Otto Strasser’s blueprint for a German Socialist ‘authoritarian democracy’
The excerpt below comprises the entirety of Part Three, Chapter Three of Otto Strasser’s 1940 book Germany Tomorrow, and is probably one of the most detailed descriptions for how a National Socialist state system would function in practice. Germany Tomorrow is itself an expanded, English-language translation of Strasser’s earlier work Aufbau des Deutschen Sozialismus (‘Construction of German Socialism’), originally published in 1931 about a year after Otto left the NSDAP. Part Three of Germany Tomorrow, ‘The New Order’, is a mostly-complete translation of the 1936 2nd edition of Strasser’s original Aufbau, while Parts One and Two (dealing with the Hitler government, prospects for revolution, and the potential post-War situation) were new material supposedly written expressly for the book and for its English-language audience. There are some differences between the two German editions of Aufbau and its later English adaptation (most notably in its discussion of the ‘Jewish question’), but on the whole Part Three of Germany Tomorrow seems to me an accurate translation of the 1936 edition of Aufbau, hence my reproduction of it here. The type of state Strasser describes (an ‘authoritarian democracy’ which mixes both council-nationalist and corporatist concepts) is interesting, although perhaps a little unwieldy with its federalist system and its three levels of government. Some of the council features it describes are reminiscent of Rudolf Jung’s original work on National Socialist ideology, although unlike with William Joyce this is less likely to be simple coincidence. Jung kept up a correspondence with both Strasser brothers throughout their careers, so some level of influence should not be surprising – although apparently Jung’s ideological worldview generally lined up more with Gregor’s than with that of Gregor’s radical “ink-slinging kid brother”.
THE GERMAN SOCIALIST STATE
I. MATTERS OF PRINCIPLE
In accordance with the organic conception that all institutions must be judged by the extent to which they favour organic life, we regard the State, not as something that stands above the community at large, but as nothing else than the organizational form of the people, the form that will ensure the fullest possible development of the organism known as the ‘German people’. The State is not an end in itself, but something whose aim is (or should be) so to deal with the organism of the ‘people’ (or ‘Nation’) that it may most effectively utilize all the energies that will enable the community to maintain itself as against other communities in the world.
It follows from this that the State is always determined by the peculiarities of the people. No people can take over intact the State-forms of another. When the form of the State is adapted to the peculiarities of the people of one country, our organic outlook makes it plain that this form of State cannot be perfectly adapted to the peculiarities of any other people. If, for instance, fascism is the form of State best suited to the Italian people (and the fact that the Italian people tolerates it makes this probable), then fascism cannot be the form of State best suited to the German people. The same considerations apply to the bolshevik form of State which prevails in Russia, which cannot possibly be the best form of State for the German people.
The State must originate out of the nature of the people; it should arrange the people’s life, and reduce internal friction to a minimum, for then the outwardly directed energies will grow more powerful. The athlete who trains for some great achievement, who makes his nerves and muscles cooperate without friction, and who by the regular practice of graduated exercises also cultivates the mental powers of self-confidence and will-to-victory, is the model of an organism in prime condition. A team trained for success in some particular sport, such as football, is a community whose chances of victory depend on the same presupposition – the reducing of internal friction to a minimum, in order to secure the maximum output of well-directed energy.
The conception of the State as the best possible organization of the people involves the rejection on principle of the demigod role which all dictators and would-be dictators ascribe to the State, and implies the frank avowal of the ‘people’s State’. The organic connexion between people and State which underlies the latter notion imposes upon the conservative revolutionary as a necessary deduction that the forms of the State must adapt themselves to the internal and external transformation of the people, of the popular consciousness, of the popular degree of maturity. It also follows as a matter of principle that those forms of the State are ‘good’, i.e. suitable, which are favourable to the bodily and mental health and development of the organism that is the people; even as those forms of the State are ‘bad’, i.e. unsuitable, that are unfavourable and inhibitive in these respects.
For the people is the content, the living, the organic; the State is the form, the dead, the organizational.
The experiences of recent years, and especially our experiences of the Hitler System, make it necessary to reject with the utmost possible emphasis the principle of the ‘totalitarian state’.
The national idea, according to which man and his organic community the people should be the core of the social system, involves by its conservative nature the repudiation of any attempt to idolize an organizational form. No less decisively in favour of this repudiation is the recognition that the State, from its very nature, can only have regulative functions, that is to say can only influence and ought only to influence a part (though an important part) of the social life. Both the lower plane, that of the ‘body’ (=economic life), and still more the higher plane, that of the ‘soul’ (=culture), tend by their very nature to set themselves apart from the plane of the ‘spirit’ (=society), and claim for themselves independent fulfilment, unless the natural equilibrium is to be impaired, which will inevitably lead to the illness and ultimately to the death of the organism as a whole.
In accordance with the introductory thoughts to our Philosophical Foundations the reader will, I think, understand these dissertations even if he finds I am making a somewhat unfamiliar use of terms. (This is mainly because the words – like old coins – have been worn thin by excessive use. They will need to be reminded in days to come.)
The lordly sense of superiority with which the genuine conservative always regards the State as nothing more than an instrument, a tool – as a ‘suit of clothes’ which fits the people more or less well – is justified, even as is justified the humble respect he has for the organism of the ‘nation’, in which he sees the durable whilst the State is the transient, varying with the extant growth or ripeness of the nation.
II. THE FORM OF THE STATE
For these reasons, at bottom the State form is indifferent, and all we have to enquire is which form of State is most appropriate to the present ripeness (=age) and ideology of the German people.
For these reasons, more especially, the question monarchy or republic is of little moment. Our choice will be determined by our answer to the question, ‘Which form of State will be most suitable to the German character and essential nature?’ The more suitable the State is to the German character, the more harmonious will be its internal organization, and the more powerful will it be in a world where it is faced by other States.
The principle that only the best and most efficient among German men shall be summoned to lead the State, excludes hereditary monarchy, for it is contrary to probabilities that talent will be so perfectly transmitted by inheritance that the son of the best leader will also be the best leader of his people. An additional argument against hereditary monarchy is the principle that there must be no handicap in life, that there shall be equality of opportunity for all the citizens. A form of State in which a supreme position is assured, by the mere fact of birth, to the eldest son of the reigning monarch conflicts so drastically with the principle of equality of opportunity that it is self-condemned.
Remains to decide between an electoral monarchy and a republic. In either case the head of the State will be elected: in an electoral monarchy, for life; in a republic, for a specified term.
A short term certainly involves the danger that the president will be tempted, in order to favour his chances of re-election, to bribe the electors by concessions of one sort or another; and this will make dispassionate government unlikely. The danger of bias will be greater when the president is energetic and ambitious (two qualities that are otherwise desirable in a statesman), resulting in corruption when the electorate is small, in the courting of popularity when it is large.
Such dangers are obviated when the president (or monarch) is elected for life, for this makes him independent of the electors, and enables him to contemplate and carry out far-reaching schemes regardless of anything so mutable as popular favour.
For these reasons it seems to us that the best arrangement for Germany would be that the Reich should have a president elected for the term of his natural life. That would be conformable with the experience of more than a thousand years of German history, and it matters not whether the monarch so chosen is called an emperor or a president.
The president of the Reich, elected for life, will be the supreme representative of the State authority. The ministers appointed by and subordinate to him will merely by expats with advisory functions, and will not be responsible wielders of State power; they will be personally responsible to the president.
The second wielder of State authority will be the Great Council.
The Great Council will consist of the presidents of the provinces (from twelve to seventeen in number), the five ministers of State, and the presidium of the Reich Chamber of the Estates. It will therefore have about two dozen members, all of them persons of outstanding importance. By a simple majority vote, the Great Council will also elect the president of the Reich (who need not be a member of the Council).
The third wielder of State authority will be the Reich Chamber of Estates. This will consist of 110 members, 100 being elected and 10 being nominated. It stands at the head of the entire Estates System. (Fuller details will be found in Section Five, below.)
The three wielders of State authority will have equal powers. A law will require the assent of any two of them for enactment or repeal.
Stability in the management of the State will be ensured by the fact that the president of the Reich is elected for life, that he will command a majority in the Great Council (since he appoints the presidents of the provinces), and because, nominating ten members of the Reich Chamber of Estates, he will also have predominant influence in that body.
The position of the president of the Reich, which was outlined by the author in 1931, obtruded itself into the Hitler System after Hindenburg’s death – but with the difference typical of the transitional character of the Hitlerian epoch, that here it was an inevitable outcome of circumstances, not the fruit of creative will. This accounts for the absurdity that the ministry de jure of the Reich still has in the main (as the Weimar constitution forsaw) de facto the character of a mere body of experts with advisory functions, and lacking the powers of responsible government.
But precisely because the president of the Reich will thus have a great deal of power, it is vital that there should be the two other wielders of State authority; to establish the eminently desirable modern form of ‘authoritarian democracy, which is fundamentally distinct both from the dictatorship (of an individual or of a party) and from the mass dominion (of parties or councils). – Once more, fuller details will be found below in Section Five.
Here it becomes necessary to say something important about the officialdom. In conformity with the essential nature of the genuine ‘people’s State’ which we desire to establish, there must be no privileged officials. Probably there is no popular sentiment more widely diffused, and certainly there can be none better justified, than discontent with an officialdom which considers itself entitled to lead a sheltered life apart from the economic struggles of the broad masses of the people. Less than ever today do any exceptional achievements of the officialdom warrant such a position.
When as a matter of principle the ‘official’ has become nothing more than a ‘public servant’, he will have to fulfil all the demands for efficiency and hard work that are made of the members of the liberal professions, and to share in the vicissitudes of the general welfare. In other words, whereas in contemporary Germany the officials have peculiar rights in that they cannot be dismissed and are entitled to pensions – when the new order has been established, absolute security against dismissal will have been forfeited by officials of all grades, whilst the right to a pension will belong to every German citizen without exception.
It will be a firm principle with German socialism that a privileged and powerful officialdom – bureaucracy, in short – will be a deadly peril, against which the only safeguards are a maximum of self-government, and a minimum of official rights. That is why strict supervision and control of all public functionaries will be so imperative.
IV. PROVINCIAL SUBDIVISION
One of the most difficult questions of German home policy, hitherto, has been the puerile one, unitarism or federalism? The question is of typically liberal origin, and it need hardly be said that the liberal answer has always been ‘unitarism’.
Though a conservative German will no less certainly answer ‘federalism’, it must not be supposed that he dreams of making the present German States the units of this new federalism. These States nowise correspond to the organic integrality of the populations living within their ‘borders’. They came into being as a result of the local dynasts’ endeavour to bring as much territory and as many ‘subjects’ as possible under their respective sways – an endeavour which was most powerful (and also most deleterious to Germany) in the Habsburg monarchy.
It will, therefore, obviously be needful for Germany, as a start, to break up and rearrange these separate States.
I know that, as things are now, both Old Prussia and New Prussia will strongly oppose the disintegration of the State that passes by the name of Prussia, on the ground that it would be disastrous to the Reich because it would impair the formative energy of the Prussian spirit.
I have, indeed, too much respect for the Prussian spirit, and am too keenly aware of the important part it has played in German history, to be moved by any anti-Prussian resentment such as I might be supposed to have imbibed in my Bavarian homeland.
But my knowledge of the German character and of German history have convinced me that the Prussian particularist solution was no more than an arbitrary expedient – which did not cease to be an arbitrary expedient because it was advocated and adopted by Frederick the Great and then by Bismarck. My general understanding of historical interlacements convinced me, indeed, that in the epoch of the (liberal) national State there was no other way by which the Reich could be established than by the hegemony of Prussia. But the same understanding now informs me that the time is ripe for a revival of the old (conservative) idea of the Reich, an idea whose mystical interconnexion with the rebirth of the West is overwhelmingly confirmed by the history of the last thousand years.
The development of the German people into a true German nation (which I regard as the substantial meaning of the German Revolution) demands and compels that Prussian particularism in all its forms shall be thrown into the melting-pot, demands and compels a wedding of the Frederician German type with the Theresian German type to procreate (anew) the true German – for to the true German appertains a European sense, which was so conspicuously and fatefully lacking in Prussian particularism.
This recognition of the necessarily unified character of the German State is not an acceptance of the ideal of liberal unitarism. For this unified German State must not be ruled centrally from one spot. There are such marked geopolitical, religious, and cultural differences within the German people as to forbid a uniformity that would conflict with the very nature of the Germans. Though, therefore, the coming German realm will be unified, it will be federally subdivided into provinces. The extant arbitrarily formed States and territories having been broken up, they will be rearranged into from twelve to fifteen provinces, each corresponding to a geopolitical, cultural and tribal entity.
The weekly periodical I used to edit under the title of ‘Der schwarze Front’ [Black Front] contains, in its issue of September 30, 1931, a sketch of the proposed subdivision of the German Reich as it then existed, to which I refer readers who want more details.
The province will be subdivided into circles (Kreise), each having approximately the size of the present circles (in Bavaria, Bezirk; in Saxony, Amtshauptmannschaft; in Wurtemberg, Oberamt; in Baden, Amtsbezirk; in Mecklenburg and Oldenburg, Amt).
Reich – province – circle will this be the organizational subdivision of the administrative areas of the German State.
Each province will have its own president, who will hold office for seven years. He will be appointed by the president of the Reich, but the appointment will be subject to the approval of the Provincial Chamber of Estates. If this approval is withheld for two years in succession, the provincial president will have to retire, and the president of the Reich must appoint another.
In like manner the circle president will be appointed for five years by the provincial president, and his appointment will need the approval of the Circle Chamber of Estates. Here also, if approval is withheld once, the question will come up again after a year’s interval.
The need for confirmation of the appointment of the chief provincial and circle officials by the respective Chambers of Estates implies the exercise of an extremely important influence by the popular assemblies. Thereby the presidents of circles and provinces will become at least as dependent upon the good will of the people as upon that of their official superiors, and this is all the more important because thus the popular influence in the Great Council will go far beyond that in any case exercised through the representatives directly elected by the people (the five chairmen of the Reich Chambers of Estates).
The prescription of a one-year-interval before a second vote by which the president of a province or a circle can be definitively dismissed safeguards these officials against excessive mutability of public opinion and ensures in any case the continuous functioning of State authority.
V. THE ESTATES SYSTEM
A. Abolition of the Party System
The most important inference from the conservative view that human beings (even the members of the same people) are unequal in bodily, mental, and religious respects, and therefore unequal in what they can do for the community, is the repudiation of the (pseudo-)democratic principle of equality.
A further inference is the recognition that every human being can only form valid judgements about things and persons that he knows from his own achievements and from personal experience. This involves the repudiation of the politico-parliamentary electoral system.
It is time to unveil the repulsive and gain-seeking falsehood of popular government which is an essential constituent of liberalism, which is disseminated by selfish groups of capitalists, promulgated by internationals of all kinds, maintained by demagogy that tickles the vanity of the masses and contributes to securing for various obscure forces an influence and leadership that would be impossible in a better-managed State.
That is why the German socialists unconditionally reject any kind of political election, any election by political parties and groups which always remain anonymous, and, conversely, why they insist that it is necessary to establish a system of popular representation by vocational estates.
On principle these demands signify the end of all political parties, and whatever kind of parliaments they may have formed. From their very nature political parties have a vital interest in sundering the people into factions, for they exist through producing such a cleavage, and their main task is to foster and intensify oppositions of every kind by means of the press, public meetings, etc. A genuine commonwealth of the people can, therefore, only be established by the destruction of the existing party system.
If I here reproduce without change what appears concerning this matter in the first edition (1931) of the Aufbau des deutschen Sozialismus, it is only to show in how inadequate, half-hearted, and therefore inveracious a way the Hitler System fulfilled this primary demand of the German Revolution. The necessary and eminently desirable dissolution of political parties was stayed as regards the dissolution of the Hitlerian Party; the (evil and corrupt) system of rule by political parties was replaced by the (still more evil and still more corrupt) system of rule by a monopolist party.
All complaints made of the party system apply with redoubled force to the monopolist party system of the Hitler regime, which has all the drawbacks of the multiple-party system and none of its advantages.
In my view the parliamentary form of party government is incomparably preferable to any kind of uncontrolled personal or party dictatorship – not forgetting that there are varieties of parliamentary party government, ranging from the ideal-democratic system of the Swiss canton of Appenzell by way of the conservative-democratic system of Great Britain to the demagogic-democratic system of the Weimar Republic.
The fact that there are such diversities within the field of parliamentary democracy shows that where there are different preliminaries, at varying times and under various developmental conditions, there may be distinctive forms of democracy, and that it is consequently incumbent upon us to study what new kinds of democracy may be called for by existing circumstances.
Nor must we forget the signal fact that during the last decades of western social evolution there has been going on everywhere a ‘massing’ of the people which cannot fail to have momentous consequences. Owing to the rapid growth of towns, of enormous towns, tentacular towns, people have been uprooted from the countryside and ‘intellectualized’ in a way that has weakened their healthy instincts; this has been accompanied by a growing inclination to overrate both machinery and sport, these in their turn tending to hasten the general despiritualization of life. The net upshot has been the fateful change of the peoples into mere masses, a change which has increasingly affected all the European nations. Elsewhere, discussing the matter in detail, I have given concrete instances of this trend and its effect upon political life. Here, then, it will suffice to reiterate my conclusion that this disastrous change from people to mass will necessarily involve the decay of all the old forms of democracy – a decay that is so conspicuously displayed by the cheapjack methods of the mass political parties of today.
A logical inference from this, reinforced by a knowledge of what has been happening in Germany, is that the revival of the old parties has become impossible.
The German people’s passive acceptance of these (still no more than half-finished) workings of the Hitler System shows very clearly [in 1936] how accurate was the diagnosis of the situation I made five years ago, and how in this respect the Hitler System has been fulfilling the will of the German Revolution.
B. Vocational Councils
It is of the utmost importance, therefore, to establish a new form of democracy which shall avoid the defects of the old kinds, shall make due allowance for the ‘massing’ which has occurred, shall go out to meet the dangers that have resulted therefrom, and shall overcome them within its own structure – trying, at the same time, to arrest, and as far as may be to reverse, this process of disintegration.
These things will only be possible if we can liberate once more the mighty energies of self-government, loosen the framework of society, educate the people by systematically encouraging political responsibility in the very lowest strata of the community, and thus consolidate a supporting tier, without which authoritative democracy is impossible.
We must therefore create, instead of the bureaucratically dictatorial State of fascist, bolshevist, or parliamentary irresponsibility, the genuinely popular State of German democracy and aristocratic responsibility.
The principles and forms of an aristocratically responsible way of carrying on the State have been expounded in the first four sections of this chapter. We now have to consider the principles and forms of supervision and collaboration by the people, of self-government by the estates, of what I call ‘German democracy’.
Starting from the conservative view enunciated above that a human being can only form valid judgements about things and persons that he knows from his own achievements and from personal experience, we arrive at the vocation as the basis of every ‘choice’, every election, that the individual German can make in his own sphere of achievement and personal experience.
Therewith is fulfilled another vital demand based upon the conservative view, that only those citizens shall have seat and vote in the Thing who contribute a prescribed minimum by way of achievement on behalf of the community, in a word, only those who work.
The demand that the electors should be personally known is fulfilled by the circumstance that the ‘constituency’ shall be the smallest ‘administrative unit’ – the circle.
The German citizen will therefore make one primary electoral act, within his own vocation and his own circle.
In each circle there will be elected five vocational chambers, or vocational councils, namely:
the Workers’ Council of the Circle,
the Peasants’ Council of the Circle,
the Council of the Liberal Professions,
the Council for Industry and Trade,
the Council for Employees and Officials.
Each vocational council of the circle will consist of twenty-five members elected for three years.
These vocational councils will be the only popular assemblies that are the outcome of general, equal, secret, and direct election by persons active in a vocation or retired therefrom.
They are exclusively vocational representations of persons united by common interests.
This fact prescribes their sphere of activity. The vocational councils will deal with all vocational interests; will supervise wages, working conditions, vocational training, etc.; they will be the experts to be consulted upon all vocational questions by the national administration; and, above all, they will decide matters of fiefs and ‘entails’. They alone will nominate the candidate for any fief that becomes vacant, and the State will ratify the appropriate circle-president – or else will refuse to ratify it, in which case the vocational council concerned will have to make a fresh nomination.
The vocational electors will naturally do their utmost to elect as members of the vocational council the persons best fitted for their task, being guided by a knowledge of the candidates both in vocational and in private life.
The further development of the vocational councils will accord with the structure of the administration in this way, that the vocational councils of the circles will elect the five vocational councils of the province, consisting of fifty members each, belonging to the appropriate vocation; and the vocational councils of the provinces will elect the five vocational councils of the Reich, each consisting of one hundred members, belonging to the appropriate vocation.
The decisive feature here is that these elections of the provincial chambers and the Reich chambers is not primary, but indirect; not by the ultimate electors, but by the members of the next lower grade of vocational representation. The object here is, of course, to ensure that the most capable and effective vocational representatives shall rise into the higher bodies, which will be guaranteed all the more securely by indirect election without any canvassing of the primary electorate because the election of the fittest is in the interest of each vocation.
The members of the provincial vocational council will be elected for five years, those of the Reich vocational council for seven.
The sphere of activity of the higher councils will be identical with that of the circle councils. Substitutes will have to be elected to a lower council in place of those appointed to a higher council.
Thus the vocational councils will represent the interests of all the active workers in Germany.
It is important to note that the self-government of these councils will be absolutely independent, whereas in Italy and Russia the State and the respective monopolist parties dominate (that is to say interfere with) the self-government of the active workers. This is especially marked in Italy, where none but members of the Fascist Party of the fascist unions are eligible for election and entitled to vote, the representation of the active workers being thus limited to a small fraction of the population (carefully sifted by the organs of the State), consisting of persons in relation to whom the masses of active workers have no rights whatever. (It is the same here in Germany under the Hitler System, without even the trifling fragment of the corporations).
It is somewhat different in Russia, where (in theory, at least) the whole mass of active workers has the suffrage. Still, the different categories of active workers have different voting powers, and some are expressly disenfranchised. Five peasant votes correspond to one worker vote – though we are told that there is to be a change in the next elections; and many persons engaged in ‘bourgeois’ vocations, notably the intellectual professions, are disenfranchised. It is significant that in Russia the motions that are to be voted on are decided by the party, and merely have to be ‘approved’ by the assemblies. Also we note in Russia a very remarkable fact that whereas in the councils of the lower grade there are many non-party members (of course persons acceptable to the party), there is a much larger proportion of communists in the middle-grade bodies, and the highest councils consist exclusively of party members. This signifies that there can be no genuine, independent, democratic representation of the interests of all active workers.
Contrariwise the war-cry of German socialism is that we shall ensure unrestricted, truly democratic self-government by all the active workers of the population. There must be no influence exerted by, no dependence upon, any powerful group of party, and least of all upon the State. No matter what the State may desire, under the German system any German who enjoys the confidence of others that pursue the same vocation will be able to make his way into the highest offices by which the State is controlled and led; even becoming a member of the Reich Chamber of Estates or the Great Council. This will mean the most complete democracy attainable and without a chance of its degenerating into demagogic rule.
C. Chambers of Estates
Inasmuch as the vocational councils of the circle, the province, and the Reich will represent nothing but vocational interests, they must be supplemented by general popular representation.
In each administrative unit (circle, province, Reich) there will, consequently, be formed out of its vocational councils a Chamber of Estates, as follows.
The Circle Chamber of Estates will consist of twenty-five persons elected by the vocational councils of that circle and three additional members nominated by the circle president. These nominees must be eminent and respected inhabitants of the circle.
The Provincial Chamber of Estates will consist of fifty persons elected by the vocational councils of the province and five additional members nominated by the president of the province.
The Reich Chamber of Estates will consist of one hundred persons elected by the vocational councils of the Reich and ten additional members nominated by the president of the Reich.
Of decisive importance to the composition of the Chambers of Estates is to make sure that they shall faithfully reflect the sociological stratification of the circle, the province, or the Reich. For this reason the various vocational councils will not elect the same number of members each to the appropriate Chamber of Estates, but a number proportional to the composition of the population in the administrative area concerned. If, for instance, in a province there are 40% of workers, 25% of peasants, 10% of tradespeople, 10% practising the liberal professions, and 15% of employees or officials, then the membership of the Chamber of Estates must comprise the same respective proportions. Of the fifty members of this provincial Chamber of Estates, twenty would be industrial workers; twelve, peasants; five, tradesmen; five, members of the liberal professions; eight, employees or officials. One necessary limitation to this would be that no vocation must have more than 50% of the members of the Chamber, so that it would not be possible for one of the estates to command a clear majority over the others.
In each administrative area the presidium of a Chamber of Estates would be formed by the five chairmen of the vocational councils.
The sphere of activity of a Chamber of Estates is fundamentally different from that of a vocational council.
The Chambers of Estates form an important part of the State administration and State leadership.
Their collaboration in every governmental measure is direct insofar as every decree by a circle president or provincial president would need the approval of the appropriate Chamber of Estates. Moreover, as explained in Section Four of this chapter, the circle president and the provincial president will need to enjoy the confidence of their respective Chambers of Estates for the proper performance of their official duties.
But the right of veto possessed by a Circle Chamber of Estates or a Provincial Chamber of Estates only becomes effective when exerted, about the same matter, for a second time after a year’s interval. This measure cuts both ways: for, on the other hand, it prevents the holding-up of measures urgently required for the good of the State; and, on the other hand, the permanent enforcement of an unpopular measure, or the continuance in office of an unpopular president, will be prevented by the system of popular representation.
In addition the activity of the Chambers of Estates will render possible their authoritative supervision of the whole State administration in the area under their control, and especially their collaboration in matters of consumption, prices, quality, etc.
The duration of the Chambers of Estates, in conformity with that of the vocational councils, will be three years for the circle, five for the province, seven for the Reich.
The special duties of the Reich Chamber of Estates as the legislative body, and the further duties of its presidium of five (consisting of the chairmen of the five Reich vocational councils) has been discussed in Section Three of this chapter.
Not unimportant is it to mention that representative services in the vocational councils and Chambers of Estates will be honorary. Compensation will be allowed for loss of time and out-of-pocket expenses, but there will be no financial advantage in holding such a post.
The decisive importance of this scheme for the representation of the estates, lies in the fact that thereby the popular will can find expression throughout the work of administration no matter what the State authorities may do or desire to do.
The distinction between vocational councils and Chambers of Estates, both as regards their composition and as regards their duties, is of the utmost moment.
Whilst the vocational councils give expression and influence to the vertical stratification of the German people, the Chambers of Estates represent the horizontal stratification, and thus give a cross-section through the interests of various parts of the population in all areas of the Reich.
The councils represent purely vocational interests, so that their duties are correspondingly restricted to the particular vocations and the relation of these to the State; but the Chambers secure for the localities a general popular representation, and consequently form an important part of the general State administration and State guidance.
Of especial consequence is it that thereby will be ensured a direct and lasting popular control of the State and its officials in all parts of the State apparatus.
In the fascist State there is no such control; in the bolshevik State it can only be exercised ‘by way of the Party’ (which is almost identical with the State); and in the parliamentary State, at the best, control can only be exercised by unseating the government, which is often a difficult matter. But the Circle and Provincial Chambers of Estates, with their right of veto over circle president and territorial president, can control the State apparatus permanently, directly, and effectively; can control it from the bottom to the top through the instrumentality of independent popular representatives. Hereby we realize the idea of a people’s State as contrasted with bureaucracy.