Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany (Supplements to Vetus Testamentum)

Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany (Supplements to Vetus Testamentum)

Language: English

Pages: 678

ISBN: 9004276262

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


In "Degeneration and Revolution: Radical Cultural Politics and the Body in Weimar Germany" Robert Heynen explores the impact of conceptions of degeneration, exemplified by eugenics and social hygiene, on the social, cultural, and political history of the left in Germany, 1914 33. Hygienic practices of bodily regulation were integral to the extension of modern capitalist social relations, and profoundly shaped Weimar culture. Heynen s innovative interdisciplinary approach draws on Marxist and other critical traditions to examine the politics of degeneration and socialist, communist, and anarchist responses. Drawing on key Weimar theorists and addressing artistic and cultural movements ranging from Dada to worker-produced media, this book challenges us to rethink conventional understandings of left culture and politics, and of Weimar culture more generally."

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buttressed by state censorship, meant that overt opposition disappeared from the media. At street level, however, many people remained highly resistant to pro-war sentiment; the working class, the rural population, and non-ethnic Germans (French, Danes, Poles) were especially sceptical.33 Indeed, in his study of rural experiences of war in southern Bavaria, Benjamin Ziemann goes so far as to designate the period not as one of nationalist euphoria, but as ‘depression, August 1914’.34 It was only

posed by the War fed into these gendered and spatialised fears and desires. Supported by the BdF, the state and military developed a series of policy and legislative responses that included support for mothers 54  Eifert 1989; Meyer 1985, pp. 171–84. 55  Manz 2007, pp. 83–90 situates this conception within the contexts of eugenic discourses. 56  Verein für Frankfurter Arbeitergeschichte 1997, p. 731. The passage is from Henriette Fürth’s Kriegsküche für Jedermann, a cookbook produced

director Richard Oswald on his anti-STI film Let there be Light! (Es werde Licht!) in 1917.159 In these examples we can see the extent to which broader efforts at information management were elaborated through social hygienic concerns. As the preceding discussion has shown, the war effort was profoundly shaped by gendered social relations. This was evident especially in the dichotomisation of the home and fighting fronts, which provided not only an influential way of conceptualising the dynamics

greater sympathy for their goals. 252  ‘Arbeiter und Soldaten des 20. Jahrhunderts’ in Jünger 2001, pp. 425–34, written in 1928, gives an early statement of this view later developed more fully in The Worker. 124 CHAPTER 2 their aeroplanes under control as an [Aboriginal] Australian his boomerang.253 Crucially, then, while this soldier is wholly modern, he also taps into an eternal soldierly substratum; the primitivist invocation of the Australian Aboriginal cements this trans-historical

lead the Party into disastrous engagements like the March Action. Given the KPD’s accurate assessment of the weakness of the Soviet Republic, its end was indeed swift and predictable. A large Red Army formed over the 115  See ‘Resolution einer Soldatenversammlung in München am 3. April 1919 mit Forderungen zur Umwandlung der Soldatenräte in revolutionäre Kampforgane’, in Dokumente und Materialien 1958, II: 3, p. 348. 116  Quoted in Gerstenberg 2004, p. 57. 117  See Broué 2005, pp. 209–58.

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