Mein Kampf by Adolf Hitler
Volume One: A Reckoning
Chapter III: General Political Considerations Based on My Vienna Period
TODAY it is my conviction that in general, aside from cases of unusual talent, a man should not engage in public political activity before his thirtieth year. He should not do so, because up to this time, as a rule, he is engaged in molding a general platform, on the basis of which he proceeds to examine the various political problems and finally establishes his own position on them. Only after he has acquired such a basic philosophy, and the resultant firmness of outlook on the special problems of the day, is he, inwardly at least, mature enough to be justified in partaking in the political leadership of the general public.
Otherwise he runs the risk of either having to change his former position on essential questions, or, contrary to his better knowledge and understanding, of clinging to a view which reason and conviction have long since discarded. In the former case this is most embarrassing to him personally, since, what with his own vacillations, he cannot justifiably expect the faith of his adherents to follow him with the same unswerving firmness as before; for those led by him, on the other hand, such a reversal on the part of the leader means perplexity and not rarely a certain feeling of shame toward those whom they hitherto opposed. In the second case, there occurs a thing which, particularly today, often confronts us: in the same measure as the leader ceases to believe in what he says, his arguments become shallow and flat, but he tries to make up for it by vileness in his choice of means. While he himself has given up all idea of fighting seriously for his political revelations (a man does not die for something which he himself does not believe in), his demands on his supporters become correspondingly greater and more shameless until he ends up by sacrificing the last shred of leadership and turning into a 'politician; in other words, the kind of man whose onlv real conviction is lack of conviction, combined with offensive impertinence and an art of lying, often developed to the point of complete shamelessness.
If to the misfortune of decent people such a character gets into a parliament, we may as well realize at once that the essence of his politics will from now on consist in nothing but an heroic struggle for the permanent possession of his feeding-bottle for himself and his family. The more his wife and children depend on it, the more tenaciously he will fight for his mandate. This alone will make every other man with political instincts his personal enemy; in every new movement he will scent the possible beginning of his end, and in every man of any greatness the danger which menaces him through that man.
I shall have more to say about this type of parliamentary bedbug.
Even a man of thirty will have much to learn in the course of his life, but this will only be to supplement and fill in the framework provided him by the philosophy he has basically adopted When he learns, his learning will not have to be a revision of principle, but a supplementary study, and his supporters will not have to choke down the oppressive feeling that they have hitherto been falsely instructed by him. On the contrary: the visible organic growth of the leader will give them satisfaction, for when he learns, he will only be deepening their own philosophy. And this in their eyes will be a proof for the correctness of the views they have hitherto held.
A leader who must depart from the platform of his general philosophy as such, because he recognizes it to be false, behaves with decency only if, in recognizing the error of his previous insight, he is prepared to draw the ultimate consequence. In such a case he must, at the very least, renounce the public exercise of any further political activity. For since in matters of basic knowledge he has once succumbed to an error, there is a possibility that this will happen a second time. And in no event does he retain the right to continue claiming, not to mention demanding, the confidence of his fellow citizens.
How little regard is taken of such decency today is attested by the general degeneracy of the rabble which contemporaneously feel justified in 'going into' politics.
Hardly a one of them is fit for it.
I had carefully avoided any public appearance, though I think that I studied politics more closely than many other men. Only in the smallest groups did I speak of the things which inwardly moved or attracted me. This speaking in the narrowest circles had many good points: I learned to orate less, but to know people with their opinions and objections that were often so boundlessly primitive. And I trained myself, without losing the time and occasion for the continuance of my own education. It is certain that nowhere else in Germany was the opportunity for this so favorable as in Vienna.
General political thinking in the old Danubian monarchy was just then broader and more comprehensive in scope than in old Germany, excluding parts of Prussia, Hamburg, and the North Sea coast, at the same period. In this case, to be sure, I understand, under the designation of 'Austria,' that section of the great Habsburg Empire which, in consequence of its German settlement, not only was the historic cause of the very formation of this state, but whose population, moreover, exclusively demonstrated that power which for so many centuries was able to give this structure, so artificial in the political sense, its inner cultural life. As time progressed, the existence and future of this state came to depend more and more on the preservation of this nuclear cell of the Empire.
If the old hereditary territories were the heart of the Empire continually driving fresh blood into the circulatory stream of political and cultural life, Vienna was the brain and will in one
Its mere outward appearance justified one in attributing to this city the power to reign as a unifying queen amid such a conglomeration of peoples, thus by the radiance of her own beauty causing us to forget the ugly symptoms of old age in the structure as a whole.
The Empire might quiver and quake beneath the bloody battles of the different nationalities, yet foreigners, and especially Germans, saw only the charming countenance of this city. Wblt made the deception all the greater was that Vienna at that time seemed engaged in what was perhaps its last and greatest visible revival. Under the rule of a truly gifted mayor, the venerable residence of the Emperors of the old regime awoke once more to a :-niraculous youth. The last great German to be born in the ranks of the people who had colonized the Ostmark was not officially numbered among socalled Statesmen'; but as mayor of Vienna, this capital and imperial residence,' Dr. Lueger conjured up one amazing achievement after another in, we may say, every field of economic and cultural municipal politics, thereby strengthening the heart of the whole Empire, and indirectly becoming a statesman greater than all the so-called 'diplomats' of the time
If the conglomeration of nations called 'Austria' nevertheless perished in the end, this does not detract in the least from the political ability of the Germans in the old Ostmark, but was the necessary result of the impossibility of permanently maintaining a state of fifty million people of different nationalities by means of ten million people, unless certain definite prerequisites were established in time.
The ideas of the German-Austrian were more than grandiose.
He had always been accustomed to living in a great empire and had never lost his feeling for the tasks bound up with it. He was the only one in this state who, beyond the narrow boundaries of the crown lands, still saw the boundaries of the Reich; indeed, when Fate finally parted him from the common fatherland, he kept on striving to master the gigantic task and preserve for the German people what his fathers had once wrested from the East in endless struggles. In this connection it should be borne in mind that this had to be done with divided energy; for the heart and memory of the best never ceased to feel for the common mother country, and only a remnant was left for the homeland.
The general horizon of the German-Austrian was in itself comparatively broad. His economic connections frequently embraced almost the entire multiform Empire. Nearly all the big business enterprises were in his hands; the directing personnel, both technicians and officials, were in large part provided by him. He was also in charge of foreign trade in so far as the Jews had not laid their hands on this domain, which they have always seized for their own. Politically, he alone held the state together. Military service alone cast him far beyond the narrow boundaries of his homeland. The German-Austrian recruit might join a German regiment, but the regiment itself might equally well be in Herzegovina, Vienna, or Galicia. The officers' corps was still German, the higher officials predominantly so. Finally, art and science were German. Aside from the trash of the more modern artistic development, which a nation of Negroes might just as well have produced, the German alone possessed and disseminated a truly artistic attitude. In music, architecture, sculpture, and painting, Vienna was the source supplying the entire dual monarchy in inexhaustible abundance, without ever seeming to go dry itself.
Finally, the Germans directed the entire foreign policy if we disregard a small number of Hungarians.
And yet any attempt to preserve this Empire was in vain, for the most essential premise was lacking.
For the Austrian state of nationalities there was only one possibility of overcoming the centrifugal forces of the individual nations. Either the state was centrally governed hence internally organized along the same lines. or it was altogether inconceivable.
At various lucid moments this insight dawned on the ' supreme ' authority. But as a rule it was soon forgotten or shelved as difficult of execution. Any thought of a more federative organization of the Empire was doomed to failure owing to the lack of a strong political germ-cell of outstanding power. Added to this were the internal conditions of the Austrian state which differed essentially from the German Empire of Bismarck. In Germany it was only a question of overcoming political conditions, since there was always a common cultural foundation. Above all, the Reich, aside from little foreign splinters, embraced members of only one people.
In Austria the opposite was the case.
Here the individual provinces, aside from Hungary, lacked any political memory of their own greatness, or it had been erased by the sponge of time, or at least blurred and obscured. In the period when the principle of nationalities was developing, however, national forces rose up in the various provinces, and to counteract them was all the more difficult as on the rim of the monarchy national states began to form whose populations, racially equivalent or related to the Austrian national splinters, were now able to exert a greater power of attraction than, conversely, remained possible for the GermanAustrian.
Even Vienna could not forever endure this struggle.
With the development of Budapest into a big city, she had for the first time a rival whose task was no longer to hold the entire monarchy together, but rather to strengthen a part of it. In a short time Prague was to follow her example, then Lemberg, Laibach, etc. With the rise of these former provincial cities to national capitals of individual provinces, centers formed for more or less independent cultural life in these provinces. And only then did the politico-national instincts obtain their spiritual foundation and depth. The time inevitably approached when these dynamic forces of the individual peoples would grow sponger than the force of common interests, and that would be the end of Austria.
Since the death of Joseph II the course of this development was clearly discernible. Its rapidity depended on a series of factors which in part lay in the monarchy itself and in part were the result of the Empire's momentary position on foreign policy.
If the fighf for the preservation of this state was to be taken up and carried on in earnest, only a ruthless and persistent policy of centralization could lead to the goal. First of all, the purely formal cohesion had to be emphasized by the establishment in principle of a uniform official language, and the administration had to be given the technical implement without which a unified state simply cannot exist. Likewise a unified state-consciousness could only be bred for any length of time by schools and education. This was not feasible in ten or twenty years; it was inevitably a matter of centuries; for in all questions of colonization, persistence assumes greater importance than the energy of the moment.
It goes without saying that the administration as well as the political direction must be conducted with strict uniforrnity. To me it was infinitely instructive to ascertain why this did not occur,. or rather, why it was not done.l He who was guilty of this omission was alone to blame for the collapse of the Empire.
Old Austria more than any other state depended on the greatness of her leaders. The foundation was lacking for a national state, which in its national basis always possesses the power of survival, regardless how deficient the leadership as such may be. A homogeneous national state can, by virtue of the natural inertia of its inhabitants, and the resulting power of resistance, sometimes withstand astonishingly long periods of the worst administration or leadership without inwardly disintegrating. At such times it often seems as though there were no more life in such a body, as though it were dead and done for, but one fine day the supposed corpse suddenly rises and gives the rest of humanity astonishing indications of its unquenchable vital force.
It is different, however, with an empire not consisting of similar peoples, which is held together not by common blood but by a common fist. In this case the weakness of leadership will not cause a hibernation of the state, but an awakening of all the individual instincts which are present in the blood, but carmot develop in times when there is a dominant will. Only by a common education extending over centuries, by common tradition, common interests, etc., can this danger be attenuated. Hence the younger such state formations are, the more they depend on the greatness of leadership, and if they are the work of outstanding soldiers and spiritual heroes, they often crumble immediately after the death of the great solitary founder. But even after centuries these dangers cannot be regarded as overcome; they only lie dormant, often suddenly to awaken as soon as the weakness of the common leadership and the force of education and all the sublime traditions can no longer overcome the impetus of the vital urge of the individual tribes.
Not to have understood this is perhaps the tragic guilt of the House of Habsburg.
For only a single one of them did Fate once again raise high the torch over the future of his country, then it was extinguished for-ever.
Joseph IIX Roman Emperor of the German nation, saw with fear and trepidation how his House, forced to the outermost corner of the Empire, would one day inevitably vanish in the maelstrom of a Babylon of nations unless at the eleventh hour the omissions of his forefathers were made good. With super-human power this 'friend of man' braced himself against the negligence of his ancestors and endeavored to retrieve in one decade what centuries had failed to do. If he had been granted only forty years for his work, and if after him even two generations had continued his work as he began it, the miracle would probably have been achieved. But when, after scarcely ten years on the thrones worn in body and soul, he died, his work sank with him into the grave, to awaken no more and sleep forever in the Capuchin crypt. His successors were equal to the task neither in mind nor in will.
When the first revolutionary lightnings of a new era flashed through Europe, Austria, too, slowly began to catch fire, little by little. But when the fire at length broke out, the flame was fanned less by social or general political causes than by dynamic forces of national origin.
The revolution of 1848 may have been a class struggle everywhere, but in Austria it was the beginning of a new racial war. By forgetting or not recognizing this origin and putting themselves in the service of the revolutionary uprising, the Germans sealed their own fate. They helped to arouse the spirit of 'Western democracy,' which in a short time removed the foundations of their own existence.
With the formation of a parliamentary representative body without the previous establishment and crystallization of a common state language, the cornerstone had been laid for the end of German domination of the monarchy.' From this moment on the state itself was lost. All that followed was merely the historic liquidation of an empire.
To follow this process of dissolution was as heartrending as it was instructive. This execution of an historical sentence was carried out in detail in thousands and thousands of forrns. The fact that a large part of the people moved blindly through the manifestations of decay showed only that the gods had willed Austria's destruction.
I shall not lose myself in details on this point, for that is not the function of this book. I shall only submit to a more thoroughgoing observation those events which are the everunchanging causes of the decline of nations and states, thus possessing significance for our time as well, and which ultimately contributed to securing the foundations of my own political thinking.
At the head of those institutions which could most clearly have revealed the erosion of the Austrian monarchy, even to a shopkeeper not otherwise gifted with sharp eyes, was one which ought to have had the greatest strength parliament, or, as it was called in Austria, the Reichsrat.
Obviously the example of this body had been taken from England, the land of classical 'democracy.' From there the whole blissful institution was taken and transferred as unchanged as possible to Vienna.
The English two-chamber system was solemnly resurrected in the Abgeordnetenhaus and the Herrenhaus. Except that the houses' themselves were somewhat different. When Barry raised his parliament buildings from the waters of the Thames, he thrust into the history of the British Empire and from it took the decorations for the twelve hundred niches, consoles, and pillars of his magnificent edifice. Thus, in their sculpture and painting, the House of Lords and the House of Commons became the nation's Hall of Fame.
This was where the first difficulty came in for Vienna. For when Hansen, the Danish builder, had completed the last pinnacle on the marble building of the new parliament, there was nothing he could use as decoration except borrowings from antiquity. Roman and &reek statesmen and philosophers now embellish this opera house of Western democracy, and in symbolic irony the quadrigae fiy from one another in all four directions above the two houses, in this way giving the best external expres sion of the activities that went on inside the building.
The 'nationalities' had vetoed the glorification of Austrian
history in this work as an insult and provocation, just as in the Reich itself it was only beneath the thunder of World War battles that they dared to dedicate Wallot's Reichstag Building to the German people by an inscription.
When, not yet twenty years old, I set foot for the first time in the magnificent building on the Franzensring to attend a session of the House of Deputies as a spectator and listener, I was seized with the most conflicting sentiments.
I had always hated parliament, but not as an institution in itself. On the contrary, as a freedom-loving man I could not even conceive of any other possibility of government, for the idea of any sort of dictatorship would, in view of my attitude toward the House of Habsburg, have seemed to me a crime against freedom and all reason.
What contributed no little to this was that as a young man, in consequence of my extensive newspaper reading, I had, without myself realizing it, been inoculated with a certain admiration for the British Parliament, of which I was not easily able to rid myself. The dignity with which the Lower House there fulfilled its tasks (as was so touchingly described in our press) impressed me immensely. Could a people have any more exalted form of selfgovernment?
But for this very reason I was an enemy of the Austrian parliament. I considered its whole mode of conduct unworthy of the great example. To this the following was now added:
The fate of the Germans in the Austrian state was dependent on their position in the Reichsrat. Up to the introduction of universal and secret suffrage, the Germans had had a majority, though an insignificant one, in parliament. Even this condition was precarious, for the Social Democrats, with their unreliable attitude in national questions, always turned against German interests in critical matters affecting the Germans-in order not to alienate the members of the various foreign nationalities. Even in those days the Social Democracy could not be regarded as a German party. And with the introduction of universal suffrage the German superiority ceased even in a purely numerical sense. There was no longer any obstacle in the path of the further de-Germanization of the state.
For this reason my instinct of national self-preservation caused me even in those days to have little love for a representative body in which the Germans were always misrepresented rather than represented. Yet these were deficiencies which, like so many others, were attributable, not to the thing in itself, but to the Austrian state. I still believed that if a German majority were restored in the representative bodies, there would no longer be any reason for a principled opposition to them, that is, as long as the old state continued to exist at all.
These were my inner sentiments when for the first time I set foot in these halls as hallowed as they were disputed. For me, to be sure, they were hallowed only by the lofty beauty of the magnificent building. A Hellenic miracle on German soil!
How soon was I to grow indignant when I saw the lamentable comedy that unfolded beneath my eyes!
Present were a few hundred of these popular representatives who had to take a position on a question of most vital economic importance.
The very first day was enough to stimulate me to thought for weeks on end.
The intellectual content of what these men said was on a really depressing level, in so far as you could understand their babbling at all; for several of the gentlemen did not speak German, but their native Slavic languages or rather dialects. I now had occasion to hear with my own ears what previously I had known only from reading the newspapers. A wild gesticulating mass screaming all at once in every different key, presided over by a goodnatured old uncle who was striving in the sweat of his brow to revive the dignity of the House by violently ringing his bell and alternating gentle reproofs with grave admonitions.
I couldn't help laughing.
A few weeks later I was in the House again. The picture was changed beyond recognition. The hall was absolutely empty. Down below everybody was asleep. A few deputies were in their places, yawning at one another; one was 'speaking.' A vicepresident of the House was present, looking into the hall with obvious boredom.
The first misgivings arose in me. From now on, whenever time offered me the slightest opportunity, I went back and, with silence and attention, viewed whatever picture presented itself, listened to the speeches in so far as they were intelligible, studied the more or less intelligent faces of the elect of the peoples of this woe-begone state-and little by little formed my own ideas.
A year of this tranquil observation sufficed totally to change or eliminate my former view of the nature of this institution. My innermost position was no longer against the misshapen form which this idea assumed in Austria; no, by now I could no longer accept the parliament as such. Up till then I had seen the misfortune of the Austrian parliament in the absence of a German majority; now I saw that its ruination lay in the whole nature and essence of the institution as such.
A whole series of questions rose up in me.
I began to make myself familiar with the democratic principle of majority rule as the foundation of this whole institution, but devoted no less attention to the intellectual and moral values of these gentlemen, supposedly the elect of the nations, who were expected to serve this purpose.
Thus I came to know the institution and its representatives at once.
In the course of a few years, my knowledge and insight shaped a plastic model of that most dignified phenomenon of modern times: the parliamentarian. He began to impress himself upon me in a form which has never since been subjected to any essential change.
Here again the visual instruction of practical reality had prevented me from being stifled by a theory which at first sight seemed seductive to so many, but which none the less must be counted among the symptoms of human degeneration.
The Western democracy of today is the forerunner of Marxism which without it would not be thinkable. It provides this world plague with the culture in which its germs can spread. In its most extreme forrn, parliamentarianism created a 'monstrosity of excrement and fire,' in which, however, sad to say, the 'fire' seems to me at the moment to be burned out.
I must be more than thankful to Fate for laying this question before me while I was in Vienna, for I fear that in Germany at that time I would have found the answer too easily. For if I had first encountered this absurd institution known as 'parliament' in Berlin, I might have fallen into the opposite fallacy, and not without seemingly good cause have sided with those who saw the salvation of the people and the Reich exclusively in furthering the power of the imperial idea, and who nevertheless were alien and blind at once to the times and the people involved.
In Austria this was impossible.
Here it was not so easy to go from one mistake to the other. If parliament was worthless, the Habsburgs were even more worthless-in no event, less so. To reject 'parliamentarianism' was not enough, for the question still remained open: what then? The rejection and abolition of the Reichsrat would have left the House of Habsburg the sole governing force, a thought which, especially for me, was utterly intolerable.
The difficulty of this special case led me to a more thorough contemplation of the problem as such than would otherwise have been likely at such tender years.
What gave me most food for thought was the obvious absence of any responsibility in a single person.
The parliament arrives at some decision whose consequences may be ever so ruinous-nobody bears any responsibility for this, no one can be taken to account. For can it be called an acceptance of responsibility if, after an unparalleled catastrophe, the guilty government resigns? Or if the coalition changes, or even if parliament is itself dissolved?
Can a fluctuating majority of people ever be made responsible in any case?
Isn't the very idea of responsibility bound up with the individual?
But can an individual directing a government be made practically responsiblefor actions whose preparation and execution must be set exclusively to the account of the will and inclination of a multitude of men?
Or will not the task of a leading statesman be seen, not in the birth of a creative idea or plan as such, but rather in the art of making the brilliance of his projects intelligible to a herd of sheep and blockheads, and subsequently begging for their kind approval?
Is it the criterion of the statesman that he should possess the art of persuasion in as high degree as that of political intelligence in formulating great policies or decisions? Is the incapacity of a leader shown by the fact that he does not succeed in winning for a certain idea the majority of a mob thrown together by more or less savory accidents?
Indeed, has this mob ever understood an idea before success proclaimed its greatness?
Isn't every deed of genius in this world a visible protest of genius against the inertia of the mass?
And what should the statesman do, who does not succeed in gaining the favor of this mob for his plans by flattery?
Should he buy it?
Or, in view of the stupidity of his fellow citizens, should he renounce the execution of the tasks which he has recognized to be vital necessities? Should he resign or should he remain at his post?
In such a case, doesn't a man of true character find himself in a hopeless conflict between knowledge and decency, or rather honest conviction?
Where is the dividing line between his duty toward the general public and his duty toward his personal honor?
Mustn't every true leader refuse to be thus degraded to the level of a political gangster?
And, conversely, mustn't every gangster feel that he is cut out for politics, since it is never he, but some intangible mob, which has to bear the ultimate responsibility?
Mustn't our principle of parliamentary majorities lead to the demolition of any idea of leadership?
Does anyone believe that the progress of this world springs from the mind of majoritiesand not from the brains of individuals?
Or does anyone expect that the future will be able to dispense with this premise of human culture?
Does it not, on the contrary, today seem more indispensable than ever?
By rejecting the authority of the individual and replacing it by the numbers of some momentary mob, the parliamentary principle of majority rule sins against the basic aristocratic principle of Nature, though it must be said that this view is not necessarily embodied in the present-day decadence of our upper ten thousand.
The devastation caused by this institution of modern parliamentary rule is hard for the reader of Jewish newspapers to imagine, unless he has learned to think and examine independently. It is, first and foremost, the cause of the incredible inundation of all political life with the most inferior, and I mean the most inferior, characters of our time. Just as the true leader will withdraw from all political activity which does not consist primarily in creative achievement and work, but in bargaining and haggling for the favor of the majority, in the same measure this activity will suit the small mind and consequently attract it.
The more dwarfish one of these present-day leathermerchants is in spirit and ability, the more clearly his own insight makes him aware of the lamentable figure he actually cuts-that much more will he sing the praises of a system which does not demand of him the power and genius of a giant, but is satisfied with the craftiness of a village mayor, preferring in fact this kind of wisdom to that of a Pericles. And this kind doesn't have to torment himself with responsibility for his actions. He is entirely removed from such worry, for he well knows that, regardless what the result of his 'statesmanlike' bungling may be, his end has long been written in the stars: one day he will have to cede his place to another equally great mind, for it is one of the characteristics of this decadent system that the number of great statesmen increases in proportion as the stature of the individual decreases With increasing dependence on parliamentary majorities it will inevitably continue to shrink, since on the one hand great minds will refuse to be the stooges of idiotic incompetents and bigmouths, and on the other, conversely, the representatives of the majority, hence of stupidity, hate nothing more passionately than a superior mind.
For such an assembly of wise men of Gotham, it is always a consolation to know that they are headed by a leader whose intelligence is at the level of those present: this will give each one the pleasure of shining from time to time-and, above all, if Tom can be master, what is to prevent Dick and Harry from having their turn too?
This invention of democracy is most intimately related to a quality which in recent times has grown to be a real disgrace, to wit, the cowardice of a great part of our so-called 'leadership. What luck to be able to hide behind the skirts of a so-called majority in all decisions of any real importance!
Take a look at one of these political bandits. How anxiously he begs the approval of the majority for every measure, to assure himself of the necessary accomplices, so he can unload the responsibility at any time. And this is one of the main reasons why this type of political activity is always repulsive and hateful to any man who is decent at heart and hence courageous, while it attracts all low characters-and anyone who is unwilling to take personal responsibility for his acts, but seeks a shield, is a cowardly scoundrel. When the leaders of a nation consist of such vile creatures, the results will soon be deplorable. Such a nation will be unable to muster the courage for any determined act; it will prefer to accept any dishonor, even the most shameful, rather than rise to a decision; for there is no one who is prepared of his own accord to pledge his person and his head for the execution of a dauntless resolve.
For there is one thing which we must never forget: in this, too, the majority can never replace the man. It is not only a representative of stupidity, but of cowardice as well. And no more than a hundred empty heads make one wise man will an heroic decision arise from a hundred cowards.
The less the responsibility of the individual leader, the more numerous will be those who, despite their most insignificant stature, feel called upon to put their immortal forces in the service of the nation. Indeed, they will be unable to await their turn; they stand in a long line, and with pain and regret count the number of those waiting ahead of them, calculating almost the precise hour at which, in all probability, their turn will come. Consequently, they long for any change in the office hovering before their eyes, and are thankful for any scandal which thins out the ranks ahead of them. And if some man is unwilling to move from the post he holds, this in their eyes is practically a breach of a holy pact of solidarity. They grow vindictive, and they do not rest until the impudent fellow is at last overthrown, thus turning his warm place back to the public. And, rest assured, he won't recover the position so easily. For as soon as one of these creatures is forced to give up a position, he will try at once to wedge his way into the 'waiting-line' unless the hue and cry raised by the others prevents him.
The consequence of all this is a terrifying turn-over in the most important offices and positions of such a state, a result which is always harmful, but sometimes positively catastrophic. For it is not only the simpleton and incompetent who will fall victim to thus custom, but to an even greater extent the real leader, if Fate somehow manages to put one in this place. As soon as this fact has been recognized, a solid front will form against him, especially if such a mind has not arisen from their own ranks, but none the less dares to enter into this exalted society. For on principle these gentry like to be among themselves and they hate as a common enemy any brain which stands even slightly above the zeros. And in this respect their instinct is as much sharper as it is deficient in everything else.
The result will be a steadily expanding intellectual impoverishment of the leading circles. The result for the nation and the state, everyone can judge for himself, excepting in so far as he himself is one of these kind of 'leaders.'
Old Austria possessed the parliamentary regime in its purest form.
To be sure, the prime ministers were always appointed by the Emperor and King, but this very appointment was nothing halt the execution of the parliamentary will. The haggling and bargaining for the individual portfolios represented Western democracy of the first water. And the results corresponded to the principles applied. Particularly the change of individual personalities occurred in shorter and shorter terms, ultimately becoming a veritable chase. In the same measure, the stature of the ' statesmen ' steadily diminished until finally no one remained but that type of parliamentary gangster whose statesmanship could only be measured and recognized by their ability in pasting together the coalitions of the moment; in other words, concluding those pettiest of political bargains which alone demonstrate the fitness of these representatives of the people for practical work.
Thus the Viennese school transmitted the best impressions in this field.
But what attracted me no less was to compare the ability and knowledge of these representatives of the people and the tasks which awaited them. In this case, whether I liked it or not, I was impelled to examine more closely the intellectual horizon of these elect of the nations themselves, and in so doing, I could not avoid giving the necessary attention to the processes which lead to the discovery of these ornaments of our public life.
The way in which the real ability of these gentlemen was applied and placed in the service of the fatherland-in other words, the technical process of their activity-was also worthy of thorough study and investigation.
The more determined I was to penetrate these inner conditions, to study the personalities and material foundations with dauntless and penetrating objectivity, the more deplorable became my total picture of parliamentary life. Indeed, this is an advisable procedure in dealing with an institution which, in the person of its representatives, feels obliged to bring up ' objectivity ' in every second sentence as the only proper basis for every investigation and opinion. Investigate these gentlemen themselves and the laws of their sordid existence, and you will be amazed at the result.
There is no principle which, objectively considered, is as false a,s that of parliamentarianism.
Here we may totally disregard the manner in which our fine representatives of the people are chosen, how they arrive at their office and their new dignity. That only the tiniest fraction of them rise in fulfillment of a general desire, let alone a need, will at once be apparent to anyone who realizes that the political understanding of the broad masses is far from being highly enough developed to arrive at definite general political views of their own accord and seek out the suitable personalities.
The thing we designate by the word 'public opinion' rests only in the smallest part on experience or knowledge which the individual has acquired by hirnself, but rather on an idea which is inspired by so-called 'enlightenment,' often of a highly persistent and obtrusive type.
Just as a man's denominational orientation is the result of upbringing, and only the religious need as such slumbers in his soul, the political opinion of the masses represents nothing but the final result of an incredibly tenacious and thorough manipulation of their mind and soul.
By far the greatest share in their political 'education,' which in this case is most aptly designated by the word 'propaganda,' falls to the account of the press. It is foremost in performing this 'work of enlightenment' and thus represents a sort of school for grown-ups. This instruction, however, is not in the hands of the state, but in the claws of forces which are in part very inferior. In Vienna as a very young man I had the best opportunity to become acquainted with the owners and spiritual manufacturers of this machine for educating the masses. At first I could not help but be amazed at how short a time it took this great evil power within the state to create a certain opinion even where it meant totally falsifying profound desiresand views which surely existed among the public. In a few days a ridiculous episode had become a significant state action, while, conversely, at the same time, vital problems fell a prey to public oblivion, or rather were simply filched from the memory and consciousness of the masses.
Thus, in the course of a few weeks it was possible to conjure up names out of the void, to associate them with incredible hopes on the part of the broad public, even to give them a popularity which the really great man often does not obtain his whole life long; names which a month before no one had even seen or heard of, while at the same time old and proved figures of political or other public life, though in the best ofhealth, simply died as far as their fellow men were concemed, or were heaped with such vile insults that their names soon threatened to become the symbol of some definite act of infamy or villainy. We must study this vile Jewish technique of emptying garbage pails full of the vilest slanders and defamations from hundreds and hundreds of sources at once, suddenly and as if by magic, on the clean garments of honorable men, if we are fully to appreciate the entire menace represented by these scoundrels of the press.
There is absolutely nothing one of these spiritual robberbarons will not do to achieve his savory aims.
He will poke into the most secret family affairs and not rest until his trufRe-searching instinct digs up some miserable incident which is calculated to finish off the unfortunate victim. But if, after the most careful sniffing, absolutely nothing is found, either in the man's public or private life, one of these scoundrels simply seizes on slander, in the firm conviction that despite a thousand refutations something always sticks and, moreover, through the immediate and hundredfold repetition of his defamations by all his accomplices, any resistance on the part of the victim is in most cases utterly impossible; and it must be borne in mind that this rabble never acts out of motives which might seem credible or even understandable to the rest of humanity. God forbid! While one of these scum is attacking his beloved fellow men in the most contemptible fashion, the octopus covers himself with a veritable cloud of respectability and unctuous phrases, prates about ' journalistic duty ' and suchlike lies, and even goes so far as to shoot off his mouth at committee meetings and congresses- that is, occasions where these pests are present in large numbers -about a very special variety of 'honor,' to wit, the journalistic variety, which the assembled rabble gravely and mutually confirm.
These scum manufacture more than three quarters of the so-called 'public opinion,' from whose foam the parliamentarian Aphrodite arises. To give an accurate description of this process and depict it in all its falsehood and improbability, one would have to write volumes. But even if we disregard all this and examine only the given product along with its activity, this seems to me enough to make the objective lunacy of this institution dawn on even the naivest mind.
This human error, as senseless as it is dangerous, will most readily be understood as soon as we compare democratic parliamentarianism with a truly Germanic democracy.
The distinguishing feature of the former is that a body of, let us say five hundred men, or in recent times even women, is chosen and entrusted with making the ultimate decision in any and all matters. And so for practical purposes they alone are the government; for even if they do choose a cabinet which undertakes the external direction of the affairs of state, this is a mere sham. In reality this so-called government cannot take a step without first obtaining the approval of the general assembly. Consequently, it cannot be made responsible for anything, since the ultimate decision never lies with it, but with the majority of parliament. In every case it does nothing but carry out the momentary will of the majority. Its political ability can only be judged according to the skill with which it understands how either to adapt itself to the will of the majority or to pull the majority over to its side. Thereby it sinks from the heights of real government to the level of a beggar confronting the momentary majority. Indeed, its most urgent task becomes nothing more than either to secure the favor of the existing majority, as the need arises, or to form a majority with more friendly inclinations. If this succeeds, it may 'govern' a little while longer; if it doesn't succeed, it can resign. The soundness of its purposes as such is beside the point.
For practical purposes, this excludes all responsibility
To what consequences this leads can be seen from a few simple considerations:
The internal composition of the five hundred chosen representatives of the people, with regard to profession or even individual abilities, gives a picture as incoherent as it is usually deplorable. For no one can believe that these men elected by the nation are elect of spirit or even of intelligence ! It is to be hoped that no one will suppose that the ballots of an electorate which is anything else than brilliant will give rise to statesmen by the hundreds. Altogether we cannot be too sharp in condemning the absurd notion that geniuses can be born from general elections. In the first place, a nation only produces a real statesman once in a blue moon and not a hundred or more at once; and in the second place, the revulsion of the masses for every outstanding genius is positively instinctive. Sooner will a camel pass through a needle's eye than a great man be ' discovered' by an election.
In world history the man who really rises above the norm of the broad average usually announces himself personally.
As it is, however, five hundred men, whose stature is to say the least modest, vote on the most important affairs of the nation, appoint governments which in every single case and in every special question have to get the approval of the exalted assembly, so that policy is really made by five hundred.
And that is just what it usually looks like.
But even leaving the genius of these representatives of the people aside, bear in mind how varied are the problems awaiting attention, in what widely removed fields solutions and decisions must be made, and you will realize how inadequate a governing institution must be which transfers the ultimate right of decision to a mass assembly of people, only a tiny fraction of which possess knowledge and experience of the matter to be treated. The most important economic measures are thus submitted to a forum, only a tenth of whose members have any economic education to show. This is nothing more nor less than placing the ultimate decision in a matter in the hands of men totally lacking in every prerequisite for the task.
The same is true of every other question. The decision is always made by a majority of ignoramuses and incompetents, since the composition of this institution remains unchanged while the problems under treatment extend to nearly every province of public life and would thereby presuppose a constant turn-over in the deputies who are to judge and decide on them, since it is impossible to let the same persons decide matters of transportation as, let us say, a question of high for eign policy. Otherwise these men would all have to be universal geniuses such as we actually seldom encounter once in centuries. Unfortunately we are here confronted, for the most part, not with 'thinkers,' but with dilettantes as limited as they are conceited and infiated, intellectual demimonde of the worst sort. And this is the source of the often incomprehensible frivolity with which these gentry speak and decide on things which would require careful meditation even in the greatest minds. Measures of the gravest significance for the future of a whole state, yes, of a nation, are passed as though a game of schafDopf or tarock,l which would certainly be better suited to their abilities, lay on the table before them and not the fate of a race.
Yet it would surely be unjust to believe that all of the deputies in such a parliament were personally endowed with so little sense of responsibility.
No, by no means.
But by forcing the individual to take a position on such questions completely ill-suited to him, this system gradually ruins hus character. No one will summon up the courage to declare: Gentlemen, I believe we understand nothing about this matter I personally certainly do not.' (Besides, this would change mat ters little, for surely this kind of honesty would remain totally unappreciated, and what is more, our friends would scarcely allow one honorable jackass to spoil their whole game.) Anyone with a knowledge of people will realize that in such an illustrious company no one is eager to be the stupidest, and in certain circles honesty is almost synonymous with stupidity
Thus, even the representative who at first was honest is thrown
end page 89
into this track of general falsehood and deceit. The very conviction that the non-participation of an individual in the business would in itself change nothing kills every honorable impulse which may rise up in this or that deputy. And finally, moreover, he may tell himself that he personally is far from being the worst among the others, and that the sole effect of his collaboration is perhaps to prevent worse things from happening.
It will be objected, to be sure, that. though the individual deputy possesses no special understanding in this or that matter, his position has been discussed by the fraction which directs the policy of the gentleman in question, and that the fraction has its special committees which are more than adequately enlightened by experts anyway.
At first glance this seems to be true. But then the question arises: Why are five hundred chosen when only a few possess the necessary wisdom to take a position in the most important matters?
And this is the worm in the apple!
It is not the aim of our present-day parliamentarianism to constitute an assembly of wise men, but rather to compose a band of mentally dependent nonentities who are the more easily led in certain directions, the greater is the personal limitation of the individual. That is the only way of carrying on party politics in the malodorous present-day sense. And only in this way is it possible for the real wirepuller to remain carefully in the background and never personally be called to responsibility. For then every decision, regardless how harmful to the nation, will not be set to the account of a scoundrel visible to all, but will be unloaded on the shoulders of a whole fraction.
And thereby every practical responsibility vanishes. For responsibility can lie only in the obligation of an individual and not in a parliamentary bull session.
Such an institution can only please the biggest liars and sneaks of the sort that shun the light of day, because it is inevitably hateful to an honorable, straightforward man who welcomes personal responsibility.
And that is why this type of democracy has become the instrument of that race which in its inner goals must shun the light of day, now and in all ages of the future. Only the Jew can praise an institution which is as dirty and false as he himself.
Juxtaposed to this is the truly Germanic democracy characterized by the free election of a leader and his obligation fully to assume all responsibility for his actions and omissions. In it there is no majority vote on individual questions, but only the decision of an individual who must answer with his fortune and his life for his choice.
If it be objected that under such conditions scarcely anyone would be prepared to dedicate his person to so risky a task, there is but one possible answer:
Thank the Lord, Germanic democracy means just this: that any old climber or moral slacker cannot rise by devious paths to govern his national comrades, but that, by the very greatness of the responsibility to be assumed, incompetents and weaklings are frightened off.
But if, nevertheless, one of these scoundrels should attempt to sneak in, we can find him more easily, and mercilessly challenge him: Out, cowardly scoundrel! Remove your foot, you are besmirching the steps; the front steps of the Pantheon of history are not for sneak-thieves, but for heroes!
I had fought my way to this conclusion after two years attendance at the Vienna parliament.
After that I never went back.
The parliamentary regime shared the chief blame for the weakness, constantly increasing in the past few years, of the Habsburg state. The more its activities broke the predominance of the Germans, the more the country succumbed to a system of playing off the nationalities against one another. In the Reichsrat itself this was always done at the expense of the Germans and thereby, in the last analysis, at the expense of the Empire; for by the turn of the century it must have been apparent even to the simplest that the monarchy's force of attraction would no longer be able to withstand the separatist tendencies of the provinces.
On the contrary.
The more pathetic became the means which the state had to employ for its preservation, the more the general contempt for it increased. Not only in Hungary, but also in the separate Slavic provinces, people began to identify themselves so little with the common monarchy that they did not regard its weakness as their own disgrace. On the contrary, they rejoiced at such symptoms of old age; for they hoped more for the Empire's death than for its recovery.
In parliament, for the moment, total collapse was averted by undignified submissiveness and acquiescence at every extortion, for which the German had to pay in the end; and in the country, by most skillfully playing off the different peoples against each other. But the general line of development was nevertheless directed against the Germans. Especially since Archduke Francis Ferdinand became heir apparent and began to enjoy a certain influence, there began to be some plan and order in the policy of Czechization from above. With all possible means, this future ruler of the dual monarchy tried to encourage a policy of deGermanization, to advance it himself or at least to sanction it. Purely German towns, indirectly through government official dom, were slowly but steadily pushed into the mixed-language danger zones. Even in Lower Austria this process began to make increasingly rapid progress, and many Czechs considered Vienna their largest city.
The central idea of this new Habsburg, whose family had ceased to speak anything but Czech (the Archduke's wife, a former Czech countess, had been morganatically married to the Prince-she came from circles whose anti-German attitude was traditional), was gradually to establish a Slavic state in Central Europe which for defense against Orthodox Russia should be placed on a strictly Catholic basis. Thus, as the Habsburgs had so often done before, religion was once again put into the service of a purely political idea, and what was worse-at least from the German viewpoint-of a catastrophic idea.
The result was more than dismal in many respects. Neither the House of Habsburg nor the Catholic Church received the expected reward.
Habsburg lost the throne, Rome a great state.
For by employing religious forces in the service of its political considerations, the crown aroused a spirit which at the outset it had not considered possible.
In answer to the attempt to exterminate the Germans in the old monarchy by every possible means, there arose the PanGerman movement in Austria.
By the eighties the basic Jewish tendency of Manchester liberalism had reached, if not passed, its high point in the monarchy. The reaction to it, however, as with everything in old Austria, arose primarily from a social, not from a national standpoint. The instinct of self-preservation forced the Germans to adopt the sharpest measures of defense. Only secondarily did economic considerations begin to assume a decisive influence. And so, two party formations grew out of the general political confusion, the one with the more national, the other with the more social, attitude, but both highly interesting and instructive for the future.
After the depressing end of the War of 1866, the House of Habsburg harbored the idea of revenge on the battlefield. Only the death of Emperor Max of Mexico, whose unfortunate expedition was blamed primarily on Napoleon III and whose abandonment by the French aroused general indignation, prevented a closer collaboration with France. Habsburg nevertheless lurked in wait. If the War of 1870-71 had not been so unique a triumph, the Vienna Court would probably have risked a bloody venture to avenge Sadowa. But when the first amazing and scarcely credible, but none the less true, tales of heroism arrived from the battlefields, the 'wisest' of all monarchs recognized that the hour was not propitious and put the best possible face on a bad business.
But the heroic struggle of these years had accomplished an even mightier miracle; for with the Habsburgs a change of position never arose from the urge of the innermost heart, but from the compulsion of circumstances. However, the German people of the old Ostmark were swept along by the Reich's frenzy of victory, and looked on with deep emotion as the dream of their fathers was resurrected to glorious reality.
For make no mistake: the truly German-minded Austrian had, even at Koniggratz, and from this time on, recognized the tragic but necessary prerequisite for the resurrection of a Reich which would no longer be-and actually was not-afflicted with the foul morass of the old Union. Above all, he had come to understand thoroughly, by his own suffering, that the House of Habsburg had at last concluded its historical mission and that the new Reich could choose as Emperor only him whose heroic convictions made him worthy to bear the 'Crown of the Rhine.' But how much more was Fate to be praised for accomplishing this investiture in the scion of a house which in Frederick the Great had given the nation a gleaming and eternal symbol of its resurrection.
But when after the great war the House of Habsburg began with desperate determination slowly but inexorably to exterminate the dangerous German element in the dual monarchy (the inner convictions of this element could not be held in doubt), for such would be the inevitable result of the Slavization policy- the doomed people rose to a resistance such as modern German history had never seen.
For the first time, men of national and patriotic mind became rebels.
Rebels, not against the nation and not against the state as such, but rebels against a kind of government which in their conviction would inevitably lead to the destruction of their own nationality.
For the first time in modern German history, traditional dynastic patriotism parted ways with the national love of fatherland and people.
The Pan-German movement in German-Austria in the nineties is to be praised for demonstrating in clear, unmistakable terms that a state authority is entitled to demand respect and protection only when it meets the interests of a people, or at least does not harm them.
There can be no such thing as state authority as an end in itself, for, if there were, every tyranny in this world would be unassailable and sacred.
If, by the instrument of governmental power, a nationality is led toward its destruction, then rebellion is not only the right of every member of such a people-it is his duty.
And the question-when is this the case?-is decided not by theoretical dissertations, but by force and-results.
Since, as a matter of course, all governmental power claims the duty of preserving state authority-regardless how vicious it is, betraying the interests of a people a thousandfold-the national instinct of self-preservation, in overthrowing such a power and achieving freedom or independence, will have to employ the same weapons by means of which the enemy tries to maintain his power. Consequently, the struggle will be carried on with 'legal' means as long as the power to be overthrown employs such means; but it will not shun illegal means if the oppressor uses them.
In general it should not be forgotten that the highest aim of human existence is not the preservation of a state, let alone a government, but the preservation of the species.
And if the species itself is in danger of being oppressed or utterly eliminated, the question of legality is reduced to a subordinate role. Then, even if the methods of the ruling power are alleged to be legal a thousand times over, nonetheless the oppressed people's instinct of self-preservation remains the loftiest justification of their struggle with every weapon.
Only through recognition of this principle have wars of liberation against internal and external enslavement of nations on this earth come down to us in such majestic historical examples.
Human law cancels out state law.
And if a people is defeated in its struggle for human rights, this merely means that it has been found too light in the scale of destiny for the happiness of survival on this earth. For when a people is not willing or able to fight for its existence- Providence in its eternal justice has decreed that people's end.
The world is not for cowardly peoples.
How easy it is for a tyranny to cover itself with the cloak of so-called 'legality' is shown most clearly and penetratingly by the example of Austria.
The legal state power in those days was rooted in the antiGerman soil of parliament with its non-German majorities- and in the equally anti-German ruling house. In these two factors the entire state authority was embodied. Any attempt to change the destinies of the German-Austrian people from this position was absurd. Hence, in the opinions of our friends the worshipers of state authority as such and of the 'legal' way, all resistance would have had to be shunned, as incompatible with legal methods. But this, with compelling necessity, would have meant the end of the German people in the monarchy-and in a very short time. And, as a matter of fact, the Germans were saved from this fate only by the collapse of this state.
The bespectacled theoretician, it is true, would still prefer to die for his doctrine than for his people.
Since it is men who make the laws, he believes that they live for the sake of these laws.
The Pan-German movement in Austria had the merit of completely doing away with this nonsense, to the horror of all theoretical pedants and other fetish-worshiping isolationists in the government.
Since the Habsburgs attempted to attack Germanism with all possible means, this party attacked the 'exalted' ruling house itself, and without mercy. For the first time it probed into this rotten state and opened the eyes of hundreds of thousands. To its credit be it said that it released the glorious concept of love of fatherland from the embrace of this sorry dynasty.
In the early days of its appearance, its following was extremely great, threatening to become a veritable avalanche. But the success did not last. When I came to Vienna, the movement had long been overshadowed by the Christian Social Party which had meanwhile attained power-and had indeed been reduced to almost complete insignificance.
This whole process of the growth and passing of the Pan-German movement on the one hand, and the unprecedented rise of the Christian Social Party on the other, was to assume the deepest significance for me as a classical object of study.
When I came to Vienna, my sympathies were fully and wholly on the side of the Pan-German tendency.
That they mustered the courage to cry 'Loch Hohenzollern' impressed me as much as it pleased me; that they still regarded themselves as an only temporarily severed part of the German Reich, and never let a moment pass without openly attesting this fact, inspired me with joyful confidence; that in all questions regarding Germanism they showed their colors without reserve, and never descended to compromises, seemed to me the one still passable road to the salvation of our people; and I could not understand how after its so magnificent rise the movement should have taken such a sharp decline. Even less could I understand how the Christian Social Party at this same period could achieve such immense power. At that time it had just reached the apogee of its glory.
As I set about comparing these movements, Fate, accelerated by my otherwise sad situation, gave me the best instruction for an understanding of the causes of this riddle.
I shall begin my comparisons with the two men who may be regarded as the leaders and founders of the two parties: Georg von Schonerer and Dr. Karl Lueger.
From a purely human standpoint they both tower far above the scope and stature of so-called parliamentary figures. Amid the morass of general political corruption their whole life remained pure and unassailable. Nevertheless my personal sympathy lay at first on the side of the Pan-German Schonerer, and turned only little by little toward the Christian Social leader as well.
Compared as to abilities, Schonerer seemed to me even then the better and more profound thinker in questions of principle. He foresaw the inevitable end of the Austrian state more clearly and correctly than anyone else. If, especially in the Reich, people had paid more attention to his warnings
against the Habsburg monarchy, the calamity of Germany's World War against all Europe would never have occurred.
But if Schonerer recognized the problems in their innermost essence, he erred when it came to men.
Here, on the other hand, lay Dr. Lueger's strength.
He had a rare knowledge of men and in particular took good care not to consider people better than they are. Consequently, he reckoned morewith the real possibilities of life while Schonerer had but little understanding for them. Theoretically speaking, all the Pan-German's thoughts were correct, but since he lacked the force and astuteness to transmit his theoretical knowledge to the masses-that is, to put it in a form suited to the receptivity of the broad masses, which is and remains exceedingly limited-all his knowledge was visionary wisdom, and could never become practical reality.
And this lack of actual knowledge of men led in the course of time to an error in estimating the strength of whole movements as well as age-old institutions.
Finally, Schonerer realized, to be sure, that questions of basic philosophy were involved, but he did not understand that only the broad masses of a people are primarily able to uphold such well-nigh religious convictions.
Unfortunately, he saw only to a limited extent the extra-ordinary limitation of the will to fight in so-called 'bourgeois' circles, due, if nothing else, to their economic position which makes the individual fear to lose too much and thereby holds him in check.
And yet, on the whole, a philosophy can hope for victory only if the broad masses adhere to the new doctrine and declare their readiness to undertake the necessary struggle.
From this deficient understanding of the importance of the lower strata of the people arose a completely inadequate con-ception of the social question.
In all this Dr. Lueger was the opposite of Schonerer.
His thorough knowledge of men enabled him to judge the possible forces correctly, at the same time preserving him from underestimating existing institutions, and perhaps for this very reason taught him to make use of these institutions as instruments for the achievement of his purposes.
He understood only too well that the political fighting power of the upper bourgeoisie at the present time was but slight and inadequate for achieving the victory of a great movement. He therefore laid the greatest stress in his political activity on winning over the classes whose existence was threatened and therefore tended to spur rather than paralyze the will to fight. Likewise he was inclined to make use of all existing implements of power, to incline mighty existing institutions in his favor, drawing from these old sources of power the greatest possible profit for his own movement.
Thus he adjusted his new party primarily to the middle class menaced with destruction, and thereby assured himself of a following that was difficult to shake, whose spirit of sacrifice was as great as its fighting power. His policy toward the Catholic Church, fashioned with infinite shrewdness, in a short time won over the younger clergy to such an extent that the old Clerical Party was forced either to abandon the field, or, more wisely, to join the new party, in order slowly to recover position after position.
To take this alone as the characteristic essence of the man would be to do him a grave injustice. For in addition to being an astute tactician, he had the qualities of a truly great and brilliant reformer: though here, too, he observed the limits set by a precise knowledge of the existing possibilities as well as his own personal abilities.
It was an infinitely practical goal that this truly significant man had set himself. He wanted to conquer Vienna. Vienna was the heart of the monarchy; from this city the last flush of life flowed out into the sickly, old body of the crumbling empire. The healthier the heart became, the more the rest of the body was bound to revive: an idea, correct in principle, but which could be applied only for a certain limited time.
And herein lay this man's weakness.
What he had done as mayor of Vienna is immortal in the best sense of the word; but he could no longer save the monarchy, it was too late.
His opponent, Schonerer, had seen this more clearly
All Dr. Lueger's practical efforts were amazingly successfulthe hopes he based on them were not realized.
Schonerer's efforts were not successful, but his most terrible fears came true.
Thus neither man realized his ultimate goal. Lueger could no longer save Austria, and Schonerer could no longer save the German people from ruin.
It is infinitely instructive for our present day to study the causes for the failure of both parties. This is particularly useful for my friends, since in many points conditions today are similar to then and errors can thereby be avoided which at that time caused the end of the one movement and the sterility of the other.
To my mind, there were three causes for the collapse of the Pan-German movement in Austria.
In the first place, its unclear conception of the significance of the social problem, especially for a new and essentially revolutionary party.
Since Schonerer and his followers addressed themselves principally to bourgeois circles, the result was bound to be very feeble and tame.
Though some people fail to suspect it, the German bourgeoisie, especially in its upper circles, is pacifistic to the point of positive self-abnegation, where internal affairs of the nation or state are concerned. In good times that is, in this case, in times of good government such an attitude makes these classes extremely valuable to the state; but in times of an inferior regime it is positively ruinous. To make possible the waging of any really serious struggle, the Pan-German movement should above all have dedicated itself to winning the masses. That it failed to do so deprivedit in advance of the elemental impetus which a wave of its kind simply must have if it is not in a short time to ebb away.
Unless this principle is borne in mind and carried out from the very start, the new party loses all possibility of later making up for what has been lost. For, by the admission of numerous moderate bourgeois elements, the basic attitude of the movement will always be governed by them and thus lose any further prospect of winning appreciable forces from the broad masses. As a result, such a movement will not rise above mere grumbling and criticizing. The faith bordering more or less on religion, combined with a similar spirit of sacrifice, will cease to exist; in its place will arise an effort gradually to grind off the edges of struggle by means of 'positive' collaboration; that is, in this case, by acceptance of the existing order, thus ultimately leading to a putrid peace.
And this is what happened to the Pan-German movement because it had not from the outset laid its chief stress on winning supporters from the circles of the great masses. It achieved 'bourgeois respectability and a muffled radicalism.'
From this error arose the second cause of its rapid decline.
At the time of the emergence of the Pan-German movement the situation of the Germans in Austria was already desperate. From year to year the parliament had increasingly become an institution for the slow destruction of the German people. Any attempt at salvation in the eleventh hour could offer even the slightest hope of success only if this institution were eliminated.
Thus the movement was faced with a question of basic importance:
Should its members, to destroy parliament, go into parliament, in order, as people used to say, 'to bore from within,' or should they carry on the struggle from outside by an attack on this institution as such?
They went in and they came out defeated.
To be sure, they couldn't help but go in.
To carry on the struggle against such a power from outside means to arm with unflinching courage and to be prepared for endless sacrifices. You seize the bull by the horns, you suffer many heavy blows, you are sometimes thrown to the earth, sometimes you get up with broken limbs, and only after the hardest contest does victory reward the bold assailant. Only the greatness of the sacrifices will win new fighters for the cause, until at last tenacity is rewarded by success.
But for this the sons of the broad masses are required.
They alone are determined and tough enough to carry through the fight to its bloody end.
And the Pan-German movement did not possess these broad masses; thus no course remained open but to go into parliament
It would be a mistake to believe that this decision was the result of long soul torments, or even meditations; no, no other idea entered their heads. Participation in this absurdity was only the
sediment resulting from general, unclear conceptions regarding the significance and effect of such a participation in an institution which had in principle been recognized as false. In general, the
party hoped that this would facilitate the enlightenment of the broad masses, since it would now have an opportunity to speak before the 'forum of the whole nation.' Besides, it seemed plausible that attacking the root of the evil was bound to be more successful than storming it from outside. Theythought the security of the individual fighter was increased by the protection of parliamentary immunity, and that this could only enhance the force of the attack.
In reality, it must be said, things turned out very differently.
The forum before which the Pan-German deputies spoke had not become greater but smaller; for each man speaks only to the circle which can hear him, or which obtains an account of his words in the newspapers.
And, not the halls of parliament, but the great public meeting, represents the largest direct forum of listeners.
For, in the latter, there are thousands of people who have come only to hear what the speaker has to say to them, while in the halls of parliament there are only a few hundreds, and most of these are present only to collect their attendance fees, and cer-tainly not to be illuminated by the wisdom of this or that fellow 'representative of the people.'
And above all:
This is always the same public, which will never learn anything new, since, aside from the intelligence, it is lacking in the very rudiments of will.
Never will one of these representatives of the people honor a superior truth of his own accord, and place himself in its service.
No, this is something that not a single one of them will do unless he has reason to hope that by such a shift he may save his mandate for one more session. Only when it is in the air that the party in power will come off badly in a coming election, will these ornaments of virility shift to a party or tendency which they presume will come out better, though you may be confident that this change of position usually occurs amidst a cloudburst of moral justifications. Consequently, when an existing party appears to be falling beneath the disfavor of the people to such an extent that the probability of an annihilating defeat threatens, such a great shift will always begin: then the parliamentary rats leave the party ship.
All this has nothing to do with better knowledge or intentions, but only with that prophetic gift which warns these parliamentary bedbugsat the right moment and causes them to drop, again and again, into another warm party bed.
But to speak to such a 'forum' is really to cast pearls before the well-known domestic beasts. It is truly not worth while. The result can be nothing but zero.
And that is just what it was.
The Pan-German deputies could talk their throats hoarse: the effect was practically nil.
The press either killed them with silence or mutilated their speeches in such a way that any coherence, and often even the sense, was twisted or entirely lost, and public opinion received a very poor picture of the aims of the new movement. What the various gentlemen said was quite unimportant; the important thing was what people read about them. And this was an extract from their speeches, so disjointed that it could-as intended-only seem absurd. The only forum to which they really spoke consisted of five hundred parliamentarians, and that is enough said.
But the worst was the following:
The Pan-German movement could count on success only if it realized from the very first day that what was required was not a new party, but a new philosophy. Only the latter could produce the inward power to fight this gigantic struggle to its end. And for this, only the very best and courageous minds can serve as leaders.
If the struggle for a philosophy is not lead by heroes prepared to make sacrifices, there will, in a short time, cease to be any warriors willing to die. The man who is fighting for his own existence cannot have much left over for the community.
In order to maintain this requirement, every man must know that the new movement can offer the present nothing but honor and fame in posterity. The more easily attainable posts and offices a movement has to hand out, the more inferior stuff it will attract, and in the end these political hangers-on overwhelm a successful party in such number that the honest fighter of former days no longer recognizes the old movement and the new arrivals definitely reject him as an unwelcome intruder. When this happens, the 'mission' of such a movement is done for.
As soon as the Pan-German movement sold its soul to parlia-ment, it attracted 'parliamentarians' instead of leaders and fighters.
Thus it sank to the level of the ordinary political parties of the day and lost the strength to oppose a catastrophic destiny with the defiance of martyrdom. Instead of fighting, it now learned to
make speeches and 'negotiate.' And in a short time the new parliamentarian found it a more attractive, because less dangerous, duty to fight for the new philosophy with the 'spiritual' weapons of parliamentary eloquence, than to risk his own life, if necessary, by throwing himself into a struggle whose issue was uncertain and which in any case could bring him no profit.
Once they had members in parliament, the supporters outside began to hope and wait for miracles which, of course, did not occur and could not occur. For this reason they soon became impatient, for even what they heard from their own deputies was by no means up to the expectations of the voters. This was perfectly natural, since the hostile press took good care not to give the people any faithful picture of the work of the Pan-German deputies.
The more the new representatives of the people developed a taste for the somewhat gentler variety of 'revolutionary' struggle in parliament and the provincial diets, the less prepared they were to return to the more dangerous work of enlightening the broad masses of the people. The mass meeting, the only way to exert a truly effective, because personal, influence on large sections of the people and thus possibly to win them, was thrust more and more into the background.
Once the platform of parliament was definitely substituted for the beer table of the meeting hall, and from this forum speeches were poured, not into the people, but on the heads of their so called 'elect,' the Pan-German movement ceased to be a movement of the people and in a short time dwindled into an academic discussion club to be taken more or less seriously.
Consequently, the bad impression transmitted by the press was in no way corrected by personal agitation at meetings by the individual gentlemen, with the result that finally the word 'PanGerman' began to have a very bad sound in the ears of the broad masses.
For let it be said to all our present-day fops and knights of the pen: the greatest revolutions in this world have never been directed by a goose-quill!
No, to the pen it has always been reserved to provide their theoretical foundations.
But the power which has always started the greatest religious and political avalanches in history rolling has from time immemorial been the magic power of the spoken word, and that alone.
Particularly the broad masses of the people can be moved only by the power of speech. And all great movements are popular movements, volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotional sentiments, stirred either by the cruel Goddess of Distress or by the firebrand of the word hurled among the masses; they are not the lemonade-like outpourings of literary aesthetes and drawingroom heroes.
Only a storm of hot passion can turn the destinies of peoples, and he alone can arouse passion who bears it within himself.
It alone gives its chosen one the words which like hammer blows can open the gates to the heart of a people.
But the man whom passion fails and whose lips are sealed- he has not been chosen by Heaven to proclaim its will.
Therefore, let the writer remain by his ink-well, engaging in 'theoretical' activity, if his intelligence and ability are equal to it; for leadership he is neither born nor chosen.
A movement with great aims must therefore be anxiously on its guard not to lose contact with the broad masses.
It must examine every question primarily from this standpoint and make its decisions accordingly.
It must, furthermore, avoid everything which might diminish or even weaken its ability to move the masses, not for 'demagogic' reasons, but in the simple knowledge that without the mighty force of the mass of a people, no great idea, however lofty and noble it may seem, can be realized.
Hard reality alone must determine the road to the goal; unwillingness to travel unpleasant roads only too often in this world means to renounce the goal; which may or may not be what you want.
As soon as the Pan-German movement by its parliamentary attitude had shifted the weight of its activity to parliament instead of the people, it lost the future and instead won cheap successes of the moment.
It chose the easier struggle and thereby became unworthy of ultimate victory.
Even in Vienna I pondered this very question with the greatest care, and in the failure to recognize it saw one of the main causes of the collapse of the movement which in those days, in my opinion, was predestined to undertake the leadership of the German element.
The first two mistakes which caused the Pan-German movement to founder were related to each other. Insufficient knowledge of the inner driving forces of great revolutions led to an insufficient estimation of the importance of the broad masses of the people; from this resulted its insufficient interest in the social question, its deficient and inadequate efforts to win the soul of the lower classes of the nation, as well as its over-favorable attitude toward parliament.
If they had recognized the tremendous power which at all times must be attributed to the masses as the repository of revolutionary resistance, they would have worked differently in social and propagandist matters. Then the movement's center of gravity would not have been shifted to parliament, but to the workshop and the street.
Likewise the third error finds its ultimate germ in failure to recognize the value of the masses, which, it is true, need superior minds to set them in motion in a given direction, but which then, like a flywheel, lend the force of the attack momentum and uniform persistence.
The hard struggle which the Pan-germans fought with the Catholic Church can be accounted for only by their insufficient understanding of the spiritual nature of the people.
The causes for the new party's violent attack on Rome were as follows:
As soon as the House of Habsburg had definitely made up its mind to reshape Austria into a Slavic state, it seized upon every means which seemed in any way suited to this tendency. Even religious institutions were, without the
slightest qualms, harnessed to the service of the new ' state idea ' by
this unscrupulous ruling house.
The use of Czech pastorates and their spiritual shepherds was but one of the many means of attaining this goal, a general Slavization of Austria.
The process took approximately the following form:
Czech pastors were appointed to German communities; slowly but surely they began to set the interests of the Czech people above the interests of the churches, becoming germ-cells of the de-Germanization process.
The German clergy did practically nothing to counter these methods. Not only were they completely useless for carrying on this struggle in a positive German sense; they were even unable to oppose the necessary resistance to the attacks of the adversary. Indirectly, by the misuse of religion on the one hand, and owing to insufficient defense on the other, Germanismwas slowly but steadily forced back.
If in small matters the situation was as described, in big things, unfortunately, it was not far different.
Here, too, the anti-German efforts of the Habsburgs did not encounter the resistance they should have, especially on the part of the high clergy, while the defense of German interests sank completely into the background.
The general impression could only be that the Catholic clergy as such was grossly infringing on German rights.
Thus the Church did not seem to feel with the German people, but to side unjustly with the enemy. The root of the whole evil lay, particularly in Schonerer's opinion, in the fact that the di-recting body of the Catholic Church was not in Germany, and that for this very reason alone it was hostile to the interests of our nationality.
The so-called cultural problems, in this as in virtually every other connection in Austria at that time, were relegated almost entirely to the background. The attitude of the Pan-German movement toward the Catholic Church was determined far less by its position on science, etc., than by its inadequacy in the championing of German rights and, conversely, its continued aid and comfort to Slavic arrogance and greed.
Georg Schonerer was not the man to do things by halves. He took up the struggle toward the Church in the conviction that by it alone he could save the German people. The 'AwayfromRome' movement seemed the most powerful, though, to be sure, the most difficult, mode of attack, which would inevitably shatter the hostile citadel. If it was successful, the tragic church schism in Germany would be healed, and it was possible that the inner strength of the Empire and the German nation would gain enormously by such a victory.
But neither the premise nor the inference of this struggle was correct.
Without doubt the national force of resistance of the Catholic clergy of German nationality, in all questions connected with Germanism, was less than that of their non-German, particularly Czech, brethren.
Likewise only an ignoramus could fail to see that an offensive in favor of German interests was something that practically never occurred to the German clergyman.
And anyone who was not blind was forced equally to admit that this was due primarily to a circumstance under which all of us Germans have to suffer severely: that is, the objectivity of our attitude toward our nationality as well as everything else.
While the Czech clergyman was subjective in his attitude toward his people and objective only toward the Church, the German pastor was subjectively devoted to the Church and remained objective toward the nation. A phenomenon which, to our misfortune, we can observe equally well in thousands of other cases.
This is by no means a special legacy of Catholicism, but with us it quickly corrodes almost every institution, whether it be governmental or ideal.
Just compare the position which our civil servants, for example, take toward the attempts at a national awakening with the position which in such a case the civil servants of another people would take. Or does anyone believe that an officers' corps anywhere else in the world would subordinate the interests of the nation amid mouthings about 'state authority,' in the way that has been taken for granted in our country for the last five years, in fact, has been viewed as especially meritorious? In the Jewish question, for example, do not both denominations today take a standpoint which corresponds neither to the requirements of the nation nor to the real needs of religion? Compare the attitude of a Jewish rabbi in all questions of even the slightest importance for the Jews as a race with the attitude of by far the greatest part of our clergy-of both denominations, if you please!
We always find this phenomenon when it is a question of defending an abstract idea as such.
'State authority,' 'democracy,' 'pacifism,' 'international solidarity,' etc., are all concepts which with us nearly always become so rigid and purely doctrinaire that subsequently all purely national vital necessities are judged exclusively from their standpoint.
This catastrophic way of considering all matters from the angle of a preconceived opinion kills every possibility of thinking oneself subjectively into a matter which is objectively opposed to one's own doctrine, and finally leads to a total reversal of means and ends. People will reject any attempt at a national uprising if it can take place only after the elimination of a bad, ruinous regime, since this would be an offense against 'state authority,' and ' state authority ' is not a means to an end, but in the eyes of such a fanatical objectivist rather represents the aim itself, which is sufficient to fill out his whole lamentable life. Thus, for example, they would indignantly oppose any attempt at a dictatorship, even if it was represented by a Frederick the Great and the momentary political comedians of a parliamentary majority were incapable dwarfs or really inferior characters, just because the law
of democracy seems holier to such a principle-monger than the welfare of a nation. The one will therefore defend the worst tyranny, a tyranny which is ruining the people, since at the moment it embodies 'state authority,' while the other rejects even the most beneficial government as soon as it fails to satisfy his conception of 'democracy.'
In exactly the same way, our German pacifist will accept in silence the bloodiest rape of our nation at-the hands of the most vicious military powers if a change in this state of affairs can be achieved only by resistance-that is, force-for this would be contrary to the spirit of his peace society. Let the international German Socialist be plundered in solidarity by the rest of the world, he will accept it with brotherly affection and no thought of retribution or even defense, just because he is-a German.
This may be a sad state of affairs, but to change a thing means to recognize it first.
The same is true of the weak defense of German interests by a part of the clergy.
It is neither malicious ill will in itself, nor is it caused, let us say, by commands from 'above'; no, in such a lack of national determination we see merely the result of an inadequate education in Germanism from childhood up and, on the other hand, an unlimited submission to an idea which has become an idol.
Education in democracy, in socialism of the international variety, in pacifism, etc., is a thing so rigid and exclusive, so purely subjective from these points of view, that the general picture of the remaining world is colored by this dogmatic conception, while the attitude toward Germanism has remained exceedingly objective from early youth. Thus, the pacifist, by giving himself subjectively and entirely to his idea, will, in the presence of any menace to his people, be it ever so grave and unjust, always (in so far as he is a German) seek after the objective right and never from pure instinct of self-preservation join the ranks of his herd and fight with them.
To what extent this is also true of the different religions is shown by the following:
Protestantism as such is a better defender of the interests of Germanism, in so far as this is grounded in its genesis and later tradition: it fails, however, in the moment when this defense of national interests must take place in a province which is either absent from the general line of its ideological world and traditional development, or is for some reason rejected.
Thus, Protestantism will always stand up for the advancement of all Germanism as such, as long as matters of inner purity or national deepening as well as German freedom are involved since all these things have a firm foundation in its own being; but it combats with the greatest hostility any attempt to rescue the nation from the embrace of its most mortal enemy, since its attitude toward the Jews just happens to be more or less dogmatically established. Yet here we are facing the question without whose solution all other attempts at a German reawakening or resurrection are and remain absolutely senseless and impossible.
In my Vienna period I had leisure and opportunity enough for an unprejudiced examination of this question too, and in my daily contacts was able to establish the correctness of this view a thousand times over.
In this focus of the most varied nationalities, it immediately becomes clearly apparent that the German pacifist is alone in always attempting to view the interests of his own nation objectively, but that the Jew will never regard those of the Jewish people in this way; that only the German Socialist is linternaticnal' in a sense which forbids him to beg justicefor his own people except by whimpering and whining in the midst of his international comrades, but never a Czech or a Pole, etc.; in short, I recognized even then that the misfortune lies only partly in these doctrines, and partly in our totally inadequate education in national sentiment and a resultant lack of devotion to our nation.
Thus, the first theoretical foundation for a struggle of the PanGerman movement against Catholicism as such was lacking.
Let the German people be raised from childhood up with that exclusive recognition of the rights of their own nationality, and let not the hearts of children be contaminated with the curse of our 'objectivity,' even in matters regarding the preservation of their own ego. Then in a short time it will be seen that (presupposing, of course, a radically national government) in Germany, as in Ireland, Poland, or France, the Catholic will always be a German.
The mightiest proof of this was provided by that epoch which for the last time led our nation into a life-and-death struggle before the judgment seat of history in defense of its own existence.
As long as leadership from above was not lacking, the people fulfilled their duty and obligation overwhelmingly. Whether Protestant pastor or Catholic priest, both together contributed infinitely in maintaining for so long our power to resist, not only at the front but also at home. In these years and particularly at the first flare, there really existed in both camps but a single holy German Reich, for whose existence and future each man turned to his own heaven.
The Pan-German movement in Austria should have asked itself one question:
Is the preservation of German-Austrianism possible under a Catholic faith, or is it not? If yes, the political party had no right to concern itself with religious or denominational matters; if not, then what was needed was a religious reformation and never a political party.
Anyone who thinks he can arrive at a religious reformation by the detour of a political organization only shows that he has no glimmer of knowledge of the development of religious ideas or dogmas and their ecclesiastical consequences.
Verily a man cannot serve two masters. And I consider the foundation or destruction of a religion far greater than the foundation or destruction of a state, let alone a party.
And let it not be said that this is only a defense against the attacks from the other side!
It is certain that at all times unscrupulous scoundrels have not shunned to make even religion the instrument of their political bargains (for that is what such rabble almost always and exclusively deal in): but just as certainly it is wrong to make a religious denomination responsible for a
number of tramps who abuse it in exactly the same way as they would probably make anything else serve their low instincts.
Nothing can better suit one of these parliamentarian good-for-nothings and lounge-lizards than when an opportunity is offered to justify his political swindling, even after the fact.
For as soon as religion or even denomination is made responsible for his personal vices and attacked on that ground, this shameless liar sets up a great outcry and calls the whole world to witness that his behavior has been completely justified and that he alone and his eloquence are to be thanked for saving religion of the Church. The public, as stupid as it is forgetful, is, as a rule, prevented by the very outcry from recognizing the real instigator of the struggle or else has forgotten him, and the scoundrel has to all intents and purposes achieved his goal.
The sly fox knows perfectly well that this has nothing to do with religion; and he will silently laugh up his sleeve while his honest but clumsy opponent loses the game and one day, despairing of the loyalty and faith of humanity, withdraws from it all.
And in another sense it would be unjust to make religion as such or even the Church responsible for the failings of individuals. Compare the greatness of the visible organization before our eyes with the average fallibility of man in general, and you will have to admit that in it the relation of good and evil is better than anywhere else. To be sure, even among the priests themselves there are those to whom their holy office is only a means of satisfying their political ambition, yes, who in political struggle forget, in a fashion which is often more than deplorable that they are supposed to be the guardians of a higher truth and not the representatives of lies and slander-but for one such unworthy priest there are a thousand and more honorable ones, shepherds most loyally devoted to their mission, who, in our present false and decadent period, stand out of the general morass like little islands.
No more than I condemn, or would be justified in condemning, the Church as such when a degenerate individual in a cassock obscenely transgresses against morality, do I condemn it when one of the many others besmirches and betrays his nationality at a time when this is a daily occurrence anyway. Particularly today, we must not forget that for one such Ephialtes there are thousands who with bleeding heart feel the misfortune of their people and like the best of our nation long for the hour in which Heaven will smile on us again.
And if anyone replies that here we are not concerned with such everyday problems, but with questions of principle and truth or dogmatic content, we can aptly counter with another question:
If you believe that you have been chosen by Fate to reveal the truth in this matter, do so; but then have the courage to do so, not indirectly through a political party-for this is a swindle; but for today's evil substitute your future good.
But if you lack courage, or if your good is not quite clear even to yourself, then keep your fingers out of the matter; in any case, do not attempt by roundabout sneaking through a political movement to do what you dare not do with an open vizor.
Political parties have nothing to do with religious problems, as long as these are not alien to the nation, undermining the morals and ethics of the race; just as religion cannot be amalgamated with the scheming of political parties.
When Church dignitaries make use of religious institutions or doctrines to injure their nation, we must never follow them on this path and fight with the same methods.
For the political leader the religious doctrines and institutions of his people trust always remain inviolable; or else he has no right to be in politics, but should become a reformer, if he has what it takes!
Especially in Germany any other attitude would lead to a catastrophe.
In my study of the Pan-German movement and its struggle against Rome, I then, and even more in the years to come, arrived at the following conviction: This movement's inadequate appreciation of the importance of the social problem cost it the truly militant mass of the people; its entry into parliament took away its mighty impetus and burdened it with all the weaknesses peculiar to this institution; the struggle against the Catholic Church made it impossible in numerous small and middle circles, and thus robbed it of countless of the best elements that the nation can call its own.
The practical result of the Austrian Kulturkampf At was next to
To be sure, it succeeded in tearing some hundred thousand members away from the Church, yet without causing it any particular damage. In this case the Church really had no need to shed tears over the lost 'lambs'; for it lost only those who had long ceased to belong to it. The difference between the new reformation and the old one was that in the old days many of the best people in the Church turned away from it through profound religious conviction, while now only those who were lukewarm to begin with departed, and this from 'considerations' of a political nature.
And precisely from the political standpoint the result was just as laughable as it was sad.
Once again a promising political movement for the salvation of the German nation had gone to the dogs because it had not been led with the necessary cold ruthlessness, but had lost itself in fields which could only lead to disintegration.
For one thing is assuredly true:
The Pan-German movement would never have made this mistake but for its insufficient understanding of the psyche of the broad masses. If its leaders had known that to achieve any success one should, on purely psychological grounds, never show the masses two or more opponents, since this leads to a total disintegration of their fighting power, for this reason alone the thrust of the Pan-German movement would have been directed at a single adversary. Nothing is more dangerous for a political party than to be led by those jacks-of-all-trades who want everything but can never really achieve anything.
Regardless how much room for criticism there was in any religious denomination a political party must never for a moment lose sight of the fact that in all previous historical experience a purely political party in such situations had never succeeded in producing a religious reformation. And the aim of studying history is not to forget its lessons when occasion arises for its practical application, or to decide that the present situation is different after all, and that therefore its old eternal truths are no longer applicable; no, the purpose of studying history is precisely its lesson for the present. The man who cannot do this must not conceive of himself as a political leader; in reality he is a shallow, though usually very conceited, fool, and no amount of good will can excuse his practical incapacity.
In general the art of all truly great national leaders at all times consists among other things primarily in not dividing the attention of a people, but in concentrating it upon a single foe. The more unified the application of a people's will to fight, the greater will be the magnetic attraction of a movement and the mightier will be the impetus of the thrust. It belongs to the genius of a great leader to make even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category, because in weak and uncertain characters the knowledge of having different enemies can only too readily lead to the beginning of doubt in their own right.
Once the wavering mass sees itself in a struggle against too many enemies, objectivity will put in an appearance, throwing open the question whether all others are really wrong and only their own people or their own movement are in the right.
And this brings about the first paralysis of their own power. Hence a multiplicity of different adversaries must always be
combined so that in the eyes of the masses of one's own supporters the struggle is directed against only one enemy. This strengthens their faith in their own right and enhances their bitterness against those who attack it.
That the old Pan-German movement failed to understand this deprived it of success.
Its goal had been correct, its will pure, but the road it chose was wrong. It was like a mountain climber who keeps the peak to be climbed in view and who sets out with the greatest determination and energy, but pays no attention to the trail, for his eyes are always on his goal, so that he neither sees nor feels out the character of the ascent and thus comes to grief in the end.
The opposite state of affairs seemed to prevail with its great competitor, the Christian Social Party.
The road it chose was correct and well-chosen, but it lacked clear knowledge of its goal.
In nearly all the matters in which the Pan-German movement was wanting, the attitude of the Christian Social Party was correct and well-planned.
It possessed the necessary understanding for the importance of the masses and from the very first day assured itself of at least a part of them by open emphasis on its social character. By aiming essentially at winning the small and lower middle classes and artisans, it obtained a following as enduring as it was self-sacrificing. It avoided any struggle against a religious institution and thus secured the support of that mighty organization which the Church represents. Consequently, it possessed only a single truly great central opponent. It recognized the value of large-scale propaganda and was a virtuoso in influencing the psychological instincts of the broad masses of its adherents.
If nevertheless it was unable to achieve its goal and dream of saving Austria, this was due to two deficiencies in its method and to its lack of clarity concerning the aim itself.
The anti-Semitism of the new movement was based on religious ideas instead of racial knowledge. The reason for the intrusion of this mistake was the same which brought about the second fallacy
If the Christian Social Party wanted to save Austria, then is; the opinion of its founders it must not operate from the standpoint of the racial principle, for if it did a dissolution of the state would, in a short time, inevitably occur. Particularly the situation in Vienna itself, in the opinion of the party leaders, demanded that all points which would divide their following should be set aside as much as possible, and that all unifying conceptions be emphasized in their stead.
At that time Vienna was so strongly permeated especially with Czech elements that only the greatest tolerance with regard to all racial questions could keep them in a party which was not anti-German to begin with. If Austria were to be saved, this was indispensable. And so they attempted to win over small Czech artisans who were especially numerous in Vienna, by a struggle against liberal Manchesterism, and in the struggle against the Jews on a religious basis they thought they had discovered a slogan transcending all of old Austria's national differences.
It is obvious that combating Jewry on such a basis could provide the Jews with small cause for concern. If the worst came to the worst, a splash of baptismal water could always save the business and the Jew at the same time. With such a superficial motivation, a serious scientific treatment of the whole problem was never achieved, and as a result far too many people, to whom this type of anti-Semitism was bound to be incomprehensible, were repelled. The recruiting power of the idea was limited almost exclusively to intellectually limited circles, unless true knowledge were substituted for purely emotional feeling. The intelligentsia remained aloof as a matterof principle. Thus the whole movement came to look more and more like an attempt at a new conversion of the Jews, or perhaps even an expression of a certain competitive envy. And hence the struggle lost the character of an inner and higher consecration; to many, and not necessarily the worst people, it came to seem immoral and reprehensible. Lacking was the conviction that this was a vital question for all humanity, with the fate of all non-Jewish peoples depending on its solution.
Through this halfheartedness the anti-Semitic line of the Christian Social Party lost its value.
It was a sham anti-Semitism which was almost worse than none at all; for it lulled people into security; they thought they had the foe by the ears, while in reality they themselves were being led by the nose.
In a short time the Jew had become so accustomed to this type of anti-Semitism that he would have missed its disappearance more than its presence inconvenienced him.
If in this the Christian Social Party had to make a heavy sacrifice to the state of nationalities, they had to make an even greater one when it came to championing Germanism as such.
They could not be 'nationalistic' unless they wanted to lose the ground from beneath their feet in Vienna. They hoped that by a pussy-footing evasion of this question they could still save the Habsburg state, and by that very thing they encompassed its ruin. And the movement lost the mighty source of power which alone can fill a political party with inner strength for any length of time.
Through this alone the Christian Social Party became a party like any other.
In those days I followed both movements most attentively One, by feeling the beat of its innermost heart, the other, carried away by admiration for the unusual man who even then seemed to me a bitter symbol of all Austrian Germanism.
When the mighty funeral procession bore the dead mayor from the City Hall toward the Ring, I was among the many hundred thousands looking on at the tragic spectacle. I was profoundly moved and my feelings told me that the work, even of this man, was bound to be in vain, owing to the fatal destiny which would inevitably lead this state to destruction. If Dr. Karl Lueger had lived in Germany, he would have been ranked among the great minds of our people; that he lived and worked in this impossible state was the misfortune of his work and of himself.
When he died, the little flames in the Balkans were beginning to leap up more greedily from month to month, and it was a gracious fate which spared him from witnessing what he still thought he could prevent.
Out of the failure of the one movement and the miscarriage of the other, I for my part sought to find the causes, and came to the certain conviction that, quite aside from the impossibility of bolstering up the state in old Austria, the errors of the two parties were as follows:
The Pan-German movement was right in its theoretical view about the aim of a German renascence, but unfortunate in its choice of methods. It was nationalistic, but unhappily not socialistic enough to win the masses. But its anti-Semitism was based on a correct understanding of the importance of the racial problem, and not on religious ideas. Its struggle against a definite denomination, however, was actually and tactically false.
The Christian Social movement had an unclear conception of the aim of a German reawakening, but had intelligence and luck in seeking its methods as a party. It understood the importance of the social question, erred in its struggle against the Jews, and had no notion of the power of the national idea.
If, in addition to its enlightened knowledge of the broad masses, the Christian Social Party had had a correct idea of the importance of the racial question, such as the Pan-German movement had achieved; and if, finally, it had itself been nationalistic, or if the Pan-German movement, in addition to its correct knowledge of the aim of the Jewish question, had adopted the practical shrewdness of the Christian Social Party, especially in its attitude toward socialism, there would have resulted a movement which even then in my opinion might have successfully intervened in German destiny.
If this did not come about, it was overwhelmingly due to the nature of the Austrian state.
Since I saw my conviction realized in no other party, I could in the period that followed not make up my mind to enter, let alone fight with, any of the existing organizations. Even then I regarded all political movements as unsuccessful and unable to carry out a national reawakening of the German people on a larger and not purely external scale.
But in this period my inner revulsion toward the Habsburg state steadily grew.
The more particularly I concerned myself with questions of foreign policy, the more my conviction rose and took root that this political formation could result in nothing but the misfortune of Germanism. More and more clearly I saw at last that the fate of the German nation would no longer be decided here, but in the Reich itself. This was true, not only of political questions, but no less for all manifestations of cultural life in general.
Also in the field of cultural or artistic affairs, the Austrian state showed all symptoms of degeneration, or at least of unimportance for the German nation. This was most true in the field of architecture. The new architecture could achieve no special successes in Austria, if for no other reason because since the completion of the Ring its tasks, in Vienna at least, had become insignificant in comparison with the plans arising in Germany.
Thus more and more I began to lead a double life; reason and reality told me to complete a school as bitter as it was beneficial in Austria, but my heart dwelt elsewhere.
An oppressive discontent had seized possession of me, the more I recognized the inner hollowness of this state and the impossibility of saving it, and felt that in all things it could be nothing but the misfortune of the German people.
I was convinced that this state inevitably oppressed and handicapped any really great German as, conversely, it would help every un-German figure.
I was repelled by the conglomeration of races which the capital showed me, repelled by this whole mixture of Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians, Serbs, and Croats, and everywhere, the eternal mushroom of humanity-Jews and more Jews.
To me the giant city seemed the embodiment of racial desecration.
The German of my youth was the dialect of Lower Bavaria, I could neither forget it nor learn the Viennese jargon. The longer I lived in this city, the more my hatred grew for the foreign mixture of peoples which had begun to corrode this old site of German culture.
The idea that this state could be maintained much longer seemed to me positively ridiculous.
Austria was then like an old mosaic; the cement, binding the various little stones together, had grown old and begun to crumble; as long as the work of art is not touched, it can continue to give a show of existence, but as soon as it receives a blow, it breaks into a thousand fragments. The question was only when the blow would come.
Since my heart had never beaten for an Austrian monarchy, but only for a German Reich, the hour of this state's downfall could only seem to me the beginning of the redemption of the German nation.
For all these reasons a longing rose stronger and stronger in me, to go at last whither since my childhood secret desires and secret love had drawn me.
I hoped some day to make a name for myself as an architect and thus, on the large or small scale which Fate would allot me, to dedicate my sincere services to the nation.
But finally I wanted to enjoy the happiness of living and working in the place which some day would inevitably bring about the fulfillment of my most ardent and heartfelt wish: the union of my beloved homeland with the common fatherland, the German Reich.
Even today many would be unable to comprehend the greatness of such a longing, but I address myself to those to whom Fate has either hitherto denied this, or from whom in harsh cruelty it has taken it away; I address myself to all those who, detached from their mother country, have to fight even for the holy treasure of their language, who are persecuted and tortured for their loyalty to the fatherland, and who now, with poignant emotion, long for the hour which will permit them to return to the heart of their faithful mother; I address myself to all these, and I know that they will understand me !
Only he who has felt in his own skin what it means to be a German, deprived of the right to belong to his cherished fatherland, can measure the deep longing which burns at all times in the hearts of children separated from their mother country. It torments those whom it fills and denies them contentment and happiness until the gates of their father's house open, and in the common Reich, common blood gains peace and tranquillity.
Yet Vienna was and remained for me the hardest, though most thorough, school of my life. I had set foot in this town while still half a boy and I left it a man, grown quiet and grave. In it I obtained the foundations for a philosophy in general and a political view in particular which later I only needed to supplement in detail, but which never left me. But not until today have I been able to estimate at their full value those years of study.
That is why I have dealt with this period at some length, because it gave me my first visual instruction in precisely those questions which belonged to the foundations of a party which, arising from smallest beginnings, after scarcely five years is beginning to develop into a great mass movement. I do not know what my attitude toward the Jews, Social Democracy, or rather Marxism as a whole, the social question, etc., would be today if at such an early time the pressure of destiny-and my own study -had not built up a basic stock of personal opinions within me.
For if the misery of the fatherland can stimulate thousands and thousands of men to thought on the inner reasons for this collapse, this can never lead to that thoroughness and deep insight which are disclosed to the man who has himself mastered Fate only after years of struggle.
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A hard copy of Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf is available from National Vanguard Books. The link will take you to their catalog, where both English and German editions are offered under the Western Philosophy and Ideology section.