Neocollectivist Manifestations of the Courage to Be as a Part

In reaction to the predominance of the courage to be as oneself in modern Western history, movements of a neocollectivist character have arisen: fascism, nazism, and communism. The basic difference of all of them from primitive collectivism and medieval semicollectivism is threefold. First, neocollectivism is preceded by the liberation of autonomous reason and the creation of a technical civilization. It uses the scientific and technical achievements of this development for its purposes. Secondly, neocollectivism has arisen in a situation where it meets many competing tendencies, even within the neocollectivist movement. Therefore it is less stable and safe than the older forms of collectivism. This leads to the third and most conspicuous difference: the totalitarian methods of present collectivism in terms of a national state or a supranational empire. The reason for this is the necessity for a centralized technical organization and even more for the suppression of tendencies which could dissolve the collectivist system by alternatives and individual decisions. But these three differences do not prevent neocollectivism from showing many traits of the primitive collectivisms, above all the exclusive emphasis on self-affirmation by participation, on the courage to be as a part. The relapse to tribal collectivism was readily visible in Nazism. The German idea of the Volksgeist (national spirit) was a good basis for it. The “blood and soil” mythology strengthened this tendency, and the mystical deification of the Fiihrer did the rest. In comparison with it, original communism was rational eschatology, a movement of criticism and expectation, in many respects similar to the prophetic ideas. However, after the establishment of the Communist state in Russia, the rational and eschatological elements were thrown out and disappeared, and the relapse to tribal collectivism was pushed in all spheres of life.