But by what right does the nationalist minority consider itself the bearer of the people’s future?
A nation is more than that chain of generations living together at the same time. The past generations with their heritage are part, as are the future generations that have yet to be born and who will, one day, inherit the present. That starts the policy: it must respect the spirit of traditions, and at the same time, feel responsible for the future. A provisional policy, a policy that does not respond to the requirements of the present is a crime against the people. Only that which considers itself as a point of passage, a bridge connecting the past with the future and is touched by the spirit of its people through the centuries is called to make policy. He must have a “consciousness of history” in order to be a statesman. To attempt politics without the mysterious consciousness of history is criminal. This consciousness cannot be replaced, neither by perspicacity, lucidity, or vivacity of spirit, nor by the good will to “do the best.” The “rationalist” politicians have always been the gravediggers of their peoples and states. The secret horror of “ratio” that the men of ancient times had is comprehensible. It is the primitive instinct of conservation and reproduction that lead the “audacious thinkers” to the pyre and that handed the cup of hemlock to the philosophers.
When the sense of history fails, we have the tendency to want to restart or to search for a “final solution.” We do not take the time. We act. In record time, we want to be able to boast of haughty constructions. We are no longer the sower to whom life has taught that he must know to wait when he sows, and that, in certain cases, he will not see the fruit of his work. We no longer know that the work of the sower is more sacred, more serious, more “consequential” than the work of the reaper. Only he that has arrived at this wisdom will have the patience to lead a very long term politics. Only he can act based on his inner reason of his people. Only he can be a statesman who will not surrender to obtain a momentary success by sacrificing the base of the free existence and pride of future generations. The politician who does not have the sense of history is blind to everything that concerns the future.
To give power to masses lacking the sense of history is the danger of democracy. These masses have good conscience when they decided the future of peoples and states. They are “the majority.” The will of the majority represents the will of all the people, that is the fundamental law of democracy that imposes itself by its reason.
Once, there were constitutional institutions that should have heard the voice of custom, the watchword of history. That was the role of the High Chamber, of the Senate, or the First House. Even when these institutions no longer had the the veto power, a conflict with them caused the fear of embarrassment, of complications, proof of the disagreeable forces they provoked. Thus they could prevent dangerous actions and misfortunes. Many a time they encouraged self-criticism and reflection on legal issues.
In a radical democracy, where no “Counsel of Elders” raises its “consultative voice” and pronounces warnings, where the youth of twenty is installed besides a septuagenarian – where they are considered to have exactly the same rights – who there can value the right of history? No one – unless it is a minority.
It is true that a forceful “oppositional” minority doesn’t have the position known by the constitution, permitting it to exercise a real influence. Eventually it can propagate its opinion, but the constitution doesn’t even it give it the means to prevent the most dangerous decisions of the majority. That which the majority decides – even if its a national suicide or a self-destruction of the state – is “legal.” The unreasonableness of the masses and political folly can then – with the naivety of legality, the certainty of competence – ruin a people and hurl it in the abyss. The majority will have what it wants. If the minority is not content to protest on paper, it goes against the law, it is held culpable of high treason, of violation of the constitution, and various other crimes. Since the decision of the majority has been taken against their advice, they become the “minority”, and, as such, it is supposed to recognize the decision of the majority as a fact, justified by every point of view and legal. That is the requirement of the democratic principle.
But is it true that the minority is “the minority” on all levels?
Would it be, if it invoked the political will of past generations? Indisputably, the political designs of Stresemann do not correspond to the will of the Germans who have died for the country.
The German spirit was a living force of history, dominating all the people from 1914 to 1918. If today, it only animates a minority, that can join them together with the millions of men who embody it and those who are buried. It can equally invoke the generation that won in 1870, bearing the Reich and Bismarck, and reigniting the mission Germany had in the world. That is not all: it can equally feel solidarity with the millions of children yet to be born. These children do not know the defeat of 1918 and they will not be close to accepting the consequences as an established fact for all time. Once they they will desire political grandeur and historic splendor for their country. A minority that has the objective of creating the conditions to realize this desire and that, moreover, is in the process of breaking the chains of today’s majority – being short term, lacking in spirit – forged, “according to democratic laws,” for future generations; such a minority is no longer a minority! It has for it the will of the dead and the desire of the children yet to be born. It understands the living forces of history, that it must save and bring from the past through a desolate present to a happier future.
In being part of a community so important, it reduces today’s majority to a minority. The relation of “apparent” figures loses its significance when it acts from the right and from the claim of those who we do not count. He who values their right and their claim is the spokesman of the real will of the people that traverses the centuries and extends even to the centuries to come. The democratic majority of today, foreign to the will of the people stretching back centuries, is only a transitory phenomenon, it is only a pretension that tends to swell a passing conjecture as a regime for eternity.
Yet, that is not to say that a democratic majority is forcibly in irreconcilable opposition with the will of the people traversing centuries. Certain nations have democratic institutions, but their feeling of life is very much conservative. They seriously follow the path of their history and then know to see the immediate present with the eyes of their fathers. In these countries, there can be minorities deprived of the instinct who, agile and active, only act for the present instant. They are thus true minorities, in the proper and absolute sense.
In the atmosphere of the Weimar Republic, all the factors of German history are eliminated or repressed. That is a fact that is bound to the birth of this state. Although once the Germans were a “democratic” people, the parliamentary democracy of 1919 and the old instincts of the German people are not in any case related. The “democratic,” post-revolutionary state has no links with the origins of the political existence of Germany. It does not have traditions to which it could attach itself. It does not embody an idea that the heart of our ancestors once beat for, for which they struggled, shed their blood and suffered for. That state is a synthetic product. We observed the constitutional structures of the victorious powers, one after the other. We took each one that we believed to be “the best.” We mixed the disparate elements and thus fabricated the work of Weimar. Fashioned after a recipe, it was destined to become “the most liberal constitution in the world.” The liberal and rationalist spirit of the end of 18th and the beginning of 19th centuries made one last technical feat. A liberal professor, without deep links to the German people, was the author of the constitution’s text. Thus, it could not become the receptacle of the spirit of the German essence. The creative forces of history do not live in it but are put aside by it. The application of this constitution can neither trace nor accomplish the destiny of Germany. It was imposed on us by a foreign will. It is simultaneously the foreign influences serving to dominate Germany and to keep it in check. In the measure in which it is in force, it is is “affirmed,” we comprehend the extent of the foreign domination to which we are submitted. However, this constitution is more a symptom than a cause of our submission.
Given its liberal and rationalist origins, it doesn’t even avow itself as a reality. The liberal and rationalist spirit ignores the feeling and the tragedy of destiny. Such a spirit does not even dream to recognize and formulate “that which is.” It contents itself with this platitudinous optimism and vanity that believes it to be the height of a progressive evolution, pollinating each flower, knowing always to console and return confidence and that, even in the blackest night, it is then perceived as lures of hope on the horizon. For this optimism, the Fourteen Points of Wilson were the gospel of a new epoch, the signature of the Diktat of Versailles a provisional measure , in the style “after we will see,” the Dawes Plan a work of salvage, shining under the sun of dollars, and Locarno a miracle. For him, Germany’s entrance into the League of Nations signified the establishment of the country as a great power. The “Eastern Locarno” that furtively approached and without the power to stop it, apparently opened the way to the support of the “majority’s will and democracy.” It will be celebrated as the guarantee of eternal peace in Europe. Do we then comprehend why the optimist Stresemann was minister of foreign affairs and why he had to be? This charming man jumped, busily and unthinkingly, over the depths of German existence. He ignored it, all as the Constitution of Weimar ignored it. His “political art,” produced without fail mirages, he drew nothing from the profound sources of the true historic life of Germany – in the same fashion as parliamentary democracy. In his exploits he celebrated rapturously and for which he would see himself celebrated by others, there was as little of the obstinacy and the will to destiny of the German people as there was in the actions of democratic majorities. Doctor Stresemann was in effect the most agile marionette and, as such, the most characteristic of the post-revolutionary German democracy, that, without instinct, without the feeling of history and the vision of destiny, acted, disarmed but sure and joyous, as the kept child by the victorious powers.
There are two domains where we see very clearly in what measure a public power is directly inspired by the very ancient will to life of the people. It is, on one part, the great existential questions of foreign policy and, in another part, armaments and defense. Between these two domains there is evidently a link. A living thing wants not only to maintain its life, but it also wants to extend it, to be recognized, to occupy the world. A strong and healthy life expresses itself by the will to power. The will of a people to have a political influence and a historical greatness is the expression of its vital force and power. If this will no longer manifests or all but manifests, it acts with symptoms of fatigue. Sometimes we want to give an ethical sense to this laxness. We interpret it, idealize it as “I can no longer” as a voluntary renunciation, an abandonment tinted with morality. It is no different from old men used up by life, after such debauchery and excess, who would want to transform their inability to enjoy and their weakness into laudable exercises of virtue. A government that tends toward a foreign policy of renunciation and self-denial thus confirms that it no longer has a link with the heart of the popular will. German social democracy, which was the most solid pillar of the foreign policy of Stresemann, consciously and expressly rejected the German will to power. The fact that the Rhine was and should be the frontier of Germany, that Belgium holds Eupen-Malmédy, that Poland seized Germany territory, did not upset him. It lacked the will to revise this state of things. Secretly, it was frightened by manifestations where we revealed conservation and power. It did not have this popular vitality that pressures to conquer the world.
It is true that the whole of the democratic majority in power in Germany lacked vitality. It is not that which leads and presses onward. For this reason, the majority allowed itself to be deprived of the fundamental rights of sovereignty. For the same reason, it does not a have history for it. If we understand “the people” as the living link between the generations to follow, it is a harmful minority that, only thanks to particular circumstances, could give the illusion of being the spokesman of the popular will.
He who does not have the will to power does not have the will to fight. He who prefers to suffer his fate rather than build it lacks this ancient instinct of combativeness. The peoples who feel the vocation of great historical missions like arms. They know that they must struggle for all that has importance in this world. They equally know that he who does not know to defend himself will become the prey of his stronger neighbor. He who fears arms betrays his own home. It is a coward who dares nothing. Nothing can lead him to undertake a great work. The “virtue” that serves to hide this great misery calls itself the will to peace at any price, it calls itself “pacifism.” Peoples who do not want to defend themselves necessarily perish. The praise of reconciliation of the peoples and eternal peace hardly impresses the other peoples boiling with aggression and the desire to conquer.
It is in the nature of things for this democratic majority, whose foreign policy aims for national self-renunciation, to abhor the spirit of combativeness. All that is military deranges it. It sees the Reichswehr as a police troop, serving exclusively to accomplish tasks of interior politics. It execrates the clandestine armed services. In punishing “in the name of the law of the peace treaty” the German citizens who clandestinely exercise the use of arms, it shows to what point it is – maybe unconsciously – the instrument of oppressor states. It is unfeeling to the ignominy of such servility in regards to the law.
“The democratic majority” hostile to militarism, drunk on Locarno, enthusiastic for Dawes, faithful to the League of Nations is not touched by the will to life, profound and essential, of the German people. It is the result of a transient attitude of “pacifist laxness.” Coincidentally it appeared one day, election day. But it was not authorized nor did it appeal to “make history.” That would be “the history of the suicide of a people.” No majority, that is in power for four, ten, or twenty years of our existence, has the right to commit such a suicide. Finally, its bizarre reactions, against nature, indicate solely that it is only the symptom of a malady – a spasm, of fever or gall – that afflicts the people.
The nationalist minority must know that the people manifest their will to life through them. It must have the courage to value it and it must be quite intelligent to be capable of doing it. It bears a very heavy duty: the responsibility for the people and the state rests with them.
Given the spirit of the epoch, the spreading suggestion of feeling that we give to democratic institutions and the obligatory force, inherent in all the laws, in all “legality,” its situation is particularly difficult. By reason of its essence, of its will and its activities, it is despite all considered as “an outsider,” as suspect, and having less rights. This state of things weighs on it and raises in it a multitude of doubts. It turns from the subject of its vocation and asks itself about the justness of its way and its ambitions, by being against the democratic majority enjoying a solid base of principles. “The decision of the majority expresses the will of the people” – even if it only acts on a decision of the “representatives of the people.” As all mass phenomena, it has the appearance that it is necessary, reasonable, and God given.
The nationalist minority, which considers itself the true representative of the people’s will, does not have the right to step on the terrain of the principle that belongs to the established order. If it approved the democratic principles, it should then admit there are opinions and considerations more important than the national will’s claim to right they advocate for. Consequently, it must not attack the “anomalies” of democracy but the regime itself. It must put it in question de facto and de jure. Thus the nationalist minority necessarily finds itself in a “subversive” situation.
So it is normal that the democratic majority will be on its guard. It protects itself against the minority. If the other means fails, it can always make the police intervene. And the police are wary of all that is “subversive.” It doesn’t occupy itself with the tendencies or the justice of the laws. It ensures their application, without giving critiques, accepting them as a fact. By its position of principle, the minority is suspect in the eyes of the police, regardless of national enthusiasm. Even the “Bünde” (Translator’s note: leagues with a national character, tinted with nationalism) have had to experience it. Because the nationalist minority causes the fear of a political explosion, it is considered and treated as dynamite. It searches to create the conditions that makes it lose its explosive effect. This latent explosive force awakens the interests of criminologists, and all the experts of the police who want to be criminologists. But if criminology interests itself in the minority, it will fall to the blows of police law. It will sense plots in their ranks. It will search indices against them. It will take terrifying intentions against them. In short, the police will fabricate an image of that what it is and that what it does. It cannot recognize itself there. They will recoil with fear before the ridiculous phantasms of the police gone mad. In 1809, the Bavarian police pursued all the citizens suspected of being against Napoleon and having “pro-German” sentiments. After the Bavarian government had declared its “pro-French” sentiments, the police even forbid thinking in German.
The minority must never forget this state of things, it must never forget the professionalism of the police ready to pounce. Always recalling that the police have sworn to the constitution and feel morally obliged to defend the works of Weimar. Given the structure of a state only founded on foreign politics, it absorbs their actions and tendencies. In the measure where Germany takes a new development and reconquers its liberty, the bases of the Constitution of Weimar collapse. Since Germany will be free from all interference, the constitutional state of Weimar will inevitably crumble, as in 1918 the monarchy crumbled when Germany was subjugated.
The fact that the oppositional minority attacks first a vital question, to know the liberation of German from the plan of foreign politics, it is a simple matter of tactics. When this enterprise is well advanced, Weimar will be equally put into danger of ruin. Thus as the German state remains under foreign dependency, the essential conditions to realize the plans of constitutional politics will not be met. If a current of the nationalist minority, now very divided, made its political decisions dependent and its relations with its fellows direct the manner in which it accomplishes the projects it attempts, it would be obstinately infantile. The disagreements on interior affairs such as the choice of colors, the reconstruction of the popular state, and the composition of the government are ultimately not very important. These questions will cease to be the apple of discord, they will be relegated to the back plan, that will be their place. What counts today, is that all the currents of the minority aim for the same goal, aim for the liberation of Germany. That is what must be done in the near future.