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Tuesday, June 07, 2005

German National Socialism

Yesterday, the world; today, the pits.

Economic and social conditions in Germany today are far from good, as I noted in German Social Engineering, More on Labor Unions and Germany’s Future, and Will the Nazis Make a Comeback?.

This dismal state of affairs is attributable directly to Germany’s abandonment of Christianity in the 19th century and its adoption of atheistic and materialistic socialism, imported from the French Revolutionary philosophers.  The loss of Christianity meant the loss of spiritual guidance and common standards of morality.  Had Christianity still prevailed in 1918, there could have been no socialistic Weimar Republic, nor Hitler’s National Socialism.

German citizens appear to have long since abandoned their former claims to ruling the European continent.  A strong sense of guilt seems to be more the prevailing mood.  But, apart from renunciation of imperial ambitions, Germany’s present-day socialism is just as it was under Hitler’s National Socialism (the Nazis).

Socialism, in the form of Napoleon’s imperial conquest of Europe in the opening decades of the 1800s, led to reactionary German nationalism that paved the way for Bismarck’s creation of the German Empire in the 1860s.  The combination of autocratic Prussian tradition and the socialistic doctrine then prevailing led Bismarck to institute the world’s first welfare state in the 1880s.  Germany’s failed imperial designs of World War I set the stage for Hitler’s rise. 

Today’s Wall Street Journal carries an analysis of the path leading to Germany’s current abysmal economic conditions.  If you are a subscriber to the Online Journal, you can access it here.

The writer, Gotz Aly, is professor of Holocaust research at the Fritz Bauer Institute of the University of Frankfurt am Main and author, most recently, of “Hitlers Volksstaat” (Fischer, Frankfurt; 2005).

The following are quotations from his essay.  His description of Germans’ dependency on the welfare state could also be applied to the attitude cultivated by American liberals.

“Typical of these two representatives [Helmut Kohl, former Chancellor and his successor, Gerhard Schr?der] of the ancien r?gime was their failure to explain publicly their late and half-hearted reforms. In ur-German, paternalistic tradition, they feared appealing to their fellow citizens’ intelligence by articulating plain truths. A state that spends 48% of its budget on social-welfare entitlements and 14% on interest payments on a growing mountain of debt, and can only invest 11% in modernizing infrastructure, has long since lost its ability to act. It is bankrupt. Any company that behaved this way would rightly be liable for fraudulent avoidance of bankruptcy under German law. An economy that requires at least half the hourly wage to be paid over to the government in the form of taxes and entitlements, and on top of that significant consumer and corporate taxes, is no longer competitive…..

“In the words of German constitutional court judge Udo Steiner, Germans have an “equality sickness” that makes them dependent on the welfare state. This describes our society’s worst burden, cultivated in the 20th century under various forms of government. Germans were never able to complete a bourgeois revolution. Their democratic institutions emerged from the chaos of defeat after two world wars—in which they had been insulted, frightened, humiliated and, after 1945, burdened with guilt, and were forced to seek a new beginning. Both times, the German democrats, who had always existed, took up the ideas of the American declaration of independence and the French revolution, but gave them a peculiar cast. The eternally conflicting principles of freedom and equality were reinterpreted and ranked in a specific, German way. Civil equality before the law became social equality, and freedom was, in case of doubt, always sacrificed to the idea of social equality.

“The collectivist “public good,” so defined, always ranked higher in the public mind than the protection of basic civil rights and universal human rights. To this day, Germans speak of a “Father State” that will always put things right. They see it as an insurance policy against absolutely everything. The vast majority believes, to this day, that the concepts of state and society are interchangeable—that they are synonymous.
“The policies of the “social market economy” in the early years of the Federal Republic paid tribute to this disastrous tradition. It was Konrad Adenauer who tied the level of state pension to income, and thus achieved sensational electoral victories without any concern for the future. At the same time, East German leaders declared the “unity of social and economic policy.” Despite the disaster that followed, the economic consequences of which Germany will be paying off for many years, many East Germans still look back fondly on the warm hearth of socialism.

“The not dissimilar welfare appeasement policies of both of the Third Reich’s successor states were based on a common foundation: the ideology of the “national community” popularized by the Nazi regime. Hitler did not maintain the famously good relationship between the people and the leadership for years merely or primarily by making wildly anti-Semitic speeches. From the beginning, he used all the familiar methods of bribery through social policy. For example, in the midst of the war, he raised old-age pensions by 15%, and as early as 1939 he made sure that German soldiers and their families received wages and family-support payments twice as high as those of British and American soldiers and their families. In addition, entitlements for families with children rose in the first four years of the war by an incredible 400%. For a long time, no one spoke of these roots of the German welfare state, and of our mentality.”

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