Radical Forces in Germany

Courtesy Reuters

ECONOMIC depression and political radicalism go hand in hand. When economic distress reaches a certain point, the individual citizen no longer uses his political power to serve the public weal, but only to help himself. His ideal of political liberty pales before his ideal of economic equality.

Once this sentiment has eaten its way into the hearts of the majority of a nation, any political system is doomed to failure. It is useless to tell the embittered masses that their political and economic rulers are not responsible for their misfortunes. It is equally useless to point out to them that a revolution with its attendant disorders would not improve their situation, but would hopelessly compromise it. The world is not ruled by reason, but by passion, and when a man is driven to despair he is ready to smash everything in the vague hope that a better world may arise out of the ruins.

Intelligent and orderly as the German people are, patiently as they have borne the sufferings of war and of inflation, they are in danger today of falling into this reckless state of mind. It would seem that the economic crisis, the reduction of large classes of the German population to the level of the proletariat, and the unemployment of nearly five million persons, cannot go on for many more years without ruining the German nation as a whole. Here is a population, well-equipped from the point of view of health and intellect, which in general is forced to be satisfied with an income barely sufficient for a minimum existence. One-eighth of those who are able and eager to work are unable to find any opportunity to do so. And those who are employed see no possibility of little by little rising to positions where their abilities will have fuller scope. Above all -- and this is perhaps the worst aspect of the situation -- not only are great numbers of persons forced to abandon any hope of

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