religious religion” can also be demonstrated under National Socialism as the most radical expression of the fascist movements of the first half of the 20th century. The other ideology in each case was one of the decisive factors for the specific own expression. Both formed action programs with utopian goals that combined elements of modernity and traditional concepts.

MANUEL BECKER (Bonn) examined the similarities and differences between the two ideologies using the example of the instrumentalization of their respective enemy images. For National Socialism, he diagnosed four central images that formed competing counterweights and differed in the resulting, concrete policy of exclusion: Judaism, Bolshevism, Christianity and the “Ideas of 1789”. In the GDR, the battle concept of “anti-fascism” as a founding myth, state doctrine and practicable instrument of rule would have been a central phenomenon in relation to this “conglomerate” of enemy images. As differences, Becker worked out the different mobilizing powers (also in terms of time) of the enemy images as well as the contrast between “metaphysical history dogmatics” and “concrete-pragmatic history politics”. Similarities would have been based on recourse to historically based, partially identical enemy images, a drastic reduction in complexity and a pronounced Manichaeism.

BOGDAN MUSIAL (Warsaw) focused on the practical effects of ideology on state relations between the “Third Reich” and the Soviet Union. Both systems had envisaged territorial expansion in similar spaces that inevitably led to war. Until then, however, there were numerous cooperative elements, primarily on an economic level, which up until 1940 also included the delivery of goods essential to the war effort. The modernization of the “Red Army” was largely due to the use of German technologies. The German attack on Poland was also unthinkable without the contractual agreement with the Soviet Union. The relationship between the two sides continues to be characterized by numerous misjudgments. Stalin would have dismissed the anti-Bolshevik propaganda of the Nazi regime as a “masquerade” for an actually planned conflict with the Western European states and considered a German attack on the Soviet Union to be impossible, since Hitler - as stated in “Mein Kampf” - would never have agreed to a two-front war . Hitler, on the other hand, had decisively underestimated the capacities of the “Red Army”.

JOCHEN STAADT (Berlin) followed up on the lecture by Manuel Becker and dealt with the phenomenon of anti-fascism as an instrument of legitimation of the SED dictatorship. The concept was used for propaganda purposes to portray the GDR as a “better German state”. Examples of this are numerous show trials in the absence of West German actors, which were intended to demonstrate the continuity of the elites in the “Third Reich” and the Federal Republic. In the GDR, the Nazi functionaries were officially "disappeared". Unofficially, however, there were personal continuities at numerous levels that were also known in the government. Because of this “non-confrontation” with the past, thought patterns of the National Socialist ideology could have survived, visible for example in anti-Israeli positions in foreign policy or the statement of SED functionary Anton Ackermann (1905-1973): “We are the true national socialists”. The trivialization of anti-Semitic incidents as “imported fascism” would have prevented any real problematization and at least partially prepared the ground for today's strong neo-Nazi positions of thought in parts of East Germany.

In the course of the conference it became clear that communism in its practical form as a genuinely criminal system is far less present in public perception than National Socialism. It is precisely the ideology that appears as the dividing line. There would still be a lot of “coping deficiencies”, as JOACHIM RÜCKERT (Frankfurt am Main) put it. According to Bogdan Musial, this is also evident in the (international) displacement debate, in which the influence of the Soviet Union often plays no or only a subordinate role. Furthermore, it was established that in addition to the concepts of “equality” and “inequality”, which are central to both systems and which are often discussed, the concept of “freedom” must also be re-problematized - a question that is particularly relevant for democratic states. The interdisciplinary approach proved to be very fruitful, which - beyond some conceptual differences - was able to unite complementary perspectives on the phenomena examined and offered numerous new food for thought that should be pursued further in the future.

Conference overview:

Walter Schweitzer (Passau): Greeting

Gerhard Hirscher (Munich), Barbara Zehnpfennig (Passau): Introduction

Rolf Zimmermann (Konstanz): Totalitarian ideology and practice as a problem of moral philosophy

Hendrik Hansen (Regensburg / Passau): Karl Marx - an ideologist?

Hans-Christof Kraus (Passau): Education for amorality. Comments on the educational implementation of the National Socialist “struggle for existence” ideology

Barbara ten pfennig (Passau): Hitler's worldview

Eckhard Jesse (Chemnitz): The connection between ideology and crime in theories of totalitarianism

Gerd Koenen (Freiburg im Breisgau): Ideology and terror in communism - a questioning

Frank-Lothar Kroll (Chemnitz): The way to the Holocaust. Racism and anti-Semitism in the ideology of the National Socialists

Michael Stolleis (Frankfurt am Main): Socialist legality. The public law of the GDR

Friedrich Pohlmann (Freiberg im Breisgau): The connection between ideologies

Manuel Becker (Bonn): The total enemy. Historical doctrine and politics of exclusion in National Socialism and in the SED state

Bogdan Musial (Warsaw): Cooperation and Struggle. The relationship between the Soviet Union and the Nazi state

Jochen Staadt (Berlin): Anti-fascism as a founding myth and legitimation of the SED dictatorship