Blake Cretney blake at condorcet.org
Fri Mar 29 10:21:53 PST 2002

Steve Barney wrote:

>First, I thank you for the reference to another book on Hitler' rise to power.
>I hope to get my hands on it. In the meantime, let me post a little excerpt
>from the booklet, the 31st in a series of "Public Policy Pamphlets" published
>by the University of Chicago Press, which I referred to in my previous message:
>  "Thus in 1919 PR merely prevented the development of a Social Democratic
>majority. Nevertheless, during this period the "Weimar Coalition" of Social
>Democrats, Democrats, and Center party had a large majority, and this coalition
>was organic enough to allow for a reasonable degree of government authority.
>This became different, however, in the second phone of the effects of PR,
>extending from 1920 to 1930, which may be called the period of "pluralistic
>stagnation." It was followed by a period of reaction against this stagnation,
>which assumed revolutionary proportions, and ended with the assumption of power
>by Hitler on January 30, 1933."
I think the argument here is that because governments were often weak 
and short lived, this encouraged the growth of fascism.  In fact, I 
think most of the governing problems of the Weimar republic were the 
result of other constitutional problems in addition to PR.  Most 
importantly, it was unwise to make it easy to defeat a Chancellor, 
without choosing a new one.  As well, the system of Presidential power 
was a mess.  Both these problems were corrected in postwar Germany, 
without the abandonment of PR.  They have not had this kind of unstable 
government since.

In fact, Germans were certainly more concerned about their economic and 
social conditions than with the details of how government was operating. 
 It is true that when people are unhappy many tend to blame the 
procedure of government, especially if it is new and unpopular.  But I 
think we are stuck with the fact that unless you believe that FPP would 
have resulted in a government that would have swept Germany's problems 
away, then dissatisfaction would have still existed.

>  "The second period was inaugurated by the elections to the first Reichstag,
>held under a PR system more proportional - and therefore more dangerous - than
>that of 1919. . . All that kept [Hitler's party] alive was its chance to obtain
>some measure of success in every election in which it participated. Otherwise
>it would probably have disbanded, and Hitler might have resumed the peaceful
>profession of painting houses."
Now he's just being silly.  Hitler's party was more like a cult than 
like the power-broker parties in many of todays democracies.  It's true 
that the Republicans or the Democrats are only held together by the 
expectation of winning elections, but does anyone think this is true of 
the Nazis?  The Nazis were carefully constructing an army of fanatics. 
 This happened to translate into increasing electoral success, which was 
instrumental in how they eventually achieved power.  But having an 
irregular army gave them power outside the electoral system as well.  

Hitler has contempt for normal political parties who see their job as 
actually winning seats.  The following quotes are from Mein Kempf  vol 
2: ch 5

"And if [political parties] should be pushed away from the general 
feeding crib by a somewhat brutal competing boarder, their thoughts and 
actions are directed solely, whether by force or trickery, toward 
pushing their way back to the front of the hungry herd and finally, even 
at the cost of their holy conviction, toward refreshing themselves at 
the beloved swill pail. Jackals of politics!"

Note that in the following Hitler is actually talking about a Nazi party 
member, not a soldier, although he sees little difference.

"What is necessary is that some few, really great ideas be made clear to 
him , and that the essential fundamental lines be burned 
inextinguishably into him, so that he is entirely permeated by the 
necessity of the victory of his movement and its doctrine."

He goes on in this vein for some time.  I chose this quote, not because 
it is more rabid than the surrounding text, but only because it is more 
concise.  Can anyone really believe that,

> All that kept [Hitler's party] alive was its chance to obtain
> some measure of success in every election in which it participated

Or that,

> Hitler might have resumed the peaceful
> profession of painting houses.

Blake Cretney (http://condorcet.org)

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