The essential point in the plans of the German National Socialist Workers’ party is the conquest of Lebensraum for the Germans, i.e., a territory so large and rich in natural resources that they could live in economic self-sufficiency at a standard not lower than that of any other nation. It is obvious that this program, which challenges and threatens all other nations, cannot be realized except through the establishment of German world hegemony.
What characterizes the Nazis as such is their special kind of nationalism, the striving for Lebensraum.
The distinctive mark of Nazism is not socialism or totalitarianism or nationalism. In all nations today the “progressives” are eager to substitute socialism for capitalism. While fighting the German aggressors Great Britain and the United States are, step by step, adopting the German pattern of socialism. Public opinion in both countries is fully convinced that government all-round control of business is inevable in time of war, and many eminent politicians and millions of voters are firmly resolved to keep socialism after the war as a permanent new social order. Neither are dictatorship and violent oppression of dissenters peculiar features of Nazism. They are the Soviet mode of government, and as such advocated all over the world by the numerous friends of present-day Russia. Nationalism—an outcome of government interference with business, as will be shown in this book—determines in our age the foreign policy of every nation. What characterizes the Nazis as such is their special kind of nationalism, the striving for Lebensraum.
This Nazi goal does not differ in principle from the aims of the earlier German nationalists, whose most radical group called themselves in the thirty years preceding the first World War Alldeutsche (Pan-Germans). It was this ambition which pushed the Kaiser’s Germany into the first World War and—twenty-five years later—kindled the second World War.
What Nazism Is Not
The Lebensraum program cannot be traced back to earlier German ideologies or to precedents in German history of the last five hundred years. Germany had its chauvinists as all other nations had. But chauvinism is not nationalism. Chauvinism is the overvaluation of one’s own nation’s achievements and qualities and the disparagement of other nations; in itself it does not result in any action. Nationalism, on the other hand, is a blueprint for political and military action and the attempt to realize these plans. German history, like the history of other nations, is the record of princes eager for conquest; but these emperors, kings, and dukes wanted to acquire wealth and power for themselves and for their kin, not Lebensraum for their nation. German aggressive nationalism is a phenomenon of the last sixty years. It developed out of modern economic conditions and economic policies.
Neither should nationalism be confused with the striving for popular government, national self-determination and political autonomy. When the German nineteenth-century liberals aimed at a substitution of a democratic government of the whole German nation for the tyrannical rule of thirty-odd princes, they did not harbor any hostile designs against other nations. They wanted to get rid of despotism and to establish parliamentary government. They did not thirst for conquest and territorial expansion. They did not intend to incorporate into the German state of their dreams the Polish and Italian territories which their princes had conquered; on the contrary, they sympathized with the aspirations of the Polish and the Italian liberals to establish independent Polish and Italian democracies. They were eager to promote the welfare of the German nation, but they did not believe that oppression of foreign nations and inflicting harm on foreigners best served their own nation.
The outstanding method of modern nationalism is discrimination against foreigners in the economic sphere.
Neither is nationalism identical with patriotism. Patriotism is the zeal for one’s own nation’s welfare, flowering, and freedom. Nationalism is one of the various methods proposed for the attainment of these ends. But the liberals contend that the means recommended by nationalism are inappropriate, and that their application would not only not realize the ends sought but on the contrary must result in disaster for the nation. The liberals too are patriots, but their opinions with regard to the right ways toward national prosperity and greatness radically differ from those of the nationalists. They recommend free trade, international division of labor, good will, and peace among the nations, not for the sake of foreigners but for the promotion of the happiness of their own nation.
It’s the Economy, Stupid
It is the aim of nationalism to promote the well-being of the whole nation or of some groups of its citizens by inflicting harm on foreigners. The outstanding method of modern nationalism is discrimination against foreigners in the economic sphere. Foreign goods are excluded from the domestic market or admitted only after the payment of an import duty. Foreign labor is barred from competition in the domestic labor market. Foreign capital is liable to confiscation. This economic nationalism must result in war whenever those injured believe that they are strong enough to brush away by armed violent action the measures detrimental to their own welfare.
The further a nation goes on the road toward public regulation and regimentation, the more it is pushed toward economic isolation.
A nation’s policy forms an integral whole. Foreign policy and domestic policy are closely linked together; they are but one system; they condition each other. Economic nationalism is the corollary of the present-day domestic policies of government interference with business and of national planning, as free trade was the complement of domestic economic freedom. There can be protectionism in a country with domestic free trade, but where there is no domestic free trade protectionism is indispensable. A national government’s might is limited to the territory subject to its sovereignty. It does not have the power to interfere directly with conditions abroad. Where there is free trade, foreign competition would even in the short run frustrate the aims sought by the various measures of government intervention with domestic business. When the domestic market is not to some extent insulated from foreign markets, there can be no question of government control. The further a nation goes on the road toward public regulation and regimentation, the more it is pushed toward economic isolation. International division of labor becomes suspect because it hinders the full use of national sovereignty. The trend toward autarky is essentially a trend of domestic economic policies; it is the outcome of the endeavor to make the state paramount in economic matters.
Within a world of free trade and democracy there are no incentives for war and conquest. In such a world it is of no concern whether a nation’s sovereignty stretches over a larger or a smaller territory. Its citizens cannot derive any advantage from the annexation of a province. Thus territorial problems can be treated without bias and passion; it is not painful to be fair to other people’s claims for self-determination. Free-trade Great Britain freely granted dominion status, i.e., virtual autonomy and political independence, to the British settlements overseas, and ceded the Ionian Islands to Greece. Sweden did not venture military