“We socialize human beings”

One of Hitler’s many conversations with ex-Nazi Hermann Rauschning. From his book

“The party takes over the function of what has been society—that is what I wanted them to understand. The party is all-embracing. It rules our lives in all their breadth and depth. We must therefore develop branches of the party in which the whole of individual life will be reflected. Each activity and each need of the individual will thereby be regulated by the party as the representative of the general good. There will be no licence, no free space, in which the individual belongs to himself. This is Socialism—not such trifles as the private possession of the means of production. Of what importance is that if I range men firmly within a discipline they cannot escape? Let them then own land or factories as much as they please. The decisive factor is that the State, through the party, is supreme over them, regardless whether they are owners or workers. All that, you see, is unessential. Our Socialism goes far deeper. It does not alter external conditions; no, it establishes the relation of the individual to the State, the national community. It does this with the help of one party, or perhaps I should say of one order.”

I could not help remarking that this seemed a novel and harsh doctrine.

Quite true, Hitler replied…

Then doubtless he would not approve, I suggested, of the kind of state landlordship, or state ownership of the means of production, the dream of some of the most ardent social and economic workers of the party?

Hitler again registered impatience.

“Why bother with such half-measures when I have far more important matters in hand, such as the people themselves?” he exclaimed. “The masses always cling to extremes. After all, what is meant by nationalization, by socialization? What has been changed by the fact that a factory is now owned by the State instead of by a Mr. Smith? But once directors and employees alike have been subjected to a universal discipline, there will be a new order for which all expressions used hitherto will be quite inadequate.”

I replied that I was beginning to understand what new and tremendous perspectives this opened.

“The day of individual happiness has passed,” Hitler returned. “Instead, we shall feel a collective happiness. Can there be any greater happiness than a National Socialist meeting in which speakers and audience feel as one? It is the happiness of sharing. Only the early Christian communities could have felt it with equal intensity. They, too, sacrificed their personal happiness for the higher happiness of the community.”

“If we feel and experience this great era thus,” Hitler concluded, “then we shall not be disturbed by details and individual failures. We shall know then that every road leads us forward, no matter how much it seems to go in another direction. And above all, we shall then maintain our passionate desire to revolutionize the world to an extent unparalleled in history. It gives us also a special, secret pleasure to see how the people about us are unaware of what is really happening to them. They gaze fascinated at one or two familiar superficialities, such as possessions and income and rank and other outworn conceptions. As long as these are kept intact, they are quite satisfied. But in the meantime they have entered a new relation; a powerful social force has caught them up. They themselves are changed. What are ownership and income to that? Why need we trouble to socialize banks and factories? We socialize human beings.”

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