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Archive for May 2022

Rethinking education: School as a vehicle for history education

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I have previously made claims along the lines that what most pupils* need to learn is Reading, wRiting, aRithmetic, with the majority of the more “academic” parts of the curriculum being wasted on most pupils;** and that schools fail by ignoring*** the practical sides of life to a too high degree. (As well as a great many other criticisms.)

*Throughout, I will stick to “pupil” over “student” to indicate the comparatively low age and development, and over “children” to avoid a perceived exclusion of e.g. high-schoolers. (Generally, I tend to avoid words like “child” beginning with puberty, and often-but-inconsistently use a child–teen–adult division.) The intent is on primary and secondary education, with a gradual shift from history of a field to the field it self as the years pass. (And, often, with a shift from history in general to history of various fields. See excursion.)

**With the additional complication that those who actually benefit would typically be better able to learn on their own than in school. (Maybe, excepting the first few years of school.) I certainly was and, when time outside school allowed it, did.

***While the misguided practical education that took place during my own school years was largely wasted in, at least, my own case. I have had no practical use of either the mandatory wood-shop or textile-shop, and what I might have learned in “cooking class” (“home economics” would be too generous, but might match the official intent) came too early to (a) be of interest, (b) actually have remained with me when I began to live on my own.

As my knowledge of history has grown beyond the few hours a week provided by school, I have increasingly developed a different view, where more material (than in my old view; still less than today) is present, but with a strong emphasis on exactly history and where history is the usual entry point to the treatment of the actual subjects for those bright or old enough to benefit. Life-skills and the three Rs would remain, of course, but most* of the rest of school would deal with history—including national and world history, history of thought, history of science, history of economics, history of literature, history of this, and history of that, with a slow transition towards the this and that, per se, over time. I would recommend a particular focus on classics** studies, but do not see the focus*** as mandatory, and plenty of space must be left for the post-classical world, even should a focus be implemented.

*In some areas, even the three Rs aside, this might be too impractical. For instance, replacing physical education or a foreign language with the history of physical education, resp. the history of that language, would border on the idiotic. In other cases, some core-topic education might be necessary before its history, or the topic might need to be moved to a later year. For instance, during my own early years in school, some time was spent (wasted) on learning the names of various animals, trees, whatnot. The sensibility of this activity is disputable (cf. excursion), but replacing it with a, for that age, too specific history of biology would bring little benefit. Even in these cases, however, some degree of history of the topic might be sensible as a companion or complement.

**Assuming education in a Western context (also see excursion). In other contexts, e.g. in China, this might need modification to reflect the local equivalent. In others yet, e.g. large parts of Africa, there might be no usable local equivalent or only equivalents that are too close in time.

***However, some knowledge of ancient civilizations and works is mandatory or the entire program turns into a travesty. For instance, to deem some time frame the “modern era” and then ignore everything that came before is untenable. (Sheer lack of reliable information might force limits on non-trivial study before a certain time in a certain place, but that is a different matter entirely.)

This would naturally, to some degree, go hand in hand with knowledge of the underlying field. For instance, a discussion of the history of astronomy would naturally establish e.g. the rough structure of the heliocentric solar system and the non-heliocentric galaxy, some approximation of the age of the Earth, some understanding of the difference between the distance from London to New York and the distances from the Earth to the Moon and the Earth to the Sun, whatnot. This either because it follows directly from the natural knowledge of history or because supplementary information is provided to put the historical information into context. As the pupils grow older, history of X will fade into the background and be more of a springboard to engage with X proper—if the pupil has the brains for it.

A major intended benefit is that a pupil who is over-challenged by a core field might have a better chance at the history of the field, and less of his time will be wasted on an activity with little or no return value. (Although, as always, the duller or lazier* pupils might receive less benefit than the brighter and more industrious*.)

*I am torn between formulations like “lazier” vs. the likes of “less motivated” (ditto, m.m., the more positive phrases). The latter will often be closer to the truth , but have been used and abused by educationalists and politicians for so long that they border on being meaningless and/or on being generic and blanket terms for “does poorly in school” (no matter the reason).

A solid knowledge of history, or even the knowledge available to the weaker pupils, has many advantages, including:

  1. Inoculation against destructive ideologies and poor policies, like most variations of the Left. For instance, someone who has a solid understanding of 20th-century history and economic history is unlikely to vote for the Left (especially, the Old Left), while someone who understands the history of Europe vs. (sub-Saharan) Africa, of slavery,* of women, of civic rights, whatnot will be far less likely to fall for the propaganda of the New Left.

    *Including its historical extent (far larger and older than the “transatlantic slave trade”) and the massive inclusion of Whites and other non-Blacks, the strong Black (and other non-White) involvement in the Black slave trade, how Whites/Europeans/the U.S. North were the ones who eventually reduced and locally banned slavery, and how the South was hindered, not helped, by slavery in its economic development.

    This might to some degree extend to e.g. COVID, as someone with a knowledge of past medical practices, the effects and characteristics of past epidemics, whatnot, would be far more sceptical towards the effectiveness (let alone efficiency) of and the risk of side-effects from various counter-measures and reactions, and would have a far better understanding of how trivial COVID is relative some past epi-/pandemics.

  2. More generally, there is an aspect of learning from past errors and the mistakes of others, of not being “doomed to repeat”, etc. For instance, in politics, someone who has some understanding of the relative or absolute failures vs. successes of the economy of the Soviet Union vs. the U.S., Mao’s China vs. Deng Xiaoping’s, North- vs. South-Korea, East- vs. West-Germany, Socialist vs. pre-Socialist Venezuela, etc., is unlikely to repeat the mistakes that lead the failures to failure and likely to favor what made the successes successful.* (This includes an important general observation, with an eye at many current demands and plans: government intervention very often makes things worse—and often much worse.) For instance, in a business setting, a CEO might look at the decline of the U.S. auto industry and draw conclusions about how to and how not to handle his own business. For instance, on a more individual level, someone wise to history might note a continual clampdown on various civic rights, notably free speech, draw the right conclusions, and either begin a protest while there is still time or leave for another country.

    *To which we can add a few recent examples that are less wide in scope, e.g. the Sri Lankan crisis (mandatory “organic” farming), the U.S. lack of baby formula (a mixture of an artificial oligopoly and a forced reduction of capacity), the U.S. oil crisis (strong contributors include various Biden interventions, notably the termination of the extension of the Keystone pipeline), artificial inflation (e.g. monetary expansion), artificial lack of willing employees (the state pays people to stay at home), various energy crises (Keystone, embargoes, abolishment of nuclear power, state subventions of dubious “green” technologies, state money to offset (idiots!) rising gas prices, …), etc. (Note that this list is not limited to the U.S. and that, while Biden is often a major factor in this, even internationally, many other leaders of other countries have made similarly poor decisions—albeit rarely even half as many as Biden has.)

    Note that the first example is highly relevant even to the average citizen, which is what the average pupil will grow up to be, with the modification that he is unlikely to vote for someone who would repeat the mistakes. The same might to some degree apply to the second example too, e.g. in that a stock owner might move his investments elsewhere in time.

  3. Similarly, it can be highly beneficial to draw on the ideas of the past, especially as we do have a great problem with ideas disappearing from common consciousness or being gradually misunderstood over time. A splendid example is the early ideas on what the U.S. (qua political entity) should be, how it should be governed, etc., and why this was so. Precious little of the thoughts of, say, Thomas Jefferson still remain in the philosophy of the current political system—and what there is, many ignorants* want to abolish.

    *Note that I do not call them ignorants because they want to abolish something. I do so because they are ignorant of why this-and-that was originally introduced, do not understand the potential downsides, and generally have a simplistic and, well, ignorant view of related matters.

    A personal example is my changed understanding of the jury system. I long considered it idiotic, because it opened up the doors for decisions by those of disputable intelligence, insight into criminal science, knowledge of legal principles, whatnot—never mind the risk that the jury members might prove more vulnerable to emotional manipulation than a judge. Indeed, going by TV,* having the lawyer better at manipulating the jury was more important than having the better evidence. These problems remain, but there was something to the jury system that I was unaware of,** namely that the “jury of one’s peers” was aimed at being a counter-weight to governmental power and a means to give the peers a way to prevent unjust laws and prosecution from infringing on “true” justice.*** (With some similar ideas also applying, e.g. that a single judge might be statistically more likely to be partial or easier to bribe than twelve jurors.)

    *Unfortunately, this appears to be at least partially true in real life too, but not to the extreme degree seen on TV.

    **Maybe, because neither Sweden nor Germany uses juries.

    ***Of course, the main way that a jury can do that, “jury nullification”, is something that the government wants to see banned, and the mention of which towards a U.S. jury already is banned. (Note that I am, myself, in two minds about jury nullification, as it can be a tool for both justice and injustice; however, the point above is not whether it is good or bad, but that I was originally unaware of even the idea.)

    As a special case, historical knowledge can remove the need to reinvent the wheel. For instance, most of the “clever” thoughts and “wisdom” of today have an at least approximate correspondent in the past (often several). Take something like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy—at least the general idea was covered by the Stoics during classical times. (Also see excursion on the Ship of Theseus for a more personal example.)

    Generally, our ancestors might have trailed us in scientific understanding, but not necessarily in terms of e.g. insight into philosophy, human nature, how to live one’s life, whatnot. The accumulated wisdom of a few hundred or thousand years is almost bound to exceed the snapshot of today’s reinvented wheels.

  4. A better knowledge of past thought leads to a better understanding of various fields and aspects of the world, including how something might have come into being or how something currently weird or silly seeming* might not be so in the light of the past. Good examples are often found around wars and international conflicts, including the Russian–Ukraine situation since 2014 (or whatever years is used as the starting point).

    *Consider the Third Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which, without knowledge of the historical context, appears not just weirdly specific but outright weird.

    More generally it can lead to a more nuanced worldview, as every exposure to something different can, and to the insight that the norms of today are not absolutes or necessarily better than those of the past (ditto e.g. methods). (The reverse of the latter is a very common fallacy and one that I, myself, was not immune to in my youth.) Is this is or that change over time actually progress—or is it mere change? Maybe, even, change for the worse? Is A actually better than B, or does it merely have a different set of advantages and disadvantages? Is C actually better than D, or is it merely better for some special interest group, e.g. politicians? Etc.

  5. Chances are that history education will allow at least some “big picture” insights to remain, even if the details fade (and they usually do). For instance (cf. excursion), memorizing the names of animals will bring next to no value, as merely knowing the name allows no insight and as the name will too often be forgotten a few days or years later. In contrast, a pupil who forgets almost everything about the Romans is still likely to remember that they had big empire around the Mediterranean*, centered on Rome* in what is now Italy*, in the past. Someone who manages to forget even that, will still remember that the world was different in the past. (Unfortunately, an insight that some adults in the modern world seem to lack.) A memorizer of animal names might still remember that there are animals, but that insight actually (still…) is present with virtually everyone even without the help of formal education. If in doubt, even a one-year old might have seen a few dogs, pigeons, or flies.

    *Here we see a pleasant potential side-effect of history: there is some, often a considerable, knowledge effect on other areas, notably geography. Chances are that most of the early geography education can be replaced entirely with a side-effect from history education.

Excursion on school vs. education:
The above (and below) is often phrased in terms of “school”, including in the title. This reflects the realistic realities of the foreseeable future, as well as the historical situation for a good chunk of time,* but by no means the ideal. School is and remains disturbingly inefficient and, often, ineffective, and the true focus should by rights be on education—not school. School, at least in its modern incarnation, is not a good way to gain an education and the education is what matters.

*How good depends on the “where”, but often begins at some point in the 19th century on a near-mandatory level and can go back far further on non-mandatory level.

Excursion on more advanced pupils:
There is a minority of pupils who would be under-challenged by the above, and who would benefit from more direct contact with the subject matter at an early/-ier stage. These should be allowed and encouraged to have that direct contact. Indeed, giving the brighter pupils room, means, and encouragement to develop themselves at their own tempo is central to a successful school system. (Whether a successful school system currently exists, I leave unstated.)

Excursion on higher education:
As the level of education increases, the relative importance of “history of X” relative “X” decreases. (Unless, of course, X is a field of history to begin with, in which case “history of X” would amount to history-of-the-historiography and will usually be the far less important subject on all levels.) However, it is likely to be of some importance on all levels and should not be ignored. For instance, a mathematician is likely to benefit from knowledge of what approaches have been taken to a certain sub-field or problem in the past, or how to solve a certain type of problem with less “fancy” methods than the current. Exactly how to address this, I leave unstated, as off-topic, but possibilities include an extensive one-off survey course with a focus on history, the inclusion of a (sub-)module in the individual (regular) course, and just pointing to a certain treatment that the student can choose or not choose to study on his own terms. (The relevance of this material for a test decreases accordingly, from core for the survey course, to minor for the (sub-)module, to none for the “own terms” study.) Noteworthy is that the relevance of history might vary from field to field. For instance, a knowledge of the history of math for a mathematician is likely less valuable than knowledge of the history of economics to an economist.*

*The contents of the respective histories might also be different in character. For instance, the history of math will deal relatively more with what approaches the mathematicians took and what beliefs they held (“history of the field of math”), and the history of economics relatively more with actual developments of an economic nature, say, causes and consequences of the “Great Depression” and what might have happened with a more sensible POTUS than FDR (“history of economic developments” or “history of the economy”). To some degree, but not necessarily for educational purposes, a subdivision into several history fields relating to X might be beneficial, e.g. history of X as a field of study/science, history of thought on X, history of events relating to X, etc.

From a personal point of view, I have occasionally made the experience that I know less about mathematicians and scientists than someone with a weaker knowledge of the respective field. A good (and accessible to others) example is Murray’s “Human Accomplishment”, where I often had a different expectation of who was how important* and often had a “Who the hell is that?” moment when looking at the top-twenty science lists outside of math and physics. This is an interesting side-effect of my having studied primarily math (physics, whatnot), it self, the history of math only secondarily, and biographies of, anecdotes about, human-interest pieces focused on mathematicians hardly at all. (At least, at a somewhat adult age. Some autobiographical works by physicist Feynman are an exception.) The counterpart, on the other hand, might have gobbled down the human-interest pieces without actually touching the math.**

*But, as Murray stresses, the relative importance of some figures might change considerably with a change in methodology.

**In the specific case of Murray, we have to considered a systematic and prolonged busyness with various works of a who-is-who-in-X and history-of-X character for the specific purpose of writing his book. That I trailed even in the scientific lists (let alone Japanese literature) is unexpected.

(Whether this is a problem is debatable. I would certainly prioritize an understanding of the developments of the field of math, it self, over knowledge of who-was-who.)

Excursion on the Ship of Theseus:
In an older text, I dealt with (among other things) the grandfather’s axe (pseudo-)paradox. Finding it too simplistic, I dropped the two-piece axe in favor of a many-piece T-Ford, replaced piece by piece over decades. Some time later, I discovered the Ship of Theseus—a many-piece version of the same idea that preceded my T-Ford by some two millennia.*

*It was used by Plutarch, whose lifespan falls a little short of two millennia ago, but it might not have originated with him. (And any actual ship owned by Theseus, should he have a historical basis, would necessarily have been built long before that, as he was ancient history even to Plutarch.)

Indirectly, this might also point to a danger of school trying to stuff too much into the pupils or doing so too early, as I seemed to “post-remember” having encountered the Ship in school. However, this applies with any choice of topic—and I remain, even after the altered opinion discussed above, with my line that modern school tries to cover too much material and, often, too early.

Excursion on risks:
There are of course some risks and disadvantages with this history-focused scheme, which must be considered during implementation. The most important is that history education can easily be abused to give the pupils a flawed worldview by outright distortions of history, but also by undue focus on certain groups or angles, by agenda pushing, and by application of some pseudo-scientific framework. The infamous “1619 project” is a great example of how not to do it. Anything Feminist, Marxist, Post-Colonial, or Post-Modern is also to be avoided like the plague.*

*Among what is likely to be encountered today. The threats of tomorrow might be something different altogether. The point is to be truthful and scientifically minded—not ideological or agenda pushing.

(However, the same abuse risk is present even in today’s school, as with the aforementioned “1619 project”, and I suspect that a broader and deeper history knowledge would make it harder to keep the truth from at least the somewhat brighter pupils, even when abuse takes place. The more information is present, the likelier it is that an attempted distortion will miss something or be internally inconsistent.)

Another risk is an implicit over-focus on “thoughts of others”, as opposed to own thinking. This is, obviously, a staple of school, but I suspect that it could be worse in a history-centric school. Countermeasures like encouragement of own thought and critical engagement* with claims by e.g. old philosophers are recommended. Ditto a juxtaposition of thinkers who have held opposing ideas.

*By the pupil! Not the teacher or some Leftist destroy-the-past or everything-old-is-wrong fanatic.

Excursion on learning animal names:
The memorization of names of animals, trees, whatnot mentioned above is a good example of school failing. These pairings fell into roughly three categories: (a) Those that I already knew (yes, a kid in school will know what a bear is). (b) Those that I soon forgot again and later learned permanently from a more sensible source in a more sensible manner, e.g. by watching a nature show, where ten minutes were spent showing and discussing the whatnot (vs. the single still image and name presented in school). (c) Those that I soon forgot again and never relearned, because they never had any kind of relevance to me. (In all cases, we have the additional complication that the Swedish names have been less important to my adult life than the German and English.)

What then, apart from busywork or the ability to claim that the pupils were learning something, was the point of this nonsense? Would it not have been infinitely better to just show a few nature shows in class or, in lieu of class, give watching some nature show on TV as home work?

To boot, this mere association of name and image is fairly pointless. A good example is posed by a test where I just could not come up with “järv” (“wolverine”). I knew what the image depicted, I knew what a wolverine was, I had already learned the word outside of school, and had even read a book which featured a wolverine as the protagonist.* (But I had not yet encountered the superhero Wolverine.) I just could not come up with the right word in the heat of the moment. I tried to salvage the situation by giving “carcajou”, which the book had mentioned as a local-to-the-setting-of-the-story name for wolverines in general** (and which might have been the proper name of the protagonist too), but received 0 points. Someone else might well have received points merely for having memorized the right name for the right image and actually having a cooperative memory, without having any further clue about wolverines.

*The school library had a large number of books with animals-as-protagonists, which I had wolverin…, wolfed down.

**Checking for the exact name, which over the decades had faded, I see that this is indeed the case in French Canada. But knowing a French-Canadian term was of no help with a Swedish test. Other names that I learned on my own, over the decades since, include the English “wolverine”, the German “Vielfrass”, and the Latin “gulo” (resp. scientific “gulo gulo”). Today, the “French French” “glouton” was added. Now, how would my progress have been hampered by not having the mere name–image combination included in the curriculum? (Not at all.) What benefit might the other pupils have had, even had they managed to answer the question? (Likely, none.)

Excursion on various shifts:
As mentioned above, there will be shifts as time passes. Their exact nature and many other details are beyond the scope of this text, but a general idea, using the Swedish 4 x 3 years division of låg-/mellan-/högstadiet + gymnasiet,* might be that those on lågstadiet focus on (elementary) national and world history, those on mellanstadiet see this complemented with various histories of various fairly large fields (e.g. history of science), and those on högstadiet complement history with a study of the actual fields and see histories of somewhat smaller fields (e.g. history of physics**). Gymnasiet would then be mostly the fields proper and histories of new fields (exactly what fields go where is another implementation detail, but history of economics seems a good example for gymnasiet).

*Sweden has mandatory education divided into blocks (låg-/mellan-/högstadiet) of three years, for a total of nine years, followed by a voluntary (usually) three-year fourth block, gymnasiet. I have found this parcelling into equally long blocks of three years to be very practical when thinking about school.

**Which is not to say that no history of physics should be given earlier—it should, as part of history of science. However, with the specialization there would be more depth and breadth and more involvement of actual physics. To detail what goes where is beyond the scope of this text, but we might e.g. have mellanstadiet and history of science cover how the world was once viewed as geocentric, but is now known to be heliocentric; while högstadiet and history of physics might contrast Keplerian calculations of elliptical heliocentric planetary movements with older circular heliocentric movements and with the older still geocentric epicyclical calculations. (Not necessarily with much mathematical detail, however.)

Excursion on politics and other fields:
Generally, I have become more and more convinced of the importance of history over the years, and I would certainly see history as the single most important subject for a politician to study (be it during formal education or in private). Looking e.g. at the U.S., what do we typically get instead? A BA in pol-sci, or some other weak field,* followed by a JD.** In fact, I would consider both pol-sci and law studies to be of only secondary benefit to someone who wants to be a good politician. They might help with understanding the machinations of the branches of government and how to write new and understand existing laws, but they are less helpful when it comes to deciding what policies make sense, what laws should be made, etc. No, the clear top-one subject for a politician is history; the equally clear second placer is economics. After these two, we can look at topics like pol-sci,*** law, philosophy (including ethics and various works relating to governance), public administration, business administration, etc.****

*Not that history would be inherently harder. The point is that there are many fields where a brighter student might gain much more than a duller student, but where the dull student might still manage to gain the degree, maybe even with a strong GPA, because the minimum requirements on brightness are low. That someone has a bachelor in e.g. pol-sci simply does not tell us anything much about his intelligence level or how much he gained through his studies. Contrast this with the footnote on STEM fields below.

**Of the common “professional” post-bachelor degrees, I suspect that an MBA would be more beneficial than a JD. Chances are that an “academic” master/doctorate in e.g. history or economics would be far better than either.

***With the reservation that pol-sci often contains pieces of the other fields, which might, depending on point of view, either make it less valuable (due to shallowness of coverage of these fields) or more valuable (due to a width that makes a separate study of some other fields less urgent).

****I do not mention STEM fields here, because they are rarely immediately relevant. However, they can be extremely good filters for intelligence (unlike most of the above) and a good general scientific understanding can be very useful when it comes to specific topics. (And most of my own formal education was in STEM fields.)

This with the reservation that a position in a certain field could require a deeper knowledge of that field, which might change the priorities for the individual concerned. For instance, to become secretary of defense, a prior education and career in the military would be highly recommendable, while considerable knowledge of economics is secondary (but still advantageous), and while the history knowledge might be tilted in the direction of military and conflict history at the cost of, say, the histories of art, agriculture, and architecture. A legal requirement of some minimum level of qualifications might even be an option. Consider, as a negative example, the current Swedish “Försvarsminister”, Peter Hultqvist: As I understand Swedish and English Wikipedia, he has no (!) higher education and was a journalist (!*) before entering politics. The true reason behind his appointment? His career within the Social-Democrat movement, beginning in the 1970s.

*Not only is journalism a pointless qualification for a politician, but journalists are also one of the few groups that might rank lower in my mind than even specifically Leftist politicians.

Excursion on classics studies:
To expand a little on the benefit of classics studies for a Westerner, I would note (a) the additional value in understanding Western culture, gaining a cultural continuity, etc.;* (b) that the wide range of thoughts and interests, often at a level that post-Roman Europe only reached again during the late medieval times or the Renaissance, provide many natural entry points into other fields, including literature, language, art, mathematics, philosophy, and to some degree** natural philosophy/history/science.

*However, I stress that, unlike some other proponents, I do not necessarily see Western culture as a natural or unprecedented number one. (Although, it is legitimately one of the few most interesting.) I am, for instance, well aware of great Chinese and Indian accomplishments at comparable times in history. There is still an increased benefit through the connection over time: In order to understand later thoughts in the Western or European room, and many historical developments, some understanding of e.g. Plato and Aristotle can be quite helpful. (Vice versa, to understand Chinese thought without exposure to Confucius would be a challenge indeed.) The effects of the Romans are still visible in languages and borders, and the West-/East-Rome (and/or the older Rome/Greece) division is at least an indirect contributor to the Western/Eastern European differences of today. Etc.

**The hitch is that the shallowness of knowledge compared to today and the lack of modern scientific methods is troublesome here.

As a special case, Latin is an excellent first foreign language for a native* English speaker.** The drawback of being a dead language is countered by (a) its benefits on understanding English, which has been enormously influenced by Latin (be it directly or indirectly over e.g. French); (b) the great differences in grammar compared to English, which allow a better understanding of languages in general; (c) the great help that it gives if*** a (living) Romance language is attempted at a later stage.

*While English is the obvious choice for most other Westerners, e.g. Swedes.

**Unless special interests need to be considered. Notably, even among dead languages, someone aiming for study of Christian theology is better of with (classical) Greek and Hebrew, while someone aiming for an actual career in the “classics area” might be better of beginning with Greek and only adding Latin at a later stage.

***And the chances are considerable that a further foreign language will indeed be one of these, e.g. Spanish in the U.S. or French in the U.K.

(I am tempted to add a (d) of access to some important works in the original language, but that applies to virtually all languages major enough to be candidates for a first foreign language—and the point of strong reading skills can take frustratingly long to reach. However, this also reduces the disadvantage of learning a dead language—it will take a long time before mastery of a language is sufficiently progressed that a living language brings practical benefits over a dead one. For instance, many or most with only a school-level knowledge of a foreign language will be able neither to converse fluently with a native speaker of, nor to read a book in, that language.)

Excursion on me and history:
As with many school topics, at least pre-gymnasiet (cf. above), I likely learned as much or more history outside of school as I did in school, even back then. This through a mixture of own readings that to some degree dealt with history, what could be gleaned from novels/TV/movies playing in the past*, and various TV documentaries.

*Not necessarily “historical novels” and their screen equivalents, as many were written at or shortly after the time of the events, and had simply reached me at a date when the events had passed out of the “contemporary”. For a trivial and very early example, I very likely first heard of the WWII bombings of London and the evacuation of children to the countryside through the “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”, which was written roughly a decade after the events. In contrast, the portions of “The Magician’s Nephew” that play in “our” world would fall in the “historical novel” category. (I note that these “shortly after” books are less likely to contain inadvertent falsification and guesswork than “historical novels”, but also that both should be taken with a grain of salt.)

It was only far later that I began to gain a true appreciation for history, including spending a great many hours reading Wikipedia articles on historical topics in my late 20s. These readings were originally motivated by a general curiosity, but increasingly by the observation that there were more abstract things to be learned, e.g. about success in warfare,* by applying thought to the material—something which was not very clear from the too basic school history. This move from merely knowing facts** to seeing connections, understanding causes and consequences, drawing conclusions, whatnot lead me to a very different view of history than school had instilled. (Just like math and what school calls “math” have little to do with each other.)

*Examples include that a long war tends to be won by the party with the stronger industry (and/or ability to recuperate and keep production up), not the stronger military; that wars and battles are often won by making fewer mistakes than the other party; that better training can outweigh superior numbers; and that the technology or strategy that won the one war might be outdated by the time of the next war.

**Not restricted to who did what in what year, but also including e.g. that the Romans had a large Mediterranean empire.

Since then, I have added a very considerable amount* of historical knowledge and understanding—but still too little. There is so much to learn that I simply have not had the time for, and I truly wish that my early education had given me a better start. To this, bear in mind that I am not a professional historian and that I have a great many other interests/there are a great many other worthy fields, while the day is only so long. History, however, is a field were school might truly bring something—provided that a greater focus is put on understanding, which was not (cf. above) the case during my school years.**

*How much is hard to say, in part due to how spread out it has been, in part due to the different nature of my studies relative (what I would expect from) formal college studies. I would, however, take for granted that I am ahead of the average U.S. fresh-out-of-college history major.

**I deliberately do not go into details of how history should be taught above. This because (a) it would make this text twice as long, (b) would require considerable additional research or speculation on my behalf, (c) the problems with e.g. more facts than understanding and a too elementary level are ubiquitous in school, and reforming this is a separate issue from the shift towards more history.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 31, 2022 at 12:31 pm

Nazis X: The worst damage done by the Nazis / my motivations

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After the extensive discussion of the 25-point plan, I am understandably a little tired of the topic, and will likely not resume my (main) work until late next week.

In the meantime, a few words on my motivations and a shortened version of a text that I have long had in mind (independent of the current text series):

Over time, I have grown to suspect that the three (see below) worst effects of Nazi-Germany include neither WWII, per se, nor the Holocaust. Both were horrifying, no doubt, but they were, from a historical perspective, very limited in time. Negative side-effects are lasting far longer and are likely to either already have accumulated a greater damage to the world, or to do so in due time. A significant motivation behind this text series is to combat the second, with a chance of a positive side-effect on the third. (The first is mostly gone, but still lasted far longer than e.g. WWII.)

  1. The destruction of Nazi-Germany left the door open for the Soviets to conquer half of Europe—and to keep this empire for over four decades. This extended the destructive reign of Communism geographically and likely, within the Soviet Union, temporally. The greater importance of the Soviet Union then lead to problems like a higher military spending and a further popularity of Communism as a (perceived) alternative to Capitalism.* To boot, the related Japanese loss in the Pacific might well have increased the likelihood of the Communist takeover of China.**

    *To some degree reflected in my native Sweden, e.g. in that the Swedish Communists looked less like idiots, and in that the Social-Democrats could push that “Third Way” with some plausibility. However, the main effect was likely seen in poorer and less educated countries.

    **Which is not to trivialize the evils performed by the Japanese in China, or their possible extension with another war outcome or absent a war. I would still be surprised if the expectation value of “Japanese damage” vs. “Communist damage” was higher: the Japanese were merely building an empire, no matter how ruthlessly, not forcing a destructive ideology and a broken system onto the people by any means necessary; and a Japanese–Soviet conflict, like a (non-WWII; cf. below) German–Soviet conflict, could have been beneficial to the world.

    This is the more tragic, as Hitler was in part motivated by a wish to strengthen Germany to avoid a division of the world into the Anglo-American/Capitalist and Soviet/Communist camps.* Had he been successful, the West might have been able to relax while the two great evils, Nazism and Communism, slugged it out, or Germany might have proven a useful temporary ally in the defeat of the Soviets. (The latter scenario, to some approximation, reflects what did happen, but with the Soviets and Germany switched around.) In effect, Hitler managed to create the scenario that he wanted to prevent—a weak Germany squeezed between two foreign superpowers.

    *Going by my vague and 2010 (?) recollections of “Mein Kampf”.

    (As a counterpoint to the above, there is a strong possibility that the strength of the Soviet Union slowed the build-up of Communist and/or Marxist sympathies in e.g. the U.S.)

  2. The Nazis, especially in combination with the erroneous classification of them as “Right-wing” and the Leftist tactic of guilt by association, have given the Left endless ammunition for unfair attacks against its opponents, and has often allowed it to occupy an entirely undeserved moral high-ground. Suggest X and you are a Nazi. Identify as Right-wing and you are a Nazi (or evil, because the Nazis were evil and Right-wing). Suggest something nationalistic and you are suspected of wanting to invade Poland. Etc. Etc. Etc. (As I have noted in the past, evil is never more dangerous than when it has the guise of good—and anti-Nazi propaganda has done much to distort the popular view of the Left.)

    This to a large part, because war propaganda demanded that everyone condemn and keep condemning the Nazis, and because the Nazis became ingrained as the enemy through countless WWII movies and whatnots.

    Moreover, and in contrast, Communism and, if to a lesser degree, other Leftist variations could benefit from the war propaganda and other consequences. For most of WWII, a message of “Uncle Joe is our friend and ally” was present, and even after the war it took time for a saner message to be established. Most Leftist groups in Germany and the occupied countries could draw on the claim that they had fought* against the Nazis—“we” must be the good guys, “we” won, you can thank “us”, “we” were more farsighted than “you”, etc.** Then there are all those Leftist martyrs, many or most of whom might have been no more worthy of admiration than Horst Wessel.

    *Sometimes, literally; sometimes, through protests in the open; sometimes, through protests among themselves. The difference is likely of little importance, once propaganda replaces memory.

    **Likely fallacies throughout. For instance, that some Communists or Social-Democrats fought the Nazis in the streets during the Weimar Republic does not automatically make them good guys. They also fought each other in the street. From another perspective, if members of the Russian mob attack a Colombian drug syndicate, neither of the two become police organizations.

  3. The Nazis gave everything relating to eugenics, evolutionary forces relating to humans, “human biodiversity”, whatnot a bad name. Indeed, even attempting to bring such to discussion can often lead to a blanket accusation of being a Nazi or a “Social-Darwinist” (a phrase almost as deplored today as “Nazi”)—unless the accusation is racism or, worse, “scientific racism” (even closer to “Nazi” than “Social-Darwinist” is).

    This is the worse as there are strong signs of a current and damaging dysgenic pressure which risks the long-term prosperity of humanity; as it favors race-based policies that are very costly and virtually doomed to fail;* and as it ignores the individual’s characteristics, talents, limitations, whatnot. The last e.g. through applying one-size-fits-all schooling and expecting everyone to come out equally bright and productive or through denying the possibility** that other aspects than social influences can lead to a criminal career. (No, the Nazis might not have been better in these regards. This does not alter the fact that they ruined public opinion for much more enlightened groups.)

    *Cf. the constant fiascos in the U.S. relating to e.g. affirmative action and inner-city schooling; and note “The Bell-Curve”. Of course, this issue could to some degree be seen as a special case of the following issue. Both overlap strongly with “blank-slateism”—which was scientifically outdated already in the 1970s and where we now have half-a-century of additional, too often ignored, evidence against it.

    **Note the importance of this denial: it would have been wrong, until very firm proof were present, even had social influences truly been the only major cause.

Excursion on the greater and lesser evil:
I do consider Nazi-Germany a lesser evil than the Soviets, respectively Nazis a lesser evil than Communists. This with an eye on at least three things: (a) The Nazis-at-peace were less harmful to their own population than the Communists under e.g. Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot. (b) The likelihood of a peaceful and/or early unseating of the Nazis seems more likely, especially once Hitler died or retired.* (c) Even the Holocaust was matched by similar atrocities by Communist regimes, notably, again, under Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.

*Which would have happened before the fall of the Soviet Union (let alone the still-standing Communist China), and likely by a very considerable margin—he was born in 1889 and not overly healthy.

But what about WWII? Here it is important to remember that much of what happened was not according to Hitler’s plans. He is still, of course, to blame, but his plans were directed at easy success eastwards and/or in the colonial world. The immense scope of the war, the immense number of deaths, the immense destruction, whatnot were never intended. He only fought the Brits and the French (later, the Yanks), because they declared war on him—and he would very much have preferred not to fight that war. Occupying the Benelux and half of France? Not part of the pre-war plans. Occupying Denmark and Norway? Not part of the pre-war plans.* Bombing London? Not part of the pre-war plans. Attacking the Soviets? Very different story—but the length of the campaign (not to mention losing) was not according to pre-war plans. Superior German forces fighting on a single front were supposed to win (comparatively) easily.

*Indeed, I have heard claimed that Germany barely preempted an Allied invasion of these two countries…

Excursion on a pre-war stop:
When it comes to hypothetical scenarios, I find the constant “What if the Axis had won WWII?” boring. For something more interesting, consider e.g. “What if Hitler was murdered before invading Poland?” or “What if Hitler ignored Poland and the Soviets and went colony hunting?”. These are, of course, unknowables, but the 20th century might have looked very different, and there is a fair chance that Hitler, himself, would have been remembered more like a 20th century Bismarck or Friedrich der Große than as a counterpart to the likes of, again, Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot.* (Also note an earlier text on The complication of the untested evil-doer, where we do have a failed test for Hitler, but might have had an untested Hitler in this alternate reality.)

*With some reservations for what degree of Holocaust would have taken place—another unknowable.

Excursion on the importance of the Normandy landing:
The Normandy landing (and the Allied invasion of Italy) was not that important in defeating the Nazis—chances are that their days were counted and/or that Germany could only have saved it self by withdrawing from France to concentrate on the Soviets. Its true importance lies in saving important portions of Europe from the Soviets.

How much more the Soviets would have taken, if left to their own devices, is unclear, and might depend on issues like remaining motivation and length of supply lines. However, they would almost certainly have gobbled up all of “West-Germany” (possibly, excepting some token areas for the French); and it is very conceivable that they would have taken Austria and Italy, too. Some further countries, including Finland, might well have been at risk.*

*I am a uncertain why they did not take Finland even as is. Maybe, Finland had proven to expensive; maybe, too many troops had to be left on the continent to balance the other Allied powers; maybe, a renewed war would have looked bad; …

In a next step, after a few years of rest, it is not impossible that the Soviets would have tried to sweep the rest of continental Europe + (Finland/)Sweden/Norway, maybe helped by portions of the strong French Left and revenge-hungry Spanish Leftists. A highly weakened Britain, without U.S. help, could hardly have stopped them.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 25, 2022 at 11:13 pm

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Addenda to earlier texts

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Two addenda:

In [1], I speak of a fetus being connected to the mother by the umbilical cord. Strictly speaking, the umbilical cord connects fetus and placenta, with the placenta having an interface (or whatever term might be used) to the mother. In my case, I spoke without thinking the situation through; in the case of some others, there might be a genuine belief in the umbilical cord as a direct physical connection, similar to how the esophagus (and many other “pipes” and “cables” in the human body) is firmly attached at both ends,* and unlike how a pipe in a plumbing installation or an electric cable typically will be detachable on one or both ends. If so, it would go some way to explain the discussed misconception of the fetus as an actual part of the mother’s body. (Maybe, in that only the severing of the umbilical cord would create a physical separation, like the surgical separation of two Siamese twins. See excursion.)

*Indeed, with an eye at developmental history, the esophagus might be seen as part of a single long piece of plumbing, from mouth to anus, with a mere differentiation in role along the way. However, this does not affect the analogy.

In [2], I note that the West shut down access to Russian news-media over the Ukraine situation, with the implication of a wish to censor Russian war reporting and Russian perspectives on the war. There might, however, be something else behind it: I have visited the German web-edition of RT once or twice a week since the blockade began,*/** and have noted a considerable amount of non-war news and opinion contrary to what the German government likes to see. This includes critical takes on the German handling of COVID and on German energy policies. Maybe, the true reason is a wish to silence external critics of the German and other Western regimes? That the likes of RT might have broken through the one-sided, one-voiced, partisan messaging with an alternative take? (The war was then only a welcome excuse for the shutdown.)

*There are replacements sites and I use the tor network for most of my surfing, which makes the blockade easy to circumvent. I will not mention an explicit site, to avoid any anti-democratic or anti-rechtsstaatliche repercussions; however, finding one over an Internet search is likely easy.

**As I noted in some earlier text, the very fact of the blockade made me curious—Streisand effect.

Excursion on Siamese twins:
Siamese twins provide two other angles of attack against the “my body, my choice” idiocy. Firstly, even Siamese twins are typically* two adjoined bodies—not one shared body. Sometimes, the join might be extensive; sometimes, small and shallow. Sometimes, the one twin might depend on organs from the other; sometimes, they are independent. Even should umbilical-cord-is-a-fix-connection thinking be correct, it would be absurd to speak of the fetus as part of the mother, as, by implication, the one Siamese twin would a fortiori be part of the other.** Secondly, by applying “my body, my choice”, we could have situations like one twin committing suicide and taking the other, still wanting to live, with him.

*Maybe, always. I would need to research this more in depth. If, for instance, they are separate from the hips up, but have only one pair of legs and whatnots, is the lower body strictly shared—or is it more accurately viewed as belonging to one of the twins, with the other being legless and adjoined? In contrast, two fully formed bodies that just happen to stick together at the hips is clearly different from each other.

**With another complication of who is the “true” person and who the mere part.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 24, 2022 at 3:11 am

Agnostic scepticism

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Earlier today, I encountered a text by Peter Hitchens, which includes the claims:

Not since the wild frenzy after the death of Princess Diana have I ever met such a wave of ignorant sentiment. Nobody knows anything about Ukraine. Everyone has ferocious opinions about it.

The other night I shocked a distinguished Oxford academic by informing her that the lovely, angelic, saintly, perfect Ukrainians had blocked off the water supply to Crimea in 2014.

She was rightly shocked by this nasty, uncivilised act of spite, but it was far more shocking that this highly educated person did not know this important fact.

This fits well with my own increasing approach of (what I think of as) “agnostic scepticism”—that I (a) avoid taking positions on issues where I am too poorly informed, (b) do not believe claims by others without independent own verification.* (I have often spoken about “not having done the leg-work”.) The recurring reader will, e.g., have seen me complain about the high degree of ignorance and/or deliberate distortion in claims made by politicians, journalists,** and teachers, and about how I am no longer willing to base my opinions on what they claim—not even when the claim is “scientific consensus is X”. Maybe, scientific consensus is X; maybe, it is not. The key issue, that I only have their word for what the scientific consensus might be, remains. (To which must be added that even a genuine scientific consensus often eventually proves wrong in detail, and sometimes even in the big picture.) A mere claim-to-be-taken-entirely-at-trust of “scientific consensus says Martians exist” is no better than the claim-to-be-taken-entirely-at-trust of “Martians exist”. To this might be added some further considerations, like the risk that a correct opinion held for a poor reason can be worse than the wrong opinion held for a good reason—let alone worse than a more agnostic take.***

*Which is not to say that everything must be independently verified. It is perfectly acceptable to mentally file “Hitchens claims X, but I have not verified it”. The problem arises when “X” is filed with neither reservations nor verifications. Given the right circumstances, even a “Mr. Y claims X and, while I have not verified that specific claim, previous exposure makes me consider Mr. Y highly competent and trustworthy on the topic of X.” is acceptable. (But should remain a rare exception. The same confidence should not be extended e.g. because “Mr. Y is my teacher”, “Dr. Y has a Ph.D. in this field”, or “Ms. Y is a famous young singer/actress/model/activist/philanthropist”.)

**I note that I have very long been very sceptical towards journalists and journalism based on the often grotesque incompetence on display. (Journalists should be well-informed, objective, strong critical thinkers, and good writers—and, more often than not, fail on two or more of these counts. If the mode is four failures, I would be unsurprised.) What has changed over the last few years, based on gross misreporting on e.g. PC-issues and, later, COVID, is that I no longer see mere incompetence and mere “unconscious bias” as enough to explain their reality distortions. (My view of teachers have undergone a somewhat similar transformation, if not as strong. That politicians lie borders on a “Duh!”.)

***I am too lazy to search for links to older texts right now, but I have written on similar topics repeatedly in the past.

As a specific case, I have switched my original standpoint on global warming from “does exist and is anthropogenic” to “I do not know,* because I have not done the leg-work”. The original standpoint was caused by a too unquestioning acceptance of what e.g. the papers claimed; my current is much sounder.

*Note the very major difference between “I do not know” and “I disagree”. It is very possible that I will return to my old standpoint at some point in the future—but, if so, for a much better reason.

As another case, I have deliberately chosen not to take sides in the underlying issues of the Russia–Ukraine situation (not limited to the war). In light of the conflicting claims from the two camps (and mutual attempts at censorship), I am not saying that Putin (Zelensky, Biden, …) is or is not to blame, that Russia is losing badly or winning comfortably, etc. For the time being, I take the position that I do not know—and I will revise that position only if and when I gain a better understanding.

But what of all the others, who are so cocksure? Well, for starters, there are plenty of sayings, aphorisms, and famous quotes to the effect that the cocksure tend to be wrong, while those who are right tend to be uncertain. Looking more in detail, the Russia–Ukraine situation, with, as Hitchens complains, “the wholly one-sided nature of public opinion”, seems to be a matter of weak critical thinkers blindly swallowing a certain narrative*—just like many have or still do with regard to global warming, COVID, and various Leftist talking points. (Let us face it: the vast majority of the population has not bothered to actually gain even remotely the level of knowledge and understanding to hold a justifiable opinion on any of these issues, be if pro or contra.)

*And this narrative is (again!) not defended against counter-narratives or criticism by factual arguments—but by attempts to prevent dissenters from being heard. The more-or-less first reaction of the West? Shutdown access to all Russian news-media.

And here I must disagree with Hitchens: It is not “far more shocking” that this woman did not know about a blocked off water supply. Indeed, I did not either—and, for that matter, I will not take his word for it being true. (I would not be the slightest surprised, if he is correct, in light of other readings on the situation, but he too could be wrong or, even, lying.) No, the problem is that she appears* to have expressed a strong and unnuanced opinion while being poorly informed.

*Note that some interpretation of the original text is needed here, that I only have Hitchens’s claim to go by, and that I do not even know that she exists.

Exactly this type of behavior has led to no end of issues, including poor politicians being elected and poor policies followed, organizations favoring (often destructive or dishonest*) causes raking in millions in donations, etc.

*Note e.g. recent renewed controversies around BLM.

In particular, I have repeatedly heard young voters be told that “it does not matter whether you pick the right party, the main thing is that you vote at all (but please vote for us)”; I have many times heard politicians complain about citizens not voting, often framed in terms of “not doing their civic duty” or “being lazy”, with no regard for the possibility that someone might not have a firm opinion or, more importantly, might not find any of the current parties/candidates acceptable; I have on some few occasions heard the claim that the main thing would be to have an opinion, and an opinion about everything, as if agnosticism would be a bad thing.

The saner approach is the exact opposite: Vote only when you are certain that you can justify your vote based on a solid knowledge and understanding.* Form** opinions only when your knowledge and understanding allows it. Etc.

*Which is neither to say that this must amount to support of the one (it might equally be a “lesser evil” choice or opposition to the other), nor that the details of e.g. each and every candidate must be known (a heuristic based on a sound knowledge from a more general case might be enough, e.g. the sound knowledge that Republicans are currently vastly preferable to the Democrats, combined with candidate X being a Republican, candidate X not being a RINO and having no major marks against him, and candidate Y being a Democrat).

**Some degree of opinion formation is automatic and unavoidable. This is acceptable, as long as the opinion is considered tentative, no big decisions or statements are made based on it, and the opinion is revised with an open mind as need arises. Feel free to dislike Putin for the time being and in the privacy of your own head, but do not condemn him in public, donate money to the Ukraine, or urge for a referendum to have your country declare war on Russia—unless you already have done the required research.

Excursion on Michael Crichton and scientific consensus:
Taking a break before proof-reading, I went to another browser tab and found another text with considerable overlap with the above. Among other things, it has a quote by Michael Crichton that is highly relevant to my own statements about scientific consensus above:*

*Or, in the spirit of agnostic scepticism, it claims to quote Michael Crichton. I have no particular reason to doubt the claim, but, no, I have not verified it myself.

Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus. There is no such thing as consensus science. If it’s consensus, it isn’t science. If it’s science, it isn’t consensus. Period.

I would not go that far (at least not assuming that we see the same concept behind the word “consensus”), but I agree in as far as the sentiment is e.g. “consensus does not determine what is true, only what is currently thought to be true”, “a claim of consensus must not be invoked to proclaim dissenting positions false”, or “politicians can make laws based on consensus, but physicists have to take the natural laws as they are”. (Indeed, consensus, especially scientific consensus, is often used as the ultimate argument to authority, as a means to end a debate without having to bother with factual arguments, counter-arguments, critique, and pesky facts.)

Excursion on future stringency:
Above, I have pointed out several cases where assumptions about e.g. sources apply. This is for the purpose of illustration and I will be more relaxed in other texts—without implying a lesser degree of scepticism.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 23, 2022 at 2:09 am

Feminism as a one-sided women’s rights movement (a.k.a never not rotten)

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A while back, I wrote:

In reality, Feminism is, and always has been, a one-sided women’s rights movement, which has rarely shown much concern for men’s rights or for equal responsibilities and equal duties. (Here, I wanted to reference a recently encountered and very informative text by someone else, which likely was https://antifeministpraxis.com/2017/03/31/feminism-was-never-not-rotten/; however, this link currently leads to a message of “This domain expired”. For a semi-replacement, see a text on Ellen Key. For issues with more modern Feminism, see any number of earlier texts.)

Since then, I have found a link to the missing contents through an archiving service—and I strongly recommend it to my readers:

https://web.archive.org/web/20191009062955/https://antifeministpraxis.com/2017/03/31/feminism-was-never-not-rotten/

(In addition, just in case, I will reproduce the full text below.)

Doing some additional research, I found a few other interesting links, including:

  1. A review of “There’s No Place Like Work” by Brian C. Robertson.

    Some claims made in the review are quite interesting, e.g. that:

    The first [misconception] is that the women’s movement of the 19th Century was like its 20th Century counterpart, an effort to liberate women from the bondage of housewifery.

    The facts show exactly the opposite. Women’s organizations throughout that century fought to liberate women not from the kitchen but from the workplace.

  2. A series of excerpts from “Woman and the law; a comparison of the rights of men and the rights of women before the law” (1875!) by Russell H. Conwell, which deal extensively with a surprising favoring of women over men in the U.S. 19th century, e.g. that:

    She may be worth a million, and he have nothing but his labor; yet he must support her in good style, and supply the needs of the family from his wages, without assistance from her. If both together commit a trespass, or assault, or any like misdemeanor, he is punished and she excused. Worse than that is the law whereby the husband is punished for any wrongful act of the wife in his presence, although it might have been beyond his power to prevent it. If she strikes a man, the recipient of the blows has no right to strike back unless to save his life, and her husband must pay for the damage by fine or imprisonment.

  3. Excerpts from works by Belfort Bax, “The Fraud of Feminism” (1913!) and “The Legal Subjection of Men” (1908!). (The titles should be self-explanatory.)

Disclaimer: All the aforementioned authors and books were previously unknown to me. I do not vouch for their quality, beyond the excerpts encountered, nor for their correctness. (If I find the time, I might do some deeper reading later.)

In addition, if off topic, I found a brilliant and brilliantly mocking series of texts on “Why I don’t take feminists seriously” by Mike Adams of Townhall, which shows much of what is wrong with modern Feminism. See respectively part I, part II, part III, part IV, part V, part VI, part VII.

As an aside, with an eye at a few earlier texts on abortion, I note him quoting (in part VII) a deranged-seeming woman saying

And the baby, when it is inside of her, is her body.

If this is taken to imply that the baby is actually part of “her” body, and if this horrifying ignorance is common among women/feminists/pro-abortionists/whatnot, it would explain quite a lot about that idiotic slogan “my body; my choice”. The baby is, by any even remotely reasonable standard, a separate entity in a separate body, only connected over the umbilical cord, with its own DNA and (beyond a certain point) own brain, heart, and whatnot. To see the baby as a part of the woman’s body, similar to an appendix, is as untenable as considering a human in a car a part of that car or a human on a dialysis machine a part of that machine. (In contrast, if mere ownership is implied, this ownership claim is extremely dubious, as noted in one of the previous texts.)

The same deranged-seeming woman also made claims about the baby as a parasite, which are, at best, highly misleading (but not unknown to me from others): A parasite is something that deliberately* exploits something or someone else against the nature and will of the something or someone, and to the disadvantage of that something or someone. The baby, on the other hand, has been put in the womb without having a say in the matter, almost* always by an act of and by the mother (!), in correspondence with the nature of both the mother and the womb, and it usually is (has until recently been?) considered a good or very good thing by the mother, herself. (This entirely apart from any arguments about the relative value of humans vs. e.g. hookworms.)

*Where “deliberately” should be seen in an extended sense. That hookworm is following its in-built reactions without true thought.

**Rape would be a rare exception. However, even an accidental and/or unwanted pregnancy through consensual sex is self-inflicted by the mother, be it by negligence or through taking a risk and having bad luck.

Finally, the full text of “Feminism was never Not Rotten” by Karen Straughan (a.k.a. GirlWritesWhat). (With reservations for loss of e.g. formatting through copy-and-paste.)

Years ago, when I embarked on my investigation into the feminist movement and what it has become, I subscribed to the understanding that there had once existed a magical age of feminism. Of course I did. It was common knowledge, even among anti-feminists, that early feminism was a noble and well-intentioned movement, and that somewhere along the way it was hijacked by lunatics and man-haters bent on female supremacy.

I was curious as to exactly when, and by what means, this virtuous movement had been corrupted, so I went on something of an archaeological expedition, digging through piles of documents and old news articles and treatises from as far back as the late 1800s and earlier, transcripts of speeches given by well-known suffragettes like Susan B. Anthony.

My unexpected findings were as follows: Feminism has never been a righteous movement seeking equality. The “noble” Suffragettes were soaked in sexism, classism, racism, eugenics enthusiasm and the mindless pursuit of female privilege. The Declaration of Sentiments, widely believed to be the official manifesto of the First Wave, was nothing more than a hate-filled screed, simultaneously indicting and convicting the male sex of the wholesale criminal enslavement and subjugation of all women, through all of history.

I found a First Wave populated by terrorists and elitists who did little to conceal their malice, dishonesty and thirst for power. They were skilled at isolating any given statute from its full context and declaring it as discrimination against women, even when the overall set of laws to which it belonged conferred immense privilege on women. And always, their “reforms” focused on the one, isolated statute, always leaving those privileging women untouched.

They sought, and received, the automatic right of mothers to custody of children after divorce, but did nothing to change the financial obligation of fathers to provide all material necessities to said children.

They sought, and received, the right within marriage to hold and keep their own property and income untouchable by their husbands, but did nothing to change the legal obligation of husbands to financially support their wives, to pay their wives taxes, or to repay their wives debts.

They sought, and received, the right to vote, but did nothing to change the civic obligations of men toward the state, including military conscription, which had informed the primary justifications for universal male suffrage, nor did they campaign to impose any such obligations on women.

And through every effort on the part of those early feminists ran a vein of resentment, blame and indifference toward men. Resentment of “privileges” that were bought and paid for by men through their formal obligations to others. Blame cast on men for single-handedly constructing the entire system with no care or concern for women’s wellbeing, safety or happiness, seats in lifeboats nothwithstanding. Indifference to the responsibilities imposed on men by this same system, or the male sacrifice, hardship and suffering which resulted.

While men were dying in their thousands to win the right to form a union and earn enough to support their wives and children, early feminists were campaigning for a woman’s right to take a man’s children away from him through separation or divorce, and still enjoy the same access to his wallet she’d become accustomed to in marriage.

While men were dying in their millions to protect societies in which most men didn’t have the vote, early feminists were terrorizing and injuring innocent civilians, demanding votes for women.

I was, to be honest, appalled by the entitlement of those early feminists, and by the nonchalance with which they portrayed men, as a sex, as not just capable of, but guilty of, treating their own wives, sisters, mothers, and daughters with sociopathic disregard. Little wonder these selfish, elitist, divisive women were, contrary to the revisionist history we’ve all been fed, no more popular among ordinary women back then than their modern counterparts are today.

A friend of mine has said that modern feminism is simply feminism without the mask. But my investigations showed me that feminism has never worn a mask. It has never needed to conceal the bitter core of hatred, blame, prejudice and supremacy that form its nucleus

Suffragettes were notorious domestic terrorists, lobbing bombs, lacing letter boxes with acid, setting fire to train stations, and even attempting to assassinate the British Prime Minister. But far from attempting to conceal their crimes, they relied on traditional notions of chivalry to shield themselves from the consequences of their actions. And the very subjects of their ceaseless hate campaign — men — eventually gave them everything they wanted, and more.

Pretending that First Wave feminism was virtuous not only erases the systemic injustices of which they were the primary architects, it erases the anti-male resentment and blame that have always infected the roots of the movement. It’s time we stop idealizing them, and begin seeing the entirety of feminsism for what it really is.

History is written by the victors, and feminism has been on a winning streak since its inception. Within that official history we are told only good things about the “brave women who risked their lives for women’s equality”. Some may find it deeply upsetting to discover that feminism has never been the righteous movement we’ve been told it was, but we have a moral obligation to examine political movements and history with our rose-tinted glasses off before we form an opinion. To do otherwise is to indulge in the wishful thinking of children.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 21, 2022 at 6:06 am

Nazis IXg: The 25-point plan (Hitler’s addendum)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

After the actual 25 points, the German version continues with a 1930 extension by Hitler (see below), which is not included in the English version. This is followed by an explanatory footnote in the source, which I have included, but which should not be seen as part of the Nazi document. The following approximate translations are by me.

Gegenüber den verlogenen Auslegungen des Punktes 17 durch Gegner der Partei ist noch folgende Feststellung notwendig:[1]** Da die NSDAP. auf dem Boden des Privateigentums steht, ergibt sich von selbst, daß der Passus “Unentgeltliche Enteignung” nur auf die Schaffung gesetzlicher Möglichkeiten Bezug hat, Boden, der auf unrechtmäßige Weise erworben wurde oder nicht nach den Gesichtspunkten des Volkswohls verwaltet wird, wenn nötig zu enteignen. Dies richtet sich demgemäß in erster Linie gegen die jüdische Grundstücksspekulations-Gesellschaften.

gez. Adolf Hitler.

(Against the mendacious interpretations of item 17 by opponents of the party the following declaration* is necessary:[1]** As the NSDAP.*** stands on a basis**** of private property, it is self-evident that the passage “Free expropriation”***** only refers to the creation of legal opportunities to, when necessary, expropriate land that has been procured unjustly****** or that is not administrated according to the priorities******* of the good of the people. This is correspondingly directed mainly at the Jewish land-speculation companies.

signed Adolf Hitler)

*Literally, “determination”.

**Footnote indicator used in the source. See below.

***The stop is present and equally dubious in the original. (Unless this is caused by an outdated and unknown-to-me German convention for abbreviations.)

****Literally, “floor” or “ground”.

*****Phrase taken in analogy to the Wikipedia translation.

******The original “unrechtmäßige” might (or might not) have a narrower interpretation, e.g. of “illegal[ly]”/“unlawful[ly]”.

*******Something like “perspectives” or “viewpoints” is closer to the literal meaning, and maybe intent, of “Gesichtspunkten”, but would sound (even more) awkward in English.

(I acknowledge that star-based footnotes have disadvantages. Switching to numbers is on my, very long, todo list.)

[1] Dieser Passus gehört nicht zum eigentlichen 25-Punkte-Programm der NSDAP. Er diente zur Rechtfertigung des Punkts 17 während des Reichstagswahlkampfes von 1930.

([1] This passage does not belong to the proper 25-point plan of the NSDAP. It served as justification of item 17 during the campaigns for the Reichstag [the then German parliament] of 1930.)

This raises the interesting question, to what degree item 17 is to be taken at face value. I would suspect that it was originally intended as written. Next, the item either proved a vulnerability to attacks, which the above served to reduce, or the party-internal opinions changed over time. An addendum claiming a different original intention was then chosen over an outright revision, to allow the Nazis to look less fallible and/or to preserve a claimed immutability of the 25-point plan.

Practically, I see little change, as both unjust procurement and doubleplusungood administration could easily be claimed whenever the need arose, if the Nazis gained power. (Which they indeed did, but had not yet in 1930.)

Written by michaeleriksson

May 20, 2022 at 1:20 am

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Nazis IXf: The 25-point plan (remaining items)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

The remaining points jump from topic to topic in a manner that gives me the choice between a big block, many small blocks, and medium blocks with poor consistency of content. I pick the big block approach.

(Of course, even the earlier blocking used by me is unofficial and not always beyond dispute. It might, for instance, be argued that aspects of item 17 puts it closer to item 18 than the items that I did group it with.)

The skimming reader is encouraged to pay particular attention to item 20.

18. Wir fordern den rücksichtslosen Kampf gegen diejenigen, die durch ihre Tätigkeit das Gemein-Interesse schädigen. Gemeine Volksverbrecher, Wucherer, Schieber usw. sind mit dem Tode zu bestrafen, ohne Rücksichtnahme auf Konfession und Rasse.

(We demand struggle without consideration against those whose activity is injurious to the general interest. Common national criminals, usurers, profiteers and so forth are to be punished with death, without consideration of confession or race.)

A far Left position.

This item might be particularly interesting with an eye on the Jews, and it might be the strongest example of a potential “dog whistle”. However, it could also be a more general anti-Capitalist cry, while the overall is sufficiently vague* that it could include virtually anyone currently unpopular with the Nazis (say, Communists).

*In the first sentence, generally; in the second, with regard to at least “[g]emeine Volksverbrecher” and “usw.”/“and so forth”.

19. Wir fordern Ersatz für das der materialistischen Weltordnung dienende römische Recht durch ein deutsches Gemein-Recht.

(We demand substitution of a German common law in place of the Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order.)

From one point of view, this seems Leftist, as an “anti-materialistic” act.* From another, nationalist, as an attempt to find a purer German or more-suitable-for-the-German-people** law system. Much might depend on unstated details.

*With some reservations for what type of materialism is intended. Is the claim e.g. anti-consumerist or anti-Marxist? My spontaneous reaction was the former, but if the typical everyday and/or political meaning has drifted over the years, I might have been mislead.

**Such thinking was common among the Nazis, that what is fit for the one people/nation is not necessarily fit for another.

20. Um jeden fähigen und fleißigen Deutschen das Erreichen höherer Bildung und damit das Einrücken in führende Stellungen zu ermöglichen, hat der Staat für einen gründlichen Ausbau unseres gesamten Volksbildungswesens Sorge zu tragen. Die Lehrpläne aller Bildungsanstalten sind den Erfordernissen des praktischen Lebens anzupassen. Das Erfassen des Staatsgedankens muß bereits mit dem Beginn des Verständnisses durch die Schule (Staatsbürgerkunde) erzielt werden. Wir fordern die Ausbildung geistig besonders veranlagter Kinder armer Eltern ohne Rücksicht auf deren Stand oder Beruf auf Staatskosten.

(The state is to be responsible for a fundamental reconstruction of our whole national education program, to enable every capable and industrious German to obtain higher education and subsequently introduction into leading positions. The plans of instruction of all educational institutions are to conform with the experiences of practical life. The comprehension of the concept of the state must be striven for by the school [Staatsbürgerkunde] as early as the beginning of understanding. We demand the education at the expense of the state of outstanding intellectually gifted children of poor parents without consideration of position or profession.)

This is a mixture of ideas that might be Left, non-Left, or irrelevant to Left–Right, depending on exact perspective. For instance, an opinion like “We need more education and education should be state run” is by no means rare on the current non-Left (but might be more common on the Left and must be contrasted with those of us who are sceptical to either or all of the state’s efforts, the amount of education suitable for the average child, and how sensible it is to use schooling to achieve education). For instance, the favoring of intellectually gifted children of poor parents was once popular with the Left, but the modern Left typically denies that there is such a thing as an intellectually gifted child. (And if one exists, it would be WRONG, WRONG, WRONG to give it special treatment, because social justice.) The non-Left, on the other hand, is often in favor of giving the gifted a chance to develop their talents, but is so regardless of “parental SES”.

This is also an example of an item that looks different in light of item 10 and the later heading “Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz” (cf. below). Is the intent to give the individual better opportunities for his own sake, or is it rather, e.g., to give the state or the party suitable individuals to serve its purposes? In the latter case, item 20 looks decidedly more Leftist. As with item 4, I will not constantly address this topic (especially, as I do not guarantee that I would always have the right answer*), but I caution the reader to have a “cui bono” in mind when reading—for whose benefit is this item ultimately intended?** The individual? The NSDAP? The Cause? The whatnot?

*Example: Item 21 pushes mandatory physical fitness. I am tempted to see a connection with military fitness—make the people fit so that we can have a fit army. (Also note a similarity with the ideas of Friedrich Ludwig Jahn and his “Turnbewegung”.) However, I might have an unconscious bias in favor of this explanation, because it would move the interpretation Left-wards and support my main thesis. Certainly, physical fitness has a value in it self, and the item might reflect nothing more than a “be all that you can be” attitude or be a piece of the overall Nazi drive for a strong people. (Especially, if a Lamarckian view of Evolution was applied.)

**Pre-restructuring/-blocking, a version of this paragraph (and the following paragraph) was under item 4 and the caution correspondingly earlier. However, the earlier items seem to have less content where the caution would have been relevant than e.g. item 20 (the current item) does.

A failure to consider such possibilities might be a partial reason for why “Nazis are Right-wing” has survived for so long, in that a Leftist or Socialist streak might have been missed by a too casual observer, just like the anti-Jewish loading of e.g. item 5 might have been missed by a too casual reader of the 25-point plan. (In contrast, the allegedly Right-wing issue of nationalism is blindingly obvious.) Indeed, my impression from other sources points to a fairly general approach of seeming laissez-faire, pro-individualism, whatnot in combination with a “for the good of the Cause” resp. “for the good of the people”, whatnot reservation—stray from the approved path and rights disappear.* Here even a Libertarian-seeming (when viewed extremely superficially) attitude soon turns out to be Leftist and/or totalitarian. (Something to keep in mind when someone on the Left tries to argue e.g. that the Nazis were pro-business—ergo, Right-wing. In reality, to the degree that the claim holds at all, the Nazis were pro-business only as long as the respective business served the Cause—ergo, Left-wing. Also note that pro-business, as applied to the Nazis, by no means implies pro-Capitalist/m.)

*Similarly, the current U.S. Left: you may say whatever you like—as long as it is not wrongthink.

21. Der Staat hat für die Hebung der Volksgesundheit zu sorgen und durch den Schutz der Mutter und des Kindes, durch Verbot der Jugendarbeit, durch Herbeiführung der körperlichen Ertüchtigung mittels gesetzlicher Festlegung einer Turn- und Sportpflicht durch größte Unterstützung aller sich mit körperlicher Jugend-Ausbildung beschäftigenden Vereine.

(The state is to care for the elevating national health by protecting the mother and child, by outlawing child-labor, by the encouragement of physical fitness, by means of the legal establishment of a gymnastic and sport obligation, by the utmost support of all organizations concerned with the physical instruction of the young.)

Most of the goals would be uncontroversial today, with reservations for the obligation part. The focus on the state, however, is mostly Leftist. The outlawing of child-labor might have been more strongly Leftist at the time. (Even today, the non-Left tends to be more open to the sometime pragmatical necessity in poorer countries; while the current U.S. Republicans are more positive to work experience over just study than the Democrats.)

I also suspect a partial intent of “outlaw child-labor so that the children can go to school”, which might be a more Leftist position. (Especially, if with the coda “and be indoctrinated into good little Nazis/Communists/SJWs/whatnot”.)

22. Wir fordern die Abschaffung der Söldnertruppe und die Bildung eines Volksheeres.

“We demand abolition of the mercenary troops and formation of a national army.”

Not obviously relevant to Left–Right, at least not without deeper investigation of the exact intents. I note that Germany was under great military restrictions after the war, including the abolition of conscription. The intent might have related to the restoration of the status quo ante; and later measures by the Nazis did include renewed conscription.

(Conscription, it self, might be seen as Leftist, as it implies un- or underpaid work for the state as a duty and a severe reduction of self-determination. However, conscription had been common in Germany since the Napoleonic wars, and there need not be any deeper meaning behind it.)

23. Wir fordern den gesetzlichen Kampf gegen die bewußte politische Lüge und ihre Verbreitung durch die Presse.

(We demand legal opposition to known lies and their promulgation through the press.)

Of course, almost everywhere and everywhen, using the law to suppress dissent is a Leftist go to. The Left might not be the only sinner, but by far the worst, be it in Communist dictatorships or the current U.S.

The restriction to alleged lies does not help one iota, as has been seen the last few years, when even expert opinions and scientific research has been labeled “fake news” or “misinformation” for contradicting the Official Truth.

Um die Schaffung einer deutschen Presse zu ermöglichen, fordern wir, daß a) sämtliche Schriftleiter und Mitarbeiter von Zeitungen, die in deutscher Sprache erscheinen, Volksgenossen sein müssen. b) Nichtdeutsche Zeitungen zu ihrem Erscheinen der ausdrücklichen Genehmigung des Staates bedürfen. Sie dürfen nicht in deutscher Sprache gedruckt werden. c) Jede finanzielle Beteiligung an deutschen Zeitungen oder deren Beeinflussung durch Nicht-Deutsche gesetzliche verboten wird und fordern als Strafe für Uebertretungen die Schließung einer solchen Zeitung sowie die sofortige Ausweisung der daran beteiligten Nicht-Deutschen aus dem Reich. d) Zeitungen,* die gegen das Gemeinwohl verstoßen, sind zu verbieten. Wir fordern den gesetzlichen Kampf gegen eine Kunst- und Literaturrichtung, die einen zersetzenden Einfluß auf unser Volksleben ausübt und die Schließung von Veranstaltungen,** die gegen vorstehende Forderungen verstoßen.

(In order to enable the provision of a German press, we demand, that: a. All writers and employees of the newspapers appearing in the German language be members of the race; b. Non-German newspapers be required to have the express permission of the state to be published. They may not be printed in the German language; c. Non-Germans are forbidden by law any financial interest in German publications or any influence on them and as punishment for violations the closing of such a publication as well as the immediate expulsion from the Reich of the non-German concerned. Publications* which are counter to the general good are to be forbidden. We demand legal prosecution of artistic and literary forms which exert a destructive influence on our national life and the closure of organizations** opposing the above made demands.)

*For some reason, the “d) Zeitungen” in the original is matched by a mere “Publications”, instead of “d. Publications”, in the translation.

**“Veranstaltungen” is closer to “events” than “organizations”.

Most of this is nationalist and/or aiming at suppressing dissent and diversity of opinion (usually Leftist, at least today), including attempts to reduce the likelihood of Germans being exposed to non-German (presumably, mostly Jewish) influences. Of particular note is sub-item d (note above footnote!), which again, very Leftist, uses the “general good” to forbid or mandate something. Note that this would not even be restricted to publications that involve alleged lies, but might well refer to truthful claims that do not match the Nazi agenda.* Also note that the remainder of sub-item d broadens the scope well beyond the earlier portions—it is no longer a matter of just the press. (But not as far as the translation makes it seem. Cf. above footnote on “Veranstaltungen” vs “organizations”.)

*Similar suspicions have, of course, been raised again and again over the last few years. For instance, I had not heard Plato’s “noble lie” referenced as often in my entire pre-COVID life, around 45 years, as I have during the less than two-and-a-half year span of COVID panic.

24. Wir fordern die Freiheit aller religiösen Bekenntnisse im Staat, soweit sie nicht dessen Bestand gefährden oder gegen das Sittlichkeits- und Moralgefühl der germanischen Rasse verstoßen. Die Partei als solche vertritt den Standpunkt eines positiven Christentums, ohne sich konfessionell an ein bestimmtes Bekenntnis zu binden. Sie bekämpft den jüdisch-materialistischen Geist in und außer uns und ist überzeugt, daß eine dauernde Genesung unseres Volkes nur erfolgen kann von innen heraus auf der Grundlage:*

(We demand freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race. The Party as such advocates the standpoint of a positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination. It combats the Jewish-materialistic spirit within and around us and is convinced that a lasting recovery of our nation can only succeed from within on the framework.*)

*The difference in punctuation is present in the sources. The German original presumably leads up to “Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz” below, which the English translation might have missed, leading to a near nonsensical formulation. Replacing “on the framework.” with “on the basis of:” gives an approximate correction.

This has little to do with the Left–Right spectrum, although I do note that constructs like “COMPLETE FREEDOM! (Except when we don’t like it.)” appear to be quite common on the Left. Of course, such “small print” restrictions often turn an alleged thing into its opposite, as I suspect would be the case here. (The question is made more complicated by religions other than Christianity and Judaism likely only having had minuscule representation in Germany at the time, which might have made “religious denominations” (“religiösen Bekenntnisse”) more a matter of “Christian denominations”.)

Concerning “positive Christianity”, I note that this is so severe a distortion of Christianity, as understood by any mainstream denominations known to me, that the use of the name is highly disputable. It appears constructed specifically to serve Nazi purposes and shows so large a disregard for Christianity that it is hardly a less atheistic take than that of e.g. the Soviets. The Soviets pushed atheism to overcome the competition from religions; the Nazis used a constructed/distorted religion for the same purpose.

Gemeinnutz vor Eigennutz

(THE COMMON INTEREST OVER INDIVIDUAL INTEREST[13]*)

*The “[13]” is a footnote indicator from Wikipedia. The footnote claims: ‘”GEMEINNUTZ GEHT VOR EIGENNUTZ” [all caps in original). See: Rabinbach, Anson; and Gilman, Sander L. (2013) The Third Reich Sourcebook Berkeley, California: University of California Press. p.14 ISBN 9780520276833’ In contrast, the German text used by me does not use all caps and does not contain a “GEHT” (or “geht”), which makes me suspect a difference in version. (The “GEHT” does not change the meaning, but does make the statement a “proper” sentence through introducing a verb—which is promptly removed in the translation! The translation is, then, closer to “my” original than to the original it purports to translate…)

This hits one of the core issues of a typical Leftist ideology. It is, indeed, very rare for a Leftist ideology not to have this attitude, be it explicitly or implicitly, be it with specifically Gemeinnutz or with some similar variation, e.g. “the greater good”.

(Unfortunately, taken alone, it falls short of being conclusive proof, as occurrences on the non-Left do exist.)

25. Zur Durchführung alles dessen fordern wir die Schaffung einer starken Zentralgewalt des Reiches. Unbedingte Autorität des politischen Zentralparlaments über das gesamte Reich und seine Organisationen im allgemeinen. Die Bildung von Stände- und Berufskammern zur Durchführung der vom Reich erlassenen Rahmengesetze in den einzelnen Bundesstaaten.*

(For the execution of all of this we demand the formation of a strong central power in the Reich. Unlimited authority of the central parliament over the whole Reich and its organizations in general. The forming of state and profession chambers for the execution of the laws made by the Reich within the various states of the confederation.*)

*Here the German version of the item ends, while the English translation continues “The leaders of the Party promise, if necessary by sacrificing their own lives, to support by the execution of the points set forth above without consideration.”. Maybe the leader’s idealism had diminished between 1920 and 1930? Maybe the translator slipped up and accidentally included a sentence from the Sokal hoax? At any rate, this is another strong indication that different versions were used. (And one discovered even later than the “[13]” issue above.)

Such ideas, now and then, are quite common on the Left. They are now rare on the non-Left, but I do not rule out that the popularity was greater on the non-Left in the past than today‘.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 20, 2022 at 1:07 am

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Nazis IXe: The 25-point plan (Leftist economic policy)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

The following continues the strong Leftist or far Leftist drift of item 11. For reasons of time, I have not paid great attention to how “Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft” plays in with these items; however, chances are that a closer study would give additional clues—and even an awareness of it points to a higher degree of Leftism than might be clear from the individual items when viewed more “textually”.* This portion of the 25-point plan is certainly one influenced by Gottfried Feder (the author of “Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft”).

*But I will remain with my original, somewhat textual interpretation: I wrote most of the below before researching item 11, and I cannot justify the time to do further research and a rewrite. Besides, a somewhat textual interpretation (and reliance on the reader to use his head) is consistent with the treatment of e.g. the influence of item 4 on other items.

12. Im Hinblick auf die ungeheuren Opfer an Gut und Blut, die jeder Krieg vom Volke fordert, muß die persönliche Bereicherung durch den Krieg als Verbrechen am Volke bezeichnet werden. Wir fordern daher restlose Einziehung aller Kriegsgewinne.

(In consideration of the monstrous sacrifice of life and property that each war demands of the people, personal enrichment due to a war must be regarded as a crime against the nation. Therefore, we demand ruthless confiscation of all war profits.)

Superficially, this seems like a fairly neutral opinion on the Left–Right scale. However, closer inspection brings us to the question of why someone earned money off the war. Consider e.g. a smuggling operation built for the purpose of bringing goods from non-participating country A to the war-plagued and underlying-rationing country B. Even if the smuggler sells them on the black-market, he might still benefit many of the war victims, maybe even to the point of saving a few lives, and be good even for the government of country B. This is perfectly fair from e.g. a Libertarian point of view (excepting those who hold a “breaking the law is unethical” opinion). Remove the profits and he will no longer make those runs, leaving the customers worse off than before. Did someone earn money from obeying his governments request (or non-negotiable demand) to turn a car factory into a tank factory?* How would punishing him be fair? Who would be more likely to want to confiscate his profits, the average Conservative or the average Social-Democrat? (In contrast, stealing army supplies and selling them for personal profit will usually be unacceptable, as would, Nazis take heed!, stealing art in a conquered country.)

*The more so, when he earns less money than he did before, because profit margins on cars were better. Ditto when the car market has collapsed due to a war that the government started.

(A hidden Jewish angle is conceivable, but this would be hard to reconcile with the actual formulation. If in doubt, many non-Jews who had enriched themselves would have great reason to oppose the Nazis, for fear of being included, which would have made the formulation unwise unless they actually were included. In fact, something like that might have happened with item 17, as will be clear later on.)

In this unnuanced phrasing, at least, the demand is Leftist. (The lack of nuance, per se, is arguably also an indication of being Leftist, if a weaker one.)

From another perspective: How does this play out with an eye at future military action?* Are suppliers of tanks, ammunition, food, whatnot supposed to deliver at cost, with no profit? Who would even remain a peacetime producer of strictly military goods (e.g. tanks; but not e.g. food) under such circumstances?** This might simple be a point that the authors had not thought through, but it might also be an indication of a Leftist idea: that a later rearmament and war would be handled by a state-run command economy. (Which was to some degree the case, when we look at what did happen.)

*I am uncertain to what degree military action was planned at this stage of the NSDAP, but it certainly became relevant very quickly, once the NSDAP took power, and at least Hitler was on the topic long before that. It might be argued that calls for colonies and Lebensraum (as in item 3) would be hard to implement without military action.

**Peacetime earnings from military goods might be acceptable according to this item, but war would pose an enormous risk, and a switch from tanks to cars seems like a good idea.

13. Wir fordern die Verstaatlichung aller (bisher) bereits vergesellschafteten (Trust) Betriebe.

(We demand nationalization of all businesses which have been up to the present formed into companies (trusts).)

Here there are major issues of interpretation and I might have to perform more research before making a more definite statement. Notably, “vergesellschafte[te]n” could be taken to imply nationalization to begin with (“let us nationalize all nationalized companies”). Another reading might involve the forming of a society,* in the sense of a joint enterprise of some kind (note e.g. the French SA or Société Anonyme, and the usually non-profit “society of/for something-or-other” in the Anglosphere). One possible reading goes in the direction that most businesses not run by a single person, a family, or similar should be nationalized. The addition of “Trust”/“trusts” might point to a nationalization of companies that have formed a trust as a meta-Vergesellschaftung or, so to speak, a society of societies.** (The inconsistent use of “Trust”/“trusts” when comparing original and translation is not helpful.)

*An approximately etymologically literal, but idiomatically dubious, translation of “[zu] vergesellschaften” would be “[to] associate”. A similarly approximate translation, which often is idiomatically correct, of “[die] Gesellschaft” is “[the] society”.

**The main era of truly industry-dominating single “concerns”, e.g. IG Farben, was yet to come, but not that far off and many steps had already been taken by the industry.

(Looking at what actually happened is not very helpful, as the Nazis did not engage in Soviet style nationalization/collectivization/whatnot, but did demand that the industry work for the benefit of the Nazis/Nazi-Germany/whatnot to a degree that reduced the difference. Moreover, Jews and other unwanteds were treated with different rules.)

Either way, demands for widespread nationalization are very common on the Left and very rare on the non-Left. In as far as demands for nationalization appear at all on the non-Left, I suspect that they are more likely to refer to very specific areas or special cases. For instance, some on the non-Left might be in favour of keeping various central services or utilities, e.g. telephony, under state control, or believe that some particularly misbehaving company* must be cleaned up by the state.

*I have, indeed, occasionally had impulsive thoughts in this direction after a particularly negative customer experience. However, as I know that the state tends to do more harm than good, the feeling rarely lasts more than a moment.

14. Wir fordern die Gewinnbeteiligung an Großbetrieben*.

(We demand that the profits from wholesale trade* shall be shared out.)

*Dubious translation of “Großbetrieben”. Literally, it means “large enterprises” and I see no restriction to specifically trade (wholesale or otherwise). The use of “Big Business” is tempting and might catch a lot of the spirit, but would (a) be anachronistic, (b) likely overstate the size of the enterprises involved.

Again, highly Leftist.

Unfortunately, it is not made clear how the sharing would take place or to whom, nor for what reason, which limits my judgment more in detail. (For instance, a “The evil Capitalist pigs have exploited the poor innocent workers. We must take their undeserved profits and return them to the deserving workers!” would point even further Left, while a “We will lower wages in return for a mandatory bonus based on company profits.” would be less so.)

15. Wir fordern einen großzügigen* Ausbau der Alters-Versorgung.

(We demand an expansion on a large scale* of old age welfare.)

*I would have used “generous” rather than “large scale”, and will go with this word below.

Broadly speaking, Leftist.

Vagueness is caused by a lack of details. For instance, if the implication is “state-run welfare” the item might be highly Leftist. The degree of Leftism might also depend on whether the intended scheme is based on own payments for own pension (less likely to be Leftist) or on own payments for the pensions of the current set of retirees, while the own pension will be payed by the following generations (more likely to be Leftist).

Some reservation must also be made for whether generous-by-the-standards-of-1920 would be considered generous today. I do not rule out that many on the non-Left might be on-board, even within a state-run scheme, with what was generous back then, without automatically supporting what is generous today.

16. Wir fordern die Schaffung eines gesunden Mittelstandes* und seiner Erhaltung, sofortige Kommunalisierung der Groß-Warenhäuser und ihre Vermietung zu billigen** Preisen an kleine Gewerbetreibende, schärfste Berücksichtigung aller kleinen Gewerbetreibenden bei Lieferung an den Staat, die Länder oder Gemeinden.

(We demand the creation of a healthy middle class* and its conservation, immediate communalization of the great warehouses and their being leased at low cost** to small firms, the utmost consideration of all small firms in contracts with the State, county or municipality.)

*In current German use, at least, “Mittelstand” does not so much mean “middle class” as “the mid-sized businesses”. It appears, however, that this is a recent development, and that the translation, to my surprise, is correct. (A good example of the traps that a hundred-year-old text can contain. Also see the next footnote.)

**The word “billig[en]” has over time drifted to imply “low cost [price]”, as used in the translation; but has historically implied something more like “fair” or “approvable”/“acceptable” (“with an approvable/acceptable bang-for-the-buck ratio”). Cf. “etwas zu billigen”–“to approve of something”. If this was still the case in 1920, the intent is more “fair cost” than “low cost”, which (a) might allow for medium or even high costs, (b) opens the door for great arbitrariness. (One might joke that “fair is in the eye of the beholder”.)

This passage is hard to classify (and not trivial to understand); however, communalization is definitely Leftist, and the drift of the rest seems most likely to be Leftist.

The apparent prioritisation of the middle class (especially, noting Marxism and its disdain for the bourgeoisie) must likely be seen in light of the Nazi belief that the then-current middle class was degenerate (or decadent, to keep with the Marxists) and more a burden than an asset to society. It is not a matter of favoring the existing middle class, but of replacing it with a newer and healthier one. This is an attitude that is hard to classify on a Left–Right spectrum and where I might need to do more research. However, a more stereotypically Leftist position might involve abolishing the middle (and upper) class altogether.

17. Wir fordern eine unseren nationalen Bedürfnissen angepaßte Bodenreform, Schaffung eines Gesetzes zur unentgeltlichen Enteignung von Boden für gemeinnützige Zwecke. Abschaffung des Bodenzinses und Verhinderung jeder Bodenspekulation.

(We demand a land reform suitable to our needs, provision of a law for the free expropriation of land for the purposes of public utility, abolition of taxes on land and prevention of all speculation in land.)

(Also note a 1930 comment on this item by Hitler appended to the 25-point plan. To keep the structure intact, I will only include and discuss it later. The gist, however, is that item 17 has been misinterpreted and was only really directed at Jewish speculators. I am sceptical to how honest that claim is.)

Free* expropriation is a strongly Leftist position. The same might apply to speculation bans, although this might vary depending on how speculation is defined.**

*The original “unentgeltlichen” implies “without payment [recompense/cost/whatnot]”.

**In a more restrictive sense, it might be compatible with many non-Leftist positions; in a wider sense, it could be quite far Left.

The issue of land reform is hard to judge without more detail, as land reform has often made great sense, e.g. to exchange land between owners to create larger contiguous blocks of land, which allow for more effective farming and other use. Such reform is irrelevant to the Left–Right spectrum. In contrast, a “confiscate the land of all farmers and create collective or state-run farms” would be quite far Left.

The removal of taxes sounds highly non-Left, and seems incongruous with the rest of the item, but might depend on who owns the land at the time.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2022 at 10:34 pm

Nazis IXd: The 25-point plan (Zinsknechtschaft)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

This entry will only deal with a single item. The reason is the inclusion (further down) of additional material, including a nine-point plan, by Gottfried Feder to provide some background information. (The sole item left me so little to go on that I had to read up. I caution that the material is sufficiently extensive that I must rely on a superficial and partial reading, and much skimming. Correspondingly, my claims about the additional material should be taken with a grain of salt.)

11. Abschaffung des arbeits- und mühelosen Einkommens.

Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft!

(Abolition of unearned (work and labour) incomes. Breaking of debt (interest)-slavery.)

The first part is clearly Leftist, even as it stands. Note that this would include someone who works hard for twenty years, saves every savable Pfennig, invests his money at a risk, and ends up with a sufficient return to retire early.

Factoring in the additional material, the intent seems to be mostly directed at bigger and/or Jewish investors (there are repeated mentions of e.g. Rotschild); however, would likely include most or all cases of interests, dividends, and whatnots in a more general manner—even for the less wealthy. Interests payments are seen as wrong, per se, with no regard for e.g. the investor’s risk (see excursion).

The second part is trickier, as it stands, as the implications of “Zinsknechtschaft” are not entirely clear. However, a general attitude of “even if you voluntarily enter into debt, you should not be obliged to pay interest” would be Left or far Left.

Factoring in the additional material, this attitude indeed seems to be present. The nine-point plan contains items like the conversion of interest bearing whatnots into a mere duty to repay the nominal amount of the whatnot, thereby retroactively forcing a change of the original agreement between debtor and creditor (or whatever words might apply for the given whatnot) to the great disadvantage of the creditor.

In both cases, the claims are pushed even further Left by much of this being for the benefit of the state and by utopian claims about the brave new interest-free world.

Material on the nine-point plan and “Zinsknechtschaft”:
The full document by Feder is available on Wikisource. Judging by my skimming, it consists of the nine-point plan embedded embedded in a sea of poorly written and worse reasoned, far Left, anti-Capitalist rhetoric, which makes Bernie Sanders look Republican in comparison.

As an alternative, German Wikipedia has a much shorter and more readable page. Unfortunately, the items of the nine-point plan are shortened relative the original.

Below, I will summarize portions of the Wikipedia material, including the nine-point plan, and my impression in English; on some occasions, I draw on the longer version of the plan in the original for clarification.

I stress that this document has influenced the 25-point plan, but is neither a part of it, nor automatically representative of NSDAP policy beyond the statements included in the 25-point plan (not necessarily restricted to item 11).

(Begin summary)

“Brechung der Zinsknechtschaft” was originally the title of a pamphlet (the “full document” above) by Gottfried Feder, who was an early NSDAP member and who had a strong influence on the 25-point plan. The formulations used to characterize his thoughts give a strongly Leftist impression, but also point to a likely use of various phrases as codes for the Jews.

A considerable motivation was the high expenditure for servicing war bonds, which reached 80 % of the 1919 budget. By removing the need to service these war bonds, the economic situation of Germany would change radically.

The manifest included a nine-point plan:*

*I usually give only a rough indication of content. This in part, because I have already spent much, much longer on the “Nazis IX” text(s) than intended; in part, because there are many technical terms involved, and a correct translation would require further research. I make the reservation that I, due to the technical terms, might have misunderstood some point or other.

  1. Konvertierung aller Schuldtitel des Deutschen Reiches und der deutschen Bundesstaaten unter Aufhebung der Zinspflicht zu gesetzlichen Zahlungsmitteln zum Nominalbetrag

    Conversion of German public debt to remove interest payments.

  2. Bei festverzinslichen Papieren wird Zinspflicht in eine Rückzahlungspflicht umgewandelt.

    Fixed-interest bonds are converted to have an obligation-to-repay instead of an obligation-to-pay-interest.

  3. ratenweise Zurückzahlung von Immobiliarschulden und Hypotheken

    Mortgages are repaid in installments. Here Wikipedia seems to oversimplify. The original points to continued repayments (might seem obvious, but then, why mention it?), with an additional drive to nationalize the properties involved. (In exactly what manner is not immediately clear to me.)

  4. Das gesamte Geldwesen wird der Zentralstaatskasse unterstellt. Alle Privatbanken werden als Filialbetriebe angegliedert.

    Banking is controlled by a central bank. Private banks are adjoined as subsidiaries.

  5. Realkredit wird nur durch die Staatsbank vergeben. Personal- und Warenkredit wird den Privatbankiers gegen staatliche Konzession überlassen.

    Reductions in who may give what type of credit. Greater central control.

  6. Tilgung von Dividendenwerten auf gleiche Weise wie festverzinsliche Papiere

    Stocks, or maybe equities in general, are treated liked fixed-interest bonds. Dividends are replaced by 5%-a-year repayments (presumably, for 20 years).

    Here the full document has a rare acknowledgment of risk, which could give the stock owner a share of profits, but the main use of profits appear to be to give money to the workers and to lower prices.

  7. Alle Personen, die nicht in der Lage sind, ihren Lebensunterhalt zu verdienen, erhalten anstelle der bisherigen Zinserträgnisse gegen Einlieferung der Wertpapiere eine Leibrente.

    Deals with support of those unable to work through annuities instead of interest payments. The original seems to imply that interest-bearing papers are to be handed over to the state in return for a pension of the same yearly amount as the interest payments. (Somewhat paradoxically: elsewhere, the idea seems to be to kill interest payments and repay the underlying debt; here, the underlying debt is killed and a quasi-interest payment preserved.)

  8. nach Vermögen gestaffelte Einziehung von Kriegsanleihestücken und anderen Schuldtiteln des Reiches oder der Staaten

    Incomprehensible to me without more research, but might deal with cancellation of public debt, war bonds in particular.

  9. Volksaufklärung, dass das Geld nichts anderes ist und sein darf als eine Anweisung auf geleistete Arbeit.

    Popular education that money is nothing but a payment order (?) for work done.

Originally, the NSDAP intent was to remove all interest payments, but this was modified over time to a reduction of interests and use of “gerechter Zins” (“fair interest”)

(End summary)

Excursion on my take on debt and interest:
There is a difference between an anti-interest and an anti-debt attitude. Feder is anti-interest, while I am mildly anti-debt and see interest or some other type of recompense as natural or even necessary when debt still is incurred.

To expand on “mildly anti-debt”: There are cases when debt can be acceptable or a good thing,* because a current need or benefit is strong enough to outweigh the increased risks and costs, e.g. for a well-earning family with small children to move into a house today, rather than in ten years time, or for a flowering business to expand to a second location. However, I would argue that we are better off, when we restrict our lending and borrowing as much as we reasonably can and that we should pay great attention to e.g. our expected long-term income. For instance, a less well-earning family should consider foregoing the house (or even the children) until a greater income has been reached and/or means for a larger down-payment have been accumulated. For instance, non-trivial college debt is almost always a bad idea, even when a high salary is expected in the future. The government should be obliged to borrow as little as possible; preferably, nothing. An economy with fewer business loans would be sounder and less unstable. Etc.

*But, all other factors equal, not being in debt is better. (Above, not all factors are equal.)

To expand on interest payments: When money is lent out or otherwise invested, there is a significant opportunity cost, in that the money is not available for other uses, including current consumption and other investments. There is also a risk involved, in that there is no guarantee that the money will ultimately be repaid or repaid in full. Unless someone has a personal interest in the lender’s well-being, e.g. a parent, lending is then idiotic—unless there is some offsetting benefit. Interest payments are exactly one such type of offsetting benefit. Scratch interest payments, without implementing some other scheme with a similar effect, and that house and that second location are severely delayed or become mere pipe-dreams. (As an aside, with anti-utopian effects, like some prospective employees for that second location not being hired.)

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2022 at 7:21 am

Nazis IXc: The 25-point plan (Citizenship)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

4. Staatsbürger kann nur sein, wer Volksgenosse ist. Volksgenosse kann nur sein, wer deutschen Blutes ist, ohne Rücksichtnahme auf Konfession*. Kein Jude* kann daher Volksgenosse sein.

(None but members of the nation may be citizens of the state. None but those of German blood, whatever their creed* may be. No Jew,* therefore, may be a member of the nation.)

*Note that Jewishness counted by blood and not religion in my impression of the Nazis. The possibility of a conversion to Judaism has some history of controversy among Jews too.

Nationalist; factoring in other knowledge, anti-Semitic; possibly, more generally racist. Note, however, that similar sentiments were not that unusual outside the Nazis and/or Germany. Jus sanguinis, often in combination with great restrictions on who might acquire citizenship later in life, has likely been the norm in the “civilized” parts of Europe since the days of the Romans, with jus soli (used in e.g. the U.S.) being more of an exception. These restrictions might be smaller today than in 1920, but can still be considerable. For instance, the current German restrictions include an eight(?)-year residency and the need to renounce the old citizenship.*

*However, such rules have to some degree lost relevance with the intra-EU regulations, which afford citizens of one EU member living in another most of the rights of the “natives” and other special treatment relative immigrants from outside the EU.

With this item, there are clear signs of how important context is. Note how the anti-Semitic part requires context for certainty, while a strictly “textualist” reading would be far less conclusive.

In a next step, looking at the immediately following items, e.g. item 5, they read differently, especially concerning Jews,* when we see them in light of item 4 (the current item). More generally, the close tie between citizenship and being German-by-blood alters some implications of various items relative modern expectations. As the introduction of constant remarks about item 4 would grow repetitive and add little, I mostly leave it to the reader to make a corresponding mental amendment concerning Jews and a potentially different understanding of what e.g. “Staatsbürger” or “citizen” implies.**

*However, I caution against the idea that these items were directed solely at Jews. This is implausible with an eye at the overall nationalist take and at the later treatment of e.g. Sinti and Slavs.

**If the issue of nationalism (racism, whatnot) were more important for my purposes, I might have handled this differently. However, no-one is disputing that the Nazis were nationalist—disputed is (among other issues) whether something nationalist would automatically be Right-wing. Likewise, my purpose with my discussion of the 25-point plan is not to analyse Nazi thought and its implications in general, but to gauge specifically whether it points to the Nazis being Left-wing or Right-wing (or something else altogether). A further complication is the potential changeability of item 4 in a long-term scenario: If the 25-point plan were implemented as (part of) a constitution, a later drift in public opinion on citizenship might have led to a change of item 4, which would automatically have changed the implications of e.g. item 5 within that constitution. (Such changes are not uncommon.) This leads to the exegetical complication that too much context is sometimes a bad thing.

5. Wer nicht Staatsbürger ist, soll nur als Gast in Deutschland leben können und muß unter Fremden-Gesetzgebung stehen.

(Whoever has no citizenship is to be able to live in Germany only as a guest and must be regarded as being subject to foreign laws.)

Not that different from the situation in many modern countries. (With reservations for the exact implications.) The reference to “foreign laws” (“Fremden-Gesetzgebung”) is insofar puzzling as it seems to imply a case of extraterritoriality to the disadvantage of Germany and its citizens.

6. Das Recht, über Führung und Gesetze des Staates zu bestimmen*, darf nur dem Staatsbürger zustehen. Daher fordern wir, daß jedes öffentliche Amt, gleichgültig welcher Art, gleich ob im Reich, Land oder Gemeinde nur durch Staatsbürger bekleidet werden darf.

(The right of voting* on the state’s government and legislation is to be enjoyed by the citizen of the state alone. We demand therefore that all official appointments, of whatever kind, shall be granted to citizens of the state alone.)

*The translation of “bestimmen” (“decide”) with “voting” is dubious. I am neither certain that voting is logically included (but this might very well have been the intention, as far as the Nazis allowed voting at all); nor that a restriction to voting is justified. The big-picture analysis does not truly change depending on this, however.

This might seem superficially nationalist, but was likely unremarkable at the time (excepting the hidden Jewish angle). Even today, such rules are quite common even for countries not considered very nationalist (excepting the citizen-by-blood angle). Restrictions on the right to vote are likely the norm—even Sweden has a “must be a citizen” requirement for (at least) parliament elections. Restrictions on higher offices are not rare either; and specifically elected offices are unlikely to be open to someone not allowed a vote. (Whether any country has as sweeping restrictions as suggested in this item, I do not know, but it has been over a hundred years…)

As an aside, such restrictions on citizenship for at least higher levels of elected politicians, judges, civil servants, whatnot might be highly sensible, with an eye on factors like understanding of and commitment to the country, the risk of suboptimal work or deliberate sabotage in a war scenario,* and similar.

*An aspect that is easily forgotten during long stretches of peace. Consider e.g. a war between Germany and France—could the French working in the German civil service be trusted? The Germans in the French civil service? (This not to be confused with the current disgraceful trend of “declare all Russians unwanted over Putin’s war, even though we are not a party to that war”.)

Wir bekämpfen die korrumpierende Parlamentswirtschaft* einer Stellenbesetzung nur nach Parteigesichtspunkten ohne Rücksichtnahme auf Charakter und Fähigkeiten.

(We oppose the corrupting custom* of parliament of filling posts merely with a view to party considerations, and without reference to character or capability.)

*I am frankly uncertain what to understand under “Parlamentswirtschaft” and take the translation’s “custom of parliament” at face value for the time being.

This anti-corruption stance is apolitical.* The general idea seems sound; however, off topic, I note that a too large focus on non-party considerations can lead to problems in the other direction, e.g. through a “Yes, Minister” style civil-servant machinery. I have heard some U.S. debaters claim that the old “throw all the old staff out when power changes” policy might be better than the modern “keep most in non-political offices on”. This e.g. with an eye at the “deep state” and the issues Trump had with insufficient cooperation within the executive.

*I am very tempted to consider it non-Leftist with an eye at e.g. the U.S. Democrats and the appointment of judicial activists and affirmative-action beneficiaries to be judges/justices, but this might be unfair in a larger historical or international perspective. Whether the Nazis, themselves, lived up to this item might be doubted.

7. Wir fordern, daß sich der Staat verpflichtet, in erster Linie für die Erwerbs- und Lebensmöglichkeit der Bürger zu sorgen. Wenn es nicht möglich ist, die Gesamtbevölkerung des Staates zu ernähren, so sind die Angehörigen fremden Nationen (Nicht-Staatsbürger) aus dem Reiche auszuweisen.

(We demand that the state be charged first with providing the opportunity for a livelihood and way of life for the citizens. If it is impossible to nourish the total population of the State, then the members of foreign nations (non-citizens) must be excluded from the Reich.)

Here much hinges on the interpretation of the first sentence. Is the intent that the state prioritize the “opportunity for a livelihood and way of life”* (“Erwerbs- und Lebensmöglichkeit”) over other areas or that the state prioritize the citizens (“Bürger”) over non-citizens? The first interpretation would, with some reservations for the details, likely be strongly Leftist. The second would be mildly nationalist and/or simply common sense.

*I might have preferred “opportunity [ability? possibility?] to earn and live” or something similar.

The later portions are somewhat hypothetical today, as such situations have been rare or non-existent in the Western world during my lifetime, while non-Western nations in such situations have often benefited from foreign visitors and “ex-pats”, who might have brought in aid or stimulated the economy through a greater purchasing power.

However, if we assume a typical (naive) Leftist “zero sum”* worldview and remember the far worse living conditions relative today (even before WWI; the more so during it and the following hard peace), it would not seem like an unreasonable priority: We have only so much in the larder. Let the family eat and let the (uninvited?) guests go home to their own tables and use their own larders.

*I.e. there is a pie of a given size and what matters is how this pie is shared, as opposed to a more Capitalist view of “we can make the pie grow and what matters is not what proportion of the pie someone gets, but what quantity of pie”. Note that chances are great that the Jews were net-contributors to societal wealth and progress—just like many groups that e.g. Communists or members of the New Left would love to see hang.

8. Jede weitere Einwanderung Nicht-Deutscher ist zu verhindern. Wir fordern, daß alle Nicht-Deutschen, die seit 2. August 1914* in Deutschland eingewandert sind, sofort zum Verlassen des Reiches gezwungen werden.

(All immigration of non-Germans must be prevented. We demand that all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914*, be required immediately to leave the Reich.)

*I am uncertain why this exact date; however, it falls within a time frame that amounts to the beginning of WWI. To some approximation, the claim is then “since the beginning of the war”.

Looking at this item alone, it is not just strongly nationalist, but of a harshness that is extreme by today’s standards.

However, if it is intended as a consequence of item 7 (“We argue 7, and in order to implement it, we demand 8!”) it would just be a consistent (if, maybe, unwise or unduly strong) continuation.

It is also conceivable that there was an increased inflow of poor and uprooted foreigners in the wake of the war. If so, special actions might have been needed. (I have not investigated this, but would have expected the lion’s part, if so, to be among the “Auslandsdeutsche”/“Volksdeutsche”, which the Nazis tended to view as “one of us”.)

9. Alle Staatsbürger müssen gleiche Rechte und Pflichten besitzen.

(All citizens of the state shall be equal as regards rights and obligations.)

In a twist, this is a position that the Left, with some justification, might rush to consider historically mostly Leftist, if taken to imply e.g. abolition of special rules for nobility* or introduction of universal suffrage. Of course, in other areas, the Left has often been weak due to its recurring “us vs. them” thinking, and the Left tends to mistreat non-favored groups and reduce their rights and/or increase their obligations relative the favored groups. Depending on point of view, this item could be considered Leftist, neutral, or even anti-Leftist.

*Note that German nobility was abolished in the wake of WWI, and that the topic of nobility was much more current and controversial in 1920 than today.

Today, this stance is shared by almost all modern Western parties and political groups on paper; outside the New Left*, most would likely be sincere; disagreement on paper might** be more common on the non-Left.

*The New Left, including Feminists, is usually very different in real life. See many earlier texts.

**Depending on what the exact intentions are. For instance, I am a proponent of replacing age-based restrictions on e.g. the right to vote with restrictions based on mental abilities tested by IQ tests, tests of critical thinking, or similar. Would that be in contradiction to item 9? (But this is likely a small minority position even on the non-Left.)

Concerning women: I might need some further research on how and whether women figured into this item, how it would be understood regarding women by a 1920s reader, and whether the general Nazi take on women, involving a strong division of responsibilities,* was compatible or hypocritical. (Similar remarks apply to some other items too, without explicit mention, as it rarely matters for my Left–Right investigation. With item 9, the question of women must be acknowledged, even when the Left–Right influence is not that strong.)

*A common phrase to describe the intended female spheres was “Kinder, Küche, Kirche” (“children, kitchen, church”). However, in my understanding, this was a matter of division of responsibilities and perceived natural abilities/interests, not of disrespect or oppression, and the respect awarded a woman could be high. I note that the likes of Leni Riefenstahl were not marched back to the kitchen at gunpoint. Also see an excursion on division of responsibilities vs. oppression.

10. Erste Pflicht jeden Staatsbürgers muß sein, geistig oder körperlich zu schaffen. Die Tätigkeit des Einzelnen darf nicht gegen die Interessen der Allgemeinheit verstoßen, sondern muß im Rahmen des gesamten und zum Nutzen aller erfolgen.*

(The first obligation of every citizen must be to productively work mentally or physically. The activity of individual may not clash with the interests of the whole, but must proceed within the framework of the whole for the benefit for the general good.*)

*Between this item and the next (German) resp. at the end of this item (English) there is a “Daher fordern wir:”/“We demand therefore:”. Due to my wish to move on to “Nazis IXd” at this point and the inconsistent placement, I have cut this phrase. The reader might, however, want to keep the implied motivation of item 10 on item 11 (and maybe other following items) in mind.

Sounds highly Leftist to me: You work hard, you work for the state/“the greater good”/“the good of the public”, and do not dare to aspire to achieve something for yourself. My first thought on reading this was of Boxer from “Animal Farm”. Note the particular, outright far Left, perfidy that it is not enough that the work is not counter to the “general good”—it has to be to the positive benefit of the “general good”.*

*The original formulation, “zum Nutzen aller”, is more literally “for the good/benefit of everyone”. The translation might here understate the degree of Leftist sentiment.

(A similar far Left attitude can, depressingly, be found in the current German constitution. See e.g. a discussion of the highly Leftist, anti-rechtsstaatliche, anti-whatnot Articles 14 and 15.)

Excursion on a life with and without work:
I am, myself, strongly in favor of a working life—yet, I strongly reject the Nazi take above. (As I do similar Leftist takes and e.g. a blanket “idle hands do the Devil’s work” take.)

Work is worth something when it is the right type of work. The right type of work, especially of the intellectual kind, can make us better persons.

However, I do not see work-for-the-purpose-of-working as productive and I view work-for-the-purpose-of-survival as a (usually) necessary evil.* To work in order to keep a Socialist society from collapsing under its own inefficiency, while the results of my work are spent on purposes that I do not agree with?** That alone is reason enough to tell the Left to go fuck it self!

*Here I note the Swedish saying, “man ska arbeta för att leva; inte leva för att arbeta”—“one should work [implied: for remuneration] in order to live; not live in order to work”. Also note the difference between a vocation and an avocation, resp. a job and a calling, and how few are lucky enough for them to coincide.

**As I have noted in the past, when I work an hour more in the office, even in the allegedly free Germany, the state earns more than I do—and the money is mostly spent in a manner that I do not agree with, including on a gigantic and inefficient state bureaucracy and excessive and unfair transfer payments.

My adult life can broadly be divided into two types of phases: those when I work hard in the office to build up some money; and those when I live on money already earned, while I read, write, and think. The results include a very satisfying intellectual journey, two master’s degrees (looking just at formal education), a very large number of blog entries and whatnots on a great variety of topics, and a decent (still kept to myself) fiction output.

To many on the Left, however, and in the likely views of e.g. item 10, only the “in the office” phases count, and even an attitude that I should do my duty and get back to the office so that I can contribute more taxes, be a good Boxer, is not inconceivable. (Indeed, I recall complete idiot Mona Sahlin, formerly a leading Swedish Social-Democrat, suggesting that the Swedes should be manipulated into considering paying taxes “cool”—after which they, presumably, would stop their complaints, work harder, and save the ailing “welfare state”.)

Excursion on division of responsibilities vs. oppression:
I have plans for a text on the difference between division of responsibilities and oppression. (Especially, between men and women, but also more generally.) Considering my long backlog and the short-term relevance to some of the above, I have thrown together a rough, incomplete, and not necessarily well argued overview:

While the view (especially, among Feminists) of a dictator husband and an oppressed wife is common when we look at e.g. past Western or modern Turkish families, I am sceptical to the correctness of this view when applied generally or even to a majority. (That it is true in many individual cases is indisputable—just like many individual families, now or then, have a subservient husband and a controlling wife.)

Much of this is caught in the old joke (husband speaking): In my family, I make all the important big-picture decisions, like what candidate we should vote for. My wife handles all the unimportant everyday decisions, like what car we should buy.

Now, who is truly in charge of that family? More generally, a role division or division of responsibilities does not imply that the one party is automatically superior to the other, nor is the superficially superior-seeming necessarily so, even should an informal hierarchy exist, nor does superiority in one area imply superiority in the next.* I have repeatedly heard claimed that e.g. Turkish families have a division that puts the wife in charge of the household and the inner workings of the family, while the husband is in charge of “foreign affairs”—a king on the street, a mere prince consort at home. My father** has spoken of how his mother, a somewhat traditional wife and a good cook, was not so much confined to the kitchen as she used to throw others, husband and children included, out of the kitchen. (This to my father’s annoyance, as he loves to cook and sees a missed opportunity to learn and to save some unwritten recipes.) It seems that whenever someone brings up Asian women as a superior alternative to U.S. women, someone else jumps in with a warning that “Japanese women just seem meek and obedient until they are married”, “a Filipina wife will demand that you hand over your salary to her and give you some pocket money in return”, or similar.***

*And in as far as the man does have the upper hand: To what degree is this because of “Patriarchy” or greater physical strength and to what degree because women tend to marry men who are somewhat older and more accomplished/intelligent/educated/whatnot than they, themselves, are?

**My grandfathers on both sides of the family died when I was very young, so I cannot draw on that many personal experiences of family dynamics in this generation. However, both grandmothers, in later years and as widows, seemed to cook/bake to spread joy, take care of their relatives, or be a good hostess—not as an obligation that they would rather have pawned off on someone else. Ditto my step-grandmother. (My parents’ generation, this being Sweden, already followed the non-traditional pattern that dominates in the Western world today.)

***I do not vouch for the correctness of these claims, nor that I remember the exact right nationalities for the claims, but even the claims themselves are telling.

In a bigger picture, how dictatorial can a husband, including in jurisdictions that formally and explicitly saw the husband as in charge, be without getting himself into trouble? If someone cooks your food on a daily basis, she could easily poison you. If you sleep next to her every night, she has countless possibilities at revenge. In the days of yore, fear of loss of income might have been a strong deterrent, but only to a certain point—and there are means of revenge that do not kill or greatly reduce ability to work, say, breaking a nose with a (real, cast-iron) frying pan. For that matter, even a fully awakened man should think twice about beating a woman who has a frying pan within reach.

(Then we have the pesky issue, seemingly never considered by Feminists, that husband and wife might actually have a bond of love and mutual respect and see each others as partners and supporters, that their marriage might not be a fight for power or an attempt by the one to enslave the other.)

From another point of view, even the days of yore contain stories of commercially successful women—often widows that kept the late husband’s business running. They were few relative their male competitors, but were they few due to an oppressive Patriarchy or because most women did not need to run the business?* Oppression or a division of responsibilities?** Moreover, their existence is more telling than their absolute numbers: if many Feminists’ view of history held true, such successful women would simply not have existed.

*To which might be added (a) that the wife of an X was not automatically talented at X, and might, as widow, have crashed the business, (b) many or most widows might not even have made the attempt, e.g. because they had a grown son to take over or because a suitable buyer or second husband could be found, (c) there might be a large unknown of women who ran a successful business in their husband’s name, while he, say, enjoyed a few bottles of wine.

**In all fairness, laws that restricted non-widows from entering business have been historically common, and this division of responsibilities need not always have been consensual.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 19, 2022 at 1:35 am