Posted By: DJ At BJ Time 05 6/27 () [DJ you have total 83480 points]
Reply: MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler DJ At 05 6/27
Subject:MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler
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POLITICAL REFLECTIONS ARISING OUT OF MY SOJOURN IN VIENNA
Generally speaking a man should not publicly take part in politics before he has reached the age of thirty, though, of course, exceptions must be made in the case of those who are naturally gifted with extraordinary political abilities. That at least is my opinion to-day. And the reason for it is that until he reaches his thirtieth year or thereabouts a man’s mental development will mostly consist in acquiring and sifting such knowledge as is necessary for the groundwork of a general platform from which he can examine the different political problems that arise from day to day and be able to adopt a definite attitude towards each. A man must first acquire a fund of general ideas and fit them together so as to form an organic structure of personal thought or outlook on life – a Weltanschhauung. Then he will have that mental equipment without which he cannot form his own judgments on particular questions of the day, and he will have acquired those qualities that are necessary for consistency and steadfastness in the formation of political opinions. Such a man is now qualified, at least subjectively, to take his part in the political conduct of public affairs.
If these pre-requisite conditions are not fulfilled, and if a man should enter political life without this equipment, he will run a twofold risk. In the first place, he may find during the course of events that the stand which he originally took in regard to some essential question was wrong. He will now have to abandon his former position or else stick to it against his better knowledge and riper wisdom and after his reason and convictions have already proved it untenable. If he adopt the former line of action he will find himself in a difficult personal situation; because in giving up a position hitherto maintained he will appear inconsistent and will have no right to expect his followers to remain as loyal to his leadership as they were before. And, as regards the followers themselves, they may easily look upon their leader’s change of policy as showing a lack of judgment inherent in his character. Moreover, the change must cause in them a certain feeling of discomfiture vis-ŕ-vis those whom the leader formerly opposed.
If he adopts the second alternative – which so very frequently happens to-day – then public pronouncements of the leader have no longer his personal persuasion to support them. And the more that is the case the defense of his cause will be all the more hollow and superficial. He now descends to the adoption of vulgar means in his defense. While he himself no longer dreams seriously of standing by his political protestations to the last – for no man will die in defense of something in which he does not believe – he makes increasing demands on his followers. Indeed, the greater be the measure of his own insincerity, the more unfortunate and inconsiderate become his claims on his party adherents. Finally, he throws aside the last vestiges of true leadership and begins to play politics. This means that he becomes one of those whose only consistency is their inconsistency, associated with overbearing insolence and oftentimes an artful mendacity developed to a shamelessly high degree.
Should such a person, to the misfortune of all decent people, succeed in becoming a parliamentary deputy it will be clear from the outset that for him the essence of political activity consists in a heroic struggle to keep permanent hold on this milk-bottle as a source of livelihood for himself and his family. The more his wife and children are dependent on him, the more stubbornly will he fight to maintain for himself the representation of his parliamentary constituency. For that reason any other person who gives evidence of political capacity is his personal enemy. In every new movement he will apprehend the possible beginning of his own downfall. And everyone who is a better man than himself will appear to him in the light of a menace.
I shall subsequently deal more fully with the problem to which this kind of parliamentary vermin give rise.
When a man has reached his thirtieth year he has still a great deal to learn. That is obvious. But henceforward what he learns will principally be an amplification of his basic ideas; it will be fitted in with them organically so as to fill up the framework of the fundamental Weltanschhauung which he already possesses. What he learns anew will not imply the abandonment of principles already held, but rather a deeper knowledge of those principles. And thus his colleagues will never have the discomforting feeling that they have been hitherto falsely led by him. On the contrary, their confidence is increased when they perceive that their leader’s qualities are steadily developing along the lines of an organic growth which results from the constant assimilation of new ideas; so that the followers look upon this process as signifying an enrichment of the doctrines in which they themselves believe, in their eyes every such development is a new witness to the correctness of that whole body of opinion which has hitherto been held.
A leader who has to abandon the platform founded on his general principles, because he recognizes the foundation as false, can act with honour only when he declares his readiness to accept the final consequences of his erroneous views. In such a case he ought to refrain from taking public part in any further political activity. Having once gone astray on essential things he may possibly go astray a second time. But, anyhow, he has no right whatsoever to expect or demand that his fellow citizens should continue to give him their support.
How little such a line of conduct commends itself to our public leaders nowadays is proved by the general corruption prevalent among the cabal which at the present moment feels itself called to political leadership. In the whole cabal there is scarcely one who is properly equipped for this task.
Although in those days I used to give more time than most others to the consideration of political question, yet I carefully refrained from taking an open part in politics. Only to a small circle did I speak of those things which agitated my mind or were the cause of constant preoccupation for me. The habit of discussing matters within such a restricted group had many advantages in itself. Rather than talk at them, I learned to feel my way into the modes of thought and views of those men around me. Oftentimes such ways of thinking and such views were quite primitive. Thus I took every possible occasion to increase my knowledge of men.
Nowhere among the German people was the opportunity for making such a study so favorable as in Vienna.
In the old Danubian Monarchy political thought was wider in its range and had a richer variety of interests than in the Germany of that epoch – excepting certain parts of Prussia, Hamburg and the districts bordering on the North Sea. When I speak of Austria here I mean that part of the great Habsburg Empire which, by reason of its German population, furnished not only the historic basis for the formation of this State but whose population was for several centuries also the exclusive source of cultural life in that political system whose structure was so artificial. As time went on the stability of the Austrian State and the guarantee of its continued existence depended more and more on the maintenance of this germ-cell of that Habsburg Empire.
The hereditary imperial provinces constituted the heart of the Empire. And it was this heart that constantly sent the blood of life pulsating through the whole political and cultural system. Corresponding to the heart of the Empire, Vienna signified the brain and the will. At that time Vienna presented an appearance which made one think of her as an enthroned queen whose authoritative sway united the conglomeration of heterogenous nationalities that lived under the Habsburg sceptre. The radiant beauty of the capital city made one forget the sad symptoms of senile decay which the State manifested as a whole.
Though the Empire was internally rickety because of the terrific conflict going on between the various nationalities, the outside world – and Germany in particular – saw only that lovely picture of the city. The illusion was all the greater because at that time Vienna seemed to have risen to its highest pitch of splendour. Under a Mayor, who had the true stamp of administrative genius, the venerable residential City of the Emperors of the old Empire seemed to have the glory of its youth renewed. The last great German who sprang from the ranks of the people that had colonized the East Mark was not a ‘statesman’, in the official sense. This Dr. Luegar, however, in his rôle as Mayor of ‘the Imperial Capital and Residential City’, had achieved so much in almost all spheres of municipal activity, whether economic or cultural, that the heart of the whole Empire throbbed with renewed vigour. He thus proved himself a much greater statesman than the so-called ‘diplomats’ of that period.
The fact that this political system of heterogeneous races called Austria, finally broke down is no evidence whatsoever of political incapacity on the part of the German element in the old East Mark. The collapse was the inevitable result of an impossible situation. Ten million people cannot permanently hold together a State of fifty millions, composed of different and convicting nationalities, unless certain definite pre-requisite conditions are at hand while there is still time to avail of them.
The German-Austrian had very big ways of thinking. Accustomed to live in a great Empire, he had a keen sense of the obligations incumbent on him in such a situation. He was the only member of the Austrian State who looked beyond the borders of the narrow lands belonging to the Crown and took in all the frontiers of the Empire in the sweep of his mind. Indeed when destiny severed him from the common Fatherland he tried to master the tremendous task which was set before him as a consequence. This task was to maintain for the German-Austrians that patrimony which, through innumerable struggles, their ancestors had originally wrested from the East. It must be remembered that the German-Austrians could not put their undivided strength into this effort, because the hearts and minds of the best among them were constantly turning back towards their kinsfolk in the Motherland, so that only a fraction of their energy remained to be employed at home.
The mental horizon of the German-Austrian was comparatively broad. His commercial interests comprised almost every section of the heterogeneous Empire. The conduct of almost all important undertakings was in his hands. He provided the State, for the most part, with its leading technical experts and civil servants. He was responsible for carrying on the foreign trade of the country, as far as that sphere of activity was not under Jewish control, The German-Austrian exclusively represented the political cement that held the State together. His military duties carried him far beyond the narrow frontiers of his homeland. Though the recruit might join a regiment made up of the German element, the regiment itself might be stationed in Herzegovina as well as in Vienna or Galicia. The officers in the Habsburg armies were still Germans and so was the predominating element in the higher branches of the civil service. Art and science were in German hands. Apart from the new artistic trash, which might easily have been produced by a negro tribe, all genuine artistic inspiration came from the German section of the population. In music, architecture, sculpture and painting, Vienna abundantly supplied the entire Dual Monarchy. And the source never seemed to show signs of a possible exhaustion. Finally, it was the German element that determined the conduct of foreign policy, though a small number of Hungarians were also active in that field.
All efforts, however, to save the unity of the State were doomed to end in failure, because the essential pre-requisites were missing.
There was only one possible way to control and hold in check the centrifugal forces of the different and differing nationalities. This way was: to govern the Austrian State and organize it internally on the principle of centralization. In no other way imaginable could the existence of that State be assured.
Now and again there were lucid intervals in the higher ruling quarters when this truth was recognized. But it was soon forgotten again, or else deliberately ignored, because of the difficulties to be overcome in putting it into practice. Every project which aimed at giving the Empire a more federal shape was bound to be ineffective because there was no strong central authority which could exercise sufficient power within the State to hold the federal elements together. It must be remembered in this connection that conditions in Austria were quite different from those which characterized the German State as founded by Bismarck. Germany was faced with only one difficulty, which was that of transforming the purely political traditions, because throughout the whole of Bismarck’s Germany there was a common cultural basis. The German Empire contained only members of one and the same racial or national stock, with the exception of a few minor foreign fragments.
Demographic conditions in Austria were quite the reverse. With the exception of Hungary there was no political tradition, coming down from a great past, in any of the various affiliated countries. If there had been, time had either wiped out all traces of it, or at least, rendered them obscure. Moreover, this was the epoch when the principle of nationality began to be in ascendant; and that phenomenon awakened the national instincts in the various countries affiliated under the Habsburg sceptre. It was difficult to control the action of these newly awakened national forces; because, adjacent to the frontiers of the Dual Monarchy, new national States were springing up whose people were of the same or kindred racial stock as the respective nationalities that constituted the Habsburg Empire. These new States were able to exercise a greater influence than the German element.
Even Vienna could not hold out for a lengthy period in this conflict. When Budapest had developed into a metropolis a rival had grown up whose mission was, not to help in holding together the various divergent parts of the Empire, but rather to strengthen one part. Within a short time Prague followed the example of Budapest; and later on came Lemberg, Laibach and others. By raising these places which had formerly been provincial towns to the rank of national cities, rallying centres were provided for an independent cultural life. Through this the local national instincts acquired a spiritual foundation and therewith gained a more profound hold on the people. The time was bound to come when the particularist interests of those various countries would become stronger than their common imperial interests. Once that stage had been reached, Austria’s doom was sealed.
The course of this development was clearly perceptible since the death of Joseph II. Its rapidity depended on a number of factors, some of which had their source in the Monarchy itself; while others resulted from the position which the Empire had taken in foreign politics.
It was impossible to make anything like a successful effort for the permanent consolidation of the Austrian State unless a firm and persistent policy of centralization were put into force. Before everything else the principle should have been adopted that only one common language could be used as the official language of the State. Thus it would be possible to emphasize the formal unity of that imperial commonwealth. And thus the administration would have in its hands a technical instrument without which the State could not endure as a political unity. In the same way the school and other forms of education should have been used to inculcate a feeling of common citizenship. Such an objective could not be reached within ten or twenty years. The effort would have to be envisaged in terms of centuries; just as in all problems of colonization, steady perseverance is a far more important element than the output of energetic effort at the moment.
It goes without saying that in such circumstances the country must be governed and administered by strictly adhering to the principle of uniformity.
For me it was quite instructive to discover why this did not take place, or rather why it was not done. Those who were guilty of the omission must be held responsible for the break-up of the Habsburg Empire.
More than any other State, the existence of the old Austria depended on a strong and capable Government. The Habsburg Empire lacked ethnical uniformity, which constitutes the fundamental basis of a national State and will preserve the existence of such a State even though the ruling power should be grossly inefficient. When a State is composed of a homogeneous population, the natural inertia of such a population will hold the Stage together and maintain its existence through astonishingly long periods of misgovernment and maladministration. It may often seem as if the principle of life had died out in such a body-politic; but a time comes when the apparent corpse rises up and displays before the world an astonishing manifestation of its indestructible vitality.
But the situation is utterly different in a country where the population is not homogeneous, where there is no bond of common blood but only that of one ruling hand. Should the ruling hand show signs of weakness in such a State the result will not be to cause a kind of hibernation of the State but rather to awaken the individualist instincts which are slumbering in the ethnological groups. These instincts do not make themselves felt as long as these groups are dominated by a strong central will-to-govern. The danger which exists in these slumbering separatist instincts can be rendered more or less innocuous only through centuries of common education, common traditions and common interests. The younger such States are, the more their existence will depend on the ability and strength of the central government. If their foundation was due only to the work of a strong personality or a leader who is a man of genius, in many cases they will break up as soon as the founder disappears; because, though great, he stood alone. But even after centuries of a common education and experiences these separatist instincts I have spoken of are not always completely overcome. They may be only dormant and may suddenly awaken when the central government shows weakness and the force of a common education as well as the prestige of a common tradition prove unable to withstand the vital energies of separatist nationalities forging ahead towards the shaping of their own individual existence.
The failure to see the truth of all this constituted what may be called the tragic crime of the Habsburg rulers.
Only before the eyes of one Habsburg ruler, and that for the last time, did the hand of Destiny hold aloft the torch that threw light on the future of his country. But the torch was then extinguished for ever.
Joseph II, Roman Emperor of the German nation, was filled with a growing anxiety when he realized the fact that his House was removed to an outlying frontier of his Empire and that the time would soon be at hand when it would be overturned and engulfed in the whirlpool caused by that Babylon of nationalities, unless something was done at the eleventh hour to overcome the dire consequences resulting from the negligence of his ancestors. With superhuman energy this ‘Friend of Mankind’ made every possible effort to counteract the effects of the carelessness and thoughtlessness of his predecessors. Within one decade he strove to repair the damage that had been done through centuries. If Destiny had only granted him forty years for his labors, and if only two generations had carried on the work which he had started, the miracle might have been performed. But when he died, broken in body and spirit after ten years of rulership, his work sank with him into the grave and rests with him there in the Capucin Crypt, sleeping its eternal sleep, having never again showed signs of awakening.
His successors had neither the ability nor the will-power necessary for the task they had to face.
When the first signs of a new revolutionary epoch appeared in Europe they gradually scattered the fire throughout Austria. And when the fire began to glow steadily it was fed and fanned not by the social or political conditions but by forces that had their origin in the nationalist yearnings of the various ethnic groups.
The European revolutionary movement of 1848 primarily took the form of a class conflict in almost every other country, but in Austria it took the form of a new racial struggle. In so far as the German-Austrians there forgot the origins of the movement, or perhaps had failed to recognize them at the start and consequently took part in the revolutionary uprising, they sealed their own fate. For they thus helped to awaken the spirit of Western Democracy which, within a short while, shattered the foundations of their own existence.
The setting up of a representative parliamentary body, without insisting on the preliminary that only one language should be used in all public intercourse under the State, was the first great blow to the predominance of the German element in the Dual Monarchy. From that moment the State was also doomed to collapse sooner or later. All that followed was nothing but the historical liquidation of an Empire.
To watch that process of progressive disintegration was a tragic and at the same time an instructive experience. The execution of history’s decree was carried out in thousands of details. The fact that great numbers of people went about blindfolded amid the manifest signs of dissolution only proves that the gods had decreed the destruction of Austria.
I do not wish to dwell on details because that would lie outside the scope of this book. I want to treat in detail only those events which are typical among the causes that lead to the decline of nations and States and which are therefore of importance to our present age. Moreover, the study of these events helped to furnish the basis of my own political outlook.
Among the institutions which most clearly manifested unmistakable signs of decay, even to the weak-sighted Philistine, was that which, of all the institutions of State, ought to have been the most firmly founded – I mean the Parliament, or the Reichsrat (Imperial Council) as it was called in Austria.
The pattern for this corporate body was obviously that which existed in England, the land of classic democracy. The whole of that excellent organization was bodily transferred to Austria with as little alteration as possible.
As the Austrian counterpart to the British two-chamber system a Chamber of Deputies and a House of Lords (Herrenhaus) were established in Vienna. The Houses themselves, considered as buildings were somewhat different. When Barry built his palaces, or, as we say the Houses of Parliament, on the shore of the Thames, he could look to the history of the British Empire for the inspiration of his work. In that history he found sufficient material to fill and decorate the 1,200 niches, brackets, and pillars of his magnificent edifice. His statues and paintings made the House of Lords and the House of Commons temples dedicated to the glory of the nation.
There it was that Vienna encountered the first difficulty. When Hansen, the Danish architect, had completed the last gable of the marble palace in which the new body of popular representatives was to be housed he had to turn to the ancient classical world for subjects to fill out his decorative plan. This theatrical shrine of ‘Western Democracy’ was adorned with the statues and portraits of Greek and Roman statesmen and philosophers. As if it were meant for a symbol of irony, the horses of the quadriga that surmounts the two Houses are pulling apart from one another towards all four quarters of the globe. There could be no better symbol for the kind of activity going on within the walls of that same building.
The ‘nationalities’ were opposed to any kind of glorification of Austrian history in the decoration of this building, insisting that such would constitute an offence to them and a provocation. Much the same happened in Germany, where the Reich-stag, built by Wallot, was not dedicated to the German people until the cannons were thundering in the World War. And then it was dedicated by an inscription.
I was not yet twenty years of age when I first entered the Palace on the Franzens-ring to watch and listen in the Chamber of Deputies. That first experience aroused in me a profound feeling of repugnance.
I had always hated the Parliament, but not as an institution in itself. Quite the contrary. As one who cherished ideals of political freedom I could not even imagine any other form of government. In the light of my attitude towards the House of Habsburg I should then have considered it a crime against liberty and reason to think of any kind of dictatorship as a possible form of government.
A certain admiration which I had for the British Parliament contributed towards the formation of this opinion. I became imbued with that feeling of admiration almost without my being conscious of the effect of it through so much reading of newspapers while I was yet quite young. I could not discard that admiration all in a moment. The dignified way in which the British House of Commons fulfilled its function impressed me greatly, thanks largely to the glowing terms in which the Austrian Press reported these events. I used to ask myself whether there could be any nobler form of government than self-government by the people.
But these considerations furnished the very motives of my hostility to the Austrian Parliament. The form in which parliamentary government was here represented seemed unworthy of its great prototype. The following considerations also influenced my attitude:
The fate of the German element in the Austrian State depended on its position in Parliament. Up to the time that universal suffrage by secret ballot was introduced the German representatives had a majority in the Parliament, though that majority was not a very substantial one. This situation gave cause for anxiety because the Social-Democratic fraction of the German element could not be relied upon when national questions were at stake. In matters that were of critical concern for the German element, the Social-Democrats always took up an anti-German stand because they were afraid of losing their followers among the other national groups. Already at that time – before the introduction of universal suffrage – the Social-Democratic Party could no longer be considered as a German Party. The introduction of universal suffrage put an end even to the purely numerical predominance of the German element. The way was now clear for the further ‘de-Germanization’ of the Austrian State.
The national instinct of self-preservation made it impossible for me to welcome a representative system in which the German element was not really represented as such, but always betrayed by the Social-Democratic fraction. Yet all these, and many others, were defects which could not be attributed to the parliamentary system as such, but rather to the Austrian State in particular. I still believed that if the German majority could be restored in the representative body there would be no occasion to oppose such a system as long as the old Austrian State continued to exist.
Such was my general attitude at the time when I first entered those sacred and contentious halls. For me they were sacred only because of the radiant beauty of that majestic edifice. A Greek wonder on German soil.
But I soon became enraged by the hideous spectacle that met my eyes. Several hundred representatives were there to discuss a problem of great economical importance and each representative had the right to have his say.
That experience of a day was enough to supply me with food for thought during several weeks afterwards.
The intellectual level of the debate was quite low. Some times the debaters did not make themselves intelligible at all. Several of those present did not speak German but only their Slav vernaculars or dialects. Thus I had the opportunity of hearing with my own ears what I had been hitherto acquainted with only through reading the newspapers. A turbulent mass of people, all gesticulating and bawling against one another, with a pathetic old man shaking his bell and making frantic efforts to call the House to a sense of its dignity by friendly appeals, exhortations, and grave warnings.
I could not refrain from laughing.
Several weeks later I paid a second visit. This time the House presented an entirely different picture, so much so that one could hardly recognize it as the same place. The hall was practically empty. They were sleeping in the other rooms below. Only a few deputies were in their places, yawning in each other’s faces. One was speechifying. A deputy speaker was in the chair. When he looked round it was quite plain that he felt bored.
Then I began to reflect seriously on the whole thing. I went to the Parliament whenever I had any time to spare and watched the spectacle silently but attentively. I listened to the debates, as far as they could be understood, and I studied the more or less intelligent features of those ‘elect’ representatives of the various nationalities which composed that motley State. Gradually I formed my own ideas about what I saw.
A year of such quiet observation was sufficient to transform or completely destroy my former convictions as to the character of this parliamentary institution. I no longer opposed merely the perverted form which the principle of parliamentary representation had assumed in Austria. No. It had become impossible for me to accept the system in itself. Up to that time I had believed that the disastrous deficiencies of the Austrian Parliament were due to the lack of a German majority, but now I recognized that the institution itself was wrong in its very essence and form.
A number of problems presented themselves before my mind. I studied more closely the democratic principle of ‘decision by the majority vote’, and I scrutinized no less carefully the intellectual and moral worth of the gentlemen who, as the chosen representatives of the nation, were entrusted with the task of making this institution function.
Thus it happened that at one and the same time I came to know the institution itself and those of whom it was composed. And it was thus that, within the course of a few years, I came to form a clear and vivid picture of the average type of that most lightly worshipped phenomenon of our time – the parliamentary deputy. The picture of him which I then formed became deeply engraved on my mind and I have never altered it since, at least as far as essentials go.
Once again these object-lessons taken from real life saved me from getting firmly entangled by a theory which at first sight seems so alluring to many people, though that theory itself is a symptom of human decadence.
Democracy, as practised in Western Europe to-day, is the fore-runner of Marxism. In fact, the latter would not be conceivable without the former. Democracy is the breeding-ground in which the bacilli of the Marxist world pest can grow and spread. By the introduction of parliamentarianism, democracy produced an abortion of filth and fire 6), the creative fire of which, however, seems to have died out.
I am more than grateful to Fate that this problem came to my notice when I was still in Vienna; for if I had been in Germany at that time I might easily have found only a superficial solution. If I had been in Berlin when I first discovered what an illogical thing this institution is which we call Parliament, I might easily have gone to the other extreme and believed – as many people believed, and apparently not without good reason – that the salvation of the people and the Empire could be secured only by restrengthening the principle of imperial authority. Those who had this belief did not discern the tendencies of their time and were blind to the aspirations of the people.
In Austria one could not be so easily misled. There it was impossible to fall from one error into another. If the Parliament were worthless, the Habsburgs were worse; or at least not in the slightest degree better. The problem was not solved by rejecting the parliamentary system. Immediately the question arose: What then? To repudiate and abolish the Vienna Parliament would have resulted in leaving all power in the hands of the Habsburgs. For me, especially, that idea was impossible.
Since this problem was specially difficult in regard to Austria, I was forced while still quite young to go into the essentials of the whole question more thoroughly than I otherwise should have done.
The aspect of the situation that first made the most striking impression on me and gave me grounds for serious reflection was the manifest lack of any individual responsibility in the representative body.
The parliament passes some acts or decree which may have the most devastating consequences, yet nobody bears the responsibility for it. Nobody can be called to account. For surely one cannot say that a Cabinet discharges its responsibility when it retires after having brought about a catastrophe. Or can we say that the responsibility is fully discharged when a new coalition is formed or parliament dissolved? Can the principle of responsibility mean anything else than the responsibility of a definite person?
Is it at all possible actually to call to account the leaders of a parliamentary government for any kind of action which originated in the wishes of the whole multitude of deputies and was carried out under their orders or sanction? Instead of developing constructive ideas and plans, does the business of a statesman consist in the art of making a whole pack of blockheads understand his projects? Is it his business to entreat and coach them so that they will grant him their generous consent?
Is it an indispensable quality in a statesman that he should possess a gift of persuasion commensurate with the statesman’s ability to conceive great political measures and carry them through into practice?
Does it really prove that a statesman is incompetent if he should fail to win over a majority of votes to support his policy in an assembly which has been called together as the chance result of an electoral system that is not always honestly administered.
Has there ever been a case where such an assembly has worthily appraised a great political concept before that concept was put into practice and its greatness openly demonstrated through its success?
In this world is not the creative act of the genius always a protest against the inertia of the mass?
What shall the statesman do if he does not succeed in coaxing the parliamentary multitude to give its consent to his policy? Shall he purchase that consent for some sort of consideration?
Or, when confronted with the obstinate stupidity of his fellow citizens, should he then refrain from pushing forward the measures which he deems to be of vital necessity to the life of the nation? Should he retire or remain in power?
In such circumstances does not a man of character find himself face to face with an insoluble contradiction between his own political insight on the one hand and, on the other, his moral integrity, or, better still, his sense of honesty?
Where can we draw the line between public duty and personal honour?
Must not every genuine leader renounce the idea of degrading himself to the level of a political jobber?
And, on the other hand, does not every jobber feel the itch to ‘play politics’, seeing that the final responsibility will never rest with him personally but with an anonymous mass which can never be called to account for their deeds?
Must not our parliamentary principle of government by numerical majority necessarily lead to the destruction of the principle of leadership?
Does anybody honestly believe that human progress originates in the composite brain of the majority and not in the brain of the individual personality?
Or may it be presumed that for the future human civilization will be able to dispense with this as a condition of its existence?
But may it not be that, to-day, more than ever before, the creative brain of the individual is indispensable?
The parliamentary principle of vesting legislative power in the decision of the majority rejects the authority of the individual and puts a numerical quota of anonymous heads in its place. In doing so it contradicts the aristrocratic principle, which is a fundamental law of nature; but, of course, we must remember that in this decadent era of ours the aristrocratic principle need not be thought of as incorporated in the upper ten thousand.
The devastating influence of this parliamentary institution might not easily be recognized by those who read the Jewish Press, unless the reader has learned how to think independently and examine the facts for himself. This institution is primarily responsible for the crowded inrush of mediocre people into the field of politics. Confronted with such a phenomenon, a man who is endowed with real qualities of leadership will be tempted to refrain from taking part in political life; because under these circumstances the situation does not call for a man who has a capacity for constructive statesmanship but rather for a man who is capable of bargaining for the favor of the majority. Thus the situation will appeal to small minds and will attract them accordingly.
The narrower the mental outlook and the more meagre the amount of knowledge in a political jobber, the more accurate is his estimate of his own political stock, and thus he will be all the more inclined to appreciate a system which does not demand creative genius or even high-class talent; but rather that crafty kind of sagacity which makes an efficient town clerk. Indeed, he values this kind of small craftiness more than the political genius of a Pericles. Such a mediocrity does not even have to worry about responsibility for what he does. From the beginning he knows that whatever be the results of his ‘statesmanship’ his end is already prescribed by the stars; he will one day have to clear out and make room for another who is of similar mental calibre. For it is another sign of our decadent times that the number of eminent statesmen grows according as the calibre of individual personality dwindles. That calibre will become smaller and smaller the more the individual politician has to depend upon parliamentary majorities. A man of real political ability will refuse to be the beadle for a bevy of footling cacklers; and they in their turn, being the representatives of the majority – which means the dunder-headed multitude – hate nothing so much as a superior brain.
For footling deputies it is always quite a consolation to be led by a person whose intellectual stature is on a level with their own. Thus each one may have the opportunity to shine in debate among such compeers and, above all, each one feels that he may one day rise to the top. If Peter be boss to-day, then why not Paul tomorrow ?
This new invention of democracy is very closely connected with a peculiar phenomenon which has recently spread to a pernicious extent, namely the cowardice of a large section of our so-called political leaders. Whenever important decisions have to be made they always find themselves fortunate in being able to hide behind the backs of what they call the majority.
In observing one of these political manipulators one notices how he wheedles the majority in order to get their sanction for whatever action he takes. He has to have accomplices in order to be able to shift responsibility to other shoulders whenever it is opportune to do so. That is the main reason why this kind of political activity is abhorrent to men of character and courage, while at the same time it attracts inferior types; for a person who is not willing to accept responsibility for his own actions, but is always seeking to be covered by something, must be classed among the knaves and the rascals. If a national leader should come from that lower class of politicians the evil consequences will soon manifest themselves. Nobody will then have the courage to take a decisive step. They will submit to abuse and defamation rather than pluck up courage to take a definite stand. And thus nobody is left who is willing to risk his position and his career, if needs be, in support of a determined line of policy.
One truth which must always be borne in mind is that the majority can never replace the man. The majority represents not only ignorance but also cowardice. And just as a hundred blockheads do not equal one man of wisdom, so a hundred poltroons are incapable of any political line of action that requires moral strength and fortitude.
The lighter the burden of responsibility on each individual leader, the greater will be the number of those who, in spite of their sorry mediocrity, will feel the call to place their immortal energies at the disposal of the nation. They are so much on the tip-toe of expectation that they find it hard to wait their turn. They stand in a long queue, painfully and sadly counting the number of those ahead of them and calculating the hours until they may eventually come forward. They watch every change that takes place in the personnel of the office towards which their hopes are directed, and they are grateful for every scandal which removes one of the aspirants waiting ahead of them in the queue. If somebody sticks too long to his office stool they consider this as almost a breach of a sacred understanding based on their mutual solidarity. They grow furious and give no peace until that inconsiderate person is finally driven out and forced to hand over his cosy berth for public disposal. After that he will have little chance of getting another opportunity. Usually those placemen who have been forced to give up their posts push themselves again into the waiting queue unless they are hounded away by the protestations of the other aspirants.
The result of all this is that, in such a State, the succession of sudden changes in public positions and public offices has a very disquieting effect in general, which may easily lead to disaster when an adverse crisis arises. It is not only the ignorant and the incompetent person who may fall victim to those parliamentary conditions, for the genuine leader may be affected just as much as the others, if not more so, whenever Fate has chanced to place a capable man in the position of leader. Let the superior quality of such a leader be once recognized and the result will be that a joint front will be organized against him, particularly if that leader, though not coming from their ranks, should fall into the habit of intermingling with these illustrious nincompoops on their own level. They want to have only their own company and will quickly take a hostile attitude towards any man who might show himself obviously above and beyond them when he mingles in their ranks. Their instinct, which is so blind in other directions, is very sharp in this particular.
The inevitable result is that the intellectual level of the ruling class sinks steadily. One can easily forecast how much the nation and State are bound to suffer from such a condition of affairs, provided one does not belong to that same class of ‘leaders’.
The parliamentary régime in the old Austria was the very archetype of the institution as I have described it.
Though the Austrian Prime Minister was appointed by the King-Emperor, this act of appointment merely gave practical effect to the will of the parliament. The huckstering and bargaining that went on in regard to every ministerial position showed all the typical marks of Western Democracy. The results that followed were in keeping with the principles applied. The intervals between the replacement of one person by another gradually became shorter, finally ending up in a wild relay chase. With each change the quality of the ‘statesman’ in question deteriorated, until finally only the petty type of political huckster remained. In such people the qualities of statesmanship were measured and valued according to the adroitness with which they pieced together one coalition after another; in other words, their craftiness in manipulating the pettiest political transactions, which is the only kind of practical activity suited to the aptitudes of these representatives.
In this sphere Vienna was the school which offered the most impressive examples.
Another feature that engaged my attention quite as much as the features I have already spoken of was the contrast between the talents and knowledge of these representatives of the people on the one hand and, on the other, the nature of the tasks they had to face. Willingly or unwillingly, one could not help thinking seriously of the narrow intellectual outlook of these chosen representatives of the various constituent nationalities, and one could not avoid pondering on the methods through which these noble figures in our public life were first discovered.
It was worth while to make a thorough study and examination of the way in which the real talents of these gentlemen were devoted to the service of their country; in other words, to analyse thoroughly the technical procedure of their activities.
The whole spectacle of parliamentary life became more and more desolate the more one penetrated into its intimate structure and studied the persons and principles of the system in a spirit of ruthless objectivity. Indeed, it is very necessary to be strictly objective in the study of the institution whose sponsors talk of ‘objectivity’ in every other sentence as the only fair basis of examination and judgment. If one studied these gentlemen and the laws of their strenuous existence the results were surprising.
There is no other principle which turns out to be quite so ill-conceived as the parliamentary principle, if we examine it objectively.
In our examination of it we may pass over the methods according to which the election of the representatives takes place, as well as the ways which bring them into office and bestow new titles on them. It is quite evident that only to a tiny degree are public wishes or public necessities satisfied by the manner in which an election takes place; for everybody who properly estimates the political intelligence of the masses can easily see that this is not sufficiently developed to enable them to form general political judgments on their own account, or to select the men who might be competent to carry out their ideas in practice.
Whatever definition we may give of the term ‘public opinion’, only a very small part of it originates from personal experience or individual insight. The greater portion of it results from the manner in which public matters have been presented to the people through an overwhelmingly impressive and persistent system of ‘information’.
In the religious sphere the profession of a denominational belief is largely the result of education, while the religious yearning itself slumbers in the soul; so too the political opinions of the masses are the final result of influences systematically operating on human sentiment and intelligence in virtue of a method which is applied sometimes with almost-incredible thoroughness and perseverance.
By far the most effective branch of political education, which in this connection is best expressed by the word ‘propaganda’, is carried on by the Press. The Press is the chief means employed in the process of political ‘enlightenment’. It represents a kind of school for adults. This educational activity, however, is not in the hands of the State but in the clutches of powers which are partly of a very inferior character. While still a young man in Vienna I had excellent opportunities for coming to know the men who owned this machine for mass instruction, as well as those who supplied it with the ideas it distributed. At first I was quite surprised when I realized how little time was necessary for this dangerous Great Power within the State to produce a certain belief among the public; and in doing so the genuine will and convictions of the public were often completely misconstrued. It took the Press only a few days to transform some ridiculously trivial matter into an issue of national importance, while vital problems were completely ignored or filched and hidden away from public attention.
The Press succeeded in the magical art of producing names from nowhere within the course of a few weeks. They made it appear that the great hopes of the masses were bound up with those names. And so they made those names more popular than any man of real ability could ever hope to be in a long lifetime. All this was done, despite the fact that such names were utterly unknown and indeed had never been heard of even up to a month before the Press publicly emblazoned them. At the same time old and tried figures in the political and other spheres of life quickly faded from the public memory and were forgotten as if they were dead, though still healthy and in the enjoyment of their full viguour. Or sometimes such men were so vilely abused that it looked as if their names would soon stand as permanent symbols of the worst kind of baseness. In order to estimate properly the really pernicious influence which the Press can exercise one had to study this infamous Jewish method whereby honourable and decent people were besmirched with mud and filth, in the form of low abuse and slander, from hundreds and hundreds of quarters simultaneously, as if commanded by some magic formula.
These highway robbers would grab at anything which might serve their evil ends.
They would poke their noses into the most intimate family affairs and would not rest until they had sniffed out some petty item which could be used to destroy the reputation of their victim. But if the result of all this sniffing should be that nothing derogatory was discovered in the private or public life of the victim, they continued to hurl abuse at him, in the belief that some of their animadversions would stick even though refuted a thousand times. In most cases it finally turned out impossible for the victim to continue his defense, because the accuser worked together with so many accomplices that his slanders were re-echoed interminably. But these slanderers would never own that they were acting from motives which influence the common run of humanity or are understood by them. Oh, no. The scoundrel who defamed his contemporaries in this villainous way would crown himself with a halo of heroic probity fashioned of unctuous phraseology and twaddle about his ‘duties as a journalist’ and other mouldy nonsense of that kind. When these cuttle-fishes gathered together in large shoals at meetings and congresses they would give out a lot of slimy talk about a special kind of honour which they called the professional honour of the journalist. Then the assembled species would bow their respects to one another.
These are the kind of beings that fabricate more than two-thirds of what is called public opinion, from the foam of which the parliamentary Aphrodite eventually arises.
Several volumes would be needed if one were to give an adequate account of the whole procedure and fully describe all its hollow fallacies. But if we pass over the details and look at the product itself while it is in operation I think this alone will be sufficient to open the eyes of even the most innocent and credulous person, so that he may recognize the absurdity of this institution by looking at it objectively.
In order to realize how this human aberration is as harmful as it is absurd, the test and easiest method is to compare democratic parliamentarianism with a genuine German democracy.
The remarkable characteristic of the parliamentary form of democracy is the fact that a number of persons, let us say five hundred – including, in recent time, women also – are elected to parliament and invested with authority to give final judgment on anything and everything. In practice they alone are the governing body; for although they may appoint a Cabinet, which seems outwardly to direct the affairs of state, this Cabinet has not a real existence of its own. In reality the so-called Government cannot do anything against the will of the assembly. It can never be called to account for anything, since the right of decision is not vested in the Cabinet but in the parliamentary majority. The Cabinet always functions only as the executor of the will of the majority. Its political ability can be judged only according to how far it succeeds in adjusting itself to the will of the majority or in persuading the majority to agree to its proposals. But this means that it must descend from the level of a real governing power to that of a mendicant who has to beg the approval of a majority that may be got together for the time being. Indeed, the chief preoccupation of the Cabinet must be to secure for itself, in the case of’ each individual measure, the favor of the majority then in power or, failing that, to form a new majority that will be more favorably disposed. If it should succeed in either of these efforts it may go on ‘governing’ for a little while. If it should fail to win or form a majority it must retire. The question whether its policy as such has been right or wrong does not matter at all.
Thereby all responsibility is abolished in practice. To what consequences such a state of affairs can lead may easily be understood from the following simple considerations:
Those five hundred deputies who have been elected by the people come from various dissimilar callings in life and show very varying degrees of political capacity, with the result that the whole combination is disjointed and sometimes presents quite a sorry picture. Surely nobody believes that these chosen representatives of the nation are the choice spirits or first-class intellects. Nobody, I hope, is foolish enough to pretend that hundreds of statesmen can emerge from papers placed in the ballot box by electors who are anything else but averagely intelligent. The absurd notion that men of genius are born out of universal suffrage cannot be too strongly repudiated. In the first place, those times may be really called blessed when one genuine statesman makes his appearance among a people. Such statesmen do not appear all at once in hundreds or more. Secondly, among the broad masses there is instinctively a definite antipathy towards every outstanding genius. There is a better chance of seeing a camel pass through the eye of a needle than of seeing a really great man ‘discovered’ through an election.
Whatever has happened in history above the level of the average of the broad public has mostly been due to the driving force of an individual personality.
But here five hundred persons of less than modest intellectual qualities pass judgment on the most important problems affecting the nation. They form governments which in turn learn to win the approval of the illustrious assembly for every legislative step that may be taken, which means that the policy to be carried out is actually the policy of the five hundred.
And indeed, generally speaking, the policy bears the stamp of its origin.
But let us pass over the intellectual qualities of these representatives and ask what is the nature of the task set before them. If we consider the fact that the problems which have to be discussed and solved belong to the most varied and diverse fields we can very well realize how inefficient a governing system must be which entrusts the right of decision to a mass assembly in which only very few possess the knowledge and experience such as would qualify them to deal with the matters that have to be settled. The most important economic measures are submitted to a tribunal in which not more than one-tenth of the members have studied the elements of economics. This means that final authority is vested in men who are utterly devoid of any preparatory training which might make them competent to decide on the questions at issue.
The same holds true of every other problem. It is always a majority of ignorant and incompetent people who decide on each measure; for the composition of the institution does not vary, while the problems to be dealt with come from the most varied spheres of public life. An intelligent judgment would be possible only if different deputies had the authority to deal with different issues. It is out of the question to think that the same people are fitted to decide on transport questions as well as, let us say, on questions of foreign policy, unless each of them be a universal genius. But scarcely more than one genius appears in a century. Here we are scarcely ever dealing with real brains, but only with dilettanti who are as narrow-minded as they are conceited and arrogant, intellectual demi-mondes of the worst kind. This is why these honourable gentlemen show such astonishing levity in discussing and deciding on matters that would demand the most painstaking consideration even from great minds. Measures of momentous importance for the future existence of the State are framed and discussed in an atmosphere more suited to the card-table. Indeed the latter suggests a much more fitting occupation for these gentlemen than that of deciding the destinies of a people.
Of course it would be unfair to assume that each member in such a parliament was endowed by nature with such a small sense of responsibility. That is out of the question.
But this system, by forcing the individual to pass judgment on questions for which he is not competent gradually debases his moral character. Nobody will have the courage to say: "Gentlemen, I am afraid we know nothing about what we are talking about. I for one have no competency in the matter at all." Anyhow if such a declaration were made it would not change matters very much; for such outspoken honesty would not be understood. The person who made the declaration would be deemed an honourable ass who ought not to be allowed to spoil the game. Those who have a knowledge of human nature know that nobody likes to be considered a fool among his associates; and in certain circles honesty is taken as an index of stupidity.
Thus it happens that a naturally upright man, once he finds himself elected to parliament, may eventually be induced by the force of circumstances to acquiesce in a general line of conduct which is base in itself and amounts to a betrayal of the public trust. That feeling that if the individual refrained from taking part in a certain decision his attitude would not alter the situation in the least, destroys every real sense of honour which might occasionally arouse the conscience of one person or another. Finally, the otherwise upright deputy will succeed in persuading himself that he is by no means the worst of the lot and that by taking part in a certain line of action he may prevent something worse from happening.
A counter argument may be put forward here. It may be said that of course the individual member may not have the knowledge which is requisite for the treatment of this or that question, yet his attitude towards it is taken on the advice of his Party as the guiding authority in each political matter; and it may further be said that the Party sets up special committees of experts who have even more than the requisite knowledge for dealing with the questions placed before them.
At first sight, that argument seems sound. But then another question arises – namely, why are five hundred persons elected if only a few have the wisdom which is required to deal with the more important problems?
It is not the aim of our modern democratic parliamentary system to bring together an assembly of intelligent and well-informed deputies. Not at all. The aim rather is to bring together a group of nonentities who are dependent on others for their views and who can be all the more easily led, the narrower the mental outlook of each individual is. That is the only way in which a party policy, according to the evil meaning it has to-day, can be put into effect. And by this method alone it is possible for the wirepuller, who exercises the real control, to remain in the dark, so that personally he can never be brought to account for his actions. For under such circumstances none of the decisions taken, no matter how disastrous they may turn out for the nation as a whole, can be laid at the door of the individual whom everybody knows to be the evil genius responsible for the whole affair. All responsibility is shifted to the shoulders of the Party as a whole.
In practice no actual responsibility remains. For responsibility arises only from personal duty and not from the obligations that rest with a parliamentary assembly of empty talkers.
MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler
MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler
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MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler
MEIN KAMPF by Adolf Hitler