1. Liberalism is an ideological view that makes the individual, rather than the family, the nation, the crown, the state or the faith, the center of society. Human beings, on various grounds, are held to have rights that protect the individual from the state and other people. It arose concomitant with industrialism and capitalism, that is, the destruction of the high development of the feudal order from the aftermath of the black death onwards.
It has its roots in the mercantile city states of Italy, especially Florence. As a matter of course, one can hold that liberalism had two branches, one based on natural rights, and traces its roots back to John Locke, and one based on utility, tracing its roots back to Hobbes and Adam Smith. The former option holds that rights need to be anchored in metaphysical principles such as natural law, or theological principles, such as God and His providence.
This has the advantage of holding rights apart from social life and the state, in that they do not derive from the state or from society, but must be protected by them. In this view, the state has its origin in the protection of natural rights according to the will of God for mankind. Hence, there is always room for rebellion, in that the state has a very specific reason for being. If this is violated, then the state loses its legitimacy and can be overthrown (Hobhouse, 1964). On the other hand, the utilitarian wing rejects metaphysics as such.
At least, it holds that there is no need for metaphysics, since all talk about rights and natural law actually concern utility: it is better for society if the state protects various rights, it produces happier citizens and greater production and loyalty. With this approach, one need not have recourse to metaphysics or theology, in that all of this, in actuality, is simply a more complex way of speaking about pleasure in general: a society that protects rights will be better, in the sense of producing more happiness, than one that does not (Hobhouse, 1964).
But by the beginnings of the industrial revolution in England, the Scottish school of political economy came into its own. Coming from David Hume, Adam Smith rejected the metaphysical basis of rights, and in fact, rejected rights talk in all forms. Instead, he created a sophisticated model of utilitarian liberalism in the “invisible hand” of market forces. The system likely reflected what was already going on in the mercantile societies of the Netherlands or England, but it holds that human passion is the driving force of society.
This passion largely centers around greed: the desire for gain and a good reputation. But this not be an evil if channeled into a proper direction. The free market is this channel. The market idea says that if competition were freely allowed to flourish, greedy people would be forced to produce good products that people actually want, at a price they are willing to pay. If they refuse to do this, the market will shift its money to those equally greedy people who do.
Hence, greed is channeled into healthy outlets, and the society is served: demand is satisfied and people pay what the demand requires, rather than the price dictated by the producer. Here, a fully free economy, based on the preferences of the market in a given society, can be based, not on rights, not on God or natural law, but on human passion, but a passion that is scientifically channeled to a place where it can be put to good use. 2. European powers built a large colonial empire throughout the world in the late 19th century.
By this time, the Spanish had lost most of their colonies in Latin America, but the British, the French and the Dutch colonized much of Africa and Asia, largely as a way of gaining access to raw materials, new markets and as a means of settling excess populations (Cain, 2001). In general, after the defeat of the French in the Franco-Prussian war and the ravages earlier of Napoleon, England remained at the sole major source of industrial wealth. While this motivated England to continue to expand its power into Africa and Asia, the continental powers were forced to continue the search for colonies in order to keep up.
Germany was the poorest in this regard, having few colonies until the beginning of World War I, forcing the Germans to use internal resources to industrialize under the monarchy that was, at this time, involved in unifying Germany as a sort of “internal colonization” while the Austrians were busy exploiting their many subject peoples, playing one ethnic group off against another. So for the German speaking peoples, colonization was internal. For the Netherlands, Belgium and England, this was not an option, and therefore, the expansion of European mercantile interests expanded outward.
The British, for their part, were concerned about the expansion of Russia to the south. Russia, only partially a European power, was also a late comer, along with Germany and Austria, to the industrial age. But Russia’s concern was porous borders to the south, which were fortified against the attacks on her territory by the Islamic powers of Central Asia and even in the Caucuses, partially armed by the British so as to stop any further Russian expansion into Central Asia. The Chinese had the advantage early on with the British, since they would only accept hard cash from the British imperialists.
Unlike much of the third world, China was relatively well developed, and for a time was able to resist British expansionism. The British tactic adopted to deal with these issues, to break down the will of the Chinese to resist, was Opium, harvested from India and imported into China. The drug was legal in England, where it was popular, but many nationalist Chinese saw the spreading opium addition both as British ploy as well as a means of weakening Chinese society. Both were true.
Chinese resistance to British policies in respect of Opium and the exploitation of the Chinese market and resources, led to two wars over these questions with the Quing monarchy (Chesneaux, 1977). In general, the purpose of the new imperialism was to maintain protected markets and cheap raw materials in the conquered countries. This was a way of having an edge over their European competitors. Russia and Germany were not involved in this race (they had far different concerns), but was largely a mercantile and financial policy of the more “advanced” European powers of the Netherlands, England and France.
3. Japan was more successful in modernization than China. The Meiji reforms were motivated by the desire to stand up to both American and British trading missions and military forces that defeated the Chinese in the British inspired Opium Wars. The state was centralized in Japan, and very quickly, a rapidly developing Japanese state, without any home resources, expanded as a colonial force in imitation of western models (Korniki, 1998) Japan’s development, rapid as it was, was a response to the gradual erosion of the power of the Chinese monarchy under British pressure in this same period.
The fact is that Japan was not going to let Opium destroy her people, and hence, as is often the case, increasing social discipline and a centralized government were the Japanese response to the problem. This approach was one of the causes of the Civil War of 1877, but the victory of the modernist forces ensured that japan was now going to become one of the east’s great powers (Korniki, 1998). The powers that took over Japan were of two kinds: the first, the military leadership taken from the clans that favored modernization and second, the emperor himself, partially under the thumb of the military but also a power in his own right.
This coalition stabilized Japanese society in this era, providing it with the peace necessary to develop into a major industrial power. To some extent, the British were involved in investing in this new state, in that the Japanese were seen in London as a necessary counterweight both to Russia and the possibility of a revival of Chinese fortunes. Hence, while the Japanese developments after 1877 were impressive, British investment must also be considered.
It must be mentioned that Japan was treated as more or less an equal partner with the British rather than as a subject, partially because of the undeniable strength of the Japanese state, but also due to their value in dealing with eastern Russian expansion. This policy will bear fruit in the Russo-Japanese war of 1905-1906. But the real issue was the connection between British politics, the oligarchy in Japan and the emperor, to some extent the puppet of both. The military leaders who emerged from the 1877 war victorious realized that China was the anti-type of proper Asian development.
As China lost its central authority, saw its economy fall into the hands of both the Rothschild and Sassoon bankers, the Japanese realized two things: first, that a coalition, rather than a battle, with England was necessary, and second, this coalition must be used to modernize and centralize the Japanese state, hence preserving it from colonization. But from these two realizations, it also was obvious that Japan was to become a colonizing power of its own, and in fact, took part of eastern China in this process.
It is obvious because Japan, without local resources, was forced to find them in Korea and China (Korniki, 1998) 4. The end of World War I saw the fall of the German, Austrian, Turkish and Russian royal houses. It saw the creation of the USSR and Yugoslavia as attempts to reorganize society. Germany was blamed for the war by the British and French and had most of its industry liquidated and sent to the victorious powers. The Germans also had to pay huge reparations for “starting” the war (a doubtful hypothesis).
Germany was humiliated, and the weak republican government was ripe for both communist and fascist takeovers. Hitler won fair elections as head of state over a prostrate and violated country. Most of Hitler’s inner circle were former World War I combat troops. Reindustrialization and rearmament to defend Germany from Stalin’s USSR was a major motive for Hitler’s plans. The rise of Hitler is understandable given the level of humiliation the Germans felt at this time. They were economically, militarily and emotionally scarred and destroyed.
A strong leader with both socialist and nationalist political leanings was going to do well, especially after the communists had taken over in the USSR, Bavaria, and Hungary (these latter two for a short time, see below). Hitler was the only force in Germany politics preaching the popular doctrine of simply rejecting Versailles. This is largely what got him elected (Kershaw, 2000). But economically, France, Britain, Russia and Germany were prostrate. Yugoslavia was an attempt to pool the resources of the souther Slavs in order to compensate for this. Turkey was no longer a major power.
France and England entered into a relationship in order to control Germany for the long term. America became the dominant force in European politics, and her late entry into World War I and the amount of money she forwarded to England against Germany made certain that the US was now a dominant partner on both sides of the Atlantic. At the same time, the state terror of the USSR under both Lenin and Stalin forced the European powers to also fear the huge Russian giant, and enough emigres from the USSR were in western Europe (especially Paris) to explain to European powers what exactly the Soviet revolution had in store for them.
Hitler rearmed not so much in respect of England (to which the Fuhrer had a grudging respect), but against the “savage Asians” from Russia. Therefore, a rearmed and powerful Germany was able to bring country after country into her economic orbit long before Hitler’s policy of military expansion took place. Bulgaria, Romania, Yugoslavia and even Greece were under Hitler’s control long before the mid 1930s, since either the USSR or Germany was offered to them as a trading partner. Most, quite rationally, looked to Germany for protection against Stalin.
They were proven right when the latter, after World War II, built his own police states in eastern Europe. One might conclude that World War I sapped the strength of democratic government in Europe, and to add to the carnage, the Depression starting in Europe in 1930 also proved democracies not up to the task: both Stalin and Hitler took control of their respective economies and grew them tremendously, far and beyond the struggling British and American states, hence showing democracy, at least at that time, as an inferior option to the ideological politics of Berlin and Moscow, they at least had growing economies and full employment.
The west could not say that (Wrigley, 1993). 5. Hitler viewed the Jews as a fifth column for Soviet expansionism. The short-lived and unpopular People’s Republic of Bavaria was run by several Jews: Kurt Eisner, Franz Lipp, Eugene Levine and Ernst Toller. The brief life of Soviet Hungary was run by four Jews: Bela Kun (Kohn), Antal Dovcsak Jeno Landler, and Matyas Rakosi. Hence, Hitler feared the Jews as being loyal to the USSR and Marxism and hence, treated them as criminals (Kershaw, 1993).
Therefore, Hitler’s loathing of the Jews did not derive from his believing they were “inferior,” or a natural slave race, but solely from their being disproportionately involved in Marxist governments and states from the USSR to central Europe. Hitler’s policies make no sense unless seen in this light. While this might be uncomfortable to some, historical truth does not concern itself with comfort. For various reasons, the urban Jews of eastern Europe were heavily involved with Marxism as a means, most likely, of controlling nationalism.
As a result, nationalist movements throughout central and eastern Europe were harshly opposed to Jewish political power as such, though the nationalist movement in Spain did not share this view. But Hitler’s final solution had another source, a source rarely dealt with in the literature, a little known deal called the Transfer Agreement. When Edwin Black wrote the first major work on this topic in 2001, it received mixed reviews. But a little later, few were able to argue with its conclusions.
This book relates, using almost solely primary documentation, how Hitler made an agreement with the small but influential Zionist movement of Germany to move the Jews to Palestine. In return, the Zionists openly supported Hitler and his early rise to power. Black holds that the street violence between Nazis and Communists were particular harsh on the Jews (who normally backed the Communists), and, slowly, the Jews were purged from most professional positions. But Black says that the Zionists of Germany saw an opportunity. Attacks on Jews, to the Zionist mind, were not unexpected, since Jews were indeed aliens in Europe.
Jews were Asians, not white, and hence, were strangers in Europe. Anti-Semitism was a natural reaction to this, and hence, morally neutral. The only solution was to unite with Hitler to promote the move of Jews out of Germany to Palestine (Black, 2001, esp ch 7). Hitler organized banks, currency transfers and generally greased the skids to facilitate Jewish emigration to Palestine. Of course, since the fall of the Ottomans, the British controlled Palestine. Hence, the agreement, while it would have saved many Jews from a gruesome fate, was stymied by British imperial power int eh Middle East.
Hence the final solution was not the only solution, just the final one. Previous solutions had been mass Jewish emigration. But the Zionist movement got what they want. From a paltry 2% of the Jewish population in Germany to a mass movement, Hitler scared the Jews to such an extent that a formerly assimilated Jewish population suddenly became nationalist and themselves created a colonial state in the Middle East. In other words, Zionism could never have existed without Hitler. Therefore, Hitler is the founder of the Israeli state in more than one way. Bibliography Black, Edwin.
The Transfer Agreement: The Dramatic Story of the Pact Between the Third Reich and Jewish Palestine. Carol and Graf Publishers. Cain, Peter (2001). Imperialism: Critical Concepts in Historical Studies. Taylor and Francis. Chesneaux, J. et al (1977). China from the Opium Wars to the 1911 Revolution. Harvester Press. Hobhouse, Leonard (1967). Liberalism. Oxford University Press. Kershaw, Ian (1993). Hitler, 1889-1936, Hubris. WW Norton. Korniki, Peter (1998). Meiji Japan: Political, Economic and Social History. 1868-1912. Routledge. Wrigley, Chris. (1993). The Challenge of Labor: Central and Western Europe 1917-1920. Routledge.
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