Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry

By Dick Pels | Go to book overview

4

FASCISM AND THE PRIMACY OF THE POLITICAL

Karl Marx may have discovered profit, but I have discovered political profit.

Carl Schmitt


THE FASCIST EQUATION

One of the core convictions informing radical right-wing thought has notoriously been that politics should take priority over economics, and that the power question was more fundamental than the question of property (cf. Lebovics 1969:219; Herf 1984:2, 4, 227; Vincent 1992:167). With the purpose of resolving the economic and cultural crisis, fascists and national socialists typically demanded a restoration of the primacy of the political and a repoliticization of economic life, which both liberal and Marxist theory had illegitimately promoted to the status of an ontological ‘last instance’. Speaking in March 1933, at the nervous height of the political Gleichschaltung following the January coup, Hitler was characteristically straightforward about his intentions: ‘Wir wollen wiederherstellen das Primat der Politik’. In Mein Kampf of 1924 he had already pleaded a reversal of the relationship between economics and the state, advising that ‘industry and commerce recede from their unhealthy leading position and adjust themselves to the general framework of a national economy of balanced supply and demand’. Capital was to remain ‘the handmaiden of the state’ and not fancy itself ‘the mistress of the nation’. A strong state was needed to act as ‘intelligence’ and ‘organizer’ of national production; economics was only one among its instruments, and could never be its cause or aim (1969:127, 137, 190; cf. Sontheimer 1978:138).

Mussolini and Gentile, in their famous 1932 encyclopedia article ‘The Doctrine of Fascism’, likewise asserted that ‘everything is in the State, and nothing human or spiritual exists, much less has value, outside the State’. In a broadside against both liberalism and historical materialism, they added that it was absurd to maintain that ‘economic improvements’ sufficed to explain

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Property and Power in Social Theory: A Study in Intellectual Rivalry
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Illustrations vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Liberal Dichotomy and Its Dissolution 18
  • 2 - Inside the Diamond 47
  • 3 - Marxism Vs. Anarchism 74
  • 4 - Fascism and the Primacy of the Political 101
  • 5 - Social Science as Power Theory 126
  • 6 - Power, Property, and Managerialism 164
  • 7 - Intellectual Closure and the New Class 192
  • 8 - Towards a Theory of Intellectual Rivalry 225
  • Notes 260
  • Bibliography 287
  • Index 311
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