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One of the key new trends in Western society during the 20th century involved changes in the role of the state. Government powers expanded and contacts between state and ordinary citizens increased. Whether the form of government was democratic or not, vot­ ing was used to link individual and the state. New ideologies and technologies alike expanded state activities. The growth of the Western state built on earlier trends, such as absolutism, and on the needs and capacities of industrial society. Nevertheless, it was a new creature. The growth of this state power could take vitally different forms, however. Tensions in the Western political tradition, visible in the 17th and 18th centuries, emerged anew, focusing on the extent of government power as well as constitutional structure. Between the world wars, the most striking political development in the West was the rise of fascist or Nazi totalitarianism. The totalitarian state did not emerge everywhere in the West, but rather in nations where liberal traditions were relatively weak and the shocks of World War I particularly great. Hitler, the Nazi leader, defines the fascist worship of the state in his tract Mein Kampf, written in 1924. The second main version of governmental growth was the welfare state, which became the common Western form after World War II. Britain, converting from liberal suspicion of government to a desire for new social responsibility, clearly illustrated welfare-state principles. The British welfare-state concept was sketched in a vital wartime planning document, the Beveridge Report, which was put into practice after 1945. Both the Mein Kampf and the Beveridge Report selections require some interpreta­ tion, for neither Hitler nor the Beveridge Commission spelled out a full definition of state functions in a tidy way. Hitler's writings were vague in most respects, featuring strong emotions more than careful programs. The Beveridge Report was a pragmatic planning exercise, not a statement of basic theory. A first task, then, is to figure out how state goals are defined and justified in each case-what Hitler means by state reliance on "person­ ality"; what the welfare planners mean by state responsibility. Nazi and welfare-state definitions obviously invite comparison. How did they dif­ fer in political ideals? How did each relate to earlier Western political standards? Why did the different state forms arise amid the crises conditions of world wars and economic depression in the West, and how would each affect ordinary citizens? But also, in what ways did Nazi and welfare states reflect some similar trends and principles?

Selection I from Mein Kampfby Adolf Hitler, translated by Ralph Manheim, pp. 443, 449-451. Copyright 1943 and copyright © renewed 1971 by Houghton Mifflin Company of Boston. Reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin Company. Selection II from "Report by Sir William Beveridge," Social Insurance and Allied Services (Cmd 6404), London, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1942, pp. 6-8, 13, 158-159. British Crown copyright. Reproduced by the permission of the Controller of Her Britannic Majesty's Stationery Office.


244 Section Three I The 20th and Early 21 st Centuries

The Nazi version of the state seems to have been confined, in the West, to the spe­ cial conditions of the 19205 and 1930s. Might these reemerge? Is the welfare state a more durable Western form? If so, why? Compared with contemporary political struc­ tures elsewhere in the world, has the 20th-century Western state remained particularly distinctive?




Anyone who believes today that a folkish National Socialist state must distinguish itself from other states only in a purely mechanical sense, by a superior construc­ tion of its economic life-that is, by a better balance between rich and poor, or giv­ ing broad sections of the population more right to influence the economic process, or by fairer wages by elimination of excessive wage differentials-has not gone beyond the most superficial aspects of the matter and has not the faintest idea of what we call a philosophy. All the things we have just mentioned offer not the slightest guaranty of continued existence, far less of any claim to greatness. A peo­ ple which did not go beyond these really superficial reforms would not obtain the least guaranty of victory in the general struggle of nations. A movement which finds the content of its mission only in such a general leveling, assuredly just as it may be, will truly bring about no great and profound, hence real, reform of exist­ ing conditions, since its entire activity does not, in the last analysis, go beyond externals, and does not give the people that inner armament which enables it, with almost inevitable certainty I might say, to overcome in the end those weaknesses from which we suffer today The folkish state must care for the welfare of its citizens by recognizing in all and everything the importance of the value of personality, thus in all fields prepar­ ing the way for that highest measure of productive performance which grants to the individual the highest measure of participation And accordingly, the folkish state must free all leadership and especially the highest-that is, the political leadership-entirely from the parliamentary princi­ ple of majority rule-in other words, mass rule-and instead absolutely guarantee the right of the personality. From this the,follo¥.ing realization reslt,lts:

The best state constitution and state form is that which, with the most unques­ tioned certainty, raises the best minds in the national community to leading posi­ tion and leading influence.

But as, in economic life, the able men cannot be appointed from above, but must struggle through for themselves, and just as here the endless schooling, rang­ ing from the smallest business to the largest enterprise, occurs spontaneously, with life alone giving the examinations, obviously political minds cannot be "discov­ ered." Extraordinary geniuses permit of no consideration for normal mankind. From the smallest community cell to the highest leadership of the entire Reich, the state must have the personality principle anchored in its organization.

Chapter 35 I The Western State


There must be no majority decisions, but only responsible persons, and the word "council" Plust be restored to its original meaning. Surely every man will have advisers by his side, but the decision will be made IJy one man. The principle which made the Prussian army in its.time into the most won­ derful instrument of the German people must some day, in a transferred sense, become the principle of the construction of our whole state conception: authority of every leader downward and responsibility upward. Even then it will "Ilot be possible to dispellse with those corporations which today we designate as parliaments. But their councillors will then actually give counsel; responsibility, however, can and may be borne only by one man, and there­ fore only he alone may possess the authority and right to command. Parliaments as such are necessary, because in them, above all, personalities to which special responsible tasks can later be entrusted have an opportunity gradu­ ally to rise up. This gives the following picture:

The folkish state, from the township up to the Reich leadership, has no repre­ sentative body which decides anything by the majority, but only advisory bodies wbich stand at the side of the elected leader, receiving their share of work from him, and in turn if necessary assuming unlimited responsibility in certain fields, just as on a larger scale the leader or chairman of the various corporations himself possesses. As a matter of principle, the folkish state does not tolerate asking advice or opinions in special matters--say, of an economic nature-,.of men who, on the basis of their education and activity, can understand nothing of the subject. It, therefore, divides its representative bodies from the start into political and professional chambers. In order to guarantee a profitable cooperation between the two, a special senate of the elite always stands above them. In no chamber and in no senate does a vote ever take place. They are work­ ing institutions and not voting machines. The individual member has an advisory, but never a determining, voice. The latter is the exclusive privilege of the responsi­ ble chairman. This principle-absolute responsibility unconditionally combined with absolute authority-will gradually breed an elite ofleaders such as today, in this era of irresponsible parliamentarianism, is utterly inconceivable. Thus, the political form of the nation will be brought into agreement with that law to which it owes its greatness in the cultural and economic field.

As regards the possibility of putting these ideas into practice, I beg you not to forget that the parliamentary principle of democratic majority rule has by no means always dominated mankind, but on the contrary is to be found only in brief periods of history, which are always epochs of the decay of peoples and states. But it should not be believed that such a transformation can be accomplished by purely theoretical measures from above, since logically it may not even stop at the state constitution, but must permeate all other legislation, and indeed all civil life. Such a fundamental change can and will only take place through a movement which is itself constructed in the spirit of these ideas and hence bears the future state within itself.

246 Section Three I The 20th and Early 21st Centuries

Hence the National Socialist movement should today adapt itself entirely to these ideas and carry them to practical fruition within its own organization, so that some day it may not only show the state these same guiding principles, but can also place the completed body of its own state at its disposal.


In proceeding from this first comprehensive survey of social insurance to the next task--of making recommendations-three guiding principles may be laid down at the outset. The first principle is that any proposals for the future, while they should use to the full the experience gathered in the past, should not be restricted by consid­ eration of sectional interests established in the obtaining of that experience. Now, when the war is abolishing landmarks of every kind, is the opportunity for using experience in a clear field. A revolutionary movement in the world's history is a time for revolutions, not for patching. The second principle is that organisation of social insurance should be treated as one part only of a comprehensive policy of social progress. Social insurance fully developed may provide income security; it is an attack upon Want. But Want is one only of five giants on the road of reconstruction and in some ways the easiest to attack. The others are Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness. The third principle is that social security must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual. The State should offer security for service and contribution. The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility; in establishing a national minimum, it should leave room and encouragement for voluntary action by each individual to provide more than that minimum for himself and his family Abolition of want requires, first, improvement of State insurance, that is to say provision against interruption and loss of earning power. All the principal causes of interruption or loss of earnings are now the subject of schemes of social insurance. If, in spite of these schemes, so many persons unemployed or sick or old or widowed are found to be without adequate income for subsistence accord­ ing to the standards adopted in the social surveys, this means that the benefits amount to less than subsistence by those standards or do not last as long as the need, and that the assistance which supplements insurance is either insufficient in amount or available only on terms whi~h make men unwilling to have recourse to it. None of the insurance benefits provided before the war were in fact designed with reference to the standards of the social surveys. Though unem­ ployme;,nt benefit was not altogether out of relation to those standards, sickness and disablement benefit, old age pensions and widows' pensions were far below them, while workmen's compensation was below subsistence level for anyone who had family responsibilities or whose earnings in work were less than twice the amount needed for subsistence. To prevent interruption or destruction of earn­ ing power from leading to want, it is necessary to improve the present schemes of social insurance in three directions: by extension of scope to cover persons now


Chapter 35 I The Western State


excluded, by extension of purposes to cover risks now excluded, and by raising the rates of benefit. Abolition of want requires, second, adjustment of incomes, in periods of earning as well as interruption of earning, to family needs, that is to say in one form or another it requires allowances for children. Without such allowances as part of benefit or added to it, to make provision for large families, no social insur­ ance against interruption of earnings can be adequate. But if children's allowances are given only when earnings are interrupted and are not given during earning also,' two evils are unavoidable. First, a substantial measure of acute want will remain among the lower paid workers as the accompaniment oflarge families. Sec­ ond, in all such cases, income will be greater during unemployment or other inter­ ruptions of work than during work.

There is here an issue of principle and practice on which strong arguments can be advanced on each side by reasonable men. But the general tendency of pub­ lic opinion seems clear. Mter trial of a different principle, it has been found to accord best with the sentiments of the British people that in insurance organised by the community by use of compulsory powers each individual should stand in on the same terms; none should claim to pay less because he is healthier or has more regu­ lar employment. In accord with that view, the proposals of the Report mark another step forward to the development of State insurance as a new type of human institu­ tion, differing both from the former methods of preventing or alleviating distress and from voluntary insurance. The term "social insurance" to describe this institu­ tion implies both that it is compulsory and that men stand together with their fel­ lows. The term implies a pooling of risks except so far as separation ofrisks serves a social purpose. There may be reasons of social policy for adjusting premiums to risks, in order to give a stimulus for avoidance of danger, as in the case of industrial accident and disease. There is no longer an admitted claim of the individual citizen to share in national insurance and yet to stand outside it, keeping the advantage of his individual lower risk whether of unemployment or of disease or A comprehensive national health service "",jll ensure that for every citizen there is available whatever medical treatment he requires, in whatever form he requires it, domiciliary or institutional, general, specialist or consultant, and will ensure also the provision of dental, ophthalmic and surgical appliances, nursing and midwifery and rehabilitation after accidents. Whether or not payment towards the cost of the health service is included in the social insurance contribution, the service itself should (i) be organized, not by the Ministry concerned with social insurance, but by Departments responsible for the health of the people and for positive and preven­ tive as well as curative measures; (Ii) be provided where needed without contribution conditions in any indi­ vidual case. Restoration of a sick person to health is a duty of the State and the sick per­ son, prior to any other consideration. The assumption made here is in accord with the definition of the objects of medical service as proposed in the Draft Interim Report of the Medical Planning Commission of the British Medical Association:

248 Section Three I The 20th and Early 21 st Centuries

"(a) to provide a system of medical service directed towards the achievement of positive health, of the prevention of disease, and the relief of sickness; (h) to render available to every individual all necessary medical services, both general and specialist, and both domiciliary and institutional."



What did Hitler mean by the personality principle?


Why might Hitler's ideas appeal to Germans who had experienced World War I?


What kind of state, with what purposes, did the Nazis seek?


What changes in state functions did the Beveridge Report advocate?


What were the main differences between Nazi and welfare-state political defini ti ons?


Why did the 20th century see a growth in state claims, albeit under various sys­ tems, in Western society?