Divided About the War…

… But not about war.

As per previous posts, I have been reading Koppel Pinson’s Modern Germany: Its History and Civilization, which I picked up from the discard shelves at the LSTC library. I have commented on the book before, both here and in one of my columns at lewrockwell.com.

I am in the middle of the chapter on the German Revolution of 1918-19, and Pinson is describing how German socialists — who made up Germany’s new Republican government — fared and ruled. They were divided, in part because the largest socialist group in the German parliament, the Majority Socialists, had voted for war credits in August, 1914, and had enthusiastically supported the war until sometime in early 1918:

The Majority Socialists were never able to free themselves from this association with the pro-war policy. Politically and psychologically there could not bring themselves to admit that their policy of the Burgfrieden [the policy of peace and cooperation with the government of Wilhelm II during the war] had been a mistake. And the deep and profound nationalism which prompted their stand on August 4, 1914, remained equally strong in 1918-1919. It never occurred to them that a complete break with the past was either desirable or feasible. It was not only that they were reformist Socialists and opposed to violent revolution because of possible bloodshed and chaos. It was that both the strength and continuity of national tradition were matters of profound conviction for them. [Italics mine.] It was not utilitarian or pragmatic design when [Socialist leader Philipp] Scheidemann referred to Marshal von Hindenburg as a man “before whom the entire nation can only have the greatest reverence.” … Despite the long anti-militarist tradition of the party, the Majority Socialists could never get themselves to eliminate the glories of German arms from the memory of their nationalist past. (p.372-373)

Does this seem familiar? If anyone wonders why Hillary Clinton, and the Democratic Party establishment, have not more openly regretted the invasion of Iraq, or formally apologized for approving it, it is because Democrats are still nationalists (militarism and nationalism are just as at home in the Democratic Party, even if Democrats don’t idolize them as much as Republicans do) and still committed to war and empire.