|One emphasized the state; one emphasized race.|
By 1934 the supporters of the NSDAP included many recent converts from other ideologies, some of whom had supported the old order of the Prussian Monarchy, others (like Goebbels) who had been Marxists. The Italian Fascist state had already appeared for twelve years as a great success, supported by neohegelianism, a modification of the hegelian thought-system which had supported the Prussian State until its demise in 1918 (when it was succeeded by the Weimar Republic). Hegelianism and neohegelianism justified the state as an end in itself. National-Socialism did not regard the state as an end in itself, but because the examples of Prussia and Fascist Italy loomed large at the time, it was tempting for people not thoroughly familiar with national-socialism to see it in this light (and even today it is not unusual for careless sources to mislabel national-socialism as “fascism”). The liberal age which Rosenberg mentions began with the Enlightenment of the 18th century, and found expression in ideologies ranging from democratic-republicanism to hegelianism to marxism. In this piece published in the Völkischer Beobachter of January 9, 1934, Alfred Rosenberg shows that he is not against the use of a powerful state as a tool, but explains that it is important to distinguish the essential ideas of national-socialism from ideas rooted in the liberal age, so as to avoid a recurrence of the idolatry of the state that liberal ideas engender. (Translation and introduction by Hadding Scott.)
“The State is only a means to an end. Its end and its purpose is to preserve and promote a community of human beings who are physically as well as spiritually kindred.” — Adolf Hitler, Mein Kampf
In recent months, in many speeches and essays, the view has been expressed that from now on instead of the multi-party state, instead of the liberally splintered form of government, there is the “total state.” It is said that this state seizes at once the whole political, economic, and cultural life of the nation, that it is the guardian, leader, and commander of all expressions of life, so as to secure thereby the necessary unity of Germany in all fields. In all these utterances it has been overlooked that the abstract state has been thoroughly an idea of the liberal age, which was set up as a technical instrument of power apart from economy and culture as a thing existing for itself, and was accordingly worshiped or, by other tendencies, passionately combatted. In reality it was such that the representatives of the state, before the war, often no longer had any sense of being a servant of the people, but instead regarded the state as a thing for itself, which hovered over the nation and whose representatives possessed the claim of exaltation over all other citizens.This abstract concept of the state had still not changed after 1918, but had merely acquired another attribute.
The revolution of January 30, 1933 is not by any means the continuation of the absolutist state with yet another attribute; rather the state is now cast into a completely different relationship to our people and national character. What has been accomplished in the past year and yet will be accomplished to a greater extent, is not the so-called totality of the state but the totality of the National-Socialist movement. The state is no longer something which should exist apart from the people and apart from the movement, be it as a mechanistic apparatus, be it as a ruling instrument; rather it is a tool of the National-Socialist worldview.
The National-Socialist movement is the formed power of the thought of the 20th century, formed for the preservation of the whole German people, its blood and its character. At the disposal of this movement the state stands as its most powerful and manly tool, and must always receive anew its vital powers and impulses from the movement, whereby it remains flexible and enduring, and escapes the danger of bureaucratization, ossification, and alienation from the people. Once it is seen in this relationship, the national-socialist concept of the state becomes properly infused with blood, and we believe that the state thus receives for the first time its consecration, its inner strength, and its authority in a higher degree than if, led perhaps by energetic individuals*, it could become a goal in itself, and consequently ossified.
* Mussolini of course would have been the most obvious example.