Philosophical Ponderings of Soviet Collapse (Pt. II of II)

Back in the previous post, I began my discussion by addressing the various interpretations that sought to explain why the Soviet Union dissolved. The three most common ones are:

  • Economic and Technological
  • Ideological and Organizational
  • Political and Social

There is a fourth one that articulates its conclusions from the State of Total Mobilization itself. It stipulates that the Soviet Union was not led by the Figure of the Arbeiter, the Arbeiter being the sole entity capable of implementing and sustaining the State of Total Mobilization. The absence of the Arbeiter was compensated by the CPSU with ideological devotion to Marxism-Leninism and a Soviet National Consciousness fit for a Soviet Totality. This issue became more apparent when it seemed like the CPSU had grown complacent.

Where the fourth interpretation ultimately differs from the other three interpretations is that it believes that the collapse of the Soviet Union cannot be pinned on just one of those three explanations. It favors a synthesis of all three. If one thinks critically enough about those other three interpretations, each explanation is related to a specific ideology:

• Economic and Technological → Capitalism

• Ideological and Organizational → Socialism

• Political and Social → Nationalism

What is really interesting is that all three explanations are also related to three ideologies which were the subject of some then-controversial statements that Ernst Jünger had made in Der Arbeiter. Basically, Nationalism, Capitalism, and Socialism are all 19th century ideologies that cannot fulfill the true essence of the State of Total Mobilization. The Arbeiter might employ aspects of Nationalism, Capitalism, and Socialism, but solely as a means to an end rather than an end in itself. In fact, if there was any ideology capable of superseding those three ideologies, the Arbeiter would automatically ditch them.  

For Nationalism, Jünger stated that any conception of that ideology will always be challenged by other competing conceptions of Nationalism. Consider the following examples:

  • In America, there are a multiplicity of competing “Nationalisms” which continue to perplex the political imagination. Barring the Jeffersonian and Hamiltonian conceptions of American Nationalism that I explored in The Third Place, there are also the various “Nationalisms” centered on abstract notions of race, religion, and region, each one convinced that America should be remodeled in their own interests. This is unfortunately a mere reflection of the inherent frictions within the US federal system as it currently exists.
  • In the German-speaking world, there is a “West German Nationalism” rooted in Vergangenheitsbewältigung, the belief that Germans should always be atoning for Hitlerism. It is contrasted by an “East German Nationalism” that believed the German-speaking world was redeemed by the Soviet Union and thus given a second chance to start over on its own terms.   
  • In Eastern Europe, there was once a time when one could speak of a “Czechoslovak Nationalism” and a “Yugoslav Nationalism.” These Nationalisms were challenged by various Nationalisms that gave birth to new nations during the 1990s.   

In each of those examples, we see a version of Nationalism opposed by another Nationalism. Every Nationalism resembles political attempts to define and redefine a given Totality. The problem is not so much between opposing Nationalisms between nations (i.e. Hungarian Nationalism vs. Romanian Nationalism or Croatian Nationalism vs. Serbian Nationalism) but within nations. In other words, does the “Nationalism” of a particular nation reflect the National Consciousness of its Totality or does it reflect a segment of the general population? Who defines the Totality and why should the Totality be embodied as such?

For Capitalism and Socialism, Jünger maintained that Socialism cannot exist without Capitalism as a prerequisite. The historical development of Capitalism within a given nation can potentially impact the concurring development of an opposing Socialism. If there is an apparent inequality among Socialisms (Non-Marxist “Artistic Socialisms” and Marxist “Scientific Socialisms”), then we should also speak of a corresponding inequality within Capitalism that goes beyond superficial wealth disparities. There are specific “Capitalisms” that lead straight to corresponding versions of Socialism, just as how there are other “Capitalisms” which might yield Corporatism, Neoliberalism, and more recently Neofeudalism.  

In retrospect, what Jünger was trying to address is that Nationalism, Capitalism and Socialism on their own are all unsuitable for the State of Total Mobilization. Only when they are working together in sync will the Totality benefit from their continued presence within the State of Total Mobilization. The real challenge, as I found out in The Work-Standard and The Third Place, is how to accommodate everyone under Council Democracy and the Work-Standard.  

Conversely, a “Liberal Nationalism,” a “Liberal Capitalism,” and a “Liberal Socialism” will never be harnessed by the Arbeiter on behalf of the Totality because neither ideology is going to be in sync with each other. This is not just because the “Liberal Capitalist” distrusts the “Liberal Nationalist” and “Liberal Socialist,” accusing them of being a ‘Fascist’ and a ‘Communist’ respectively (although that is one possibility, if today’s Wokeism and Cancel Culture are anything to go by). It is also because Political Liberalization, Economic Liberalization, and Social Liberalization are all conducive to the State of National Rights, which in its most direct form is Neoliberalism.  

This was the sort of problem that the Soviet Union had faced metaphysically and philosophically by the 1980s. Perestroika, Glasnost, and the New Union Treaty are just the policy manifestations of the same problem. Instead of Liberalization, the Soviets should have yielded Socialization vis-à-vis the synthetization of “Soviet Nationalism,” “Soviet Capitalism,” and “Soviet Socialism” into a revitalized Sovietism for the 21st century. Such an endeavor never materialized because there was already a push toward Liberalization.

Even though the Soviet Union collapsed, the core question remains unanswered insofar as the State of Total Mobilization is a worldwide phenomenon still struggling to finally supplant the State of Natural Rights in this century. Certainly, there are conceptions of Nationalism, Capitalism, and Socialism which are more beholden to Kapital and Schuld, but there are also some more copacetic with Arbeit and Geld. I can imagine Nationalists and Socialists treating national and class interests in terms of Arbeit and Geld, but how about those “Socially-minded Capitalists” that I wrote about in The Work-Standard? If the “Nationally-minded Socialists” will find themselves accommodated under the Work-Standard, why not the “Socially-minded Capitalists?”      

The significance of the Socially-minded Capitalist in The Work-Standard should never be disregarded as a petty thought experiment. I am confident that such personalities do in fact exist across most political-economic governance models. They may even support the literal implementation of a Planned/Command Economy if they think that are far more opportunities to be reaped than under a Market/Mixed Economy. The real challenge is ascertaining how any given economic activity could bring the most returns for their Selves, their Totality and their State.

Categories: Philosophy

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