A wanderer into the void

Photo 30-12-2019, 19 19 08This is a ‘tripping stone’ (Stolperstein) memorial for Helmut ‘Helle’ Hirsch, who in the 1910s-30s grew up here in Seestraße 89. Located in a traditionally affluent neighbourhood in the west of Stuttgart, the stone was laid in 2007.

Helmut Hirsch was born into a well-to-do Jewish family in 1916. At the age of 15 he joined the ‘Deutsche Jungenschaft vom 1. November 1929’, also known under the abbreviation dj. 1.11 and an interesting group within the German neo-romanticist youth movement. Unlike many such bündisch groups, it embraced rather than rejected modernity and its aesthetics and felt an especially close kinship with the Bauhaus. In the spring of 1932, the group’s leader Eberhard Koebel – also known under the pen name tusk (‘the German’) and the author of the song ‘Über meiner Heimat Frühling‘ – temporarily joined the Communist Party, which caused many members to leave. Continue reading

Punk in Bulgaria revisited

Novicvetya_2The Unearthing The Music database has republished my article, Punk in Bulgaria 1979-2008, which I wrote 11 years ago.

Reading it back after such a long time is rather painful – I’m sounding young and naive. Still, I’m pleased to find that I managed to steer clear of lazy cliches along the lines of ‘when punk brought freedom to Eastern Europe’.

Find the piece here. Thanks to Lucia Udvardyova for her interest in republishing this.

The Communist Women’s Movement, 1920-22

communist womens movement

I have translated original German-language reports and theses from the first and second conferences of the Communist Women’s International, which took place in Moscow and Berlin in 1920 and 1922 respectively. This material, translated for the first time into English, will be published in The Communist Women’s Movement, 1920-22 (edited by Darya Dyankova and Mike Taber) as part of the Historical Materialism Book Series by Brill in 2020, followed by a paperback by Haymarket. 

The RS21 website features an interesting interview with co-editor Mike Taber.  Continue reading

Karl Otto Paetel’s ‘National-Bolshevist Manifesto’ (1933)

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Despite its statement of purpose, the ARPLAN blog, which spuriously claims to serve “education and illumination, not an endorsement of any particular political philosophy”, looks rather like a ‘fash’  blog. No critical distance between the blogger and the reproduced material is evident, and indeed, the pictorial design and pull-quotes adorning the sidebar would suggest a certain congeniality. I am happy to be corrected of course.

Having said that, it’s a useful ‘fash’ blog: like the sadly defunct Ernst Niekisch Translation Project before it, it provides English translations of rare texts from the German conservative revolution, especially where right-left syncretisms seem to occur. Thankfully coming from a rational Marxist tradition, I believe that most people are capable of processing problematic ideas critically. Hence, I feel no need to pretend that the blog does not exist, lest some impressionable soul becomes too infatuated with its contents. Continue reading

Blood, fire, death – ‘Lords of Chaos’ reviewed

mayhem 2

Last week’s edition of Weekly Worker featured my review of Jonas Åkerlund’s movie, Lords of Chaos. I went with low expectations and enjoyed it more than I should have.

“The story of the Norwegian black-metal band, Mayhem, is unusual. Its first long-term vocalist – the aptly nicknamed ‘Dead’ (Per Yngve Ohlin) – shot himself in the head, putting an end to years of crippling depression and self-harm. Later the band was joined by a bassist called ‘Varg’ (born Kristian Vikernes), who allegedly initiated a wave of Christian church burnings, earning the early-90s Norwegian black-metal scene international notoriety. Before Mayhem’s debut album was even released, Varg stabbed the guitarist and band leader, ‘Euronymous’ (Øystein Aarseth), to death in what he claims was “self-defence” – he delivered 23 stab wounds, including two to the head. De Mysteriis Dom Sathanas (1994) is probably the only album in music history where a murderer and his victim can be heard playing together.”

Click here for the full review.


Ernst Jünger: ‘A new journey to the land of planned economy’

Photo 03-04-2019, 18 15 49I have previously written on Ernst Niekisch’s infatuation with Stalin’s Soviet Union at the onset of the first five-year plan. In an episode that is not unheard of but fairly under-researched, lacking in archival material especially on the Soviet side, an ‘Association for the Study of Soviet-Russian Economy’ (ARPLAN) was founded upon Ernst Niekisch’s initiative on 14 July 1931. It comprised German far-right intellectuals such as Ernst Niekisch and Ernst Jünger, who were fascinated by the Soviet Union’s mass mobilisation and autarky drive, engineers and scientists, KPD members overseen by György Lukács, and some leftist fellow-travellers.

ARPLAN culminated in at least one guided field trip to the Soviet Union in August 1932, which Niekisch participated in. “The majority were fascists”, as the head of the European sector of the USSR’s ‘All-Union Society for Cultural Ties Abroad’ (VOKS) later reported, “but the trip made no deep impression on them”. A somewhat underwhelming result, given the Soviets’ 1930-33 “cultural-political line” of “deeply penetrating radical and right-oppositionist circles of the intelligentsia” in Germany, as key VOKS thinker Aleksandr Girshfel’d put it, and “propagandising the idea of politico-economic rapprochement (sblizhenie) with the USSR”

Either way, Soviet-curious conservatives and Nazbols were quickly marginalised when Hitler was handed power in January 1933, although some, such as Niekisch and his Widerstand colleague Ernst Jünger, were allowed to continue publishing for a while. Part of the reason was Goebbels’s desire to co-opt Niekisch, whom he held in high esteem as a ‘national-minded intellectual’ – the feeling was not mutual, as Goebbels soon learned. Moreover, Niekisch’s Widerstand journal enjoyed considerable resonance in conservative military circles, whose support for the Nazi government was far from certain at the time. Continue reading