Wednesday, May 09, 2007


by Welf Herfurth*

I. Introduction

I often discuss nationalist politics with non-nationalist friends. Usually, it transpires that they are in agreement with me on certain issues which we nationalists are concerned with. But, while they do end up agreeing with me, they often note that nationalism seems to lack a centre; that it does not seem to be a coherent ideology moving towards a fixed goal. While I am reluctant to admit it in front of them, I am forced to concede that they are right. The reason is, I think, as follows. Nationalists are often categorised as 'extreme'; but, while I agree that nationalist must be, in the end, extreme, there is a difference between the extremist ideology of today's nationalism and the extremist ideologies of the recent past - fascism and communism, for a start. The latter ideologies moved towards a goal, and subordinated all their activities towards that goal. In the case of fascism, the brownshirts and blackshirts aimed at little more than bringing their Führer or their Duce to power, through a combination of legal and extra-parliamentary means; for the communists, to bring achieve the dictatorship of the proletariat, again through the same combination. Both had clear-cut political goals. But the nationalists of today are moving towards - what, exactly?

We are mostly agreed on what we want: a cessation of non-white immigration, and so on. But we are not united on how to get there. This leads to frustration amongst the nationalist activists; and that frustration, in turn, can lead to a desire for violence - which explains, in part, the attraction so many nationalists have for the violent creed of William Pierce's The Turner Diaries.

Here, in this article, I am sketching out a path - a political path - which nationalists can use to reach the end goals we all agree upon. But, in order to travel upon it, we will have to change our thinking, and give up certain of the old political dogmas which we have gotten used to. Living in liberal democracies, we have become accustomed to certain liberal political institutions: free elections, the secret ballot, the separation of powers, the multi-party system, federalism, and certain liberal freedoms - freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and freedom of the press. We in the West find it hard to imagine a world without these institutions, and are trained, by the media, to look disparagingly at countries which do not have them (the former Rhodesia, Thailand, the Middle East, all of North and Sub-Saharan Africa). So nationalists are inclined to take them for granted, and even regard them as desirable. But it is these liberal institutions which are, in my view, holding nationalism back from achieving victory - these and nothing else.

So, in this article, I aim at breaking down traditional thinking on these matters, politics. I will first give an account of Carl Schmitt's notion of democracy, in an attempt to show how democracy can be at the basis of a nationalist, and even authoritarian, government. I will then look at Schmitt's ideas concerning dictatorship and constitutions, particularly in the context of German political history during and after the Weimar republic, up to the present day. Finally, I will give a few arguments against liberal democracy and liberal freedoms, and make some suggestions on how nationalists are to achieve political power, using some examples from recent political history.

I. Is democracy nationalist?

Both Alain De Benoist and Tomislav Sunic have written on democracy and Carl Schmitt's interpretation of the concept. Both agree that, by Schmitt's definition, democracy is, surprisingly enough, not anti-nationalist. According to Schmitt, democracy is not elections, and is not liberal parliamentarism and all the associated liberal freedoms: freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, speech, association, and so on. A distinction is to be drawn between democracy on one hand and liberalism on the other (Schmitt made that distinction, most famously, in his Crisis of parliamentary democracy (1923)).

Democracy is, in Schmitt's view, a statement of identity. The simple definition of democracy is the rule of the majority. That definition, says Schmitt, implies that the members of that majority are identical to one another in some way, that is, that they hold some property in common, whether it be race, religion, ethnicity, or some quality - Britishness, Australian-ness. Democracy requires a homogeneity. And the sharing of that property, which leads to homogeneity, means that the sharers are politically equal.

As an example of democracy, Schmitt gives the examples of the ancient Greek city states of Athens and Sparta. Members of Spartan or Athenian democracy were equal to one another in possessing the virtue of a Spartan or Athenian citizenship. But a group within that democracy - the slave caste - were unequal, not possessing full political rights. So, at the root of democracy is the equality of equals (who make up the democratic majority) and the inequality of unequals (who make up the democratic minority).

Schmitt gives, as another example, the British Empire: did the 300 million citizens of the Empire possess the same rights, i.e., were they as equal, as Britons? Clearly, no: the citizens of the United Kingdom possessed political rights denied to others in the Commonwealth. Schmitt also cites Australia, and in particular, the application of the White Australia policy. Immigrants who were not white were to be excluded from Australian democracy, and all the benefits of Australian citizenship that come from being one of the majority, the 'equal equals'.

It may seem, from the last example, that when Schmitt talks of homogeneity, he is talking of a racial homogeneity. But this is not necessarily the case. Some of the member nations of the British Commonwealth - Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa - were white, and yet not sharing the same rights as Britons. Likewise, it is uncertain whether or not the distinction between 'slave' and 'citizen' in the ancient world was a racial one - whether or not the Spartans were white and the Helots were non-white. And, on Schmitt's definition, one could construct the idea of an Islamic democracy, where all the equal citizens are alike in that they are Muslim. One can also point out that the Jewish democracy - Israel - has members who are alike in their Jewishness (but not their race). (And, like a true, Schmittian democracy, Israel denies certain political rights to non-citizens - in particular, the non-Jewish Arab citizens, and the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories).

Schmitt's notion of democratic equality stands in contrast to that of the liberal - for the liberal believes that all people, whether members of a democracy or no, are equal by virtue of being adult persons. Liberalism believes in a radical egalitarianism. In a truly liberal world, all distinctions between citizens and non-citizens in democracies, or equals and unequals, would be abolished. So, rightfully understood, democracy is the enemy of liberalism: the concept of 'liberal democracy' contains two contradictory creeds - liberalism and democracy - which threaten to tear it apart. Hence, 'The crisis of parliamentary democracy'.

If we are to take Schmitt's definition of democracy on board, we can see that immigration - massive non-white immigration - threatens American democracy. In fact, American democracy, in the past fifty years, has suffered two blows. The first was desegregation of Afro-Americans in the 1950s and 1960s; the other was massive Hispanic immigration from the 1990s onwards. Before the desegregation period, America could be said to be a democracy in Schmitt's sense: its citizens - of European descent - were equal, its Afro-Americans unequal, denied full political rights of American citizenship. But, after de-segregation, America moved towards a liberal (non-democratic) equality: Americans and Afro-Americans were equal simply on the basis of their being adult persons. Now the same, anti-democratic process is occurring with the apportioning of political rights to the massive numbers of Hispanic immigrants, legal or illegal.

II. Democracy, constitutions, dictatorship

The other innovation of Schmitt's theory was that it pointed out that democracy need not necessarily be liberal-democratic. Dictatorship - whether it be Marx's 'dictatorship of the proletariat', or the dictatorship of fascism - could be democratic. Influenced by Schmitt on this point, Yockey writes, in the chapter called 'Democracy' in Imperium, that 'In Spanish South America, where the money power was not absolute, a whole tradition of democratic dictators— Bolivar, Rosas, Francia, O’Higgins, some of the best known— show the powerful authoritarian tendency in popular government'. Which explains why movements like German National Socialism and Italian Fascism could be, paradoxically, democratic (in terms of their following among the majority of the German and Italian people respectively) and at the same time hierarchical, illiberal and dictatorial. A regime which forbids elections, or the formation of opposing political parties, need not necessarily lack popular support of the democratic majority. Indeed, the populace, says Schmitt, can give it support through 'acclamation', and passive consent.

I think I have made the case, then, for seeing nationalism as a democratic project: nationalist activists could be said to represent the best tendencies of American, French, German, Australian, British, etc., democracy. (Which is one reason why the NPD calls itself the 'National Democratic Party of Germany').

In this connection, it is worthwhile to give an account of Schmitt's political career, and political positions, to see the relevance of his thinking to the national struggle today. Schmitt, as a constitutional lawyer, was engrossed for most of his career with the analysis of constitutions. (By 'constitution', I do not mean merely the written constitutions of a state, but its makeup, its political structure, its genotype). For most of his early work, he was fascinated by the concept of the political 'exception' - a state of unlimited power, and the complete suspension, if not overturning, of the existing constitutional order.

By 'exception', he is really referring to dictatorship. In the popular mind, a dictatorship is a regime run by a tyrant, a despot, who is usually a little man in a military uniform laden with medals and who has megalomaniacal tendencies. But, in the strict, juridical definition of the term, a dictatorship is something which occurs when the division between the separation of powers is broken down - when the executive takes up the powers of the legislature and the judiciary. In a liberal state - which stipulates a separation of powers - this entails the amending, or even the destruction, of the existing constitutional order. (An amendment of a written constitution is no easy thing to achieve: in Australia, it requires a referendum which will deliver a majority of votes in the majority of electorates in a majority of states - which explains why, out of 44 proposals to amend the Australian constitution, only eight have been approved). Schmitt calls the subject, the possessor of the power to destroy and create constitutions, the pouvoir constituant.

Schmitt liked to make the distinction between two kinds of dictatorship: the sovereign and the commissarial. The sovereign dictator suspends the separation of powers with the intention of exercising pouvoir constituant, of making a new constitutional order: an example of this is Marx's revolutionary 'dictatorship of the proletariat'. The commissarial dictator, on the other hand, acts on a more limited basis. He intervenes, temporarily, in political life, suspending parts of the constitutional order and takes upon himself extraordinary powers - i.e., abrogating the legislative and even the judiciary functions to himself and ruling by decree (bills not voted upon by the legislature). An example of this is the period of the Indian Emergency from 1975 to 1977, when Prime Minister Indira Ghandi suspended parts of the constitution and ruled by decree.

The commissarial dictatorship is only temporary: after the period of the 'exception', as Schmitt puts it, expires, it is expected that the normal state of affairs will resume. As Evola writes, in Men among the ruins (chapter two, 'Sovereignty - Authority - Imperium'), 'In the best period of the Roman civilization, the dictatorship was conceived and allowed as a temporary remedy; far from replacing the existing order, it was its reintegration'.

In the Weimar constitution, Reichspräsident Hindenburg acted as commissarial dictator. Under article 48, Hindenburg could suspend parts of the constitution (including liberal rights guaranteed under the constitution, e.g., freedom of press, freedom of assembly, freedom of association) and pass laws without votes from the legislature. This state of affairs was only temporary: if it were not, the Weimar constitution would not be based on democratic sovereignty - the sovereignty of the German people - but on the sovereignty of the Reichspräsident, who would be acting as monarch, or Führer. Power, under the rules of the constitution, was to be passed back to the people.

During the 1920s and early 1930s, Schmitt placed great hope in Hindenburg and article 48. To him, the office of Reichspräsident, and the German army and bureaucracy, represented the true German State - a 'nation bearing stratum', a caste of national leaders standing above liberal-democratic, party-politics. Schmitt decried the practice, of the communists, National Socialists, Catholic and other Weimar-era parties, of politicising every part of civil life - by forming politicised kindergardens, youth groups, women's groups, trade unions, teacher's groups, lawyer's groups, doctor's groups and the like. Schmitt called this 'quantitative' politics: the intrusion of the party-political sphere into civil society and every part of the State. This 'partyfication' of German life was to be resisted, in his view, because it took power away from the German State, making it subject to democratic demands. The excess of democracy, he felt, explained the failures of the parliamentary-liberal system in Weimar - which, more often than not, degenerated into squabbling party and class factions, each aiming for the benefit of their particular group without a view to the good of the whole. He believed that the salvation of Germany lay in conservative chancellors like Papen, and Schleicher, who, with their connections to the military, could steer Germany through political and economic crisis. The role of Reichspräsident Hindenburg was to use the extraordinary powers of article 48 to bypass the squabbling, democratised legislature, when need be.

All that changed with the ascent of Hitler and the NSDAP. In particular, Hitler's famous Enabling Act of March 23, 1933 - 'The law to remedy the distress of the people and the Reich' - gave the executive (Hitler's cabinet) extraordinary powers, including powers to suspend, and rewrite, parts of the Weimar constitution. Schmitt noted that, although the Weimar constitution had not been formally abrogated, the act represented a new, provisional constitution. A sovereign dictatorship had been installed, which was to exercise pouvior constiuant. Sovereignty had been transferred from the German people to the Führer. After that, Schmitt became a convinced National Socialist and joined the party, now believing that the NSDAP could elevate Germany above democratic, mass-politics and strengthen the German State, which represented the best interests of the German people.

II. The basic law

We know the sequel to the story, of course. Germany, after being occupied by the Allies, had a new constitution drawn up for it - the Grundgesetz, or Basic Law - and imposed by the Allies by force. Likewise, France and Italy had new constitutions drawn up for them by the Allies as well. Certain 'anti-fascist' provisions were built into the German and Italian constitutions. As students of German political history know, West Germany used article 21 of the Grundgesetz to ban the nationalist Socialist Reich Party in 1952 and the German Communist Party in 1956.

The relevant text, reproduced here for interest, reads:

Article 21
[Political parties]
(1) Political parties shall participate in the formation of the political will of
the people. They may be freely established. Their internal organization must
conform to democratic principles. They must publicly account for their assets
and for the sources and use of their funds.
(2) Parties that, by reason of their aims or the behaviour of their adherents,
seek to undermine or abolish the free democratic basic order or to endanger
the existence of the Federal Republic of Germany shall be unconstitutional.
The Federal Constitutional Court shall rule on the question of unconstitutionality.
(3) Details shall be regulated by federal laws.

The German government tried to ban the NPD in 2003 using the law, but failed, due to a legal technicality.

The Grundgesetz was conceived as an anti-NSDAP and anti-Weimar constitution. The lawmakers who drafted it knew that certain provisions of the Weimar constitution - like article 48 - allowed Hitler, the chancellor of the Reich, the power to suspend the political, constitutionally-guaranteed rights of his opponents (mainly the communists, but also Social Democrats and conservatives as well) after the event of the Reichstag fire. The emergency powers, granted under article 48, influenced the outcome of the March 5 elections, which, combined with the arrest of Communist Party MPs before the Reichstag sitting, gave Hitler the parliamentary majority needed to amend the constitution and pass the Enabling Act. With the intention of preventing something like that happening again, the Allies made sure that the Grundgesetz would be without emergency powers like article 48. Likewise, other provisions opposed to the spirit of the Weimar and NSDAP constitutions were included. The framers of the Grundgesetz aimed at a) avoiding the instability of Weimar political life and b) preventing a nationalist like Hitler from gaining power legally.

It should be noted, again, that a constitution is much more than a written document: it is the structure, the spirit of a state. The spirit of the German state today is anti-nationalist and anti-"Nazi"; and so, a nationalist organisation like the NPD which does not endorse dictatorship (as we have defined it here) is still in danger of being banned under article 21 under a loose interpretation of the letter of the law. And much is the same in other European countries which were under Allied occupation and which had strong nationalist and fascist political movements before and during the war.

So: in Europe, the nationalist parties and organisations are repressed, and are in danger of being banned, because the upholders of the post-war, Allied constitutions detect hidden tendencies in their ideology - hidden tendencies which threaten to undermine the 'free democratic basis' of liberal democratic European states. Now, the question is: does nationalism - inside Europe, and in other Western countries - threaten 'liberal democracy'? Or, if it does not, should it?

IV. The nationalist position

The irony is that we nationalists in the non-occupied Western countries have freedom of speech, and can say whatever we want, but choose not to. We can endorse the suspension, or even the overturning, of the existing constitutional order - in Britain, America, Australia, New Zealand - and an end to the separation of powers, but do not do so.

In general, nationalists in the Anglo-Saxon countries take two positions: either they focus, somewhat obsessively, on race, ethnic and cultural issues, and ignore questions of politics (I am thinking here of the American Nutzis, the KKK, Christian Identity, and even certain nationalist intellectuals); or they accept the existing constitutional orders of their respective countries (the Far Right populists). The first position is, on closer examination, the same as the second: it is to accept, and acquiesce, and not challenge, the liberal order.

One cannot blame today's nationalist from wanting to drop out of politics, simply because of the difficulty of nationalists to obtain power through the ballot box. In Australia, for instance, voting is compulsory, and, moreover, based on a system of preferential voting. Both of these devices tend to deliver crushing majorities for the mainstream liberal democratic parties, both at the federal and state level. Minority parties, even with ones with a large measure of support in the community and a large activist base (I am thinking of the Australian Greens, and the Australian Democrats) find it practically impossible to break into the House of Representatives (although finding a Senate seat is somewhat easier). This means that they can never win a majority in the lower house, and so never hold executive power.

This system has its disadvantages and advantages: on the one hand, it delivers stable government, avoiding the instability which occurs, for instance, in modern Italian politics, or in Weimar-era German politics; on the other hand, it prevents nationalists from winning executive power. At the very least, nationalists, along with the Greens, and other minority political groups (like the Australian communists), face an uphill battle.

The other reason for political non-involvement on the part of nationalists is, strange as it may seem, an unwillingness to take political responsibility. In this regard, I found a quotation from a book on Schmitt (Carl Schmitt and authoritarian liberalism, (1998) by Renato Cristi) illumining:

Schmitt adopts Treitschke's [a 19th century German nationalist thinker] view that 'political romantics' weakened the state by their emphasis on medieval conceptions of social pluralism and communal autonomy. 'Thus everything which German political science had secured during the last century and a half, since Pufendorf had delivered our political thinkers from the yoke of theologians, was once more put into question, and political doctrine was degraded anew to the theocratic conceptions of the Middle Ages... "Corporation, not association" was the catchword of the political romantics, most of whom associated with the term no more than the indefinite conception of a weak state authority, limited by the power of the guilds, diets of nobles, and self-governing communes, and in spiritual matters subjected to the control of the church'. [Cristi, p.74-75.]
It goes without saying that we today are in different circumstances from those described by Treitschke. But there is a similarity between the 'political romantics' of his times and those nationalists who want to shut themselves away, from the world of politics and the world itself, in a racially-homogenous enclave: think of William Pierce and Aryan Nations Pastor Butler in their respective compounds. The tendency exists, as well, outside of America. Indeed, one only has to think of the theories of the great Alain de Benoist, with their emphasis on nationalism restricted to the life of the community, the neighbourhood, the corporatist-type association, and their distancing from nationalism in the context of the state (that is, politics). As for the Nutzis, one could expect that the Nutzi groups, particular in America, are working towards a one-party, NSDAP-type state, with a Führer possessing dictatorial powers: but nothing could be further from the truth. Nutzis are content to parade in homemade SA and SS uniforms, and hand out amusing, but crude, fliers denouncing Jews and Negroes. And so it goes.

Let me be clear here: I am not suggesting that we move away from the goal of developing ethnically-homogeneous, separatist communities (which is something De Benoist's theory seems to endorse). What is needed is balance. Schmitt once pointed out that a state and a nation consisted of three things: the people, das Volk; the State and the authorities who are ultimately responsible for political decisions; and the law, administered by bureaucrats, for the day to day running of the state. But nationalism today has become lop-sided, with its obsessive preoccupation with race, race, race - das Volk - to the exclusion of the other political spheres.

As noted before, political activism is hard work; this fact, and the racial-enclave mentality which afflicts a good many modern nationalists, discourages nationalists from entering politics, and studying questions of constitutional law and parliamentary procedure. But there is a notable exception: the Far Right populists - the Pauline Hansons and Le Pens - who have faith in the existing liberal constitutions and electoral systems. They believe their populism is truth, that they represent what the people really think, and so aim to take their truth to parliament, where it will become part of the discussion which is at the heart of liberal political life.

And, in the short term, they can succeed: Hanson's brief time in the Australian federal parliament brought home uncomfortable populist truths to the Australia liberal 'discussing class', that is, the liberal democratic politicians and the journalists. But, in the end, Hanson and her followers had too much faith in the Australian people, the Australian electoral system and the Australian constitution. Her party never achieved the status of a parliamentary faction.

I myself applaud the efforts of the electorally-successful populist parties like the BNP, the FN and the Vlaams Blok; but the existing constitutional order, in Australia, and in Europe, is the disease, not the cure. Take, for instance, one of the pillars of liberalism - the institution of the secret ballot. The trade unions oppose the use of the secret ballot by their members when voting on strike action and the like; the reason for this, say the opponents of trade unions, is that the trade union bosses want to coerce and intimidate, or at least shame, reluctant union members into going along with the majority of unionists who want a strike. The trade unionist opponents of such secret ballots argue, on the other hand, that union members should not be allowed to behave as selfish individuals, without a feeling of solidarity for their fellow workers; in voting for or against strike action, they are making decisions which affect their fellows and so should be held to account. Which is all well and good: but why do the same trade unionist oppose the use of the secret ballot in the sphere of industrial relations and at the same time endorse it at the level of state and federal politics? The system of the secret ballot at election time, where a voter thinks of himself, not as a member of a national entity, but as a furtive individual making his private choice behind a curtain in a voting booth, encourages the selfish individualism that the trade union socialist ought to want to avoid. The difference is between the public and private: the voter is voting on decisions which affect the public, i.e., the whole populace, the national well-being; but, because of the secrecy of the ballot, he is acting as a private individual. That, in the end, forces him to vote for a politician who will serve his own private, material interest.

I myself am no different from any other voter in a liberal democracy: I have voted for one mainstream, liberal democratic party or another, simply on the basis of material self-interest - I may do better, materially, under one party than the other - despite my misgivings about that party as its whole and the damage its policies could do the nation (e.g., its endorsement of a policy of unrestricted, non-white immigration). The majority of voters in a liberal democracy are in the same position: not because they are naturally selfish, anti-nationalist and have a tendency to make choices which are detrimental to the general well-being, but because they are forced to by the structure of the liberal political system.

And so the end result is that we have a multi-party system, where each party represents a certain private interest. The centre-left parties represent the trade unions (who want a government which will force employers to pay them higher wages, and give them paid maternity leave and the like); the centre-right parties represent business, small and big, who want a government which will lower the costs of doing business, by getting rid of red tape, and the obligation to pay unionised workers higher wages. And then we have parties like the Greens, whose only interest is in stopping the logging of rainforests, and enforcing global warming laws on industry (regardless of whether there is sufficient scientific evidence for global warming or not).

The nationalist thing to do would be to abolish these parties, which represent conflicting, warring interests, or amalgamate them all into one giant party which would represent the national good. And the same goes for institutions, like the trade unions and the business groups, who behave, not as members of a national community, but as economic actors motivated by their own selfish gain. (The trade unions, for instance, oppose immigration, not on nationalist grounds, but because they fear that immigrants, especially from the non-white countries, are prepared to work for less, and so will undercut the minimum wage).

And then there is that other liberal institution - the separation of powers. One of the arguments for it is that no individual, or group of individuals, can be trusted with the power of the executive, the legislature and the judiciary at the same time. Otherwise we have a system of despotism, tyranny, unrestrained by the checks and balances of the liberal parliamentary system. And liberals do not have high confidence in the discretionary power of individual statesmen: the old liberal cliché is that 'All power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely'.

I myself hold the opposite view: political office without the limitations of the separation of powers and the constitution confers a grave responsibility on the politician who holds it. By placing all the responsibility in his hands, the politician is forced to make the right decision. The economic success of the Italian Fascist and German National Socialist regimes was due to the fact that both parties had made promises - very big promises - to their electorates to restore economic life in their respective countries. The PNF and the NSDAP, and no other, were responsible for choosing the right finance ministers, the right central bank heads, in order to fulfil those promises.

Contrast that conduct with that which exists in our modern liberal democracies. Our present Australian prime minister whines that he is not responsible for high inflation and high interest rates - that is the fault of the Reserve Bank. (But he maintained before the last election in 2004 that only his government's 'good economic management' kept interest rates and inflation low). Likewise, the attitude of liberal democratic politicians in France and Germany is: 'Why should I care if unemployment and other economic and social problems are not solved in my time in office: I may be voted out at the next election anyway, and besides which, I'll always get a position on a corporate board after quitting politics, and a nice advance on my memoirs'. Again and again, there is a lack of care, a lack of responsibility, brought about, almost exclusively, by the liberal institution of the separation of powers. By diffusing power, no-one ends up holding it, and so no-one ends up bearing responsibility - for successes, or failures.

Some nations are fortunate in that, historically, there are men who have strong nationalist tendencies and who hold, at the same time, positions of power in the state. (The Weimar-era State - which, in Schmitt's view, had selfless, and nationalist-minded, men in the army, the bureaucracy and the office of Reichspräsident - is one example). These men, what Yockey calls the 'nation-bearing stratum', stand above the party politics of the day, and have a view to the national good, the good of the whole, as opposed to the good of a few economic actors. In part, this is because they are unelected: they are not, unlike the mainstream political parties, forced to cater to narrow economic and class interests.

We nationalists should aim for this 'nation-bearing' quality in government. And this, in my view, is one argument for abolishing the vote altogether. The masses, perhaps, should be allowed to signal their approval for a government through voting in plebiscites; but the practice of splitting the nation into competing, selfish individuals - through anonymous voting for parties which only represent selfish economic and class interests - should cease.

Having said that, the abolition of the separation of powers, and the practice of the secret ballot - and the ballot altogether - is not a magic bullet. None of this has worked in the former Rhodesia, for example. I feel a sense of solidarity for the white Rhodesian farmers who are being oppressed, and expropriated, by the Mugabe regime, of course. But the worst thing about the Mugabe government is that it is incompetent: the economy is a mess, and is steadily eroding whatever public support Mugabe had. The whole of Africa is in such a state: even though the continent possesses some of the richest resources in the world, the politicians are too incompetent to administer them. It is hard to imagine any illiberal government in the West - Hitler's and Mussolini's, for example, or Honecker's in the former East Germany - allowing such economic disorder to continue.

IV. How to get there

Once we nationalists have swallowed any liberal qualms we may have, we are faced with the question of technique. How is the 'exception' in Western political life to occur? How are nationalists to gain constiuant pouvior?

If we look at the history of 'white' nations in recent times which saw 'exceptions', and subsequent destructions of the liberal constitutionalist order - for instance, Chile in 1973, Greece in 1967, Argentina in 1976 - it becomes apparent that the 'exceptions' were brought about by military coup d'états. Unfortunately, the option of putschism is not available to us in the West today. The military in most Western countries is indoctrinated with the liberal dogma that military and political life are to be kept separate; furthermore, those in senior military positions who display nationalist tendencies are purged. (Again, the Allies were careful to make sure that, for example, the German army - long a bastion of German nationalism - was purged of such tendencies).

Another alternative is to follow the example of mass-based organisations like the fascist and communist movements of the 1930s, and even Arab-Muslim groups like Hezbollah and Hamas today. The method is simple: build up a following in the community, through a proliferation of community-based organisations, relentless community-activism and electioneering, until the legislature is (almost literally) encircled by the resulting mass-based, democratic movement. It was the 'struggle for the mastery of the streets' which handed the NSDAP their seats in the Reichstag state legislature; that, and their constant, disciplined, round-the-clock activist and community work (including charity work). No German town, no matter how small, was left unattended to.

Likewise, Hezbollah and Hamas function are not only political parties, but are charities, religious groups and guerilla armies. Their lack of compromise - the sheer radicalism of their position - combined with their community work, led to the Hamas victory at the last Palestinian elections, much to the chagrin of Israel and the West, who were hoping that the liberal Palestinians (who had no democratic mass base) would win.

It should be pointed out that the NSDAP violated another liberal tenet: parliament as a place for free and open discussion. The NSDAP and Communist Party deputies in the Reichstag were, prior to Hitler's chancellorship, notoriously rowdy and boisterous; they turned parliament into a circus - through booing, catcalling, walk-outs and other instances of disruptive behaviour. Joseph Bendersky, one of Schmitt's biographers, notes, with consternation, that the NSDAP deputies received 400 points of order - that is, reprimands from the parliamentary speaker for disorderly conduct - during the Weimar period, which surely must stand as a record. The NSDAP tactics, along with their use (or perhaps one should say, abuse) of parliamentary procedure against the governments of the day, invalidated the entire parliamentary-liberal process. An application of the same methods, in Australian (or British or American) federal and state legislatures would leave the opponents of nationalism stunned; without an institutional experience of so-called 'fascist' and 'Nazi' methods, they are defenceless.

Liberals in Europe have often bewailed the fact that Italian Fascism and German National Socialism agreed to abide by the rules of liberal parliamentarism, only to destroy them when they got into power - by dissolving the separation of powers, suspending press freedom, freedom of assembly, freedom of association, the multi-party system, and the rest. The 'fascist' method, these liberals declare, was to use their parties as Trojan horses; the method is to infiltrate, and then destroy from within. (The communists, it should be pointed out, used the exact same methods (and predated the fascists in the use of these methods)). The solution is, say the liberals, to use the powers in the existing, Allied-drafted constitutions, to crush nationalism, and any instance of nationalist political 'gangsterism', from the start (likewise, any communist illiberalism must be crushed).

But, in my view, the liberal opponents of nationalism in Europe have failed to understood the strength, and the appeal, of nationalism. The NSDAP won power, not because of the Weimar constitution's article 48, but because they possessed the mass, extra-parliamentary base which conservative chancellors like Schleicher and Papen did not. So 'anti-fascist' provisions in the constitutions of Europe will do no good for the liberal cause in the long run, simply because such provisions cannot stop nationalist groups putting roots into the community, and thereby building up a base of mass political support. (Besides which, today's nationalist groups will not repeat the same constitutional steps that the NSDAP and other fascist political parties did; constitutional history does not repeat itself, at least not exactly).

V. The case of Whitlam

Finally, I will end with an example from recent Australian history: an example which is pertinent here, I think, because it shows how a group of politicians can fail to exploit the mass following of their party and be paralysed by the strictures of liberal constitutionalism. I am referring to the Australian constitutional crisis of 1975, otherwise known as the Dismissal.

For non-Australian readers, or Australian readers who are unfamiliar with this episode from Australian political history, I will give a brief account. In 1975, the federal Labor government of the day was unable to pass the year's budget appropriations through the Senate, which was in control of opposition conservatives - the Liberal and Country parties. This 'blocking of supply', i.e., blocking of the budget, was a highly unusual and unconventional parliamentary practice (but not an illegal one). At the time, however, the conservatives felt that it was warranted. They believed that they could force the Labor government to dissolve parliament and then call an election, which, they felt, they would win. The Labor government had been doing badly in the polls, partly because of the media agitation against it (including that by the tabloid The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch), and because of the outbreak of global inflation, which had plunged the Western economies into recession.

In response to the crisis, the Governor-General (the equivalent of a President in the Australian constitutional system) dismissed the Labor government, and charged the conservatives with acting as a caretaker government until parliament was dissolved and new elections were called. Despite public anger among Labor supporters and the trade union rank-and-file, the Labor prime minister Gough Whitlam, and the head of the Australian Council Trade Unions, Bob Hawke, accepted the dismissal because of its constitutionality. (Whitlam claimed later that, had he not accepted the dismissal, Australia would have been plunged into civil war). At the next federal election, Labor lost in a crushing landslide, and lost the two federal elections after that.

What should Whitlam have done to retain power, and ensure the passing of federal budget bill, blocked in the Senate? The answer is, he should have refused to accept the Governor-General's sacking of him; and then bussed or flown Hawke and tens of thousands of ACTU workers to Canberra, where they would march Parliament House and the Governor-General's residence. Conservative senators could have been grabbed by scruffs of their necks and then frog-marched out of the Senate, and the vote on the budget could have then taken place. The Governor-General could have been placed under house arrest. A state of emergency could have been declared, and trade unionists working for, for instance, The Sun newspaper, could have gone on strike. The Labor government could then have proceeded to pass law after law, and make amendments to the constitution (without going through the usual route of having national referenda on those amendments). Opposition parties could have been outlawed, and riot police, soldiers and trade union thugs used to break up opposition meetings and rallies. Newspaper proprietors, like Murdoch, could have been forced to toe the line or face compulsory expropriation without compensation. Elections, in the meanwhile, could have been suspended - indefinitely.

All of this would have been blatantly illegal, but within the bounds of political possibility. After all, the trade union movement in Australia in the 1970s was massive - Australia being one of the most unionised countries in the Western world - and powerful; it would have been quite capable of bringing the country to a standstill. They had the power, they had the numbers, they had the force - and, in the days of 1975, the militancy.

While the Australian economy was deteriorating, and a good many Australians doubtless wanted to see Whitlam voted out, the fact is that the Labor Party at the point possessed a significant mass-base in the trade union movement (and in the left-wing intellectuals, and public sector workers), ready to be deployed for extra-parliamentary action. But they were not mobilised. Why? Because, in the end, Whitlam and Hawke were liberal constitutionalists, liberal (meaning prepared to abide by the existing constitutional order) socialists. They were not prepared to cross the line of legality and constitutionality as, for instance, both Allende and Pinochet had done a few years before in Chile.

Perhaps, too, it was a question of timing: a revolution against parliamentary democracy should have been carried out at the start of Whitlam's rule - when Labor had won federal elections in 1972. The right amount of constitutional violations, and suppression of the conservative opposition, would have spared his government problems further on down the line.

Whitlam failed, in the end, because he was a liberal democrat. We nationalists, if we are not to make the same mistakes, must be democrats - but not liberal.

*Welf Herfurth is a political activist who lives in Sydney / Australia. He was born and raised in Germany. He can be contacted on