Reactionary Modernism: Technology, Culture, and Politics in Weimar and the Third Reich

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Cambridge University Press, 1984 - History - 251 pages
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In a unique application of critical theory to the study of the role of ideology in politics, Jeffrey Herf explores the paradox inherent in the German fascists' rejection of the rationalism of the Enlightenment while fully embracing modern technology. He documents evidence of a cultural tradition he calls 'reactionary modernism' found in the writings of German engineers and of the major intellectuals of the. Weimar right: Ernst Juenger, Oswald Spengler, Werner Sombart, Hans Freyer, Carl Schmitt, and Martin Heidegger. The book shows how German nationalism and later National Socialism created what Joseph Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister, called the 'steel-like romanticism of the twentieth century'. By associating technology with the Germans, rather than the Jews, with beautiful form rather than the formlessness of the market, and with a strong state rather than a predominance of economic values and institutions, these right-wing intellectuals reconciled Germany's strength with its romantic soul and national identity.
 

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Contents

The paradox of reactionary modernism
1
The conservative revolution in Weimar
18
bourgeois antinomies reactionary reconciliations
49
Ernst Jungers magical realism
70
Technology and three mandarin thinkers
109
technology and the Jewish question
130
Engineers as ideologues
152
Reactionary modernism in the Third Reich
189
Conclusion
217
Bibliographical essay
237
Index
245
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