Social Nationalism vs. National Socialism

September 23, 2016

At the core of National Socialism was the Nationalism advocated by the historian Heinrich von Treitschke. A basic theme was Social Darwinism: individuals and nations are both subject to a continuous struggle for life. In this struggle, race is the center of life and all other elements are rated with reference to it. National Socialism claimed that keeping the blood and the race pure is a nation's noblest task. It proclaimed the Germanic race as the new ‘icorpus mysticum’ on which the salvation of the Aryan race and consequently that of the world depended. Accordingly, Nazist policies "figured solely as an expedient intended to improve the Germanic race genetically and to protect it against racial interbreeding which according to the National Socialists, always entails the doctrine of the higher race."

 

By contrast, Saadeh excluded the notion of race as a criteria of nationality. In one of his most vigorous statements against the national socialist conception of the N.S.D.A.P, he declared: "The alleged purity of the race or the blood of any nation is a groundless myth. It is found only in savage groups, and even there it is rare." For the same reason, Saadeh reproached both Count Gobineau and Chamberlain, the forefathers of National Socialism, and Pascal Mancini who unconsciously lapsed into the use of the catchword race in defining the concept of the nation.

 

In National Socialism, the national idea lost any pretense of scientific objectivity. This is because there is no correlation between race and national frontiers. More importantly, when seen from a purely social perspective, the nation is not a single race in the scientific sense, but a multiracial society fused together in multitudes. This fusion is a process by which two or more races combine to produce a new whole which is significantly different from each of its parent races, but includes elements from all of them, produced through the stimulation of contact and subsequent internal development.

 

Another significant difference between National Socialism and Social Nationalism relates to the concept of national history. In National Socialism purity of blood speaks louder than reason, and race is the center of all human history. Ernest Kriek, a National Socialist philosopher at Heidelberg, asserted the contrast as follows: "There has arisen ... blood against formal reason; race against purposeful rationality; honour against profit; unity against individualistic disintegration; martial virtue against bourgeois security; the folk against the individual and the mass."

 

In Mein Kampf Hitler stated the basic postulates of the race theory as follows: First, a struggle for the survival of the fittest sets the pace for social progress. This struggle occurs within the race, thus giving rise to a natural elite; it also occurs between races and the cultures that express the inherent natures of different races. Second, hybridization by the intermixture of two races results in the degeneration of the higher race. Third, that all high civilizations or important cultures are the creation of one race, or at most of a few. One particular race singled out is the 'culture-creating Aryan' which, according to Hitler, achieved its superior moral qualities through dutifulness and idealism (honour) rather than intelligence. In this organic conception of life, all history "must be rewritten and reinterpreted in terms of the struggle between the races and their characteristic ideas, or more specifically, as a struggle between the Aryan or culture-creating race and all the lower breeds of mankind."

 

On the contrary, Saadeh regarded racial fusion as one of the driving forces of human history. Although he distinguished between higher and lower civilizations he never lost sight of the common sense approach to the question of race relations. This distinction itself was maintained on the ground of racial hybridization. Higher civilization was thus seen as the product not of racial purity, as the national socialists would have us believe, but of the group's on-going inter-racial mixture, and vice versa in relation to lower civilizations. Moreover, whereas in national socialism the nation, in both its existence and history, is seen in a purely racial sense, in social nationalism, it is based on human as well as geographical factors. "There can be no people," wrote Saadeh, "where there is no land, no society where there is no physical environment, and no history where there is no society."

 

In short, National Socialism and Social Nationalism operate on two separate intellectual planes: the former connects between race and nation and the later discounts any such connection. While they may be similar in certain limited ways, it must be recognized that, from both a theoretical and practical perspective, a certain correlation exists between all ideologies no matter how far apart they may be. More obvious, at any rate, is the difference between the intrinsic elements of an idea and its extrinsic parts which can become the great enemy of the intrinsic. It is within this context that comparative analysis should take place, not only between National Socialism and Social Nationalism but also between any two ideas.

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