What Russia Got Wrong
Can Moscow Learn From Its Failures in Ukraine?
FOR some months there had been signs of the thunderstorm which burst over the German parliamentary system in the middle of July and made inevitable the elections which are to be held about the time this appears in print. It is impossible to understand the full portent of the crisis by itself. What forces, social and political, have been pushing the German Parliament along its road to self-destruction? On July 16 the Reichstag empowered the cabinet to cover the deficit in its budget by an emergency measure. Two days later the same Reichstag demanded the revocation of these emergency measures. As a result, the Reichstag was dissolved, and the proposed financial policy of the government is being carried out by presidential emergency ordinances.
These events have caused widespread agitation, both in Germany and abroad. The situation which has arisen has been freely characterized as a dictatorship. Such an interpretation will challenge the closest attention of all those interested in popular government. In order to obtain a satisfactory answer to the many questions which arise, we must first analyze the antecedents of the present situation as well as the situation itself, and then consider the use of dictatorial powers in popular governments generally.
At first glance it is striking that these tendencies toward dictatorship should have appeared immediately after the evacuation of the Rhineland, for the occupation had been a serious impediment to free political action on the part of Germany. Comments in Paris have not failed to emphasize this fact and to point out the threatening radicalization of German political life. It ought to be recalled that the Young Plan has eliminated another grave liability from German politics at least for the time being. It is a curious paradox that the very groups which, under the leadership of Hugenberg, attempted to sabotage the Young settlement by initiating a referendum to make the conclusion of the necessary treaties high treason, have been quick to seize upon the relief from external pressure which the settlement afforded. The Young Plan and the evacuation of the Rhineland have thus intensified the internal opposition against both the Socialists and the Communists. The rather artificial alliance between the Socialists and bourgeois parties as far to the right as the People's Party, which the liquidation of the war necessitated, is rapidly disintegrating. The People's Party, which had been held in line by the powerful personal influence of Gustav Stresemann, has rediscovered its internal enemy, the Marxists. Another complicating factor has been the shift of the Center or Catholic Party to the right under the leadership of Dr. Brüning. This reshuffling and reorientation of parties within Germany has been aided by the fact that the past Reichstag contained no working coalition after the forces just described had broken the great coalition to pieces.[i]
The lack of clear-cut policies and the absence of a coherent majority behind the government found expression in a continuous wrangling over budgetary problems. The passing of the new budget for 1930--1931, which should normally have been accomplished by April 1, dragged on and on. Meanwhile, the general business depression in Germany, as in other parts of the world, aggravated the government's financial situation. The ever-increasing numbers of unemployed, which reached the staggering figure of 2,770,000 at the time of the crisis, resulted in heavier and heavier burdens being put upon the government for unemployment insurance payments and general relief. The cessation of the percentage contributions from wages resulted in a double load, since every new unemployed worker meant one less contributor to the current funds.
On the other hand, the multiplying failures of business concerns and farms produced further demands for the extension of the vicious system of governmental aids to private business, which had been initiated during the period of the stabilization of the currency, when many of the largest concerns in Germany were threatened with destruction. Earlier in the year one such measure had been widely advocated, namely governmental support for agriculture in Eastern Prussia and the regions along the Polish border, where severe difficulties were being encountered. This so-called "Ost hilfe" (Help for the East) had been supported with uncompromising insistence by the Nationalist Party, the exponent of important German agricultural interests, primarily the larger estates.
Toward the end of May it became apparent that the government was faced with a deficit of over 310 million marks (about 75 million dollars) for the fiscal year ending March 31, 1930, and of 450 million marks (about 110 million dollars) or more in the budget proposed for the financial year already begun, a budget which had not even been passed by the Reichstag. Of this latter sum, about 300 millions were due to unemployment. Truly a desperate situation, which the government must remedy.
The budget, already severely strained, was in danger of being completely disrupted by extraordinary expenditures resulting directly or indirectly from the business depression. In the ensuing discussions regarding the ways and means by which to meet the impending deficits, the anti-Socialist elements naturally seized the occasion to attack with greater vehemence the extensive social welfare budget of the German public authorities. This social welfare program had already encountered considerable criticism in recent years, not only within Germany but also by the Agent General for Reparation Payments in his Annual Reports. A considerable part of these expenditures were undertaken by state and communal authorities under the financial and tax system inaugurated by Erzberger in 1919. The revenues of these states and communes were largely supplied by the Federal Treasury out of national taxes, while at the same time the federal authorities had no control of and therefore no responsibility for the expenditures of these local authorities.[ii] One point in these discussions is of particular importance for an understanding of the present troubles. The two means of taxation directly used by the communes were taxes on real estate and on trade, both of which fell on the shoulders of the propertied classes. Since Socialists controlled the local governments in many cases, it was generally felt by the opposition that they were recklessly increasing social expenditures in favor of those who in no way felt the pressure of taxation resulting therefrom. Consequently the People's Party and the Economic Party, both exponents of these propertied classes, decided to press for a head or poll tax, which should bring home to everybody the need for greater economy in public expenditures. The Socialists and Communists replied by attacking the budget of the defense ministry and the aforesaid governmental aids to business concerns and agriculture. They believed that the impending deficit could easily be wiped out by cuts in these items of the budget. The middle groups could not be brought to accept either the Socialist or the Nationalist demands, since their right wing tended to favor the latter, their left the former. In considering the later negotiations, it is necessary to bear in mind that the Cabinet of Dr. Brüning had come into power by eliminating the Socialists from the Cabinet. It was therefore to a considerable extent committed to a policy of coöperation with the right wing of the Reichstag. General rumor had it that this was also the understanding of President Hindenburg in appointing the Brüning Cabinet.
As a matter of fact, it remains doubtful whether either the Nationalist or the Socialist position could have found a majority. Neither of these parties could rally sufficient additional support from the middle groups to achieve a majority without some compromise, yet both seem to have been quite intransigent with regard to their position. The more extreme groups on the same side of the house made this attitude practically inevitable. It is hard for the outsider to appreciate the fact that both the Nationalist and the Socialist parties are more concerned about losing to their Fascist and Communist next-door neighbors than they are about anything else. This condition, it is generally charged, is a result of proportional representation. Proportional representation, with the "list system" as it is practiced in Germany and other European countries, tends to eliminate the concentration upon major issues in favor of general agitation on behalf of various political beliefs. This, it is charged, gives undue opportunities to extremist groups, for they are not liable to be included in the government and made responsible for their election promises. But even more serious is the effect which the presence of these extremist rivals has upon the powerful conservative Nationalist and Socialist parties; for they shun the responsibility of government for fear of giving their extremist competitors the golden opportunity to blame them for all that goes wrong. It seems that considerations such as these have been uppermost in the minds of the responsible leaders both of the Nationalist and of the Socialist Party. Whenever they were approached by the government with a view to working out some kind of coöperation, they were said to have demanded "guarantees" not immediately connected with the legislation in hand. Palpably they wished to exploit the precarious position of the government to extort concessions more radical than the moderate groups supporting the government were willing to concede. The Nationalists seem to have gone a good deal further, however, than the Socialists. Presumably they even suggested that the Center (Catholic) Party dissolve its long-standing coalition in Prussia which, from the point of view of the coalition, has been highly successful.[iii] Such suggestions cannot possibly be considered by the Center Party, whose leader is Dr. Brüning himself.
Viewing the situation, the government determined to attempt a compromise. Its plan included, in addition to a reform of the unemployment insurance, consisting of an increase of the contributions from 3½ to 4 percent, two major measures: an extraordinary levy upon those receiving fixed incomes, primarily officials, provided their incomes were above about $2,000; and a special surtax on the incomes of bachelors and spinsters, amounting to 10 percent of their present income tax. This program immediately aroused a great deal of opposition in all quarters, including Finance Minister Moldenhauer's own party, the People's Party. Indeed, his plans were a sad disappointment after the optimistic promises made by Dr. Moldenhauer at the time he assumed office. He then hoped to be able to effect a 600 million mark reduction in taxes through savings in governmental expenditure. These supposedly possible savings had been the fond dream of his friends in the People's Party. The disillusion in all conservative quarters was keen. Dr. Moldenhauer, having failed to rally public opinion behind him for the support of the absolutely necessary sacrifices, was made the scapegoat and on June 18 was obliged to resign. There seems to be a widespread belief that his fall was at least partly due to the desire of his own party to dissociate itself from so unpopular a plan and to "regain its liberty of action." It would be rather difficult to explain it otherwise, in view of the fact that the new Finance Minister, Dr. Dietrich, of the Democratic Party, has not altered these propositions fundamentally. To be sure, the protests of the officials have been met in part by a reduction of the extraordinary levy upon their incomes to 2½ percent and a general addition to the income tax on all incomes above 8,000 marks (about $2,000) at the rate of 5 percent of the income tax as at present assessed. But on the other hand, the levy applies to all incomes of over 2,000 marks (about $500).[iv] These were but minor alterations, and so the Socialist and Nationalist opposition continued. In fact the Socialist opposition became more determined, since a tendency appeared on the part of the government to include an amendment moved by one of its own parties, the People's Party, embodying the above-mentioned poll tax.[v]
With these opposition groups adamant, the plan failed to pass the Budget Committee of the Reichstag, whereupon the government decided to take the bill before the plenary session on July 16. But the hopes of the government to secure the majority there by a general appeal were not fulfilled. Chancellor Brüning frankly declared that if the Parliament did not accept these measures the government would, in the interest of democracy, take all constitutional measures to secure the necessary financial legislation. This meant, as the Socialist speaker who replied to the Chancellor was quick to point out, that the Chancellor was planning to use the powers granted the President and Chancellor in time of need, i.e. that he was going to pass the necessary measures without the sanction of Parliament. In spite of this general appeal to political responsibility, the government's bill was defeated on July 16 by the combined vote of Socialists, Nationalists, Communists, Fascists, and certain minor groups associated with them. A split in the Nationalist vote was not of sufficient extent to alter the outcome. Thereupon the government proceeded to employ Article 48, Paragraph 2, for enacting its proposals.[vi]
The use of Article 48 caused widespread apprehension among constitutional lawyers and politicians interested in the maintenance of the present Constitution. The Minister of Justice even went so far as to advise the government through his secretary of state that the procedure was contrary to the Constitution. As a result, his party immediately introduced a motion demanding the Reichstag's dissolution, but this resolution was overwhelmingly defeated as the Socialists abstained from voting.
The Socialists had already announced their intention of moving that the presidential ordinances be revoked, a possibility which is provided for by the third paragraph of Article 48.[vii] In fact, it is generally believed that the Socialists did not support the motion to dissolve the Reichstag in order to have an opportunity to move the revocation of the government's emergency measures. For obviously such a step could not be taken after the Reichstag had been dissolved. The idea is sometimes advanced that this could be accomplished by the Standing Committee of the Reichstag which continues to meet when the Reichstag is not in session in order to safeguard the rights of the representatives of the people. This view is considered unsound.[viii]
It was generally believed at this stage that the Nationalists were planning to vote against the Socialist motion. The answer usually given when people inquired why the Nationalists should then have voted against the government proposal was, that the Nationalists desired to use this admirable occasion for broadening the interpretation of Article 48, thus strengthening the power of the President. For it must be remembered that their dominant slogan at the preceding election had been "More power to the President." The interpretation of what constitutes a serious danger to public safety and order must certainly be stretched if it is to include the unwillingness of the Reichstag to pass a necessary piece of legislation; but such an interpretation is not without precedent.[ix] But apart from these constitutional considerations which were imputed to the Nationalists, it was generally believed that Hugenberg and his followers wanted a crisis, as long as this crisis could be blamed upon the parliamentary régime and used to discredit the existing system of government. The final outcome of the struggle seems to indicate that these general political considerations were decisive.
It was natural that the Socialists should have introduced the motion to revoke the presidential measures in order to force the Nationalists either to take the responsibility for the proposed financial measures by voting against their motion or to carry the issue to the voters after a dissolution of the Reichstag. This determination of the Socialists was intensified by the inclusion of the head or poll tax in the presidential ordinance.
In the interval between the issuing of the presidential ordinances on July 16 and the vote upon the Socialist motion on July 18, Hugenberg made a final gesture for coöperation with the government. It was dictated by the existence of very serious dissensions among the members of his party. The agrarian wing under Count Westarp and Dr. Schiele, a member of the Brüning Cabinet, believed that the time for coöperation had come. Presumably they also felt that their election slogan "More power to the President" obliged them to support a measure which had Hindenburg's express backing. Hugenberg, on the other hand, was apparently determined to force the dissolution of the Reichstag, if the Cabinet would not resign. His oft-repeated "Not a dime and not a man for this system!" remained the guide of his actions, which were directed toward provoking a crisis. Whether these last-minute conferences were undertaken in the hope of keeping his party together is not definitely known. The conciliatory attitude which Hugenberg showed in these negotiations was commented upon; but, as was sarcastically pointed out at the time, even rather "mild desires" on his part, like the abandoning of the commercial treaty between Germany and Poland, were considered outrageous by at least some members of the Cabinet. Since an acceptance of these demands would have meant a disruption of the existing coalition, Chancellor Brüning was bound to reject them.
Last-minute attempts to bring about coöperation with the Socialists seems very curious in retrospect when one considers that the whole tendency and persistent policy of the Brüning Cabinet had been to coquet with the Nationalists in rearranging their policies. However, the lack of unity within the government is illustrated by the fact that until the last minute it shifted back and forth between its opponents on both sides of the house without apparently being able to make up its mind between them. An important psychological factor in the situation is that the minds of those responsible for the conduct of the government are still dominated by the idea that the really desirable governmental policy must be found outside and beyond any compromises between existing parties or other organized groups. This notion that the government must be something above and outside the parties is a heritage from the days of constitutional monarchy when this mysterious something was fostered by the king, his ministers and their officials. It is not recognized by many of these men that the true kernel of this unwarranted assumption lies in the fact that situations occur in political life when any decision is preferable to further delay. It might well be argued that such a situation had arisen in Germany. The government was incurring ever-increasing expenditures without a majority of the Parliament willing to vote the measures which would raise the necessary revenue. Some definite decision was of paramount importance.
The debate in the plenary session of the Reichstag on July 18, the day when the government was forced to put its emergency measures to the final test because the Socialists had demanded their revocation, was opened by a forceful attack by the Socialist speaker on the plans of the Cabinet to use the emergency powers of Article 48 "in order to remain in power." Dr. Wirth, Minister of the Interior, asserted that the failure to provide for the expenditures of the government in times of such acute distress as the present justified the use of Article 48 in order to enable the Cabinet in power to secure a balancing of the budget until the people had the opportunity to give their verdict for or against the government's proposed policies. The fact that the issue was drawn here suggests a strengthening of truly parliamentary procedure. For is it not the sanctioned tradition of English political life that a government which remains in the minority carries its policy to the electorate for a final verdict? That this is at least one aspect of the present crisis was further emphasized by the concluding sentence of Finance Minister Dietrich's frank and powerful appeal to political responsibility: "The question before us is whether we Germans are a bunch of interest groups or a nation." It is significant that this phrase has since become a catchword of political agitation. It popularizes the issue between those who wish to maintain the existing form of government and those who attempt to sabotage it.
The unexpected happened. Hugenberg and his followers joined the Socialists, Communists and National Socialists in their motion to revoke the emergency ordinances of the President, the vote being 236 for and 221 votes against the motion. Whereupon Chancellor Brüning produced his decree dissolving the Reichstag. The decree curtly announced: "The Reichstag having decided to demand that my ordinance of July 16 issued according to Article 48 be revoked, I dissolve the Reichstag according to Article 25 of the Constitution."[x] The further words of the Chancellor were drowned by the shouts of the Communists: "Down with Hindenburg! Down with Fascism!" While members of the Reichstag left the building the Communists sang the "International."
Presumably the measures revoked by the Reichstag will be reissued by the President with some alterations. In considering the position of the government after the dissolution, it is necessary to keep in mind that anything it does will be subject to revocation by the new Reichstag, the election of which is set for September 14. One of the last official statements of the government before the dissolution of the Reichstag was that of its Finance Minister that the authority under Article 48 would not be used for any purposes except those demanded by the immediate situation.
Is it, then, appropriate at present to designate President Hindenburg as a dictator? The notion of dictatorship does not have in the minds of most people such a broad interpretation. When they think of a dictator they think of Mussolini, and the position of Mussolini certainly is and always has been fundamentally different from that of Hindenburg. For Hindenburg is the constitutionally elected President of a democratic republic, and he is exercising powers granted by the Constitution. These powers are not exercised by him individually, but require the countersignature of the Chancellor or one of the other members of the Cabinet.[xi] Anyway, if one were to speak of a dictatorship at all, one ought to speak of this entire group, the Cabinet and the President, as dictator. Who is actually master within this little oligarchy it would be extremely difficult, if not impossible, to determine. But since the members of the Cabinet belong to different parties holding quite divergent views, it is highly probable that their powers under Article 48 will be sparingly used.
Certainly the makers of the Constitution were of the opinion that a constitutional arrangement for such temporary dictatorial powers was a vital part of democratic or popular government. The very nature of this form of government, based as it is upon a separation of powers and legislation after extensive discussion and negotiation with all interested groups, is peculiarly in need of extraordinary arrangements whenever an imminent danger requires immediate action. The real reason for such arrangements as are made by Article 48 is the preservation of the constitutional fabric as a whole by temporarily dispensing with certain parts of it. The need for such an arrangement was felt with particular acuteness by the makers of the new German Constitution. Leading democrats like Dr. Hugo Preuss and Dr. Ablass are responsible for the whole institution, and it was the prevailing opinion of the committee which drafted the Constitution that during the period of civil disturbances following the end of the war and the making of the new constitution the President should be given fairly wide discretion. When an Independent Socialist member of the Convention protested against the threat to property rights involved in such extraordinary powers, Preuss sarcastically remarked that in times when the private property of citizens included machine guns it would be desirable not to insist upon due process. Dr. Ablass, who was reporter of this section of the Constitution in the Constitutional Convention, said there: "In this article the President has received a novel power. There is on the one hand the power to reëstablish public safety and order, if necessary by the use of armed force, and furthermore the power to suspend the fundamental rights of citizens. This power goes very far, but if we look at the history of our day we shall see that this power is born from necessity and that it gives to the President a strong means which he can hardly part with. I welcome this strengthening of the power of the President very much."
Reflection will show that some provision similar to this is found in the constitutions of all popular governments. But long periods of internal peace have usually led to a narrow limitation of the exercise of this power. Usually the decision as to whether such a state of emergency exists is entrusted to the legislature and has to be declared expressly by it. Thus the Congress of the United States is by the Constitution entrusted with this power.[xii] Similar provisions are found in other democratic countries like England, Belgium, France and Holland. Such provisions are closely related to the powers derived by implication from the war powers of the executive.[xiii] President Lincoln's suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus indicates the extent to which the power has been used in the United States. The Supreme Court later decided that the power to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus was not vested in the President by the Constitution, but Congress passed a statute validating the President's act. It is generally assumed that Germany also will eventually limit the powers of the President and the Cabinet very strictly. Presumably power to declare a state of emergency will be vested in the Reichstag. The Constitution anticipates such further limiting provisions by a national law, but this national law has not yet been passed and the German Constitution is therefore incomplete in a rather important respect. This incompleteness has given anxiety to many Germans, because Article 48 contains not only the general grant of power but also the specific power of suspending certain fundamental rights of the German citizen guaranteed by the Constitution. They are: the right to be secure in his person and his house, the right to freedom of speech and of the press, the right peaceably to assemble and to associate, the right to his property, and the right to be secure against arbitrary confinement.[xiv] Considerable controversy has raged over the extent of this suspending power. It has been claimed that these were just examples and that under Article 48 any rights, even any articles of the Constitution, could be suspended. But Carl Schmitt has shown convincingly that there is a vital difference between a specific measure of the President "breaking through" a constitutional limitation, and a formal suspension.[xv] In the latter respect the President is restricted to the above-mentioned rights. It would seem that even so the grant is wide.
In considering the present situation it ought to be kept in mind that the powers under Article 48 have already been used rather extensively, during the troubled years from 1919 to 1924. During the time of the stabilization of the mark a considerable number of the most important pieces of legislation were issued in this form. Thus law-making powers were for a time transferred to President and Cabinet. This made it possible for the parties to "pass the buck" in some of the most irksome and unpopular measures which were generally considered necessary but for which nobody cared to take the blame. The provisions of Article 48 have worked as an extraordinary balance wheel for the difficult process of parliamentary government under a system of proportional representation with its multiple party groups and the resulting lack of a coherent majority. Yet it is generally felt that the present situation is rather unlike these previous occasions.[xvi]
The real and important check against the abuse of all this power is found in the power of the Reichstag to revoke any of these measures. How valuable this check is the discussion of the present situation has shown, for through its use the opposition groups were enabled to force a dissolution of the Reichstag and an appeal to the people. Such an appeal to the people is, after all, the ultima ratio of popular government. In this sense it can even be said, and it has been said, that this article enables the President to enforce responsibility--in other words, to make parliamentary government more real. The only difference, and it is an important one, consists in the fact that the Cabinet is proceeding to enact the measures which led to the crisis. However, its decision is only intermediary inasmuch as the incoming parliament can revoke them all immediately after it has been convened.
In the meantime there remain important limitations upon the exercise of these extraordinary powers under Article 48. In the first place, since the reëstablishment of public order is the object of all measures taken by authority of this article, no measures can conceivably be justified which would look toward destruction of the Constitution. In the second place, there is a minimum of constitutional organization implied by Article 48 itself. This minimum includes at any rate the President, the Cabinet and the Reichstag. In other words, the most important structural constituents of the German system of government are anchored in Article 48 itself. A third and very important limitation is derived from the fact that only temporary acts of the government directed towards the maintenance of public safety and order can be called emergency measures. Constitutional amendments, general laws or judicial decisions are not such measures. Even during the emergency, then, the activities of the government are subject to review by the courts. The Standing Committee of the Reichstag could appeal to the Court of State if for example the government attempted to interfere with the elections by suppressing newspapers, dissolving meetings or any other acts which did not seem warranted by the particular emergency. The emergency this time is the need of raising the necessary revenue, a peculiarly limiting purpose.
From all that has been said it will be apparent that the present situation has primarily internal significance. It does not touch the German Constitution and therefore does not affect international relations, even temporarily. The only effect which it has is to postpone the final decision in such matters as would be naturally postponed by adjournment of the legislature. One such measure pending at present is the commercial treaty between Poland and Germany. The loss from delay in its passage cannot be considered very grave -- if a loss it is -- in view of the fact that the Polish Sejm was prorogued by Pilsudski ad calendas grœcas before it could ratify the treaty.
The crisis through which Germany has been passing does not at all imply the establishment of a dictatorship. It means even less the restoration of a monarchy. As has been shown by Carl Schmitt, one of the most acute constitutional theorists, Article 48 is peculiarly ill adapted to such purposes; for its end is, as has been said before, the maintenance of the Constitution. The reflective observer has to beware of giving too much credence to the excited accounts of journalists in times of crisis in Germany. She continually shows a tendency to run up a fever over any political controversy of note. Party feeling is very intense, public debates are impassioned, personal rivalries acute. One is reminded of the fervent partisan spirit of the Restoration period in France. Such violent agitation seems to be an inevitable concomitant of a rapidly progressing yet incomplete political education of the people at large. The public has not yet developed that kindly and slightly cynical resignation to the rule of "the boss" which is characteristic of old democracies.
If such psychic factors are combined with deplorable economic and social maladjustments resulting from a lost war, any system of government is bound to be subject to a serious strain. As a result, extremist groups are threateningly strong and are likely to become stronger. One major upshot of the present cataclysm is the break-up of the Nationalist Party, as a result of Hugenberg's aggressive and radically reactionary leadership, and the tendency of their truncated majority under Hugenberg to seek an alliance with the out-and-out revolutionary National Socialists under the operatic if somewhat verbose Hitler. Such an alliance would certainly mean a considerable radicalization of the German Reichstag. For even if the present parties returned in almost the same strength -- and the general pre-election fear is that the radical groups will gain in strength -- it would mean that the Reichstag is bordered on the one wing by about eighty die-hard National extremists, and on the other by more than fifty Communists, equally die-hard Internationalists of the Moscow variety. About 130 determined non-coöperators in a house of 491 containing all the other hues of political coloring is a constant threat to "public safety and order." If their number were raised to 200, as might happen, parliamentary action would become extremely difficult. There may be a repetition, under such circumstances, of what happened in 1924, after the acceptance of the Dawes Plan, when a radicalized parliament was dissolved after a few months of fruitless zig-zag. The irresponsible rocking of the ship of state with which the radical elements had amused themselves during this time had sufficed to show the voters that more responsible groups should be put into power.
In such conditions, Germany might well be congratulated for the wisdom of its constitution-makers, who included in their fundamental charter provisions which enable a responsible minority to tide the country over a temporary impasse, if it has the backing of a constitutionally elected President and a permanent civil service of high excellence and proven loyalty to the state. The advantage of such an arrangement to Germany is shared by those who deal with her internationally. For the obligations of the country and its government are safeguarded by such a flexible constitution. Truly benevolent despotism of this sort forestalls internal chaos and a complete breakdown of the government, particularly when it is placed in the hands of a man who has grown old in unswerving loyalty and service to his country.
[i] For an analysis of the parties composing the last Reichstag see "Political Handbook of the World, 1930," Council on Foreign Relations, New York, pp. 71--75; also "The Political Dilemma in Germany," by A. Mendelssohn Bartholdy, FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Vol. 8, No. 4.
[ii] The expenditures for social welfare by cities, investigated by the German Association of Cities, were almost 400 percent higher in 1925 than in 1913. For greater details regarding these controversies see the writer's article "Reparation Realities" in FOREIGN AFFAIRS, Vol. 7, No. 1; and the "Annual Reports of the Agent General for Reparation Payments."
[iii] It is one of the dearest dreams of Hugenberg to "smash" this coalition, which is giving the "Marxists" ever more opportunity to entrench themselves in a state whose dominant rôle in German political life is due to its size (two-thirds of the country's population) as much as to its traditional position as leader of the small north German states. Even the widely agitated reform of the federal structure of the Reich is in part due to the desire to smash this "Red Prussia." It is indeed a complete reversal of former tendencies that the forces of progressivism should be dominating Germany through their control of Prussia.
[iv] Other minor adjustments included an extension of the surtax on bachelors, and reductions in governmental expenditures to the extent of 100 million marks. The bills were passed by the National (Federal) Council in this form on June 29.
[v] The amount of this tax per capita of adults gainfully employed in trade or receiving an independent income was to be 6 marks ($1.50), with some adjustments for married people.
[vi] The pertinent phrase of this article reads: "If public safety and order is materially disturbed or endangered, the President may take the necessary measures to restore public safety and order and, if necessary, to intervene by force of arms."
[vii] The pertinent phrase reads: "The President must immediately inform the Reichstag of all measures adopted. . . . These measures shall be revoked at the demand of the Reichstag."
[viii] The pertinent phrases of Article 35 read: "The Reichstag . . . appoints a Standing Committee for the protection of the rights of the representatives of the people against the Cabinet . . . between the dissolution of the Reichstag and the convening of a new Reichstag."
[ix] Cf. pages 129-130, below.
[x] Article 25 reads: "The President . . . may dissolve the Reichstag, but only once for the same cause. The new election occurs at the latest on the sixtieth day after such dissolution."
[xi] Cf. Article 50: "All orders and decrees of the President, including those of the armed force, require . . . the countersignature of the Chancellor or of the appropriate Minister. . . . By the countersignature responsibility is assumed."
[xii] Cf. Article I, Section 8: "The Congress shall have Power . . . (15) to provide for calling forth the Militia, to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions."
[xiii] Cf. Article 11, Section 2, Paragraph 1 of the Constitution of the United States: "The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. . . ." However, these powers have been rather narrowly interpreted in the United States, as far as an infringement of the fundamental rights of the people is concerned. Cf. Ex Parte Milligan 4 Wallace 2 (1866).
[xiv] The corresponding provisions of the American Constitution are found in Articles I, IV, V, and VI. Although the Supreme Court once held that only the right to be secure against arbitrary confinement was subject to infringement through suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, the Espionage and Sedition Acts passed during the World War show that Congress is able to restrict personal freedom considerably.
[xv] Cf. Carl Schmitt, "Die Diktatur," 2nd ed., with an appendix "Die Diktatur des Reichspraesidenten nach Art. 48 der Weimarer Verfassung," an epoch-making discussion to which the writer is indebted for important suggestions for the general analysis here given.
[xvi] Dr. Koch-Weser, the leader of the Democratic Party, interrupted the Socialist speaker during the final session on July 18 by exclaiming: "Do you really want to pretend that the present situation has the remotest similarity with the previous occasions when Article 48 was used?" This is something of an exaggeration, for the circumstances of dissolution in March 1924 resemble the present instance in several important points.