Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

News & Supplemental  

Rudolf Bahro: Volkisch Spirituality

Excerpt from
Eco­fas­cism: Lessons from the Ger­man Expe­ri­ence
by Janet Biehl and Peter Stau­den­maier
1995, AK Press
ISBN 1–873176 73 2

pp 48–50

Rudolf Bahro: Volkisch Spir­i­tu­al­i­ty

If fas­cists are using eco­log­i­cal themes to update their racial and nation­al­ist aims, oth­er thinkers are devel­op­ing an eco­log­i­cal spir­i­tu­al­ism along New Age lines that bears no small resem­blance to the völkisch Ger­man­ic spir­i­tu­al­i­ty of the 1920s. Indeed, “a great part of the lit­er­a­ture about close-to-nature spir­i­tu­al­i­ty that the alter­na­tive scene is read­ing is per­me­at­ed with reac­tionary, völkisch, or even Nation­al Social­ist con­tent,” writes Dit­furth. “We find neo­fas­cist and ultra-right posi­tions not only in the var­i­ous polit­i­cal and even eco­log­i­cal groups, but also ... in neo­pa­gan, eso­teric and occult circles.“44

Per­haps the most promi­nent fig­ure in this con­nec­tion is Rudolf Bahro. Many Ger­man ‘new social move­ment’ cir­cles pre­vi­ous­ly accept­ed Bahro as a social the­o­rist con­tribut­ing to a ‘social­ism with a human face’ and con­tin­ue to regard him as part of the inde­pen­dent left; left­ist peri­od­i­cals pub­lish uncrit­i­cal inter­views with him. In the Anglo-Amer­i­can world, too, many eco­log­i­cal rad­i­cals still con­sid­er Bahro as rep­re­sent­ing some­thing ‘left­ist.’ Yet Bahro no longer con­sid­ers him­self a left­ist; indeed, he is a vehe­ment crit­ic of the left 45 and of “com­rades with­out fatherland.“46 In fact, as antifas­cist researcher Roger Nieden­führ argues, since the mid-1980s Bahro has been con­tribut­ing to the devel­op­ment of a “spir­i­tu­al fas­cism” that has the effect of “reha­bil­i­tat­ing Nation­al Social­ism,” open­ly call­ing for reclaim­ing the “pos­i­tive” side of the Nazi move­ment. Not only does Bahro appeal to a mys­ti­cal Ger­man­ist spir­i­tu­al­i­ty like the völkisch ide­o­logues of the 1920s, he even sees the need for a “Green Adolf” who will lead Ger­mans out of their own “folk-depths” and into eco­log­i­cal “sal­va­tion.

Bahro orig­i­nal­ly became well known as the author of The Alter­na­tive in East­ern Europe, which he wrote dur­ing the 1970s while he was a dis­si­dent Marx­ist and par­ty mem­ber in the for­mer East Ger­many. In 1977, the rul­ing Com­mu­nist gov­ern­ment sen­tenced him to prison; in 1979, he was deport­ed. Once arrived in what was then West Ger­many, Bahro became involved with the nascent Ger­man Greens, affirm­ing that “red and green go well together.“48 In the ear­ly 1980s peace move­ment, he alarmed many by enun­ci­at­ing nation­al­is­tic argu­ments against the deploy­ment of Per­sh­ing mis­siles. 49 He began to speak less in polit­i­cal terms and more in reli­gious terms, ask­ing that “the empha­sis [be] shift­ed from pol­i­tics and the ques­tion of pow­er towards the cul­tur­al lev­el ... to the prophet­ic lev­el. ... Our aim has to be the ‘recon­struc­tion of God.’ ” 50 He became a vocal ‘fun­da­men­tal­ist’ crit­ic of the realo wing of the Greens (those who became gen­er­al­ly com­mit­ted to exer­cis­ing par­lia­men­tary pow­er) and ulti­mate­ly left the par­ty in 1985. In a part­ing speech in Ham­burg, he said there were struc­tur­al sim­i­lar­i­ties between the Greens and the Nazi move­ment that the Greens were not tak­ing advan­tage of but should; then he gave his ‘fun­da­men­tal­ist’ alter­na­tive: “the oth­er repub­lic that we want will be an asso­ci­a­tion of com­mu­ni­ties of life-com­mu­ni­ties in which God and God­dess are at the center.“51

Bahro there­after moved increas­ing­ly toward the New Age eso­teric milieu. His major con­cern remained “the eco­log­i­cal cri­sis,” whose “deep struc­tures” must be inves­ti­gat­ed, but he now thinks ecol­o­gy “has noth­ing to do with left and right.“52 Today Bahro is one of the lead­ing spokes­peo­ple and the­o­rists of New Age ideas in the Fed­er­al Repub­lic. “The most impor­tant thing,” he ram­bles,

is that . . . [peo­ple] take the path “back” and align them­selves with the Great Equi­lib­ri­um, in the har­mo­ny between the human order and the Tao of life. I think the “esoteric”-political theme of “king and queen of the world” is basi­cal­ly the ques­tion of how men and women are to com­pre­hend and inter­act with each oth­er in a spir­i­tu­al­ly com­pre­hen­sive way. Who­ev­er does not bring them­selves to coop­er­ate with the world gov­ern­ment [Wel­tregierung] will get their due.53

In 1989, Bahro cofound­ed a com­bi­na­tion edu­ca­tion­al cen­ter and com­mune near Tri­er, the Lern­werk­statt (an “eco­log­i­cal acad­e­my for one world”), whose pur­pose is to syn­the­size spir­i­tu­al­i­ty and pol­i­tics, “to come to a new per­son­al and social ori­en­ta­tion.” It presents lec­tures, cul­tur­al events, and week­end work­shops on var­i­ous New Age themes, includ­ing deep ecol­o­gy, ecofem­i­nism, Zen Bud­dhism, holis­tic nutri­tion, Sufism, and the like — as well as Ger­man identity.54 His 1987 book Logik der Ret­tung marked an overt embrace of author­i­tar­i­an the­o­log­i­cal con­cepts that shocked many for­mer admirers.55


No comments for “Rudolf Bahro: Volkisch Spirituality”

Post a comment