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4Being and Time and Leftist Concepts of History and Decision
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Being and Time and Leftist Concepts of History and Decision

A. Lukács's History and Class Consciousness

As mentioned in section E of chapter 3, in the section on conscience Heidegger characterizes the call as «vorrufenden Rückruf» (SZ 280; «one which calls us back in calling us forth,» BT 326). After the discussions in chapters 1-3 it is now clear that this means: Ordinary and inauthentic Daseine are engaged in the project of Gesellschaft, and the authentic Daseine step out of Gesellschaft. In section 74 it turns out that what calls them back and out of Gesellschaft is Geschick, and Geschick is the Volksgemeinschaft. The Volksgemeinschaft calls each Dasein back into its Schicksal, and authentic Daseine listen to, and erwidern, the call whereas only inauthentic Daseine try not to listen to and not to erwidern the call. Dasein's Schicksal is to disavow Gesellschaft in order to rerealize Gemeinschaft. It is clear against whom Heidegger is arguing in these passages. He argues against liberals and leftists, that is, against all those who are engaged in the project of Gesellschaft; and who maintain that we have to go on in our project of developing Gesellschaft, that is, to develop a capitalist society and its accompanying political structures, parliamentarism and also labor unions.

In the preceding chapters, I have compared my interpretation with Guignon's and Birmingham's interpretations. I wanted to show that Heidegger's notion of repetition is not, as Birmingham has it, about the anarchistic break with each and every tradition. As to Guignon, I pointed out that according to his interpretation, under the gaze of authentic Dasein the monolithic bloc of the present and the past dissolves. Upon becoming authentic, Dasein realizes that there are many possibilities in the past that have been covered


up by ordinary Dasein, by the «they.» Those who have become authentic realize that in the past there are Socrates, Galileo, and many other heroes who have established a profession, or a certain way of practicing a profession and who might be taken up and repeated by the authentic Dasein. By virtue of its utopian ideal, authentic Dasein has a distance to each of them, and it can screen the heroes of the past to choose and «creatively reinterpret» (HC 138) the one who fits his or her utopian ideal best. In Being and Time , Heidegger merely presents this general structure, and he does not make any specific suggestions as to who should choose which hero. I wanted to show that this interpretation also turns the relation of the present to the past, or to what-has-been-there, upside down. According to Guignon, Heidegger's notion of historicality also encompasses the explicitly political choices of different Daseine. On that level, his thesis means that Being and Time is politically neutral.

At the beginning of his essay, Guignon refers to the meeting between Karl Löwith and Heidegger in Rome in 1936 and says his essay «should help to clarify why Heidegger said that "his concept of historicity was the basis for his political engagement" with the Nazis in the thirties. But I hope to show also that this connection between Being and Time and Heidegger's actions does not entail that this early work is inherently fascist or proto-Nazi» (HC 131). After the passages on authentic historicality which I quoted at length in section B of chapter 1, Guignon discusses Heidegger's concept of «situation» and then turns back to the question of the beginning in order to conclude his essay with the following sentences:

My own view is that Heidegger's accounts of historicity and authenticity do not point to any particular political orientation, and that his actions in the thirties resulted solely from his own deeply held conservative beliefs. The early concepts of history and authentic action seem consistent with diverse political views because of their highly formal nature. Heidegger's ontology of human existence identifies a tripartite temporal structure according to which Dasein's "happening" springs from a projection onto future possibilities, draws on what is embodied in the past, and thereby acts in the present. The authentic mode of this temporal existence involves encountering a future as a "destiny," the past as a "heritage," and the present context as a "world-historical Situation." The clear-sighted recognition that we are always implicated in the undertakings of the shared "co-happening of a community" gives one some guidance in making choices. But it should be evident that this formalistic image of "temporalizing" and historicity by itself gives us no guidance as to which political stance we should adopt.

In fact, it appears that this picture of historical unfolding—this "metanarrative" or "narrative framework"—an be made to accommodate almost any political position. With its mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins, it recapitulates the traditional Christian model of creation, sinfulness, and redemption. It is this soteriological model which also underlies the Marxist story-line of human species-beings currently deformed by capitalism but promised fulfillment in world communism. And it can be made


to fit the liberal story of humans who are born to be free but now languish in the chains of ignorance and superstition, or the conservative story of a return to community after wandering in the wilderness of extreme individualism.

Heidegger's account of authentic historicity demanded that he take a stand on the situation in Germany in the thirties. This explains his comment to LÖwith that "the concept of historicity was the basis for his political engagement." What we do know is that, faced with what most Germans at the time saw as the need for a decision between Bolshevism and Nazism, Heidegger sided with the Nazis. Yet ultimately it seems to be only a mix of opportunism and personal preference that directed his decision, not anything built into his fundamental ontology. (HC 141-142)

There are several remarkable points in this passage. It is not quite clear how this passage with its emphasis on the «mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» relates to the passage on «authentic historiography» with the latter's claim «that it is only on the basis of utopian ideals together with a sense of alternative ways of living discovered by antiquarian preservation that we can have a standpoint for criticizing calcified forms of life of the present» (HC 138). In addition, Guignon wants to show that Being and Time is politically neutral, and that it was «not anything built into { Heidegger's } fundamental ontology» that directed Heidegger's commitment to Nazism. In light of this, it is amazing that he uses formulations such as «can be made to accommodate almost any political position» and «can be made to fit» without any further comment. Finally, it is truly amazing that he assumes that the short paragraph on Christians, Marxists, and liberals is all that needs to be said on the different political movements of that time.[1]

However, it is simply untrue that, as Guignon maintains, everyone at the time employed a notion of history as a «mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» (HC 141). Neither liberals nor the political party Guignon does not mention, namely, the Social Democrats, adhered to Guignon's model. In hindsight, in the eleventh of his Theses on the Philosophy of History , written in 1940, Benjamin said:

The conformism which has been part and parcel of Social Democracy from the beginning attaches not only to its political tactics but to its economic views as well. It is one reason for its later breakdown. Nothing has corrupted the German working class so much as the notion that it was moving with the current. It regarded technological developments as the fall of the stream with which it thought it was moving {das Gefälle des Stroms, mit dem sie zu schwimmen meinte}.[2]

The twelfth thesis reads:

Not man or men but the straggling, oppressed class itself is the depository of historical knowledge. In Marx it appears as the last enslaved class, as the avenger


that completes the task of liberation in the name of generations of the downtrodden. This conviction, which had a brief resurgence in the Spartacist group, has always been objectionable to Social Democrats. Within three decades they managed virtually to erase the name of Blanqui, though it had been the rallying sound that had reverberated through the preceding century. Social Democracy thought fit to assign to the working class the role of the redeemer of future generations, in this way cutting the sinews of its greatest strength. This training made the working class forget both its hatred and its spirit of sacrifice, for both are nourished by the image of enslaved ancestors rather than that of liberated grandchildren.[3]

To move «with the current,» to move with «the fall of the stream,» or in Heidegger's and Hitler's terms «to move with the downward plunge» without looking back is exactly the stance against which, in order to discontinue it, Heidegger and other rightist authors developed their notion of history, one that demands that «we» widerrufen, cancel, the current of society and that gives «having been its peculiarly privileged position in the historical» (BT 438; SZ 386). «Moving with the current» of Gesellschaft, of capitalist society and parliamentarism, toward the future is what liberals and Social Democrats had in common. The difference between them was that liberals did so for the sake of the liberal individuals, Social Democrats for the sake of future socialism. Both employed a notion of progress according to which, step by step, we leave behind the ignorance and imperfection of the past and the present. We move with the current precisely in order to liberate ourselves from the imperfections of the past and the present, not in order to rerealize this or that past. According to Heidegger and other rightist authors, however, this is precisely our downward plunge. Thus, we have to cancel this move, have to perform a «Widerruf » (SZ 386; BT 438); or, as Scheler put it, we have to «expel Anglo-American capitalism from {Europe's } blood like a foreign poison» (PPS 153) in order to rerealize community. If, however, some liberals or social democrats at the time did in fact, as Guignon maintains, use the «mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» (HC 141), they did so in a way contrary to how it was used by rightist authors. According to rightist authors, we rerealize the past by canceling Gesellschaft, since the development of Gesellschaft leads us only deeper into the abyss of the downward plunge, which Gesellschaft itself is, without ever leading us back to the lost origin. Those liberals, social democrats, and communists, however, who used the «mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» (HC 141) restored the lost origin—freedom or «primordial communism»—only at the end of the full development of Gesellschaft. We must not cancel our gradual progress toward that development, but rather must move forward, because only in this way can we restore the lost origin. Philosophically, this is the difference between Heidegger's notion of «Widerruf » (SZ 386; «disavowal, » BT 438) of Gesellschaft, or of Scheler's act of expulsion of Gesellschaft, and a dialectical


Aufhebung, sublation, of bourgeois Gesellschaft.[4] Politically, the pronounced difference between a Widerruf and an Aufhebung was the reason that allowed liberals and Social Democrats to join forces against conservative bourgeois parties. In this sense, Heidegger's notion of historicality is tailored polemically against the notion of history in liberalism and social democracy. In what follows, I will not refer to texts by liberals or social democrats. Rather, I turn to two authors of the twenties—Lukács's book History and Class Consciousness , published in 1923, and Paul Tillich's The Socialist Decision , published in 1933—who saw the difference between the social democrats and liberals on the one hand and rightist authors on the other as clearly as Hitler and Scheler did, and who regarded themselves as leftists without relying on the social democratic, or liberal, concept of history. In the course of the discussion of their views, it will become clear that Heidegger's concept of historicality was opposed not only to liberals and social democrats but also to their views, and that they themselves regarded their ideas as also directed against concepts of history such as Heidegger's.[5]

In myth, a human being can turn into a pig and back again into a human being (Homer, Odyssey X, vv. 235ff.). In some way, the Geist, the spirit, of this remains present in some pre-Socratic philosophers, especially in those whom Plato, appropriately, calls the «more tightly strained of the Muses.»[6] Metaphysics of substance does away with such a notion of change and motion and all its remnants in philosophy. An idea does not admit, and does not change into, its opposite. However, not only an idea, but also an idea «in us» does not change into its opposite. Rather, if it can no longer resist its approaching opposite, it will leave the scene instead of transforming itself into its opposite. In accidental change, an accident does riot' change itself into its opposite either. Rather, it has to leave its subject. Only in this way can the new accident arrive at, or be realized within, the substance. A substance changes only accidentally. In order for a substance to allow the emergence of a different substance from it, the substance and its substantial form have to disappear and its matter has to be emptied of forms, or de-formed, down to the level of the four elements and simple bodies. Only if the, so to speak, «higher» substantial form has disappeared, is matter in a position to receive a new «higher» substantial form.

Unorthodox teaching on the eucharistic host and alchemy fully acknowledge this model. The substance Òf bread is not transubstantiated into the substance of Jesus Christ. Rather, the substance of bread is annihilated by God, or its matter is emptied of forms down to the level of prime matter or the four elements before Jesus Christ becomes present. One cannot produce the body of all bodies, gold, by informing existing substances. Rather, one has to expel the forms, that is, to deform their matter, until one has arrived at pure prime matter. Only at that point can the form of gold be introduced. Each form


within matter prevents it from, closes it against, receiving the form of gold. Matter is open, entschlossen, for the new form, only if it has been cleansed of any other form. The arrival of the new presupposes the expulsion of the old, and does not allow for the possibility that the old forms work on themselves and transform themselves according to their tendencies and needs.

In his theory on authentic Dasein, Heidegger follows the metaphysical model of substances and their changes. We do not achieve authenticity by building upon all the states, the forms we have due to our living in the mode of the «they.» Rather, we achieve authenticity, are entschlossen for the new form that authenticity is, only after deforming ourselves, only after having been cleansed of the forms of ordinary Dasein. This happens in Angst, in anxiety (BT 225ff.; SZ 180). If we manage to endure it and do not shrink away from it, anxiety rewards us by cleansing us of all the forms of ordinary everyday-ness, and thus makes us entschlossen for the new state of authenticity. In Heidegger, there is no intrinsic relation between ordinary Dasein and Angst. At least, he does not develop any. Ordinary Dasein tends to shy away from Angst, and Angst is not the intrinsic result of a tendency built into the forms by which ordinary Dasein is shaped.[7] One implication of this model is that there is nothing intrinsic to the forms of ordinary Dasein that makes them worth preserving in the new state of authenticity. Of course, it might happen that some, or even many, features of ordinary Dasein are preserved in authenticity, for instance, as Hitler and Scheler argued, private property of the means of production and modem technology. However, this is purely accidental, a matter, so to speak, of the «grace» of authenticity.

The substance of bread has been annihilated. Its accidents remain. However, they are neither the end nor a necessary means of the Eucharist. Rather, God does not want to trigger our disgust for cannibalism and thus allows the accidents of the bread to cover up the raw flesh of Jesus Christ's body. Heidegger has chosen the proper expression. For, as was mentioned in section D of chapter I, an act of «Widerruf » (SZ 386; «disavowal, » BT 438) is indeed a cancellation, a destruction, in which something is negated completely and must never recur. In contrast, in Hegelian dialectics the transition into a new sphere also proceeds by way of deformation. However, that deformation is brought about, not by the cancellation of the determinations, but rather by the process of the self-determination of the determinations and of the subject, which never exists independent of its process of determining itself and which thus never relapses into pure matter.

Accordingly, dialectic negation is not a Widerruf. Being negated or negating themselves, the determinations are not destroyed, annihilated, or canceled, but rather aufgehoben, sublated. They still are, and they are in their truth, for they are moments of a new and larger structure into which they have sublated themselves. Politically speaking, the difference between a dialectical Aufhebung and a Heideggerian Widerruf—a thoroughly metaphysical presencing of


the renewal via the destruction of the old—also accounts for the difference between the end of righist struggle and leftist class struggle. In dialectics, nothing is abandoned. Instead, everything and everyone will be redeemed. The end of the class struggle is the sublation of the sway of classes and thus the production of equal and free individuals no longer confined by class distinctions. The rightist struggle, however, is about the rerealization of ranks, orders, and distinctions that supposedly were leveled by liberalism and Social Democracy. The rerealization requires that Gesellschaft is expelled, and that its members are either expelled or integrated into one or the other of the lower ranks of Gemeinschaft.

According to Lukács, the establishment of a socialist society presupposes a fully developed capitalist society and, if it happens at all, is brought about by the proletarians who are, as he puts it by quoting Marx, «the dissolution { AuflÖ-sung} of the existing social order {Weltordnung}» (HI 3; GK 15).[8] In a fully developed capitalist society, all those individuals who are not capitalists have to offer their skills as commodities on the job market; they have become commodities. However, it is only proletarians who can distance themselves from, that is, cleanse themselves of, all the bourgeois forms and can recognize the ultimate bourgeois form, namely, that of being a commodity, as the one they have to, and can, liberate themselves from by transforming the capitalist society into a socialist one. Though all individuals have become a commodity, that is not all they are. Those who are not part of the proletariat can use these other forms to cover up, so to speak, the blunt fact that they have to offer their skills as commodities. You might deplore the fact that Geist, spirit and mind, has become a commodity. Still, if you can satisfy your vocation to geistige Führung, spiritual leadership, or your interest in studying philosophical texts, only by selling your Geist to a newspaper or a university, you might do so, and you might always maintain, as it were, in a metaphysical fashion that Geist is different from, irreducible to, and higher than, flesh and money. A proletarian, however, cannot do so:

For his work as he experiences it directly possesses the naked and abstract form of the commodity, while in other forms of work this is hidden behind the facade of 'mental labour', of 'responsibility', etc. (and sometimes it even lies concealed behind 'patriarchal' forms). The more deeply reification penetrates into the soul of the man who sells his achievement as a commodity the more deceptive appearances are (as in the case of journalism). (HI 172, GK 188)

Informed by the notion of responsibility, etc., the non-proletarian individual feels no need to distance himself from being a commodity and, thus, becomes more and more reified in all his faculties. To be a commodity permeates all his other forms and capacities. However, the proletarian cannot cover up being a commodity. Thus, he recognizes it as the form from which


he has to distance himself. In the preface to the 1968 edition, Lukács said that, in History and Class Consciousness , he has analyzed the emergence of revolutionary praxis as though it were a «sheer miracle.»[9] In a passage that is almost a miracle in German since one immediately gets his point though the relations of grammar, logic, and meaning are nonetheless enigmatic, Lukács continues:

Corresponding to the objective concealment of the commodity form, there is the subjective element. This is the fact that while the process by which the worker is reified and becomes a commodity dehumanises him and cripples and atrophies his 'soul'—as long as he does not consciously rebel against it—it remains true that precisely his humanity and his soul are not changed into commodities. He is able therefore to objectify himself completely against his existence while the man reified in the bureaucracy, for instance, is turned into a commodity, mechanised and reified in the only faculties that might enable him to rebel against reification. Even his thoughts and feelings become reified. As Hegel says: "It is much harder to bring movement into fixed ideas than into sensuous existence." (HI 172, GK 188f.)

In addition, in contrast to proletarians, who, as Marx and Engels said, «have nothing to lose but their chains,»[10] bourgeois individuals have something to lose. And if they don't have anything to lose, they at least have a lot to gain:

The worker experiences his place in the production process as ultimate but at the same time it has all the characteristics of the commodity (the uncertainties of day-to-day-movements of the market, etc.). This stands in contrast to other groups which have both the appearance of stability (the routine of duty, pension, etc.) and also the—abstract—possibility of an individual's elevating himself into the ruling class. By such means a 'status-consciousness' is created that is calculated {geeignet ist} to inhibit effectively the growth of a class consciousness. (HI 172; GK 189; note that Lukács's formulation «geeignet ist» does not imply any intention of any individual or group; thus instead of «is calculated» read «is fit» or even «happens.»)

The form of being a commodity has not only permeated all other forms, but it has also emptied the proletarians of any substance. A proletarian cannot justify his job in terms of responsibility, etc., and his job itself has become an unstable affair. In addition, he is no longer able to interpret his activities on the job as a means to a reasonable end (HI 87ff; GK 98ff.). It is only in the state of deformation of all other forms that human beings can recognize that they have been made into a commodity and can distance themselves from this form and thus from all history. Lukács goes on:

Thus the purely abstract negativity in the life of the worker is objectively the most typical manifestation of reification, it is the constitutive type of capitalist


socialisation. But for this very reason it is also subjectively the point at which this structure is { werden kann } raised to consciousness and can be breached in practice. As Marx says: "Labour . . . is no longer grown together with the individual into one particular determination." (HI 172; instead of «is raised» it should read «can be raised»; GK 189)

In former societies this process of becoming conscious was not possible. The economy was not yet autonomous (HI 238ff.; GK 244ff.). Political forms of domination were part of the economy and provided a framework of forms people could identify with and from which it was not necessary to abstract. This is no longer true for the «free» worker in a capitalist society. In addition, individuals and goods were not yet commodities in earlier societies. To be a commodity, however, requires a constant dividing of oneself and distancing of oneself from oneself (HI 90ff., 165ff.; GK 102, 182ff.). In addition, one might add, former processes of distancing, in stoic, Christian, and bourgeois philosophy all intended to make conscious, to lead to, and to strengthen, the reality of the form of human beingness that informs each individual human being and in regard to which all humans are equal. However, one can no longer rely on the way this form was realized in bourgeois society, since its realization has resulted in the inhuman conditions of modem capitalist society. The proletarians have been distanced from, deformed of, all traditional forms under the pressure of the commodity form. They can become aware of the power of distancing at work in commodities since due to the inner dynamics of capitalism, they themselves have become sheer commodities. Only because they have become pure commodities can they turn the power of distancing against commodities and distance themselves from the commodity form in order to realize by way of sublation the universalism inherent in bourgeois universalism. Thus, Lukács calls the consciousness of the proletarians «the self-consciousness of the commodity » (HI 168; GK 185).

For a communist, the average everydayness and the world of ordinary Dasein is certainly the economy and one's place in it. In line with Hegel's dialectics and in contrast to Heidegger, the de-formation that is the precondition to authenticity—to be a communist and finally a socialist society—is a result of the inner tendency at work in ordinary Dasein itself. Still, one must not overlook the «can» in Lukács's statements on becoming conscious. To become a commodity, to become aware of it, and to finally realize a socialist society is made possible, and indeed in some way intended, by the inner tendency active in ordinary Dasein in its average everydayness. However, it is only in becoming a commodity that the necessary and unavoidable outcome of this inner tendency is realized. To become aware of having become a commodity and to follow this through to the realization of socialism, however, is by no means a necessary outcome of this inner tendency even though it remains its intention. This is the difference, in Lukács's view, between


social democrats and communists, and it compels Lukács, as he maintains, to defend Marx against the social democratic revisionists.

Having become a commodity, a proletarian might realize a number of things, first, that the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production is the driving power in history, at least in the modem era (HI 10; GK 23). Second, he also begins to understand what Marx and Lukács call reification. In capitalist society, the relations between human beings have become relations between things, and these relations between things produce their own system, the capitalist economy, which determines all the other realms. The system follows its own self-generated laws (HI 83ff.; GK 94ff.) and produces a specific type of rationality—specific forms of thinking and acting—for all individuals working in it. The structure of these forms of thinking and acting differs from that of the system itself and its laws, though the former is necessary for the working of the system. Bourgeois thinking interprets the system in terms of the structure of thinking produced by the system and thus misinterprets the latter. As a consequence, bourgeois thinking misses the historical character of capitalism and takes capitalism for eternal and «natural» (HI 181ff.; GK 198ff.). Third, proletarian thinking recognizes that the relations between things are relations between human beings and at the same time that the system can function only when individuals misinterpret the laws of the system. The proletarians comprehend that the system of capitalist economy is by no means eternal but rather historical, for the inner contradictions inherent in it push it beyond liberal capitalist economy, though by no means necessarily into socialism and communism. In particular, a proletarian who is philosophically educated realizes that in modem philosophy the general conditions of reification are tacitly presupposed, in particular in German idealism, and that for that reason modem philosophy cannot solve the problems it itself raises (HI 110ff.; GK 122ff.). Concerning all these points one might find in Being and Time or in the later Heidegger an analogous claim, and it might be useful to compare them, if only because some might find Lukács's analysis of what Heidegger called «Vorhandenheit,» or Lukács's version of a thinking in terms of process as opposed to a thinking in terms of things and facts, more interesting and useful than Heidegger's analysis. However, this is not relevant to my purpose here.

Recognizing the antagonism between the forces of production and the relations of production as the driving power in history, proletarians can look through former theories on history as ideology in the Marxist sense. Lukács makes this point several times, twice only in a short comment. In a passage recapitulating Rousseau and Schiller, he adds in parentheses the proper Marxist terms: «culture and civilisation (i.e., capitalism and reification)» (HI 136; GK 150). Or, in a passage on the theory of history in Rickert he adds in parentheses his Marxist comment to a quote from Rickert: «However, this does no more than enthrone as the measure and the index of objectivity, the "cultural


values" actually "prevailing in his community {Gemeinschaft}" (i.e., in his class)» (HI 151; GK 166). Lukács's replacement of «Gemeinschaft» with «class» in the quote from Rickert is typical of leftist authors; they insist that class and class struggle are the relevant parameters in history and that the traditional Gemeinschaften will be replaced with a rational Gesellschaft. Thus, history is precisely not a return of some past. On the contrary, to them, using this or that Gemeinschaft as the relevant parameter and primary entity in history is a sign that the author either wrote at a time of not yet fully developed capitalism or is trying, more or less consciously, to «save» capitalist society against the threat from the Left. As I have shown in regard to Hitler, Scheler, and Heidegger, after the emergence of liberalism and socialism rightist authors want to replace the conceptual framework of society, class, and class struggle with that of Gemeinschaft in the minds of the proletarians. In this sense, Heidegger's use of «Gemeinschaft» in Being and Time by itself already indicates strongly that the author proposes a rightist theory of history, even if Guignon's claim that everyone at that time employed a «mythos of pristine beginnings, a time of "falling," and a final recovery of origins» (HC 141) were correct.

However, liberals, social democrats, and communists did not use such a model. Having become «the self-consciousness of the commodity» (HI 168; GK 185) and managing to make the first steps toward a proper class consciousness (which will be achieved only in a difficult process, HI 173ff.; GK 189ff.), the proletarians realize that bourgeois individuals will not leave behind their reified consciousness. However, they also realize that many of their fellow proletarians either don't reach the point of self-consciousness or, if they have done so, are not capable of maintaining this achievement. Instead of distancing themselves from the forms of reified thinking and action and instead of replacing them with the proper dialectical ones, they stay in, or relapse into, bourgeois ways of thinking and acting. The bourgeois forms of consciousness are strong and, as Hegel observed, adhere to the law of inertia more than physical bodies. For Lukács, the Social Democratic party is where bourgeois consciousness has the strongest hold on proletarians.

Social Democrats, and also to some extent Rosa Luxemburg, adhere to a model of history Lukács describes as «the organic character of the course of history» (HI 277; «des organischen Charakters der gesellschaftlichen Entwicklung,» GK 281), or «economic fatalism» (HI 305; «Ö konomistischen Fatalismus,» GK 308). The three basic assumptions of this model are first, that the development of the forces of production will automatically bring about a socialist economy (HI 277; GK 281); second, proletarian consciousness is always in tune with the economic development (HI 305; GK 308); and third, the task of the working class is merely to adjust the political and social superstructure to the level of economic development realized at the respective time. Parliamentary democracy provides a forum for achieving this without


violence. It is this reliance on economic development Benjamin called the assumption of «moving with the current.» Lukács labels it «fatalism,» because, according to this model, it is fate, or necessity, that brings about socialism, and individuals simply can go along with fate. Fate is not determined by individuals. People only have to follow fate, that is, just remove any remaining obstacles. This is in line with the general meaning of Schicksal as some process or entity that determines our life in advance and thus is our fate. We have to comply with fate and must not try to resist it. Lukács can label it «organic» because, in this way of thinking, the socialist society will come about almost as naturally as biological growth; every stage of economic development always finds its proper expression in the proletarian consciousness and thus proceeds in as organic and holistic a fashion as growth in plants or animals where all the different parts always develop in tune with each other.

Lukács himself considers his and the communist concept of history a «non-fatalistic, non-'economistic' theory» (HI 305; GK 308), because, first, in his view it is by no means the case that the forces of production will bring about a socialist economy automatically. Though there is necessity within history, and though the agent of the necessity is economic development, this necessity or inevitability prevails only up to the moment of crisis:

For capitalism, then, expedients can certainly be thought of in and for themselves. Whether they can be put into practice depends, however, on the proletariat . The proletariat, the actions of the proletariat, block capitalism's way out of the crisis. Admittedly, the fact that the proletariat obtains power at that moment is due to the 'natural laws' governing the economic process. But these 'natural laws' only determine the crisis itself, giving it dimensions which frustrate the 'peaceful' advance of capitalism. However, if left to develop (along capitalist lines) they would not lead to the simple downfall of capitalism or to a smooth transition to socialism. They would lead over a long period of crises, civil wars and imperialist world wars on an ever-increasing scale to "the mutual destruction of the opposing classes" and to a new barbarism.

Moreover, these forces, swept along by their own 'natural' impetus have brought into being a proletariat whose physical and economic strength leaves capitalism very little scope to enforce a purely economic solution along the lines of those which put an end to previous crises in which the proletariat figured only as the object of an economic process. The new-found strength of the proletariat is the product of objective economic 'laws'. The problem, however, of converting this potential power into a real one and of enabling the proletariat (which today really is the mere object of the economic process and only potentially and latently its co-determining subject) to emerge as its subject in reality, is no longer determined by these 'laws' in any fatalistic and automatic way. (HI 306; GK 309f.)

Throughout his book, Lukács formulates this thesis in terms of the «tendency» or «objective possibilities» inherent in the economic development,


and I will give some examples of this. For Lukács, the different theories of history lead to a crucial difference between communists and social democrats in their concrete politics, namely, their attitudes toward violence. First, relying on the fatalism, or inevitability, of economic development, social democrats deny that violence is necessary to bring about socialism. Lukács and other communists, however, insist that violence has always been an economic power and is necessary for the realization of socialism (HI 239ff; GK 246ff). Second, there is no organic relationship between economic development and the consciousness of the proletariat. Rather, due to the inertia, the consciousness of many proletarians lags behind the economic development (HI 304; GK 307). This situation is extremely serious. As early as in The Communist Manifesto Marx and Engels formulated the issue of Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft, of the destructive forces unleashed by the modem age, in an unsurpassed way, and already at that point they reduced the issue to its economic basis:

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionizing the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionizing of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned.[11]

Looking back from the present into the past, one thus realizes how often and quickly, at least in modem times, forms of consciousness had already become anachronistic before they were finally swept away by history. However, the same applies to the present as well. Perhaps one's own consciousness too is already outdated, especially since capitalism is the institutionalized constant revolution of all relations due to the basic structure of private ownership of the means of production. In precapitalist societies this gap between consciousness and economic basis is absent, since the instruments of production didn't change that much. In addition, in precapitalist societies the available means for working on nature and society were much more limited. In the light of this, social democrats are naive and lack any sense for the peculiar character of the modem age. Relying on the organic relationship between economic development and consciousness, a social democrat infers from the absence of a clear and common will to revolution in the proletariat that, indeed, no revolutionary situation exists (HI 305; GK 308). A communist, however, might infer that the proletariat is just not up to its task. This gap between consciousness and economic development allows Lukács to describe the behavior of the social


democratic parties and of the unions in a way that is similar to how Heidegger characterizes the behavior of ordinary and inauthentic Dasein, which covers up the authentic possibilities of authentic action. The tactical theses of the Third Congress very rightly emphasize that every mass strike tends to transform itself into a civil war and a direct struggle for power. However, as Lukács emphasizes, «it only tends to do so.» Though the economic and social preconditions were often fulfilled, this tendency has not yet become reality. This «precisely is the ideological crisis of the proletariat » (HI 310; GK 312). The social democratic parties and the unions prevent the proletarians from developing the proper class consciousness, and they do so in a division of labor. The unions «take on the task of atomising and de-politicising the movement and concealing its relation to the totality,» while the social democratic parties «perform the task of establishing the reification in the consciousness of the proletariat both ideologically and on the level of organisation» (HI 310; GK 312f.). Thus, as the inauthentic Daseine in Heidegger, the social democrats and the unions prevent the proletarians from resolving the crisis «by the free action {freie Tat } of the proletariat » (HI 311; GK 313).[12]

In contrast to social democrats and liberals, Heidegger and Lukács share the assumption of the critical character of the moment, the kairos, the crisis brought about by history. History does not realize the new state after bourgeois society—socialism or Volksgemeinschaft—in the way that trees produce fruits but leads to a crisis, in which both the authentic Daseine in Heidegger's sense and the proletarians believe to realize that the current state of society is transitory and will disappear. Both also maintain that the «real» logic of history differs from what individuals have considered it to be before becoming authentic or self-conscious. Moreover, both maintain that history can now develop in two directions and that it is up to the individuals which way history will go. Finally, both regard themselves as called upon by history to guide it in one direction and to prevent it from going the other way. Because of these similarities, one finds the rhetoric of crisis, decision, and call also in Lukács. In fact, at one point Lukács uses the concept of Schicksal in the same way the rightist authors did. According to Lukács, Rosa Luxemburg overlooked the limitation of possible choices «which fate forced upon the proletarian revolution right from the start» (HI 276; «die vom Schicksal aufgezwungene Wahl zwischen,» GK 280; note, however, that fate here does not call for a repetition). One must listen to and obey fate, otherwise one will fail. Rosa Luxemburg did not listen to fate. Thus, her criticism «has been refuted . . . by history itself» (HI 276; GK 280). In his strictly theoretical passages, Lukács uses not Schicksal but rather Geschichte, history, and according to him the communist theory is «non-fatalistic.» For he wants to oppose the social democrats already on the level of terminology, and in the eyes of leftists the fact alone that rightists use the term «fate» already reveals the latter's «irrational» view of history. Thus, as in the case of the replacement of «Gemeinschaft» with «class,» leftist authors do not use «fate»


as a basic term. They use it only polemically to indicate that other parties pretending to be leftists have in fact fallen prey to bourgeois ideology, as Lukács does regarding the social democrats. Otherwise, however, the structure and the vocabulary are the same as Heidegger's. Consider, for instance, the following sentence: «The proletariat "has no ideals to realize." When its consciousness is put into practice it can only breathe life into the things which the dialectics of history have forced to a crisis {nur das von der geschichtlichen Dialektik zur Entscheidung Gedrängte ins Leben rufen}; it can never 'in practice' ignore the course of history, forcing on it what are no more than its own desires or knowledge» (HI 177f; GK 194).[13] Or, on the next page Lukács comments on the issue of force: «For this is the point where the 'eternal laws' of capitalist economics fail and become dialectical and are thus compelled to yield up the decisions regarding the fate of history to the conscious actions of men {dem bewußten Handeln der Menschen die Entscheidung über das Schicksal der Entwicklung zu überlassen gezwungen ist}» (HI 178; GK 195). As the last quotation shows, Lukács also uses the concept of fate in the derivative sense in that the actions of someone can become the fate of someone else in the future. However, as in the authors on the Right, this is a derivative sense, insofar as the individuals or groups are morally not free to realize whatever they wish. Rather, they are bound, called upon, by history to realize this—on the Right Volksgemeinschaft and on the Left socialism—and to avoid that———on the Right socialism and on the Left Volksgemeinschaft. For this obligation history places on the proletariat Lukács uses the word Beruf, mission:

Only the consciousness of the proletariat can point to the way that leads out of the impasse of capitalism . As long as this consciousness is lacking, the crisis remains permanent. . . . But the proletariat is not given any choice. {Das Proletariat hat aber hier keine Wahl.}. . . . But the proletariat cannot abdicate its mission. {Denn das Proletariat kann sich seinem Beruf nicht entziehen.} The only question at issue is how much it has to suffer before it achieves ideological maturity, before it acquires a true understanding of its class situation and a true class consciousness. (HI 76; GK 88f.)

Or he speaks of «the universal mission {weltgeschichtliche Sendung} of the proletariat» (HI 325; GK 327). [14] However, strong as these similarities between Heidegger and Lukács might be—in the decisive point Lukács's theory on history is the total opposite of Heidegger's. For the proletarians are called to a decision whose structure with regard to temporality is just the opposite of decision in Heidegger. Lukács often talks of the «new,» or «the radically new character of a consciously ordered society {Gesellschaft}» (HI 252, GK 258). This is not a mere phrase. History is not about the repetition of some vanished past but about the production of something essentially new that has never existed before, as the following features of Lukács' s concept of history clearly show.


The moment of crisis is decisive for the future of the world, and it is decisive for Lukács's entire theory on dialectics and history. In nature there is no critical dialectics between subject and object. Thus, dialectics and historical materialism do not apply to nature but only to the history of humanity (HI ff.; GK 15ff.). Since in precapitalist societies there is no reification and no critical dialectics either, dialectics and historical materialism apply to them, if at all, only in a modified and restricted way, one that still has to be determined by future theoretical work (HI 238ff.; GK 244ff.). In socialism, there will no longer be reification and critical dialectics between subject and object. Marx has shown that, pace Hegel, the categories of reflection are not «eternal» but rather valid only for bourgeois society (HI 177; GK 194). At the time of History and Class Consciousness , dialectics and Marxism in Lukács is, as he put it self-critically in 1968, not a universal ontology, but rather a «theory of society,» a «social philosophy» (HI xvi), [15] indeed, a theory of Gesellschaft that pertains only to a very small portion of the history of all societies. Still, in History and Class Consciousness Lukács makes two claims for history in general. First, he speaks of «the world-historical mission of the process of civilisation that culminates in capitalism {weltgeschichtliche Sendung des im Kapitalismus gipfelnden Zivilisationsprozesses},» and this mission is «to achieve control over nature » (HI 233; GK 239). The laws of reified capitalist society «have the task {Funktion} of subordinating the categories of nature to the process of socialisation {Vergesellschaftung}. In the course of history they have performed this function» (HI 233; GK 239). Certainly, this mission of capitalism is sublated and preserved in socialism. Insofar as no society prior to the modem capitalist ones ever achieved full domination over nature, this criterion excludes any repetition of a vanished past as the end of history. Indeed, in the context of these reflections Lukács does not speak of any repetition of a vanished past within socialism. Even if certain features of this or that precapitalist society recurred in a socialist society, this would be accidental, or they would recur as something instrumental to the functioning of a socialist society and its complete domination of nature. As rightist authors see it, however, it is just the other way around, and if any achievements of Gesellschaft are preserved at all in the revitalization of Gemeinschaft, it will be those that are instrumental to the life of the revitalized Gemeinschaft.

The second claim is the 'identical subject-object' that history intends to bring about. Again, in the systematic parts of this discussion Lukács does not even mention the problem of a «re.» As in the case of the first criterion either the second criterion also allows no room for a reoccurrence of a vanished past, or if so, the reoccurrence is accidental to the realization of the 'identical subject-object.' Lukács maintains that the central problem of German idealism was overcoming the separations characteristic of the modem age and resulting from the split between subject and object due to reification. The greatness of


German idealism lies in the fact that it did not deny but instead faced the separations and contradictions of the modem age, that is, of capitalism; it searched for ways to overcome them, and finally Hegel pointed the way out of those contradictions. The tragedy of German idealism lies in the fact that in its day the agent that alone was capable of overcoming bourgeois Gesellschaft and reification did not yet exist. Thus, German idealism wound up in mythologies. History is the result of an agent, of the subject who acts and who acts on something, the object; and history is about the realization of the subject's freedom. The subject will be free only if the object it acts on is not alien to the subject and if the subject is not acted upon by an alien object. An alien object is one that is different and independent from the subject and was not produced by the latter, or having been produced by the subject, it has a life of its own that determines the subject. The science of history has to show that over time what seems to be alien to the subject turns out to be indeed the subject itself, which will overcome its own determination by what is alien to it; the subject dirempts itself into itself as subject and its own object. Thus, the science of history shows that the latent identity of subject and object becomes manifest in history. German idealism could develop the abstract logic of this motif. However, in its time, the real subject-object in history did not yet exist. Thus, in Lukács's view, Hegel's philosophy was driven into mythology by a methodological necessity. Being unable to identify the real subject-object in history, Hegel made history itself dependent on something transcendent, and he introduced as the real agent in history the notorious World Spirit and its concrete incarnations, the Volksgeister, the spirits of the individual peoples (HI 141 - 149; GK 156-164). With the emergence of the proletarians German idealism faces a crisis as well. If one adheres to the «idealism» in Hegel, one will lose the vitality of dialectics. One will be left only with the antinomies and their increasingly mythological solutions. This is what German idealism «bequeath {es} to succeeding (bourgeois) generations» (HI 148; the German text has «Erbschaft,» GK 164). If an adherent of German idealism wants to remain faithful to its intention, he has to abandon Hegel's material theories, has to isolate their method, dialectics, and has to transplant dialectics into a context completely unfamiliar to philosophers, namely, into history as the history of production:

The continuation of that course which at least in method started to point the way beyond these limits, namely the dialectical method as the true historical method was reserved for the class which was able to discover within itself on the basis of its life-experience the identical subject-object, the subject of action; the 'we' of the genesis: namely the proletariat. (HI 148f.; GK 164) [16]

Only by a radical transformation of itself can German idealism remain faithful to its intention; if it remains the same and unchanged, it becomes unfaithful to its intentions and turns reactionary. In this sense Lukács approvingly


quotes Engels's sentence on «the 'German workers' movement' as the 'heir {Erbin} to classical German philosophy'» (HI xlv; GK 9). Quite soberly, Lukács acknowledges that later ages always use «the historical heritage {historische Erbschaft} » by «bending it to their own purposes» (HI 111; GK 123). Followers of the Volksgemeinschaft or other Gemeinschaften use Hegel selectively and abandon his dialectics and his liberalism in order to defend an illiberal bourgeois society against the threat of liberalism and leftist politics. Proletarians save Hegelian dialectics by radically transforming it, and they do so, according to Lukács, to save the intentions of German idealism. These three are the only occurrences of the word «Erbschaft» or «Erbe» in History and Class Consciousness . For Heidegger, nothing in modem Gesellschaft is intrinsically worth preserving in the state of authenticity (see chapter 2, section C). Reacting to the dynamics of the modem era, Heidegger transforms Erbschaft into a false god that demands obedience and subordination. Erbschaft or Erbe is intrinsically completely good, and it demands of the heirs that they rerealize it through their cancellation of modem Gesellschaft. Lukács acknowledges that, at least in the modem era, an Erbe is often contested and is always in danger. Whether it will be beneficial or not depends on how the heirs use it, on whether their use is attentive to the inner tensions and possibilities in the Erbe itself as well as to its context. Lukács uses this motif only in the context of philosophical knowledge, and not in the context of the different historical Gemeinschaften that have been pushed aside or are threatened by modem Gesellschaft. Tillich later claimed that to have missed the latter was the crucial political mistake of all liberals and leftists.

As to the identical subject-object, capitalism plays a crucial role. Prior to capitalism, the technologies of human beings were too limited not to be determined by nature and natural circumstances that humans could not control because they are different from them and not produced by them. Lukács does not tire of emphasizing that capitalism does away with this limitation. He speaks of a «'receding of natural limits'» (HI 237; «"Zurückweichen der Naturschranke",» GK 243) through capitalism. Or he puts it as follows: «The uniqueness of capitalism is to be seen precisely in its abolition of all 'natural barriers' {alle "Naturschranken" aufhebt} and its transformation of all relations between human beings into purely social relations {rein gesellschaftliche}» (HI 176; GK 193). One might object that, unless Lukács explains in more detail what he means, a receding of natural limits does not necessarily mean that the natural limits completely disappear, which seems to be what he implies in this as well as in several other passages (though one has to acknowledge that the German «aufhebt» sounds definitely more subtle than the English translation «abolition»). However, assuming purely social relations prepares the ground for the production of the identical subject-object. Lukács maintains that bourgeois thought necessarily «trails behind the objective development» (HI 176; GK 193), because it remains enmeshed in the abstract cate-


gories of reification and treats the categories of capitalist economy as eternal, and he continues:

The proletariat, however, stands at the focal point of this socialising process {Vergesellschaftung}. On the one hand, this transformation of labour into a commodity removes every 'human' element from the immediate existence of the proletariat, on the other hand the same development progressively eliminates everything 'organic', every direct link with nature from the forms of society so that socialised man can stand revealed in an objectivity remote from or even opposed to humanity. It is just in this objectification, in this rationalisation and reification of all social forms that we see clearly for the first time how society is constructed from the relations of men with each other. (HI 176; GK 193) [17]

If the relationships in capitalism were not purely social, the proletarians would not be capable of reflecting on their situation and of recognizing that the alien objectivity is social, that is, produced by them and thus in itself identical to them. They would not be able to establish themselves as the identical subject-object, because human society would still be determined by something not made by human beings. According to Lukács, the capitalist objectivity is «remote from or even opposed to humanity,» not «remote from or even opposed to nature.» Alienation from and return to nature or a natural state of humankind by retreat from, Widerruf of, or Aufhebung of, Gesellschaft—a great theme in philosophy from the eighteenth century on—is not Lukács's concern. Rather, emancipation from all natural barriers as achieved in capitalism and thereafter sublation of the reified objectivity of capitalism are the necessary steps toward the production of the identical subject-object of history. It is obvious that this concept of history leaves no room for a return to or a revitalization of a past Gemeinschaft that was pushed aside by capitalism, for previous Gemeinschaften simply do not meet the two criteria, namely, full domination over nature and the realization of the identical subject-object. Features of former Gemeinschaften recur in the consciously ordered society only accidentally.

The proletarians are the object of history, insofar as they are the result of history. The proletariat has to become its subject by becoming self-aware and by sublating the reified objectivity of capitalism. Having established a consciously ordered society the proletariat will have established a society in which human beings are no longer determined by something alien. The proletarians act on behalf of all human beings because they remove reification, and they realize the purpose of history:

The self-understanding of the proletariat is therefore simultaneously the objective understanding of the nature of society. When the proletariat furthers its own class-aims it simultaneously achieves the conscious realisation of the—objective—aims of society, aims which would inevitably remain abstract


possibilities and objective frontiers but for this conscious intervention. (HI 149; GK 165)

It is only the relationships in capitalism that are dialectical. In connection with the proletariat, Lukács discusses two features of dialectics, mediation and the category of totality (HI 1ff., 149ff.; GK 13ff., 165ff). The proletarians must not remain in the immediacy of their everyday experiences. Rather, they have to learn to conceive their situation as a result of historical processes. By doing so, they can relate themselves to the processes of history as a totality. Since only the relations in capitalism are dialectical and since the purpose of history is the production of the identical subject-object, the issue of a past returning is not even mentioned in this book. Rather, by becoming conscious of themselves the proletarians discover the immanent tendencies in the present and their task to consciously push these tendencies further. For Lukács, this effort does not imply that these tendencies in the present are related to some past to be rerealized. Consider, for instance, the following passage:

The methodology of the natural sciences which forms the methodological ideal of every fetishistic science and every kind of Revisionism rejects the idea of contradiction and antagonism in its subject matter. . . . But we maintain that in ' the case of social reality these contradictions are not a sign of the imperfect understanding of society; on the contrary, they belong to the nature of reality itself and to the nature of capitalism . When the totality is known they will not be transcended and cease to be contradictions. Quite the reverse, they will be seen to be necessary contradictions arising out of the antagonisms of this system of production. When theory (as the knowledge of the whole) opens up the way to resolving these contradictions it does so by revealing the real tendencies of social evolution. For these are destined to effect a real resolution of the contradictions that have emerged in the course of history. (HI 10; GK 23)

Or consider a passage in which Lukács summarizes this motif in terms of the three modes of time:

Becoming is also the mediation between past and future. But it is the mediation between the concrete, i.e. historical past, and the equally concrete, i.e. historical future. When the concrete here and now dissolves into a process it is no longer a continuous, intangible moment, immediacy slipping away; it is the focus of the deepest and most widely ramified mediation, the focus of decision and of the birth of the new. As long as man concentrates his interest contemplatively upon the past or future, both ossify into an alien existence. . .. Man must be able to comprehend the present as a becoming. He can do this by seeing in it the tendencies out of whose dialectical opposition he can make the future. Only when he does this will the present be a process of becoming, that belongs to him . Only he who is willing and whose mission it is {berufen} to create the future can see the present in its concrete truth. . .. But when the truth


of becoming is the future that is to be created but has not yet been born, when it is the new that resides in the tendencies that (with our conscious aid) will be realised, then the question whether thought is a reflection {Abbildlichkeit des Denkens} appears quite senseless. (HI 203f.; GK 223)

Indeed, this is a further description of the kairos, the crisis. Heidegger develops the dramatics of a move forward and away from the past, back to the past, and again forward with the past, a maneuver in which the past, or having-been, raises its voice and claims «its peculiarly privileged position in the historical» (BT 438; SZ 386). One finds nothing of this in Lukács. The proletariat does not retrieve a past. Rather, understanding itself as the result of a process, it sees that there are tendencies at work in the present that enable, indeed force, the proletariat to transform capitalist Gesellschaft into something radically new, namely, a socialist Gesellschaft which as such is not a repetition of a past. According to Heidegger and Scheler, in the crisis authentic Dasein understands that it draws its identity from something other than Gesellschaft, namely, from a Gemeinschaft it has to rerealize. The authentic Dasein becomes, as it were, the self-consciousness or conscience of Geschick and Gemeinschaft when it comprehends that Gemeinschaft has been pushed aside by Gesellschaft and when Gemeinschaft raises its voice demanding to be rerealized. In liberalism, individuals are the self-consciousness of reason. In Lukács, the proletarians draw their identity and strength only from the inner tendencies of Gesellschaft itself. To indicate that there is nothing beyond Gesellschaft and that the proletarians only rely on the emancipating power of the commodity form, Lukács defines the revolutionary proletarians neither in terms of Gemeinschaft nor in terms of reason, but rather as «the self-consciousness of the commodity » (HI 168; GK 185). [18]

Lukács takes up the issue of a «re»—a repetition of or a return to the past— three times. In the first part of the long essay "Reification and the Consciousness of the Proletariat," he explores the phenomenon of reification as it occurs in capitalist economy and other areas of modern society, in particular bureaucracy. The second part begins with the thesis, «Modern critical philosophy springs from the reified structure of consciousness» (HI 110f.; GK 122). In the first two sections, he discusses this with reference to Kant and Fichte. In the third, he turns back to the eighteenth century and presents briefly What he regards as the central antinomy with which its philosophers dealt and which goes back to reification. The antinomy renders the concept of nature, for instance, ambivalent. «Nature» means the «"aggregate of systems of the laws" governing what happens.» «Nature» also functions as a «value concept » (HI 136; GK 150). However, there is a third meaning «quite different» from, and «wholly incompatible with,» the other ones. This notion of nature is related to


«the feeling that social institutions (reification) strip man of his human essence and that the more culture and civilisation (i.e. capitalism and reification) take possession of him, the less able he is to be a human being» (HI 136; GK 150). Nature becomes «the repository» of all tendencies opposing «mechanisation, dehumanisation and reification.» In this context, Lukács refers to Rousseau and Schiller: «But, at the same time, it can be understood as that aspect of human inwardness which has remained natural, or at least tends or longs to become natural once more {die Tendenz, die Sehnsucht hat, wieder Natur zu werden}. "They are what we once were," says Schiller of the forms of nature, "they are what we should once more become" {"sie sind, was wir wieder werden sollen"}» (HI 136; GK 150f.). Schiller's aesthetic-pedagogical writings, however, are excellent examples of a thinking in terms of Aufhebung as opposed to a thinking in terms of Widerruf. [19] Thus, even if Lukács were to endorse Schiller's view, he would still be opposed to the rightist program. However, Lukács criticizes the proposal of an overcoming of capitalist reification through aesthetics (HI 137ff.; GK 151ff.). The second occurrence of the rhetorics of a «re» is at the beginning of the following section in which Lukács presents Hegel's philosophy, which definitely comes closer to the relevant point than an aesthetic overcoming because Hegel considers history to be the relevant realm: «The reconstitution {Wiederherstellung} of the unity of the subject, the intellectual restoration {Rettung} of man has consciously to take its path through the realm of disintegration and fragmentation» (HI 141; GK 156). Again, if Lukács followed Hegel, the resulting model would still be one of Aufhebung of Gesellschaft and not of its Widerruf. In addition, particularly regarding Hegel's theory of Gesellschaft, the motif of a return of a past is indeed accidental to Hegelian dialectics. [20] However, again one need not elaborate this point, for, as mentioned, Lukács criticizes Hegel's turn to mythology. What is relevant in Hegel is not the world spirit or the Volksgeister, but only the dialectical method (HI 141-140; GK 156-164). As indicated earlier, the dialectical method in Lukács operates independently of any assumption of the return of the past pushed aside by capitalist Gesellschaft. This is confirmed by the third occurrence of the «re.» In the essay "The Changing Function of Historical Materialism," Lukács argues that with capitalism the «umbilical cord between man and nature» has been cut and that the past becomes transparent only when the present can practice self-criticism in an appropriate manner, and consequently, precapitalist societies can be understood only after historical materialism has proved that capitalist society is not a natural and eternal, but rather a historical phenomenon (HI 237; GK 243f.). In fact, Lukács continues: «For only now, with the prospect opening up of reestablishing {Wiedererlangung} non-reified relations between man and man and between man and nature, could those factors in primitive, pre-capitalist formations be discovered in which these (non-reified) forms were present—albeit in the service of quite different functions» (HI 237f.; GK 244). Lukács then points out that though


historical materialism in its classic form can be applied to the nineteenth century it can be applied to old societies only with «much greater caution» than the revisionists assumed (HI 238f; GK 244). This passage shows that the dialectical theory of revolution does not, and—due to the imperfect state of Marxist research of precapitalist societies—must not, depend on specific theories about precapitalist societies and the possible discovery of societies with so-called primitive communism. Rather, it is the other way around. Only if the dialectical theory of capitalist society can show the inner tendencies at work in capitalist society to overcome reification, can Marxist research of precapitalist societies look for nonreified relationships in them. In addition, the absence of reification is only one criterion among others, and it is common knowledge among Marxists that the absence of reification in precapitalist societies served conditions that should not be rerealized. Lukács' s metaphor of the «umbilical cord between man and nature» (HI 237; GK 244) clearly indicates that his theory is not about the repetition of a past or—in Heidegger' s terms—a world that has-been-there. Probably no one wants to repeat a state in which one is as helpless and as dependent on something or someone else as a newborn child is. Umbilical cords are cut to bring the child on his way to independence and not to be reestablished at a later point. If the newborn child has features that also occur in the adult, these features and the world they were part of are by no means the end for the sake of which a communist society is established[21]

One might say that Guignon's notion of repetition applies to Lukács's relationship to Hegel. The revisionists have no proper understanding of Hegelian dialectics in Marx. Thus, Lukács takes the authentic Hegel as his hero whom he repeats. However, Lukács as well as Heidegger in section 74 talk about history and not about the theory of history, and Lukács's repetition of Hegel serves his concept of history that does not allow for a repetition of a past. In addition, though I will not go into detail here, Lukács's concept of repetition of Hegel is certainly much more interesting than Guignon's. Lukács has always been very sensitive to the phenomenon that in the course of history a theory, either as unchanged or in different phases of its development, can be placed «in the service of quite different functions.» While at the time of its formulation Hegelianism was progressive because of its articulation of problems and the means it offered for their solution, Hegelianism became reactionary as soon as it let the moment slip past unused when it had to thoroughly transform itself in order to realize its intentions. Besides missing the distinction between a Widerruf and an Aufhebung of the present, Guignon's concept of repetition also does not address this idea of saving a past from itself by virtue of its thorough transformation.

Though one might argue that under the impact of Lukács's theory of the Communist Party one has often underestimated the limitations of dialectics in Lukács, from a Heideggerian perspective Lukács's concept of history clearly presents inauthentic historicality. The later Heidegger would certainly have


regarded it as part of the last phase of metaphysics. Lukács adheres to the idea of a «collective plan» (HI 247; «Gesamtplan,» GK 254) for society, and he assumes that the purpose of history is for human beings to do away with any determination of human history by something other than human beings themselves. Whether Heidegger read History and Class Consciousness or not, from the perspective of Being and Time Lukács just offers another formulation of precisely the process Heidegger criticizes as a downward plunge, a falling-down-and-away-from the origin, from Gemeinschaft, the process targeted by Heidegger's criticism of the idea of a «business procedure that can be regulated» (BT 340; «Idee eines regelbaren Geschäftsganges,» SZ 294). There has always been a certain Platonism in Heidegger, namely, the assumption that human beings are authentic, or realize their essence, only if they no longer deny that they are essentially related to, and dependent on, something that is «higher» than and independent from their understanding or reason and their other faculties. In the essay "The Question Concerning Technology," Heidegger writes that, today, «the illusion comes to prevail that everything man encounters exists only insofar as it is his construct {Gemächte}. This illusion gives rise in turn to one final delusion: it seems as though man everywhere and always encounters only himself» (BW 308; VA 31). [22] He adds: «In truth, however, precisely nowhere does man today any longer encounter himself, i.e., his essence . Man . . . fails in every way to hear {überhört} in what respect he eksists, from out of his essence {aus seinem Wesen her}, in the realm of an exhortation or address {Zuspruch}, so that he can never encounter only himself» (BW 308f.; VA 31). Again, it is the same story as in Being and Time . In Being and Time , Gemeinschaft stands for the entity whose «Zuspruch» the inauthentic Daseine fail to hear, and maybe already in the unwritten «second half» (BT 17; SZ n.p.) of Being and Time Heidegger would have located Gemeinschaft in the larger picture of Being. Liberals, social democrats, and communists alike take pride in the certainty that the ideal Gesellschaft we have to realize is the result of our rational contracts and planning and that in it human beings have emancipated themselves from all human follies and all nonhuman entities that determined their lives in the Gemeinschaften. From the perspective of Being and Time as well as that of Hitler and Scheler (prior to his Kehre), Lukács is just a social democrat with more advanced methods, and thus he is nothing more than an advanced liberal. Lukács opposes what he regards to be the social democrats' naiveté concerning how a socialist society can be brought about, and for this purpose he presents his conceptual framework. However, the end is the same, namely, to establish a Gesellschaft and to do so by leaving behind any past. That my interpretation of Lukács is not, so to speak, a deconstructive one, but rather represents the way he was read by other leftists at the time is confirmed by Tillich's analysis in 1933. Tillich maintains that not to have looked back to the past was precisely the decisive political mistake of liberals, social democrats, and communists alike, and—in much the same way in which


Lukács regards it to be necessary for Hegelian dialectics to transform itself if it wants to remain faithful to its intentions—he presents the offer to the rightists to transform themselves and their traditions in order to save themselves from themselves and to realize their intentions.

B. Tillich's The Socialist Decision

The moment of decision arises out of a situation. The situation is the historical reality that has reached the crisis stage and calls for a decision. Historical reality develops into a crisis when the historical agents—individuals, groups, parties, and classes—no longer rely on the basic tenets of their social and political life, that is, when at least one agent no longer acknowledges the work of the other as its own. One party renounces the social contract—whether it had been an explicit or an implicit one—and reality begins to deteriorate into a struggle between different parties, none of which acknowledges the claim of the other to realize the common good. Each party, or at least one of them, acts in the name of the common good by separating itself from the others and by claiming that the others are the foe and must be destroyed if need be. To strengthen and promote the conflicting tendencies that are inherent in reality and thus to destroy the common good may be the path to glory for those who believe in this or that sort of necessity in history, whether they call it fate, destiny, or by some other name. In the terms of Being and Time , a person following this path is a Held, since he responds to and fulfills destiny rather than evading it; that is, he submits to the sort of necessity he assumes to be at work in history. Carl Schmitt is often believed to have done so on the political right. According to him, there are no common norms, values, or third parties to intervene when one of two or several other parties have defined the other as the foe one must be willing to kill in order to preserve «one's own form {die eigene, seinsmäßige Art} of existence.» [23] Schmitt became famous for these theories, for in taking the radical step he fulfilled fate and destiny and thus became what «Germans» mean by Held, which is different from the American understanding of authenticity (see chapter 5, section C). Submitting to destiny required rightists to step out of the bounds of the Weimar constitution, the sphere of mediation, and to consider it and politics in general from the viewpoint of the warrior who has distanced himself from the other whom he has defined as the foe to be killed if need be.

However, is there really only one way of understanding decision, Entscheidung? Is Entscheidung necessarily always a de-cision, a separation, a Scheidung, divorce, and the subsequent struggle? Adorno, Heidegger's great antipode in the 1960s in Germany, who, like Benjamin, took the temporality of beings much more seriously than Heidegger did and who therefore did not look for an origin of history in or beyond history, permitted himself once to


indulge in an etymological speculation. Notwendigkeit, Necessity, means, as he said, «die Not wenden,» to turn around, against, necessity, to set one's face against and break fate, destiny, and necessity—in other words, not subjugation to necessity, but breaking necessity. Along the lines of this remarkable piece of etymology, one might also listen more closely to the word Entscheidung, and what one might hear is that Ent-Scheidung is the End' of Scheidung, the end of separation or divorce. Combined with Notwendigkeit in Adorno's sense of the turn against destiny, Entscheidung as the end of divorce is the call for alliance, for the covenant, in the moment of danger, of crisis. For all those who think in terms of fate and necessity and who thus favor the clarity of the «one» voice, this may have seemed futile and idealistic and indicative of a lack of the Härte des Willens, hardness of the will that Heidegger and his ilk held in such high esteem. [24] But who knows whether the destiny and necessity they claim «we» have to subjugate ourselves to is not just their own self-fulfilling demagogy. To look for the covenant, alliance, in the moment of crisis is the opposite of what Heidegger and the other rightists understand by decision. It is not to divorce oneself from the other, expelling him out of oneself, so as to be prepared to kill the other, and it is also not simply recognizing the other as other, as some people have interpreted Heidegger's concept of authenticity. Looking for the covenant involves the recognition of the other in his own right as well as of the other in oneself and of oneself as the other. At the same time it also implies accepting that the other, in fact, all human beings, have a claim on one. It is the recognition of the reciprocal inline image, grace, potlatch between me and the other and respect for our human rights. Looking for the covenant aims at ending the gesture of divorcing the other and one's own «part maudit» from oneself. Maybe, Carl Schmitt also meant something like this when after World War II he gave a short and enigmatic interpretation of his concept of the foe: «The foe is our own question as Gestalt. » [25] In terms of philosophy and politics in the twenties, to recognize one's «part maudit» was to make an alliance with the Jews and the Jew in oneself—or, rather, with the Jewish prophet in oneself—and not, as in right-wingers, to deny and expel the Jews and the Jewish prophet in oneself.

In a section entitled "The Break with the Myth of Origin {Ursprungsmythos} in the Enlightenment and the Romantic Reaction," [26] Tillich maintains: «The powers of the myth of origin, to be sure, have been broken by the Enlightenment; their symbols and forms of expression have been destroyed; but they have not been eradicated as powers, neither as psychological nor as social powers» (SD 24f.; SE 33). In a section entitled "The Struggle Concerning Tradition," he states:

A weariness with autonomy {Daß man der Autonomie müde geworden ist} can be discerned in all groups and levels of society. This is one of the most sig-


nificant mood-determining elements in the background {einer der wichtigsten stimmungsmäßgen Hintergründe} of contemporary political events. It is also a root {Wurzel} of the antiparliamentary tendency of the younger generation. (SD 169, n. 21; SE 41, n. 1)

In his analysis of "The leading Groups and the Limits of the Bourgeois Principle {bürgerlichen Prinzips}," he points to certain developments among the bourgeois parties and argues that they testify to «a true consciousness of the limits of the bourgeois principle and the impossibility of its standing alone without a supportive pre-bourgeois substance» (SD 56; SE 55). These three passages outline the common ground of a rightist analysis and Tillich's analysis of the political situation of that time. Tillich and the rightists, however, interpret these assumptions differently, and they also draw completely different conclusions.

In the table of contents of Tillich's book, there are the following entries: "Introduction: The Two Roots {Wurzeln} of Political Thought," "I. Mythical Powers of Origin {Ursprungsmythische Mächte}," "Part Two: The Principle of Bourgeois Society {Das Prinzip der bürgerlichen Gesellschaft} and the inner Conflict of Socialism," and "5. Eros and Purpose in the Life of the Community {im Leben der Gemeinschaft}" (SD vff.; SE 5f.). Looking at these titles and the few passages quoted above, one would not necessarily expect the author to be on the left part of the political spectrum. Rather, his vocabulary («roots,» «principles,» «origin,» «Gemeinschaft») sounds more conservative. In part, the vocabulary results from his Christian beliefs and his conceptualization of those beliefs. More important, however, is Tillich's use of these terms, which distinguishes his position from both the Right and the Left. Concerning the Right, Tillich attempts to meet «the others» on their own ground and to convince them that, for their own sake, they should consider using the rightist way of thinking and vocabulary not in the name of a philosophy of origins but in order to oppose a philosophy of origins, for only in opposition to such a philosophy can the rightists realize their intentions as well as that of the origin. Concerning the Left, Tillich is convinced that the Left was wrong in neglecting the claims of all the Gemeinschaften.

For Tillich political behavior and thought have two roots. He introduces one of them with reference to Heidegger:

Human beings find themselves in existence {Der Mensch findet sich vor}; they find themselves as they find their environment, and as this latter finds them and itself. But to find oneself means that one does not originate from oneself; it means to have an origin that is not oneself, or—in the pregnant phrase of Martin Heidegger—to be "thrown" into the world. The human question concerning the "Whence" of existence {die menschliche Frage nach dem "Woher"} arises out of this situation. Only later does it appear as a philosophical question. But it has always been a question; and its first and permanently normative answer is enshrined in myth.


The origin is creative {Der Ursprung läßt entspringen}. Something new springs into being, something that did not previously exist and now is something with its own character over against the origin. We experience ourselves as posited, yet also as independent. Our life proceeds in a tension between dependence on the origin and independence. For the origin does not let us go; it is not something that was and is no longer, once we become independent selves. Rather, we are continually dependent on the origin; it bears us, it creates us anew at every moment, and thereby holds us fast. The origin brings us forth as something new and singular; but it takes us, as such, back to the origin again. Just in being born we become involved in having to die. "It is necessary that things should pass away into that from which they are born," declares the first saying handed down to us in Western philosophy {the fragment of Anaximander}. Our life runs its course in terms of birth, development and death. No living thing can transcend the limits set by its birth; development is the growing and passing away of what comes from the origin and returns to it. This has been expressed in myth in infinitely diverse ways, according to the things and events in which a particular group envisages its origin. In all mythology, however, there resounds the cyclical law of birth and death. Every myth is a myth of origin, that is, an answer to the question about the "Whence" of existence and an expression of dependence on the origin and on its power. The consciousness oriented to the myth of origin is the root of all conservative and romantic thought in politics . (SD 3f.; SE 18)

The other root raises the opposite question:

But human beings not only find themselves in existence; they not only know themselves to be posited and withdrawn in the cycle of birth and death, like all living things. They experience a demand {eine Forderung} that frees them from being simply bound to what is given, and which compels them to add to the question "Whence?" [Woher ] the question "Whither?" [Wozu ]. With this question the cycle is broken in principle and humankind is elevated beyond the sphere of merely living things. For the demand calls for {Die Forderung fordert} something that does not yet exist but should exist, should come to fulfillment. A being that experiences a demand is no longer simply bound to the origin. Human life involves more than a mere development of what already is. Through the demand, humanity is directed to what ought to be. And what ought to be does not emerge with the unfolding of what is; if it did, it would be something that is, rather than something that ought to be. This means, however, that the demand that confronts humanity is an unconditional demand {unbedingte Forderung}. The question "Whither?" is not contained within the limits of the question "Whence?" It is something unconditionally new {ein unbedingt Neues} that transcends what is new and what is old within the sphere of mere development. Through human beings, something unconditionally new is to be realized; this is the meaning of the demand that they experience, and which they are able to experience because in them being is twofold. For the human person is not only an individual, a self, but also has knowledge about himself or herself, and thereby the possibility of transcending what is found within the self and around the self. This is human freedom, not that one has a so-called "free will," but that as a human being one


is not bound to what one finds in existence, that one is subject to a demand that something unconditionally new should be realized through oneself. Thus the cycle of birth and death is broken; the existence and the actions of human beings are not confined within a mere development of their origin. Wherever this consciousness prevails, the tie to the origin has been dissolved in principle and the myth of origin has been broken in principle. The breaking of the myth of origin by the unconditional demand is the root of liberal, democratic, and socialist thought in politics . (SD 4f.; SE 18f.)

However, as Tillich explains «we cannot stop with a simple opposition between these two aspects of human existence» (SD 5; SE 19). For, as he argues throughout the entire book, the «unconditional demand» must not ignore and simply push aside the powers of origin, nor must the powers of the origin exclude the demand. Thus, from the beginning Tillich's key motif is just the opposite of Heidegger's. If one reads Heidegger's concept of historicality along the lines of Birmingham or Guignon, one will probably expect Heidegger to be mentioned in connection with Tillich's second «root.» However, I hope to have shown that, indeed, Tillich is right in connecting Heidegger with the first root. For all the emphasis on futurality in Heidegger, in the moment of becoming authentic Dasein realizes the «peculiarly privileged position in the historical» of «having-been » (BT 438; SZ 386), and the resulting futurality of authentic Dasein consists in its work of canceling Gesellschaft and of rerealizing «having-been, » the Gemeinschaft.

To be sure, as happens so often in situations of crisis, Tillich, too, develops a «grand narrative.» However, Heideggerians are the last to deny that a more or less «grand» narrative is needed to illuminate our concrete situation. In addition, Tillich's version differs from the others I have presented so far in two respects. First, he develops it in order to meet the rightists on their own ground. Second, it enables him to present an interpretation of Germany' s political history from the nineteenth century on that, like no other book written by a professional philosopher in the 1910s and 1920s, illuminates the concrete tensions of the different political movements and parties. Explaining this second aspect in concrete detail would go beyond the scope of this book, and the same is true for a detailed presentation of Tillich's interpretation of Jewish and Christian religions and their relationship to politics. Thus, the following presentation of the motifs found in Tillich that are relevant to my purpose here is somewhat abstract and sketchy and does not capture the richness and concreteness of his original text.

In his foreword, Tillich explains that the

political events of recent years have been decisive in providing the impulse to begin and complete this book: the decline of the political influence of the Social


Democrats, the apparently final split in the proletarian working class {between the Social Democrats and the communists}, the triumphal advance of National Socialism, the consolidation of the late-capitalistic powers on a military basis, the increasingly perilous situation in foreign affairs. (SD xxxiii; SE 12)

In his framework, this means that the first root of political thinking is about to exclude the second one and its representatives, liberalism, Social Democrats and communists. At the same time, this sentence indicates the Left's political failure in not having been able to offer forms in which the adherents of rightist movements and parties or all the vacillating Daseine can recognize themselves and their needs.

The first root thinks in terms of origin. An origin is always a particular origin, a particular «soil ,» a particular «blood ,» or a particular «social group » that provides its members with identity and claims their allegiance while punishing their departure from it. It is the holiness of Being that, in religious terms, is sanctified by the priests who consecrate a particular site, blood, or group as origin. Though each origin is particular, there is a tendency to enlarge its dominion. Thinking in terms of origin is a spatial thinking, since it excludes the new, and justice is not relevant to it (SD 13ff., 18ff.; SE 24ff., 27ff.). Tillich uses the notion of «principle» («Prinzip») in order to denote a dynamis, a power of a historical reality, that accounts for the emergence of new and unexpected realizations of an origin or root (SD 9f.; SE 22f.). The first root is meant to account for mythology, for strands in Greek philosophy, and also attitudes and mentalities in modem societies as they are manifest in psychological and social phenomena and in movements such as the Youth Movement. Indeed, it is part of the anthropology Marxism must not lack (SD 164, n. 3; SE 16, n. 3). The first root is the opposite of the second whose first realization Tillich sees in Jewish prophecy:

It is the significance of Jewish prophetism to have fought explicitly against the myth of origin and the attachment to space and to have conquered them. On the basis of a powerful social myth of origin, Jewish prophetism radicalized the social imperative to the point of freeing itself from the bond of origin. God is free from the soil, the sacred land, not because he has conquered foreign lands, but precisely because he has led foreign conquerors into his own land in order to punish the "people of his inheritance" and to subject them to an unconditional demand. The bond of origin between God and his people is broken if the bond of the law is broken by the people. Thus the myth of origin is shattered— and this is the world-historical mission of Jewish prophetism. With the breaking of the tie to the soil, the other forms of the myth of origin also lose their power. The sacred aristocracy, including the monarchy, is rejected for the sake of righteousness. The claim of belonging to the people avails nothing in face of the unconditional demand, on account of which the alien can be held in equal, indeed, in higher esteem. The priestly tradition is not abolished but is judged


by the demand of righteousness, and its cultic aspects are devalued. The breaking of the myth of origin becomes evident, finally, in the prophet's opposition to the priests. (SD 20; SE 29)

Christianity has adopted «the spirit of Judaism.» However, the myth of the origin has made its way into Christianity (SD 21; SE 30):

Over against {the fact that the myth of origin has made its way into Christianity} it remains the function of the Jewish spirit to raise the prophetic protest, both in Judaism and in Christianity, against every new attempt to revive such bondage to the myth of origin, and to help time, the unconditional demand, and the "Wither" to be victorious over space, mere being, and the "Whence." The spirit of Judaism is therefore the necessary and 'eternal enemy of political romanticism. Anti-Semitism is an essential element in political romanticism. Christianity, however, by virtue of its principle, belongs radically and unambiguously on the side of Judaism in this conflict. Any wavering on this issue is apostasy from itself, involving compromise and denial of the shattering—manifest in the cross—of all holiness of being, even the highest religious being. A Christianity that abandons its prophetic foundation by allying itself with political romanticism has lost its own identity.

Of course, prophetism and Judaism cannot simply be equated. Old Testament prophetism is the persistent struggle of the "spirit of Judaism" with the realities of Jewish national life . For the actual life of the Jewish nation, like the actual life of every nation, is by nature pagan. Hence, we see the foolishness of certain nationalistic demands that the Old Testament be dismissed as an expression of an alien nationality. In fact, the Old Testament writings are a continuous testimony to the struggle of prophetic Judaism against pagan, national Judaism. For this reason, and solely for this reason, the Old Testament is a book for humanity—because in it the particular, the bondage to space and blood and nationalism, are seen as things to be fought against.

Now it is the tragedy of Judaism that its historical fate not only broke the hegemony of the powers of origin, but also frequently dissolved them altogether, insofar as no new ties to the soil were created in their place (though this did come to pass in east-European Judaism). This negative element, the critical dissolution of the myth of origin instead of its prophetic transformation, gives to anti-Semitism and political romanticism an apparent justification for resisting this tendency. But this justification is invalid, because such resistance, instead of strengthening the prophetic element in Judaism against the dissolving tendency, fights against the prophetic element itself and thereby weakens its power, even within Judaism. (SD 21f.; SE 30f.)

The basic attitude is «Erwartung,» Erwartung of the unconditioned new. Erwartung, expectation, is the opposite of Ursprungsbindung, tie to the origin, and the political Right. Erwartung is not passive but rather entails action (SD 100ff.; SE 85ff.). The second root is also present in the modem era. In fact, the modem age is the presence of the second root in world history. Autonomy as


well as «objectification» («Verdinglichung») and «analysis» («In every origin there is an element of the unconditioned. The wholly conditioned, that which has become merely a thing, no longer bears any marks of the origin» [SD 48; SE 49].) carry out the principle of bourgeois society, namely, to radically break and do away with any bondage to the origin and its powers (SD 23ff., 47ff.; SE 31ff., 49ff.).

The political Right is a reaction against the developed bourgeois society and against the latter's principles and procedures. Tillich labels the political right «political romanticism» (SD 27ff.; SE 34ff.), distinguishes between two forms—a conservative and a revolutionary form—and argues that the

two forms of political romanticism, despite the differences in their concept of the goal, are united in their desire to return to the origin—not in a general way, but to the particular powers of origin from which prophetism and bourgeois society have broken away. All their political demands are basically to be understood in terms of this return to origin.
The return to the soil {Boden }. . . .
Blood and race {Blut und Rasse}. . . .

The return to the social group is expressed in the appeal for "community" {Gemeinschaft} which is so common to all forms of political romanticism. . . . It presents the demand, so to speak, for the son to create the mother and to call the father into being out of nothing. (SD 29-32; SE 36-38)

Tillich then develops this motif in regard to several aspects, among them tradition:

Between the origin and the present stands tradition. It is therefore of decisive importance in every respect for political romanticism to be able to relate itself to prebourgeois traditions.

The fact that there has been an almost two-hundred-year-old break with traditions in most sectors of life cannot, however, be wished away. Political romanticism, in the face of this, has only two possibilities: either to defend such islands of tradition as remain, even though they have become meaningless in the total structure of existence, or to attempt to revive the old, lost traditions. But a tradition that has been broken is really no longer a tradition, but a literary remembrance. The attempt to make tradition out of literary remembrances is the true mark of romanticism, on account of which it is called romanticism; and this is also the clearest expression of its inner contradiction. . .. In every case, tradition has two connotations: descent from an origin and subordination to the authority of the origin, i.e., of a special realm and its structure. Small as the practical value of these ideas may seem at the present time, their ideological power is strong, and thus their value as weapons against existing forms {Kampfwert gegen bestehende Gestaltungen}. Their attack is directed against {gegen} universal humanistic education, against the leveling of moral standards {Sitten, that is, customs and the ethical standards embodied in them} and philosophies of life as a result of the uniform framework of social interchange; against the intellectual auton-


omy of the individual and the lack of inwardly authoritative criteria; against the openness of the professions to everyone and the lack of established social rankings; against the equalizing tendencies of the metropolis, in which many realms of life interpenetrate one another, and whose influences, through technical means such as radio and cinema, draw even the rural areas into this single unit. Finally, and chiefly, it is directed against the political autonomy of the individual, detached from all special traditions. Positively, the myth of tradition concentrates on the national tradition. It finds its climax in the demand to maintain this tradition, to strengthen it through the creation of a national historical legend, and to free it from international traditions. Political romanticism demands such a myth of tradition and sets about creating it. (SD 33f.; SE 39)

This passage can be regarded as an excellent summary and critique of the intentions of the political Right. Concerning Heidegger, what I wanted to show in this book is that section 74 of Being and Time in its logical structure as well as its contents is a brilliant summary of the revolutionary Right. What in Tillich is «subordination to the authority of the origin,» is in Heidegger «erwidert vielmehr» (SZ 386; BT 438). What in Tillich is «their attack is directed against {gegen},» is in Heidegger the «disavowal {Widerruf } of that which in the "today", is working itself out as the 'past'» (BT 438; SZ 386), this disavowal already being anticipated in the sentence that authentic Dasein acts «against {gegen}» «the way of interpreting Dasein which has come down to us» (BT 435; SZ 383; see above, chapter 2, section C). Since the subordination to the origin occurs in a situation in which the origin is seen as endangered or even as already pushed aside by «that which in the "today", is working itself out as the 'past'» (BT 438; SZ 386), Heidegger labels the subordination an Erwiderung («erwidert vielmehr,» SZ 386; BT 438) in the sense of «I erwidere, respond, to a call for help.» I respond to the call for help by destroying («Widerruf ») what threatens or has pushed aside the origin. Since the past calls upon me to rerealize it against «that which in the "today", is working itself out as the 'past'» (BT 438; SZ 386), my repeating of the past does not just simply «bring again [Wiederbringen] something that is 'past'» (BT 437; SZ 385; the last sentence belongs to the passage through which Heidegger makes clear that he is summarizing not just rightist politics, but the politics of the revolutionary rightists; by adding «of {the} people» [BT 436; SZ 384], he turns his summary into an option for National Socialism; see chapter 3, section E). In fact, in Tillich's analysis of political romanticism one finds several sentences with the same structure found in Heidegger's passage on Erwiderung and Widerruf (SZ 386; BT 438). Consider, for instance: «The leading groups, especially of revolutionary romanticism, seek to counter the threat of their complete loss of power {Entmächtigung} by depriving the rising proletariat of its power {Wider-entmächtigung}» (SD 43, hyphen mine, J. F.; SE 46); or: «The way from being to consciousness, from origin to structure, cannot be reversed {rückwärts gehen} without the


destruction of the society that has undergone this development {Vernichtung der Gesellschaft, die ihn gegangen ist}» (SD 56; SE 55f.). Or, consider his definition of political romanticism:

Out of the convergence of all these forces {that is, eros, fate, and death}, political romanticism arises. It is an attempt to restore {wieder herzustellen} the broken myth of origin, both spiritually and socially.

Political romanticism is, thus, the countermovement to {Gegenbewegung gegen } prophetism and the Enlightenment on the basis of a spiritual and social situation that is determined by prophetism and the Enlightenment . (SD 25f.; SE 33f.)

The first part in each quote corresponds to the sentence on Erwiderung, and the second corresponds to the sentence on Widerruf in Heidegger.[27]

Tillich's criticism of the social democrats and the communists does not soften the basic distinction between the Right and the Left as to temporality. On the contrary, his definition of political romanticism captures the intention of the political Right to turn back to the past so as to replace the basic features of the present, Gesellschaft, with those of the revitalized past, Gemeinschaft. Socialism, however, is not oriented toward the past, but rather toward the unconditioned new in the future, as is all prophecy: «The socialist principle, so far as its substance is concerned, is prophetic . Socialism is a prophetic movement, but it exists in a context in which the myth of origin has been broken and the bourgeois principle has become dominant. Socialism is prophetism on the soil of an autonomous, self-sufficient world » (SD 101; SE 86). As the first sentence already indicates, however, Tillich differs from the leftist theories I have discussed in his attitude to the Gemeinschaften of the past. For to most Leftists the Gemeinschaften were of no positive significance. In Heidegger's terms, social democrats were engaged in inauthentic futurality, that is, a temporality that does not impart «to having-been its peculiarly privileged position in the historical» (BT 438; SZ 386). For social democrats, as Benjamin put it (see section A), «thought fit to assign to the working class the role of the redeemer of future generations.» According to Benjamin (see section A), Blanqui and the members of the Spartacist groups acted out of «hatred» toward the past. According to them, the various Gemeinschaften in the past «enslaved» their «ancestors.» Heidegger would probably regard this as an even more intense form of inauthentic futurality than the one practiced by the social democrats. For Lukács, the process of the proletariat becoming conscious was the first manifestation of the identical subject-object as the purpose of history. All these leftists regarded relics of former Gemeinschaften as obstacles to joining the Left. Tillich, however, maintains that it was the decisive mistake of the socialist theoreticians to insist on the complete reification of the proletarians (SD 99; SE 84). According to him,


the proletarians oppose the bourgeois society for the same reasons the political romantics do:

That which reacts in the proletarian is the same as that which political romanticism makes the sole principle of human nature and of societythe origin . Here is the point where they stand together in opposition to the bourgeois principle. They differ only in that, presupposing this relation to the origin, political romanticism seeks to reject {zurücknehmen} the bourgeois principle, while socialism seeks to incorporate it {aufnehmen}. In this light we can understand that in spite of their common point of departure, namely, the elevation of humanity as opposed to the dehumanizing bourgeois principle, political romanticism attacks socialism so forcefully. The bourgeoisie from its inception has guarded itself, both psychologically and socially, against a complete severance of its connection with the origin. It has never consistently carried through its own principle. The proletariat, by contrast, was forced into such consistency by its situation. . .. There remains an element of proletarian being which has not been reduced to the status of a thing, and from this element there emerges the struggle against the bourgeois principle . (SD 98f.; SE 83f.)

Again, a comparison to section 74 of Being and Time reveals the same differences. The political Right erwidert the call of the origin for help and widerruft (zurücknehmen as in the last quote: something has moved forward on the road; I nehme, catch it and pull it zurück, back to cancel or destroy) the bourgeois principle. Liberals as well as the leftists do not listen to the call and proceed on the road of Gesellschaft (aufnehmen as in the last quote: I pick it up and carry it forward in order to save it from those who want to zurücknehmen it) toward a future society no longer marked by the political suppression characteristic of former Gemeinschaften. According to Tillich, the proletarians erwidern the call of the different Gemeinschaften. In this, they behave like rightists and not like liberals and not in the way socialist theoreticians have so far believed them to behave. However, they don't cancel Gesellschaft, but like liberals and leftists, they rely on it. Socialism adheres to the bourgeois principle of breaking the power of origin and of subjecting everyone to the unconditional demand (SD 100ff., 109ff.; SE 85ff., 92ff.). However, socialism can no longer adhere to the bourgeois belief in harmony. For reification and economic crises have proven the liberal realization of the bourgeois principle wrong, or at least one-sided. The laws of capitalist economy do not lead to equality, freedom, and harmony but to their opposites. Thus, socialism has to assume that the bourgeois principle can be realized only in a socialist society (SD 57ff.; SE 56ff.). The bourgeois society must be overcome and be replaced with a different economy if its ideals are to be realized. Tillich describes this relationship between proletarians and bourgeois Gesellschaft and the bourgeois principle in formulations such as that socialism is «the fulfillment {Vollendung } of the bourgeois principle » and at the same time «the expression of its destruction » (SD 61; SE


59). Clearly, he is talking about a dialectical Aufhebung and not a Widerruf of Gesellschaft. Socialism is the expression of the destruction of the bourgeois principle also for the reason that, according to Tillich, socialism has to draw on the powers and needs of the origin and take them seriously. His thesis is that the powers of the origin are not a hindrance to socialism, but rather the very drives without which there would be no realization of socialism. The need for Boden, Blut, and Gemeinschaft cannot be satisfied immediately, that is, in precapitalist communities, for this leads to the struggle of different origins. It has to be translated into the terms of the second root. However, this need cannot be realized within bourgeois society either, for this leads to imperialism, poverty, and abstract autonomy. Socialism does realize the needs of the Gemeinschaften and of autonomy by transferring them to a different sphere. Tillich uses for this the expression that socialism has to be able «at once to break {brechen} and to confirm {bestätigen}» (SE 123; the English translation has «to judge and to support,» SD 151) the needs of the first root. The National Socialists are «false prophets,» and false prophets are not those «whose predictions don't come true,» but rather those who preach «" 'peace, peace,' {Heil}, when there is no peace {Heil}," for example in an origin-related group that expects to achieve stability and power by avoiding the demand for justice» (SD 173f., n. 4; SE 89 n.). The end of the last longer quotation above already contains Tillich' s theory on why, so far, socialism has failed to take into account the needs of the powers of origin. Stripped of the details of Tillich' s conceptual framework and his rich references to German history, his theory reads as follows. In the nineteenth century the bourgeoisie entered into alliances with the prebourgeois origins of Blut, Boden, and Gemeinschaft to strengthen its dominion. In the process, the prebourgeois groups were integrated, and the needs of the origins were more or less satisfied. In this situation, emerging socialism had no other choice but to side with the radical bourgeoisie, the liberals and thus realize the bourgeois principle better than the bourgeoisie itself, because otherwise society could not reach the point at which socialist changes would become possible. Thus, socialism ended up in pronounced opposition to all groups and needs that belong to the first root (SD 66ff.; SE 62ff.). However, this situation has changed because of the World War:

The new and pivotal factor in the present situation is that the origin-related groups have assumed, to a large extent, a stance of opposition to bourgeois society. It is a function of National Socialism to have accomplished this revolution by means that corresponded to the origin-related character of these groups. Prerequisite to this success was, to be sure, the shattering of the mutually supportive relationship of the bourgeois and the prebourgeois forces through which they maintained the system of class domination at the expense of the proletariat. The World War, the inflation, and the international economic crisis forced the bourgeoisie to impose the cost of dominion upon the middle classes, too. They were sucked into


the crisis of capitalism, not only as individuals but also as groups. For a time, capitalism had held out advantages for them: the possibility of appointment and promotion as clerks and middle-level officials in the bureaucracy; strong safeguards against unemployment; the management of, and payment of interest on, savings; the heavy demand especially for products created by advanced agricultural methods. But all this perished in the war, the inflation, and the economic crisis. Thereby a new situation was created for socialism. It is not mere demagoguery for the revolutionary movement of the middle classes to call itself socialist {the NSDAP}. It has a real "expectation." The symbolic term the Third Reich , for example, refers not only to the concept of a third German empire; it also, by virtue of the magic number three, conjures up the ancient expectations of a third age. The content of this expectation is simply the unbroken origin, reflecting the inner contradiction of political romanticism in general. Thus the movement is in constant danger of being absorbed by the conservative form of political romanticism and of being led back into the service of class rule. This danger is all the greater since the movement's Führer appears to be working for this end. If this should happen, the realization of socialism in Germany would be impossible, unless new movements should arise out of economic or political catastrophes. (SD 129f.; SE 106)

When the book was published in 1933, the National Socialists had already come to power, Tillich had to leave Germany, and Heidegger was about to give his rectorate address in which he would continue to use motifs that were also used by Christians in a pagan sense. At least from 1929 on, it was pretty obvious that the National Socialists and «big business» had become allies. In contrast to the National Socialist Heidegger, Scheler and Tillich had sufficient judgment to anticipate that the alliance of German capitalists, conservative bourgeoisie, and National Socialism would be disastrous. One might call Tillich's suggestion a dialectical approach. In doing so, however, one should not forget two things. First, there is no dialectical development in Tillich. His notion of socialism is an act of balance at the last minute, an effort to save Europe from a «return to barbarism {Rückkehr in die Barbarei}» (SD 161; SE 130), and it is an offer to the rightists:

But a socialist decision is demanded also of the enemies of socialism. Above all, those groups that today carry the word socialism in their names must be brought to a real socialist decision. . .. These groups are not to become a part of the proletariat but rather are to be drawn to its side, so that by a common socialist decision the fate of death now facing the people of Europe can be averted {damit in gemeinsamer sozialistischer Entscheidung das Todesschicksal der europäischen Völker gewendet werde}. Only the socialist decision can avert this fate. It is for this reason that we are summoned to it. (SD xxxif.; SE 11)[28]

Second, Tillich's book is a very concrete piece of party politics with regard to the major topics.[29] One can surely say that Tillich' s suggestion is in line with


and is in fact a further development of the late Scheler' s suggestion of a politics of «Ausgleich.» However, my purpose here is not a discussion of the concept of socialism at the time, but only the difference between Heidegger' s idea of historicality and the liberal and leftist concepts of history. Clearly, Tillich's suggestion is based on the difference between the Right and the Left that I have elucidated from the writings of Hitler, Heidegger, Scheler, and Lukács. Tillich's own suggestion does not blur the distinction but rather emphasizes it even more, insofar as he insists that, indeed, the needs of the origin, of the past, have a right to be fulfilled; however, they cannot be fulfilled by canceling Gesellschaft and by rerealizing or returning to a Gemeinschaft, but only by sublating bourgeois Gesellschaft into a socialist Gesellschaft, which is not the repetition of some past but rather something unconditionally new even though it can be brought about only with the powers of the origin. As Tillich puts it:

The actual origin {the one conjured up by the rightists} is not the origin in truth . It is not the fulfillment of what is intended for humanity from the origin. The fulfillment of the origin lies rather in what confronts us as a demand, as an ought. The "Whence" of humanity finds its fulfillment in the "Whither." The actual origin is contradicted by the true origin, not absolutely and in every respect, for the actual origin—in order to be actual at all—must participate in the true origin; it expresses it, but at the same time both obscures it and distorts it. The mentality oriented solely to the myth of origin knows nothing of this ambiguity of the origin. Therefore it clings to the origin and feels that it is a sacrilege to go beyond it. The ambiguity of the origin is first revealed to it when the experience of the unconditional demand frees this consciousness from bondage to the origin. (SD 5f.; SE 19)

Tillich continues:

The demand is directed towards the fulfillment of the true origin. Now a person experiences an unconditional demand only from another person. The demand becomes concrete in the "I-Thou" encounter. The content of the demand is therefore that the "thou" be accorded the same dignity as the "I"; this is the dignity of being free, of being the bearer of the fulfillment implied in the origin. This recognition of the equal dignity of the "Thou" and the "I" is justice. The demand that separates from the ambiguous origin is the demand of justice . From the unbroken origin proceed powers that are in tension with one another; they seek dominion and destroy each other. From the unbroken origin there comes the power of being, the rising and perishing of forces that "pay one another the penalty and compensation for their injustice according to the ordinance of time," as is asserted in the already quoted first statement of Greek philosophy {Anaximander's fragment}. The unconditional demand transcends this tragic cycle of existence. It confronts the power and impotence of being with justice, arising from the demand. And yet, the contrast is not absolute, for the ought is the fulfillment of the is. Justice is the true power of being . In it the intention of the origin is fulfilled.


The result is that the two elements of human being and the two roots of political thought are related in such a way that the demand is superior to mere origin and justice is superior to the mere power of being. The question "Whither?" is of higher rank than the question "Whence?" Only when the myth of origin is broken and its ambiguity disclosed may it enter into political thinking . (SD 6; SE 19f.)

Neither Heidegger in Being and Time nor Tillich talk about the choices of an individual with regard to his or her private life but about decisions in the realm of the political. Sentences such as Tillich's on the I and the Thou and on justice do not exist anywhere in Heidegger. Already before Heidegger announced the return to his version of the pre-Socratics in public, Tillich had realized that in the political romanticism of the time—and that included Heidegger—the Greek myth of the origin was at work. He saw that it would be disastrous to renew this type of thinking in the context of a fully developed capitalist society and at the risk of excluding the Jewish-Christian tradition. Today, many American Heideggerians or post-Heideggerians talk about the «JewGreek,» after Derrida did so.[30] Often, it seems as though one can become a «JewGreek» only via carefully studying Heidegger in all his maneuvers, achievements, and for some interpreters also his failures. Tillich identified the «pure Greek» much earlier, and he put the «JewGreek» to work with regard to the political situation of his days in an admirably concrete manner.[31] Perhaps, some will say the demand of justice with which he confronted the «Greeks» interferes with the other in a metaphysical fashion. However, in hindsight one will agree that his diagnosis of the other was right. Besides, to let the other be the other is much more risky than—and therefore can never simply mean—just letting the other be the other.


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