Tuesday, April 25th, 2006
WERE THE NAZIS THE FIRST 4GW MOVEMENT IN HISTORY?
“One final caution -fourth generation war is more than seventy years old and is reaching maturity. While we are only beginning to understand it clearly, history tells us the fifth generation has already begun to evolve.”
– Colonel Thomas X. Hammes, The Sling and The Stone
“The State, which since the Treaty of Westphalia (1648) has been the most important and most characteristic of all modern institutions, is dying. Wherever we look, existing states are either combining into larger communities or falling apart; wherever we look, organizations that are not states are taking their place. On the international level, we are moving away from a system of separate, sovereign, states toward less distinct, more hierarchical, and in many ways more complex structures. Inside their borders, it seems that many states will soon no longer be able to protect the political, military, economic, social, and cultural life of their citizens. “
– Martin van Creveld, The Fate of the State
If we wish to understand fourth generation warfare – and many in government, the intelligence community and the media seek to do so – we make a mistake to look first at al Qaida or the hydra-like Iraqi insurgency. These organizations certainly manifest many of the adaptible and decentralized, morally-oriented, characteristics of a 4GW opponent but we are looking at a process of evolution in midstream ( Hammes would say we are late in the process). Instead, we should go to the roots of the 4GW phenomena, an anti-state phenomena. Namely, the early totalitarian movements of the twentieth century, in particular, the Nazi Party and its driving force and articulator, Adolf Hitler.
The totalitarian movements -Communism, Fascism and National Socialism – all share a common utopian objective of remolding society, not merely taking over the state. They sought to shape worldviews and make ” new men”. They were militant, militarized, political movements – “non-state actors” – that went beyond the borders of the nation-state and sought to erase the distinction between the state and society.
Fascism remained the most primitive and least ambitious; it failed because Mussolini’s orientation ultimately adulated the state itself. Literally ” statist”, the Duce feared to disturb it overmuch with ideological innovations. Fascism left no deeper impression on Italy than it did in Spain, where Franco’s Falange resembled little more than a brutish form of Spanish reactionary traditionalism.
Communism as envisioned by Lenin and Trotsky was a truly international and anti-state revolutionary force. Anyone who believes Lenin put much emphasis on the interests of the Russian state need only read the treaty of Brest-Litovsk. Lenin grasped the reins of the state as head of Sovnarkom out of necessity; without a strong Soviet state, the revolution was doomed so Lenin laid the foundations of a Communist dictatorship that Stalin completed. In doing so, Joseph Stalin shifted course dramatically. While remaining a committed builder of utopia through terror inside the Soviet Union – making a “revolution from above” in the words of one eminent historian – in foreign policy, Stalin eschewed world revolution and gravitated to classic great power realpolitik, Russian chauvinism with a Bolshevik face, and the building of empire. Stalin, like Mussolini, was a true statist – only on a scale beyond the Italian dictator’s dreams.
Adolf Hitler and his National Socialist German Worker’s Party were another matter entirely.
Like his fellow totalitarian rulers, Hitler captured the state and made it his own, the dread Third Reich. But the Fuhrer was not beguiled by it, was never satisfied with his Reich – and looked beyond it, even at the end in his bunker. Hitler’s eye was always elsewhere and he was contempuous of the limited resiliency possessed by states:
” For us the idea of the Volk is higher than the idea of the state… it is no accident that religions are more stable than forms of states…In the beginning was the Volk, and only then came the Reich…The state is only an enforced framework” (1)
And so on. It was a great consistency in Hitler’s speeches, table-talk and writings.
Hitler subordinated the German state to the Nazi Party whenever possible – giving vast powers to party formations like the SS, SD and his local Nazi plenipotentiaries, the Gauleiters. He permitted state and party authorities to work at cross-purposes, remarking on the positive effects of ” friction” and further personalized Nazi rule ( thus degrading the prestige of state officials) by the use of the Fuhrer Order.
Of greater import, was Hitler’s radical vision that wrecked so much death and destruction but would have wrought still greater evils had Germany won the war. Hitler, as imprecisely as he framed it, was an apostle of the Racial State and genocide. Foremost, the genocide of the Jews. Later, when they were gone, others.
A sinister compound of mythic racism, anti-semitism, geopolitics and Social Darwinism, Hitler spoke of a transnational “Aryan” superstate that incorporated Scandinavia, the Low Countries, Finland, much of Poland and Belarus (at times, Great Britain) into a new Greater German empire. On occasion, Hitler seemed to speak of a European confederation, at others, annexation. That the Fuhrer aimed at superceding not only the borders but the form of the old Reich is difficult to doubt. Albert Speer’s final chapter of Infiltration, his last book, was as chilling as anything one could imagine:
” This eastern territory was to have a colonial character and reach all the way to the Urals, the Volga and Baku on the caspian Sea…the Baltic States would be settled ‘ with consideration for the Germaification abilities of the Estonians…Ukraine was to be Germanized…the area he [Hitler] said..must lose the character of the Asiatic steppe; it must be Europeanized! “
Where would the settlers come from ?
“The two or three million people we need….Hitler continued in these nocturnal contemplations…we will have them faster than we think. We’ll take them from Germany, the Scandinavian countries, the West European countries, and America.” (2)
And the original inhabitants ?
Speer estimated that Himmler’s “peacetime” program of building and construction in the East was predicated upon a continuous level of over 4 million slave laborers for the territory of the Old Reich alone. And in twenty years approximately 14 million of these slaves would have to be ” replaced”having expired from maltreatment and exhaustion. Speer estimated a total human cost for the building program alone, approximately 29 million human beings. This does not count Hitler’s intent to drive away or absorb ” 100 million Slavs “.
Some 4GW theorists have expressed equanimity at the decline of the state that they argue is happening. It could not possibly be worse than what has recently gone before. I am not so certain. What if Hitler and the Nazis represented not the triumph of the total state but the first harbinger of the nation-state’s passing ?
Hitler, fortunately, is dead and his genocidal Racial State died with him. Today though,we have Takfiri jihadis today who dream of Caliphates and the destruction of the nation-state, the hated form of the alien, infidel , West that was imposed on the glorious Ummah, splintering its unity and defying the will of Allah. They want it to go – and the infidels and apostates along with it.
4GW movements have apocalyptic dreams. Can we really be sanguine about the decline of the state ?
1. Lukacs, John. The Hitler of History. Page 117.
2. Speer, Albert. Infiltration: how Heinrich Himmler Schemed to Build an SS Industrial Empire.