Lies being taught;
Mein Kampf is unintelligible ravings of a maniac.
Now the Truth;
POLITICAL REFLECTIONS ARISING OUT OF MY SOJOURN IN VIENNA.
VIEWS ON DEMOCRACY -Part 2
“By far the most effective branch of political education, which in this connection is best expressed by the word 'propaganda', is carried on by the Press. The Press is the chief means employed in the process of political 'enlightenment'. It represents a kind of school for adults. This educational activity, however, is not in the hands of the State but in the clutches of powers which are partly of a very inferior character. While still a young man in Vienna I had excellent opportunities for coming to know the men who owned this machine for mass instruction, as well as those who supplied it with the ideas it distributed. At first I was quite surprised when I realized how little time was necessary for this dangerous Great Power within the State to produce a certain belief among the public; and in doing so the genuine will and convictions of the public were often completely misconstrued. It took the Press only a few days to transform some ridiculously trivial matter into an issue of national importance, while vital problems were completely ignored or filched and hidden away from public attention.
The Press succeeded in the magical art of producing names from nowhere within the course of a few weeks. They made it appear that the great hopes of the masses were bound up with those names. And so they made those names more popular than any man of real ability could ever hope to be in a long lifetime. All this was done, despite the fact that such names were utterly unknown and indeed had never been heard of even up to a month before the Press publicly emblazoned them. At the same time old and tried figures in the political and other spheres of life quickly faded from the public memory and were forgotten as if they were dead, though still healthy and in the enjoyment of their full viguour. Or sometimes such men were so vilely abused that it looked as if their names would soon stand as permanent symbols of the worst kind of baseness. In order to estimate properly the really pernicious influence which the Press can exercise one had to study this infamous Jewish method whereby honourable and decent people were besmirched with mud and filth, in the form of low abuse and slander, from hundreds and hundreds of quarters simultaneously, as if commanded by some magic formula.
These highway robbers would grab at anything which might serve their evil ends.
They would poke their noses into the most intimate family affairs and would not rest until they had sniffed out some petty item which could be used to destroy the reputation of their victim. But if the result of all this sniffing should be that nothing derogatory was discovered in the private or public life of the victim, they continued to hurl abuse at him, in the belief that some of their animadversions would stick even though refuted a thousand times. In most cases it finally turned out impossible for the victim to continue his defence, because the accuser worked together with so many accomplices that his slanders were re-echoed interminably. But these slanderers would never own that they were acting from motives which influence the common run of humanity or are understood by them. Oh, no. The scoundrel who defamed his contemporaries in this villainous way would crown himself with a halo of heroic probity fashioned of unctuous phraseology and twaddle about his 'duties as a journalist' and other mouldy nonsense of that kind. When these cuttle-fishes gathered together in large shoals at meetings and congresses they would give out a lot of slimy talk about a special kind of honour which they called the professional honour of the journalist. Then the assembled species would bow their respects to one another.
These are the kind of beings that fabricate more than two-thirds of what is called public opinion, from the foam of which the parliamentary Aphrodite eventually arises.
Several volumes would be needed if one were to give an adequate account of the whole procedure and fully describe all its hollow fallacies. But if we pass over the details and look at the product itself while it is in operation I think this alone will be sufficient to open the eyes of even the most innocent and credulous person, so that he may recognize the absurdity of this institution by looking at it objectively.
In order to realize how this human aberration is as harmful as it is absurd, the test and easiest method is to compare democratic parliamentarianism with a genuine German democracy.
The remarkable characteristic of the parliamentary form of democracy is the fact that a number of persons, let us say five hundred--including, in recent time, women also--are elected to parliament and invested with authority to give final judgment on anything and everything. In practice they alone are the governing body; for although they may appoint a Cabinet, which seems outwardly to direct the affairs of state, this Cabinet has not a real existence of its own. In reality the so-called Government cannot do anything against the will of the assembly. It can never be called to account for anything, since the right of decision is not vested in the Cabinet but in the parliamentary majority. The Cabinet always functions only as the executor of the will of the majority. Its political ability can be judged only according to how far it succeeds in adjusting itself to the will of the majority or in persuading the majority to agree to its proposals. But this means that it must descend from the level of a real governing power to that of a mendicant who has to beg the approval of a majority that may be got together for the time being. Indeed, the chief preoccupation of the Cabinet must be to secure for itself, in the case of' each individual measure, the favour of the majority then in power or, failing that, to form a new majority that will be more favourably disposed. If it should succeed in either of these efforts it may go on 'governing' for a little while. If it should fail to win or form a majority it must retire. The question whether its policy as such has been right or wrong does not matter at all.
Thereby all responsibility is abolished in practice. To what consequences such a state of affairs can lead may easily be understood from the following simple considerations:
Those five hundred deputies who have been elected by the people come from various dissimilar callings in life and show very varying degrees of political capacity, with the result that the whole combination is disjointed and sometimes presents quite a sorry picture. Surely nobody believes that these chosen representatives of the nation are the choice spirits or first-class intellects. Nobody, I hope, is foolish enough to pretend that hundreds of statesmen can emerge from papers placed in the ballot box by electors who are anything else but averagely intelligent. The absurd notion that men of genius are born out of universal suffrage cannot be too strongly repudiated. In the first place, those times may be really called blessed when one genuine statesman makes his appearance among a people. Such statesmen do not appear all at once in hundreds or more. Secondly, among the broad masses there is instinctively a definite antipathy towards every outstanding genius. There is a better chance of seeing a camel pass through the eye of a needle than of seeing a really great man 'discovered' through an election.
Whatever has happened in history above the level of the average of the broad public has mostly been due to the driving force of an individual personality. But here five hundred persons of less than modest intellectual qualities pass judgment on the most important problems affecting the nation. They form governments which in turn learn to win the approval of the illustrious assembly for every legislative step that may be taken, which means that the policy to be carried out is actually the policy of the five hundred.
And indeed, generally speaking, the policy bears the stamp of its origin.
But let us pass over the intellectual qualities of these representatives and ask what is the nature of the task set before them. If we consider the fact that the problems which have to be discussed and solved belong to the most varied and diverse fields we can very well realize how inefficient a governing system must be which entrusts the right of decision to a mass assembly in which only very few possess the knowledge and experience such as would qualify them to deal with the matters that have to be settled. The most important economic measures are submitted to a tribunal in which not more than one-tenth of the members have studied the elements of economics. This means that final authority is vested in men who are utterly devoid of any preparatory training which might make them competent to decide on the questions at issue.
The same holds true of every other problem. It is always a majority of ignorant and incompetent people who decide on each measure; for the composition of the institution does not vary, while the problems to be dealt with come from the most varied spheres of public life. An intelligent judgment would be possible only if different deputies had the authority to deal with different issues. It is out of the question to think that the same people are fitted to decide on transport questions as well as, let us say, on questions of foreign policy, unless each of them be a universal genius. But scarcely more than one genius appears in a century. Here we are scarcely ever dealing with real brains, but only with dilettanti who are as narrow-minded as they are conceited and arrogant, intellectual DEMI-MONDES of the worst kind. This is why these honourable gentlemen show such astonishing levity in discussing and deciding on matters that would demand the most painstaking consideration even from great minds. Measures of momentous importance for the future existence of the State are framed and discussed in an atmosphere more suited to the card-table. Indeed the latter suggests a much more fitting occupation for these gentlemen than that of deciding the destinies of a people. Of course it would be unfair to assume that each member in such a parliament was endowed by nature with such a small sense of responsibility. That is out of the question.
But this system, by forcing the individual to pass judgment on questions for which he is not competent gradually debases his moral character. Nobody will have the courage to say: "Gentlemen, I am afraid we know nothing about what we are talking about. I for one have no competency in the matter at all." Anyhow if such a declaration were made it would not change matters very much; for such outspoken honesty would not be understood. The person who made the declaration would be deemed an honourable ass who ought not to be allowed to spoil the game. Those who have a knowledge of human nature know that nobody likes to be considered a fool among his associates; and in certain circles honesty is taken as an index of stupidity.
Thus it happens that a naturally upright man, once he finds himself elected to parliament, may eventually be induced by the force of circumstances to acquiesce in a general line of conduct which is base in itself and amounts to a betrayal of the public trust. That feeling that if the individual refrained from taking part in a certain decision his attitude would not alter the situation in the least, destroys every real sense of honour which might occasionally arouse the conscience of one person or another. Finally, the otherwise upright deputy will succeed in persuading himself that he is by no means the worst of the lot and that by taking part in a certain line of action he may prevent something worse from happening.
A counter argument may be put forward here. It may be said that of course the individual member may not have the knowledge which is requisite for the treatment of this or that question, yet his attitude towards it is taken on the advice of his Party as the guiding authority in each political matter; and it may further be said that the Party sets up special committees of experts who have even more than the requisite knowledge for dealing with the questions placed before them.
At first sight, that argument seems sound. But then another question arises--namely, why are five hundred persons elected if only a few have the wisdom which is required to deal with the more important problems?
It is not the aim of our modern democratic parliamentary system to bring together an assembly of intelligent and well-informed deputies. Not at all. The aim rather is to bring together a group of nonentities who are dependent on others for their views and who can be all the more easily led, the narrower the mental outlook of each individual is. That is the only way in which a party policy, according to the evil meaning it has to-day, can be put into effect. And by this method alone it is possible for the wirepuller, who exercises the real control, to remain in the dark, so that personally he can never be brought to account for his actions. For under such circumstances none of the decisions taken, no matter how disastrous they may turn out for the nation as a whole, can be laid at the door of the individual whom everybody knows to be the evil genius responsible for the whole affair. All responsibility is shifted to the shoulders of the Party as a whole.
In practice no actual responsibility remains. Responsibility arises only from personal duty and not from the obligations that rest with a parliamentary assembly of empty talkers.
The parliamentary institution attracts people of the badger type, who do not like the open light. No upright man, who is ready to accept personal responsibility for his acts, will be attracted to such an institution.
As a contrast to this kind of democracy we have the German democracy, which is a true democracy; for here the leader is freely chosen and is obliged to accept full responsibility for all his actions and omissions. The problems to be dealt with are not put to the vote of the majority; but they are decided upon by the individual, and as a guarantee of responsibility for those decisions he pledges all he has in the world and even his life.
The objection may be raised here that under such conditions it would be very difficult to find a man who would be ready to devote himself to so fateful a task. The answer to that objection is as follows:
We thank God that the inner spirit of our German democracy will of itself prevent the chance careerist, who may be intellectually worthless and a moral twister, from coming by devious ways to a position in which he may govern his fellow-citizens. The fear of undertaking such far-reaching responsibilities, under German democracy, will scare off the ignorant and the feckless.
But should it happen that such a person might creep in surreptitiously it will be easy enough to identify him and apostrophize him ruthlessly. Somewhat thus: "Be off, you scoundrel. Don't soil these steps with your feet; because these are the steps that lead to the portals of the Pantheon of History, and they are not meant for place-hunters but for men of noble character."
Such were the views I formed after two years of attendance at the sessions of the Viennese Parliament. Then I went there no more. ..
It was to the merit of the Pan-German movement in Austria during the closing decade of the last century that it pointed out clearly and unequivocally that a State is entitled to demand respect and protection for its authority only when such authority is administered in accordance with the interests of the nation, or at least not in a manner detrimental to those interests.
The authority of the State can never be an end in itself; for, if that were so, any kind of tyranny would be inviolable and sacred. If a government uses the instruments of power in its hands for the purpose of leading a people to ruin, then rebellion is not only the right but also the duty of every individual citizen.
The question of whether and when such a situation exists cannot be answered by theoretical dissertations but only by the exercise of force, and it is success that decides the issue.
Every government, even though it may be the worst possible and even though it may have betrayed the nation's trust in thousands of ways, will claim that its duty is to uphold the authority of the State. Its adversaries, who are fighting for national self-preservation, must use the same weapons which the government uses if they are to prevail against such a rule and secure their own freedom and independence. Therefore the conflict will be fought out with 'legal' means as long as the power which is to be overthrown uses them; but the insurgents will not hesitate to apply illegal means if the oppressor himself employs them.
Generally speaking, we must not forget that the highest aim of human existence is not the maintenance of a State of Government but rather the conservation of the nation (people).
If the nation (people) is in danger of being oppressed or even exterminated the question of legality is only of secondary importance. The established power may in such a case employ only those means which are recognized as 'legal'. Yet the instinct of self-preservation on the part of the oppressed will always justify, to the highest degree, the employment of all possible resources.
Only on the recognition of this principle was it possible for those struggles to be carried through, of which history furnishes magnificent examples in abundance, against foreign bondage or oppression at home.
Human rights are above the rights of the State. But if a people be defeated in the struggle for its human rights this means that its weight has proved too light in the scale of Destiny to have the luck of being able to endure in this terrestrial world.
The world is not there to be possessed by the faint-hearted."
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