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A Swede in Germany

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A few thoughts on the shifting of Overton windows

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The Wikipedia article on Overton windows* (fix version) claims that:

*I use a (likely, non-standard) plural: in part, to separate a shifted version of the window as a different entity from the unshifted version, which allows for easier formulations below; in part, to acknowledge that there might be multiple, separate, Overton windows and Overton-window generalizations at any given time, e.g. in different countries and at different levels of government.

The Overton window is an approach to identifying the ideas that define the spectrum of acceptability of governmental policies. Politicians can act only within the acceptable range. Shifting the Overton window involves proponents of policies outside the window persuading the public to expand the window. Proponents of current policies, or similar ones within the window, seek to convince people that policies outside it should be deemed unacceptable. According to Lehman, who coined the term, “The most common misconception is that lawmakers themselves are in the business of shifting the Overton window. That is absolutely false. Lawmakers are actually in the business of detecting where the window is, and then moving to be in accordance with it.”

A few observations on this:

  1. A limitation to the acceptability of governmental policies is short-sighted. Something very similar appears to apply to e.g. decision making in business and what opinions may be expressed/research topics may be explored in academia—indeed, it was only when writing this text that I became aware of even a suggested limitation to governmental policies. (However, in this text, I will not go into other areas where an Overton window, or some generalization thereof, might apply.)
  2. Lehman might or might not be right about lawmakers*, but this would show what sad state politics is in: Lawmakers should neither detect** nor shift*** the window, they should strive to make good decisions regardless of the window.

    *I am a bit puzzled by the specific choice of “lawmaker[s]”, as not all politicians are lawmakers and as far from all government policy is a matter of law. (Consider e.g. the POTUS and other politician within the U.S. executive branch.) A possible case can be made that not all (de facto or de jure) lawmakers are necessarily politicians, especially in non-democracies, but whether these are as bound by public opinion can be debated. For simplicity, at the risk of missing some subtlety, I will not usually differ between lawmakers and politicians.

    **Except to the degree that it can help them to free themselves from subconscious influences through an existing window.

    ***However, a deliberate attempt to widen the window might be acceptable, in order to ensure that more ideas are treated in a less prejudiced manner resp. that good decisions are possible despite the window.

    However, I strongly suspect that he is wrong—at a minimum through over-generalization and through giving many lawmakers too much credit in terms of awareness and conscious action. Beyond that minimum, attempts to achieve such shifts appear to be quite common even among lawmakers. Note, e.g., the contents of [1] and that a portion of the discussion of the Left below involves acts by lawmakers and/or politicians.

  3. The claim on “Proponents of current policies […]” seems highly dubious. The point of the Overton window, in my understanding, is that what lies outside is already widely considered unacceptable. Pushing to further this might well make sense, but what goes on in the world today seems to be much more about shifting the window in order to force out old policies and to open the doors for new. Similarly, “proponents of policies outside the window” seem less interested in expanding the window and more on shifting it.
  4. In particular, much of what the Left does amounts to attempts at shifting Overton windows (and other actions on a meta-level, say, shifting perceptions of reality). In a sane world, opinions like mine, which are based on facts, thoughts, and arguments, and (where relevant) are backed by real science (as opposed to the “the truth is what we want it to be” pseudo-science so often found today), would be considered perfectly normal and mainstream, while those expressed by the likes of Biden and those enshrined in e.g. CRT and Gender-Feminism would be recognized for the out-of-touch-with-reality extremism that they are. Courtesy of decades of continued propaganda and reality distortion, the public (mis-)perception is often the exact opposite.

    Note e.g. how hard members of the Left work on demonizing opponents and their opponents’ positions, how they push “you are evil, if you X” angles, how a cancellation is threatening those guilty of wrongspeak and thoughtcrime, how non-extremists are condemned as “extremists” while extremists are treated as heroes, how non-racists are condemned as “racists” while racists are treated as heroes, (etc.), how opinions of others are distorted, how argumentation is based on assertion and suppression of dissent, … Then there is the pushing of packages of ideas of various kinds, e.g. ESG and DIE, that would be rightfully viewed with great skepticism without massive propaganda efforts to back them.

    Certainly, the Left has been disturbingly successful at this game—and has been at it without interruption going back at least to the days Lenin (likely, much further), with later variations including Feminism, CRT, Post-Colonialism, whatnot. Look e.g. at Germany, where the mostly harmless (and in some aspects more-sensible-than-the-old-parties) AfD is constantly vilified, while the far-Left re-branded SED shares governmental power in several states, the often outright loony “Greens” are seen as a perfectly legitimate choice, and the Social-Democrats, with their long outdated ideas, have spent more time in government than out of it since I moved here in 1997. The Swedish situation is similar, and even allegedly non-Leftist parties officially subscribe to Gender-Feminist rhetoric about “Patriarchy”, poor-oppressed-women, and we-still-have-along-way-to-go-before-we-have-equality-for-women, which is not just factually incorrect but often claims disadvantages for women where they actually have advantages relative men.

    A particularly distressing example is the recent transmania,* where, over just a few years, correct use of pronouns was turned into “hate speech” and “violence”, where words like “man” and “woman” were stolen and given meanings incompatible with the real meanings (and deviations from these false meanings are condemned), etc. Also see a later item on language perversion.

    *Note that I here speak of attitudes, use of words, etc. For instance, I do not automatically have objections to someone saying that he (!) has a woman’s mind caught in a man’s body—but I do object when he tries to appropriate words like “she” and “woman” to describe himself. As to the underlying situation, I am open to the existence of very genuine such cases, but, looking at the historical record vs. recent numbers, it is extremely likely that these cases are very, very rare and that most of the current claimants are variously misinterpreting unhappiness or an identity crisis, being pushed by others into being something that they are not, posing for personal gain, mentally ill, or otherwise not true cases.

    Of course, the shifts often lead to even previously orthodox and accepted Leftists finding themselves outside the Overton window, e.g. because they are still Feminists instead of “Transgenderists”.

    Indeed, one might speculate that parts of the Left are deliberately trying to “over-shift” the window. The exact motivations for this are unclear to me, but it might have elements of “killing the competition”, of creating a buffer to prevent a later backlash from restoring the status quo ante, and/or to increase the rifts between the “true believers” and the “heretics”. (Note the extremely strong aspect of “us vs. them” thinking in most Leftist ideologies.) Another possibility is an attempt to push the absurd and see who does or does not remain compliant.*

    *As some have speculated concerning transmania and others concerning parts of the COVID-countermeasure era, e.g. with regard to mask wearing, often drawing on Zhao Gao’s loyalty test, which involved calling a deer a horse, noting who agreed and who disagreed, and subsequently executing those who disagreed.

  5. Moreover, the Left is very keen on narrowing windows, and has a long history of allowing less dissent and variation of thought within the Left* than the non-Left, m.m., does.

    *More accurately, maybe, within the party, sect, ideological branch, whatnot of the Left at hand. That Leftist groups, each proclaiming to be the true this-or-that, are more keen on fighting each other than the non-Left has repeatedly happened in the past, as with e.g. Communists, Nazis, and Social-Democrats in Weimar Germany, or Stalinists and Trotskyists in the USSR.

  6. While the legitimacy of Overton windows might be up for debate (cf. excursion), as might the legitimacy of manipulating them, we have a potentially tragic situation in that members of the non-Left do not spend enough time resisting shifts and, maybe more importantly, attempting shifts of their own, as many Leftist ideas are truly vile, destructive, or factually disproved. There is a battle for the metaphorical soul of the world—and the devil is winning.

    To paraphrase another Reagan-ism: Elections are won between the election days—not on them. Exactly the implied continual pushing and explaining of facts, ideas, arguments, and counter-arguments is something that, for instance, the current U.S. Republicans fail at. (Be it with an eye at Overton windows or for more general purposes.) The Democrats and other parts of the U.S. Left spend every day of the election cycle pushing their propaganda, be it in the press, in schools, in college, on entertainment TV, … The Republicans do not.

    This is a particular shame as non-Leftist ideas tend to hold up much better to scrutiny than Leftist—merely by ensuring sufficient scrutiny, things might change. Similarly, things might be much better merely by ensuring that the voters see the ideas of the Republicans* as they actually are, instead of how the Democrats* distort and misrepresent them.

    *Resp. the local equivalent.

  7. Strictly speaking outside the Left vs. non-Left issue, but dominated by the Left, we have many good examples around COVID, e.g. that previously mainstream approaches and “conventional wisdom” of the medical communities were declared anathema—and became intolerable within days or weeks. Note, in particular, how hard the push was to discredit those who dissented, those who listened to and passed on the actual science, those who dared to think for themselves, even those who merely argued for restraint and wanted more information.

    (Similar, if less extreme, remarks apply to e.g. the war in the Ukraine and global warming.)

    To quote myself in a call for a reckoning:

    There should be a reckoning already because of the evil, maliciousness, and incompetence shown by so many—but that point is secondary to preventing repetitions. There must be a reckoning so that this does not happen again!

    A very important part of this reckoning and this prevention of repetition is to give pause to the evildoers, that those who attempt to perform such shifts of the Overton window for nefarious purposes see that their actions have consequences—regardless of whether the issue at hand is medical or something else. Ditto, that those who might merely be misguided show some restraint in the knowledge that an error of judgment will not just hurt others, but might actually have consequences for the misguided, themselves.

  8. Particularly perfidious can be the area of language. In addition to the already mentioned issues around words like “man”/“woman”, “he”/“she”, note [2] and how many words/symbols/whatnot have gone from generally accepted, harmless, and/or without any particular ideological or other loading to, on the instigation of the Left, signify “hate”, “racism”, or similar; how certain heavily loaded words have been (mis-)applied to new areas/groups/whatnot, “Fascist”* being a recurring favorite and “White Supremacy” a recent trend, including the absurd condemnation of e.g. logic as “White Supremacy”; how the word “racist”, itself, is undergoing an attempt at redefinition to ensure that no-one Black can ever be racist and that all Whites automatically are;** how positive words like “equality” and “justice” are perverted to fit a Leftist agenda, which often results in the opposite according to the words’ true meaning;*** etc.

    *To the point that the Leftist definition of “Fascist” might be “someone who is too far from us ideologically, no matter his opinions or methods” and where that “far” is not very far. Note e.g. Stalin vs. the “Fascist” Trotsky or the Communists vs. the “Social-Fascist” Social-Democrats.

    **Most notably by detaching it from its true and established meaning and making it more a matter of being in power (combined with claims of pro-White/anti-Black “Systemic Racism”, which, while faulty, are believed by many of the gullible).

    ***For instance, “equality” in Leftist parlance typically implies “equality of outcome”, which is fundamentally incompatible with true equality, which is “equality of opportunity”. Similarly, Leftist “justice” typically implies “social justice”, which, in at least its current incarnation, is usually nothing more than a code phrase for “equality of outcome”, “I ‘deserve’—so give me!”, or similar—which, when implemented, often results in great injustices.

Excursion on legitimate* Overton windows:
Interesting questions include whether there are ideas that are truly illegitimate and, if so, whether Overton windows that exclude such ideas (and no others) can be considered legitimate. These are tricky questions and I will not attempt an answer for now. I will state, however: (a) There are ideas that I, myself, find abhorrent and that puzzle me when they occur in someone else. (b) It can be hard to determine, especially in advance, what ideas are “wrong” in some deeper sense and what merely feel “wrong” because of newness, unexpectedness, contrariness to established norms, or similar. (c) Many ideas are factually wrong, but even here some care must be taken, as even e.g. a near scientific consensus can on rare occasions be overturned. Moreover, factual incorrectness does not imply e.g. a moral wrong. (d) Even ideas that are factually wrong, abhorrent, whatnot might have value within a thought experiment or some similar setting, and it is all too easy to forbid thought experiments together with more practical applications. (e) If some Overton windows are justly considered legitimate, chances are that others will follow with less justification. (f) I reject the notion that ideas (areas of research, whatnot) should be banned because we might not like what we find or because others might come to different conclusions than we did.

*In the sense of their existence being something worthy; as opposed to their existence having been empirically observed.

Excursion on the effects of censorship and echo chambers:
In my long dealings with censorship (cf. especially many older texts), I have had an implicit main focus on how censorship prevents others from seeing the arguments and counter-arguments of “the other side”, how it enables liars to get away with their lies and how it prevents truth-seekers from forming their own opinions, etc. With hindsight, the effect on Overton windows might be even more important—if the masses only ever see one side of an issue, then this can shift and/or narrow the Overton window regarding that issue. The same applies to echo chambers, both in that they can arise more easily in the presence of censorship and in that they can shift Overton windows.


Written by michaeleriksson

November 27, 2022 at 7:40 am

Who are really the enlightened ones?

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In the spirit of some earlier texts,* it might be time to ask who is truly enlightened and who is not. Leftists very often have the attitude that “We are enlightened! You others are just rubes and deplorables!”, and occasionally speak explicitly in terms of “enlightenment” and/or try to draw a connection between themselves and the old thinkers of the enlightenment era. Based on what I have seen of the Left, this borders on the laughable, as the Left is marinated in anti-enlightenment attitudes, and is often directly antithetical to enlightenment through its rejection, distortion, and/or abuse of independent and critical** thought, science, and education. Ditto the way that it often prioritizes feelings over reason, narrative over truth, “lived experience” over fact, whatnot. Ditto the way that it replaces argumentation with sloganeering or derogatory labels, to the point that (true) reason and science might be condemned as “White Supremacy”.***

*At least, [1] and [2].

**How can critical thought be distorted or abused? For instance, by replacing it with various misleadingly named Marxist thought-frameworks, by equating critical thought with “thought that criticizes the Western world [Capitalism, Whiteness, whatnot]”, and similar.

***And note how perfidious that accusation, as well as the similar “Dead White Man”, can be: Kant is just another “White Supremacist” / “Dead White Man”, so any and all of his opinions are null and void.

The concept of enlightenment* tends to be differently understood by different persons, but a natural source for a definition and an understanding is Kant, who wrote the famous “Was ist Aufklärung?” (“What is Enlightenment?”), which is considered a seminal work of the burgeoning enlightenment. As this essay is somewhat lengthy, selective quoting is necessary, and chances are that I have, below, left out a few passages worthy of inclusion even in this limited context. However, to look at some portions:**

*To boot, there might be room to differ between “enlightenment” (as a general concept) and “Enlightenment” (referring specifically to the era of the same name and the specific ideas of that era). As the concepts are overlapping, as the Left can make claims about either, and as the claims tend to border on the laughable in both cases, I will not make the distinction; however, by using Kant’s text as the reference, my own text naturally deals more with the “E”-version. (For two “e”-examples, consider an out-of-touch-with-reality New Ager who proclaims herself enlightened after brief exposure to a Westernized and commercialized version of some Eastern philosophy, and someone ignorant who is told of and embraces some Leftist orthodox thought and now sees herself as set apart from the, often much better informed, “rubes and deplorables”.)

**See a below note for sources of original and translation, as well as various remarks on the text treatment.

Aufklärung ist der Ausgang des Menschen aus seiner selbst verschuldeten Unmündigkeit. Unmündigkeit ist das Unvermögen, sich seines Verstandes ohne Leitung eines anderen zu bedienen. Selbstverschuldet ist diese Unmündigkeit, wenn die Ursache derselben nicht am Mangel des Verstandes, sondern der Entschließung und des Muthes liegt, sich seiner ohne Leitung eines andern zu bedienen.

Enlightenment is man’s release from his self-incurred tutelage. Tutelage is man’s inability to make use of his understanding without direction from another. Self-incurred is this tutelage when its cause lies not in lack of reason but in lack of resolution and courage to use it without direction from another.

If we look at typical Leftist behaviors and attitudes, as well as the attitudes of e.g. many COVID-fanatics, one of the most common problems is their refusal to think for themselves. In contrast, members of the non-Left typically try to do just that—and the willingness to think, to think critically, to question authorities,* etc. is one of their greatest sources of conflict with the Left.

*Many Leftist do question certain authorities, but not because they think for themselves—much more often, it seems, they rely on some other authority as a source of opinion, and question because the “heretical” authorities do not agree with the “orthodox” one.

This is insofar unsurprising, as the Leftist worldview tends to collapse when exposed to the scrutiny of critical thinking, comparisons between claims and reality, and whatnot. However, the underlying issue is larger, namely one of attitude to the world, to knowledge, to the claims of others. By no means do all non-Leftists think for themselves, but the vast majority of those who think for themselves appear to be non-Leftists.* Leftism is, to a high degree about conformance to the ideas of the Group or the Leader—I have chosen to be an X; ergo, I believe everything that an X should believe. Non-Leftists tend to be the other way around—I share many opinions with the Xs; which might or might not make me an X.

*No, being told by a crazy teenage girl that the world is about to boil, or by some racist Black hate-monger that Whites are to blame for everything wrong in this world (including any boiling), and just adopting these opinions, is not to “think for oneself”—not even if some parent, teacher, or other authority figure happens to disagree. To think for oneself involves a critical examination of such claims, preferably with a juxtaposition with claims by others. This critical examination might lead to agreement or disagreement, but the mere agreement-through-adoption that is so common on the Left, among the young, among women, and among weak thinkers, is simply not on the table.

Sapere aude! Habe Muth dich deines eigenen Verstandes zu bedienen! ist also der Wahlspruch der Aufklärung.

Sapere aude! “Have courage to use your own reason!” – that is the motto of enlightenment.

But the Left is not only the other way around, it actually actively tries to suppress attempts by others to follow this motto. (Ditto e.g. COVID-fanatics, which I will mostly leave unmentioned through the rest of this text, except to note the strong overlap between the two groups.) Herein might a part of the problem be: in light of risks like poor grades, firings, public condemnation, cancellation, or whatever might apply to the individual at hand, more courage is required than without them, which makes the sufficiently courageous fewer, which leads to less enlightenment.

Es ist so bequem, unmündig zu sein. Habe ich ein Buch, das für mich Verstand hat, einen Seelsorger, der für mich Gewissen hat, einen Arzt der für mich die Diät beurtheilt, u. s. w. so brauche ich mich ja nicht selbst zu bemühen.

It is so easy not to be of age. If I have a book which understands for me, a pastor who has a conscience for me, a physician who decides my diet, and so forth, I need not trouble myself.

Replace the this-and-that with e.g. some politician, college professor, or (still) book who/which provides ready-made opinions, proclaims what is right and wrong, classifies others into “good” and “evil”, etc. and the Left is very similar—except that it does not just seem to be a matter of convenience but of borderline religious belief in a certain type of authority. The example of a physician has an interesting modern angle, namely that of “informed consent”: Someone who is told to eat a certain diet by a physician, or, more relevant to “informed consent”, to have a certain operation, and just blindly obeys, behaves quite similarly to many Leftists. Indeed, as I have mentioned on some earlier occasion(s), I would be much in favor of the concept of “informed consent” being formally introduced into e.g. the citizen–state relationship.

Daß der bei weitem größte Theil der Menschen (darunter das ganze schöne Geschlecht) den Schritt zur Mündigkeit, außer dem daß er beschwerlich ist, auch für sehr gefährlich halte: dafür sorgen schon jene Vormünder, die die Oberaufsicht über sie gütigst auf sich genommen haben.

That the step to competence is held to be very dangerous by the far greater portion of mankind (and by the entire fair sex) – quite apart from its being arduous is seen to by those guardians who have so kindly assumed superintendence over them.

Here the translation is so hard to understand, even compared to the original, that I must suggest an alternative. While I draw strongly on the first translation, I stick more closely to the structure of the German original and believe the result to be clearer.

That the by far largest part of humanity (including the entire fair sex) considers the step to [competence*] not only [arduous**] but also very dangerous, that is ensured by the [guardians***], who have [kindly****] assumed superintendence over them.

*While “competence” is not wrong, it might be misleading without the right context. The underlying German word (“Mündigkeit”) is focused on meanings relating to e.g. “[age of] majority” and “emancipation”, which might apply to the legal sense of “competence”, but not to most everyday uses, which tend to focus on having the right skills, knowledge, and whatnot. Also note that the original contains a contrast between “Mündigkeit” and “Unmündigkeit”, where the translation now has “competence” and “tutelage”. (Generally, the translation lacks consistency in how variations of these words are handled.) The implication of “Mündigkeit”, in this context, is then to have removed oneself from the state of “Unmündigkeit” (as described in the first quote). A similar juxtaposition in English could involve “competence” and “incompetence”, with reservations for the above remark on meanings.

**Wiktionary suggests “onerous” and “burdensome” for “beschwerlich”, which seem closer to the mark to me.

***In a sense more close to “legal guardian [of e.g. a child]” than to “guardian angel”, “guard”, whatnot. (In modern German there is often an additional drift to reduce the “caretaker” aspect in favor of the “decision maker” aspect, often with an implication of presumptuousness or of nannying someone, but this need not have been the case back then.)

****The German formulation seems more obviously ironic than the translation. The thinly veiled intent is then not so much “kindly” as “in a pretend-kind or unkind manner, while seeing to their own interests” (or similar).

Alternatively, to paraphrase the gist: “The powers-that-be deliberately make it seem dangerous to think for oneself.” Note how well this fits in with e.g. the modern fear of cancellation and whatnot, as discussed above.

The main issue here is not Leftism, but the pseudo-elite of politicians and other government-related powerful persons.* It is interesting, however, that Kant explicit calls out the entirety of womanhood. This might be an exaggeration, but not a large one, going by my own observations. Even nominally highly intelligent and nominally highly educated women tend to be very keen on authority figures, weak at critical thinking (or unwilling to apply it), even weaker at creating new knowledge, etc.—and women disproportionally tend to go Left.

*While I suspect that the pseudo-elite is majority-Left by now and in e.g. the U.S., it is far from a Leftist monopoly, and the situation in other countries or at other times might involve a Leftist minority.

Daß aber ein Publikum sich selbst aufkläre, ist eher möglich; ja es ist, wenn man ihm nur Freiheit läßt, beinahe unausbleiblich.

But that the public should enlighten itself is more possible; indeed, if only freedom is granted enlightenment is almost sure to follow.

Which might be why the Left is so keen on suppressing freedom.

Ich antworte: der öffentliche Gebrauch seiner Vernunft muß jederzeit frei sein, und der allein kann Aufklärung unter Menschen zu Stande bringen; der Privatgebrauch derselben aber darf öfters sehr enge eingeschränkt sein, ohne doch darum den Fortschritt der Aufklärung sonderlich zu hindern.

I answer: The public use of one’s reason must always be free, and it alone can bring about enlightenment among men. The private use of reason, on the other hand, may often be very narrowly restricted without particularly hindering the progress of enlightenment.

But the Left is very actively trying to prevent exactly the public use, e.g. in that someone, even someone highly qualified and intelligent, an expert in the field at hand, makes a statement contrary to the Leftist orthodoxy—and a cancellation follows. Indeed, as in [3], some have been fired over opinions expressed through public use by their spouses!

Der Bürger kann sich nicht weigern, die ihm auferlegten Abgaben zu leisten; sogar kann ein vorwitziger Tadel solcher Auflagen, wenn sie von ihm geleistet werden sollen, als ein Skandal (das allgemeine Widersetzlichkeiten veranlassen könnte) bestraft werden. Eben derselbe handelt demohngeachtet der Pflicht eines Bürgers nicht entgegen, wenn er, als Gelehrter, wider die Unschiklichkeit oder auch Ungerechtigkeit solcher Ausschreibungen öffentlich seine Gedanken äußert.

The citizen cannot refuse to pay the taxes imposed on him; indeed, an impudent complaint at those levied on him can be punished as a scandal (as it could occasion general refractoriness). But the same person nevertheless does not act contrary to his duty as a citizen, when, as a scholar, he publicly expresses his thoughts on the inappropriateness or even the injustices of these levies[.]

But exactly the second sentence is something that the Left tries to prevent: if it has been Ordained that X, then X—and may disagreers burn at the stake. Speak up about this—racist! Speak up about that—sexist! Speak up about some third—climate denier! Speak up about some fourth—COVIDiot!*

*Incidentally a slur that would have made much more sense if applied to the COVID-fanatics, themselves, as they have so often taken an idiot’s approach to COVID. As an etymological aside, the Greek root of the word “idiot” appears to have aspects of separation from others or from public life, which could additionally make those in favor of isolation, non-contact, keep-your-distance, glass walls between customer and cashier, etc. more “etymologically idiotic” than those who recommend to let life go on as before.

In all fairness, I cannot deny that I to a large part disagree with Kant concerning the first sentence, in as far as he makes a statement about what is an ethical, rather than just a legal, “must” or “must not”.

Ein solcher Kontrakt, der auf immer alle weitere Aufklärung vom Menschengeschlechte abzuhalten geschlossen würde, ist schlechterdings null und nichtig; und sollte er auch durch die oberste Gewalt, durch Reichstäge und die feierlichsten Friedensschlüsse bestätigt sein. Ein Zeitalter kann sich nicht verbünden und darauf verschwören, das folgende in einen Zustand zu setzen, darin es ihm unmöglich werden muß, seine (vornehmlich so sehr angelegentliche) Erkenntnisse zu erweitern, von Irrthümern zu reinigen, und überhaupt in der Aufklärung weiter zu schreiten.

Such contract, made to shut off all further enlightenment from the human race, is absolutely null and void even if confirmed by the supreme power, by parliaments, and by the most ceremonious of peace treaties. An age cannot bind itself and ordain to put the succeeding one into such a condition that it cannot extend its (at best very occasional) knowledge, purify itself of errors, and progress in general enlightenment.

With reservations for what lengths of time are intended, this applies strongly to the Left, which often tries to set a fix “truth” that must never be questioned, put to scientific scrutiny, or whatnot. Consider e.g. how there is a virtual (implemented or intended-by-the-Left) ban on research into certain topics around e.g. I.Q., genetics, and HBD, as such research almost invariably reveals how faulty the Leftist worldview is in that regard, most notably when it comes to the long disproved idea of “nurture only”.

Note the contrast to e.g. the U.S. Constitution and the Originalist mindset:* The point is not that the Constitution would be beyond reproach or a document binding for all times. Rather, the point is that there is a certain procedure for altering the Constitution by amendment within a democratic framework, and that it is not up to the individual judges/justices (or, m.m., e.g. the POTUS and Congress) to put themselves above the Constitution as it currently stands, to take it upon themselves to implement by fiat what should be implemented by amendment, to make their own individual voices count over the democratic will of the people, etc.

*I bring the topic up to preempt a predictable Leftist claim of “But this is exactly what those Dead White Men and Clarence Thomas are doing!”, a misleading comparison with the Canadian “living constitution”, whatnot. (The phrase “living constitution” is a misnomer, as the actual implication is that the constitution is dead—it is nothing more than a tool for a judge to bend and twist to fit his own ideas.)

Wenn denn nun gefragt wird: Leben wir jetzt in einem aufgeklärten Zeitalter? so ist die Antwort: Nein, aber wohl in einem Zeitalter der Aufklärung*.

If we are asked, “Do we now live in an enlightened age?” the answer is, “No,” but we do live in an age of enlightenment*.

*Here “Aufklärung” has a strong natural aspect of something changing, a process of increasing enlightenment. With the English “enlightenment”, on the other hand, this aspect of change seems much weaker to me, and I would naturally see the word as referring more to a stage or level. (Hence, “increasing enlightenment” two sentences ago.) As the translation stands, it seems to miss the point—that “we” might not yet be enlightened, but “we” are progressing towards enlightenment. (It might similarly be argued that the German “Zeit der Aufklärung” implies a move towards enlightenment, while the English “Age of Enlightenment” implies that enlightenment was already reached.)

Today, we live in an unenlightened age. Moreover, we do live in an age of progressive [note double meaning] unenlightenment. Society is increasingly shifting away from the ideals of enlightenment, reason, science, whatnot, and the reason is to a very large part the Left and its auxiliaries (notably, Post-Modernists).

Ich habe den Hauptpunkt der Aufklärung, die des Ausganges der Menschen aus ihrer selbst verschuldeten Unmündigkeit, vorzüglich in Religionssachen gesetzt: weil in Ansehung der Künste und Wissenschaften unsere Beherrscher kein Interesse haben, den Vormund über ihre Unterthanen zu spielen;

I have placed the main point of enlightenment – the escape of men from their self-incurred tutelage – chiefly in matters of religion because our rulers have no interest in playing guardian with respect to the arts and sciences[;]

This has changed entirely, mainly because the Left very definitely tries to control science and at least, and to some degree, those arts capable of bringing a message. Religion, from a Leftist point of view, is viewed solely as a superstition,* but various Leftist teachings have developed into virtual religions in their own right.

*One of the few points where the Left and I have common ground.

Notes on sources and text treatment:
I draw on Wikisource for both the original and the translation, see [4] and [5], respectively. In both cases, some formatting might have been lost or changed for reasons like copy-and-paste. The translation is in the public domain in the U.S., but need not be so worldwide (cf. note at the end of [5]).

I base my own text on the German version, but, for ease of reference, I use words from the translation when discussing the text.

I had originally intended to just map the translation to the original without verifying its quality or correctness. The translation repeatedly struck me as odd, however, including in terms of English grammar and style,* and I have addressed this on some few occasions. (However, by no means on all occasions where it might have been called for.)

*In all fairness, the original is tricky too, in part due to Kant’s complex style of writing, in part due to changes in Standard-German since the 18th century.

Excursion on Kant’s definition:
Note that the definition used by Kant does not imply e.g. a state of being particularly insightful (or knowledgeable, wise, intelligent, whatnot). The key is the willingness to think for oneself.

Here I would partially disagree: on the one hand, for agreement, it is hard to see how anyone who does not think for himself could be considered enlightened and the condition is necessary; on the other, for disagreement, I find it unduly optimistic to see this as a sufficient condition. It is true that those who think for themselves tend to become more insightful than others, but the process is not automatic and not from one moment to another.* From my point of view, then, we can conclude that someone who does not think for himself is not enlightened, but not that someone who does think for himself is enlightened.

*Proof-reading, I also find that I might have fallen into the trap of “Aufklärung” as a process vs. “enlightenment” as a state (cf. an above footnote)—a distinction that only occurred to me during the writing of this text. My point is lessened, but not eliminated, if we take a process view and note that the true state is only found at the end of the process.

It might be argued that Kant was specifying a technical term, for which everyday associations do not necessarily apply, but he would then have been better off to suggest something like “intellektuelle Mündigkeit” or “geistige Mündigkeit” (which might have appeared as “intellectual competence” in the translation). Then again, he wrote the text as a response to a call for an answer to the question of what Aufklärung was.

Written by michaeleriksson

November 12, 2022 at 7:42 pm

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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:


(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 “[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

Nazis IXb: The 25-point plan (Germany’s position)

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(Please see Nazis IXa for context.)

1. Wir fordern den Zusammenschluß aller Deutschen auf Grund des Selbstbestimmungsrechtes der Völker zu einem Groß-Deutschland.

(We demand the union of all Germans to form the Greater Germany on the basis of the people’s right to self-determination enjoyed by the nations.)

This is a demand in the extended nationalist family—and nationalist in an older sense of nation as a racially and/or ethnically tied people, not the, today, more common sense of the state, the citizens of the state, or similar. (Indeed, the used translation sometimes has “nation” for “Volk”, where current standard English might prefer “people”.) Also note the decades long prior debate concerning a “Greater Germany” vs. a “Lesser Germany”,* which transcended or preceded the Left–Right division (at least in even remotely modern terms).

*To some approximation, the question of whether the German “Reich” should be restricted to the then Prussian-dominated/non-Austrian parts, which today, minus war-losses, see a continuation in (the Federal Republic of) Germany, with an independent Austria; or whether the Austrian and Prussian spheres should be joined together.

2. Wir fordern die Gleichberechtigung des deutschen Volkes gegenüber den anderen Nationen, Aufhebung der Friedensverträge von Versailles und St. Germain.

(We demand equality of rights for the German people in its dealings with other nations; and abolition of the peace treaties of Versailles and St. Germain.)

This might fall short even of the nationalist mark, as it reflected very common opinions, as it could be seen as a general question of international fairness, and as the peace treaties were unusually harsh.

Indeed, assuming that the “abolition”/“Aufhebung” was mutually consensual, this is an item that I likely would have strongly supported myself.

This item, and some further items, might be seen as indirectly Leftist through an implicit oppressor–oppressed angle. (Here, that “we poor Germans have been mistreated and oppressed by the WWI victors”.) This is, of course, a staple of (at least) Marxist propaganda and thought.* A more general “us vs. them” or “the noble forces of good vs. enemies of all that is good” angle is also repeatedly present, often with an eye at the Jews as the enemy.** This angle could be seen as Leftist, but is not as strongly so as oppressor–oppressed is, and many of the Leftist cases overlap with oppressor–oppressed. (I will not comment on these angles in the continuation, but I do note that such sentiments were of great use to the Nazis on their way to power.)

*This, especially, when the claims of oppression are supported only weakly by the facts of the matter or when the claims only tell half the story.

**Where “repeatedly” and “often” might be understatments, depending on matters of interpretation. Note that the Nazis tended to build enemy images that were overlapping and conflated, e.g. of Marxism as Jewish or of Jewish bankers. This, however, did not necessarily reflect honest opinions, as Hitler suggested joining different enemies together into one in propaganda (cf. [1]).

3. Wir fordern Land und Boden (Kolonien) zur Ernährung unseres Volkes und Ansiedlung unseres Bevölkerungsüberschusses.

(We demand land and territory (colonies) for the sustenance of our people and colonization for our superfluous population.)

Nationalist. Note that Germany had a less successful colonial history than many other European countries and that the taking of colonies was only slowly growing to be seen as wrong at the time and in other countries, e.g. the U.K. An interesting paradox in Nazi reasoning is the clamour for more land for the people and the “go forth and multiply” attitude that the Nazis tried to instill in the same people.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 18, 2022 at 11:56 pm

Nazis IXa: The 25-point plan (introduction and preliminaries)

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Preamble: This intended ninth text has grown so long that I see myself forced to divide it into smaller parts. The overall text is basically completed, but I will combine the division with some restructuring and some minor corrections due to the version issue discussed below. In addition, renewed proof-reading is necessary to try to find problems like in-document references (e.g. “above”, “below”) that must be turned into between-document references. As a consequence, the other parts will be published by-and-by.

In a first step of more extensive analysis, I will go through the Nazis “25-point plan”. This in part, because this plan has the advantage of being an official Nazi document of great influence for both the party’s early development and its early public perception; indeed, it is referred to as “The National Socialist Program” and “party program” resp. “Parteiprogramm” on English resp. German Wikipedia. As an official program, it to some degree insulates me from both own subjectivity and accusations* of subjectivity as to what ideas are or are not Nazi.

*To which I note that my experiences with Leftist debate methods make me less than optimistic about the quality of any answers that might come over time. Cheap attempts to discredit someone or something based on distortion, e.g., appear far more common than actual and factual debate. (Please, prove me too pessimistic!)

On the downside, the plan was published in 1920, when the NSDAP was still comparatively young, and a drift between official program and actual politics, over time, was virtually unavoidable. (Notably, the influence of Gottfried Feder, cf. an excursion in a later part, seems to have diminished considerably over the years.) However, it appears to have remained as a more or less official party program long after 1920.

Another complication is that it is highly eclectic and that some items might be more geared at gaining support on a “something for everyone” basis than at describing what the NSDAP truly wanted to achieve.*

*I have indeed repeatedly seen Leftist debaters claim that anything and everything Leftist-seeming around the Nazis would be purely to gain public support, while anything and everything non-Leftist would be the “true” ideology/priorities/whatnot. I have yet to see convincing proof offered and I would advice great caution here. Note, in particular, how much of the Leftist self-image, worldview, and propaganda hinges on the Nazis being “Right-wing” and, preferably, everything “far Right” or even “Right-wing” being Nazi (Fascist, or similar). Also cf. below.

To give a spoiler, most of the items (“points”) seem to be either Leftist, outright irrelevant for a Left–Right comparison, or only relevant if one postulates that everything nationalist, racist, whatnot is automatically Right-wing. (In the continuation, I will usually use “nationalist” as an inclusive convenience term for the last group.) The latter seems to be the main Leftist argument around the Nazis (and later nationalist groups), and one swallowed by much of the non-Left; however, I see it as fundamentally flawed. As discussed in earlier entries,* there is no particular reason why nationalism should be seen as proof of being “Right-wing” and opposition to it as proof of being “Left-wing”—unless a circular argument based on the Nazis being defined as Right-wing and being the most noteworthy nationalist group is used. (“The Nazi were Right-wing because they were nationalist. Nationalists are Right-wing because the Nazis were nationalists.” or similar.**)

*I also point to an older text on Identity politics and contradictions in Leftist thought and how the difference between e.g. nationalism and Leftist identity politics can be superficial. More generally, seeing someone as a rival/opponent/enemy/whatnot based on e.g. nationality or descent differs little from doing so based on e.g. class or sex.

**Similar mixtures of circular reasoning and guilt by association seem to be common on the Left. For instance, I have seen argumentation that amounted to “Researchers X, Y, and Z are racist. How do we know that they are racist? Well, they accepted money from the racist Pioneer Fund, which only a racist researcher would ever do. How do we know that the Pioneer Fund is racist? Well, they give money to racist researchers like X, Y, and Z, which only a racist organization would ever do.”.

From another point of view, I might characterize the Leftist approach to the Nazis as “Take ‘National Socialist’. Ignore the ‘Socialist’ part, because we (or our allies) are Socialist and they are our enemies, so they cannot be Socialist. (Or, if they are, we must never, ever admit it.) Define everything Nationalist* to be Right-wing. Now conclude that the Nazis were Right-wing.” In contrast, I offer that Nationalism is mostly or entirely irrelevant to the Left–Right classification, while the “Socialist” part actually is both true and relevant.** Implication: The Nazis were Left-wing.

*The more unfortunate as “National” is best seen as a modifier of “Socialist”, i.e. “Socialist of a specific type that we call ‘National Socialist’ to avoid confusion with other types of Socialists, especially of the Marxist persuasion, but where e.g. ‘Hitler Socialist’ would have done just as well”. (Nevertheless, the Nazis were most definitely nationalist too.)

**More specifically, that the non-Nationalist parts of the Nazi program tended strongly Left-wards. The more specific claim of Socialism is likely to hold, but I have not done a sufficiently detailed comparison to say for certain.

Beginning with “Nazis IXb”, I will give (almost all of) a German text of the 25-point plan, complemented with a translation from English Wikipedia and some own translations for parts not present in the English version.*

*Neither Wikipedia page includes the German text, but the source actually used was found on the German one.

I caution that there might be some inconsistency in versions between the German and English texts. Unfortunately, I only discovered this during proofreading,*/** and I have not made an attempt to e.g. find more compatible versions or make detailed comparisons between the German and English versions. I did spot a number of differences/oddities during my original work, but assumed that this was the result of a poor translation (and I fully acknowledge that making a good translation can be very hard). In some cases I have commented on this, especially when it was relevant to my discussion; in some, I have not. The differences, however, appear to be small, detail related, and unlikely to distort the big-picture understanding for the non-German speaker. (The German speaker should, of course, prefer the German version to begin with.) The nature of this inconsistency is unclear, e.g. whether the NSDAP made minor changes between a 1920 original and a 1930 revision, whether later publishers have slightly distorted the text, or whether one or both of my immediate sources have made mistakes (if so, the translation is the likelier suspect).

*Yes, I should have been more cautious, especially in light of Hitler’s 1930 extension, which was present in the one but not the other. (I assumed that this had just been tagged on to an otherwise unaltered original text, which, with hindsight, was naive, even should it ultimately turn out to be correct.)

**Specifically, I encountered the issues mentioned (in later parts) in two footnotes on “[13]” resp. on a missing sentence.

The German text is, using the preferred citation format of the website, taken from “25-Punkte-Programm der Nationalsozialistischen Deutschen Arbeiterpartei (24.02.1920), in: documentArchiv.de [Hrsg.], URL: http://www.documentArchiv.de/wr/1920/nsdap-programm.html, Stand: aktuelles Datum.”. (Where “aktuelles Datum”, “current date”, likely is intended as the actual date. Due to a minor uncertainty about this intention and the complication of date formats, I keep the citation verbatim. The text, however, was retrieved on May 10th, 2022.)

I follow the original numbering and give, for each paragraph/item/whatnot, the German original, the English translation in brackets, and my comment (no brackets, in English). Some items have been divided into smaller units for easier discussion. Square brackets were present in the sources. Note that there are differences in e.g. formatting that I have not tried to make consistent, that some formatting has been lost through copy-and-paste, and that there might be issues arising from either version differences (cf. above) or a poor translation*. My comments base on the German original, except when I have drawn on the translation for a “second opinion” on the sometimes unclear intent. Note that someone with a deeper knowledge of the German society of 1920, or of differences in language/jargon between now and then, might interpret some items differently.** (Feedback is welcome.)

*But not as poor as might be assumed based just on the English. The original German is often quite awkward, and the translator appears to try to stick somewhat close to the original phrasings (which can lead to even more awkward English formulations). This makes for a harder reading and would be a poor choice for e.g. fiction, but has my support for texts of this kind, as it reduces the risk of both false impressions and accidental falsifications, even at the cost of awkwardness or ugliness. I usually take the same approach.

**I have made some mentions of issues with interpretation from 2022 in the later parts.

For reasons of time and effort, I am uncertain whether I will try to include other official or quasi-official documents, in addition to my upcoming own, more “free style”, overview. If I enter on the topic of “Mein Kampf”, it will be over some summary—I do not have the time, energy, and patience to read through that work in detail in the near future. Based on a prior partial* reading, however, I doubt that my Nazis-are-Leftists impression would be altered by revisiting “Mein Kampf”.

*I reached approximately the half-way mark and then I lost interest—it is not a good read. I did write a text dealing with Hitler on propaganda at the time.

Written by michaeleriksson

May 18, 2022 at 8:21 pm

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