Conservative Revolution  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

The Conservative Revolution (Konservative Revolution), also known as the "neo-conservative" or "neo-nationalist" movement, was a German national conservative movement prominent during the Weimar Republic (1918–1933), in the years between World War I and Nazi Germany.

Conservative Revolutionaries were involved in a cultural counter-revolution, and showed a wide range of diverging positions concerning the nature of the institutions Germany had to instate, labelled by historian Roger Woods the "conservative dilemma". Nonetheless, they were generally opposed to traditional Wilhelmine Christian conservatism, liberalism, democracy and egalitarianism, as well as the cultural spirit of modernity and the bourgeoisie.

Confused and plunged into what historian Fritz Stern has named a deep "cultural despair", uprooted as they felt within the rationalism and scientism of the modern world, theorists of the Conservative Revolution drew inspiration from various elements of the 19th century: Friedrich Nietzche's contempt for Christian ethics, democracy and egalitarianism; the anti-modern and anti-rationalist German romanticism; the vision of an organic and organised society cultivated by the Völkisch movement; a Prussian tradition of militaristic and authoritarian nationalism; as well as their own experience on the front line during the First World War, escorted by both irrational violence and comradeship spirit.

The movement held an ambiguous relationship with Nazism from the 1920s to the early 1930s, which led scholars to describe the Conservative Revolution as a "German pre-fascism" or a "non-Nazi fascism". Although they share common roots in the 19th century's anti-Enlightenment ideologies, the disparate movement cannot be confused with Nazism. Conservative Revolutionaries were not necessary racialist, as the movement cannot be reduced to its Völkisch component. If they participated in preparing the German society to the rule of the Nazis, with their antidemocratic and organicist theories, and did not really oppose their rise to power, the Conservative Revolution was brought to heel like the rest of the society when Hitler took power in 1933. Many of them eventually rejected the totalitarian or antisemitic nature of the Third Reich, with the notable exception of Carl Schmitt and a few others.

From the 1960–1970s onwards, the Conservative Revolution has largely influenced the European New Right, such as the Nouvelle Droite and the Neue Rechte, and, through them, the contemporary European Identitarian movement.

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