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Fools obtain no peace says Adolf Hitler.
Before two years had passed, the theory as well as the technical methods of Social Democracy were clear to me.
I understood the infamous spiritual terror which this movement exerts, particularly on the bourgeoisie, which is neither morally nor mentally equal to such attacks; at a given sign it unleashes a veritable barrage of lies and slanders against whatever adversary seems most dangerous, until the nerves of the attacked persons break down and, just to have peace again, they sacrifice the hated individual.
However, the fools obtain no peace.
The game begins again and is repeated over and over until fear of the mad dog results in suggestive paralysis.
Since the Social Democrats best know the value of force from their own experience, they most violently attack those in whose nature they detect any of this substance which is so rare. Conversely, they praise every weakling on the opposing side, sometimes cautiously, sometimes loudly, depending on the real or supposed quality of his intelligence.
They fear an irnpotent, spineless genius less than a forceful nature of moderate intelligence.
But with the greatest enthusiasm they commend weaklings in both mind and force.
They know how to create the illusion that this is the only way of preserving the peace, and at the same time, stealthily but steadily, they conquer one position after another, sometimes by silent blackmail, sometimes by actual theft, at moments when the general attention is directed toward other matters, and either does not want to be disturbed or considers the matter too small to raise a stir about, thus again irritating the vicious antagonist.
This is a tactic based on precise calculation of all human weaknesses, and its result will lead to success with almost mathematical certainty unless the opposing side learns to combat poison gas with poison gas.
It is our duty to inform all weaklings that this is a question of to be or not to be.
I achieved an equal understanding of the importance of physical terror toward the individual and the masses.
Here, too, the psychological effect can be calculated with precision.
Terror at the place of employment, in the factory, in the meeting hall, and on the occasion of mass demonstrations will always be successful unless opposed by equal terror.
In this case, to be sure, the party will cry bloody murder; though it has long despised all state authority, it will set up a howling cry for that same authority and in most cases will actually attain its goal amid the general confusion: it will find some idiot of a higher official who, in the imbecilic hope of propitiating the feared adversary for later eventualities, will help this world plague to break its opponent.
The impression made by such a success on the minds of the great masses of supporters as well as opponents can only be measured by those who know the soul of a people, not from books, but from life. For while in the ranks of their supporters the victory achieved seems a triumph of the justice of their own cause, the defeated adversary in most cases despairs of the success of any further resistance.
The more familiar I became, principally with the methods of physical terror, the more indulgent I grew toward all the hundreds of thousands who succumbed to it.
What makes me most indebted to that period of suffering is that it alone gave back to me my people, taught me to distinguish the victims from their seducers.
The results of this seduction can be designated only as victims. For if I attempted to draw a few pictures from life, depicting the essence of these 'lowest' classes, my picture would not be complete without the assurance that in these depths I also found bright spots in the form of a rare willingness to make sacrifices, of loyal comradeship, astonishing frugality, and modest reserve, especially among the older workers. Even though these virtues were steadily vanishing in the younger generation, if only through the general effects of the big city, there were many, even among the young men, whose healthy blood managed to dominate the foul tricks of life. If in their political activity, these good, often kind-hearted people nevertheless joined the mortal enemies of our nationality, thus helping to cement their ranks, the reason was that they neither understood nor could understand the baseness of the new doctrine, and that no one else took the trouble to bother about them, and finally that the social conditions were stronger than any will to the contrary that may have been present. The poverty to which they sooner or later succumbed drove them into the camp of the Social Democracy.
Since on innumerable occasions the bourgeoisie has in the clumsiest and most immoral way opposed demands which were justified from the universal human point of view, often without obtaining or even justifiably expecting any profit from such an attitude, even the most self-respecting worker was driven out of the trade-union organization into political activity.
Millions of workers, I am sure, started out as enemies of the Social Democratic party in their innermost soul, but their resistance was overcome in a way which was sometimes utterly insane; that is, when the bourgeois parties adopted a hostile attitude toward every demand of a social character. Their simple, narrow-minded rejection of all attempts to better working conditions, to introduce safety devices on machines, to prohibit child labor and protect the woman, at least in the months when she was bearing the future national comrade under her heart, contributed to drive the masses into the net of Social Democracy which gratefully snatched at every case of such a disgraceful attitude. Never can our political bourgeoisie make good its sins in this direction, for by resisting all attempts to do away with social abuses, they sowed hatred and seemed to justify even the assertions of the mortal enemies of the entire nation, to the effect that only the Social Democratic party represented the interests of the working people
Thus, to begin with, they created the moral basis for the actual existence of the trade unions, the organization which has always been the most effective pander to the political party.
In my Viennese years I was forced, whether I liked it or not, to take a position on the trade unions.
Since I regarded them as an inseparable ingredient of the Social Democratic party as such, my decision was instantaneous and-mistaken.
I flatly rejected them without thinking.
And in this infinite]y important question, as in so many others, Fate itself became my instructor.
The result was a reversal of my first judgment.
By my twentieth year I had learned to distinguish between a union as a means of defending the general social rights of the wage-earner, and obtaining better living conditions for him as an individual, and the trade union as an instrument of the party in the political class struggle.
The fact that Social Democracy understood the enormous importance of the trade-union movement assured it of this instrument and hence of success; the fact that the bourgeoisie were not aware of this cost them their political position. They thought they could stop a logical development by means of an impertinent 'rejection,' but in reality they only forced it into illogical channels. For to call the trade-union movement in itself unpatriotic is nonsense and untrue to boot. Rather the contrary is true. If trade-union activity strives and succeeds in bettering the lot of a class which is one of the basic supports of the nation, its work is not only not anti-patriotic or seditious, but 'national' in the truest sense of the word. For in this way it helps to create the social premises without which a general national education is unthinkable. It wins the highest merit by eliminating social cankers, attacking intellectual as well as physical infections, and thus helping to contribute to the general health of the body politic.
Consequently, the question of their necessity is really superfluous.
As long as there are employers with little social understanding or a deficient sense of justice and propriety, it is not only the right but the duty of their employees, who certainly constitute a part of our nationality, to protect the interests of the general public against the greed and unreason of the individual; for the preservation of loyalty and faith in a social group is just as much to the interest of a nation as the preservation of the people's health.
Both of these are seriously menaced by unworthy employers who do not feel themselves to be members of the national community as a whole. From the disastrous effects of their greed or ruthlessness grow profound evils for the future.
To eliminate the causes of such a development is to do a service to the nation and in no sense the opposite.
Let no one say that every individual is free to draw the consequences from an actual or supposed injustice; in other words, to leave his job. No ! This is shadow-boxing and must be regarded as an attempt to divert attention. Either the elimination of bad, unsocial conditions serves the interest of the nation or it does not. If it does, the struggle against then must be carried on with weapons which offer the hope of success. The individual worker, however, is never in a position to defend himself against the power of the great industrialist, for in such matters it cannot be superior justice that conquers (if that were recognized, the whole struggle would stop from lack of cause)-no, what matters here is superior power. Otherwise the sense of justice alone would bring the struggle to a fair conclusion, or, more accurately speaking, the struggle could never arise.
No, if the unsocial or unworthy treatment of men calls for resistance, this struggle, as long as no legal judicial authorities have been created for the elimination of these evils, can only be decided by superior power. And this makes it obvious that the power of the employer concentrated in a single person can only be countered by the mass of employees banded into a single person, if the possibility of a victory is not to be renounced in advance.
Thus, trade-union organization can lead to a strengthening of the social idea in its practical effects on daily life, and thereby to an elimination of irritants which are constantly giving cause for dissatisfaction and complaints.
If this is not the case, it is to a great extent the fault of those who have been able to place obstacles in the path of any legal regulation of social evils or thwart them by means of their political influence.
Proportionately as the political bourgeoisie did not understand, or rather did not want to understand, the importance of trade-union organization, and resisted it, the Social Democrats took possession of the contested movement. Thus, far-sightedly it created a firm foundation which on several critical occasions has stood up when all other supports failed. In this way the intrinsic purpose was gradually submerged, making place for new aims.
It never occurred to the Social Democrats to limit the movement they had thus captured to its original task.
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