A Reply to OrthodoxPolitics on ChristBol

In response to my post defending an irenic approach to Christian -Bol (particularly of the National Bolshevik variety), the author of the Orthodox Christian Politics blog has commented,

While I like some elements of Nazbol, there are elements of both National Socialism and Communism that are contrary to Christianity. With National Socialism, it is usually very aggressive, rather than following the principle of just war. It also has a very centralized system, violating the principle of subsidiarity. In terms of Communism, while it does a lot of good in helping the poor. It also does mass redistribution of property, but private property is a right in Christianity.

First, I shall note that National Bolshevism, despite the common nickname NazBol, is not directly related to Hitler’s National Socialism, and its exponents have never claimed ideological descent from National Socialism. The resemblance or convergence between the two, historically, was mostly in the general context of German nationalism; National Bolshevism, however, was part of the Conservative Revolutionary milieu and not of the National Socialist German Workers Party (NSDAP). Indeed, Ernst Niekisch, who may be considered the father of National Bolshevism, saw Hitler as ineffectual opposition to the bourgeois Versailles powers and therefore opposed him. Nevertheless, with a view to patriotic ideology’s dialectical development, I think it useful to answer some of the objections that the Orthodox Christian Politics author has expressed, so I shall not limit my remarks to the matter of Bolshevism.

Second, as I have noted in my ‘Defence of Christian -Bol’, it is with some ironic distance in the first place that I take up the name of National Bolshevik. I am not a German like Ernst Niekisch; nor am I a Russian like Eduard Limonov and Aleksandr Dugin; nor am I even of Europæan descent. I am a Chinaman, and my perspective naturally differs from that of the average Western dissident against contemporary liberalism.


With those caveats, what follows is my reply to the Orthodox Christian Politics author’s comment:

* * *

The problems you posit for a Christian’s appropriating National Bolshevism are not insuperable, and I think as Christians we are free to take what’s healthy from movements that are not explicitly Christian, or even profess themselves opposed to Christianity as actually practised, under the judgement of holy Scripture.

In National Socialism, you identify two problems: first, that it is very aggressive, violating principles of just war; second, that it is very centralized, violating principles of subsidiarity. These two I shall take in turn before I go on to Bolshevism.

In practice, of course, the West knows National Socialist Germany as the kind of state that invaded Poland and for that act drew upon itself the ire, and the declarations of war, of Britain and France. Yet, to say nothing of the Danzig Corridor, I shall note that Hitler and Drexler’s Programme of the NSDAP which dates to 1920 nowhere gives an objectionable principle of war. Even point 3, the demand for ‘land and territory (colonies) to feed our people and to settle our surplus population’, in essence concerns the means of survival. By analogy, a city under siege has the right to break the siege and ensure its own access to food and other necessities of life; and likewise the German nation has the right to wage a war whose nature is apparently offensive but actually defensive. The basic principle, then, is defensible, and I shall not attempt concretely, and in detail, to either defend or condemn what the German state did in relation to Poland. Since the use of a historic ideology is about principle rather than exact replication, I am willing to learn from mistakes without necessarily condemning wholesale the principles that some might suppose to have driven those mistakes.

Here we come to the second problem. This second problem, namely overcentralization, was a mistake that also need not be imputed to the NSDAP’s professed principles. What the 1920 NSDAP Programme does say about centralization is this:

To put the whole of this programme into effect, we demand the creation of a strong central state power for the Reich; the unconditional authority of the political central Parliament over the entire Reich and its organizations; and the formation of Corporations based on estate and occupation for the purpose of carrying out the general legislation passed by the Reich in the various German states.

Along with subsidiarity, which may take as many forms as there are times and places, we must also hold to national solidarity and especially sovereignty. To deny the right of the sovereign to attend adequately to the common good of the whole, even against opposite impulses in some parts of the commonwealth, is to overthrow all sound principle of governance. Nowhere does the demand expressed even suggest the extreme centralization of the Führerprinzip, whose excesses experience condemns as most unwise and as having contributed greatly to Germany’s defeat in war. Had the political system developed another way, it might well be that the NSDAP’s principles could have been articulated very differently in practice. Thus I am also unable to say that National Socialism necessarily violates subsidiarity so much as it justly bounds and binds it within the context of sovereignty.

This brings us to Bolshevism, which you call communism – in reference, I take it, to the ideology and not to the material condition of communism. While it does much good in helping the poor, you say, communism also redistributes property en masse; whereas, you object, private property is a right in Christianity.

Even confiscatory redistribution, however, is by no means unique to communism. Compare, for example, point 12 of the 1920 NSDAP Programme:

In view of the enormous sacrifices of life and property demanded of a nation by any war, personal enrichment from war must be regarded as a crime against the nation. We demand therefore the ruthless confiscation of all war profits.

That confiscation (and, at least implicitly, redistribution) is shared by Russia’s Bolshevism and Germany’s National Socialism, of course, does not make it right. Nevertheless, in view of the NSDAP’s argument, it is hard to object to the confiscation of war profits if these war profits are unjust in the first place: the point is not for everyone to have the same things in the same amounts, but for unjust seizures to be denied the protection of the state and its laws. Further, we may observe that the state’s restoration of æquity, especially in criminal law, is not based on the exact calculation of unjust losses and unjust gains: by the agreement of sensible judgements, across nations, it suffices that the remedy be a fitting response to the injustice. In politics, even more than in law, this principle holds true.

Not even a communist, moreover, is interested in the sharing of underwear, and this lack of interest a communist will generally explain by distinguishing personal property from private property. What is then to be disputed is not whether a man may have property of his own, but rather whether any man have an absolute right to what we commonly recognize as his property. In the first place, the Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away; blessed be the Name of the Lord. Under him, however, even against some of the opinions of Cicero, both St Ambrose of Milan and St Thomas Aquinas stand for the school of thought that denies an absolute right to property, and in this vein also is the part of the Roman encyclical Quadragesimo anno which says,

Those, therefore, are doing a work that is truly salutary and worthy of all praise who, while preserving harmony among themselves and the integrity of the traditional teaching of the Church, seek to define the inner nature of these duties and their limits whereby either the right of property itself or its use, that is, the exercise of ownership, is circumscribed by the necessities of social living. On the other hand, those who seek to restrict the individual character of ownership to such a degree that in fact they destroy it are mistaken and in error.

To be sure, Quadragesimo anno affirms a right to what it calls ‘private property’; but, as I have suggested above, the mere term cannot by itself bear the weight of any claims that such and such a political policy is unjust, since argument by an æquivocating slogan is manifestly against reason. It is not enough to say, as Quadragesimo anno does, that ‘the duty of owners to use their property only in a right way does not come under this type of justice, but under other virtues, obligations of which “cannot be enforced by legal action”.’ For the worker is not demanding that the rentier give him what he desires, nor is he claiming the right to take what someone else has not used virtuously; but he is, as a citizen of the commonwealth and a son of the nation, demanding a political and social change whereby the (sometimes foreign) rentier’s claim to free property, by usury or the like, will no longer be acknowledged. This challenge to certain kinds of property, and to certain historic relations of property, is not at all what the Anglican’s Thirty-nine Articles of Religion oppose in saying, ‘The riches and goods of Christians are not common, as touching the right, title, and possession of the same, as certain Anabaptists do falsely boast.’ Thus, any case in favour of ‘private property’ in the capitalist’s sense of the term – or any similar senses – is far from simple, and unlikely to be well supported by the Scriptures, the early fathers, or the soundest modern documents of the churches.

Thus, I find your objections neither fundamental nor convincing, and I hope you look at National Bolshevik ways of thinking and doing with due regard for principle and with a clear view of what may and what may not be reconciled with the actual teaching of holy Scripture. At no point do I think National Bolshevism, especially as viewed abstractly (as is necessary for a Chinaman) or dialectically (as is necessary for a man of the 21st century), is by nature at odds with the faith of Christ. May the Lord shed his light upon us now and for evermore.

3 responses to “A Reply to OrthodoxPolitics on ChristBol

  1. Thanks for the reply. It was a very food read. I’ll write a more full reply on my blog later today as I still disagree with you on elements of this.


  2. Pingback: A Reply to Cogito, Credo, Petam on “ChristBol” – Orthodox Christian Politics

  3. Pingback: This Week in Reaction (2017/03/26) - Social Matter

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