Readings on Fascism and National Socialism
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Italy in the Middle Ages presented a curious phenomenon: while in practice the authority of the state was being dissolved into a multiplicity of competing sovereignties, the theory of state unity and authority was kept alive in the minds of thinkers by the memories of the Roman Imperial tradition. It was this memory that supported for centuries the fiction of the universal Roman Empire when in reality it existed no longer. Dante's De Monarchia deduced the theory of this empire conceived as the unity of a strong state. "Quod potest fieri per unum melius est per unum fieri quam plura," he says in the XIV chapter of the first book, and further on, considering the citizen as an instrument for the attainment of the ends of the state, he concludes that the individual must sacrifice himself for his country. "Si pars debet se exponere pro salute totius, cum homo siti pars quaedam civitatis ... homo pro patria debet exponere se ipsum." (lib. II. 8).

The Roman tradition, which was one of practice but not of theories—for Rome constructed the most solid state known to history with extraordinary statesmanship but with hardly any political writings—influenced considerably the founder of modern political science, Nicolo Machiavelli, who was himself in truth not a creator of doctrines but a keen observer of human nature who derived from the study of history practical maxims of political import. He freed the science of politics from the formalism of the scholastics and brought it close to concrete reality. His writings, an inexhaustible mine of practical remarks and precious observations, reveal dominant in him the state idea, no longer abstract but in the full historical concreteness of the national unity of Italy. Machiavelli therefore is not only the greatest of modern political writers, he is also the greatest of our countrymen in full possession of a national Italian consciousness. To liberate Italy, which was in his day "enslaved, torn and pillaged," and to make her more powerful, he would use any means, for to his mind the holiness of the end justified them completely. In this he was sharply rebuked by foreigners who were not as hostile to his means as they were fearful of the end which he propounded. He advocated therefore the constitution of a strong Italian state, supported by the sacrifices and by the blood of the citizens, not defended by mercenary troops; well-ordered internally, aggressive and bent on expansion. "Weak republics," he said, "have no determination and can never reach a decision." (Disc. I. c. 38). "Weak states were ever dubious in choosing their course, and slow deliberations are always harmful." (Disc. I. c. 10). And again: "Whoso undertakes to govern a multitude either in a regime of liberty or in a monarchy, without previously making sure of those who are hostile to the new order of things builds a short-lived state." (Disc. I. c. 16). And further on "the dictatorial authority helped and did not harm the Roman republic" (Disc. I. c. 34), and "Kings and republics lacking in national troops both for offense and defense should be ashamed of their existence." (Disc. I. c. 21). And again: "Money not only does not protect you but rather it exposes you to plundering assaults. Nor can there be a more false opinion than that which says that money is the sinews of war. Not money but good soldiers win battles." (Disc. I. II. c. 10). "The country must be defended with ignominy or with glory and in either way it is nobly defended." (Disc. III. c. 41). "And with dash and boldness people often capture what they never would have obtained by ordinary means." (Disc. III. c. 44). Machiavelli was not only a great political authority, he taught the mastery of energy and will. Fascism learns from him not only its doctrines but its action as well.

Different from Machiavelli's, in mental attitude, in cultural preparation, and in manner of presentation, G.B. Vico must yet be connected with the great Florentine from whom in a certain way he seems to proceed. In the heyday of "natural law" Vico is decidedly opposed to ius naturale and in his attacks against its advocates, Grotius, Seldenus and Pufendorf, he systematically assails the abstract, rationalistic, and utilitarian principles of the XVIII century. As Montemayor justly says:[4] "While the 'natural jurists', basing justice and state on utility and interest and grounding human certitude on reason, were striving to draft permanent codes and construct the perfect state, Vico strongly asserted the social nature of man, the ethical character of the juridical consciousness and its growth through the history of humanity rather than in sacred history. Vico therefore maintains that doctrines must begin with those subjects which take up and explain the entire course of civilization. Experience and not ratiocination, history and not reason must help human wisdom to understand the civil and political regimes which were the result not of reason or philosophy, but rather of common sense, or if you will of the social consciousness of man" and farther on (pages 373-374), "to Vico we owe the conception of history in its fullest sense as magistra vitae, the search after the humanity of history, the principle which makes the truth progress with time, the discovery of the political 'course' of nations. It is Vico who uttered the eulogy of the patrician 'heroic hearts' of the 'patres patriae' first founders of states, magnanimous defenders of the commonwealth and wise counsellors of politics. To Vico we owe the criticism of democracies, the affirmation of their brief existence, of their rapid disintegration at the hands of factions and demagogues, of their lapse first into anarchy, then into monarchy, when their degradation does not make them a prey of foreign oppressors. Vico conceived of civil liberty as subjection to law, as just subordination, of the private to the public interests, to the sway of the state. It was Vico who sketched modern society as a world of nations each one guarding its own imperium, fighting just and not inhuman wars. In Vico therefore we find the condemnation of pacifism, the assertion that right is actualized by bodily force, that without force, right is of no avail, and that therefore 'qui ab iniuriis se tueri non potest servus est.'"

It is not difficult to discern the analogies between these affirmations and the fundamental views and the spirit of Fascism. Nor should we marvel at this similarity. Fascism, a strictly Italian phenomenon, has its roots in the Risorgimento and the Risorgimento was influenced undoubtedly by Vico.

It would be inexact to affirm that the philosophy of Vico dominated the Risorgimento. Too many elements of German, French, and English civilizations had been added to our culture during the first half of the XIX century to make this possible, so much so that perhaps Vico might have remained unknown to the makers of Italian unity if another powerful mind from Southern Italy, Vincenzo Cuoco, had not taken it upon himself to expound the philosophy of Vico in those very days in which the intellectual preparation of the Risorgimento was being carried on.

An adequate account of Cuoco's doctrines would carry me too far. Montemayor, in the article quoted above, gives them considerable attention. He quotes among other things Cuoco's arraignment of Democracy: "Italy has fared badly at the hand of Democracy which has withered to their roots the three sacred plants of liberty, unity, and independence. If we wish to see these trees flourish again let us protect them in the future from Democracy."

The influence of Cuoco, an exile at Milan, exerted through his writings, his newspaper articles, and Vichian propaganda, on the Italian patriots is universally recognized. Among the regular readers of his Giornale Italiano we find Monti and Foscolo. Clippings of his articles were treasured by Mazzini and Manzoni, who often acted as his secretary, called him his "master in politics."[5]

The influence of the Italian tradition summed up and handed down by Cuoco was felt by Mazzini whose interpretation of the function of the citizen as duty and mission is to be connected with Vico's doctrine rather than with the philosophic and political doctrines of the French Revolution.

"Training for social duty," said Mazzini, "is essentially and logically unitarian. Life for it is but a duty, a mission. The norm and definition of such mission can only be found in a collective term superior to all the individuals of the country—in the people, in the nation. If there is a collective mission, a communion of duty ... it can only be represented in the national unity."[6] And farther on: "The declaration of rights, which all constitutions insist in copying slavishly from the French, express only those of the period ... which considered the individual as the end and pointed out only one half of the problem" and again, "assume the existence of one of those crises that threaten the life of the nation, and demand the active sacrifice of all its sons ... will you ask the citizens to face martyrdom in virtue of their rights? You have taught men that society was solely constituted to guarantee their rights and now you ask them to sacrifice one and all, to suffer and die for the safety of the 'nation?'"[7]

In Mazzini's conception of the citizen as instrument for the attainment of the nation's ends and therefore submissive to a higher mission, to the duty of supreme sacrifice, we see the anticipation of one of the fundamental points of the Fascist doctrine.

Unfortunately, the autonomy of the political thought of Italy, vigorously established in the works of Vico, nobly reclaimed by Vincenzo Cuoco, kept up during the struggles of the Risorgimento in spite of the many foreign influences of that period, seemed to exhaust itself immediately after the unification. Italian political thought which had been original in times of servitude, became enslaved in the days of freedom.

A powerful innovating movement, issuing from the war and of which Fascism is the purest expression, was to restore Italian thought in the sphere of political doctrine to its own traditions which are the traditions of Rome.

This task of intellectual liberation, now slowly being accomplished, is no less important than the political deliverance brought about by the Fascist Revolution. It is a great task which continues and integrates the Risorgimento; it is now bringing to an end, after the cessation of our political servitude, the intellectual dependence of Italy.

Thanks to it, Italy again speaks to the world and the world listens to Italy. It is a great task and a great deed and it demands great efforts. To carry it through, we must, each one of us, free ourselves of the dross of ideas and mental habits which two centuries of foreign intellectualistic tradition have heaped upon us; we must not only take on a new culture but create for ourselves a new soul. We must methodically and patiently contribute something towards the organic and complete elaboration of our doctrine, at the same time supporting it both at home and abroad with untiring devotion. We ask this effort of renovation and collaboration of all Fascists, as well as of all who feel themselves to be Italians. After the hour of sacrifice comes the hour of unyielding efforts. To our work, then, fellow countrymen, for the glory of Italy!

* * * * *


[Footnote 1: Translated from the Italian.]

[Footnote 2: "civitates quae non reguntur ab uno dissenionibus laborant et absque pace fluctuant. E contrario civitates quae sub uno rege reguntur pace gaudent, iustitia florent et affluentia rerum laetantur." (De reg. princ. I. c. 2).]

[Footnote 3: "ideo manifustum est, quod multitudo est sicut tyrannuus, quare operationes multitudinis sunt iniustae. ergo non expedit multitudinem dominari." (Comm. In Polit. L. III. lectio VIII).]

[Footnote 4: Rivista internazionale di filosofia del diritto V. 351.]

[Footnote 5: Montemayor. Riv. Int. etc. p. 370.]

[Footnote 6: della unita italiana. Scritti, Vol. III.]

[Footnote 7: I sistemi e la democrazia. Scritti, Vol. VII.]

* * * * *


For the Italian nation the World War was the solution of a deep spiritual crisis. They willed and fought it long before they felt and evaluated it. But they willed, fought, felt and evaluated it in a certain spirit which Italy's generals and statesmen exploited, but which also worked on them, conditioning their policies and their action. The spirit in question was not altogether clear and self-consistent. That it lacked unanimity was particularly apparent just before and again just after the war when feelings were not subject to war discipline. It was as though the Italian character were crossed by two different currents which divided it into two irreconcilable sections. One need think only of the days of Italian neutrality and of the debates that raged between Interventionists and Neutralists. The ease with which the most inconsistent ideas were pressed into service by both parties showed that the issue was not between two opposing political opinions, two conflicting concepts of history, but actually between two different temperaments, two different souls.

For one kind of person the important point was to fight the war, either on the side of Germany or against Germany: but in either event to fight the war, without regard to specific advantages—to fight the war in order that at last the Italian nation, created rather by favoring conditions than by the will of its people to be a nation, might receive its test in blood, such a test as only war can bring by uniting all citizens in a single thought, a single passion, a single hope, emphasizing to each individual that all have something in common, something transcending private interests.

This was the very thing that frightened the other kind of person, the prudent man, the realist, who had a clear view of the mortal risks a young, inexperienced, badly prepared nation would be running in such a war, and who also saw—a most significant point—that, all things considered, a bargaining neutrality would surely win the country tangible rewards, as great as victorious participation itself.

The point at issue was just that: the Italian Neutralists stood for material advantages, advantages tangible, ponderable, palpable; the Interventionists stood for moral advantages, intangible, impalpable, imponderable—imponderable at least on the scales used by their antagonists. On the eve of the war these two Italian characters stood facing each other, scowling and irreconcilable—the one on the aggressive, asserting itself ever more forcefully through the various organs of public opinion; the other on the defensive, offering resistance through the Parliament which in those days still seemed to be the basic repository of State sovereignty. Civil conflict seemed inevitable in Italy, and civil war was in fact averted only because the King took advantage of one of his prerogatives and declared war against the Central Powers.

This act of the King was the first decisive step toward the solution of the crisis.


The crisis had ancient origins. Its roots sank deep into the inner spirit of the Italian people.

What were the creative forces of the Risorgimento? The "Italian people," to which some historians are now tending to attribute an important if not a decisive role in our struggle for national unity and independence, was hardly on the scene at all. The active agency was always an idea become a person—it was one or several determined wills which were fixed on determined goals. There can be no question that the birth of modern Italy was the work of the few. And it could not be otherwise. It is always the few who represent the self-consciousness and the will of an epoch and determine what its history shall be; for it is they who see the forces at their disposal and through those forces actuate the one truly active and productive force—their own will.

That will we find in the song of the poets and the ideas of the political writers, who know how to use a language harmonious with a universal sentiment or with a sentiment capable of becoming universal. In the case of Italy, in all our bards, philosophers and leaders, from Alfieri to Foscolo, from Leopardi to Manzoni, from Mazzini to Gioberti, we are able to pick up the threads of a new fabric, which is a new kind of thought, a new kind of soul, a new kind of Italy. This new Italy differed from the old Italy in something that was very simple but yet was of the greatest importance: this new Italy took life seriously, while the old one did not. People in every age had dreamed of an Italy and talked of an Italy. The notion of Italy had been sung in all kinds of music, propounded in all kinds of philosophy. But it was always an Italy that existed in the brain of some scholar whose learning was more or less divorced from reality. Now reality demands that convictions be taken seriously, that ideas become actions. Accordingly it was necessary that this Italy, which was an affair of brains only, become also an affair of hearts, become, that is, something serious, something alive. This, and no other, was the meaning of Mazzini's great slogan: "Thought and Action." It was the essence of the great revolution which he preached and which he accomplished by instilling his doctrine into the hearts of others. Not many others—a small minority! But they were numerous enough and powerful enough to raise the question where it could be answered—in Italian public opinion (taken in conjunction with the political situation prevailing in the rest of Europe). They were able to establish the doctrine that life is not a game, but a mission; that, therefore, the individual has a law and a purpose in obedience to which and in fulfillment of which he alone attains his true value; that, accordingly, he must make sacrifices, now of personal comfort, now of private interest, now of life itself.

No revolution ever possessed more markedly than did the Italian Risorgimento this characteristic of ideality, of thought preceding action. Our revolt was not concerned with the material needs of life, nor did it spring from elementary and widely diffused sentiments breaking out in popular uprisings and mass disturbances. The movements of 1847 and 1848 were demonstrations, as we would say today, of "intellectuals"; they were efforts toward a goal on the part of a minority of patriots who were standard bearers of an ideal and were driving governments and peoples toward its attainment. Idealism—understood as faith in the advent of an ideal reality, as a manner of conceiving life not as fixed within the limits of existing fact, but as incessant progress and transformation toward the level of a higher law which controls men with the very force of the idea—was the sum and substance of Mazzini's teaching; and it supplied the most conspicuous characteristic of our great Italian revolution. In this sense all the patriots who worked for the foundation of the new kingdom were Mazzinians—Gioberti, Cavour, Victor Emmanuel, Garibaldi. To be sure, our writers of the first rank, such as Manzoni and Rosmini, had no historical connection with Mazzini; but they had the same general tendency as Mazzini. Working along diverging lines, they all came together on the essential point: that true life is not the life which is, but also the life which ought to be. It was a conviction essentially religious in character, essentially anti-materialistic.


This religious and idealistic manner of looking at life, so characteristic of the Risorgimento, prevails even beyond the heroic age of the revolution and the establishment of the Kingdom. It survives down through Ricasoli, Lanza, Sella and Minghetti, down, that is, to the occupation of Rome and the systemization of our national finances. The parliamentary overturn of 1876, indeed, marks not the end, but rather an interruption, on the road that Italy had been following since the beginning of the century. The outlook then changed, and not by the capriciousness or weakness of men, but by a necessity of history which it would be idiotic in our day to deplore. At that time the fall of the Right, which had ruled continuously between 1861 and 1876, seemed to most people the real conquest of freedom.

To be sure the Right cannot be accused of too great scruple in respecting the liberties guaranteed by our Constitution; but the real truth was that the Right conceived liberty in a sense directly opposite to the notions of the Left. The Left moved from the individual to the State: the Right moved from the State to the individual. The men of the left thought of "the people" as merely the agglomerate of the citizens composing it. They therefore made the individual the center and the point of departure of all the rights and prerogatives which a regime of freedom was bound to respect.

The men of the Right, on the contrary, were firmly set in the notion that no freedom can be conceived except within the State, that freedom can have no important content apart from a solid regime of law indisputably sovereign over the activities and the interests of individuals. For the Right there could be no individual freedom not reconcilable with the authority of the State. In their eyes the general interest was always paramount over private interests. The law, therefore, should have absolute efficacy and embrace the whole life of the people.

This conception of the Right was evidently sound; but it involved great dangers when applied without regard to the motives which provoked it. Unless we are careful, too much law leads to stasis and therefore to the annihilation of the life which it is the State's function to regulate but which the State cannot suppress. The State may easily become a form indifferent to its content—something extraneous to the substance it would regulate. If the law comes upon the individual from without, if the individual is not absorbed in the life of the State, the individual feels the law and the State as limitations on his activity, as chains which will eventually strangle him unless he can break them down.

This was just the feeling of the men of '76. The country needed a breath of air. Its moral, economic, and social forces demanded the right to develop without interference from a law which took no account of them. This was the historical reason for the overturn of that year; and with the transference of power from Right to Left begins the period of growth and development in our nation: economic growth in industry, commerce, railroads, agriculture; intellectual growth in science, education. The nation had received its form from above. It had now to struggle to its new level, giving to a State which already had its constitution, its administrative and political organization, its army and its finance, a living content of forces springing from individual initiative prompted by interests which the Risorgimento, absorbed in its great ideals, had either neglected or altogether disregarded.

The accomplishment of this constitutes the credit side of the balance sheet of King Humbert I. It was the error of King Humbert's greatest minister, Francesco Crispi, not to have understood his age. Crispi strove vigorously to restore the authority and the prestige of the State as against an individualism gone rampant, to reassert religious ideals as against triumphant materialism. He fell, therefore, before the assaults of so-called democracy.

Crispi was wrong. That was not the moment for re-hoisting the time-honored banner of idealism. At that time there could be no talk of wars, of national dignity, of competition with the Great Powers; no talk of setting limits to personal liberties in the interests of the abstract entity called "State." The word "God," which Crispi sometimes used, was singularly out of place. It was a question rather of bringing the popular classes to prosperity, self-consciousness, participation in political life. Campaigns against illiteracy, all kinds of social legislation, the elimination of the clergy from the public schools, which must be secular and anti-clerical! During this period Freemasonry became solidly established in the bureaucracy, the army, the judiciary. The central power of the State was weakened and made subservient to the fleeting variations of popular will as reflected in a suffrage absolved from all control from above. The growth of big industry favored the rise of a socialism of Marxian stamp as a new kind of moral and political education for our proletariat. The conception of humanity was not indeed lost from view: but such moral restraints as were placed on the free individual were all based on the feeling that each man must instinctively seek his own well-being and defend it. This was the very conception which Mazzini had fought in socialism, though he rightly saw that it was not peculiar to socialism alone, but belonged to any political theory, whether liberal, democratic, or anti-socialistic, which urges men toward the exaction of rights rather than to the fulfillment of duties.

From 1876 till the Great War, accordingly, we had an Italy that was materialistic and anti-Mazzinian, though an Italy far superior to the Italy of and before Mazzini's time. All our culture, whether in the natural or the moral sciences, in letters or in the arts, was dominated by a crude positivism, which conceived of the reality in which we live as something given, something ready-made, and which therefore limits and conditions human activity quite apart from so-called arbitrary and illusory demands of morality. Everybody wanted "facts," "positive facts." Everybody laughed at "metaphysical dreams," at impalpable realities. The truth was there before the eyes of men. They had only to open their eyes to see it. The Beautiful itself could only be the mirror of the Truth present before us in Nature. Patriotism, like all the other virtues based on a religious attitude of mind, and which can be mentioned only when people have the courage to talk in earnest, became a rhetorical theme on which it was rather bad taste to touch.

This period, which anyone born during the last half of the past century can well remember, might be called the demo-socialistic phase of the modern Italian State. It was the period which elaborated the characteristically democratic attitude of mind on a basis of personal freedom, and which resulted in the establishment of socialism as the primary and controlling force in the State. It was a period of growth and of prosperity during which the moral forces developed during the Risorgimento were crowded into the background or off the stage.


But toward the end of the Nineteenth Century and in the first years of the Twentieth a vigorous spirit of reaction began to manifest itself in the young men of Italy against the preceding generation's ideas in politics, literature, science and philosophy. It was as though they were weary of the prosaic bourgeois life which they had inherited from their fathers and were eager to return to the lofty moral enthusiasms of their grandfathers. Rosmini and Gioberti had been long forgotten. They were now exhumed, read, discussed. As for Mazzini, an edition of his writings was financed by the State itself. Vico, the great Vico, a formidable preacher of idealistic philosophy and a great anti-Cartesian and anti-rationalist, became the object of a new cult.

Positivism began forthwith to be attacked by neo-idealism. Materialistic approaches to the study of literature and art were refuted and discredited. Within the Church itself modernism came to rouse the Italian clergy to the need of a deeper and more modern culture. Even socialism was brought under the philosophical probe and criticized like other doctrines for its weaknesses and errors; and when, in France, George Sorel went beyond the fallacies of the materialistic theories of the Marxist social-democracy to his theory of syndicalism, our young Italian socialists turned to him. In Sorel's ideas they saw two things: first, the end of a hypocritical "collaborationism" which betrayed both proletariat and nation; and second, faith in a moral and ideal reality for which it was the individual's duty to sacrifice himself, and to defend which, even violence was justified. The anti-parliamentarian spirit and the moral spirit of syndicalism brought Italian socialists back within the Mazzinian orbit.

Of great importance, too, was nationalism, a new movement then just coming to the fore. Our Italian nationalism was less literary and more political in character than the similar movement in France, because with us it was attached to the old historic Right which had a long political tradition. The new nationalism differed from the old Right in the stress it laid on the idea of "nation"; but it was at one with the Right in regarding the State as the necessary premise to the individual rights and values. It was the special achievement of nationalism to rekindle faith in the nation in Italian hearts, to arouse the country against parliamentary socialism, and to lead an open attack on Freemasonry, before which the Italian bourgeoisie was terrifiedly prostrating itself. Syndicalists, nationalists, idealists succeeded, between them, in bringing the great majority of Italian youth back to the spirit of Mazzini.

Official, legal, parliamentary Italy, the Italy that was anti-Mazzinian and anti-idealistic, stood against all this, finding its leader in a man of unfailing political intuition, and master as well of the political mechanism of the country, a man sceptical of all high-sounding words, impatient of complicated concepts, ironical, cold, hard-headed, practical—what Mazzini would have called a "shrewd materialist." In the persons, indeed, of Mazzini and Giolitti, we may find a picture of the two aspects of pre-war Italy, of that irreconcilable duality which paralyzed the vitality of the country and which the Great War was to solve.


The effect of the war seemed at first to be quite in an opposite sense—to mark the beginning of a general debacle of the Italian State and of the moral forces that must underlie any State. If entrance into the war had been a triumph of ideal Italy over materialistic Italy, the advent of peace seemed to give ample justification to the Neutralists who had represented the latter. After the Armistice our Allies turned their backs upon us. Our victory assumed all the aspects of a defeat. A defeatist psychology, as they say, took possession of the Italian people and expressed itself in hatred of the war, of those responsible for the war, even of our army which had won our war. An anarchical spirit of dissolution rose against all authority. The ganglia of our economic life seemed struck with mortal disease. Labor ran riot in strike after strike. The very bureaucracy seemed to align itself against the State. The measure of our spiritual dispersion was the return to power of Giolitti—the execrated Neutralist—who for five years had been held up as the exponent of an Italy which had died with the war.

But, curiously enough, it was under Giolitti that things suddenly changed in aspect, that against the Giolittian State a new State arose. Our soldiers, our genuine soldiers, men who had willed our war and fought it in full consciousness of what they were doing, had the good fortune to find as their leaders a man who could express in words things that were in all their hearts and who could make those words audible above the tumult.

Mussolini had left Italian socialism in 1915 in order to be a more faithful interpreter of "the Italian People" (the name he chose for his new paper). He was one of those who saw the necessity of our war, one of those mainly responsible for our entering the war. Already as a socialist he had fought Freemasonry; and, drawing his inspiration from Sorel's syndicalism, he had assailed the parliamentary corruption of Reformist Socialism with the idealistic postulates of revolution and violence. Then, later, on leaving the party and in defending the cause of intervention, he had come to oppose the illusory fancies of proletarian internationalism with an assertion of the infrangible integrity, not only moral but economic as well, of the national organism, affirming therefore the sanctity of country for the working classes as for other classes. Mussolini was a Mazzinian of that pure-blooded breed which Mazzini seemed somehow always to find in the province of Romagna. First by instinct, later by reflection, Mussolini had come to despise the futility of the socialists who kept preaching a revolution which they had neither the power nor the will to bring to pass even under the most favorable circumstances. More keenly than anyone else he had come to feel the necessity of a State which would be a State, of a law which would be respected as law, of an authority capable of exacting obedience but at the same time able to give indisputable evidence of its worthiness so to act. It seemed incredible to Mussolini that a country capable of fighting and winning such a war as Italy had fought and won should be thrown into disorder and held at the mercy of a handful of faithless politicians.

When Mussolini founded his Fasci in Milan in March, 1919, the movement toward dissolution and negation that featured the post-war period in Italy had virtually ceased. The Fasci made their appeal to Italians who, in spite of the disappointments of the peace, continued to believe in the war, and who, in order to validate the victory which was the proof of the war's value, were bent on recovering for Italy that control over her own destinies which could come only through a restoration of discipline and a reorganization of social and political forces. From the first, the Fascist Party was not one of believers but of action. What it needed was not a platform of principles, but an idea which would indicate a goal and a road by which the goal could be reached.

The four years between 1919 and 1923 inclusive were characterized by the development of the Fascist revolution through the action of "the squads." The Fascist "squads" were really the force of a State not yet born but on the way to being. In its first period, Fascist "squadrism" transgressed the law of the old regime because it was determined to suppress that regime as incompatible with the national State to which Fascism was aspiring. The March on Rome was not the beginning, it was the end of that phase of the revolution; because, with Mussolini's advent to power, Fascism entered the sphere of legality. After October 28, 1922, Fascism was no longer at war with the State; it was the State, looking about for the organization which would realize Fascism as a concept of State. Fascism already had control of all the instruments necessary for the upbuilding of a new State. The Italy of Giolitti had been superceded, at least so far as militant politics were concerned. Between Giolitti's Italy and the new Italy there flowed, as an imaginative orator once said in the Chamber, "a torrent of blood" that would prevent any return to the past. The century-old crisis had been solved. The war at last had begun to bear fruit for Italy.


Now to understand the distinctive essence of Fascism, nothing is more instructive than a comparison of it with the point of view of Mazzini to which I have so often referred.

Mazzini did have a political conception, but his politic was a sort of integral politic, which cannot be so sharply distinguished from morals, religion, and ideas of life as a whole, as to be considered apart from these other fundamental interests of the human spirit. If one tries to separate what is purely political from his religious beliefs, his ethical consciousness and his metaphysical concepts, it becomes impossible to understand the vast influence which his credo and his propaganda exerted. Unless we assume the unity of the whole man, we arrive not at the clarification but at the destruction of those ideas of his which proved so powerful.

In the definition of Fascism, the first point to grasp is the comprehensive, or as Fascists say, the "totalitarian" scope of its doctrine, which concerns itself not only with political organization and political tendency, but with the whole will and thought and feeling of the nation.

There is a second and equally important point. Fascism is not a philosophy. Much less is it a religion. It is not even a political theory which may be stated in a series of formulae. The significance of Fascism is not to be grasped in the special theses which it from time to time assumes. When on occasion it has announced a program, a goal, a concept to be realized in action, Fascism has not hesitated to abandon them when in practice these were found to be inadequate or inconsistent with the principle of Fascism. Fascism has never been willing to compromise its future. Mussolini has boasted that he is a tempista, that his real pride is in "good timing." He makes decisions and acts on them at the precise moment when all the conditions and considerations which make them feasible and opportune are properly matured. This is a way of saying that Fascism returns to the most rigorous meaning of Mazzini's "Thought and Action," whereby the two terms are so perfectly coincident that no thought has value which is not already expressed in action. The real "views" of the Duce are those which he formulates and executes at one and the same time.

Is Fascism therefore "anti-intellectual," as has been so often charged? It is eminently anti-intellectual, eminently Mazzinian, that is, if by intellectualism we mean the divorce of thought from action, of knowledge from life, of brain from heart, of theory from practice. Fascism is hostile to all Utopian systems which are destined never to face the test of reality. It is hostile to all science and all philosophy which remain matters of mere fancy or intelligence. It is not that Fascism denies value to culture, to the higher intellectual pursuits by which thought is invigorated as a source of action. Fascist anti-intellectualism holds in scorn a product peculiarly typical of the educated classes in Italy: the leterato—the man who plays with knowledge and with thought without any sense of responsibility for the practical world. It is hostile not so much to culture as to bad culture, the culture which does not educate, which does not make men, but rather creates pedants and aesthetes, egotists in a word, men morally and politically indifferent. It has no use, for instance, for the man who is "above the conflict" when his country or its important interests are at stake.

By virtue of its repugnance for "intellectualism," Fascism prefers not to waste time constructing abstract theories about itself. But when we say that it is not a system or a doctrine we must not conclude that it is a blind praxis or a purely instinctive method. If by system or philosophy we mean a living thought, a principle of universal character daily revealing its inner fertility and significance, then Fascism is a perfect system, with a solidly established foundation and with a rigorous logic in its development; and all who feel the truth and the vitality of the principle work day by day for its development, now doing, now undoing, now going forward, now retracing their steps, according as the things they do prove to be in harmony with the principle or to deviate from it.

And we come finally to a third point.

The Fascist system is not a political system, but it has its center of gravity in politics. Fascism came into being to meet serious problems of politics in post-war Italy. And it presents itself as a political method. But in confronting and solving political problems it is carried by its very nature, that is to say by its method, to consider moral, religious, and philosophical questions and to unfold and demonstrate the comprehensive totalitarian character peculiar to it. It is only after we have grasped the political character of the Fascist principle that we are able adequately to appreciate the deeper concept of life which underlies that principle and from which the principle springs. The political doctrine of Fascism is not the whole of Fascism. It is rather its more prominent aspect and in general its most interesting one.


The politic of Fascism revolves wholly about the concept of the national State; and accordingly it has points of contact with nationalist doctrines, along with distinctions from the latter which it is important to bear in mind.

Both Fascism and nationalism regard the State as the foundation of all rights and the source of all values in the individuals composing it. For the one as for the other the State is not a consequence—it is a principle. But in the case of nationalism, the relation which individualistic liberalism, and for that matter socialism also, assumed between individual and State is inverted. Since the State is a principle, the individual becomes a consequence—he is something which finds an antecedent in the State: the State limits him and determines his manner of existence, restricting his freedom, binding him to a piece of ground whereon he was born, whereon he must live and will die. In the case of Fascism, State and individual are one and the same things, or rather, they are inseparable terms of a necessary synthesis.

Nationalism, in fact, founds the State on the concept of nation, the nation being an entity which transcends the will and the life of the individual because it is conceived as objectively existing apart from the consciousness of individuals, existing even if the individual does nothing to bring it into being. For the nationalist, the nation exists not by virtue of the citizen's will, but as datum, a fact, of nature.

For Fascism, on the contrary, the State is a wholly spiritual creation. It is a national State, because, from the Fascist point of view, the nation itself is a creation of the mind and is not a material presupposition, is not a datum of nature. The nation, says the Fascist, is never really made; neither, therefore, can the State attain an absolute form, since it is merely the nation in the latter's concrete, political manifestation. For the Fascist, the State is always in fieri. It is in our hands, wholly; whence our very serious responsibility towards it.

But this State of the Fascists which is created by the consciousness and the will of the citizen, and is not a force descending on the citizen from above or from without, cannot have toward the mass of the population the relationship which was presumed by nationalism.

Nationalism identified State with Nation, and made of the nation an entity preexisting, which needed not to be created but merely to be recognized or known. The nationalists, therefore, required a ruling class of an intellectual character, which was conscious of the nation and could understand, appreciate and exalt it. The authority of the State, furthermore, was not a product but a presupposition. It could not depend on the people—rather the people depended on the State and on the State's authority as the source of the life which they lived and apart from which they could not live. The nationalistic State was, therefore, an aristocratic State, enforcing itself upon the masses through the power conferred upon it by its origins.

The Fascist State, on the contrary, is a people's state, and, as such, the democratic State par excellence. The relationship between State and citizen (not this or that citizen, but all citizens) is accordingly so intimate that the State exists only as, and in so far as, the citizen causes it to exist. Its formation therefore is the formation of a consciousness of it in individuals, in the masses. Hence the need of the Party, and of all the instruments of propaganda and education which Fascism uses to make the thought and will of the Duce the thought and will of the masses. Hence the enormous task which Fascism sets itself in trying to bring the whole mass of the people, beginning with the little children, inside the fold of the Party.

On the popular character of the Fascist State likewise depends its greatest social and constitutional reform—the foundation of the Corporations of Syndicates. In this reform Fascism took over from syndicalism the notion of the moral and educational function of the syndicate. But the Corporations of Syndicates were necessary in order to reduce the syndicates to State discipline and make them an expression of the State's organism from within. The Corporation of Syndicates are a device through which the Fascist State goes looking for the individual in order to create itself through the individual's will. But the individual it seeks is not the abstract political individual whom the old liberalism took for granted. He is the only individual who can ever be found, the individual who exists as a specialized productive force, and who, by the fact of his specialization, is brought to unite with other individuals of his same category and comes to belong with them to the one great economic unit which is none other than the nation.

This great reform is already well under way. Toward it nationalism, syndicalism, and even liberalism itself, were already tending in the past. For even liberalism was beginning to criticize the older forms of political representation, seeking some system of organic representation which would correspond to the structural reality of the State.

The Fascist conception of liberty merits passing notice. The Duce of Fascism once chose to discuss the theme of "Force or consent?"; and he concluded that the two terms are inseparable, that the one implies the other and cannot exist apart from the other; that, in other words, the authority of the State and the freedom of the citizen constitute a continuous circle wherein authority presupposes liberty and liberty authority. For freedom can exist only within the State, and the State means authority. But the State is not an entity hovering in the air over the heads of its citizens. It is one with the personality of the citizen. Fascism, indeed, envisages the contrast not as between liberty and authority, but as between a true, a concrete liberty which exists, and an abstract, illusory liberty which cannot exist.

Liberalism broke the circle above referred to, setting the individual against the State and liberty against authority. What the liberal desired was liberty as against the State, a liberty which was a limitation of the State; though the liberal had to resign himself, as the lesser of the evils, to a State which was a limitation on liberty. The absurdities inherent in the liberal concept of freedom were apparent to liberals themselves early in the Nineteenth Century. It is no merit of Fascism to have again indicated them. Fascism has its own solution of the paradox of liberty and authority. The authority of the State is absolute. It does not compromise, it does not bargain, it does not surrender any portion of its field to other moral or religious principles which may interfere with the individual conscience. But on the other hand, the State becomes a reality only in the consciousness of its individuals. And the Fascist corporative State supplies a representative system more sincere and more in touch with realities than any other previously devised and is therefore freer than the old liberal State.



Prepared in the Special Unit Of the Division of European Affairs By RAYMOND E. MURPHY FRANCIS B. STEVENS HOWARD TRIVERS JOSEPH M. ROLAND


The line of thought which we have traced from Herder to the immediate forerunners of the Nazi movement embodies an antidemocratic tradition which National Socialism has utilized, reduced to simple but relentless terms, and exploited in what is known as the National Socialist Weltanschauung for the greater aggrandizement of Nazi Germany. The complete agreement between the Nazi ideology and the previously described political concepts of the past is revealed in the forthcoming exposition of the main tenets of Naziism.

The Volk

Ernst Rudolf Huber, in his basic work Verfassungsrecht des grossdeutschen Reiches (Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich) (document 1, post p. 155), published in 1939, states:

The new constitution of the German Reich ... is not a constitution in the formal sense such as was typical of the nineteenth century. The new Reich has no written constitutional declaration, but its constitution exists in the unwritten basic political order of the Reich. One recognizes it in the spiritual powers which fill our people, in the real authority in which our political life is grounded, and in the basic laws regarding the structure of the state which have been proclaimed so far. The advantage of such an unwritten constitution over the formal constitution is that the basic principles do not become rigid but remain in a constant, living movement. Not dead institutions but living principles determine the nature of the new constitutional order.[8]

In developing his thesis Huber points out that the National Socialist state rests on three basic concepts, the Volk or people, the Fuehrer, and the movement or party. With reference to the first element, the Volk, he argues that the democracies develop their concept of the people from the wrong approach: They start with the concept of the state and its functions and consider the people as being made up of all the elements which fall within the borders or under the jurisdiction of the state. National Socialism, on the other hand, starts with the concept of the people, which forms a political unity, and builds the state upon this foundation.

There is no people without an objective unity, but there is also none without a common consciousness of unity. A people is determined by a number of different factors: by racial derivation and by the character of its land, by language and other forms of life, by religion and history, but also by the common consciousness of its solidarity and by its common will to unity. For the concrete concept of a people, as represented by the various peoples of the earth, it is of decisive significance which of these various factors they regard as determinants for the nature of the people. The new German Reich proceeds from the concept of the political people, determined by the natural characteristics and by the historical idea of a closed community. The political people is formed through the uniformity of its natural characteristics. Race is the natural basis of the people ... As a political people the natural community becomes conscious of its solidarity and strives to form itself, to develop itself, to defend itself, to realize itself. "Nationalism" is essentially this striving of a people which has become conscious of itself toward self-direction and self-realization, toward a deepening and renewing of its natural qualities.

This consciousness of self, springing from the consciousness of a historical idea, awakens in a people its will to historical formation: the will to action. The political people is no passive, sluggish mass, no mere object for the efforts of the state at government or protective welfare work ... The great misconception of the democracies is that they can see the active participation of the people only in the form of plebiscites according to the principle of majority. In a democracy the people does not act as a unit but as a complex of unrelated individuals who form themselves into parties ... The new Reich is based on the principle that real action of a self-determining people is only possible according to the principle of leadership and following.[9]

According to Huber, geographical considerations play a large part in the shaping of a people:

The people stands in a double relation, to its lands; it settles and develops the land, but the land also stamps and determines the people ... That a certain territory belongs to a certain people is not justified by state authority alone but it is also determined objectively by its historical, political position. Territory is not merely a field for the exercise of state control but it determines the nature of a people and thereby the historical purpose of the state's activity. England's island position, Italy's Mediterranean position, and Germany's central position between east and west are such historical conditions, which unchangeably form the character of the people.[10]

But the new Germany is based upon a "unity and entirety of the people"[11] which does not stop at geographical boundaries:

The German people forms a closed community which recognizes no national borders. It is evident that a people has not exhausted its possibilities simply in the formation of a national state but that it represents an independent community which reaches beyond such limits.[12]

The State justifies itself only so far as is helps the people to develop itself more fully. In the words of Hitler, quoted by Huber from Mein Kampf, "It is a basic principle, therefore, that the state represents not an end but a means. It is a condition for advanced human culture, but not the cause of it ... Its purpose is in the maintenance and advancement of a community of human beings with common physical and spiritual characteristics."[13]

Huber continues:

In the theory of the folk-Reich [voelkisches Reich], people and state are conceived as an inseparable unity. The people is the prerequisite for the entire political order; the state does not form the people but the people moulds the state out of itself as the form in which it achieves historical permanence....[14]

The State is a function of the people, but it is not therefore a subordinate, secondary machine which can be used or laid aside at will. It is the form in which the people attains to historical reality. It is the bearer of the historical continuity of the people, which remains the same in the center of its being in spite of all changes, revolutions, and transformations.[15]

A similar interpretation of the role of the Volk is expounded by Gottfried Neesse in his Die Nationalsozialistische Deutsche Arbeiterpartei—Versuch einer Rechtsdeutung (The National Socialist German Workers Party—An Attempt at Legal Interpretation), published in 1935. From the National Socialist viewpoint, according to Neesse, the state is regarded not as an organism superior to the people but as an organization of the people: "In contrast to an organism, an organization has no inherent legality; it is dependent upon human will and has no definite mission of its own. It is a form in which a living mass shapes itself into unity, but it has no life of its own."[16] The people is the living organism which uses the organization of the state as the form in which it can best fulfil its mission. The law which is inherent in the people must be realized through the state.

But the central and basic concept of National Socialist political theory is the concept of the people:

In contrast to the state, the people form a true organism—a being which leads its own life and follows its own laws, which possesses powers peculiar to itself, and which develops its own nature independent of all state forms.... This living unity of the people has its cells in its individual members, and just as in every body there are certain cells to perform certain tasks, this is likewise the case in the body of the people. The individual is bound to his people not only physically but mentally and spiritually and he is influenced by these ties in all his manifestations.[17]

The elements which go to make up a people are beyond human comprehension, but the most important of them is a uniformity of blood, resulting in "a similarity of nature which manifests itself in a common language and a feeling of community and is further moulded by land and by history."[18] "The unity of the people is increased by its common destiny and its consciousness of a common mission."[19]

Liberalism gave rise to the concept of a "society-people" (Gesellschaftsvolk) which consisted of a sum of individuals, each of whom was supposed to have an inherent significance and to play his own independent part in the political life of the nation. National Socialism, on the other hand, has developed, the concept of the "community-people" (Gemeinschaftsvolk) which functions as a uniform whole.[20]

The people, however, is never politically active as a whole, but only through those who embody its will. The true will of a people can never be determined by a majority vote. It can only display itself in men and in movements, and history will decide whether these men or movements could rightly claim to be the representatives of the people's will.[21]

Every identification of the state with the people is false from a legal and untenable from a political standpoint ... The state is the law-forming organization and the law serves the inner order of the community; the people is the politically active organism and politics serve the outward maintenance of the community ... But law receives its character from the people and politics must reckon with the state as the first and most important factor.[22]

The "nation" is the product of this interplay and balance between the state and the people. The original and vital force of the people, through the organization of the state, realizes itself fully in the unified communal life of the nation:

The nation is the complete agreement between organism and organization, the perfect formation of a naturally grown being. ... Nationalism is nothing more than the outwardly directed striving to maintain this inner unity of people and state, and socialism is the inwardly directed striving for the same end.[23]

Dr. Herbert Scurla, Government Councilor and Reich's Minister for Science, Education, and Folk Culture, in a pamphlet entitled Die Grundgedanken des Nationalsozialismus und das Ausland (Basic Principles of National Socialism With Special Reference to Foreign Countries), also emphasizes the importance of the Volk in the National Socialist state. Dr. Scurla points out that National Socialism does not view the nation in the domocratic sense of a community to which the individual may voluntarily adhere.

The central field of force of the National Socialist consciousness is rather the folk, and this folk is in no case mere individual aggregation, i.e., collectivity as sum of the individuals, but as a unity with a peculiar two-sidedness, at the same time "essential totality" (M.H. Boehm). The folk is both a living creature and a spiritual configuration, in which the individuals are included through common racial conditioning, in blood and spirit. It is that force which works on the individual directly "from within or from the side like a common degree of temperature" (Kjellen) and which collects into the folk whatever according to blood and spirit belongs to it. This folk, point of departure and goal at the same time, is, in the National Socialist world-view, not only the field of force for political order, but as well the central factor of the entire world-picture. Neither individuals, as the epoch of enlightenment envisaged, nor states, as in the system of the dynastic and national state absolutism, nor classes, as conceived by Marxism, are the ultimate realities of the political order, but the peoples, who stand over against one another with the unqualifiable right to a separate existence as natural entities, each with its own essential nature and form. [24]

Dr. Scurla claims that National Socialism and Fascism are the strivings of the German and Italian people for final national unification along essentially different national lines natural to each of them. "What took place in Germany," he asserts, "was a political revolution of a total nature."[25] "Under revolution," he states, "we understand rather the penetration of the collective folk-mind [gesamtvoelkischen Bewusstseins] into all regions of German life."[26] And, he concludes:

National Socialism is no invented system of rules for the political game, but the world-view of the German people, which experiences itself as a national and social community, and concedes neither to the state nor the class nor the individual any privileges which endanger the security of the community's right to live.[27]

Some of the most striking expressions of the race concept are found in Die Erziehung im dritten Reich (Education in the Third Reich), by Friedrich Alfred Beck, which was published in 1936. It is worthy of note that the tendency which may be observed in Huber (document I, post p. 155) and Neesse to associate the ideas of Volk and race is very marked with Beck. "All life, whether natural or spiritual, all historical progress, all state forms, and all cultivation by education are in the last analysis based upon the racial make-up of the people in question."[28] Race finds its expression in human life through the phenomenon of the people:

Race and people belong together. National Socialism has restored the concept of the people from its modern shallowness and sees in the people something different from and appreciably greater than a chance social community of men, a grouping of men who have the same external interests. By people we understand an entire living body which is racially uniform and which is held together by common history, common fate, a common mission, and common tasks. Through such an interpretation the people takes on a significance which is only attributed to it in times of great historical importance and which makes it the center, the content, and the goal of all human work. Only that race still possesses vital energy which can still bring its unity to expression in the totality of the people. The people is the space in which race can develop its strength. Race is the vital law of arrangement which gives the people its distinctive form. In the course of time the people undergoes historical transformations, but race prevents the loss of the people's own nature in the course of these transformations. Without the people the race has no life; without race the people has no permanence ... Education, from the standpoint of race and people, is the creation of a form of life in which the racial unity will be preserved through the totality of the people.[29]

Beck describes the politically spiritual National Socialist personality which National Socialist education seeks to develop, in the following terms:

Socialism is the direction of personal life through dependence on the community, consciousness of the community, feeling for the community, and action in the community; nationalism is the elevation of individual life to a unique (microcosmic) expression of the community in the unity of the personality.[30]

National Socialist education must stress the heroic life and teach German youth the importance of fulfilling their duty to the Volk.

Heroism is that force and that conviction which consecrates its whole life to the service of an idea, a faith, a task, or a duty even when it knows that the destruction of its own life is certain ... German life, according to the laws of its ideology, is heroic life ... All German life, every person belonging to the community of Germans must bear heroic character within himself. Heroic life fulfils itself in the daily work of the miner, the farmer, the clerk, the statesman, and the serving self-sacrifice of the mother. Wherever a life is devoted with an all-embracing faith and with its full powers to the service of some value, there is true heroism ... Education to the heroic life is education to the fulfilment of duty ... One must have experienced it repeatedly that the inner fruition of a work in one's own life has nothing to do with material or economic considerations, that man keeps all of his faculties alive through his obligation to his work and his devotion to his duty, and that he uses them in the service of an idea without any regard for practical considerations, before one recognizes the difference between this world of heroic self-sacrifice and the liberalistic world of barter. Because the younger generation has been brought up in this heroic spirit it is no longer understood by the representatives of the former era who judge the values of life according to material advantage ... German life is heroic life. Germany is not a mere community of existence and of interests whose only function is to insure the material and cultural needs of its members, but it also represents an elemental obligation on the part of the members. The eternal Germany cannot be drawn in on the map; it does not consist of the constitution or the laws of the state. This Germany is the community of those who are solemnly bound together and who experience and realize these eternal national values. This Germany is our eternal mission, our most sacred law ... The developing personality must be submerged in the living reality of the people and the nation from earliest youth on, must take an active and a suffering part in it. Furthermore the heroic life demands a recognition and experiencing of the highest value of life which man must serve with all his powers. This value can perhaps be recognized and presented theoretically in the schools but it can only be directly comprehended and personally experienced in the community of the people. Therefore all education must preserve this direct connection with the community of the people and school education must derive from it the form and substance of its instruction.[31]

This nationalism, which is based upon the laws of life, has nothing in common with the weak and presumptuous patriotism of the liberalistic world; it is not a gift or a favor, not a possession or a privilege, but it is the form of national life which we have won in hard battle and which suits our Nordic-German racial and spiritual heritage. In the nationalistic personality the powers and values which have been established in the socialistic personality will be purposefully exerted for the perfection of the temporal and eternal idea of life.[32]

The National Socialist idea of totality, therefore, and its manifestation in life of the national community form the principal substance of education in the Third Reich:

This idea of totality must be radically distinguished from the liberalistic conception of the mass. According to the liberalistic interpretation the whole consists of a summation of its parts. According to the National Socialist organic conception the whole comes before the parts; it does not arise from the parts but it is already contained in the parts themselves; all parts are microcosmic forms of the whole. This organic conception of the whole is the deepest natural justification of the basic political character of all organic life.[33]

Education, Beck continues, must present this total unity as it is manifested in the racial character of the people. Race is the most essential factor in the natural and spiritual unity of a people, and it is also the main factor which separates one people from another. The racial character of the people must determine the substance of education; this substance must be derived primarily from the life of the people.

Even in the specialized field of political science, Nazi education is concerned not with the structure of the state but with the role of the individual in the life of the people:

National Socialist political science concerns itself not with education to citizenship but with preparation for membership in the German people.... Not the structure of the state but the strength of a people determines the value and the strength of an individual life. The state must be an organization which corresponds to the laws of the people's life and assists in their realization.[34]

Such indeed is the supreme goal of all National Socialist education: to make each individual an expression of "the eternal German":

Whoever wishes fully to realize himself, whoever wishes to experience and embody the eternal German ideal within himself must lift his eyes from everyday life and must listen to the beat of his blood and his conscience ... He must be capable of that superhuman greatness which is ready to cast aside all temporal bonds in the battle for German eternity ... National Socialist education raises the eternal German character into the light of our consciousness ... National Socialism is the eternal law of our German life; the development of the eternal German is the transcendental task of National Socialist education.[35]

Racial Supremacy

The theory of the racial supremacy of the Nordic, i.e., the German, which was developed by Wagner and Stewart Chamberlain reaches its culmination in the writings of Alfred Rosenberg, the high priest of Nazi racial theory and herald of the Herrenvolk (master race). Rosenberg developed his ideas in the obscure phraseology of Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts (The Myth of the Twentieth Century) (document 3, post p. 174). "The 'meaning of world history'," he wrote, "has radiated out from the north over the whole world, borne by a blue-eyed blond race which in several great waves determined the spiritual face of the world ... These wander-periods were the legendary migration of the Atlantides across north Africa, the migration of the Aryans into India and Persia; the migration of the Dorians, Macedonians, Latins; the migration of the Germanic tribes; the colonization of the world by the Germanic Occident."[36] He discusses at length Indian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and European cultures; in each case, he concludes, the culture is created by the ruling Nordic element and declines through the racial decay of the Nordics resulting from their intermixture with inferior races.

It has long been accepted, Rosenberg claims, that all the states of the west and their creative values have been generated by Germans; and it follows that if the Germanic blood were to vanish away completely in Europe all western culture would also fall to ruin.

Rosenberg acclaims the new faith of the blood which is to replace the non-German religion of Christianity. "A new faith is arising today: the myth of the blood, the faith to defend with the blood the divine essence of man. The faith, embodied in clearest knowledge, that the Nordic blood represents that mysterium which has replaced and overcome the old sacraments."[37]

Rosenberg accepts the classic German view of the Volk, which he relates closely to the concept of race. "The state is nowadays no longer an independent idol, before which everything must bow down; the state is not even an end but is only a means for the preservation of the folk ... Forms of the state change, and laws of the state pass away; the folk remains. From this alone follows that the nation is the first and last, that to which everything else has to be subordinated."[38] "The new thought puts folk and race higher than the state and its forms. It declares protection of the folk more important than protection of a religious denomination, a class, the monarchy, or the republic; it sees in treason against the folk a greater crime than high treason against the state."[39]

The essence of Rosenberg's racial ideas was incorporated in point 4 of the program of the Nazi Party, which reads as follows: "None but members of the nation [Volk] may be citizens of the State. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed, may be members of the nation. No Jew, therefore, may be a member of the nation."[40] After the Nazis came to power, this concept was made the basis of the German citizenship law of September 15, 1935.

Commenting upon point 4 of the Nazi program in his pamphlet, Nature, Principles, and Aims of the NSDAP, Rosenberg wrote:

An indispensable differentiation must be made sometime in the German Volk consciousness: The right of nationality should not represent something which is received in the cradle as a gift, but should be regarded as a good which must be earned. Although every German is a subject of the state, the rights of nationality should only be received when at the age of twenty or twenty-two he has completed his education or his military service or has finished the labor service which he owes to the state and after having given evidence of honorable conduct. The right to nationality, which must be earned, must become an opportunity for every German to strive for complete humanity and achievement in the service of the Volk. This consciousness, which must always be kept alive, will cause him to regard this earned good quite differently from the way it was regarded in the past and today more than ever.

The prevailing concept of state nationality completely ignores the idea of race. According to it whoever has a German passport is a German, whoever has Czech documents is a Czech, although he may have not a single drop of Czech blood in his veins ...

National Socialism also sees in the nature of the structure and leadership of the state an outflowing of a definite character in the Volk. If one permits a wholly foreign race—subject to other impulses—to participate therein, the purity of the organic expression is falsified and the existence of the Volk is crippled....

This whole concept of the state [parliamentary democracy] is replaced by National Socialism with a basically different concept. National Socialism recognizes that, although the individual racial strains in German-speaking territory differ, they nevertheless belong to closely related races, and that many mixtures among the members of these different branches have produced new and vital strains, among them the complex but still German man, but that a mixture with the Jewish enemy race, which in its whole spiritual and physical structure is basically different and antagonistic and has strong resemblances to the peoples of the Near East, can only result in bastardization.[41]

True to the tradition of German imperialism, Rosenberg does not confine his ideas of racial supremacy to the Germans in the Reich alone. He even extends them to the United States, where he envisages the day when the awakening German element will realize its destiny in this country. In Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts, for example, he writes, "After throwing off the worn-out idea upon which it was founded ... i.e., after the destruction of the idea represented by New York, the United States of North America has the great task ... of setting out with youthful energy to put into force the new racial-state idea which a few awakened Americans have already foreseen."[42]

This idea was developed at length by the German geopolitician, Colin Ross. In his book Unser Amerika (Our America) (document 4, post p. 178), published in 1936, Ross develops the thesis that the German element in the United States has contributed all that is best in American life and civilization and urges it to become conscious of its racial heritage and to prepare for the day when it may take over complete control of the country.

Reference was made in the preceding section to Beck's Education in the Third Reich. On the subject of racial supremacy Beck points out that certain new branches of learning have been introduced into the National Socialist schools and certain old ones have been given a new emphasis. The most important of these are the science of race and the cultivation of race (Rassenkunde und Rassenpflege), which teach the pupil to recognize and develop those racial powers which alone make possible the fullest self-realization in the national community. An awakening of a true racial consciousness in the people should lead to a "qualitative and quantitative" racial refinement of the German people by inducing a procreative process of selection which would reduce the strains of foreign blood in the national body. "German racial consciousness must have pride in the Nordic race as its first condition. It must be a feeling of the highest personal pride to belong to the Nordic race and to have the possibility and the obligation to work within the German community for the advancement of the Nordic race."[43] Beck points out that pupils must be made to realize "that the downfall of the Nordic race would mean the collapse of the national tradition, the disintegration of the living community and the destruction of the individual."[44]

Under the influence of war developments, which have given the Nazis a chance to apply their racial theories in occupied territories, their spokesmen have become increasingly open with regard to the political implications of the folk concept. In an article on "The Structure and Order of the Reich," published late in 1941, Ernst Rudolf Huber wrote, "this folk principle has found its full confirmation for the first time in the events of this war, in which the unity of the folk has been realized to an extent undreamed of through the return to the homeland of territories which had been torn from it and the resettlement of German folk-groups. Thus the awakening of Germandom to become a political folk has had a twofold result: the unity of the folk-community has risen superior to differences of birth or wealth, of class, rank, or denomination; and the unity of Germandom above all state boundaries has been consciously experienced in the European living-space [Siedlungsraum]."[45]

The Fuehrer Principle

The second pillar of the Nazi state is the Fuehrer, the infallible leader, to whom his followers owe absolute obedience. The Fuehrer principle envisages government of the state by a hierarchy of leaders, each of whom owes unconditional allegiance to his immediate superior and at the same time is the absolute leader in his own particular sphere of jurisdiction.

One of the best expositions of the Nazi concept of the Fuehrer principle is given by Huber in his Constitutional Law of the Greater German Reich (document 1, post p. 155):

The Fuehrer-Reich of the [German] people is founded on the recognition that the true will of the people cannot be disclosed through parliamentary votes and plebiscites but that the will of the people in its pure and uncorrupted form can only be expressed through the Fuehrer. Thus a distinction must be drawn between the supposed will of the people in a parliamentary democracy, which merely reflects the conflict of the various social interests, and the true will of the people in the Fuehrer-state, in which the collective will of the real political unit is manifested ...

The Fuehrer is the bearer of the people's will; he is independent of all groups, associations, and interests, but he is bound by laws which are inherent in the nature of his people. In this twofold condition: independence of all factional interests but unconditional dependence on the people, is reflected the true nature of the Fuehrer principle. Thus the Fuehrer has nothing in common with the functionary, the agent, or the exponent who exercises a mandate delegated to him and who is bound to the will of those who appoint him. The Fuehrer is no "representative" of a particular group whose wishes he must carry out. He is no "organ" of the state in the sense of a mere executive agent. He is rather himself the bearer of the collective will of the people. In his will the will of the people is realized. He transforms the mere feelings of the people into a conscious will ... Thus it is possible for him, in the name of the true will of the people which he serves, to go against the subjective opinions and convictions of single individuals within the people if these are not in accord with the objective destiny of the people ... He shapes the collective will of the people within himself and he embodies the political unity and entirety of the people in opposition to individual interests ...

But the Fuehrer, even as the bearer of the people's will, is not arbitrary and free of all responsibility. His will is not the subjective, individual will of a single man, but the collective national will is embodied within him in all its objective, historical greatness ... Such a collective will is not a fiction, as is the collective will of the democracies, but it is a political reality which finds its expression in the Fuehrer. The people's collective will has its foundation in the political idea which is given to a people. It is present in the people, but the Fuehrer raises it to consciousness and discloses it ...

In the Fuehrer are manifested also the natural laws inherent in the people: It is he who makes them into a code governing all national activity. In disclosing these natural laws he sets up the great ends which are to be attained and draws up the plans for the utilization of all national powers in the achievement of the common goals. Through his planning and directing he gives the national life its true purpose and value. This directing and planning activity is especially manifested in the lawgiving power which lies in the Fuehrer's hand. The great change in significance which the law has undergone is characterized therein that it no longer sets up the limits of social life, as in liberalistic times, but that it drafts the plans and the aims of the nation's actions ...

The Fuehrer principle rests upon unlimited authority but not upon mere outward force. It has often been said, but it must constantly be repeated, that the Fuehrer principle has nothing in common with arbitrary bureaucracy and represents no system of brutal force, but that it can only be maintained by mutual loyalty which must find its expression in a free relation. The Fuehrer-order depends upon the responsibility of the following, just as it counts on the responsibility and loyalty of the Fuehrer to his mission and to his following ... There is no greater responsibility than that upon which the Fuehrer principle is grounded.[46]

The nature of the plebiscites which are held from time to time in a National Socialist state, Huber points out, cannot be understood from a democratic standpoint. Their purpose is not to give the people an opportunity to decide some issue but rather to express their unity behind a decision which the Fuehrer, in his capacity as the bearer of the people's will, has already made:

That the will of the people is embodied in the Fuehrer does not exclude the possibility that the Fuehrer can summon all members of the people to a plebiscite on a certain question. In this "asking of the people" the Fuehrer does not, of course, surrender his decisive power to the voters. The purpose of the plebiscite is not to let the people act in the Fuehrer's place or to replace the Fuehrer's decision with the result of the plebiscite. Its purpose is rather to give the whole people an opportunity to demonstrate and proclaim its support of an aim announced by the Fuehrer. It is intended to solidify the unity and agreement between the objective people's will embodied in the Fuehrer and the living, subjective conviction of the people as it exists in the individual members ... This approval of the Fuehrer's decision is even more clear and effective if the plebiscite is concerned with an aim which has already been realized rather than with a mere intention.[47]

Huber states that the Reichstag elections in the Third Reich have the same character as the plebiscites. The list of delegates is made up by the Fuehrer and its approval by the people represents an expression of renewed and continued faith in him. The Reichstag no longer has any governing or lawgiving powers but acts merely as a sounding board for the Fuehrer:

It would be impossible for a law to be introduced and acted upon in the Reichstag which had not originated with the Fuehrer or, at least, received his approval. The procedure is similar to that of the plebiscite: The lawgiving power does not rest in the Reichstag; it merely proclaims through its decision its agreement with the will of the Fuehrer, who is the lawgiver of the German people.[48]

Huber also shows how the position of the Fuehrer developed from the Nazi Party movement:

The office of the Fuehrer developed out of the National Socialist movement. It was originally not a state office; this fact can never be disregarded if one is to understand the present legal and political position of the Fuehrer. The office of the Fuehrer first took root in the structure of the Reich when the Fuehrer took over the powers of the Chancelor, and then when he assumed the position of the Chief of State. But his primary significance is always as leader of the movement; he has absorbed within himself the two highest offices of the political leadership of the Reich and has created thereby the new office of "Fuehrer of the people and the Reich." That is not a superficial grouping together of various offices, functions, and powers ... It is not a union of offices but a unity of office. The Fuehrer does not unite the old offices of Chancelor and President side by side within himself, but he fills a new, unified office.[49]

The Fuehrer unites in himself all the sovereign authority of the Reich; all public authority in the state as well as in the movement is derived from the authority of the Fuehrer. We must speak not of the state's authority but of the Fuehrer's authority if we wish to designate the character of the political authority within the Reich correctly. The state does not hold political authority as an impersonal unit but receives it from the Fuehrer as the executor of the national will. The authority of the Fuehrer is complete and all-embracing; it unites in itself all the means of political direction; it extends into all fields of national life; it embraces the entire people, which is bound to the Fuehrer in loyalty and obedience. The authority of the Fuehrer is not limited by checks and controls, by special autonomous bodies or individual rights, but it is free and independent, all-inclusive and unlimited. It is not, however, self-seeking or arbitrary and its ties are within itself. It is derived from the people; that is, it is entrusted to the Fuehrer by the people. It exists for the people and has its justification in the people; it is free of all outward ties because it is in its innermost nature firmly bound up with the fate, the welfare, the mission, and the honor of the people.[50]

Neesse, in his The National Socialist German Workers Party—An Attempt at Legal Interpretation, emphasizes the importance of complete control by the party leadership over all branches of the government. He says there must be no division of power in the Nazi state to interfere with the leader's freedom of action. Thus the Fuehrer becomes the administrative head, the lawgiver, and the highest authority of justice in one person. This does not mean that he stands above the law. "The Fuehrer may be outwardly independent, but inwardly he obeys the same laws as those he leads."[51]

The leadership (Fuehrung) in the Nazi state is not to be compared with the government or administration in a democracy:

Fuehrung is not, like government, the highest organ of the state, which has grown out of the order of the state, but it receives its legitimation, its call, and its mission from the people ...[52]

The people cannot as a rule announce its will by means of majority votes but only through its embodiment in one man, or in a few men. The principle of the identity of the ruler and those who are ruled, of the government and those who are governed has been very forcibly represented as the principle of democracy. But this identity ... becomes mechanistic and superficial if one seeks to establish it in the theory that the people are at once the governors and the governed ... A true organic identity is only possible when the great mass of the people recognizes its embodiment in one man and feels itself to be one nature with him ... Most of the people will never exercise their governing powers but only wish to be governed justly and well ... National Socialist Fuehrung sees no value in trying to please a majority of the people, but its every action is dictated by service to the welfare of the people, even though a majority would not approve it. The mission of the Fuehrung is received from the people, but the fulfilment of this mission and the exercise of power are free and must be free, for however surely and forcefully a healthy people may be able to make decisions in the larger issues of its destiny, its decisions in all smaller matters are confused and uncertain. For this reason, Fuehrung must be free in the performance of its task ... The Fuehrer does not stand for himself alone and can be understood not of himself, but only from the idea of a work to be accomplished ... Both the Fuehrer and his following are subject to the idea which they serve; both are of the same substance, the same spirit, and the same blood. The despot knows only subjects whom he uses or, at best, for whom he cares. But the first consideration of the Fuehrer is not his own advantage nor even, at bottom, the welfare of the people, but only service to the mission, the idea, and the purpose to which Fuehrer and following alike are consecrated.[53]

The supreme position of Adolf Hitler as Fuehrer of the Reich, which Huber and Neesse emphasize in the preceding quotations, is also stressed in the statements of high Nazi officials. For example, Dr. Frick, the German Minister of the Interior, in an article entitled "Germany as a Unitary State," which is included in a book called Germany Speaks, published in London in 1938, states:

The unity of the party and the state finds its highest realization in the person of the Leader and Chancelor who ... combines the offices of President and Chancelor. He is the leader of the National Socialist Party, the political head of the state and the supreme commander of the defense forces.[54]

It is interesting to note that, notwithstanding the generally recognized view as expressed in the preceding citations that the authority of the Fuehrer is supreme, Hitler found it necessary in April 1942 to ask the Reichstag to confirm his power to be able at any time, if necessary, to urge any German to fulfil his obligations by all means which appear to the Fuehrer appropriate in the interests of the successful prosecution of the war.[55] (The text of the resolution adopted by the Reichstag is included as document 5, post p. 183.)

Great emphasis is placed by the Nazi leaders on the infallibility of the Fuehrer and the duty of obedience of the German people. In a speech on June 12, 1935, for instance, Robert Ley, director of the party organization, said, "Germany must obey like a well-trained soldier: the Fuehrer, Adolf Hitler, is always right." Developing the same idea, Ley wrote in an article in the Angriff on April 9, 1942 (document 6, post p. 184): "Right is what serves my people; wrong is what damages it. I am born a German and have, therefore, only one holy mission: work for my people and take care of it." And with reference to the position of Hitler, Ley wrote:

The National Socialist Party is Hitler, and Hitler is the party. The National Socialists believe in Hitler, who embodies their will. Therefore our conscience is clearly and exactly defined. Only what Adolf Hitler, our Fuehrer, commands, allows, or does not allow is our conscience. We have no understanding for him who hides behind an anonymous conscience, behind God, whom everybody conceives according to his own wishes.

These ideas of the Fuehrer's infallibility and the duty of obedience are so fundamental in fact that they are incorporated as the first two commandments for party members. These are set forth in the Organisationsbuch der NSDAP (Nazi Party Organization Book) for 1940, page 7 (document 7, post p. 186). The first commandment is "The Fuehrer is always right!" and the second is "Never go against discipline!"

In view of the importance attached to the Fuehrer principle by the Nazis, it is only natural that youth should be intensively indoctrinated with this idea. Neesse points out that one of the most important tasks of the party is the formation of a "select group" or elite which will form the leaders of the future:

A party such as the NSDAP, which is responsible to history for the future of the German Reich, cannot content itself with the hope for future leaders but must create a strain of strong and true personalities which should offer the constantly renewed possibility of replacing leaders whenever it is necessary.[56]

Beck, in his work Education in the Third Reich, also insists that a respect for the Fuehrer principle be inculcated in youth:

The educational value of the Hitler Youth is to be found in this community spirit which cannot be taught but can only be experienced ... But this cultivation of the community spirit through the experience of the community must, in order to avoid any conception of individual equality which is inconsistent with the German view of life, be based upon inward and outward recognition of the Fuehrer principle ... In the Hitler Youth, the young German should learn by experience that there are no theoretical equal rights of the individual but only a natural and unconditional subordination to leadership.[57]

German writers often pretend that the Fuehrer principle does not necessarily result in the establishment of a dictatorship but that it permits the embodiment of the will of the people in its leaders and the realization of the popular will much more efficiently than is possible in democratic states. Such an argument, for example, is presented by Dr. Paul Ritterbusch in Demokratie und Diktatur (Democracy and Dictatorship), published in 1939. Professor Ritterbusch claims that Communism leads to a dictatorial system but that the Nazi movement is much closer to the ideals of true democracy. The real nature of National Socialism, however, cannot be understood from the standpoint of the "pluralistic-party state." It does not represent a dictatorship of one party and a suppression of all others but rather an expression of the will and the character of the whole national community in and through one great party which has resolved all internal discords and oppositions within itself. The Fuehrer of this great movement is at once the leader and the expression of the national will. Freed from the enervating effects of internal strife, the movement under the guiding hand of the Fuehrer can bring the whole of the national community to its fullest expression and highest development.

The highest authority, however, Hitler himself, has left no doubt as to the nature of Nazi Party leaders. In a speech delivered at the Sportpalast in Berlin on April 8, 1933, he said:

When our opponents say: "It is easy for you: you are a dictator"—We answer them, "No, gentlemen, you are wrong; there is no single dictator, but ten thousand, each in his own place." And even the highest authority in the hierarchy has itself only one wish, never to transgress against the supreme authority to which it, too, is responsible. We have in our movement developed this loyalty in following the leader, this blind obedience of which all the others know nothing and which gave to us the power to surmount everything.[58]

As has been indicated above, the Fuehrer principle applies not only to the Fuehrer of the Reich, Adolf Hitler, but to all the subordinate leaders of the party and the government apparatus. With respect to this aspect of the Fuehrer principle, Huber (document 1, post p. 155), says:

The ranks of the public services are regarded as forces organized on the living principle of leadership and following: The authority of command exercised in the labor service, the military service, and the civil service is Fuehrer-authority ... It has been said of the military and civil services that true leadership is not represented in their organization on the principles of command and obedience. In reality there can be no political leadership which does not have recourse to command and force as the means for the accomplishment of its ends. Command and force do not, of course, constitute the true nature of leadership, but as a means they are indispensable elements of every fully developed Fuehrer-order.[59]

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