Before describing National Socialism, it is necessary to discuss the ideas that inspired the political systems of the 19th century, which saw the rapid spread of democratic forms of government originating from the writers of the 18th century. Brought up from childhood in the belief that Democracy was the last word in perfect government I may be allowed to criticize it in my old age.
The stress of the war and the aftermath of war has led not only to the flight of Kings but the collapse of Parliaments and the rise to power of rulers from the people. Dictators govern or non-parliamentary regimes exist in Turkey, Russia, Poland, Germany, Italy and Spain, dictators who have risen to power by the sheer necessity of the situation. The average man, peasant or workman, is not interested in theories of Government. All he asks is law and order and a reasonable modicum of honesty and efficiency. The failure to obtain this minimum has resulted in the rise of Dictators, to replace anarchy and revolution by law and order.
The Government of our country, which has grown up through the centuries and like a patched old coat sits comfortably on the shoulders of John Bull, is not to be taken as a typical example of Democratic Government. Artificially created Democracies are very different.
A Democratic Government gives every adult citizen a vote for the election of a member of Parliament and from among the members of Parliament the Government of the day is chosen. He therefore has a part in the Government and the utmost freedom of opinion is necessarily allowed so that the elector can decide what he wants and vote accordingly.
The defect in Democracy is that while it gives the individual citizen certain powers and privileges it asks nothing from him in return for the benefit of the community. In fact the community has no organized conscious national life. The voter having recorded his vote has no further duties to the State than to keep the law and avoid the police. It is true the citizen may be called upon by the State to fight as a soldier, but in time of peace nothing is asked of him. Parliament may pass laws for the common good but they are administered by State officials. The only organized life with an ethical idea of service is centred round the Churches or voluntary organizations. The Democratic State having given the utmost tolerance to freedom of opinion leaves the citizen to act as best he can for his own aggrandisement. The State consists of separate disconnected units and is not a living organism. It has made a God of Intellect but left out Ethics. It is notorious that in continental Parliaments each Party is willing to sacrifice the common good to its own advancement, and that they are incompetent and apt to become corrupt.
We have been saved from these defects because centuries of tradition have planted in us certain instincts which cause us to regard the body politic as a whole and to pull together in times of crisis in defence of the Nation; but that does not necessarily happen in artificial Democracies.
Our constitution is so complex, with a Monarchy, with a House of Lords, with traditions and customs derived from the past, and with all kinds of influences flowing into the national life, that it cannot be compared with any other Democracy. We have above all traditions of service which come from the Aristocracy and landed classes of this country who, though deprived of power and to a great extent of wealth, still occupy the front pages as news, because of what they stood for in the past, and still in many instances stand for to-day. It is true the new rich and the more frivolous members of the Aristocracy have lowered the standard, but the best of the old families continue quietly their social duties. I can admire an old family who, like the Cecils, through generations have preserved a standard of public service, but I cannot admire a successful soap boiler.
To them we owe the fact that our public schools still carry on that ideal of service - though never expressed - to the State and the Empire, and the ruling classes trained in them still keep control of the government. It is not without interest that just as our public schools with their system of monitors and heads of games and houses are training boys to rule in the best sense of the word, so Hitler has found the need for the same idea in Germany and through the Hitler Youth Organisation is giving that training which is so essential and which has always been absent from the German schools.
The Established Church has also kept up a tradition of Christian conduct, and the Society of Friends has always set a high standard of public service. I remember visiting a linen mill at Belfast many years ago and being horrified to see the girls at the machines in a room full of steam, soaked to the waist, and with no opportunity of changing before going home in the bitter cold outside. I asked: "Are all your mills like this?" "All but one", was the reply, "but", with a shrug of the shoulders, "that belongs to a Quaker".
We can call our constitution a Democracy if we like, but it is modified by traditions drawn from the past which make it workable. All these traditions of national life are necessarily absent in Germany, because of her history, and have to be created.
We have another advantage owing to the fact that a stable though changing form of Government has existed so long in this country. Like pebbles in a stream, we have rubbed together until we are rounded and trained in toleration and moderation.
It was the absence of any idea of the State as an organized whole that led the thinkers of the 18th and early 19th century to try to plan a State in which the individual served the community. If by Socialism we mean the idea of the State as an organic whole to which the individual members must render service, it is as old as Plato's Republic, and certain early writers on Socialism, and Hegel in his Political Philosophy, developed this conception.
Democracy combined with the false interpretation of the Economics of Adam Smith into a rule of conduct, had reduced the people of this country to such a condition by the middle of the 19th century that if the State had not interfered by legislation, we would have committed race suicide!
Unfortunately for the advance of civilized communities Karl Marx, by means of an unsound economic theory, sidetracked the Socialist movement from its purpose of remodelling the whole State, into a class war by which the Proletariat was to seize all the means of production and eliminate the middle class. The movement towards a true Socialistic development of the State which we owe to Ruskin, Owen, Kinglery, and Disraeli, was directed into a class war which has produced red revolution in Russia and been barren of any productive results in this country. Social legislation has been passed by both the Conservative and Liberal parties, but since a separate Labour Party was formed, though twice in office, they have produced no results, the last progressive piece of legislation - the Housing and Unemployment Acts - having been passed by the Coalition Government under Lloyd George. The attempts to create a class party and a class war in this country have proved a failure.
The people of this country, tired of political strife, have now twice returned by large majorities a Coalition Government, not because they necessarily admire its capacity or efficiency but because they are determined not to trust the country or the Empire to those who lead the Labour Party and still mumble the ideas derived from Karl Marx. The Bovril of Communism mixed with luke warm water does not attract the majority of voters. The complaint is made that the youth of the country takes no interest in politics. They have too much sense.
The time has come when we must return to Plato and the conception of the State as an organic whole to which each citizen must give service, and the sacrifice of individual interests for the common good. We must remember that we profess Christianity and that the principles governing the relations of the individual to his fellows have been laid down for all time in the Gospels, and given us the right ideals on which to found a living organic State. This does not mean that we have to deny Democracy, but on the contrary endow Democracy with an ethical principle. We are not wanting as a community in ethical instincts and desire to benefit our fellow creatures, but the whole needs co-ordinating as a conscious ethic guiding the Government and the individual. Without such an ethic, Democracy demoralizes the politician and the Press. We need therefore to return to a genuine Socialism, that is, the conception of the State as an organic living entity demanding service and sacrifice of individual gain from its members, and ending class war and spoliation.
There are times in history when a great leader arises and sweeping aside all forms of Government establishes a personal rule. Such a crisis had arisen in Germany, and Hitler has become a great leader, but the main interest to the student is not his personal rule but the ideal of a State which he has evolved and is working out in Germany.
He is the product of all those, from Plato onwards, who have imagined the State as an organic whole consciously guided by an ethical principle and calling on its individual members to play their part each in his place in helping forward the ethical idea by which the State is guided. His originality lies in converting these abstract ideas into a living principle of life by substituting for the abstraction the State, the living reality - the German Nation.
The sufferings of the German people have made them ardent Nationalists. The Fatherland, crushed and trampled on by the Nations of Europe, suffering every humiliation, has become to the German people the one object of their devotion. The love of the Reich has become a living and consuming flame. Hitler has seized upon that and directed it to an ethical aim. If we wish to appeal to youth we must ask them for service and if need be sacrifice. Only in that way can we utilize their ethical inspiration, and so he has appealed to the youth of Germany. He will accept no class division; he will stamp out all class war. No man can ask more than to be a citizen of the German Nation, and it is as a member of the body corporate that Hitler addresses his appeal to him.
He has fused all parties together to cast them in a new mould. He has accepted the economic system of Germany as he found it, though he is modifying it in many ways by the action of the State, and while he has carried out many sound reforms profoundly modifying conditions in Germany, these are merely the outward and visible sign. He is aiming at a change of heart, a new ideal of action, a conversion of the German people, without which external machinery is of little use. Doubtless many of the experiments will fail and fresh plans be worked out, but as long as the ethical idea is there, reforms are easy which here would be difficult.
It must be remembered that the Continental Trades Unions are very different to ours, being almost entirely in the hands of political agitators. Obviously the existence of Trades Unions whose leaders were paid to promote class war, was intolerable to the Nazi idea, and Hitler substituted the organization called the Labour Front, with committees of masters and men elected by secret ballot, and State officials who act as overseers and have the last word. Most elaborate labour laws have been passed guarding the workman in every kind of way, and while wages are low the conditions of life are very much improved. Not only are full wages paid during all holidays but the "Strength through Joy" organization has brought to every workman the opportunity of attending concerts and theatres and of cheap holiday travel including sea voyages and visits to foreign countries. Two special 25,000 ton ships have been built and four others chartered for this purpose, and hiking hostels are provided everywhere.
Housing is being carried out on an enormous scale, both in town and country, and factories are not only being made sanitary but pleasant to work in with the provision of dining rooms and bathing facilities. There is still much distress in big cities and the most complete and remarkable voluntary association has been created to deal with this problem, while the "one pot meal" every month during winter has helped to provide funds. It may be truthfully said that in Berlin last winter no person went without sufficient food and clothing and enough coal to keep one fire burning. The Nazi organization puts at the service of the State a million and a half willing voluntary workers.
Hitler has said that a healthy State is built on the peasant, and Germany has over half a million peasant families cultivating their own land. Our peasants alas are landless. He has made the house and land the possession of the family for all time descending from father to son, and has made it illegal to mortgage the house and farm. Any destitute member of the family has the right to food and shelter in the ancestral home. Prices are fixed and the State organizes distribution. Good food is cheap and plentiful in Germany, yet the peasant is doing well. The middle man is retained for distribution but can no longer rig the market and ruin the farmer with low prices, and plunder the consumer.
The only way the traveller can judge internal prices is by what he pays in restaurants. Two of us made an excellent meal on roast venison with cranberry sauce, Swiss cheese, butter, brown bread and beer for a total of three and a half marks in Nuremberg.
When Hitler first got control there were six million unemployed in Germany. To-day there is a shortage of workmen, and Italian, Dutch and Polish workmen are being, brought in. Those for whom work could not be found during the first years were employed in road making, land reclamation and similar tasks. They had to move from place to place and so live in camp, and were necessarily under discipline to ensure order and train them to a form of labour which was new to many of them. Our plan of paying men the dole and allowing them to loaf in idleness is utterly abhorrent to the German mind. The employment of the unemployed on public works in this country was destroyed by the Trades Unions demanding standard rates of wages for unskilled labour. The cost was prohibitive. Clothed, fed and housed, and his family looked after, the German unemployed are glad to work. This has been described by our Labour Party as slave labour. No one would be more astonished than the German unemployed at such a description.
I shall deal in more detail with parts of this social re-organization in subsequent chapters, but I have said enough to show the general lines. They will make mistakes; but the team spirit is there and the determination to succeed. Our Policy under the false application of the teaching of Adam Smith was in the 19th century to put economic gain first. Hitler's policy has been to put the well being of the people first, to consider the race not the multiplication of goods. He has been rewarded by success in the field of economics.
Nothing has caused more criticism of the German revolution than their handling of the Jewish question. I do not propose to defend it, but give certain explanations which are worthy of consideration. It is perhaps unnecessary to say that the whole business has been grossly exaggerated and active imaginations have been at work inventing unspeakable horrors. During the early days of the revolution brutalities were committed on both sides, many of Hitler's followers being shot down by Communists, and rightly or wrongly they hold in Germany that Communism is a Jewish revolutionary movement.
The hatred of the Jew on the continent is not confined to Germany. The anti-Jewish pogroms that have taken place in Poland were so dreadful that the Polish Government did not allow any news of them to leave the country, and there can be no doubt that Hitler, by bringing the whole matter under law and regulation, saved the Jews from massacre. It is difficult for us to understand this bitter hatred. We find the Jew a law-abiding, hard-working citizen, and have no complaint to make. It is doubtless true of the Jew as of all human beings, that good treatment makes a good citizen and bad treatment a bad citizen.
The only law passed by the Government dealing with the Jewish question, when Hitler came into power, was the Nuremberg Law dealing with marriage. There are to-day some 500,000 Jews in Germany but they are excluded from many professions and Government service. On the other hand they have their own cultural society, theatres and concerts and are protected from ill treatment by the Police.
Mixed up with this Jewish question is the racial question. The Nordic peoples differ from the Latin peoples in guarding jealously the purity of the blood. We have never in this country objected to intermixed marriages with Jews, but an officer in the army in India who marries a Hindu girl would have to resign his commission, while in the U.S.A. and South Africa etc. the slightest taint of negro blood means social ostracism.
In dealing with this difficult question I merely wish to point out that enmity to the Jew is not peculiar to Germany, and that it is better to regulate the Jewish position by law than to have outbreaks of fanaticism. True, Karl Marx was a Jew and rightly or wrongly, as I have said, Communism is regarded in Germany as being Jewish in origin and being organized by Jews.
The dismissal from their posts of distinguished men of learning, artists, musicians, scholars and men of science because they were of Jewish blood gave great offence among the intellectual classes. Art, science and learning recognizes no boundaries of race. What was not known in this country was that these men were offered full retiring pensions if they remained in Germany and that they had managed to fill a large preponderance of posts to the exclusion of Germans. It is true that our Government is doing its best to-day to exclude foreign musicians and actors from this country, a most indefensible proceeding which makes it difficult to criticize the action of Germany, but it was the dismissal given in the highest ranks of learning that shocked Europe and America. Every revolutionary political movement like every religious movement has its excesses and intolerances, and far too much has been made of their blunders. To-day we regard the French Revolution with all its horrors and excesses as marking a step forward in political history. It is only necessary to look back at contemporary writing in this country to realize we could not see the wood for the trees.
The quarrel with Rome was inevitable, because the Vatican will interfere in politics, and just as we had to fight the Vatican to a finish for two hundred years, so any strong Government which wishes to be master in its own home has sooner or later to face the opposition of Rome. We at any rate should understand and sympathize with the position of the German Government.
To us the whole idea of imprisonment for political opinions is abhorrent, but we do not hesitate to arrest and imprison thousands of prisoners without trial in India, and in Belfast to-day any Roman Catholic is liable to arrest and trial before a secret tribunal and can be imprisoned merely on "suspicion" without trial. Political prisoners are not peculiar to Germany. All continental countries, including Democratic Czecho-Slovakia and even France have their political prisoners and secret police.