Metapolitics: From Wagner and the German Romantics to Hitler

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Transaction Publishers - Philosophy - 530 pages

More than half a century after the fall of the Third Reich, Nazism, its roots and its essential nature, remain a central and unresolved enigma of the twentieth century. During the period of Hitler's ascendancy, most attempts at explaining this unprecedented phenomenon were framed in "economic," often Marxist, sociological terms and concepts. Peter Viereck's Metapolitics, initially published in 1941, broke with this convention by indicting Hitler in terms of the Judaic-Christian ethical tradition and locating certain elements of the Nazi worldview in German romantic poetry, music, and social thought. Newly expanded, Metapolitics remains a key work in the cultural interpretation of Nazism and totalitarianism and in the psychological interpretation of Hitler as a Wagnerite and failed artist.

The term "metapolitics," a coinage from Richard Wagner's nationalist circle, signifies an ideology resulting from five distinct strands: romanticism (embodied chiefly in the Wagnerian ethos), the pseudo-science of race, Fuehrer worship, vague economic socialism, and the alleged supernatural and unconscious force of the Volk collectivity. Together, those elements engendered an emphasis on irrationalism and hysteria and belief in a special German mission to direct the course of the world's history.

Viereck analyzes nineteenth-century German thought's conflicting attitudes toward political procedures and social arrangements rooted in classical, rational, legalistic, and Christian traditions. This edition includes an appreciation by Thomas Mann and an exchange with Jacques Barzun debating Viereck's criticism of German romanticism. Viereck's essays on the case of Albert Speer, on Claus von Stauffenberg (the German officer who led the army conspiracy to assassinate Hitler), and on the poets Stefan George and Georg Heym appear here for the first time in book form.

From inside the book

Contents

INTRODUCTION TO THE TRANSACTION EDITION
xiii
THOMAS MANN ON METAPOLITICS
li
NEW SURVEY FOR THE 1960s
lxiii
The German Problem
3
The Two Souls in Action
48
Father Jahn the First Storm Trooper
63
80
105
PURIFICATION OF THE RACE SOUL
114
Nazi Religion versus Christian Religion
281
The Theology of Terror
303
The Rooted German
317
Albert Speer and Steeled Romanticism
323
In Search of Stauffenberg
329
The Sullen Lyricism of
337
The Flawed Genius of Stefan George and His
358
THE OUTSIDER AS
406

COMMUNISM
120
Hitler and Wagner
126
Solution to the
178
Fichte Hegel Treitschke Hitler
189
A Different View of the German Republic
209
Part II
240
Twilight of the Outward Life
454
SYNOPSIS OF ROSENBERGS POSTS
478
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS WAGNERS
495
SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY OF BOOKS BY
503
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Page xlix - Into his future. There they grew like trees; And as he passed them there next spring, they laid Upon his road of fire their sudden shade. Though he had always scraped his mess-kit pure And scrubbed redeemingly his barracks floor, Though all his buttons glowed their ritual-hymn Like cloudless moons to intercede for him, No furlough fluttered from the sky. He will Not see Times Square — he will not see — he will Not see Times change; at Carthage (while my friend, Living those words at Rome, screamed...
Page vi - Turning and turning in the widening gyre The falcon cannot hear the falconer; Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere The ceremony of innocence is drowned; The best lack all conviction, while the worst Are full of passionate intensity.
Page lxxxix - Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist. Madmen in authority, who hear voices in the air, are distilling their frenzy from some academic scribbler of a few years back.
Page vi - Mundi Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert A shape with lion body and the head of a man, A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun, Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds. The darkness drops again; but now I know That twenty centuries of stony sleep ' Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle, 20 And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Page 376 - Komm in den totgesagten park und schau: Der schimmer ferner lächelnder gestade, Der reinen wolken unverhofftes blau Erhellt die weiher und die bunten pfade. Dort nimm das tiefe gelb, das weiche grau Von birken und von buchs, der wind ist lau...
Page lxx - I have always made allowance for this circumstance, and given orders that former Communists are to be admitted to the party at once. The petit bourgeois...
Page lxiii - The old stone gods will rise from long-forgotten ruin, and rub the dust of a thousand years from their eyes, and Thor, leaping to life with his giant hammer, will crush the Gothic cathedrals...
Page 97 - Note already the Wagnerian leitmotiv of gold, symbol of materialism in his operas, symbol of Judaism and French decadence in his metapolitics. In France he " had not only suffered material miseries; his idealism had been outraged.
Page 418 - Ich lasse mich hin vorm vergessenen fenster: nun tu Die flügel wie immer mir auf und hülle hienieden Du stets mir ersehnte du segnende dämmrung mich zu Heut will ich noch ganz mich ergeben dem lindernden frieden. Denn morgen beim schrägen der strahlen ist es gescheht!

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