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A Swede in Germany

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

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