Sunday, August 29, 2004

Punting on growth

A split is seen between Mark Latham and predecessor Simon Crean as Labor decides how it would run the economy, reports economics correspondent David Uren

NOT since John Hewson has a political party been led by someone so smitten with economic ideas as Mark Latham. But Latham's approach is first and foremost political, in contrast to Hewson's attempt to teach a perplexed populace economics 101.

Despite his interest. Latham has deliberately cast economic policy into the background of Labor's public policy platform. He says that when he runs his community forums. tax and economics is not what people want to talk about. He has also tried to reassure those who see economic management as Labor's key weakness. and establish points of difference with the Government and appeal to some particular constituencies and prejudices.

Former Paul Keating staffer John Edwards, the local chief economist with London-based bank HSBC, says former leaders Simon Crean and Kim Beazley tended to look for clouds on the horizon with the release of every good piece of economic news. but Latham has willingly embraced the idea that the economy is doing well. Instead Latham claims as much credit as he can for Australia's strong economic performance from reforms initiated under Labor governments, while emphasising the need to improve the distribution of the fruit of progress. Labor talks not only about those who have been left behind on social welfare but also those who feel under pressure because they are working more hours and cannot get access to services they want.

Although pressing Labor's heritage as the party of economic reform, Latham has not ventured into any politically difficult ground in developing an agenda for how he would advance it. Serious economic reform, as Hewson found, is hard to press from the Opposition benches. The themes Latham has promoted all have a political edge to them.

Latham's economic spokesmen have strong credentials. Crean, now Treasury spokesman, and finance spokesman Bob McMullan have economics degrees and served as ministers in economic portfolios. while assistant treasury spokesman David Cox has an MBA and learned the ropes under Bob Hawke's formidable finance minister Peter Walsh and then as chief-of-staff to treasurer Ralph Willis. Latham has an honours degree in economics from the University of Sydney.

Although Latham and Crean talk to each other a lot. Latham and his economic spokesmen do not always appear to work closely as a team. Latham whistles a tune, which the others try to pick up and follow. Sometimes they go off in their own directions, while sometimes Latham's tune takes some surprising twists. The pledge of fiscal responsibility is an example of this. It was devised as a way of countering the relentless attack from Coalition Treasurer Peter Costello on the debts left behind by the Keating government. It also serves the internal purpose of forcing discipline on shadow ministers to match spending proposals with savings.

The pledge is that Labor will keep the budget in surplus in each of its first three years of government, and that it will reduce government spending and tax as a proportion of the economy. as measured by gross domestic product.

When articulated by Crean and McMullan, the pledge carries an important qualification. "On current forecasts, there is no reason why this should not be possible," Crean said in his budget reply speech this year. McMullan, in a speech to the Sydney Institute. said the pledge to keep the budget in surplus did not reflect a fetish with surpluses but a view that the budget should be counter-cyclical, building up surpluses during times of strong economic growth, as is forecast for the next three years.

The origin of the pledge is a commitment given by the British Labour Government, when first elected, to stick to the economic forecasts set down by the previous Conservative government. Treasury's forecasts for the Australian economy show a surplus in each of the next three years and a reduction in spending and tax as a share of GDP.

However, when Latham mentions the pledge, he includes no such qualification. He told ABC radio's AM program, "Labor's commitment is surplus budgeting for every year of the next parliament and we will do everything we can to have downward pressure on interest rates. That is our budgetary commitment, that's important for families and the future of the economy. We believe in surplus budgets and we will have that in place through the next parliamentary term

The above is the first part of an article appearing in "The Weekend Australian" newspaper of 28 August, 2004 (p. I 29) which does not appear to be otherwise online

Tuesday, August 24, 2004


Wayne Lusvardi writes: "Below is an article from the Pasadena Star News and my letter response in today's paper regarding the issue of affordable housing. Although the story is local it is interesting to see how Leftist government is often able to use Orwellian reverse language to fabricate a housing affordability crisis in an economy where "over-affordability," not non-affordability, is the real issue at hand".

City Raises Fees to Promote More Affordable Housing

Gene Maddaus
Pasadena Star-News (Pasadena, CA)
August 16, 2004

Housing developers who do not build discount-priced homes will have to pay substantially more in city fees, as the City Council acted Monday night to try to stem the tide of gentrification.

The council voted 7-1 to substantially increase the so-called "in lieu' fee for housing developers, a move that had been delayed for one year.

"This was a positive step,' said affordable housing advocate Marvin Schachter. "They have at last moved to do something.'

The new fees vary depending on the type, size and geographic location of a proposed project. Some developers will see only a modest increase, while others will see their affordable housing fees double, triple, or quintuple.

The purpose, however, is not to generate more revenue for the city's affordable housing trust fund, but rather to coax developers into building more affordable housing.

If developers make 15 percent of their projects "affordable,' or commit to build the equivalent elsewhere in the city, they are not required to pay the fee.
"The purpose of the in-lieu fee is to discourage the payment of the in-lieu fee,' Schachter said.

Under the old fee structure, developers had an economic incentive to pay the fee, which was cheaper than the cost of providing discount housing. The new fee schedule is designed to neutralize that incentive.

Councilman Chris Holden noted that with escalating rents and land values, it is becoming increasingly difficult for Pasadena's poorer residents to stay in Pasadena.
"The tide is against us,' he said.

Councilman Steve Madison initially objected to the fee increase on the grounds that it unfairly placed the social burden of providing affordable housing solely on developers.

But Madison was persuaded to vote for the resolution after Holden agreed to ask the city attorney to explore the possibility of limiting the affordable housing to Pasadena residents and city employees only.

Without such a provision, Madison said, "it's inducing people who don't live in our city to move here.'

Schachter and affordable housing activist Michelle White said later that they had no objections to a local preference.

Councilman Steve Haderlein voted against the fee increase, saying it placed "a heavy burden on a few.'

The council also voted 8-0 to modify the inclusionary housing ordinance to allow developers of for-sale housing to fulfill their affordable requirements by building rental units. Under the earlier regulatory scheme, for-sale developers were required to build for-sale affordable housing.

Developers and real estate agents liked the new provision because it allowed greater flexibility, while affordable housing activists believed it would help assuage the most severe affordable housing shortage, that of rental units.

The council also did away with a restriction that required "off- site' affordable housing to be within one-quarter mile of the primary project. When the ordinance was passed three years ago, that provision was intended to prevent dumping of affordable housing in Northwest Pasadena, and guarantee that affordable homes would be spread throughout the city.

But developers complained that the provision was too restrictive, and made it nearly impossible to build off-site housing. Under the new system, developers will be allowed to build off- site units everywhere in the city except Northwest Pasadena.
On the whole, developers and real estate activists blanched at the fee increase, but welcomed the "carrot' provisions that made it easier to fulfill the affordable housing requirements.

"I think we should be more incentive-based than punitive- based,' said Realtor John Grech. Gene Maddaus can be reached at [626] 578-6300, Ext. 4444, or by e-mail at .

Wayne Lusvardi replies:

Confiscatory concept

"City raises fees to promote more affordable housing' (Aug. 16) reports that politicians have been pressured to believe we have a housing affordability crisis. As someone who has developed affordable housing for a public housing authority, taught courses to city managers on affordable housing, and currently works as a real estate appraiser, I don't believe Pasadena has an affordable housing crisis. Let me offer some evidence:

According to DataQuick ( ) in April 1989 interest rates were 11 percent and the typical mortgage payment was $1,278 per month. The typical monthly mortgage payment in California in July 2003 was $1,284 per month. Adjusting for inflation, the "typical' mortgage payment in 1989 would be $2,216 per month today.
Housing affordability advocates claim that people are being driven out of Pasadena to places like Palmdale due to expensive downtown housing and neighborhood gentrification. But there is no affordability problem in Pasadena if it continues to be defined as the unaffordability of new, luxury housing units in the upscale downtown urban village. As a society we don't say that people are being excluded from buying expensive automobiles or other luxuries, so why do we say this with high-end housing?

Is it a hardship for people to move to Zip Code 93591 in Palmdale where in June 2004 there were 21 new home sales averaging $165,000? This equates to a payment of $843 per month, which is cut in half after deducting mortgage interest from income taxes.
People continue to find their own affordability solutions without government such as apartment sharing, living with parents, illegal housing conversions and compressing more than one family in single-family zoned homes, driving up rents and sales prices.

Thus what is needed is less "affordability,' not more. We don't have a housing bubble because we don't have an excess of housing supply. What we have is a housing market on steroids of historically low interest rates and easy-money loans. This is pumping housing demand as renters flood into the ownership market just as the supply of newly built housing is being restricted in older cities to the most expensive downtown commercial land. It took me a long time to learn that government can't create affordable housing.

Unfortunately, many prominent religious institutions in Pasadena haven't had the wisdom to see this and continue to advocate for "feel good' inclusionary housing policies that help the connected and a few people, but are immorally confiscatory of the wealth of downtown property owners.

Tuesday, August 10, 2004

FDR's policies prolonged Depression by 7 years, UCLA economists calculate

Two UCLA economists say they have figured out why the Great Depression dragged on for almost 15 years, and they blame a suspect previously thought to be beyond reproach: President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

After scrutinizing Roosevelt's record for four years, Harold L. Cole and Lee E. Ohanian conclude in a new study that New Deal policies signed into law 71 years ago thwarted economic recovery for seven long years.

"Why the Great Depression lasted so long has always been a great mystery, and because we never really knew the reason, we have always worried whether we would have another 10- to 15-year economic slump," said Ohanian, vice chair of UCLA's Department of Economics. "We found that a relapse isn't likely unless lawmakers gum up a recovery with ill-conceived stimulus policies."

In an article in the August issue of the Journal of Political Economy, Ohanian and Cole blame specific anti-competition and pro-labor measures that Roosevelt promoted and signed into law June 16, 1933.

"President Roosevelt believed that excessive competition was responsible for the Depression by reducing prices and wages, and by extension reducing employment and demand for goods and services," said Cole, also a UCLA professor of economics. "So he came up with a recovery package that would be unimaginable today, allowing businesses in every industry to collude without the threat of antitrust prosecution and workers to demand salaries about 25 percent above where they ought to have been, given market forces. The economy was poised for a beautiful recovery, but that recovery was stalled by these misguided policies."

Using data collected in 1929 by the Conference Board and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Cole and Ohanian were able to establish average wages and prices across a range of industries just prior to the Depression. By adjusting for annual increases in productivity, they were able to use the 1929 benchmark to figure out what prices and wages would have been during every year of the Depression had Roosevelt's policies not gone into effect. They then compared those figures with actual prices and wages as reflected in the Conference Board data.

In the three years following the implementation of Roosevelt's policies, wages in 11 key industries averaged 25 percent higher than they otherwise would have done, the economists calculate. But unemployment was also 25 percent higher than it should have been, given gains in productivity.

Meanwhile, prices across 19 industries averaged 23 percent above where they should have been, given the state of the economy. With goods and services that much harder for consumers to afford, demand stalled and the gross national product floundered at 27 percent below where it otherwise might have been.

"High wages and high prices in an economic slump run contrary to everything we know about market forces in economic downturns," Ohanian said. "As we've seen in the past several years, salaries and prices fall when unemployment is high. By artificially inflating both, the New Deal policies short-circuited the market's self-correcting forces."

The policies were contained in the National Industrial Recovery Act (NIRA), which exempted industries from antitrust prosecution if they agreed to enter into collective bargaining agreements that significantly raised wages. Because protection from antitrust prosecution all but ensured higher prices for goods and services, a wide range of industries took the bait, Cole and Ohanian found. By 1934 more than 500 industries, which accounted for nearly 80 percent of private, non-agricultural employment, had entered into the collective bargaining agreements called for under NIRA.

Cole and Ohanian calculate that NIRA and its aftermath account for 60 percent of the weak recovery. Without the policies, they contend that the Depression would have ended in 1936 instead of the year when they believe the slump actually ended: 1943.

Roosevelt's role in lifting the nation out of the Great Depression has been so revered that Time magazine readers cited it in 1999 when naming him the 20th century's second-most influential figure.

"This is exciting and valuable research," said Robert E. Lucas Jr., the 1995 Nobel Laureate in economics, and the John Dewey Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago. "The prevention and cure of depressions is a central mission of macroeconomics, and if we can't understand what happened in the 1930s, how can we be sure it won't happen again?"

NIRA's role in prolonging the Depression has not been more closely scrutinized because the Supreme Court declared the act unconstitutional within two years of its passage.

"Historians have assumed that the policies didn't have an impact because they were too short-lived, but the proof is in the pudding," Ohanian said. "We show that they really did artificially inflate wages and prices."

Even after being deemed unconstitutional, Roosevelt's anti-competition policies persisted — albeit under a different guise, the scholars found. Ohanian and Cole painstakingly documented the extent to which the Roosevelt administration looked the other way as industries once protected by NIRA continued to engage in price-fixing practices for four more years.

The number of antitrust cases brought by the Department of Justice fell from an average of 12.5 cases per year during the 1920s to an average of 6.5 cases per year from 1935 to 1938, the scholars found. Collusion had become so widespread that one Department of Interior official complained of receiving identical bids from a protected industry (steel) on 257 different occasions between mid-1935 and mid-1936. The bids were not only identical but also 50 percent higher than foreign steel prices. Without competition, wholesale prices remained inflated, averaging 14 percent higher than they would have been without the troublesome practices, the UCLA economists calculate.

NIRA's labor provisions, meanwhile, were strengthened in the National Relations Act, signed into law in 1935. As union membership doubled, so did labor's bargaining power, rising from 14 million strike days in 1936 to about 28 million in 1937. By 1939 wages in protected industries remained 24 percent to 33 percent above where they should have been, based on 1929 figures, Cole and Ohanian calculate. Unemployment persisted. By 1939 the U.S. unemployment rate was 17.2 percent, down somewhat from its 1933 peak of 24.9 percent but still remarkably high. By comparison, in May 2003, the unemployment rate of 6.1 percent was the highest in nine years.

Recovery came only after the Department of Justice dramatically stepped up enforcement of antitrust cases nearly four-fold and organized labor suffered a string of setbacks, the economists found.

"The fact that the Depression dragged on for years convinced generations of economists and policy-makers that capitalism could not be trusted to recover from depressions and that significant government intervention was required to achieve good outcomes," Cole said. "Ironically, our work shows that the recovery would have been very rapid had the government not intervened."


Friday, August 06, 2004

The Logic of the Holocaust: Why the Nazis Killed the Jews

By Richard Koenigsberg

In this paper I will attempt to delineate the mindset of Hitler and the Nazis, to reveal the logic that was the source of the Holocaust. We begin by conceptualizing the Final Solution as a collective project that was consciously undertaken and profoundly significant to many persons. To understand the Holocaust is to reveal the meaning of the project that Hitler conceived and put into action. The question of motivation grows out of the issue of meaning. To understand why the Nazis killed the Jews is to reveal the purpose of mass murder. What did Hitler believe he would accomplish through the extermination of the Jews? What did he and the Nazis aspire to achieve through the Final Solution?

Based on thirty-five years of research, I conclude that the Final Solution grew out of a coherent structure of thought. In my study of Hitler’s Ideology, I analyzed the central metaphors in Hitler’s writings and speeches. My objective was to ascertain the deep structure of Nazi ideology. Put another way, I sought to uncover the fantasy that was the source of Hitler’s perception of reality. Hitler’s ideology represented a cognitive model that structured historical action.


At the core of Hitler’s ideology lay his conception of the German nation as a gigantic organism or actual body politic. This precious organism was imagined to be under attack, its life threatened by the presence of the Jew whose continued presence within the nation would lead to the death of Germany. Hitler described the Jew typically as the "demon of the disintegration of peoples, symbol of the unceasing destruction of their lives." In order to rescue Germany and save the life of the body politic, it was necessary to eliminate from within the nation those forces that threatened to destroy it. Genocide grew out of Hitler’s conviction that in order to save the life of Germany it was necessary to exterminate the Jewish people.

Hitler believed that his project was of the utmost value, indeed the most significant mission that a human being could undertake. He stated that he wished to “prevent our Germany from suffering, as Another did, the death upon the Cross.” In order to achieve his objective—to save Germany from death—everything was permissible:

We may be inhumane, but if we rescue Germany we have achieved the greatest deed in the world. We may work injustice, but if we rescue Germany then we have removed the greatest injustice in the world. We may be immoral, but if our people is rescued we have once more opened the way for morality.

To rescue Germany would be to achieve “the greatest deed in the world.” Hitler’s struggle (Kampf) was the struggle against death: to maintain the life of Germany in the face of forces that he believed were acting to destroy her.

Hitler often stated that the purpose of National Socialism was to “maintain the life of Germany.” He conceived of this mission in biological terms. Germany was described as a living organism with the German people constituting the cells of this organism. Jews constituted cells (bacteria or viruses) whose continued presence within the national body would lead to disease and death. In Mein Kampf, Hitler stated that Germans would choose as their leader one who “profoundly recognizes the distress of his people” and who, after he has attained “the ultimate clarity” with regard to the nature of the disease, “seriously tries to cure it." Hitler believed he was that unique politician who possessed the insight to diagnose Germany’s disease and the determination to prescribe and carry out the necessary treatment.

Hitler posed the question, "Could anyone believe that Germany alone was not subject to exactly the same laws as all other human organisms?” In his diary on March 27, 1942, Goebbels described the process of extermination as “pretty barbaric and not to be described in detail” but denied that it was necessary to have compunctions because after all this was a “life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus.” In his 1935-6 propaganda booklet Himmler observed that the battle against peoples conducted by Jews had belonged “so far as we can look back, to the natural course of life on our planet.” Therefore one could “calmly reach the conviction” that the struggle of nations against Jews, of “life and death” was quite as much a law of nature as “man's struggle against some epidemic, as the struggle of a healthy body to eliminate plague bacillus.”

What was the meaning of this biological imagery employed by Nazi leaders? What did Hitler have in mind when he stated that Germany was subject to the same laws as “all other human organisms?” What was the “law of nature,” as Himmler put it that made the struggle of nations against Jews equivalent to the struggle of a healthy body against the “plague bacillus?” The law to which Hitler and Himmler were referring, I believe, was the law of the immune system, that mechanism operating biochemically within each organism that works to destroy each and every cell identified as "not self."

Jews in the mind of Hitler and other Nazi leaders represented a foreign microorganism within the bloodstream of Germany. Since Jews were virulent microorganisms within the body politic, it was necessary that every single one of them be destroyed, lest they begin again to divide and multiply. The SS men functioned as "killer cells" within the national organism, assigned the task of identifying, tracking down and destroying the dangerous microorganisms. On the evening of February 22, 1942, Hitler met with Himmler and a Danish SS major and expounded his conviction that

The discovery of the Jewish virus is one of the greatest revolutions that has taken place in the world. The battle in which we are engaged today is of the same sort as the battle waged, during the last century, by Pasteur and Koch. How many diseases have their origin in the Jewish virus! We shall regain our health only by eliminating the Jew.

Hitler conceived of the Final Solution from the perspective of immunology. As “Doctor of the German people,” he would act to save the life of the body politic by destroying the pathogens that were the source of Germany’s disease.

Nazism, then, revolved around the idea that Germany was an actual body whose life was endangered by the presence of foreign cells within its bloodstream. The Final Solution represented a systematic effort to remove these alien cells from within the body politic, thereby destroying the source of the nation's disease and saving its life. This was the central fantasy contained within Hitler’s ideology: That Germany was an actual organism containing Jewish bacteria and viruses whose removal was necessary if the nation was to survive. However, what is the meaning of this extraordinary idea? Nations are not bodies and Jews are not bacteria. Why did these metaphors resonate with the German people? Let us approach this question by viewing Nazism as a religion.


Das Deutsche Volk, das Deutsche Volk, das Deutsche Volk were words echoing throughout Germany in the early Thirties. Hitler's religion of Nazism permitted the German people to worship themselves, bow down to their own nation and nationality. In the United States we say, "I pledge allegiance to the flag and to the republic for which it stands, one nation, under God." The oath of the SS Man went as follows: "We swear to you, Adolf Hitler, as Fuhrer and Chancellor of the German Reich, our loyalty and bravery. We swear to you, and our superiors appointed to you, obedience unto death. So help us God!" Nazism was pledge of allegiance in its most radical form, apogee of Western nationalism.

It is misleading to conceptualize the willingness of Nazis to follow orders in terms of passive acquiescence. What we call obedience was understood and experienced by Germans as faithfulness, loyalty, and willingness to sacrifice for the community. This quality of active devotion lay at the heart of the Nazi revolution. When 15,000 persons rise to their feet and pay respect to basketball player Michael Jordan with a standing ovation, we don’t call this "obedience." Rather, we understand the applause to mean that persons appreciate what Jordan has accomplished and stands for. So it was with the German people in their relation to Hitler. Many Germans loved Hitler and appreciated what he said.

Hitler himself was the greatest devotee of his own religion. He declared, “We do not want to have any other God—only Germany.” He inspired others to worship the god that he worshipped, indeed insisted that they do so. Though cynical and devious in his pursuit of power, his devotion to Germany was sincere and profound. Typically, he proclaimed:

Our future is Germany. Our today is German. And our past is Germany. Let us take a vow this morning, at every hour, in each day, to think of Germany, of the nation, of our German people. You cannot be unfaithful to something that has given sense and meaning to your whole existence.

He affirmed that "Our love towards our people will never falter, and our faith in this Germany of ours is imperishable" and stated that Deutscheland uber Alles is a “profession of faith, which today fills millions with a greater strength, with that faith which is mightier than any earthly might." Nationalism, for Hitler, meant to act with a “boundless, all embracing love for the Volk and, if necessary, to die for it."

Hitler stated that Volksgemeinschaft meant "overcoming bourgeois privatism, unconditionally equating the individual fate and the fate of the nation." Every single German was obligated to unite with the community, to embrace and share the common faith. According to Hitler:

No one is excepted from the crisis of the Reich. This Volk is but yourselves. There may not be a single person who excludes himself from this obligation.

Hitler’s nationalism insisted upon absolute identification with the community. Nazi totalitarianism meant that not a single person was exempt from the obligation to devote one's life to Germany and make enormous sacrifices in her name.

Hitler said, "We are fanatic in our love for our people. We can go as loyally as a dog with those who share our sincerity, but we will pursue with fanatic hatred the man who believes that he can play tricks with this love of ours." Hitler’s rage was directed toward those whom he imagined did not share his faith. The existence of such persons seemed to mock his belief and sincerity. Hitler stated that:

Our aim is the dictatorship of the whole people, the community. I began to win men to the idea of an eternal national and social ideal—to subordinate one's own interests to the interest of the whole society. There are, nevertheless, a few incurables who had never understood the happiness of belonging to this great, inspiring community.

By calling persons who refused to subordinate personal interests to the interest of society "incurables," Hitler was suggesting that those who did not wish to belong to the community were suffering from a disease. This idea lay at the heart of Nazi ideology: that anyone who did not believe in Hitler and his movement, did not wish to devote his or her life to the nation, was "sick." The "disease within the body of the people" to which Hitler so often referred symbolized, we may suggest, precisely the wish to separate from the national community. It was this desire to be separate that the Nazis aspired to eradicate.


If Nazism was rooted in profound attachment to Germany, Jews symbolized negation of attachment and destruction of the idea of the nation. The metaphor that appeared with greatest frequency in Hitler's speeches as a description of Jews was Zerzetzung or “force of disintegration.” This German word is widely used in chemistry and biology meaning "decomposition," "decay," or "putrefaction." The word was intended to suggest that the Jewish race worked toward the destruction or decomposition of all "genuine values," of everything that was sacred to the Germans--Germanic tradition, culture, their position in the world, patriotism, and patriotic symbols. Goebbels stated in January 1945 that "The Jews are the incarnation of that destructive drive which in these terrible years rages in the enemies' warfare against everything that we consider noble, beautiful and worth preserving."

Jews symbolized for the Nazis that which called into question the fundamental beliefs and values of the German people. Where the Aryan stood for willingness to sacrifice for the community, Jews stood for individualism. If the good German was characterized by idealistic devotion to a cause, Jews represented selfishness, self-interest, practicality, and money. Goebbels contrasted "The creative, constructive philosophy of National Socialism with its idealistic goals" to the Jewish philosophy of “materialism and individualism." Jews were seen as lacking a soul--the precise opposite of the heroic, self-sacrificing Aryan.

Hitler bluntly told his audiences, "You are nothing, your nation is everything." The fundamental premise of Nazi ideology was that the individual should subordinate himself to the community. The essence of morality, according to this view, was willingness to sacrifice personal interest in the name of the nation. Hitler’s Official Programme, published in 1927, put forth as its central plank: "The Common Interest before Self Interest." It stated that "The leaders of our public life all worship the same god—Individualism. Personal interest is the sole incentive." National Socialism would come into being in order to subordinate the interests of the individual to the requirements of the collective.

On the one hand, then, stood the ideal of Volksgemeinschaft, the community of the people; on the other hand stood the ideas of individualism and individuality. Hitler believed that the tendency of the individual to pursue private interest worked to shatter the bond tying him to his nation. The fundamental characteristic of Jews according to the Nazis was precisely their “free floating” quality, the fact that they lacked an organic tie to a national body. Their tendency to ruthlessly pursue personal interest (both cause and effect of their separateness) tempted others to embrace this tendency. The very existence of Jews within a nation worked to disintegrate the body politic.

The following judgment by the Cologne Labor Court dated January 21, 1941, denied the claim of Jewish employees to a vacation:

The precondition for the claim to a vacation—membership of the plant community—does not exist. A Jew cannot be a member of the plant community on account of his whole racial tendency which is geared to forwarding his personal interests and securing economic advantages.

By virtue of the racially inherited Jewish tendency toward “forwarding personal interests and securing economic advantages,” the Jew was imagined to be incapable of participating in the life of a community. Hitler called Jews the “ferment of decomposition in peoples,” meaning that the Jew “destroys and must destroy.” Therefore, Hitler said, it is “beside the point whether the individual Jew is 'decent' or not. In himself he carries those characteristics which Nature has given him."

Hitler stated that the Jew “completely lacks the conception of an activity which builds up the life of the community.” Nazi scholarship declared that the peculiar characteristic of Judaism was “its hostility to human society,” which is why there could be no solution to the Jewish question. A true understanding of Jews and Judaism “insists on their total annihilation." The Jewish tendency toward selfish individualism (fixed by heredity according to the Nazis) meant that they were incapable of comprehending the necessity of national self-sacrifice. The purpose of the Final Solution was to punish the Jews for their anti-social tendencies, to demonstrate that sacrifice was required of everyone, that it was impossible for any human being to escape or resist the embrace of the nation-state. The Final Solution was undertaken in order to prove that evasion of society was impossible.


Hitler's nationalism was bound to the idea of sacrifice. Writing about the First World War (in which two million German soldiers were killed), Hitler said: "When in the long war years Death snatched so many dear comrades and friends from our ranks, it would have seemed to me almost a sin to complain—after all, were they not dying for Germany?" As the Second World War progressed with the invasion of Russia, Goebbels was satisfied to note that "The German soldiers go into battle with devotion, like congregations going into service." General von Runstedt admonished the soldiers of World War II to emulate the example of their brothers in the First World War: "The heroic death of a German soldier is not something to be forgotten. Instead, it should inspire everyone who remembers it to die in the same way, to be as strong, unswerving and obedient, to go happily and as a matter of course to his death."

The ideology of Germany, then, was intimately bound to the idea of self-sacrifice on a national level. However, after the First World War questions began to arise regarding the value of the monumental sacrifices that had been made by German soldiers. A paradox arose in the minds of some thinkers: Why had the best of the German stock, soldiers in the prime of life, been sent indiscriminately to their deaths, while great pains were taken to keep other, "inferior" kinds of persons alive. In their influential book on “life unworthy of life” published in, 1918 Binding and Hoche wrote:

If one thinks of a battlefield covered with thousands of dead youth and contrasts this with our institutions for the feebleminded with their solicitude for their living patients—then one would be deeply shocked by the glaring disjunction between the sacrifice of the most valuable possession of humanity on one side and on the other the greatest care of beings who are not only worthless but even manifest negative value.

In the battlefields of the First World War, the state squandered the lives of healthy, young men. In hospitals, on the other hand, the state devoted great efforts toward assuring the survival of those who were mentally ill. If the state was willing to sacrifice the lives of its soldiers, why should so many resources be expended to keep mental patients alive?

Based on the impact and according to the logic of ideas like these about “life unworthy life,” the “euthanasia movement” was initiated by the Nazis. By 1939, prior to the Final Solution, nearly 100,000 defective children and mental patients had been killed by the German state. A major figure in the euthanasia movement, Dr. Pfanmuller, articulated the link between the death of soldiers in war and state killing of the mentally ill when he said: "The idea is unbearable to me that the best, the flower of our youth must lose its life at the front in order that feeble-minded and irresponsible asocial elements can have a secure existence in the asylum." What was unbearable was that the idea that the state had no qualms about sending the most valuable human beings to die, but took great pains to preserve the lives of those that made no contribution to the community.

In order to “balance things out,” therefore, achieve a kind of “fairness,” the Nazis put forth and acted upon the idea that it was necessary to kill bad persons as well as good ones. If the state acted without compunction to cause the deaths of those who made the greatest contribution to the nation (German soldiers), surely it should have no misgivings about killing mentally ill or anti-social elements that made no contribution to the community. Indeed, according to Nazi ideology, the nation would be better off if it was relieved of the burden of these “parasites on the body of the people” that consumed resources but did not produce or create them.

Realization that the state worked to preserve the lives of inferior people while at the same time promiscuously sending soldiers to die was part of a broader question raised by Hitler and others subsequent to the First World War: Why does the state require that the best human beings die while it allows the worst to survive? The best human beings according to Hitler were those who willingly abandoned personal interests in the name of serving the community. The very best human beings did not shrink from making the “supreme sacrifice;” they were willing to be “obedient unto death,” to die for their country. According to our ordinary sense of justice or fairness, moral virtue is rewarded, while the absence of morality is punished. In warfare, however, those who are morally virtuous are punished (with death); while those who are immoral (shirkers, war deserters, those unwilling to serve the country, etc.) are rewarded (they do not lose their lives).

Hitler understood what warfare and battle were, having participated in the First World War and witnessed the death and mutilation of hundreds of his comrades. He knew that starting a Second World War would lead to the deaths of innumerable German soldiers. Nevertheless, he did not hesitate to declare war and to send his troops into battle. Was this not the prerogative of the commander-in-chief of a great nation?

If young German men, the best human beings, were obliged to go to war when their nation asked them to do so, to suffer and perhaps to die in battle, why should inferior people be spared such a fate? If Germans were required to sacrifice their individuality in the name of the community, surrender their bodies to the nation state, why should other human beings be exempt from this obligation? Questions such as these led to the Final Solution.


The extermination of the Jewish people began in 1941, prior to the development of death camps and gas chambers. As the German army penetrated into the Soviet Union, they were followed closely by the Einsatzgruppen or mobile killing units. It is estimated that more than one-and-one-half million Jews were killed, most of them shot at close range. By the end of the winter of 1941-42, more than 90% of the Jews trapped by the Germans east of the Soviet border had been killed. The extermination of men, women, and children apparently did not disturb Hitler. "If I don't mind sending the pick of the German people into the hell of war without regret for the shedding of valuable German blood,” he said, “Then I have naturally the right to destroy millions of men of inferior races who increase like vermin." The logic of extermination seems to be contained within this statement. If he had the right as commander-in-chief of the army to send the best human beings, German soldiers, to their deaths, why, Hitler reflected, would he not have the right to send Jews, the worst human beings, mortal enemies of the German people to their deaths?

A sign at the entrance to Auschwitz read: "I bid you welcome. This is not a holiday resort but a labor camp. Just as our soldiers risk their lives at the front to gain victory for the Third Reich, you will have to work here for the welfare of a new Europe." This sign, mocking or taunting the Jews as they arrived at the camps, evokes the mentality that generated the Holocaust. It would appear that the Final Solution functioned as a means of conveying to Jews the following message: “Do not think that you are exempt from the obligation to sacrifice for Germany. Just as our soldiers are suffering and dying for Germany at the front, so you too will be compelled to suffer and die in the camps.” Jews—like the German soldiers—would be required to give over their bodies and to sacrifice their lives at the behest of the nation-state.

The Final Solution came into being in order to teach Jews a lesson, punish them for their “selfish individualism.” Jews symbolized the idea that it was possible to evade or escape the nation-state, to function or exist under conditions of separateness from the community. The Final Solution represented an effort to demonstrate that there could be no such thing as separation from the national community. The Holocaust affirmed that the nation-state was “total,” capable of controlling the lives and deaths of each and every human being within its boundaries. The Final Solution came into being in order to substantiate the omnipotence of Germany, show the Jews “once and for all” that they were not exempt from the obligation to submit to the community.

The logic of the Holocaust followed from the logic of domination and death that was the essence of National Socialism. Nazism glorified the nation-state and negated the individual, conferring absolute power upon the idea of the “community.” In Nazism, the human being was expected to sacrifice his concrete existence for the good of the nation. Hitler explained to the German people their role, and summed up Nazi ideology as follows: “You are nothing, your nation is everything.”

On the other hand according to Hitler there was one group of people, Jews, that was incapable of catching on, who refused to buy into the ideal of sacrificial submission. The idea that certain persons believed that they were exempt from the obligation to submit to the community—enraged Hitler and was the source of what followed. Why were some people required to give over their lives, to sacrifice themselves for Germany while others were not? Hitler projected the idea of freedom from the community onto the Jews.

However, the Nazis could not bear to contemplate freedom, the idea that some people were not required to surrender their lives to the state. After all, they had sworn “obedience unto death” to Hitler and Germany. The Final Solution was undertaken in order to demonstrate that freedom was not an option, that it was impossible to evade the nation-state. The Holocaust came into being in order to demonstrate to the Jews that Germany was omnipotent. No one was capable of resisting; everyone would be compelled to submit. If German soldiers were suffering and dying in massive numbers in battle, so Jews would be required to suffer and die in massive numbers in death camps.

The Holocaust represented the consummation of Nazism, the climax of Western nationalism, and fulfillment of the fantasy that it is “good and beautiful to die for one’s country." By acting out this fantasy of nationalism, taking it to its extreme, bizarre conclusion, Hitler was telling us something about, pointing toward the rottenness or corruptness of this fantasy. In war, soldiers are required to give over their bodies and souls to the nation-state, to die when leaders ask them to do so. The Holocaust constituted an extension of this logic. Jews were compelled to give over their bodies and souls to Germany. The Holocaust depicts the idea of "dying for the country" stripped of words such as honor, loyalty and glorify.

Sunday, August 01, 2004

The Islamic "Z" Men

(And the media war within the terror war)

By Wayne Lusvardi

With the unconfirmed report that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi - al Qaeda's reported field commander in Iraq - may have been captured on Friday July 30, there is the impression that al Qaeda's No. 2 man had been nabbed. See here. Maybe so, maybe no.

For the uninformed there is little distinction between al Qaeda's "Z" men - Abu al Zarqawi and Ayman al Zawahiri. To most Americans the names sound the same. Zarqawi is a warrior; Zawahiri is a strategist and right hand man to Osama bin Laden.

Since it is often said that it takes one to know one, a recent book by another "Z" man, Montasser al Zayyat, "The Road to al Qaeda: The Story of bin Laden's Right Hand Man" (Pluto Press, 2004) may be helpful in knowing our enemy. The book is a best seller in the Arab world (Note: Pluto Press is a hard Left publisher -- which makes it all the more interesting). While Zarqawi would be a real catch (I'm skeptical they have caught him), it is Zawahiri, the mastermind of 9/11 that really needs to be caught or killed if the war on terror is going to cut off the head of the snake rather than just its tail.

Author Montasser al Zayyat knew Zawahiri personally after both were rounded up and imprisoned in Egypt after the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. Zayyat has since broken ranks with al Qaeda.

Zayyat's book points out that Zawahiri and other militant Islamists view the execution by Nasser in 1966 of Egyptian activist and ideologist Sayyid Qutb as a galvanizing event. Qutb's writings called for political jihad after the 1967 Arab defeat by Israel and the failure of Nasserism to build a new Arab society based on socialism. After Nasser cracked down on radical Islamists in the 1960's, there was a subsequent migration of hundreds of thousands of Egyptian professionals to the Gulf States in the 1970's and 1980's, in an under-reported "Arab Exile" that formed the basis of today's terrorism.

Like many revolutionaries who lived in France, Britain or some other modern western state only to return to their native country to foment revolution, Qutb actually lived in the U.S. for a while. It is not recognized in the mainstream media that al Qaeda's revolutionaries are more like the Jacobins, Bolsheviks, and latter-day Marxist guerrillas in the Baader-Meinhoff gang. Their insurrectionist tactics are the same: provoke retaliation by the ruling power that can be painted as brutal repression in the hope of getting the mass of the populace on your side. Proving that poverty doesn't breed revolutionaries, Zawahiri unsurprisingly comes from an aristocratic Egyptian family whose grandfather founded the Arab League. Zawahiri went to Cairo University, earning a doctor's degree in surgery. He married a female philosophy professor there. Zawahiri later went to Afghanistan during the Soviet occupation to implement a jihad without interference from the Eqyptian secret police. In Afghanistan Zawahiri met bin Laden. Zawahiri and bin Laden co-opted the Taliban. The Taliban provided a safe haven for members of the Egyptian Jihad movement. Another little known fact is that the U.S. was funding the Taliban up to right before 9/11.

And if you haven't picked up on it, recent reports, later proven false, from conservative media outlets of "nuke missiles found near Bagdad" and "Zaqawi captured" seem timed to drown out U.S. domestic news about John Kerry and the Democratic National Convention. Of course, this is no different than what the mainstream media has been doing for decades in the other direction -- as pointed out in Edith Efron's book "The News Twisters" (1971) which devastatingly documented that coverage of the 1968 U.S. Presidential campaign was massively slanted against Richard Nixon by all three U.S. network news departments. Efron convincingly proves her point in this book with some of the most damning bar graph statistics I've ever run across. And for an example of slanted Leftist media reporting of the Vietnam War read Peter Braestrup's "The Big Lie" (Yale University Press 1978) which documents the massive misreportage of the Tet Offensive as a "disaster" -- which helped change the course of the support for the Vietnam war at home. It not only pays to know your enemy, but to know the lens through which you know your enemy.