But that is only one side of the picture. The other side is seen in the common saying, 'Two Germans, three opinions.' Touch the inner life of a German, his beliefs, his affections, his family, his pleasures, and you have opened a hornet's nest. To day, for instance, Germans are under rigid financial control and cannot even get money to travel abroad without the express permission of the Reichsbank. This they submit to with complaints, but they do submit. Yet, when the government attempts to incorporate the Church, an irresistible force meets an insurmountable obstacle and the obstacle wins.
As the post war world was shaping itself, therefore, the German nature, this nature which will pay any price for inner freedom, found very little to be free about. The individual not only found himself a cog in a machine, but the Socialist leaders told him that to be a cog was his glorious destiny and he must be happy about it. A dreary prospect, which not even the hope of higher wages could brighten. It is a curious but telling fact that in German there is no word for what we call 'efficiency.' Yet efficiency, with all it implies as a way of life, was being forced on the German people and it was not in their vocabulary.
Some inchoate feeling of this sort was the subsoil in which National Socialism took root. The revolt in Germany is not against materialism, Germans are as susceptible to cars and villas and fur coats as anybody, but it is against rationalization, against the idea which is shaping social legislation in most industrial countries: that the perfect society would run like a machine, and that the more one routinizes and conforms one's life, the more successful it will be. Those who could articulate their discontent felt that business and politics were a scramble of personal ambitions, that culture was drying up in a kind of intellectual fever, that morals were corrupt and young people in anarchy, and that all these things were inevitable and life not worth living if a factory was the ultimate goal. And, to sharpen this feeling, they felt themselves ruled (as indeed they were ruled, in politics, in finance, in art and literature and learning) by an alien race which is well disciplined to thinking in economic terms and especially adapted to an industrial civilization in fact, the high priests of the very things to which they objected.
Hitler came along with his appeal to national feeling, his attack on the Jews, his insistence on discipline —— and the people responded. But what Hitler voiced and what the Germans responded to was not so much these concrete talking points as a protest against the monotonous pulse of economic efficiency.
This protest has been made many times before. Broadly speaking, the Nazi revolution belongs with agricultural authoritarian as against urban—democratic movements, and the ideas the Nazis are trying to embody in their system belong in the general organic, vitalistic school of thought. They object to equality because it makes men egotistical and works toward social disintegration; instead, they believe in a closed hierarchy in which each leader has authority over those below him and responsibility to those above him. Throughout Nazi writings runs the emphasis on the 'whole,' the organic whole, first of the State, then of the personality. The Nazis explicitly say, for instance, that decisions should be made on the basis of the good of the State rather than on abstract right. They emphasize qualities which are matters of personal interpretation, like loyalty, rather than those which can be defined, like justice; honor as against self interest, duty as against right. The ties of race and blood, the inspirational role of women, the heroic role of men, obedience, paternalism, sacrifice of the person for the ideal, austere self discipline all these old fashioned and irrational conceptions are the leitmotifs of the programme.