Radical conservatism and social theory : Hans Freyer and the other god that failed / Jerry Zucker Muller
- Variant Title
- Other god that failed
Hans Freyer and the other god that failed
Includes bibliographical references (p. 639-673)
This work uses the intellectual and political biography of Hans Freyer (1887-1969), a German sociologist, philosopher, historian, and political publicist as a case study of several broad problems and patterns in modern European intellectual history. During the Weimar Republic Hans Freyer was an academic social theorist and among the most prestigious intellectuals associated with the movement for a "revolution from the right" (the title of his book of 1931). In the early years of the National Socialist regime he became head of the German Sociological Association and director of a major institute of historical research in Leipzig. From 1938 to 1945 he served as a semi-official cultural ambassador to Hungary. Later he became a respected voice of moderate, intellectual conservatism in the German Federal Republic. The major problems and patterns on which the study attempts to cast light are: (1) the attraction to, experience of, and disillusion with totalitarian solutions to the perceived problems of modernity on the part of European intellectuals in the twentieth century, and the influence of this pattern on social thought and political culture; (2) the spiritual and institutional continuities and discontinuities of German intellectual conservatism in the twentieth century; (3) the relationship between radical conservatism and the tradition of sociological thought; (4) the interaction of political ideology and academic social science. Many intellectuals who, like Freyer, regarded the characteristic processes of modernity as leading to a decline of collective purpose and individual meaning, were attracted during the Weimar Republic to the ideal cultural and moral reintegration through an all-encompassing state. This theoretical solution led Freyer and others to place their hopes in National Socialism, and to cooperate closely with the regime, especially in its early years. But the experience of the polycratic totalitarianism of the Third Reich led Freyer and other erstwhile radical conservatives to a disillusionment with radical political solutions to the perceived problems of modernity. This experience of disillusionment set the stage for the acceptance of liberal-democracy and welfare capitalism after 1945 by intellectuals of the German right who had formerly eschewed such institutions, and for the reformulation of their social and political theory.
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