"The German "special way (Sonderweg or exceptionalism)" and German prospects (perspectives)" by Panagiotis Kondylis

"One more likely feels guilty in Tuscany or in Alsace than as a welfare recipient".

"The monsters of today have often become the gods of tomorrow, yesterday's atrocities, today's models".

 

One of Kondylis's most enthralling articles, "The German "special way" and German prospects", is an excellent example of how a historical value-free, i.e. descriptive and non-normative, approach is capable of shedding light on a concept that has been inundated by all kinds of emotionalism, parochialism and sheer narrow-mindedness, if not downright stupidity and overt racism. The different meanings and interpretations of the German "special way" are contrasted to social-historical reality, so that it becomes clear that from a strictly scientific point of view even such a maligned phenomenon as Nazism is nothing more and nothing less than a facet of human, social action tied to a particular time and place with a particular history, just like all the various manifestations of despotism, democracy and all other polities. It is not the task of the social scientist to regurgitate popular misconceptions or to disseminate blatant lies based e.g. on the level or amount of crudely racist propaganda and quantity of atrocities under the Nazi regime when, after all, the qualitative attributes of such racism and violent acts have been recurring in much, if not all, of human history, and the quantity, mutatis mutandis, of the said "abnormalities" or abominations have, in any event, not been infrequent since time immemorial, in addition to being the product of perpetrators with all kinds of racial, ethnological, political, religious and other backgrounds. The task of social science is to understand what has happened, what is happening and what might happen, including the rise and fall of nations, ideologies, forms of government etc. in the directly relevant social and historical framework of the specific era in question without recourse to simplistic "explanations" which reflect (present-day) ideological preferences and concrete interests of concrete collective subjects. What humans do with, and to, other humans is part of human (i.e. social) action - there is no "good" or "evil" outside of what is (either in peacetime or in wartime) human and human striving for power, i.e. survival, meaning, identity, dominance.

The article reaches its climax with a typical Kondylian surprise. An explanation never expressed before is given of the paradox of post-World War Two German affluence co-existing with the ideological "mea culpa" of the negative version of the "special way". A "mea culpa" or highly ideological "collective guilt" arising in the era after National Socialism which costs very little materially and functions to instil social conformism and give the parameters of the rhetoric of the elites and those amongst the masses who seek to climb into elite circles, as well as to psychologically satisfy a nation then living under the "luxury" of geopolitical patronage and in a mass-democratic state of consumerist and lifestyle euphoria - which is bound to end as soon as Germany has to face a future when affluence is no longer a "right" for masses of its people or if e.g. the balance of power between nations becomes seriously unhinged and or triggers efforts at major readjustment. No social phenomenon is ethical per se. Rather the individual and collective subjects who as part of society are made by, and make, social phenomena, ethicise their power claims as part of social interaction. Once there is no need for a particular version of the "special way", another "special way" or "special ways" will come to the fore, or simply another way of ideologically explaining things will take over. Reality's portrayal is thus always at the ideological behest of social actors striving for power, and the reality of ideology is the concealment and or distortion of the full picture of what is real, to the extent that full picture is knowable, in favour of (what are perceived as) particular interests.

[Konservativismus (IV, 1(d), p. 423ff. (esp. pp.425-428)) also contains an invaluable discussion of the simply incorrect attribution of Germany's role in the World Wars to "reaction" and a supposed lack of development of e.g. "parliamentary liberalism" or "democracy" when, inter alia, Europe's second most industrially productive nation with the largest social-democractic workers' movement, and a comparable rule of law and bourgeois freedoms, was excluded from the Anglo-Gallic "parliamentary-liberal" imperialistic carving up of the world (cf. loc. cit., pp. 469-475, 481-482)].


 
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