Sunday, January 31, 2016

The Nazi Party Before Adolf Hitler

"Hitler is a good Catholic." — Rudolf Hess, May 17, 1921

Adolf Hitler became "Party Comrade No. 55" in the fall of 1919 in the city of Munich in province of Bavaria in Germany. The Armistice that had ended World War I had been signed on November 11, 1918, while Hitler was in a hospital, recovering from poison gas used by the Allies against German soldiers. If you no anything about history at all, you probably know that Hitler went on to become the Chancellor of Germany and is generally considered the baddest of bad guys of the 20th century.

The party that Hitler joined, and quickly became the leader of, was not yet known as the Nazi Party. It was the German Workers Party (Deutsche Arbeiter Partei or DAP). At that time its members were all in Munich. The DAP was part of a broader trend of mostly small parties and clubs that were trying to combine nationalism with socialism. This trend was a spontaneous response to the combination of national sentiment with socialist thinking that was global in scope. The main line of development that led to the DAP originated in Austria, which was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire before the empire broke up at the end of World War I.

In Austria Roman Catholicism was the only legal religion. "In the face of the dual threat posed by socialism and capitalism, the Christian Social Party succeeded in attracting workers, shopkeepers, and white collar workers with national-social and anti-semitic catchphrases." [Bracher p. 51]

By origin Adolf Hitler was Austrian, not German. Yet the dividing line between Austria and Germany was an artificial consequence of politics. Adolf Hitler was born on April 20, 1889 in Braunau am Inn, on the Bavarian-Austrian border. The Austrian Empire had many ethnic groups, but the key rivalry that led to national socialist ideology was between ethnic Germans and ethnic Czechs. Despite the Marxist idea that class divisions were more important than ethnic divisions, within the Empire many labor unions ending up splitting along ethnic lines. Union workers wanted a party that fought the capitalist bosses, but they did not want to work with other ethnic groups.

The Roman Catholic Church contributed three critical components to the national socialist mix: anti-Semitism, the leadership principle, and corporatism. It should be noted that is was not the only source of these practices. Leninism, in particular, contributed strongly to the idea that an authoritarian party organization was necessary to seize power.

People and ideas moved freely from the German ethnic areas of the Austrian Empire to Bavaria. The first German Workers Party had been founded in Bohemia in 1904, but was centered in Linz, where Adolf Hitler went to school. As a young adult Hitler lived in Vienna (painting postcards but mostly living off money sent by his family) and read pamphlets written by German nationalist-socialist and Catholic anti-semitic groups, but did not join any.

The Bavarian version of the German Workers Party, or DAP, was founded at a conference held between January 2 and 5, 1919, at the Furstenfelder Hof. The founders were Anton Drexler and twenty-five of his coworkers from his railroad shop. At the time Munich had just passed through an attempted seizure of power by leftists that had been put down by the German military, police, and their right-wing allies. The DAP was just one of many such groups and conspiracies.

Hitler was in the employ of the military when he first contacted the DAP. Essentially, he was their military liaison. He was 30 years old. He already was anti-semitic, a German nationalist, and anti-capitalist, though he had never been a worker receiving a wage from a capitalist boss. As an soldier he was angry at Germany's loss of the war. The signing of the peace treaty at Versailles on June 28, 1919 gave a strong impetus to all right-wing groups in Germany. It was grossly unfair to Germany and did not keep the promises U.S. President Woodrow Wilson made to induce Germany to stop fighting. [Wilson tried to keep his promises, but was overruled by the British and French Empires.]

Within a few months Hitler became the most important person in the DAP, mainly because he devoted himself to it full time, whereas Drexler continued to work at the railroad shop. Hitler focused his recruiting on former soldiers, rather than the factory workers the DAP had been founded on.

On February 24, 1920, the Party had its first mass meeting. There Hitler introduced a new name, the National Socialist German Workers Party, or NSDAP, which connected it ideologically to nationalist socialist groups in Austria. He also introduced the revised party program of 25 points.

When thinking about the Nazis and World War II, there is a critical point that is always left out of the American and Vatican propaganda versions of Nazi history. It is best to just quote the point, number 24: "The Party as such advocates the standpoint of positive Christianity without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination."

Apologists for the Catholic Church later tried to (and still try to) use the adjective "positive" to deny that the Nazi party, like the Italian, French, Austrian, Polish and Spanish fascist parties, was aligned with the Roman Catholic Church. Hitler, an astute politician, talked almost constantly. By selecting carefully, a propagandist can make him sound like an atheist, a good Roman Catholic, or a pagan.

It was ultimately the Pope and the German military that together selected Hitler to be Chancellor of Germany. The explicitly Roman Catholic parliamentary party in Germany confirmed that selection.

Hitler was not just the head of the National Socialists in Germany. The National Socialists of Austria quickly accepted him as their leader as well. The Austrian national socialists were almost exclusively good Roman Catholics. The Austrian Roman Catholic Church was particularly anti-semitic.

The most reasonable interpretation of the phrase "without binding itself confessionally to any one denomination" was to leave room to recruit Lutherans, not just Catholics. In Bavaria almost everyone (except leftist atheists) was a Catholic. But Hitler wanted to rule Germany, which was majority Lutheran. Not a particular problem for Hitler, since Lutherans had been anti-semitic going back to Martin Luther himself.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Immigration Amnesty is Racist, Sexist, Classist and destructive to the environment

There is a lot of talk about immigration right now. It is a teaching moment. Political candidates who want to be President are talking a lot of nonsense.

Start with the basic facts:

The U.S. is overpopulated and creates more ecological destruction per human than any other country on earth (yes, including China).

The economy can not be expanded infinitely.

There has been growing economic inequality.

Immigration amnesties lead to further illegal immigration.

Illegal immigrants mostly compete for the lowest paying jobs. Even legal immigrants tend to compete for entry level jobs, though some are wealthy or educated enough to join the upper class or upple middle class as soon as they get here.

Who else competes for the lowest paying jobs in America? High-school dropouts, and even graduates, of course. That means mainly children of people who themselves are marginally employed or work regularly, but for low wages. Working class and welfare class women. And, disproportionately, people who have traditionally been discriminated against, including African-Americans, American Indians, etc.

The people who advocate for immigration amnesty, and hence for unlimited future immigration to the U.S., are well-intended. They see it as a human rights issue.

And there are long-term benefits to immigration for the economy. More people means more demand and more workers, and so more GDP. Legalized immigrants can better match their talents to the job markets. That is why the Republican establishment used to lead in advocating for more immigration, including immigration amnesty. That is why the largest single amnesty was put in place in 1986 under President Ronald Reagan.

The immediate impact of new immigrants, whether legal or illegal, is pressure on those jobs that require little skill to perform. They are often hard jobs. This includes childcare, cleaning services, and unskilled physical labor. These are exactly the jobs that unskilled citizens, including poor white, black, and hispanic citizens also want. The competition for these jobs pushes down wages, often to below the official minimum wages. It makes finding full time work difficult, except perhaps during brief economic booms. It makes it even harder for families that have been in the United States for generations to accumulate the resources necessary to climb out of the bottom of the working class.

That is why labor unions, otherwise pretty liberal and supporters of the Democratic Party, have traditionally been for minimal immigration.

The effect on the U.S. and global environment is also negative. Most illegal immigrants come here because they are greedy and want to have a higher standard of living than they would have in their native nation. To the extent they achieve that they are using more energy and other natural resources. They are generating more greenhouse gasses, and they are speeding up global warming.

In an ideal world the idea that "all men are created equal" might mean that men and women could move freely, to live wherever they want. We don't live in an ideal world. We live on a dying earth where most nations are already populated beyond what is sustainable. That is particularly true of the United States.

What we really need is a one-child policy in the United States. Mexico needs a one-child policy. So does Canada. So does nearly every nation on earth.

So what is wrong with my dear liberal and leftist friends? They are mostly herd animals, and they are not much for thinking for themselves. They "buy" a package of positions on issues that make them feel good about themselves. They want an environmentalist merit badge and a human rights merit badge. On many issues those badges are quite compatible.

But not for immigration. Increasing immigration and anything that encourages illegal immigration are positions that have practical consquences. They help rich white employers and bankers. They hurt working class men and women, and disproportionately hurt black workers. And they hurt the environment.

Congress should change the immigration law to allow in a number of immigrants each year that will not have a negative impact on employment for unskilled citizens. Congress should not grant amnesty to illegal immigrants.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hillary Clinton v. Bernie Sanders: Who can put a chicken in your pot?

"A Chicken in Every Pot and a Car in every Garage?" [Herbert Hoover campaign, 1928]

The Republican Party candidate of 1928 had good intentions. Herbert Hoover was a mining engineer best known for organizing the civilian food relief efforts for Europe during and after World War I. He had a reputation for honesty, which was important given the scandal-ridden administrations of the Roaring Twenties.

His campaign slogan was "A chicken in every pot and a car in every garage." Cars were still somewhat new and many people did not own one. Having a meat dish once a week was also still beyond many American families. This was despite the generally upbeat economy of the 1920s.

We all know how that worked out. In 1929 Herbert became President Hoover, and late in 1929 the stock market crashed. Then the economy crashed. Then the banks crashed. Then we had the New Deal, but the economy did not really recover until 1939, when war in Europe created demand that got America's factories rolling again. By 1946 most of the world's factories outside the U.S. had been destroyed, insuring American economic prosperity and dominance for decades to follow.

Now Democrats are being asked to choose between Bernie Sanders, a career politician from Vermont, and Hillary Clinton, who needs no introduction. [Links are to their campaign web sites, in case you don't already get as many email solicitations for donations as you would like]

Today most Americans can afford a chicken once a week, even if they are using Food Stamps. Most Americans who need a car have a car.

But the idea stands: everyone wants more. The welfare people want more welfare, the workers want higher pay, the middle class business people want more than they have, right on up to the highly discontented billionaire class.

But let's just worry about the lower middle class on down, the small business owners and assistant managers, lower ranking professionals and bureaucrats, the hourly workers, freelancers, and the economically marginal.

Lets call whatever Hillary and Bernie are promising a chicken. Who is most likely to put a chicken in your pot?

Consider that the Republican candidates have an ancient recipe for boiled chicken: lower taxes and lower services. A proven recipe for some people having billions of chickens and some having none.

Whoever is President, whether it is Hillary or Bernie (or O'Malley or a new face), will face a Congress that has plenty of Republicans in it.

That chicken will have to be fought over. So, who do you want fighting for your chicken?

Right now the left wing of the Democratic Party clearly wants Bernie. His campaign speeches promise much. He promises to tax the rich to pay for everything. But when you look at his record as a politician, it is almost devoid of accomplishments. He mostly boasts of voting against things he does not like.

If Bernie is President he will try to wrestle the whole chicken from the Republicans.

Hillary, on the other hand, will give the wrestling match some thought. She we get as much chicken for us as she can. Maybe half the chicken, maybe most of the chicken, maybe just a leg. But if Hillary is elected, we will at least get some chicken.

Bernie won't get us so much as a feather. What he will be best at is criticizing Hillary for not getting the whole chicken.

That is why he is so appealing to angry leftists. They've been living on anger so long, they've forgotten what chicken tastes like.