Constructing the revolution : Nazis, Communists, and the struggle for the 'hearts and minds' of the SA, 1930-1935 / by Timothy Scott Brown.
This dissertation opens up a fresh perspective on the appeal of Nazism by exploring ideology in the rank and file of the Nazi paramilitary formation, the SA. Taking as its starting point the premise that SA ideology can only be understood in the context of the wider milieu of which the SA was a part, the dissertation examines the battle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the stormtroopers waged by the various revolutionary contenders in the closing years of the Weimar Republic. These efforts at winning (or maintaining) the loyalty of the SA—by the Nazi party, the Communist party, and the various national socialist splinter groups—were based on competing, but in some ways complimentary views about the ‘social meaning’ of the SA. Both left and right regarded the SA as an essential force that had to be captured for the German revolution, but the difference in how that revolution was to be defined determined how the SA was to be interpreted and approached. The competition for the loyalty of the SA is thus of some significance for our understanding of the way fascist movements operate, because it suggests that fascist ideology is not passed down from the leadership to the rank and file, but circulates independently in a wide arch; the ideas that comprise it are already ‘in the air,’ even if they are subject to various interpretations and emphases. That is why, in the closing years of the Weimar Republic, various revolutionary contenders—the NSDAP, the KPD, and the various national socialist splinter groups—could vie for the loyalty of rank and file fascist militants by simultaneously trying to shape and embody these ideas in ways that corresponded to their own unique revolutionary visions. There is another, more fundamental way in which the struggle for the ‘hearts and minds’ of the SA impacts our understanding of fascism; in their efforts to win over and influence the SA, both the Communists and the Nazis were forced to grapple with a key contradiction, one that lies at the heart of Nazism and one which Nazism shares with other fascist movements: The contradiction arising from the attempt to combine both social revolutionary and conservative-nationalist views in the same movement by coordinating class-conscious and anti-capitalist impulses in a framework of national and social integration. (Abstract shortened by UMI.)
Record last modified: 2018-05-24 14:02:00
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