Melbourne Anarchist Archives Index

Marx, Sorel and the Nordic Worldview (1967)

It is an irony of history that some (misguided) commentators have seen in Marxism the logical conclusion of the ancient Germanic mode of thought while completely overlooking the secular socialist movement. Nothing could be more opposed to the norse mind than the voluntarist destiny of the State - the only norse part of it was its fall in 1943, and even this was not very nordic since there was a lack of noble men foreseeing it. The "Reich to last a thousand years" is much more obviously a Christian concept.

It is certainly no accident that secular socialism developed under the influence of German philosophy of history which, warped almost unrecognisably to the extremes of Hegel, was slowly brought back to the correct view by Marx who, although sufficiently warped by his rationalism and Jewish Bourgeois background to see it as being 'progress' was able to give a largely correct account of it as 'process.' Practically speaking, Bakunin's conception was more correct since he saw that history must act through the heroic revolutionary rather than in spite of him. Marx equivocated here and thus the polarisation of Marxism into, and later its destruction by, reformism and Bolshevism (Leninism).

Unfortunately the history of Marx and Bakunin was partisan history and the full view could only be attained by a person willing to rise above this, to restore history as a pure process and the individual as hero. Such a man was the comparitively neglected Georges Sorel. Sorel had the good fortune to become a theoretician of socialism at the turn of the century. Thus he could see the decomposition of Marxism effected by the reformists yet was before the Jacobin experiment of Lenin. (When claimed to have influenced Lenin, he modestly disclaimed the honour). He saw clearly that it was the weakness, not the strength, of the rotting bourgeoisie which had turned the worker's movement into a reformist party. He saw that this degeneration was affecting the workers singly and in mass.

Sorel's aim was to restore the proletariat to their correct status, to their role as the historic, the hero class of the epoch. By hero class, Sorel understood the nordic concept of man against social forces beyond his control, man drawn into struggle, rather than the aristocratic "chevalier" concept of man searching for noble deeds to do.

The hero is made by circumstances: the proletariat's involvement in its tragic situation is inherent in its economic nature.

The way to restore it to and maintain it in its heroic stature, given the parliamentary reformist nature (by virtue of its moral cowardice) of the French bourgeoisie, was the encouragement of direct proletarian violence to stiffen the fibre of the bourgeoisie and to elevate the proletariat. The political expression of this was the encouragement of the Syndicalist movement.

[ Top of Page ] [ Melbourne Anarchist Archives Index ] [ Radical Tradition Contents ]